Summary: A Revival Sermon for a congregation that needs to hear God cares about their joy. (And in the context of Israel’s first revival even!)
Title: The Joy of the Lord Is My Strength
Text: Neh 8:9 – 12
Joy is P_ermissable___________
- Is Self-Control religious?
- 1 John 1.4
Joy is D_esirable_____________
- 2 Cor 1.24
Joy is E_ssential_____________
- Heb 11.6
Question: Is joy a “nice-to-have,” or is it something more?
Joy is reading this love letter (Not entertaining / Not I talk you listen! / I’m a Warren)
Re-vival / Vitalis – life = Joy
Joy is Permissible
- Buddha taught you avoid pain by avoiding happiness
- Heb 12: 2 Jesus endured the cross b/c sought the joy
- Moral? Muslim / Avoid Pain – don’t look to the martyrs! / Self-mastery? Atheism!
Indeed, not only is joy permissible in our faith, it’s desirable. 1 John 1.4 says, “We write these things that your joy may be complete.” The whole point of this book is that your joy would be complete
Joy is Desirable
- 1 John 1.4 (Above) // 2 Cor 1.24 “We work with you for your joy”
- Why not just kill yourself? Last night, I saw Rachel…
In fact, I would argue that if you have no joy, I doubt you have any faith. Joy is essential to what we are. We’re going to talk more about how to get back your joy as this week continues, but look with me real quick at Hebrews 11.
Joy is Essential
- Hebrews 11.6 Without faith, impossible to please God… that he rewards.
- The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace…
I’d like to thank you for the privilege of opening the Scriptures with you this evening. It is truly a joy to open this love letter that our Father gave us, and to share that joy with you.
Now, I need to stop there for a minute, because I suspect just about preacher you’ve ever met has said something like that to you. What I suspect they meant was something like, “It is a joy to stand up here and entertain you for a bit,” or “I’m really excited that I get to talk for the next 20 minutes and you guys have to shut up and listen.” I need you to know that when I say, it is a joy to read this love letter, I mean, the joy really is reading this love letter with you all.
I am not a person who loves being the center of attention. I’m a nerd who grew up realizing that generally attention went to beautiful people, and when I got the attention, it was usually so some else could make a joke at my expense. Later, I married into the Warren clan. Some of you may know J. Fred up in Aldie – he’s my father-in-law. His daughter Susan is the second-best thing that ever happened to me. I think you can guess the first. When I joined the Warren family, I learned very quickly that when he called someone “a talker,” that was not a compliment. And I fit in with the Warrens pretty well now.
No, my joy is not that I am up here; rather, it is that my life is in here (Bible). It is my joy to be able to tell you about my Father whose desire it is to fill my hands so full of his goodness that I just don’t have any room to hold on to anything else.
If you grew up with fire and brimstone preaching, sermons that guilted you into this or the other, or if you fear Hell more than love heaven, then the text I want to read to you tonight may be hard to understand. But if I can show you that joy is not only permissible and attainable but essential to what it means to live this Christian life, then I will have done my job.
This is a revival. That word means ‘life again.’ Vitalis – life. Re – again. And what is life but joy? And, if I have already offended or confused you, don’t worry. Lots of God-fearing people have had their lives revitalized over the years by overturning that same old lie – that you’re supposed to be miserable. The Devil wants to take away your joy. But God wants it back.
If you have your Bibles, turn with me to Nehemiah 8:9 – 12. We’re going to be in Nehemiah all three days this week, because that’s the story of one the first great revivals. Old Testament History in a Nutshell – You remember Genesis with Abraham, then Moses leading the children of Israel out of Egypt and back to Abraham’s land. You may remember the Judges, then all those Kings – Saul, David, Solomon, and a bunch of hosaphats in 1 & 2 Kings / Chronicles. Well, the end of that Kingdom ends up with Israel back in exile again, this time in Babylon. Ezra and Nehemiah are what comes next.