of The Message
morning I am continuing a series of messages with my father
entitled, "Live Life at
Its Best." As we go through this
series, we are looking at some of the great verses of the
Bible where we receive the promises of God's gifts to us.
In Galatians, St. Paul's testimony is that through his new
faith in Jesus Christ, Paul is experiencing, "The
fruits of the Spirit ..
love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness,
faithfulness and self control." (Galatians 5:22)
and I, as believers, can also enjoy these same wonderful
gifts. Last week my father spoke about love
and in that spirit of love that God gives, we discover the
gift of joy. What a gift!
Question: Are you a joyful person? What is this kind of
joy that St. Paul writes about?
is the same joy that Jesus Christ talks about in John 15.
He tells His followers: "I
have told you this, so that My joy may be in you, and that
your joy may be complete." (John
does Jesus Christ mean with the phrase, "I have told
you this ..."? We understand when we read the preceding
verses: "... As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you.
Now remain in My love. If you obey My commands, you will
remain in My love just as I have obeyed My Father’s command and remain in His love. ..." (John 15:9-10)
(1) Open up to Jesus'
(2) Obey His commandments.
(3) Overcome the negatives in life.
live in a world where there is so much confusion about what
real joy is, and often joy is confused with happiness. Happiness
is quite different from joy. Happiness is that which takes
place in our lives as a result of circumstances so happiness
goes up and down. Happiness is here today and gone tomorrow.
If you get the right report, then you're happy. And if you
get wrong news, then you're not happy. The complete joy
that Jesus Christ gives is much deeper than that.
joy transcends happiness, this kind of joy comes from the
inside out and it comes from opening our hearts to allow the love of God through
Jesus Christ into our hearts and life changes from depression
to Joy. "May My joy be in you, that your joy may be complete,"
is the promise Jesus Christ gives to each of us.
was a young man who came to this Cathedral only to play
basketball in our Family Life Center gymnasium. That's all
he was interested in. He joined the basketball team and
came to play basketball often, but we didn't know that he
always carried a side arm with him. It wasn't licensed.
He played his basketball games and every time when he played
basketball, he carried his gun with him. But a few weeks
turned into months and he discovered something here that
totally revolutionized his life. This is what he wrote about
"Their faces radiated joy and
I realized that I was different from them. I wanted what
they had. Then it happened. It was an evening that I will
never forget. My thoughts reflected on my daily life experiences
and I began to think about God's love. The words that I
heard from the other men seemed to touch me and very simply,
I surrendered myself to God. I felt total freedom and my
soul was renewed. I was aware of the gun hidden in my clothes
and I told God that I would never use it again. I returned
home a different person. I shared with my wife what had
happened and she could not hold back her happiness. It was
God's answer to her prayers. Our home was in ruins, but
God came and rebuilt it."
he signed his name.
the globe, in much the same way, God's love transformed
another young man named Armin Salzmann living in Augsburg,
Germany. This is his story.
was a taxi driver in my hometown where there was a large
Army base. The soldiers gave me a package of marijuana and
cocaine. 'Can you deliver this to this address?’ And they gave me five hundred German marks – a lot of money. I said, 'Sure I can do that,' because taxis were never
checked by the police. So I earned a lot of money, and became
very rich. At one time I owned five cars and a huge house.
For years I lived literally with one foot in jail because
of my illegal and criminal behavior, but because of my money
I always had contacts who helped me out of the difficult
situations. I wore a gun all the time because I feared for
my safety. I never would stand in the middle of the room,
but always with my back against a wall, facing the door.
I was so used to criminal behavior I never trusted anyone.
was a very scary way to live. Then on Christmas, someone
gave me a book about Jesus. I was not interested in this
Jesus, but I had time so I opened this book. It was a story
about a soldier who fought in the World War II and he found
peace in the middle of all the fighting by reading the Bible.
And I said, 'aha, that’s what I want ... peace' ...so I started reading the Bible.
went to a bookshop. The lady said, 'Start with the New Testament
because the whole Bible is too much for you, young man.'
So I said, 'Ok.' I started the New Testament and found out
that this is a very crazy book because it shows God in a
totally different way in my thinking about God. And if this
Jesus is really God, I have to change my mind about God.
Not only that, the book gave me a lot of confident peace.
I felt surrounded by security when I was reading the Bible.
