Summary: How to put joy in places it is not often found in.
Great Mysteries of the Faith
Am I Really To Be Joyful In All Circumstances?
Recently, I came across this little snippet about having a bad day. Let me share it with you this morning. You know it’s going to be a bad day when:
1. You call the phone company and they tell you to call back at a later date due to phone troubles.
2. You turn on the news and they are showing emergency routes out of Porter Township.
3. You arrive at work to see a Sixty Minutes news team waiting for you in your office.
4. Your birthday cake collapses under the weight of the candles.
5. The preacher again starts his sermon with another bad joke.
Now, it seems to me that there are going to be bad days in life. Let’s take a quick survey. How many of you have ever had a bad day? How many of you have had a bad day this week? How many of you would just say this has been a bad week? Bad days are common, but they don’t have to get us down.
We have been talking for a number of weeks on some of the great mysteries of the faith. This morning, we are going to be taking a look at the topic of joy. Are we really to be joyful in all circumstances? To me, Philippians 4:4 is the definitive verse on this topic. Turn there with me or follow along in your sermon notes.
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again, rejoice!
This morning, I want you to think back to the Old Testament with me for a moment. Go back to Moses and the Ten Commandments. Let’s see how many we can name.
1. You shall have no other God’s before me.
2. You shall not make for yourself an idol.
3. You shall not misuse the name of the Lord.
4. Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy.
5. Honor your father and mother.
6. You shall not murder.
7. You shall not commit adultery.
8. You shall not steal.
9. You shall not give false testimony.
10. You shall not covet.
Now, I think most of you would agree that when God gave the Israelites these rules, they were not just nice suggestions that they were to follow when they felt like it. They were called commandments, which means that God ordered the Israelites to follow them. Now, repeat our verse with me in Philippians. Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again, rejoice! As with the Ten Commandments given in the Old Testament, this is a command as well. God is not saying, “Have joy when you feel like it.” He is not saying, “Have joy because it is better than being sad.” He is saying that part of our duty as Christians is to be people of joy. Not part of the time. Not when we feel like it. We are to rejoice in the Lord always. This includes having joy in three places where joy is not always evident. This morning, I want to take a look at these three places and how we are to have joy in them. Before we do, let’s look to the Lord for guidance.
Place #1: We are to have joy in our church services.
I once heard of a church in the south that started serving coffee during their worship service. A first time visitor thought this was very odd, so he asked his neighbor in the pew why this occurred. The church member replied, “We serve coffee to make sure everyone is thoroughly awake for the drive home.” That sounds like a very boring church service, and a boring service is one that lacks rejoicing. Have you ever been bored in church? Maybe you need a little more joy in your life.
The fact of the matter is that there is a lack of joy in most church services these days. If I were to have a group of non-Christians stand outside the doors of churches in the area on a Sunday morning and asked them to describe the mood of the people going out, what kind of responses do you think I would get? Would they see smiles or would they see faces that looked like they sucked on a lemon for the last hour? Would they see people who looked like they were alive in the Spirit and had just met with God, or would they see people who looked like they had just woke up? Would they see people who hang around after church for some sweet fellowship, or would they see a massive stampede for the door of people trying to get out? These are all questions we need to ask if we are going to be a church that attracts those who are non-Christians.