Summary: The Christian finds joy in being freed from guilt, anticipating an eternal reward, having fellowship with God, and being part of God’s work.
Great Joy In the City Acts 8:5-8
INTRO.: You can see almost anything in the city. You can see poverty and plenty, sorrow and happiness, but cities are seldom known as places of great joy. They are places where people work, live, and perhaps celebrate, but not where they simply enjoy themselves. not usually places of great joy.
Occasionally there is an exception. As a Pittsburgher, I remember the first time the Steelers won the Superbowl. There was great joy in that city. People lined the highway from the airport to downtown to greet their returning heroes. That day there was great joy in that city.
When the Gospel came to a city in Samaria, there was great joy. Christian people are consistently the happiest there are. They have reason to be happy with life. There may be some "down" times, but it is certainly safe to say every Christian is happier than he would be without Christ. If not, they have not grasped the real meaning of the Gospel of Grace. So, when multitudes came to know Jesus, there was great joy in the city.
Why should we have joy because we know Jesus?
I. Have joy because the burden of guilt is lifted:
A. A guilty conscience is a great burden to bear:
1. In Psalm 51, David expresses his feelings of guilt: "my sin is always before me." v. 3. "Restore to me the joy of your salvation" 12
2. It is generally suppose he wrote this after the seduction of Bathsheba and murder of Uriah.
3. We can easily understand the depth of his guilt and sense of personal blame over the death of their child.
B. In Jesus, we are free from the nagging of guilty conscience:
1. "Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered." Ps. 32:1
2. Even between humans, it feels good to be forgiven.
3. How much more should we rejoice in the forgiveness God gives?
4. Great joy comes from having a free conscience before God. It comes through Jesus. Rom. 8:1
II. Have joy because an eternal reward awaits: Luke 10
A. Jesus sent 72 selected disciples to towns He intended to visit. He instructed them to prepare the way for Him by preaching the Kingdom and healing the sick.
1. They returned with great joy, saying, ""Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name." 17
2. He promised even greater power. 19
3. Then, he exhorted them to keep their priorities straight. "rejoice that your names are written in heaven." 19
B. Our joy as Christians should spring from our hope of eternal reward:
1. We know we have an eternal home with Jesus.
2. We are promised victory over sin and death.
3. This hope for future reward will help us endure suffering & disappointment. Matt. 5:11, 12
III. Have joy because we have fellowship with God through His Spirit: Phil. 4:4, 5
A. It is terrible to be lonely.
1. Sometimes we want to be alone, but we never want to be lonely.
2. We can be lonely even in a crowd or with loved ones.
3. ILLUS.: nursing home residents always greet visitors with joy because, although they are never alone, they are often lonely.
B. The Christian is never alone. Jn. 14:15-18
1. He is always God’s companion.
2. If we can grasp a sense of God’s Presence, we will never be lonely, even without human friends.
3. His Spirit within us gives opportunity for intimate fellowship.
4. The closer we are to Him, the more encouragement, strength, comfort we receive.
IV. Have joy because God has called us to do His work.
A. There’s great joy in having a purpose in life:
1. Many retirees are miserable if they don’t find a purpose for living other than the job they left.
2. Jesus can give meaning and purpose to life no matter what age we come to Him.
3. He commissions us to spread His Gospel
4. His commission is for every Christian, not just preachers.
B. So, we all have a ministry:
1. Every Christian is a partner in the work of God and should find an avenue to serve God and his fellow man.
2. Some may not be able to do much, but we can all do something for God and others.
3. A conquering army always rejoices. Hardships are endured and past. Losses are accepted. It is great to have fought a winning battle.
4. One great joy in doing God’s work is that nothing is done in vain. I Cor. 15:57, 58
CONC.: The Christian life is the happiest life there is. Admittedly, there are times we must grieve because of the indifference of loved ones or the suffering we endure. But we do not know the sorrow endured by those who have no hope. God has been so good to us, how can we help rejoicing in His Presence.
We also need to share the joy of our salvation with those around us so they may know the joy of finding Jesus and our joy may increase.