Today’s Scripture:  “Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.”  John 17:24

Introductions:

Greetings friends…and welcome to our new series…15 Days in the Word with John Piper.  I love to get different people’s insights into the Word of God…and then of course add whatever the Holy Spirit gives me to share with you on the topic at hand.  As you well know…some times we stay on topic…and some times the Holy Spirit will take us on side journeys…but it’s such a joy and a privilege to be used of God in this capacity.

My prayer with this series is the same as it is for any other series we do.  That our knowledge of the Word of God would be increased, our understanding of who God is will become more clearer, and most importantly we will encounter God is fresh and new ways.  That our relationships with Him will become deeper and more intimate…and any real desire of these messages is so that we learn and are challenged to make sure our hearts are right towards God…so that we continue to become conformed more and more into the image of Jesus Christ…His Son.

So…I hope that we will be able to get through this series without interuption…but please know that any time a break is taken that it’s either because the Holy Spirit desires us to…or some times…I just need to step back for a day to make sure this is always done out of a heart of passion…instead of a feeling of obligation.

I love you all…and appreciate all of you who have made it known that you’re following this ministry…and am thankful even more for those of you who are following along in the shadows.  My hope is that those of you who are quietly following along will come to know Jesus in a personal way…most importantly as Lord and Savior…and again to those of you who support this ministry openly…I am grateful beyond words for all of you…and please know that you inspire and encourage me greatly.

So…without any further delay…let’s get into today’s message:  THE SECRET OF INVINCIBLE JOY

Today’s Message:

Jesus revealed a secret that protects our happiness from the threat of suffering and the threat of success. That secret is this: Great is your reward in heaven. And the sum of that reward is enjoying the fullness of the glory of Jesus Christ (John 17:24).

There’s a song that my spiritual father…Pastor Stephen Robbins used to teach about that bothered him because while the song was beautiful and had a great message…the truth is that it’s really a song that has no faith.  That song?  “More Love”.  The lyrics for this song go like this:  “More love…more power…more of You in my life.”

That brings me to the statement made here by Mr. Piper.  “Great is our reward in heaven.  And the sum of that reward is enjoying the fullness of the glory of Jesus Christ.”

Friends…when we come to know Jesus as Lord and Savior the Bible says that we become one with Him, and that the Holy Spirit comes to live on the inside of us.  Now…I don’t know about you…but when I understand that I have the Holy Spirit living on the inside of me…and Jesus said that the Holy Spirit is One that is “just like Me”.  That basically means that all have the likeness of Jesus Christ living on the inside of us through the indwelling of the Holy Ghost.  So…what that tells me is that I have Jesus Christ living on the inside of me.

Which brings me to this point.  If Jesus is living on the inside of me…and that in the presence of Jesus is the “fullness of joy”.  That while I may be able to become more acquainted with Jesus…if He’s living on the inside of me that means I have all the Jesus I can get.  Therefore…while it may sound beautiful to sing a song to God about wanting more of Him in our lives…since He lives on the inside of us through the indwelling of the Holy Ghost…and the Holy Ghost is just like Jesus…and that Jesus and the Father are One…and we are one with Him…then we have all of the God that we can get.

Now…I agree that we can know Him on a deeper and more intimate way, but there’s a simple truth that when we ask Jesus to be the Lord and Savior of our lives…and to come into our hearts…and He does that through the indwelling of the Holy Ghost…then as I mentioned we have received all of God that we can receive.

It’s also true that…as we discussed in our last series:  “Living The Surrendered Life”…we need to continue to die to ourselves.  We must allow God to work in us to conform and transform us more and more into His image.  We can certainly allow God to help us to decrease so that more of Him is seen in our lives…but once the Holy Spirit indwells us…we’re not going to get more of God…because we have all the God we’re going to need living on the inside of us.

He protects our happiness from suffering when he says,

Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven. (Matthew 5:11–12)

Let’s face it.  Not everyone in this world is as excited as we are about the fact that we’ve decided to live our lives for God, and do the best we can to serve Him in whatever capacity we can.  You know what…one of the things I love about Jesus is that He’s a straight-shooter.  He never pulls any punches, and that’s what He does here in The Sermon on The Mount.  He doesn’t say that we might face some un-pleasantries along our walk with Him does He?  No…He says blessed are you WHEN others revile you and persecute you.  He says that persecution for His name sake WOULD come.

There are people from my past who are not going to reconcile who I am today through the life changing blood of Jesus, and I’ve had to block some of them from my pages because they will come on and write some vile things that shouldn’t be on the Facebook wall of someone who is trying to live for and serve Jesus.  Never any kind of encouragement, and in fact the devil once was able to use some of these people to heap condemnation upon me.

