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Where Is Your Joy?

"12 I beg of you, brothers and sisters, become as I am, for I also have become as you are. You have done me no wrong; 13 but you know that it was because of a bodily illness that I preached the gospel to you the first time; 14 and you did not despise that which was a trial to you in my bodily condition, nor express contempt, but you received me as an angel of God, as Christ Jesus Himself. 15 Where then is that sense of blessing you had? For I testify about you that, if possible, you would have torn out your eyes and given them to me. 16 So have I become your enemy by telling you the truth? 17 They eagerly seek you, not in a commendable way, but they want to shut you out so that you will seek them. 18 But it is good always to be eagerly sought in a commendable way, and not only when I am present with you. 19 My children, with whom I am again in labor until Christ is formed in you— 20 but I could wish to be present with you now and to change my tone of voice, for I am at a loss about you!"
Good Morning Beloved,
Welcome to worship this Lord's Day!
We're so glad to have you here with us today. 
Our walk with Christ can be like life sometimes, full of up's and down's, unexpected twists and turns. In the beginning, you are on fire for Jesus, full of gratitude for His Salvation, in awe of His awesome power, utterly broken over your sin that put Him on that cross
Then, over time, you can lose some of that zeal, we begin to take His grace for granted, the flames of our passion seems to wears off, becoming more like a flicker. And when things get rough, we get angry at God, even blaming Him for our troubles, we wallow around in self pity, wondering what happened to our joy.
All forms of false religion, including all false forms of Christianity, want to make salvation a combination of God’s work and ours, faith and works. God does His part, we do a part, and in that combined effort, God brings about our salvation. That is the defining heresy in all false religions, that somehow you can contribute to being rescued from judgment by your own works. Anyone who attempts to change the gospel, is accursed, they are damned!
Let us bow our heads in prayer.
Heavenly Father,
Thank You for this wonderful opportunity, the great privilege and honor to worship You. Thank You for the clarity of Your Word, the precious truth we receive day after day. We are so grateful. Thank You for those gathered here with us, we're so thankful for each one. Lord, we pray that You will bless them with an abundance of wisdom and discernment. May we feel both the power of conviction and immeasurable joy from the truth we receive today, seal it in our hearts. That we may worship You, not just today, but every day.
In Christ's name we pray,

Today's Message: Where Is Your Joy?

There are many churches, synagogues, mosques that are living in religious bondage. Bound to religious rituals, rule keeping, ceremonies. They need to hear the truth, that spiritual freedom is possible only through the grace of God in Jesus Christ. In order to reach people with the gospel, we must learn to understand their culture, learn how they think, how to best communicate the truth with them.
That is exactly what the apostle Paul did. In I Corinthians 9:22-23, he said "To the weak I became weak, that I might gain the weak; I have become all things to all people, so that I may by all means save some. I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it."
In John chapter 17, Jesus told us, to be in the world but not of it in His prayer for the disciples.  
Paul became like them in order to bring them to Christ, now Paul is asking them to become like him.
In verse 12, he says "I beg of you, brothers and sisters, become as I am, for I also have become as you are. You have done me no wrong;"
Some people have misinterpreted this as Paul was being conceited, however, if we put this statement in context with his other writings, we know that Paul is very humble, he knows that he is not perfect, far from it. In fact, he calls himself chief among sinners. Paul is also letting them know that even though they are in a crisis now, and have drifted from Paul’s solid teaching about the gospel, Paul is still thankful and he still remembers how well they treated him in the beginning.

Paul is devoted to Jesus Christ. It's everything he is, everything he does, everything his life is centered around, is Jesus Christ and His glory. And that, is what Paul is asking the Galatians to become, like him, in that way. A life of Christ!

Then, in verses 13 and 14, "but you know that it was because of a bodily illness that I preached the gospel to you the first time;  and you did not despise that which was a trial to you in my bodily condition, nor express contempt, but you received me as an angel of God, as Christ Jesus Himself."

I find it interesting that Paul mentions that is was an illness that caused Paul to first deliver the gospel to the Galatians. We often see an illness as a setback, an obstacle to overcome. However, for the apostle Paul, it was a God given opportunity to share the good news of Jesus Christ!

