Summary: Plan on how to make the angels in heaven celebrate. Soul winning.

“The Greatest Joy”

Luke 15:1-10

March 1, 2009

Joke: Do you like to laugh? Do you like to have fun? What are some of the fun things you have done? A lot of people don’t realize that ‘joy’ is a major part of who and what God is. Last week we talked about love – and the essence of God is love. But He is also joy. One of the ‘fruits’ or expressions of God is joy. God laughs! He lives in joy. One of the products of His being - is joy. Heaven is a place of joy. We learned in our Scripture that heaven ‘celebrates’! Isn’t that a cool thought? When I think of heaven, I don’t picture people sitting on clouds serenely playing harps. I think of a party. It’s a celebration. I think of laughter and joy.

Since God is a God of joy and heaven is a place of celebration – I want to share with you today what puts a smile of God’s face and causes His heart to leap in joy – and I want to show you how to do it.

First you need to realize that God is your Father. God is your creator. He loves you so much. His love is so tender and filled with desire to bring you joy. Do you believe that? Do you believe that He doesn’t want harm to come to you? He certainly does not want you to perish – or die spiritually. God is a good God and wants only what is best for you.

Now understand if that is true for you – it is true for everyone in the whole world. It is true for your kids. It is true for you family. It is true for your neighbor. The Bible says,

“The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come…”

1 Peter 3:10

Folks, the day of the Lord is coming. Things will just be going on as they always have – and then the Lord will come for His own. And He doesn’t want anyone to perish. God wants everyone to come to repentance. God doesn’t want anyone to suffer the consequence of sin or rebelling against Him. You remember the consequence of sin don’t you? Death.

“For the wages of sin is death…” Romans 6:23

"Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out—those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned.” John 5:28-29

“Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.”

Revelation 20:11-15

It is so important to believe in heaven and the rewards God has for us – but it is equally important to believe in Hell and the consequence of rebellion. Most Christians, while they say they do – ACT as if they didn’t. If we really believed in hell and the result of ignoring God’s will or rebelling against God – we would be highly motivated to do what we could to save our loved ones and friends.

Last week, one day after a hard day of work, I put on an old movie. It was called “The Red Badge of Courage”. The lead actor was Audie Murphy. It must have been one of his first movies after the War because he looked like a baby faced teenager and neither his acting nor the movie was very good. The story was about a soldier in the Civil War who was afraid and ran from combat – then returned, overcame his cowardice and became a hero.

It wasn’t too believable to me, because I don’t believe Audie Murphy was ever a coward – and never cried in fear. Audie Murphy was the most decorated soldier of World War II. He received every decoration for valor that this country had, including the congressional medal of honor, plus 5 decorations presented to him by France and Belgium. He did what He did for the same reason most people do heroic things – for the love of his friends.

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