Sermons

Summary: Happiness is rooted in human emotions. Joy is rooted in Jesus and is powered by God’s grace.

Response Goal: Individuals prompted by the Holy Spirit will pray silently and connect with Jesus.

REPENTANCE POINT {paradigm shifts or changes in our thinking}: Finding joy does not involve making your circumstances better - it involves making your mind work like Jesus’ mind.

Citation: Tom Fuller, sermoncentral.com

PATTERN: DEDUCTIVE TEXTUAL – EXPOSITORY (CONTRAST/COMPARE)

IDEAS for Bible Readings, Prayers or Songs

1 Peter 1:3-9

Benediction --

Leave knowing that happiness is not enough to make your life complete. Go into the world and live with joy – abundant joy – now and always. Amen.

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Introduction:

“Clearly, the cross is what separates the Christ of Christianity from every other religion regarding Jesus. In Judaism there’s no precedent for a Messiah who dies, much less as a criminal as Jesus did. In Islam, the story of Jesus’ death is rejected as an affront to Allah himself. Hindus can accept only a Jesus who passes into peace samadhi, a yogi who escapes the degradation of death. ‘The figure of the crucified Christ,’ says Buddhist Thich Nhat Hanh, ‘is a very painful image to me. It does not contain joy or peace, and this does not do justice to Jesus.’ There is, in short, no room in other religions for a Christ who experiences the full burden of mortal existence – and hence there’s no reason to believe in him as the divine Son whom the Father resurrected from the dead.”

Citation: Religion editor Kenneth L. Woodward, “The Other Jesus,”

Newsweek (27 March 2000), 60

“The crucified Christ … does not contain joy or peace….”

But the Bible tells us that “For the joy set before him, [Jesus] endured the cross.” (Hebrews 12:2)

It may be hard for others to see, but the cross is the source of Christian joy and peace. Listen to what the apostle Paul writes in the letter to the first century church in Philippi.

Text:

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me – put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

These verses launch scores of questions. Like, how can God expect me to be happy when I’m grieving for and missing my mom? Or, how can being happy give us peace when the economy is down and jobs are hard to find? It’s one thing to smile and be happy when life is good, but how can anyone rejoice in sadness and trouble?

As I’ve worked through these questions and others, I came to a startling realization.

Thesis:

Christian joy is as far distant from human happiness as lumps of coal are from flawless diamonds.

Key Question:

Here are four ways in which happiness and joy are different.

1) Joy is a command. Happiness is by chance.

Happiness is a feeling based on our circumstances. Happiness is our response to events that are often beyond our control. Joy is an attitude we can deliberately choose to develop. That’s why the Bible tells us we should rejoice.

“This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalms 118:24).

“Rejoice in the Lord, always, and again I say, rejoice” (Philippians 4:4).

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:16).

2) Joy holds on and holds out. Happiness blows in and flows out.

Happiness is fleeting; joy endures. Christians can maintain a spirit of joyfulness because we rejoice in that which is “immortal, undefiled, and unfading.”

However un-athletic or sports-phobic you may be, at the moment of a great sports victory happiness is at its zenith. For one triumphant, exhilarating, moment the winner is the victor, happiness rolls over the winning team like a Jacuzzi set on typhoon mode. Nothing could feel better. For a few hours. For, perhaps, a day.

But that adrenaline-soaked happiness is almost immediately infected with “what if” viruses. “What if this is the only triumph I ever get?” “What if we lose big next year?” “What if I can never again play as well as I played today?”

Every athlete knows that the happiness of victory is the most momentary, the most fleeting, the most unrepeatable moment in their lives.

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