Summary: Do you know the difference between the "Joy of the Lord" and the "Joy of the World"? What does this text teach us about both of those?
OPEN: In my files I have comments by several people about what they felt would make someone happy.
Daniel Boone - “All you need for happiness is a good gun, a good horse, and a good wife.”
Albert Schweitzer - “Happiness is nothing more than good health and a bad memory.”
Johnny Carson - “Happiness is your dentist telling you it won’t hurt and then having him catch his hand in the drill.”
Joan Rivers – “Happiness, at my age, is breathing.”
Now there has been a group that believes they’ve come up with a more “scientific” answer. They call themselves “Evolutionary Biologists and they believe we were NOT created. Instead, their view is that mankind was the result of billions of years of evolution. Someone once characterized evolution as the theory of “From Goo To You” because of their belief that we are nothing more than evolved primordial goo/ goop/ muck/ mud.
Now, these evolutionary biologists believe that the emotion of happiness is a tool that a mindless evolution has used to help us survive as a species. Happiness (they say) was developed by mindless evolution to help us learn to regularly use our digestive organs and our sexual organs. Essentially happiness encouraged primitive species to eat and make babies.
They observe that (because of the happiness influence) people regularly pursue food and sex because eating andhaving sex release neurochemicals that make them happy and that’s the reason living things have survived on our world.
(see footnote #1 at end of sermon)
Now, as you might imagine I reject all that.
By contrast to this bizarre Evolutionary teaching the Bible says we have been created in the image of God.
As one person noted:
"We are not (as Evolutions teach) one step above apes.
The Bible teaches that God has made us one step beneath angels."
(loose rendering of a quote by Allen Webster)
Thus, happiness is not the tool of a mindless evolution.
A survival technique of some sort.
No. Happiness is the gift from God to us because we’ve been created in His image.
God created us to be filled with Joy.
ILLUS: The Jewish Encyclopedia tells us that no language has as many words for joy and rejoicing as does the language of the Old Testament Hebrew. In the Old Testament there are 13 Hebrew language roots, used in 27 different words. They are primarily used for some aspect of joy or joyful participation in worshipping God. (Kaufmann Kohler)
There is NO OTHER LANGUAGE like the Hebrew language that has as many words for joy. And that’s because God’s people were meant to be a joyful people. A thankful people. A people filled with rejoicing.
So, the question is this: How do I lay hold of that joyfulness?
What do I have to do to be filled with joy in my life?
The interesting thing about the text we read this morning is that we find 2 instances of joy listed.
The first of these is found in verse 17 - “The seventy-two returned with joy…”
(see footnote #2 at end of sermon)
And the 2nd is in verse 21 “At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit…”
What caught my attention here was the fact that JESUS was full of joy!