If you have ever cared for someone who is ill, it can be difficult to do. To help someone who is sick, to take care of them, meet their needs. There is quite a bit of speculation about what illness Paul was suffering from. One of the most prevalent theories is that he had some kind of trouble with his eyes. If so, he might have needed a lot of help if it was severe while he was there. He might have needed help to walk from one place to another, to eat, to write for him, to read his letters or scripture to him. He would need help doing just about everything. 

This theory might be supported by what Paul says in verse 15 "Where then is that sense of blessing you had? For I testify about you that, if possible, you would have torn out your eyes and given them to me."

Though we can't be certain what Paul's illness was, I don't believe it really matters, Paul was ill and it was a trial for the Galatians.

Unfortunately, when the burden of caring for someone who is ill, or elderly, and they need a lot of help, the one helping can experience times of frustration, resentment, and sometimes, they allow that to turn into contempt of the person they are helping. 
Paul tells us that the Galatians acted in the opposite manner. Even though his illness was a burden, was a trial for them, they treated him like he was an angel from God, like he was Jesus Christ himself.
That’s about the biggest compliment one could ever hope to receive!
Have you ever thought, as I have, what it would be like to meet Jesus, face to face? What you would say to Him, what you would ask Him? What He might say to you?

I'm sure, most of us, would give Him our undivided attention, see that He was comfortable, give Him all the time He wanted, or was willing to give us. He would be our priority, would He not?

Then, let me remind you, that Jesus told us that when we help someone in need, when we feed the hungry, give a drink of cold water to the thirsty, clothe the naked, we are doing those things to Him. And, if we truly believe and understand that, then the excellent way Paul was treated by the Galatians should be the norm when it comes to Christians.

Paul is saying that these people were absolutely willing to truly give of themselves, to make major sacrifices to help another person. They had that passion, that fire, that zeal for Jesus that turns people into super-servants Service always involves sacrifice. That takes commitment, that takes passion for Jesus.

Allow me to pose a question to you to think about, I mean really think about. Have you ever passed by someone who was in obvious in need of help? Perhaps a mother with young children in the car, broken down, or a flat tire, stranded on the side of the road? Or maybe an elderly or disabled person, struggling to carry their groceries, or even to walk?
Have you ever seen someone like that and kept on going, you start justifying it to yourself: I should stop, I should help that person, but it may cost me. Or that mom probably has a cell phone, everyone does these days. That elderly person, is moving so slow, if I stop to help, I'll surely be late for my meeting. And that disabled person, would probably get angry with me for assuming they're not capable or be mistrusting of someone. You know, we are really good at talking ourselves out of things like that.
Paul asks in verse 16, "So have I now become your enemy by telling you the truth?"

Part of the problem for the Galatians is that they are falling prey to some false teaching. However, in the bigger picture, the root of the problem is that they have lost some of their zeal for Jesus, they were once on fire for Him, but they have fizzled out a little, their fire has been tamped down by time and by the world around them.

Satan specializes in trying to extinguish our fire for Jesus, to throw water on our fire. That just might be his voice that you hear saying "Someone else will help," "You shouldn’t get involved," or "I am on a tight schedule, I just don't have time to help."

Do you run away from your responsibility as a Christian, to be the hands and feet of Christ? Helping others, is our responsibility, yours and mine! It's not a duty, it's discipline.

Where is your joy? Have you lost it? Sometimes it kind of fades away, as we slowly give in to the flesh, to our sinful nature, then we start listening to the wrong voice. Satan's voice, encouraging us to seek pleasure in self, rather than joy in Christ.

The desire of God, the desire of the Holy Spirit living inside of you, is to sanctify you, to make you more like Jesus. However, you must cooperate.

You can resist, you can kind of turn down the voice of the Spirit, like turning down the volume on your television, press the "mute" button. Causing you to turn back to that familiar dark comfort, turn down the light a little. The natural man loves the darkness, and resists the light. Our sinful nature thrives in the darkness. Where our sin is in secret.

Let's be honest, it is hard to give up all the control in your life, and we have a natural tendency to take back just a little, then a little more, and a little more. With that, goes a little of your joy! 

That is part of what happened to the Christians in Galatia.

