Consider the following statement by Paul in the Word of God, “Not … that we have dominion over your faith, but [we] are helpers of your joy” (II Corinthians 1:24). Paul here implies two different methodologies of ministering. One involves a domineering haughtiness and the other a devoted helpfulness.
Some pastors drive the sheep—like the butcher. Others lead the sheep—like the Shepherd. One group of pastors finds that the people willingly and cheerfully follow them. The other group finds that they are in an adversarial role with the very people whom they sincerely want to serve.
By being a joy-helper, Paul did not mean that he would never reprove or rebuke, because he did—especially the carnal Corinthians! Rather, he meant that his purpose (even in a rebuke) ultimately would be to help their joy! We should all be like Pastor Joy-Helper.
Pastor, what type are you? Are you a joy-helper? If not, your ministry would change for the better if you became a joy-helper for your people. However, before you can help other’s joy, you must have that joy yourself. How can you have the joy of the Lord? There are seven sources of joy:
The Precious Word
“Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts.” (Jeremiah 15:16)
“Thy Word was unto me … joy!” Brother, have you lost your joy? Why? “The word is nigh thee—even in thy mouth” (Romans 10:8). Don’t you know where the answer is? Read the Word. Mark, memorize, meditate, and be mastered by the Word. Start with the Psalms. Memorize verses, chapters, and then books of the Bible.
Let the Word of God richly dwell in you. Preach the Word. Systematically preach the whole counsel of the Word. Pray the Word. Plant the Word. Ply the Word. Partake of the Word. Your joy—and the joy of those who hear you—will be increased! The Word of God does the work of God! His Word is joy.
The Privilege of Prayer
“Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.” (John 16:24)
“Ask … that your joy may be full.” If you don’t pray, you’ll not have full joy. You preach to others to pray. Why don’t you pray? Are you too busy? If you are too busy to pray, you are too busy!
One of God’s purposes in prayer is to give you joy! That’s what this text says, doesn’t it? Instead of griping and complaining, try praying. Do you have joy? No? Perhaps you have not because you ask not.
A little boy needed a new pair of shoes. His widowed mother was too poor to buy him a new pair. She told him, “Let’s pray that God will give you a new pair of shoes.” They knelt down beside his bed and prayed for the new shoes. Before he got into bed, the little boy turned to his mother and asked, “Do you think that God really hears our prayers? Do you think that He will give me a new pair of shoes?”
“Oh, yes!” his mother said, “wait and see!” She said that, trying to have the faith to back up that statement. She had no more than returned to the downstairs when there was knock at the door. Her neighbor was standing there with a brand new pair of shoes for her boy. The neighbor explained that her son had never liked the new shoes, never worn them, and now had outgrown them! “Can you use them?” she asked. “Oh yes! Thank you!” she said. When her neighbor left, she took the shoes upstairs and put them beside her sleeping boy’s bed, right where he would see them first thing in the morning. The next morning her little boy came bounding down the stairs, carrying his new shoes and shouting with joy, “Oh Mama, God does answer prayer!”
How long has it been since you had that kind of joy? How long has it been since you believed that God does answer prayer?
The Product of the Spirit’s Fruit in Your Life
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith.” (Galatians 5:22)
“The fruit of the Spirit is … joy.” Therefore, a Spirit-filled Christian has joy. If you have no joy, then …? Well, we don’t want to go there, do we?
Brother, the truth of the matter may be that you may be running on autopilot. Of all people who should be Spirit-led, you should be!
However, before there can be a filling, there must be a killing! Reckon yourself dead. Yield yourself to the Spirit. Be emptied of self. Be filled with the Spirit of God. The question is never, “How much of the Holy Spirit do you have?” The question is, “How much of you does the Holy Spirit have?” Your joy depends on that.
“For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming?” (I Thessalonians 2:19)
“There is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.” (Luke 15:10)
The greatest joy I have in the ministry is to see a soul saved and then grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Immediately after I had accepted the call to be a preacher, a friend and I had the privilege of leading an old man to the Lord. The man’s wife had been praying for fifty years that the Lord would save him.
He had been an alcoholic nearly all his life. Yet his wife never gave up on him. She asked my friend and me to visit him in the hospital. As we witnessed to him, she waited in the hall, praying one more time for her husband to be saved. And the Lord did save him.
When we came out of the room, his wife could tell by the expressions on our faces that her prayers finally had been answered. She came to us and grabbed us around the neck and hugged us so hard that our heads were rammed together! Yet, I will never forget that joy.
It has been my joy to lead others to Christ. That joy is addictive. Do you have that joy or have you lost it? Win souls to Christ! Teach your people the joy of soul-winning. Sow the seed with weeping. Reap the harvest with rejoicing!
Practicing Fellowship with God
“And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.” (I John 1:4)
Sin will rob you of fellowship. No fellowship with God means no joy. God desires your fellowship. So if you have deprived yourself of the joy of fellowshipping with God, the problem is with you and not with God. Confess your sin. He is faithful and just to forgive all sin and to restore fellowship.
When I was a young, lost teenager, it seemed that my father was always picking on me about something. I hated it! One evening at the supper table, after the tension had been building for months, he did something (I’ve forgotten what it was) that made me mad. “I hate you!” I hissed at him.
My father looked shocked and hurt. As soon as the words had left my mouth, I regretted saying them. Irretrievably, the words were out. My father excused himself from the table. He said nothing. In fact, for the next two weeks, he said nothing to me. He avoided me. If I came into a room, he left. He relayed messages to me through my mother or my sisters.
One day, a schoolmate’s father died suddenly from a heart attack. I felt sad for my friend. At the same time, I felt guilty because my friend’s father’s death made me realize how wrong I was not to make things right with my father. I wondered how I would feel if Dad died and we had not reconciled.
As soon as I arrived home, I found Dad working in the basement. He turned away from me as I approached. I tapped him on the shoulder and said, “Dad, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it when I said that I hated you. I love you, and I am sorry that I hurt you. Please forgive me.” Dad turned around and hugged me and said, “Doc” (my nickname), “I forgive you.” Fellowship with my earthly father was restored. What joy!
Fellowship with your Heavenly Father can be restored as well. Go to Him. He is waiting. He will not turn you away. Tell Him that you are sorry. He will forgive and abundantly pardon. He will restore that sweet fellowship. What joy!
The Person of the Lord
“Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice.” (Philippians 4:4)
Rejoice in Who He is, what He has said, and what He has done. Rejoice in the fact that He is in control. Rejoice in the fact that He makes no mistakes. Philippians 4:8–9 states, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.”
Notice how every attribute in the above verse is an attribute of Christ. Think about Christ. Preach about Christ. Praise Christ. “Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, rejoice” in the Lord.
“By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” (Romans 5:2)
“But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.” (I Peter 4:13)
Weeping endures for a night; joy comes in the morning! For the Christian, there is the blessed hope that gives us great joy. We are going to Heaven! We are going to see the King. We are going to see our saved loved ones again. There will be no more pain, no more sorrow, no more death, for the former things will pass away. What joy that should bring to our souls!
Pastor, there is much that could be accomplished by your becoming a joy-helper. Your life could be changed for the better, your family could be blessed, and your ministry could be rejuvenated by your drawing from the seven sources of joy.
Terry Hagedorn is pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Reedsville, WV
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