· Today we are going to look at laughter and joy in connection with God’s presence
· Laughing is a universal expression of joy.
o You do not have to convince anyone that you are full of joy if you are laughing.
· Let us at look at this laughing component of joy in a rather unorthodox way; by looking at self-control.
2 Timothy 1:7 (ESV)
7 for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
· Have you ever heard a person testify that when they got saved, the first thing they noticed after they were born-again, was an incredible love they had for people? I was not one of those people. I did not feel any more for people after I was saved than before I was saved. What was extremely noticeable was the issue of self-control. There were things that I was trying to control while I was unsaved but found an incredible unability to do so. As soon as I said yes to Jesus I was able to say NO to ungodly behaviors that controlled me. NO now meant something. It would stick. Before, I would say NO and it would not stick no matter how hard I tried. When I used to hear about people feeling depth of love in their born experience, it actually confused me. I almost thought at times, maybe my experience was defective somehow or not all that it could have been.
o The question only became clearer upon realizing that power, love and self-control were components of salvation?
§ You had to have received them when you were born again.
Self-Control and the Fruit of the Spirit
Galatians 5:22–23 (ESV)
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
· Did you notice that the list starts with love and ends with self-control?
o We mentioned before
§ that love is the root of the fruit.
§ that if you are not walking in patience you are not walking in love.
§ that if you are not walking in kindness you are not walking in love
· And so there are all these connections between love and everything else in this list.
· Notice though that self-control, the last trait in this fruit list in Galatians 5, connects to the other fruits also.
o So much of growing in the fruit of the spirit has to deal with SELF-CONTROL.
o Can you see how you have to exercise self-control in order to walk in patience?
§ You are wanting to be impatient and you have to control that feeling and yield to patience.
o Can you see that there may be times that you feel unkind but that you have to exercise self-control and reel that feeling in and give way to kindness.
o What about peace?
§ Doesn’t the scripture say…?
Isaiah 26:3 (ESV)
3 You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.
o So controlling your mind, keeping your mind focused on God is part of peace and takes self-control to accomplish.
§ If you begin to think about those self-control connection points between all of these different ‘fruit of the spirit components’, you should see that what are we actually looking at when we look at this list called the ‘fruit of the spirit’ is not nine different fruits!
o Think about a honey crisp apple.
§ Bite into one and try to describe it
· It is crunchy
· It is sweet
· It is vibrant in color
· It is juicy
o Did you notice that all of those characteristics are about one piece of fruit?
· Notice Galatians 5:22-23
o The scripture says “the fruit of the spirit” – singular!!! – not the ‘fruits of the spirit’ plural.
o The Greek language or morphology of the word indicates that the translators translated that correctly as a singular noun.
o It is one fruit.
§ We are not talking about apples, oranges, bananas, plums, grapes, pears and grapefruit.
§ We are not talking about love, joy, peace, gentleness goodness self-control as separate fruits.
o No, it is one single fruit described nine different ways!
§ And that is why you see all the interweaving between these traits.
· Because when you are talking about patience, you are talking about love and self-control also.
§ That is the reason why one can sense self-control while others sense love when they were initially saved because it is all one fruit!
§ One said the honey crisp apple was crunchy, the other said it was sweet!!!
o In other words, you cannot look into your spirit and pull out the love fruit and put it out it on the shelf; and then reach in and take the separate fruit of joy and pull it out and put it out on a shelf, separate from the rest.
o God divided the one fruit into its characteristics so that..
§ we could talk about it
§ we could recognize it in its many components
· This will cause you to look at the fruit of the spirit a little differently.
o You might be tempted to think, you know I really love everybody but I have a problem with patience.
§ What is the answer to that?
o The answer is this.
§ You may think that you love everybody and that you are full of joy but if you are impatient you really do not love everybody like you think you do and you are not full of joy like you think you are.
o Or you might say
§ I am really a patient fellow but I just do not like everybody.”
§ Since, it is one fruit you cannot separate them.
§ Symptoms like this indicate fruit that has not fully grown yet.
o The opposite is also true!!!
§ If I am impatient and I begin to build myself up in that area and look at that area and make improvements in that area, when I improve it not only affects the patience part but because they are all connected – it affects everything else also.