While I no longer really have anything to do with some of them…I’m thankful for persecution when it comes because the truth is…if no persecution is coming…then you’re not having an impact for the Kingdom of God.  Listen…if the devil’s not bothering you that’s because he doesn’t know your name…and if he doesn’t know your name…he’s not worried about you doing damage to his kingdom.

So…if you want to know if you’re having an impact upon the devil’s camp…if you’re not facing any kind of persecution at all.  That’s a good sign that you’re not…and that you need to get alone with God…seek Him…and find out where you left Him because if the devil’s not bothering you…that means he has you in his control.  The more persecution coming your way…the greater the threat you are to the devil and his kingdom.  Therefore…if you’re facing persecution…rejoice and be glad…because He is our protection…and our reward for enduring such persecution will be great in heaven.

Our great reward in heaven rescues our joy from the threat of persecution and reviling.

He also protects our joy from success when he says,

Do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven. (Luke 10:20)

The disciples were tempted to put their joy in ministry success. “Even the demons are subject to us in your name!” (Luke 10:17). But that would have severed their joy from its only sure anchor.

You know…one of the things that I find that I need to guard against is getting into any kind of spiritual pride that comes from serving God.  I have to say that I have managed to stay grounded, and that’s because I know that my ability to write these messages isn’t because I’m so gifted and talented…it’s by the grace of God.  See…I understand that this ability to write is a gift from God, and that my duty is to use this gift in a way that brings glory and honor to Him…not myself.

However…you can see it throughout the body of Christ, and in pulpits across the country.  It’s more evident in these “mega-churches”, but you can see it in smaller churches too.  There’s a spiritual pride that over takes some of these servants of God that’s reminiscent of the spiritual pride the disciples were rebuked by Jesus for here.

They were all excited cause the demons were subject to the name of Jesus, and I’m sure that as they were laying hands on people and seeing them healed and demons cast out…there was this temptation to get into pride.  The more they did…the bigger their heads must have gotten…until they saw Jesus and began to gloat about how even the demons had to obey them because of the name of Jesus.  Again…Jesus who refuses to pull any punches rebukes them by saying:  “Do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”

Do you know most Christians today would get angry at Jesus for saying that?  Most would expect a pat on the back and for Jesus to get all excited, and maybe even get into a competitive banter.  The would say something like that to Jesus, and then He would respond about some great miracles He’d been performing lately…and before you know it…the conversation becomes a competition about who has performed the greater miracles.

However…Jesus stops them right away.  He says:  “Do not rejoice that the spirits are subject to you, but that your names are written in heaven.”  In other words…what Jesus is saying is that we shouldn’t be in awe of the works that we do, but in the work that He did on the Cross that’s enabled us to have the gifts that we have to serve Him in the capacity that we do…because the gifts we have…they’re from Him anyways.

You see…nothing we do for the kingdom of God is even because of us.  The gifts, talents, and abilities we have come from God.  Yes, we may use the gift or talent or abilities given us…and we may even become pretty good in the use of them…but the problem with spiritual pride is that it denies God the praise and glory for something that HE gave us.  We are HIS workmanship…and greater works than He will we do.  Why?  Because we have the leading and guiding of the Holy Ghost…not because we’re so great, so mighty, so holy, or so saved that we’re some kind of spiritual heavyweight.

No…friends…any good and perfect gift is from above.  There are two things that I can really take any joy in at all.  (1)  That God chose to bless me with the ability to write.  (2)  That God called me to use the ability to write for Him.  (3) That He is helping me to grow and perfect this ability.  (4) That He is touching people through the gifting and talent and ability in which He supplies through the supernatural power of the Holy Ghost.

Friends…I’ll probably say this a thousand times or more…Christlike Ministries NWA is all about God, and what He’s done in my life…and now wants to do through my life.  This ministry…writing these messages…this isn’t about me…and it’s not because I’m so great.  No…it’s because God is great.  It’s because God gave me this gift, and the more I use it…the more the Holy Spirit is helping to develop me into a pretty good writer…but it’s all God.  All I have done is become a yielded vessel…and that’s what keeps me from getting any kind of “big head” about what I do.

Sure…I may re-read a message to think that it’s a pretty good message, and it’s great that there are people who read and get things out of these messages.  It’s greatly encouraging to hear from those of you who read and follow along.  It’s encouraging to hear that God’s touching you through these messages.  However, I don’t take joy in the gift…I take joy in the fact that God is able to reach people through my messages…and you know what…the truth is they aren’t my messages…they are His…I just write them.

