The Wine of Joy

                    I hope everyone had a beautiful Christmas and New Years. I enjoyed having hubby home and spending the time with family. Our resolution as a family is to get out of debt. My personal resolution is to be joyful. Joy is different from happiness. Happiness deals with one’s mind and emotions in the realm of the soul. Joy, on the other hand, resides in the spirit-the part of us that will love forever, the essence of our being. Based upon outward circumstances, happiness comes and goes. Independent of circumstances, joy can be constant.
With us not being where we’d like financially I’m still going to be joyful. I currently started reading of book of 1 John for my personal study. I’m using Jon Courson’s Application Commentary. And God is so good and knows exactly what I need to hear. Here is a topical study of 1 John 1:4 by Jon Courson. It was encouraging to me. I hope it’ll be the same for you. Enjoy!
 
The Wine of Joy a Topical Study of 1 John 1:4
 
             Having spent three years in the physical company of Jesus, no doubt John had countless memories of time spent with Him. After all, it was John who said that even the world itself could not contain the books that could be written about Him (John 21:25). Therefore, I wonder, if writing about joy, John’s mind went back to a unforgettable day in Galilee, an account of which he was the only Gospel writer to record . . . 
 
The Production of Wine
“On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Now both Jesus and His disciples were invited to the wedding. And when they ran out of wine, the mother of Jesus said to Him, “They have no wine.” Jesus said to her, “Women, what does your concern have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it.” Now there were set there six waterpots of stone, according to the manner of purification of the Jews, containing twenty or thirty gallons apiece. Jesus said to them, “Fill the waterpots with water.” And He said to them, “Draw some out now, and take it to the master of the feast.” And they took it. When the master of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and did not know where it came from (but the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom. And he said to him, “Every man at the beginning sets out the good wine, and when the guests have well drunk, then the inferior. You have kept the good wine until now!”                        John 2:1-10
                  What was the reason for this miracle? Wine being the symbol of joy throughout the Bible, I suggest Jesus chose to do His first miracle behind the scenes, out of sight of most people, simply to add joy to a marriage ceremony. 
Now, if i were the Lord, I would have chosen as my first miracle to resurrect someone from the dead, cleanse someone from leprosy, or cast out a demon-something spectacular or necessary. But Jesus chose to do His first miracle in a way that says very clearly to you and me, “I want people to be full of joy. Whether ir’s a marriage that’s watered down or a life that’s washed up, I want to bring in one hundred eight gallons of sparkling, bubbling joy-better than anything you’ve ever tasted before, better than anything the world can offer. I want to do something to bring you joy-joy in your parenting, joy in your profession, joy in your hearts.” 
            Whenever people are with Jesus, close to Jesus, learning about Jesus, joy abounds. “If that be true,” you say, “how do you explain what I’m going through this week? How can you explain what I’ve experienced this month? If 1 John was written in order that our joy might be full, if Jesus declared He wants us to be filled with joy, why has this last week, month, or year have been anything but joyful for me?”
For the answer, turn to the Book of Jeremiah . . . .
 