In verses 17 and 18, Paul says "They eagerly seek you, not in a commendable way, but they want to shut you out so that you will seek them. But it is good always to be eagerly sought in a commendable way, and not only when I am present with you."
Being zealous is fine, as long as it is for the right purpose and it is genuine.

The false teachers in Galatia are zealous, but not for good. They are zealous to win people to themselves, to their way of thinking. They do not have the ultimate goal of Glory to God. They want the Galatian Christians to be zealous in the same way, for the wrong reasons and directed at the wrong target

It is fine to be zealous, as long as the purpose behind it is good. In other words, as long as we are zealous for Christ. God wants us to be zealous when it comes to Him, He wants us to be on fire, it is far better than being lukewarm.

Revelation 3:16-17 teaches us, "So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will vomit you out of My mouth. Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have no need of anything,” and you do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked."
Jesus would rather you be cold even than lukewarm. If you are cold, the people in your life might not even know that you are a Christian because you probably don’t talk about your faith much, so at least you aren’t doing too much damage, you just look like any other pagan.

However, if you are Lukewarm, then people might be looking at you and seeing you as an example of what a Christian is like. And if you are Lukewarm, then you are likely acting as a bad example of a true Christian, your life may have a negative testimony to the people in your life.

People like that put a bad taste in Jesus' mouth, He wants to vomit them out. That's why He wants us to be on fire, He wants us to be hot. He wants us to be zealous for Him! If you are on fire, it doesn’t come and go. If it is not just a show that you are putting on, look at me, the amazing Christian will now perform again, see what I can do?

If you are on fire, you aren’t seeking glory for yourself, but for God. You just can’t help yourself when it comes to living life for Jesus. Serving Christ, can even become your life's passion, and helping people who are in need.

In verses 19 and 20, Paul says "My children, with whom I am again in labor until Christ is formed in you—but I could wish to be present with you now and to change my tone of voice, for I am at a loss about you!"
In other words, Paul is saying He is enduring pain again, the same kind of pain, the pain that longs for them to become what they are not yet. They were already believers, they were affirmed, so Christ lives in them, however, they had no taken on the form of Christ. Paul wishes he could be present with them, to demonstrate his compassion and tenderness toward them, rather than the frustration in the tone of his letter.

Maybe that is what God had in mind, when He put you in a place where you could talk about Jesus. Maybe God put you there for a reason, maybe they needed to know hear that someone cared enough to help, they weren't facing their struggle alone. Maybe they were having a terrible day and showing them the love of Christ, was all it would have taken to turn their day around. You will never know. Because you can’t go back in time. You can, however, do something.

What you can do is pray for God to reveal those to you He wants you to help, to give you the strength to face whatever challenge you might find yourself in, then turn up the volume on the voice of the Holy Spirit, and wait for God to stoke up your fire, to increase your zeal for Him.

It is a risky thing to do, because He will tell you to serve other people. He will ask you to sacrifice, he will take you out of your comfort zone and put you into situations you never thought you could handle. And that is OK because HE can handle anything.

Sometimes I wonder if it could have changed anything if I had been more on fire and more zealous when I had the opportunity, encountered people, whose life I could have affected. I'll never know now, I can’t go back in time.

We hear a lot of talk about the economy in America and the economy growing. You need to understand, that the economy in America grows on massive self-interest, often on the backs of others, not from wanting to help others; sadly, that rarely happens, but it should.

However, if you are here today and you feel hopeless like some of those we've encountered, I can tell you that it is never really hopeless, and that you can have real joy, your life can have real purpose. God wants you to have joy, to have real purpose, and to have a real relationship with Him, the creator of the universe.

Your sin is what separates you from God, but He sent His son Jesus, God incarnate, born in the flesh, to die on the cross to pay for your sins. If you will turn away from your sin, and turn toward Jesus, believing that He is the Son of God, that He did die on the cross to pay for your sins, and that he conquered death and walked out of that tomb on the third day. If you will do that and ask Him to forgive you, and ask Him to be your Redeemer, your Lord and Savoir, He will do it! He will forgive your sins and He will make His home in your heart. He will save you from an eternity apart from God and He will give you a life of joy and purpose.

May it be so...

And now may the Lord bless you and keep you;

the Lord make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;

The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.

Now and forever, in Jesus' name

Copyright © 2019-2020 All Rights Reserved

The Brian Monzon Ministries



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