Lord God, we are gathered here to listen attentively to your word. Help us understand what we hear so that the joy of the Lord may be our strength. We bless you, Lord, our great God. Amen!
Do you have joy in your life?
There’s the joy of Pepsi (or used to be!)
There’s a cologne called Joy
There’s even a book called The Joy of Cooking (I don’t understand…)
A radio station named NJOY
A movie from a few years back titled Joyride
A jump rope team: Jumpingforjoy
Maybe the proper question: Does your life exhibit joy?
Joy seems to be a missing quality in life today – even in the church
What is God’s Word to us?
Phil 4:4 = Be glad in the Lord always! Again I say, be glad! (joyful)
We are to be joyful when others persecute us or reject us
Matt 5:12 = Be full of joy & be glad, because you have a great reward in heaven.
We are to be joyful even when we are suffering.
1 Peter 4:13 = Rejoice as you share Christ’s suffering. You share his suffering now so that you may also have overwhelming joy when his glory is revealed.
How can we do this, be joyful – ALL the time?
We must know the source, the secret, & the service of joy!
The source of joy is found in Neh 8:10
Don’t be sad, because the joy from the Lord is your strength!
Our joy is the joy from the Lord!
God is with us forever – we are never alone
Ps 16:11 = Beautiful things are always in your right hand.
Our God is sufficient – we have all we need!
Our God is consistent – He is faithful & keeps His covenant
People may - & will – fail us; our God never will!
The secret of joy is found in Neh 8:8
They read aloud from the scroll, the Instruction from God, explaining & interpreting it so the people could understand what they heard.
Hearing & reading the Word of God, having its meaning made clear & understanding, is the secret to joy.
God’s Word convicts us (the people at first grieved), it cleanses us, & then enlarges our capacity for joy
This is especially true in Jesus Christ – Jn 15:11 = “I have said these things to you so that my joy will be in you & your joy will be complete.”
In Jesus, our joy has been made complete
We have strength for today & joy for tomorrow
We have the promise of everlasting life
We have a relationship with the living God
Jesus came that we may have abundant life
But it doesn’t end there
The service of joy is found in Neh 8:10
Go, eat rich food, & drink something sweet, & send portions of this to any who have nothing ready!
We are instructed to go, to eat & drink (we’ll be there shortly!), but - more importantly – to share!
As we celebrate & live in joy, we also share what we have – including our joy – with others
Sharing needn’t be hard or expensive. It can be as simple as:
Delivering Meals on Wheels twice a month to those in need
Giving a cancer patient rides to chemotherapy
Visiting those who are sick or in long-term care – or in prison
Our world today is full of fear, depression & sin
Friends, we have good news to share!
Good news is hard to contain – friends, let it loose!
We have been entrusted with the greatest Good News of all time!
Let us go out today in JOY
Let us go out today to share the good news of God’s love in Jesus Christ!
And 1 more thing: be sure your face knows you are full of joy!
The Lord’s instruction is perfect.
It revives our very being.
The Lord’s laws are faithful.
They make us wise.
The Lord’s regulations are right.
They gladden our hearts.
The Lord’s commands are pure.
They give light to our eyes.
Hear the perfect law of God: I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; you shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an idol. You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God. Remember the Sabbath day, & keep it holy. Honor your father & mother. You shall not murder. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not steal. You shall not bear false witness. You shall not covet anything that belongs to your neighbor. There is great reward in keeping these.
We are enlightened by them.
Yet we cannot know all that we have done wrong, so we pray:
May God clear us of any unknown sin & save us from our willful ones.
May God make us blameless & innocent before him. Amen.