The Glorious Gift of Joy
Unwrapping The Christmas Gift -2
TITLE: The Glorious Gift of Joy
TEXT: Luke 2:8-14
TASK: To encourage believers in the joy of the Lord.
TEACH: Men have pursued joy in every avenue imaginable. Some have successfully found it while others have not.
Perhaps it would be easier to describe where joy cannot be found:
in Unbelief -- Voltaire was an infidel of the most pronounced type. He
wrote: "I wish I had never been born."
Not in Pleasure -- Lord Byron lived a life of pleasure if anyone did. He wrote: "The worm, the canker, and grief are mine alone."
Not in Money -- Jay Gould, the American millionaire, had plenty of that. When dying, he said: "I suppose I am the most miserable man on earth."
Not in Position and Fame -- Lord Beaconsfield enjoyed more than his share of both. He wrote: "Youth is a mistake; manhood a struggle; old age a regret."
Not in Military Glory -- Alexander the Great conquered the known world in his day. Having done so, he wept in his tent, before he said, "There are no more worlds to conquer."
Where then is real joy found? -- the answer is simple, in Christ alone.
TRUTH: The word joy immediately connects with the desire of our hearts. We want joy. Well, guess what? We were made for joy. Joy was God’s plan for man from the beginning. God’s purpose that we should enjoy Him, both directly in face-to-face fellowship and indirectly through enjoyment of what He has created, this is pictured through the fact that the earthly home that he gave Adam and Eve was a pleasure-garden (Eden) were He himself walk in the cool of the day. Yet, the joy of man was lost when Adam chose to sin against the God of joy.
However, God, through the saving work of Jesus Christ, vindicates, restores, and fulfills His original purpose of joy for man that satanic malice, and human sin have destroyed. Joy to the world remain God’s goal. -J.I. Packer “Great Joy” (112).
The NT takes a further step in understanding this. In John’s account of the Gospel, Jesus prays to His Father that his disciples may be “one…in us…as we are one: I in them and you in me…that they may have the full measure of my joy with in them.” God’s original purpose was that human beings share the joyful togetherness of the Trinity and the Gospel of Christ.
Before I talk about what joy is, I will first discuss what it is not.
1. Joy is not the same thing as fun and games: You can enjoy yourself and remain joyless. This easily observed in the relentless pursuit of pleasure (sex, drugs, drink, gadgets, entertainment, travel) is very much a mark of human time, at least in the West and clearly indicates a lack of joy. Joy is one thing, fun is another. Paul in prison had no fun, yet he had much joy.
2. Joy is not the same thing as being cheerful: We have all known people who always appear to be the life of a party. You know the one who can be relied upon to tell the jokes and there is never a dull moment when they are around. Some Christians are like that others are not. One may have a cheerful temperament but that has nothing to do with joy.
3. Joy is not the same thing as being carefree: Advertisements are full of young couples laying on the beach carefree. But what happens when the vacation ends and your responsibilities are waiting on you, along with repeated disappointments -your happiness will end because you are no longer carefree.
On the evening of his betrayal and arrest, perhaps just hours before His death, Jesus stated, “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete” (Jn; 15:11). These words tell us that joy was His at the moment, though He was not carefree.
What is joy? A positive definition is now overdue.
“Joy is basking in the sunshine of the love of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.” J.I. Packer
I love this definition because I believe love for God is the fuel of our joy. If my love and faith in God are wanning then the flame of my joy will not be great.
The Evangelical Dictionary of Theology defines joy as follows:
Joy. A delight in life that runs deeper than pain or pleasure…not limited by nor tied solely to external circumstances…a gift of God…a quality of life and not simply a fleeting emotion…The fullness of joy comes when there is a deep sense of the presence of God in one’s life…Jesus made it clear that joy is inseparably connected to love and to obedience (Jn. 15:9-14)…There can also be joy in suffering or in weakness when suffering is seen as having a redemptive purpose and weakness as bringing one to total dependency upon God (Matt. 5:12).
However, I believe it’s necessary that we expound this definition further describing what joy really is….
a. Joy Is not simply a fleeting emotion; it is a profound state of being that surpasses temporary happiness.
b. Paul wrote that we are to, “rejoice in the Lord always.” 1Thess. 5:16
II. Joy is Transcendent
a. It surpasses normal ordinary experiences. It transcends circumstances providing and filling our hearts with a deep sense of contentment and peace.
b. Paul wrote, “I rejoiced in the Lord greatly now at length you have received your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Phil. 4:10-11
Jesus, “who for the joy set before him endured the cross…”
a. When we consider the undeserved favor and grace of God bestowed upon us through Jesus how could we not respond with joy. Deep sense of contentment and peace.
b. "Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy" 1Pet.1:8
a. It has the ability to heal broken hearts, restore hope, and ignite a passion for spreading the gospel. When we embrace the deep sense of contentment and peace in Christ it spills over into other areas of our lives.
b. Proverbs 17:22 - "A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones."
James 1:2-3 - "Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness."
V. Joy is Powerful
a. In the face of challenging difficulties, the greatness of joy empowers is to have an unwavering trust in God’s faithfulness. The joy of Christmas is our strength in over coming obstacles.
b. Nehemiah 8:10 "The joy of the Lord is your strength"
TAKE-AWAY: In being made right with God the Father and an heir of His glory through Christ’s mediation, and in possessing salvation and eternal life as Christ’s gift. We are to let joy flow from this source. But how do we do that?
1. Rest in His sovereign reign.
2. Know that you are loved.
3. Accept your situation.
4. Give something worth giving.
I got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart! Where? Down in my heart! Where? Down in my heart! I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart! Down in my heart to STAY!
TIE-UP: In the depths of despair, a soul lost and weary,
A flicker of hope, a whisper, so faint but mighty.
The gospel's good news, a light in the dark,
Igniting a fire, a joy that leaves a mark.
For the gospel brings freedom, redemption's story,
A love so abundant, it floods with glory.
No chains, no burdens, can hold us down,
In Christ's triumph, in joy we are found.
The weight of sin, once heavy and grim,
Transformed by grace, washed clean, forgiven.
No longer slaves to shame, we boldly stand,
In joy overflowing, embraced by His hand.
Through trials and struggles, pain and strife,
Our joy in Christ sustains, giving us life.
It's not based on circumstances, ebbing and flowing,
But rooted in Him, unceasingly growing.
So let our hearts sing, let our spirits soar,
In joy triumphant, forevermore.
For the gospel unveils a love so divine,
And joy, sweet joy, is ours, for all of time.