§ Everything else comes up because it is one fruit of the spirit not many!!!
· Did you ever notice that often times exercising self-control feels like no fun at all?
· And so we kind of get this idea as we look these characteristics of fruit like patience – kindness – self-control that growing in the fruit of the spirit is a painful process.
· All the while that you think that, remember that laughter is part of joy.
o And since it is all connected then…
§ If you can laugh some – you can grow some!
Psalm 16:11 (ESV)
11 You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
· There is a connection between the presence of God and joy.
o There is something holy about being happy
Job 8:21 (TNIV)
21 He will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy.
God Is Happy Even When Things Seemingly Are Against His Plan
Psalm 2:1–4 (ESV)
1 Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? 2 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying, 3 “Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.” 4 He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision.
· This is a picture of the Millennial Reign of Jesus
o The Hebrew word ‘Anointed’ here means Messiah.
· When Jesus comes back and sets up His 1000 year reign, all the kings of the earth are not necessarily happy about that.
o The nations rage
§ That is serious
o And so these kings take counsel against God – they are plotting
§ that is devious and serious
o They say, “Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us”
§ Serious meetings are going on between these kings – they are taking council against the Lord and His Son Jesus.
o What is God’s response to all of this?
§ These kings are so serious in their plotting and planning.
o God is not serious at all about it! – HE LAUGHS about it!
§ The plain truth about this is that there are times when we are way to serious about things and we should let go and laugh.
· God desires that you imitate Him.
Job 5:19–22 (ESV)
19 He will deliver you from six troubles; in seven no evil shall touch you. 20 In famine he will redeem you from death, and in war from the power of the sword. 21 You shall be hidden from the lash of the tongue, and shall not fear destruction when it comes. 22 At destruction and famine you shall laugh, and shall not fear the beasts of the earth.
· You remember that last week we talked about doing the opposite of what you feel when you are in the land of famine.
o Here is another opposite – laughing at destruction.
o Laughing at bad news.
· Remember to never give up your laugh when you are in the hard places.
o Sometimes instead of praying about stuff that is bothering you, maybe you should laugh at some of that stuff instead!
· God is God of happy endings!
o So, if it’s not happy, then it cannot be the end!
· Look at this example in 2Kings with Hezekiah
2 Kings 18:31–36 (ESV)
31 Do not listen to Hezekiah, for thus says the king of Assyria: ‘Make your peace with me and come out to me…
32 … And do not listen to Hezekiah when he misleads you by saying, “The LORD will deliver us.” 33 Has any of the gods of the nations ever delivered his land out of the hand of the king of Assyria? 34 Where are the gods of Hamath and Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim, Hena, and Ivvah? Have they delivered Samaria out of my hand? 35 Who among all the gods of the lands have delivered their lands out of my hand, that the LORD should deliver Jerusalem out of my hand?’ ” 36 But the people were silent and answered him not a word, for the king’s command was, “Do not answer him.”
· God heard what the King of Assyria said and this was His response.
2 Kings 19:20–21 (AV)
20 Then Isaiah the son of Amoz sent to Hezekiah, saying, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, That which thou hast prayed to me against Sennacherib king of Assyria I have heard. 21 This is the word that the LORD hath spoken concerning him; The virgin the daughter of Zion hath despised thee, and laughed thee to scorn; the daughter of Jerusalem hath shaken her head at thee. 22 Whom hast thou reproached and blasphemed? and against whom hast thou exalted thy voice, and lifted up thine eyes on high? even against the Holy One of Israel.
2 Kings 19:35 (ESV)
35 And that night the angel of the Lord went out and struck down 185,000 in the camp of the Assyrians. And when people arose early in the morning, behold, these were all dead bodies.
· You know the enemy works really hard to get you down and depressed and sad because if the joy of the Lord is your strength then the sadness is your depletion and weakness.
o Now, think about what a kick in the head that would be to the enemy who worked so hard to bring you down and instead you laughed at his attempt.
o The enemy would flee that and leave you alone because he is too proud to stay around!
o The enemy would flee from your laughter but God would come to meet you instead
Isaiah 64:5 (NKJV)
5 YOU MEET HIM WHO REJOICES and does righteousness, Who remembers You in Your ways. You are indeed angry, for we have sinned— In these ways we continue; And we need to be saved.