See…that…my friends is true humility.  I can’t for a moment think that I’ve got some great talent, and because I can write…I’m going to go off and start writing books.  I have a friend of mine that’s an amazing musician, and he worked really hard to get himself out there…and eventually he even got a record deal.  He began doing shows, and secular music.  He began living the “rock-star” life, but he’s had a difficult time getting anyone to really give him a serious shot to make an album.  He’s not getting promoted because he’s not using the gifts and talents he has for the glory of God.

Listen…the Bible says that we’re to do all that we do not for the glory of men, but rather the glory of God.  Do you know that until I started doing this I really did have the ability to write?  So much so that I had Pastor Robbins once tell me that I’d use my ability to write for the Lord, and when he told me that my first thought was that I’d be writing Christian books and devotional articles.  However…when I tried writing things before…and even when I began writing these messages for the Lord…I was horrible at it.  However…the more I do it…the better I get at it…and that’s because I’ve yielded this ability to the Holy Ghost…and asked Him to help me to become a better writer.

I’m not taking joy in the gift.  I’m taking joy in the fact that God has given me a gift that He can use to reach people.  I also take joy in knowing that my name is written in heaven.  That’s a pretty good thing to know…Amen?

So Jesus protects their joy from the threat of success by promising the great reward of heaven. Rejoice in this: that your names are written in heaven. Your inheritance is infinite, eternal, sure.

Our joy is safe. Neither suffering nor success can destroy its anchor. Great is your reward in heaven. Your name is written there. It is secure.

Jesus anchored the happiness of suffering saints in the reward of heaven. And he anchored the happiness of successful saints in the same.

And thus he freed us from the tyranny of worldly pain and pleasure.

So…is your joy anchored in heaven or is it tied to things here in the world?  I don’t know about you, but I’m working to get to a place where I understand even more so than I do now that my eternal destination is secure.  I’m working to get that knowledge from my mind into my heart that my name is written in heaven…and that means that I am secure.  I am going to see the face of Jesus some day as my Lord and Savior…and I’m going to hear those words:  “Well done…thou good and faithful servant…come and enter in to your rest.”

Oh…that’s the joy that I hang on to.  That’s one of the things that fuels my passion for the Lord…my desire to hear Him say “well done”.  I don’t want to get there, and have Him say to me that I wasted my gifts and talents and abilities.

I’ll close with this:  “Rejoice in this: that your names are written in heaven. Your inheritance is infinite, eternal, sure.”

What a great joy it is to know that our names are written in heaven and that our eternal destination is secure…Amen!?!

Conclusion & Prayer:

Well…this series certainly got off to an excellent start didn’t it?  What an awesome thing it is to know that our names are written in the Lambs Book of Life, and that one day we’ll be able to see our Savior face to face…Amen!?!

Friend…maybe you’re reading this message, and either you’re not sure…or maybe you know your name isn’t written in heaven.  Maybe you know the Lord, but you’re not so sure your name is written in heaven either.  If that’s the case then I would like to urge you to take the time…right now to visit the Christlike Ministries NWA Website at:  www.christlikeministriesnwa.organd visit our “Do You Know Jesus?”  page.  There’s a little bit of reading to do, and a link to a video to watch…and there’s also a prayer later on that will guide you to what you need to do in order to have this joy and security of knowing your name is written in heaven.

It’s so exciting to know that one day I’m going to see my Savior face to face…and hear those words “well done”.  Friend…if you have trusted Jesus as your Lord and Savior that you too can REJOICE in knowing that your name is written in heaven…just like mine…Amen!?!

Father…thank You so much for the opportunity to learn more about joy, and Lord I ask for those of who need to know You or maybe know You, but aren’t certain that their names are written in heaven.  I ask that You would do a work in their hearts.  I ask for those who don’t know You that they would hear You knocking on the door of their hearts.  For those who do know You, but aren’t sure of their eternal security…I pray they would hear Your voice speaking to them that they are Yours.  Lord God…I pray that all of us would get the knowledge that our names are written in heaven from our heads and into our hearts…and that our joy would be full in knowing that one day we will see You…and more important that our joy may be full in knowing that we belong to You.  Thank You for Your Word…thank You for what You have spoken to us this day…and we ask You to seal this message in our hearts and minds…and allow it to impact our lives in a way that brings us into a deeper and closer relationship with You.  In Jesus’ name we pray and ask these things…Amen and Amen.