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Archive for the ‘Joy’ Category

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This morning I had the privilege of hearing Pastor Rick Elzinga preach on Psalm 95. Here is a summary of his sermon in one sentence: Our worship should be joyful, thankful, centered on God, which results in a softened heart that believes and obeys God.

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I had the privilege this morning of hearing Pastor Dan Gannon of Renton Bible Church preaching on Psalm 98. Here is a summary of his sermon in one sentence: Jesus Christ is the promised Messiah whose coming brings joy to the world.

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This morning I had the privilege of preaching on John 16:16-24. The following is a summary of my sermon in one sentence: Confusion and grief will be turned into joy as we trust the Lord.

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“If you put these things before the brothers, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, being trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine you have followed. Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.” (2 Tim. 4:6-8) The apostle Paul gave these instructions to Timothy, a young man whom he personally trained and discipled to be a shepherd and an elder in the church.

Notice the clear distinction made between the body and soul. Timothy, and by extension we, are told to train ourselves for the purpose of godliness (progressively reflecting more of God’s character and nature) and to realize that bodily training has value in this life but not the next. This doesn’t mean, for example, that we shouldn’t exercise, but we should understand the its limitations.

Put in other words, this is what Paul is saying: physical things can never satisfy or fill our souls, and immaterial things can never satisfy or fill our bodies. There is a gigantic category difference between body and soul, material and immaterial. Certainly, they’re linked together – our soul (mind, affections, and will) influence our bodies, and our bodies influence our souls – but they are not the same thing. We get into trouble when we mix them up.

The best pizza you’ve ever had can never give you peace. Buying a new car will never give you purpose and meaning in life. Joy – true joy – can never come from your paycheck. Forgiveness cannot be given and guilt cannot be removed through alcohol and drugs. Why not? Because they were never designed to meet those needs. By the same token, if you’re hungry, don’t read a chapter of the Bible – get some food! Being content with life won’t satisfy your thirst. Kindness, as good as it is, won’t transport you from home to work. Why? Because they were never designed to meet those needs.

In the Beatitudes, Jesus taught that blessedness, or happiness, comes from being poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, and those who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness (Matt. 5:3-12). We don’t find a pizza, clothes, cars, homes, alcohol, drugs, jobs, or anything material in that list because they cannot bring true blessedness and happiness.

I love pizza, but it can’t bring me peace, joy, or happiness. That was never its design. Peace, joy, happiness, and every other virtue, come from God and not from things.

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Great Joy

 

This last Sunday, due to bad weather, we cancelled our worship service (sort of).

We officially called it off, but by the time we did there were between 15 and 20 people in the building – mostly musicians and those hearty souls who didn’t get the word in time. 

We decided to have an impromptu (and brief) service. There’s just something not quite right about going to church and not spending some time in worship! We sang a few songs, prayed, lit the Advent candle, read Scripture, heard a short (and I mean short) sermon from me, and heard a benediction pronounced. All in about 20 minutes.

Since the Advent candle representing joy was lit earlier in the service, I thought I’d focus in that. Luke 2:8-11 says:

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flocks by night. And the angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”

Good news of great joy. What is it? Our Savior has been born! In His life, death, and resurrection, Jesus – the Savior – will reconcile us to the Father. Everyone who believes in Him will be forgiven of their sins, given new and everlasting life, be declared righteous, and adopted into God’s family (among a myriad of other benefits).  What could give us more joy? Nothing!

I’m not always as joyful as I should be, but pray that the fruit of the Holy Spirit (joy, in particular) would be a more regular part of my life. May it be a regular part of yours, too. I’m of the opinion that Christians should be the most joyful people in the world because we have “a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”

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As I’ve been studying Philippians 3:1-11 and preparing a sermon on the passage (which I’ll deliver this weekend at my home church), I’m struck by Paul’s attitude. He was joyful even though he was in prison when he wrote his epistle to the Phillipians.

Joyful! Imagine that – full of joy while in prison. Being in prison wasn’t exactly the best of circumstances, but Paul had an inner sense of peace and trust in God – a delight in Him regardless of his situation in life.

That themejoy – runs all the way through Philippians.

“Always offering prayer with joy in my every prayer for you all” (1:4)

“What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and in this I rejoice”  – 1:18

“Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy in the faith”  – 1:25

“Make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose”  – 2:2

“Holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I will have reason to glory because I did not toil in vain. But even if I am being poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I rejoice and share my joy with you all. You too, I urge you, rejoice in the same way and share your joy with me.”  – 2:16-18

“Therefore I have sent him all the more eagerly so that when you see him again you may rejoice and I may be less concerned about you”  – 2:28

“Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things again is no trouble to me, and it is a safeguard for you”  – 3:1

“Therefore, my beloved brethren whom I long to see, my joy and crown, in this way stand firm in the Lord, my beloved”  – 4:1

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!”  – 4:4

“But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned before, but you lacked opportunity”  – 4:10

Paul’s joyful attitude is a reminder and a challenge. Joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit which, as Christians, should increasingly characterized our lives. May it be so, by the grace of God!

 

 

 

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