Summary: A topical sermon loosely based on 1 Peter 1:8 on joy (Outline and material adapted from a sermon by R.A. Torrey; opening from Sermons4Kids at: http://www.sermons4kids.com/heart_full_of_joy.htm)
Have the children come up and do a Children’s Minute with them.
What kind of day are we having today? Are we happy, (Show the smiley face.) or are we sad? (Show the sad face.) What are some of the things that make us happy? Here are some things:
A sunny day A party A new toy A puppy An ice cream cone
A balloon Spending time with a friend
What are some things that make us sad? Here are some things:
Falling down and skinning our knee Making a bad grade in school Feeling all alone Losing our favorite toy Having an argument with our best friend
When someone says something that hurts our feelings When we miss someone
When we think about things that make us happy and things that make us sad, it is pretty simple. When something good happens, we are happy and when something bad happens, we are sad. Do we think Jesus wants us to be happy? Jesus wants us to be joyful instead of happy! What is the difference between being happy and being joyful? Listen and I will tell everyone in a few minutes. Does this mean that nothing bad will ever happen in our lives? No, of course not, but even when we are sad, we can still have joy in our heart because we know that Jesus loves us.
After the apostles were flogged and then released by the Sanhedrin, we find this reaction from the apostles: “The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name.” Acts 5:41, NIV.
There was rejoicing among the apostles in spite of being beaten badly? Clearly their joy came from something other than their circumstances. Our English word happy comes from the Latin word for chance. Happiness is what we feel when our circumstances are pleasant. Joy, on the other hand, come from our faith no matter what our earthly circumstances are.
1 Peter 1:8 is talking about the great joy that fills us when we are saved. One of the marks or fruits of salvation is joy. William Barclay- The Christian is a [person] of joy... A gloomy Christian is a contradiction of terms, and nothing in all religious history has done Christianity more harm than its connection with black clothes and long faces.
Since joy is automatic for a Christian, we don’t have to work at being joyful. Not so. There are several commands in Scripture to be joyful. God would not have commanded us to be joyful if we do not have to work at it. Since joy is a command we can also see it as a spiritual discipline, something that we need to choose to do.
Just a few verses to show this: Back to back commands in one verse. “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” Philippians 4:4, NIV.
“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, NIV. The discipline of joy is a discipline of thanksgiving. We are to give thanks and rejoice no matter what- rejoice in order to be joyful. This might sound like telling the crippled to walk by walking. Or the beatings will continue until morale improves. But to just do it can unlock the coldest of hearts; there is great liberation in practicing the discipline of joy.
This is my New Year’s thought for us, be joyful, experience it but also work at it. Noticed that in my ministries after the 3rd year it seems that the joy seems to go down. In one ministry, before I came, they mentioned that the joy had gone out of the church. After 3 or 4 years with them, that same idea came back into the congregation with a vengeance that ruined it.
Come back to the opening Scripture, 1 Peter 1:8 where we celebrate God filling us with joy.
Thesis: Why are Christians so joyful?
Christians are joyful- their sins are forgiven
“Through him everyone who believes is justified from everything you could not be justified from by the law of Moses.” Acts 13:39, NIV.
When we respond to the gospel by confession, repentance, baptism, we have the forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit. There is no joy on earth like the joy of knowing that God has forgiven every sin we have ever committed.
David said: “Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the LORD does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit.” Psalms 32:1, 2, NIV.
Christians are joyful- they are free from the power of sin
“Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.” John 8:34, NIV.