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Summary: We are called to be a people of Great Joy. We are called to celebrate, to rejoice and to share the message of Joy in Jesus! This sermon shows us how we can do that!

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Scripture: 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24; Luke 1:47 - 55 (Call to worship - Psalm 126)

Theme: Joy/Rejoicing

Title: God's Joy Parties

We are called to be a people of Great Joy. We are called to celebrate, to rejoice and to share the message of Joy in Jesus!

INTRO:

Grace and peace from God our Father, from Jesus our Savior and from the Holy Spirit who infills us, cleanses us and guides us today!

How many this morning have already been to one or two Christmas parties? How many have a few more to attend? This is the season of parties, celebrations and joy. There are family parties, small group parties, office parties, school parties and all kinds of parties going on during this time of the year.

And while they can get a little laborious for those who are introverts they are a joy and a delight to any who have a speck of extrovertism. There is something wonderful about getting together with people and having a great time. It's not about the gifts or the games so much as it is about the sharing of space with other people. It's about getting to know people better and being able to share life with one another.

Experiencing joy, having a party and celebrating is a part of us being authentic humans reflecting God's glory. It is a part of being made in the image of God. Did you know that joy and rejoicing is a part of God Himself? Listen to a few passages that talk about the Joy of the LORD:

+ “The joy of the Lord is your strength" - Nehemiah 8:10 c (ESV)

+ "You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand". Psalm 16:11 (NIV)

+ "Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and joy are in his place" - 2 Chronicles 16:27 (ESV)

Throughout scripture and especially in the New Testament we see that our LORD GOD ALMIGHTY rejoiced. The LORD GOD ALMIGHTY rejoiced:

+At the coming of Jesus - Matthew 2:10

+At the Resurrection of Jesus - Matthew 28:8

+The Ascension of Jesus - Luke 24:52

+The Outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Gentiles - Acts 15:3

While He was on the earth our Lord Jesus lived a life of immense joy. Jesus loved to fellowship with others. He loved to go to festivals, dinners and parties. He loved the joy that happened when He healed someone, freed someone from oppression or when people listened and obeyed His Word. Jesus loved joy so much and thought it was so important that He tells us that He is going to make it possible for us to experience joy:

"These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full". - John 15:11

And of course we all know that part of the fruit of the Holy Spirit is joy.

"... the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control." - Galatians 5:22-23a

It's just a fact that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit experience Joy and want all of creation to experience Joy. Our God, the True God of Creation, the God who seeks to rescue us, redeem us and restore us into His Holy Image is a God of Joy, a God who loves to Celebrate. Our God is a Party God. He loves a Party and He loves to give Joy to all of His Creation.

Each one of our passages this morning focuses on the themes of joy, rejoicing and celebration. Mary the Mother of Jesus bursts forth in a song of praise and celebration. She envisions a time when those who have been marginalized and cast down are delivered and promoted by the LORD GOD ALMIGHTY. She see a time when the LORD is going to restore things to their rightful and proper place. She rejoices for a new age of righteousness and holiness is upon God's People and the World. She is filled with the joy of carrying the very Son of God who will save mankind from the penalty and power of sin.

In Paul's letter we see that the Apostle Paul is putting the last few touches to his first correspondence with the disciples in Thessalonica. He wants them to hold fast to some very important things including the essential nature of prayer and being sensitive to the voice and leadings of the Holy Spirit. Paul personally knows the magnitude of having an intimate prayer life with the LORD and the value of being obedient to God's Holy Spirit.

Also, the Apostle wants them to remember that a life in Christ is to be a life filled with joy and rejoicing. He uses the Greek word ?a??? ( khi'-ro ) which means to be happy, cheerful, to be glad and to exceedingly rejoice. Paul knows that those early disciples in Thessalonica have been under some intense persecution. They have had to deal with spiritual forces that have tried to make it difficult for them to share the message that Jesus is both Messiah and LORD. They have had to face opposition from overzealous Jews, Roman officials and those who were worshipping pagan gods and goddesses.

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