Summary: How can we have joy when circumstances are bad?
Iliff and Saltillo UM Churches
December 14, 2003
Third Sunday of Advent JOY
JOY in the Lord--Rejoice
Introduction: Today on the third Sunday of Advent our theme is joy. The angels announced in Luke 2:10 “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.” Too often we lose our joy during the most joyful of all seasons for one reason or another. Jesus came to bring joy to the individual heart in spite of all of the joy robbers that come our way. Did he succeed? This morning let us look back to the events of this week. Was joy evident in your life?
In today’s scripture, Paul was aware of the struggles that we go through, and he pointed out some things that Christians in the early church could do to restore joy to their lives. These same things apply to us today as well.
Let’s take a look at today’s scriptures:
1. Rejoice in the Lord: First of all Paul boldly states: “Rejoice [in the Lord] always! The very first thing he says is to rejoice, but not just to Rejoice Always over the good things in their life. He knew that they didn’t always have Totally Good Things happening all the time. He didn’t simply say Rejoice Always. The important part is that he pointed them to the Lord--he said, “Rejoice in the Lord always. He was seeing things in a different way perhaps from what they were seeing it.
STORY: Grandma’s glasses
One day two little boys were playing, and one asked the other, “Wouldn’t you have to wear glasses all the time?
The other little boy thought a minute and answered, “No, not if I had the kind Grandma wears. She sees how to fix a lot of things, and she sees a lot of nice things to do on rainy days. She sees when people are tired and sick and what will make them feel better. She always sees what you meant to do even if you haven’t got things just right. He went on to say, “I asked her one day how she could see that way all the time, and she said it was the way she had learned to look at things as she grew older.
So it must be her glasses.”
Paul knew that the early Christians were probably wondering, “How is it possible to rejoice in view of our difficulties?” You might wonder this too. Paul wanted them to get the point and he restated this same thought to them. “I will say it again--rejoice.” He knew that he needed to get their attention off of the problems at hand. He says, “I will say it again--rejoice in the Lord always.” The Advent candle reminds us that JOY comes through Jesus.
2. Gentleness: the next clue he gives them might not seem to fit. He talks about GENTLENESS. He says, “let your gentleness be evident to ALL. Not just SOME people. Not just the people who are nice to you. He is saying, “Be gentle toward the abrasive people you run into in the stores or in traffic or in your families.” Be gentle toward people who are not yet Christians as well as Christians. Be able to give up your personal rights and show consideration and gentleness to others.
Mom used to say “if you talk nice to people the Bible says it will “heap coals of fire upon their heads” and it will make them feel ashamed of how they have acted or what they said.
STORY: One woman said, “that doesn’t work. I poured a cup of hot coffee over my husband’s hand and he only got that much madder at me!!”
A gentle spirit toward all will do much toward disarming an adversary. Why is this?
Paul goes on to say the Lord is near to settle disputes. We don’t have to. It’s up to us to show a spirit of gentleness which opens the way for JOY to come into negative situations.
This prayer illustrates the point:
“A Different Type of Prayer”
Heavenly Father, Help us remember that the
jerk who cut us off in traffic last night is a single
mother who worked nine hours that day and
was rushing home to cook dinner, help with
homework, do the laundry and spend a few
precious moments with her children.
Help us to remember that the pierced, tattooed,
disinterested young man who can’t make change
correctly is a worried 19 year old college student,
balancing his apprehension over final exams with
his fear of not getting his student loans for next
Remind us, Lord, that the scary looking bum,
begging for money in the same spot every day
(who really ought to get a job)! is a slave to