The  Purification of Wine
            “Moab has been at ease from his youth; He has settled on his dregs. And has not been emptied from vessel to vessel, Nor has he gone into captivity. Therefore his taste remained in him, And his scent has not changed.”      Jeremiah 48:11
                         In Old Testament times, wine was made by pouring the juice of crushed grapes into a large vessel and allowing it to sit until the lees-the dregs, the impurities-settled to the bottom. At just the right time, the winemaker would pour the wine into another vessel, leaving the dregs behind. This process would be repeated sometimes twelve to fifteen times. 
Why?
          If the wine wasn’t poured from vessel to vessel, it would begin to take on the bitter taste of the lees. So in order to make wine that was pleasing to the taste, smell, and sight, the winemaker would pour the wine again and again until there were no dregs left. 
       When I begin to understand that this is God’s process for purifying people as well as wine, my life makes a lot more sense. You see, the Lord says, “I want to flood you and fill you with the wine of the Holy Ghost. This means that not only will I provide the wine of My joy of your life-but that I will purify it as well.” 
        Thus, when everything is relaxed and peaceful and wonderful, when I get settled, lethargic and comfortable, the winemaker will stir up my life as He overturns my vessel. “Poor me!” I cry. “How could You do this? Why is this happening?” 
             The Lord knows that what I truly desire is to be filled with the sparkling, bubbly, pure wine of joy, a wine that is please to Him, a wine that is contagious for the process because when I get comfortable, all too often, I stop seeking God; I don’t go to church; I don’t read the Word. And as I am cut off from the One who is the source of joy, my life gets shallower, narrower and smaller. And I become bitter as a result.
               So the Lord says, “Because I love you too much to leave you in the dregs and let your life become a drag, I’m going to overturn it regularly.”
             And finally, after being poured from vessel to vessel each time I get comfortable, instead of “Poor me,” I hear myself  saying, “Pour me, Lord. Pour me,” as I begin to learn that it is a process that produces in me a joy unspeakable and full of glory. It is a process that matures, deepens, and purifies me; a process that keeps me from becoming polluted and defiled by the dregs of my own complacency. 
             My teenagers, Ben & Mary, are very different-Mary is as feminine as Ben is tough. But there’s one exception. At the Santa Cruz boardwalk and Great America years ago, I was reminded of this exception once again. You see, my daughter Mary always loves scary rides-the one that spin and drop, the ones from which everyone exits with a green hue to their faces. On the other hand, my tough guy, Ben, was terrified by the Pirates of the Caribbean-not by the pirates, but by the little dip at the beginning of the ride. So here was Mary the spinning around on all these huge rides-while Ben rode the kiddy cars. Mary knew something that Ben didn’t understand. Ben was convinced that scary rides were deathtraps. Mary, on the other hand, had total confidence that whoever engineered them did so in a way that would be thrilling, unpredictable and exciting-but safe. Mary knew the rides were designed to provide a thrill-but not to kill.
Why, when they go through the twist and turns and ‘pourings’ of life, do some people say, “Whoopee!” while other says, “Woe is me”? I believe it all has to do with trust. Regardless of the dips and turns in the career, the family, the sports field or the classroom, one person says, “Although my stomach’s a bit queasy, I trust that God knows what He’s doing perfectly.” 
 The other person-even though he may know God’s in control theoretically says, “This is it. It’s all over. I’m doomed. I’m going to crash.” 
Why?
Because of his basic fear that God cannot be trusted in the pouring process, that His timing is wrong, that His pouring is too severe. What’s the solution? I suggest it’s found in the Book of Exodus . . . 
        With the Egyptians barreling down upon them, they would have stoned Moses had God not parted the Red Sea. And when they had crossed over the other side, Miriam grabbed a tambourine and led the children of Israel in a song of praise. “Our Lord has done gloriously. Horse and rider He has thrown into the sea.”  
                   As fitting as their praise was, how much better it wold have been had the Israelites grabbed the tambourine before the water parted, saying, “We trust You wholeheartedly, Lord. We’re going to celebrate, sing and dance right now-before we understand how You’re going to come through. (see Exodus 15:20, 21).
 
      There are those of us who shake the tambourine when the Red Sea parts-but not until. Others of us are learning to sing praise before the Red Sea parts, to say, “Lord, I trust You.”
Precious people, we can trust God to purify the wine within us, because of the cup of wine on the table of communion. You see, in saying, “This is My blood shed for you,” Jesus is saying, “I’m deadly serious about My commitment to you. I’m totally and completely in love with you. I only want the best for you. And I prove it absolutely with the wine of My blood before you.”  
             It’s impossible for anyone to go to the table of Communion in sincerity and contemplation without coming away, saying, “Lord, I don’t understand all the whys, but I trust You. The blood You shed for me, Your body broken on behalf of me proves absolutely to me that you’re in love with me and will only do what’s best in me.” 
All the Lord to have His way in your life. The pouring process He puts you through, the seemingly wild ride He takes you on won’t cause you to crash. Oh, it might be a bit interesting from time to time-but rather than wiping you out, it will fill you up with the wine of great, great joy.
                                      
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