Summary: In this lesson, we learn that having a rejoicing heart comes from learning to rejoice over our salvation and the salvation of others. We should rejoice that our name is written in heaven!
A. How many of you like surprise parties?
1. Here’s a funny cartoon about a surprise party gone wrong.
2. Ed’s co-workers surprised him on his birthday.
3. “Well one thing’s for sure…He was definitely surprised.”
B. Max Lucado tells an interesting story about a surprise birthday party his family threw for him.
1. He had told his wife, Denalyn, not to plan anything for his birthday, except for a nice, family evening at a restaurant.
a. As it ended up, she listened only to the restaurant part.
b. Little did he know that half a dozen families were going to join them.
2. The day of the event, Max tried to talk his wife into staying home, saying that they could go out to dinner another night.
a. One of their daughters had been sick, another had homework.
b. He had spent the afternoon watching football games and just felt lazy.
c. Max just wasn’t in the mood to get up and clean up to go out.
3. He thought that he would have no problem convincing the girls to postpone the dinner, but he was wrong.
a. They wouldn’t think of it.
b. Each of his objections was met with a united front and a unanimous defense.
4. His family made it clear that they were going out to eat.
a. Not only that, they were going to leave on time.
b. Max finally consented and started to get ready.
c. But to their dismay, he moved too slowly.
5. He says that they were a study in contrasts.
a. His attitude was “Why hurry,” and their attitude was “Hurry Up.”
b. His attitude was “Ho-hum,” and their attitude was “Gung-ho.”
c. He was content to stay and they were anxious to leave.
6. To be honest, Max was bewildered by their actions.
a. They were being uncharacteristically prompt.
b. They were curiously enthused.
c. “Why the big deal?” he thought.
d. Sure, he enjoyed a night out as much as the next guy, but little Sara giggled all the way to the restaurant.
7. Only when they arrived did their actions make sense to him.
a. One step inside the door and he understood their enthusiasm as he heard the “Surprise!”
b. No wonder they had been acting differently.
c. They knew something that he didn’t.
d. They had seen something that he hadn’t.
e. They’d already seen the decorated tables and the stacked gifts and the cake.
8. Since they knew about the party, they did everything necessary to see that Max didn’t miss it.
C. Jesus does the same thing for us.
1. He knows all about the party that awaits us.
2. And He is giddy with anticipation as He awaits our arrival.
D. In Luke 15, one of the greatest chapters in the Bible, Jesus tells three stories.
1. Each story speaks of something being lost and of something being found.
2. A lost sheep. A lost coin. And a lost son.
3. At the end of each story, Jesus describes a party, a celebration that takes place.
a. The shepherd throws a party for the lost-but-now-found sheep.
b. The housewife throws a party because of the lost-but-now-found coin.
c. And the father throws a party in honor of his lost-but-now-found son.
E. In each of the three stories we notice the word “rejoice.”
1. Regarding the shepherd, Jesus says: “And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6 and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ ” (Lk. 15:5-6)
2. When the housewife finds her lost coin, she announces: “Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.” (Lk. 15:9)
3. And the father of the prodigal son explains to the reluctant older son: “But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.” (Lk. 15:32)
F. Jesus’ point comes through loud and clear - God is the happiest when the lost are found.
1. For God, no moment compares to the moment of salvation.
2. Let one of God’s children consent to be dressed in righteousness and begin the journey home and heaven throws a party – the punch is poured, the streamers are strung, and the confetti is thrown.
3. Jesus said, “In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” (Lk. 15:10)
G. A century ago, Charles Spurgeon wrote these words about these verses: “There are Christmas days in heaven where Christ’s high mass is kept, and Christ is not glorified because He was born in a manger, but because he is born in a broken heart. And these are days when the shepherd brings home the lost sheep upon His shoulders, when the church has swept her house and found the lost piece of money, for then are these friends and neighbors called together, and they rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory over one sinner who repents.”