Summary: Just as the shepherds experienced great joy over finding Jesus, so we Christians should be experiencing joy with Him.
December 10, 2000 Acts 16:6-34
“Good news of great joy!”
It was a night like any other. The shepherds were out in the fields with their flocks. Everyone except maybe the shepherd keeping watch had already bedded down for the night. The lambs were curled up next to their mothers. The shepherds were wishing that they were at home with their wives and children. Maybe they were even hoping for a little excitement. Tending sheep could be a boring thing. Every day was the same. Lead the sheep to grass and water. Bring them back to the fold at night. It got kind of old. Sheep weren’t the greatest conversationalists in the world, and all that the other shepherds could talk about was . . . sheep and sheep-stuff. “Have you seen Molly’s wool? Isn’t it a nice shade of dirty white?” “What about Henry’s horn? It’s grown at least another 32nd of an inch?” “How many babies do you think Dolly is going to have? I bet she’s going to have a bunch!” Sounds like real manly stuff doesn’t it? Real exciting. So maybe that’s the reason that these shepherds stayed out in the field that night rather than go home to the fold – just something a little different to break up the monotony. Little did they know that the greatest event in all of history was going to happen that night. And they had not the slightest idea that they were going to be a part of it. [read Luke 2:8-10] (Luke 2:8-10 NIV) And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy . . .
I would say that the monotony of that night and the monotony of their lives was broken up in a big way. The angel proclaimed that the source of all joy was coming that very night. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, a pivotal Christian thinker of our time, said, “Joy is the surest sign of the presence of God.” . . . If God really is the center of one’s life and being, joy is inevitable. If we have no joy, we have missed the heart of the Good News and our bodies as much as our souls will suffer the consequences. – Bruce Larson, There’s a Lot More to Health Than Not Being Sick as quoted in Tales of the Tardy Oxcart. P. 322
The trouble with many men is that they have got just enough religion to make them miserable. If there is not joy in religion, you have got a leak in your religion. - Billy Sunday SERMON, NEW YORK 1914
Joy is the flag that flies over the castle of our hearts announcing that the king is in residence today. – Walter B. Knight, Knights master Book of New Illustrations.
Joy is the enjoyment of God and the good things that come from the hand of God. If our new freedom in Christ is a piece of angel food cake, joy is the frosting. If the bible gives us the wonderful words of life, joy supplies the music. If the way to heaven turns out to be an arduous steep climb, joy sets up the chair lift. – Sherwood Wirt, Jesus, Man of Joy as quoted in Tales of the Tardy Oxcart. P. 323
The angel proclaimed to the shepherds in the field that this joy would be a joy for all people. A few moments ago, we sang the song “Joy to the world”. This is a joyous time of year, as long as you stay away from shopping arenas. Everybody is supposed to be joyful – full of joy – during this season. But some of you may be asking yourselves, “If this is the joyful season of the year, and joy has come to the world, and everyone else seems to be experiencing it, why aren’t I? What about me? When do I get my share of this joy?” The angels came to the shepherds at night, when it was the darkest. Maybe that describes you. Right now, your life is dark. You can’t see straight because of the struggles and the pain that you are facing. Let me give you this word of encouragement: just as God proclaimed joy to these shepherds in the middle of their night, so He can proclaim joy in your life in the middle of your night.
This morning, I want us to take a look at joy. It won’t be an exhaustive look. We won’t try to cover everything the Bible has to say about the subject. We’ll just have time to deal with a few facets of this jewel. But hopefully it will be enough to enable you to step a little bit more lightly when you leave this place today. Turn with me please to Acts 16. We’re going to examine an event in the life of Paul so that we can see where his joy came from and how he passed that joy to others.