Summary: Starting from the angels promise of "good news of great joy," this sermon asks why Christians often don't see "great joy" in their lives.
WHERE IS IT? The angel promised that this was good news of great joy.
- Luke 2:10.
- This passage has been repeated frequently enough during Christmastime that sometimes lose sight of its truth and just treat it as a cliché. The angel meant what he said: this was a message of good news of great joy.
- Let’s focus this morning on the “great joy” part. The message that the angel brought was intended, among other things, to bring “great joy” into our lives. Yet many of us don’t have that great joy that is spoken of. It’s a sign that we’ve gotten off track.
- Think about your own spiritual life. Is joy a prominent characteristic? Is that even something you remotely expect? If not, consider the message that the angel shared with the shepherds.
- This morning I want to look at a few of the places in the New Testament where it speaks of joy and gives us insight into some of the sources of joy. This certainly isn’t an exhaustive list. We also acknowledge the truth that not every moment in our lives is going to be full of joy. But joy should be a regular part of our lives as Christians.
SOME OF THE SOURCES OF JOY:
1. Jesus is alive.
- Matthew 28:8.
- There was great joy when they heard that Jesus was alive!
- Jesus is alive today, unlike the other great religious leaders of history. Jesus is different. It’s because He is who He said He is – God’s only Son.
- It’s easy for us to become jaded to this reality. It just becomes old news and business as usual.
- This is enormously good news! We serve a risen Savior. This opens the door for us to have hope beyond this life. It gives us confidence that death is not the last word.
2. Seeing God’s power work through you.
- Luke 10:17, 21.
- Jesus sent out 72 of His disciples to do the work of the Kingdom. It’s telling what the response was as they returned.
- Verse 17 tells us that they “returned with joy.” There was great joy for them in seeing the power of God work through them. Ephesians 2:10 tells us that we are God’s workmanship and that God has prepared the works that we are to do.
- It brings us joy to see God working through us and touching others’ lives through us. It helps us to know that God is real and that our lives have purpose and meaning.
- Equally important is verse 21. Jesus, hearing about the work that His disciples accomplished, was “full of joy.” That’s something to marvel at. Their success filled Jesus with joy. Why? Because He knew that the divine plan called for delegation. He was teaching His disciples, modeling for them the way of following God, but then He would be gone and it would be up to them to accomplish the mission. In this “test run,” they come back having seen God’s power working through them. It worked! Certainly not perfectly, but well enough to fill both the disciples and their Master with joy.
3. Enjoying closeness to Christ.
- John 15:11.
- In John 15:11, Jesus tells us that He has shared the previous message so that His joy may be in us and that our joy may be complete. Those are pretty amazing offers! What exactly was that message?
- He was sharing that when we obey the teaching of Christ, we will abide in Christ. That means that we will be close to Him. And when we abide in Christ, we will find our lives to be fruitful. I like to summarize it “obey, abide, abound.” When I obey the teaching of Jesus, that leads to me to abiding in Christ; and when I abide in Christ, that leads me to abounding in fruitfulness.
- Here I’m just going to summarize that as “closeness to Christ.” I know there’s more to it than that, but we’ll use that as our shorthand.
- When I have that closeness to Christ, it’s going to give me what verse 11 speaks of: His joy in me and my joy complete.
- Many Christians don’t have that joy and part of the reason is that they are distant from God. The good news here is that He gives us the path toward that joy: obey, abide, abound. We can experience closeness to God.
4. Seeing God answer your prayers.
- John 16:24.
- In this verse Jesus opens the door up to our trusting prayer requests and then proclaims that when we receive our joy will be complete. Two pieces: the praying and the joy.
- First, the praying.
- We are to ask God to move and expect that He will. Many of us pray without any real expectation that God will answer.