Joy is the flag flown high From the castle of my heart From the castle of my heart From the castle of my heart Joy is the flag flown high From the castle of my heart When the King is in residence there (So) let it fly in the sky Let the whole world know Let the whole world know Let the whole world know (So) let it fly in the sky Let the whole world know That the King is in residence there.
Christian joy should characterize our whole life and conduct because the King is in residence
Thesis: We are to do the following things with joy
Receive the Word with joy
“You became imitators of us and of the Lord; in spite of severe suffering, you welcomed the message with the joy given by the Holy Spirit.” 1 Thessalonians 1:6, NIV.
Have we ever been to a church where we could tell that no one was into the worship service? We could tell that everyone in the place could care less about what was going on in the service. The church was lifeless and there was no joy, no enthusiasm about hearing from God. Joyless.
A preacher went to another congregation over the holidays and the worship service was so dead. No one seemed to care. Later that day he took a walk downtown and came upon a jewelry store. It was a grand opening and there were bright lights and a greeter at the door to welcome everyone with a smile. Inside there was a celebration going on. There were refreshments and people having a good time talking and laughing with each other. They welcomed him and offered him some punch. He said that after attending both the church and the jewelry store, if the jewelry store had offered an invitation, he would have gladly walked down the aisle! Isn’t it sad that the world can celebrate jewelry and be happy about things that will eventually perish. While the church acts like a bump on the log and persecutes anyone who suggests that we ought to celebrate and be joyful about our life in Christ. The church above any other place ought to be joyful and enthusiastic. Some suggestions about welcoming the message with joy:
1. Come to church ready to listen attentively. It takes effort to focus in a worship service. But it is worth it because the church is so much more alive when everyone is listening.
2. Come to church ready to participate. Even if we don’t care for particular parts of the worship service participate anyway. When I was a kid my mom had a rule about dinner. If we didn’t like the food that night, we sat there and ate it and participated in the family meal. As a member of that family we were required to participate. When we come to church and we are a part of this family of believers we are required to participate no matter what.
3. Be prepared to leave transformed. Many leave church and go to lunch and watch football and as soon as they leave, they forget everything that happened in church.
II. Suffer trials with joy
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2-4, NIV.
On the Andy Griffith Show episode “Man in a Hurry”- Malcolm tucker is a wealthy businessman from Charlotte. One Sunday he happens to have car trouble a couple of miles outside of Mayberry. Malcolm walks the rest of the way to town and meets Andy coming out of Sunday morning worship. Andy offers to assist Malcolm but warns that it is nearly impossible to get anything done on a Sunday in Mayberry. Malcolm begins to lose patience when Wally, the filling station owner, refuses to fix his car because it is his policy not to work on Sunday. Furthermore, Malcolm is dumbfounded when he learns that he can’t even use the telephone because the elderly Mindelbright sisters use the party line to visit on Sunday afternoons, since they are unable to get around very well. Back at the Taylor house, things don’t get much better for Malcolm. He explodes into a tirade, screaming that the citizens of Mayberry are living in another world- that this is the twentieth century, and while the whole world is living in a desperate space age, the town of Mayberry shuts down because two old ladies’ feet fall asleep. Out on the front porch Malcolm actually begins to relax as Barney and Andy sing the old spiritual “Church in the Wildwood.” But this calm is short lived when Gomer informs Malcolm that his cousin Goober has offered to fix the car. Later, when Gomer returns with the car, Malcolm is surprised that there is no charge for the repair since it was just a clogged fuel line. Goober actually considered it an honor to work on such a fine machine. As Mr. Tucker prepares to leave, he stops and contemplates the events of the afternoon as well as his return to the activities of his hectic life. Malcolm realizes that the very characteristics of Mayberry life that initially frustrated him so much are, in fact, the priorities he needs to establish in his own life. He decides to put his business on hold and stay the night in Mayberry. I think the reason the episode “Man in a hurry” is so popular is that we can all see ourselves in Malcolm Tucker. We can all get caught up in our daily activities to the extent that we are blinded to everything else going on around us, and when things don’t go our way, we explode! One man said, “Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.” The next time that something unexpected or bad happens (not if but when), may our trials make us stronger in our faith.
III. Suffer persecution with joy
“Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their fathers treated the prophets.” Luke 6:22, 23, NIV.
It's not just a marginal joy again, it's not just a minimal joy, it's joy that we really can't find an outlet for so we wind up jumping. When they hate us, when they ostracize us, when they insult us, when they spurn our names as evil and it's all for the sake of the Son of Man, we ought to be jumping for joy because we have a reward that's going to be ours forever in heaven.
Pray with joy
“In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:4-6, NIV.
Lately I have been praying through my record book. Keep records of marriages, funerals and baptisms. Vs. 6 teaches that God will continue His good work in the lives of Christians until we stand before Christ whether at death or at His coming. God will not leave the job half done.
Serve the Lord with joy
Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! Psalm 100:2 ESV
Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., member of the US Supreme Court of over 30 years said this: I might have entered the ministry if certain preachers I knew had not looked and acted like undertakers.”
Reminds me of the story of an infant who was in a church service and he was having a grand time of smiling, cuing, and laughing. Finally, his mother whispered to him, “Stop it! You’re in a church!” With that, she gave him a belt on his hind side and as the tears rolled down his cheeks she added, “That’s better.”
Finish our course with joy
“But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.” Acts 20:24, KJV.
With all the pomp and prestige that the Chinese government went to in order to put their best foot forward for the 2008 Olympic Games, there was one person who they honored who stood out. He is now in his seventies, but China brought him to Beijing as an honored guest. Why? The odd thing is that John Steven Akwhari is not famous for being a champion. In fact, he was the last place finisher of the 1968 Olympic Marathon in Mexico. Why would China who put all of their focus on winning as many gold medals as possible focus on a 70-year-old last place finisher? Because John Akwhari understood why he was in the Olympics like no one else. He represented Tanzania in the Marathon that year. Early on in the journey, John stumbled, fell and injured his knee and ankle. He was immediately out of medal contention. By 7 p.m. an Ethiopian runner won the race. John stumbled into the stadium with a bloody leg and injured ankle over an hour later, which is a lifetime in an Olympic competition. Yet, thousands of fans remained in the stadium awaiting his arrival. And as he limped and hobbled, the people stood and cheered him on. Even though he was not a medal contender, he was a true competitor. Reporters could not understand why he continued to run despite his injuries and the plain and simple fact that the he was out of the race early on. He somberly explained to reporters what they had missed about the Olympics. It was not simply about him and his achievement or failure. He represented something bigger than himself. He said: "My country did not send me 7,000 miles to begin a race; they sent me to finish the race."