Summary: No greater message has been entrusted to be delivered by man than the message of salvation. Don't Mumble!!!
INTRO: Life if filled with sadness and joy. When sadness comes often we pull within and become more solitary. However the joy causes us to desire to share it with others. In fact the more we share joy the more joyful it becomes. A great acrostic for joy is J=Jesus(First), O=Others(Second) and Y=Yourself(Last). We desire joy in our life however, our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition, when infinite joy is offered to us.
We are much like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in the slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.
I. THE JOY OF THE LORD
Men have pursued joy in every avenue imaginable. Some have successfully found it while others have not. Perhaps it would be easier to describe where joy cannot be found:
Not in Unbelief -- Voltaire was an infidel of the most pronounced type. He wrote: "I wish I had never been born."
Not in Pleasure -- Lord Byron lived a life of pleasure if anyone did. He wrote: "The worm, the canker, and grief are mine alone."
Not in Money -- Jay Gould, the American millionaire, had plenty of that. When dying, he said: "I suppose I am the most miserable man on earth."
Not in Position and Fame -- Lord Beaconsfield enjoyed more than his share of both. He wrote: "Youth is a mistake; manhood a struggle; old age a regret."
Not in Military Glory -- Alexander the Great conquered the known world in his day. Having done so, he wept in his tent, before he said, "There are no more worlds to conquer."
Where then is real joy found? -- the answer is simple, in Christ alone.
A. Not Dependent upon Circumstances - Hebrews 12:2
Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. The cross was not a joyful circumstance and yet joy was present with the Lord as He endured it for us.
B.. The Strength of Believers. - In Neh. Ch. 8 Ezra read the Word of God to a people who had been in captivity for 70 yrs and never before had heard the Word. It was a new experience to them. They stood as Ezra opened the book and he read from morn till midday while they remained standing. The clear reading of the Law caused them to be convicted of sin which brought about a great emotional outburst and tears of repentance to flow. Ezra made this statement… “…neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
ILLUS: As a third-century man was anticipating death, he penned these last words to a friend: "It's a bad world, an incredibly bad world. But I have discovered in the midst of it a quiet and holy people who have learned a great secret. They have found a joy which is a thousand times better than any pleasure of our sinful life. They are despised and persecuted, but they care not. They are masters of their souls. They have overcome the world. These people are the Christians--and I am one of them."