This past Sunday, Resurrection Sunday, our message was entitled ‘Rejoice!’ It culminated a month long series of messages from Luke 23-24 showing Jesus’ preparation of His disciples to suffer. They and we Rejoice! because He arose. Jesus’ resurrection is the assurance of our eternal joy. What an comfort we have as Christians, that even in the midst of sorrow and suffering, JOY comes in the morning. Joy is ours because the penalty and power of sin (death) is broken and someday we will be delivered from the presence of sin. What a wonderful confidence we have. In my message, I referred to a summation of verses from scripture, that gave us a glimpse of the importance that God places on His children to experience joy in it’s fullest. This list is not my own but one that John Piper compiled for a sermon (what better source for a biblical perspective on joy than the Christian Hedonist himself). I have been asked for that list of proof texts by several of our folks and for that reason I have listed them in the rest of this post. Read them with great enthusiasm and let them transform your view of God’s desire, nay His command, for you and your joy. soli deo gloria What the Bible Says About Joy Jesus’ aim in all he taught was the joy of his people. John 15:11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. Joy is what God fills us with when we trust in Christ. Romans 15:13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing. The kingdom of God is joy. Romans 14:17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Joy is the fruit of God’s Spirit within us. Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace. Joy is the aim of everything the apostles did and wrote. 2 Corinthians 1:24 Not that we lord it over your faith, but we work with you for your joy. Becoming a Christian is finding a joy that makes you willing to forsake everything. Matthew 13:44 “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” Joy is nourished and sustained by the word of God in the Bible Psalm 19:8 the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart. Joy will overtake all sorrow for those who trust Christ. Psalm 126:5 Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy! Psalm 30:5b Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning. God himself is our joy. Psalm 43:4 Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy. Psalm 16:11 You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Joy in God outstrips all earthly joy. Psalm 4:7 You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound. If your joy is in God, no one can take your joy from you. John 16:22 You have sorrow now, but I will see you again and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. God calls all nations and peoples to join in the joy he offers to all who believe. No racism. No ethnocentrism. Psalm 67:4 Let the nations be glad and sing for joy. Psalm 66:1 Shout for joy to God, all the earth. The whole Christian message from beginning to end is good news of great joy. Luke 2:10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people.” Isaiah 51:11 And the ransomed of the Lord shall return and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away. When we meet Christ at his second coming we will enter into his indestructible joy. Matthew 25:23 His master said to him, “Well done, good and faithful servant. . . . Enter into the joy of your master.” This joy in God is commanded! Psalm 37:4 Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 33:1 Shout for joy in the Lord, O you righteous! Praise befits the upright. Psalm 32:11 Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!
One of my greatest fears as Pastor is that I make the Word of God boring as I take the pulpit each week. It is the very Word and thoughts of the God of creation and it is astounding to think that He has chosen to even communicate with His creation. What is man that He is is even mindful of us? Then to think that He has entrusted to this earthen vessel a message for His people through His Word, humbles and strike fear within me. Pray for discernment. Discernment not only on my part but on the part of the hearers at Center Hill Community Church. Discernment to distinguish between opinion and truth, between traditions of man and the commandments of God. But preaching and hearing is obviously a two way street. We hear often of the responsibility of the preacher to preach soundly but is the hearer just a passive sponge without any duty? No, the scriptures are very plain that to those who much as been given much will be required. The principle is clear, act on what God has revealed to us. As the Puritan Pastor Richard Baxter said, ” Remember that all these… sermons must be reviewed, and you must answer for all that you have heard, whether you heard it…with diligent attention or with carelessness; and the word which you hear shall judge you at the last day. Hear therefore as those that are going to judgment to give account of their hearing and obeying.” As a Pastor, I am grateful for the people of Center Hill. They do discern, they act on what they hear, they allow the Word to change them, they challenge me. Oh for this to continue. Below is a 2 minute video from John Piper which sums up my heart of the Word of God and it’s appeal to the true child of God. Pray that we at Center Hill never treat the Word of Creator God as boring! “> soli deo gloria
Here at CHCC we are in the midst of a series of messages on worship from the book of Isaiah. If one thing has gripped me in the preparation and preaching of this series it has been the seriousness of drawing near to God. We see the warning from God Himself in drawing near with empty worship and the response of Isaiah being completely ‘undone’ when he drew near to the Holy in proper worship. It has occurred to me in recent years, maybe recent decades, that our churches are not taking God seriously. We have watered down our theology, lost our true sense of purpose in the local church and allowed entertainment to replace worship in the house of God. John Piper has a wonderful ministry at Desiring God and a special feature in ‘Ask Pastor John’. I have included a short video from that feature which I would encourage you to check out. Piper has once again hit it on the head in his assessment of our desire today to be entertained at every turn which has found it’s way into our churches. We need to get back to a proper theology of God and realize that God takes very serious His worship and His kingdom. It’s not all a party. Breaking the addiction of entertainment