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Summary: OUR JOURNEY OF FAITH MUST BE MARKED BY JOY!

THE JOURNEY INTO JOY

ZEPHANIAH 3: 14-20

AUGUST 18, 2002

INTRODUCTION: Joni Eareckson Tada, who was paralyzed from the neck down while still a teenager, wrote, "You don’t have to be alone in your hurt! Comfort is yours. Joy is an option. And it’s all been made possible by your Savior. He went without comfort so you might have it. He postponed joy so you might share in it. He willingly chose isolation so you might never be alone in your hurt and sorrow.

-- Joni Eareckson Tada, Christian Reader, Vol. 32, no. 2.

NBC LABOR LAW VIOLATIONS?

NBC’s highly paid morning person, Katie Couric, is reportedly unhappy with her new "Today" show boss, and her job, says New York’s Daily News. Couric says, "I’m tired, the hours are brutal . . . It’s hard to make yourself go to bed at 7:30 or 8 to get up" in time for the show.

Her salary is a humble $65 million.

“But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.” (1 Timothy 6:6)

Source: SermonCentral staff. Citation: Silverman, Stephen. “Katie Quibbles On-Air About Her Job." People.com, February 20, 2002.

http://people.aol.com/people/news/now/0,10958,211855,00.html

TRANSITION THOUGHT: No emotion is more welcomed into human life than that of Joy. Joy is the realization that deeply held hopes have been or shortly will be fulfilled. Joy is also the dawning of an understanding that those events which have been most feared will not occur. But if joy is always one of the sweeter sensations of life, especially exultant is that joy which is completely unexpected, or which breaks suddenly into the midst of our gloom. Our text this night speaks of such joy, joy that arrives on the horizon in the midst of the chaos of life. Joy is the reward of obedience.

THESIS SENTENCE: OUR JOURNEY OF FAITH MUST BE MARKED BY JOY!

I. THE JOURNEY OF JOY IS MARKED BY CELEBRATION (VV. 14)

A. Celebration is an imperative

1. Which bust at all cost be obeyed or which cannot in any way be ignored, NECESSARY.

2. Grammar: of the mood that expresses command, an order.

3. Sing, who? God’s people; shout aloud, who? God’s chosen people; Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, Who? The people of the promised land (verse 14).

B. Celebration stands in contrast to the situations of life

1. Zephaniah has berated the people for almost three chapters.

2. Manasseh had occupied the throne for almost half a century with resulting decay in faithfulness and morality. Josiah would eventually set things straight, but that would take time. For the moment, faithful persons like Zephaniah could only lament the terrible realities of their world. SOUNDS LIKE US TODAY!

3. Those realities were so dreadful that the prophet concludes that Yahweh has no option but to destroy all creation. Yahweh will invade the darkness of Judah’s heart like a person with lamps who searches out secret and hidden sins. The result will be a terrible day of judgment, a “bitter” day “of distress and anguish,” “of ruin and devastation,” “of darkness and gloom,” “of clouds and thick darkness,” and “of trumpet blast and battle cry!”

II. THE JOURNEY OF JOY IS MARKED BY YAHWEH’S REIGN AS KING (VV. 14-15)

A. The King/Yahweh will unite the Kingdom

1. Zion, Israel, and Jerusalem. Zion is the City of God. Israel was the Northern Kingdom, with Samaria as the capital city. Judah was the southern kingdom with Jerusalem as its capital.

2. A King unites His Kingdom.

B. The King/Yahweh will take away their punishment

1. God punished his people by sending them into exile at the hands of foreign kings and kingdoms.

2. He now takes away their enemy.

3. He takes away our enemy: death which comes as a result of sin.

4. Joy has been generated by the sense that a terrible price has now been paid for the sinfulness of the nation: The exile, the sending of God’s Son!

III. THE JOURNEY OF JOY IS MARKED BY YAHWEH WITH US (VV. 15 & 16)

A. The presence of God brings Joy

1. Our joy does not come from our circumstances.

2. It is rather, vested in the grace and benevolence of God.

3. The God who is Israel’s judge is also Israel’s lover and partner in covenant.

B. The presence of God removes fear

1. Perfect love cast out all fear (I Jn. 4:18)

2. When God is with us, no enemy can over take us.

3. The people are to replace their fear with confidence and strength.

ILLUSTRATION: Joshua chapter 1: >>

IV. THE JOURNEY OF JOY IS MARKED BY YAHWEH AS VICTOR (VV. 17)

A. VICTORY IS PRESENCE

1. “He is mighty to save”: Context of the exile and foreign enemies.

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