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Advent 1996 -3- Joy Always

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Readings: Isaiah 35:1-10; Philippians 4:1-4
and the ransomed of the LORD will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away. Isaiah 35:10 (NIV)

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!  Philippians 4:4 (NIV)

I.   Joy is one of life’s Elusive pursuits

     A.  Don’t Worry; be Happy?

           1.  Is Joy a matter of good blinders?

                 a.  Is it simply a matter of ignorance means bliss?

                 b.  Do we find joy just be ignoring sorrow, or pain, or suffering?

           2.  How can we get real joy, rather than the pretend kind, the “mind-game” kind?

     B.  Short term thrill or long term Joy?

           1.  In a world of instant coffee and micro-wave ovens, can we wait for anything?

           2.  Deep, lasting joy comes only by self-discipline and hard work

                 a.  I may never know the joy of playing baroque style piano. I don’t have the commitment to learn that instrument.

                 b.  But after practicing and practicing, I can have a lot of joy out of playing the guitar.

                 c.  Life is like that. Getting true joy out of life means doing all the routine, self-discipline, stuff that makes real living fun.

           3.  But not all joy is postponed either. Rejoice in the Lord always means now too! There is joy even in the journey.

     C.  Jesus came to make Deep Joy possible

           1.  We’re stuck in our sin and misery without Jesus, though.

                 a.  Without him, there’s a cloud over every party, a tear in every smile.

                 b.  Laughter only hides the pain, or is a temporary respite from it.

           2.  With Jesus we’re free from what drags us down the most — our own rottenness!

II.  Our joy is in the Lord!

     A.  Not just joy about Something

           1.  The problem with “Don’t Worry; Be Happy” is we need to be happy about something!

           2.  We don’t try to find something satisfying that is only a temporary solution.

     B.  It is a Delight to be with God

           1.  Despite what “party-pooper” Christians want us to think, God wants us to enjoy Him and His creation and each other!

           2.  God is always delighting us with pleasant little surprises - a rainbow, a unexpected check in the mail, a sunset, a flower, a new insight, a song.

           3.  That is why we can and want to David suggests:

Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4 (NIV)

     C.  The Joy of the Lord is our Strength

“...This day is sacred to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10 (NIV)

           1.  Even in the context of becoming aware of our shortcomings (the context of this passage)!

           2.  Joy in the Lord is strength because our Joy in God (which can never be diminished) energizes us to bear anything this world throws at us.

           3.  Or this could mean that God’s joy is our strength!

III. “Rejoice” is a Command!

     A.  Joy is more Attitude than emotion

           1.  We choose an attitude, an emotion is simply a response.

           2.  An attitude of joy is a desire to view reality through glasses colored by God’s blessings.

           3.  Joy is a “good mood.” So, “Be in a good mood in the Lord always, again I say Be in a good mood!” This good mood: Joy!

     B.  Joy in the Lord is a sacred Duty

           1.  Joy is a spontaneous human response to God and what He has done.

           2.  When the Joy isn’t there, something is blocking it (sin, false belief, immaturity)

                 a.  Our duty then is to let go of sin, learn the Truth that sets us free to rejoice, and grow up in the Lord a little more each day.

                 b.  Joy is the constant companion of love. Where there is love, there is joy. When joy isn’t there we must ask where love is.

           3.  Joy is an act of worship, in fact an essential part of worship.

                 a.  And worship is an essential part of life.

                 b.  The first question and answer of the Westminster Catechism is What is the chief end of man? To love God and enjoy him forever.

     C.  Jesus in us means Joy in us.

           1.  The proper response to what Jesus has done for us is: Joy!

           2.  The proper response to Jesus living in our hearts through the Holy Spirit: Joy!

                 a.  Jesus born in a stable so long ago, is born in our hearts too. (The angels sing whenever that happens!)

                 b.  The joy that this provides never diminishes (unless our attention is diverted from Jesus himself to some lesser concern)

           3.  The proper response to Jesus carrying us home and providing for us an eternity without sorrow or suffering?

                 a.  The joy of Jesus will never end.

                 b.  Rejoice in Jesus always. You can say that again! Rejoice!

The Bottom Line:

Jesus, born in our Hearts, is a fountain of joy that will Never dry up. Drink Deeply from this fountain this Christmas!


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