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Final Instructions ... Welcome LIfe with Expectancy

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The Bible tells us in Proverbs 15:13 “A happy heart makes the face cheerful.” And a little later in verse 30 of that chapter that author writes, “A cheerful look brings joy to the heart.”

God wants us to experience joy and to have a cheerful demeanor. He has even designed us in such a way do that it is easier to smile than to frown. It takes sixty-four facial muscles to glower and only thirteen to grin. Sadly, too many people are working their faces overtime.

I. REJOICING COMES THROUGH RELATIONSHIP

          1. joy is not a simplistic, sentimental way of dealing with life
          2. it is an effectual, spiritual gift given to us by God to believers that helps to sustain us in difficult times and increases our happiness in good time
              1. it enables us to meet the challenges of life and to wade into impossibilities with enthusiasm and expectancy
              2. rejoicing always in the Lord enables us to let go of the frustration and pick up the broken pieces and start over again

A. OUR REJOICING BEGINS WHEN WE RECEIVE CHRIST AS SAVIOR

          1. being born again is like finding buried treasure
              1. it brings exhilaration and joy
                • ILLUS. I love stories of people finding great treasure. In November of 1922, Howard Carter made one of the most fantastic archeological discoveries of the 20th century. After years of search he found the tomb of King Tutankhamun. After clearing the stairway that led down to the tomb, Carter chiseled a small hole through the doorway into the tomb and shined a light into the dark chamber. When his companions asked his what he saw, hi response was, “Wonderful things!”
          2. Jesus told his disciples ...
            • “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it." (Matthew 13:44-46, ESV)
          3. Jesus stresses two points in this simple little parable
              1. First, that salvation is a great treasure and it’s gain requires a cost
                  1. both men were willing to sell all that he has in order to acquire the treasure he had found
              2. Second, that discovering God’s treasure brings great joy
          4. Jesus wants you to know the fullness of joy that comes through a relationship with Him
            • "As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full." (John 15:9-11, ESV)

II. RELATIVELY FEW PEOPLE EVER EXPERIENCE REAL JOY

          1. why?
          2. there are two reasons why relatively few people, many believers included, do not experience true joy
              1. First, because most American are too busy chasing after an elusive little creature called happiness
                  1. happiness depends upon circumstances and cause-and-effect situations
                  2. i.e., if something good happens to me, that makes me happy, if something bad happens to me, that makes my unhappy
                    • ILLUS. Benjamin Franklin once told a acquaintance, “My friend, the Constitution only guarantees the American people the right to pursue happiness; you have to catch it yourself.”
                  3. the only problem with happiness is that it is often elusive and often scurries beyond our reach at the last moment
              2. Second, when Americans experience joy, they often let circumstances of life come in and crush it
          3. let me share with you what I believe are some of the joy-killers in the Christian life

A. THE CALAMITOUS CIRCUMSTANCES OF OTHERS CAN BE A JOY DESTROYER

    • "For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good for them. But you will not always have me." (Mark 14:7, ESV)
          1. we live in a world full of pitiful people
              1. many are defeated, bitter, sullen and down on life
              2. some of them will also be critical fo anybody they see enjoying life
          2. have you ever met somebody who was a real kill-joy?
              1. the kind of person who is so miserable that the only happiness they ever have is bringing others down to their level of misery?
                • ILLUS. Lucy Van Pelt, of the Peanuts Comic trip, is Charles Shultz’ version of a kill-joy. In spite of all that she has, she is always miserable–except when she is making other unhappy. Linus, her little brother, describes her as the Crabgrass in the lawn of life.
          3. we need to be sensitive to the plight of others around us and the calamitous circumstances they find themself in
              1. it is a real gift to be able to empathize, or put yourself in another’s shoes and feel how they are feeling
              2. but be careful of the drowning man syndrom
              3. if you are not careful, they may pull you down to joylessness, just as a drowning man may pull his rescuer down with him to a watery grave

