Saturday, February 04, 2006

That your joy may be full...

Shortly after I met Jesus, I memorized what the Navigators called "Beginning with Christ" pack, five Bible passages about assurance: Assurance of salvation (I John 5.11-12), of answered prayer (John 16.24), of help in temptation (1 Corinthians 10.13), of guidance (Proverbs 3.5-6), and one more I can't remember.

One verse in particular made a big impression on a friend of mine. In the New American Standard Bible, John 16.24 reads:

Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, that your joy may be made full.

After some meditation, he asked himself, "What of my prayers would, if God answered it, make my joy full?"

In other words, why bother praying for something, unless it would make my joy full?

This morning, a quarter-century later, it occurred to me to look for other places in the Bible where someone's joy is full -- or, as the NIV has it, "complete."

What Jesus says about complete joy

I started by looking for other places where Jesus uses this word near the word "joy", and I found just two places, both in John's gospel.

In John 15.11, Jesus says "I have told you this so that... your joy may be complete."

In John 17.13, Jesus says that the words he says "while I am still in the world" so that his followers may have the full measure of his joy in them.

So besides answered prayer, Jesus seems to think his words have something to do with making our joy complete -- in particular the words to his disciples about "abiding" or "remaining" in him, and the words to his Father about the things to come in what we now call "the church age."

So what does this mean to me? I should think about staying connected to Jesus (like a branch stays connected to the vine) and I should think about Jesus's encouragements and warnings for our age.

More later...

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