Summary: Rejoicing is a powerful aid in our walk with Jesus.
1. We are challenged on a number of levels almost daily. What if we could make these days of challenge good days in spite of the challenges?
2. Four things for my life that would make this day a good day; if able to do this daily – best year of life
1 Thessalonians 5.16-19
16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 19 Do not quench the Spirit.
a. Rejoice = experience and express great gladness or delight; All have moments of joy – a gift comes; all falls into place
b. Believer’s joy, biblical joy is not just an involuntary emotion as a result of something that happens; it is produced by the divine nature of God and the choice BY FAITH to let God direct his life throughout the day.
c. It is not happenstance – we can choose to live a joyous life this year
d. [How the Grinch Stole Christmas – stole Christmas themed items from homes in Whoville on Christmas eve. Despite his efforts the residents still celebrate. Grinch returns everything and becomes guest of honor at the Whoville dinner. “Maybe Christmas, the Grinch thought, doesn't come from a store.”
3. Don’t Play Games That which we have seen and heard we declare to you … and these things we write to you that your joy may be full. 1 John 1:3-4
Have you ever seen a book on the joy of the Pharisees? That’s not to say the subject has never been explored. But where would a writer begin? There is nothing in the Gospels to suggest that the legalistic religious leaders of Jesus’ day were overflowing with joy. Instead, there is plenty to suggest that they spent a good deal of time nurturing their religious outward appearance to conceal a barren inner spiritual life.
Hypocrisy—that’s what Jesus called it (Matthew 23:13, 15, 23, 25, 27-29). His most vivid illustration of the Pharisees’ spiritual life was calling them “whitewashed tombs,” beautiful on the outside but filled with “dead men’s bones and all uncleanness.” How can anyone cultivate joy when their attention is focused on being right about religious rules and living a double-standard life? Joy is found in fellowship with God and others (1 John 1:3-4). We can’t live a hypocritical life and walk in that fellowship.
As we transition from spiritual darkness to light, we are tempted to play spiritual games. Stay true; stay joyful; stay in fellowship with God.
I. The Promise of Joy for Jesus’ Followers
11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full (overflowing).
24 Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.
13 But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves.
A, Joy is birthright of children of God –
1. Many live below their birthright; like a man taking cruise, living off of bread and cheese he brought with him b/c he didn’t know room and board were included in the fare.
• Are you a follower of Jesus? – No joy without him; only occasional happiness
• If so, experiencing joy? – would people say you are full of joy?
• If not – God wants you to experience a life-changing event – to gain joy
• Joy is promised – real, genuine joy, not a happenstance event
• How do we get this?
o As a believer you can choose it – BY FAITH that gives us a big picture
o Psalm 16.11
You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
B. Experience joy by always following Christ
1. Many do not experience this — Galatians 5.16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.
2. A Great Goal – Draw Near to God – James 4.8
Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
He is not playing hide and seek with us – wants us to be near
Gain joy and peace, etc. when near him
II. The Power of Joy for Jesus’ Followers
A. An Imperative (like forgive; pray; love enemies) and An Invitation to a daily habit of rejoicing
Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you is no trouble to me and is safe for you.