B. THE DESPAIR OF CRISIS CAN BE A JOY DESTROYER

          1. all of us face both trivial and momentous difficulties during our lifetime
              1. how we face them will determine whether our joy is destroyed or tempered
          2. joy is like an artesian well that flows from deep within our lives
              1. it’s outward flow cannot be easily turned off or diminished
                • ILLUS. One day Jesus told a Samaritan woman who had come to Jacob’s well to draw water that he had living water to share with her. He told her, "Indeed, that water I give ... will become in you a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
              2. welling up is a term which means a source of continuous supply
              3. joy, based on life in Christ, will never run out
          3. crisis comes to all people, including Christians
            • “ ... in this world you will have trouble ... “ (John 16:33, NIV)
              1. we should not be overly surprised when trouble dins us out in particular
                • "Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed." (1 Peter 4:12-13, ESV)
              2. we can either find reasons to rejoice in the midst of crisis, or ...
              3. we can retreat into ourselves in a vain attempt to avoid the difficulties which challenge us
          4. despair can be a joy destroyer – if you let it

C. THE GUILT OF UNCONFESSED SIN IS A JOY DESTROYER

          1. the guilt of sin, not honestly dealt with before a Holy God, is why many Christians do not experience real, deep-down, thrill-the-soul, light-up-the-face joy
            • ILLUS. Psalm 51 is an excellent example of a believer who, because of sin, is out of fellowship with God, and because he is out of fellowship with God has lost his joy. It is the story of David when he suddenly realizes the tremendous burden of guilt because of his sin. It has alienated him from his heavenly Father. He acknowledges his sin and asks God to Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.”
          2. God wants to release you from the guilt of iniquity
              1. He wants you to be free from the burden of sin
              2. He wants you to have fellowship uninterrupted fellowship with Him
              3. He does not want the joy of His salvation to be suppressed by guilt
          3. God, to that end, offers cleansing, forgiveness, whenever we approach Him in true contrition and confession
              1. forgiveness always brings joy
          4. don’t let the guilt and burden of sin destroy your joy
              1. ‘fess up!

III. REJOICING ALWAYS MEANS TO WELCOME LIFE WITH EXPECTANCY

          1. how do we learn to rejoice always?
          2. joy, after all, is one of the things lost people are looking for most in a believer’s life
            • ILLUS. Phillips Brooks, and English evangelist of the early 19th century, once said, “The religion that makes a man look sick certainly won‘t cure the world.”

A. KEYS TO REJOICING ALWAYS

          1. if ya ain’t saved, get saved!
              1. joy is one of the Fruits of the Spirit who takes up residence in your life when you’re born again
              2. without the Spirit of God in your life, you cannot have the joy of God in your life – it’s that simple
          2. dwell on the positive rather than on the negative
            • "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things." (Philippians 4:8, ESV)
              1. Paul recognized the value of accentuating the positive and downplaying the negative
              2. positive thinking is not the same as faith, but it nevertheless, is beneficial for the soul
          3. learn to trust in the Lord
            • "Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me." (John 14:1, ESV)
              1. difficulties, whether large or small, teach us two valuable truths about life
                  1. First, that God is in charge
                  2. Second, that we grow the most when we’ve trusted God in spite of the difficulties
          4. welcome life with expectancy
              1. this is a contemporary way of saying rejoice always
              2. many people, including too many Christians, live life in an agony of fear about what tomorrow may bring
              3. the Apostle Paul told the Philippian believers
                • “Rejoice in the Lord always, I will say it again: Rejoice!” (Phil. 4:4, NIV)
              4. when we rejoice always we discover that we can tackle all that life offers and that we can praise God for all that comes our way

Martin Luther said it best when he exclaimed, “ ... The Christian ought to be a living doxology.” Doxology simply means a praise unto God. When you learn to rejoice always you will be a witness to the world and a praise unto God.

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