A week later I found out that I was happy in the morning.
I never was this happy. My behavior changed. Normally in
the morning I was angry with myself, with anybody, but this
time I woke up in the morning I was so happy I was singing
a song. Then the people around me told me, 'Armin, what's
going on? You have a new girlfriend? Or you have a new job?
What's with you."’ I said, 'No, I'm happy. I don't know what's going on with me. Something
is in me.'
felt a new happiness and joy in me so then I found out that
I seemed to be the only one in the whole world to believe
in God. So it was very hard for me, but after two years
I found a Protestant pastor who was preaching about the
same Bible verse I was reading in the morning. So he became
my mentor and he helped me to find a small group of believers
who acted as real Christians."
Armin Salzmann is a pastor of Christ Church in Augsburg,
Germany and he produces our Hour of Power television program
and just three weeks ago was able to get Hour of Power on
a major network in Germany, similar to ABC or Fox Network
(1) Open up to Jesus' love.
(2) Obey His commandments.
(3) Overcome the negatives in life.
joy comes from the inside out
as we understand and realize God's love for us. Then when
we accept God's love and we know that we need to make small
changes to live up to Christ's commands. That scares some
people. It's scary because they think, "I can't do
this" ... "I can't be that." But the commands
of Christ are given to us to guide us to joyful relationships.
"You shall love the
Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and
with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment.
And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.
On these two commandments hang all of the Law and the Prophets." (Matthew 22:37-40)
little boy dug a hole in his backyard. His neighbor came
by and saw him as he was filling up the hole. So the neighbor
stopped to ask, "Son, what are you doing?" The
little boy answered, "Oh, I buried my goldfish."
"Well, that sure is a big hole for a goldfish."
And the little boy said, "That's because it's inside
calls us to love our neighbors ... not to get even with
them. Rather He tells us to reach out and to "do unto
others as we would have them do unto us." Joy is never
found through revenge. But joy is found through the true
beauty of "loving our neighbors
as we love ourselves."
do we find complete joy: (1) Open to Jesus' love. (2) Obey His
commands and then, (3)
Overcome the negatives.
in this world is always in spite of something. It is defiant
nevertheless." ... to quote Carl Barth. Defy the negatives.
Don't allow them to impact our lives, but hold onto the
positive Good News that we have in Jesus Christ.
Loy McGinnis wrote this about the late Rose Kennedy in his
book, The Power of Optimism. 
age 93, Rose Kennedy is being interviewed by a magazine
reporter. By this time four of her nine children have died
violently. Another daughter, Rosemary, has been severely
retarded all her life, and will soon be gone. Mrs. Kennedy
has outlived her husband long enough to have seen his rather
prolific and unscrupulous life told and retold in the press.
She's an old lady hit by tragedies again and again. When
the reporter asks about all this, Rose Kennedy says slowly,
"I have always believed that God never gives a cross
to bear larger than we can carry. And I have always believed
that no matter what, God wants us to be happy. He doesn't
want us to be sad. Birds sing
after a storm and why shouldn't we?"
do face storms in life and go through the tragedies of circumstances
that would tear down our happiness, but it cannot penetrate
our joy when it is grounded in the love of Jesus Christ.
Life on planet earth will have its challenges, its frustrations,
its disappointments, its hurts, its pain, but at the same
time we have that beautiful promise of Jesus Christ,
"I have told you this so that My joy may be in you
and that your joy may be complete."
Paul was in chains, in prison, and in those chains he wrote
to the church in Philippi, "Rejoice,
rejoice in the Lord always." (Philippians
4:4) Yes, even when we are in the toughest of circumstances,
we need to hear those words and experience the true joy
that comes from realizing that our joy comes from Jesus
Christ. It is a cycle of faith, love and joy. It is the
success cycle to living life at its best.
say, "Jesus I want to experience that joy, the same
joy that the young basketball player and Armin Salzmann
experienced. I want to experience the same joy that Rose
Kennedy experienced. I want to experience the same joy that
millions of other people have experienced." Allow the
love of Jesus Christ to touch your heart this morning, right
now. Pray with me, will you?
Lord, I thank You that You are a God who wants to create
a joyful echo in my heart. I love you Lord, and I want to
give my life and heart to You, in faith, knowing that Your
love will fill my heart with Your Holy Spirit and I'll experience
complete joy. I love You Lord. Amen.