Four Gifts of Christmas – JOY

Audio [28:12]

Pastor Dan Borgelt
“Well if you happening to be visiting us with children you can look in your bulletin and see some of the children’s ministry opportunities that we offer during the service; but we want to let you know that kids are welcome in our adult gatherings.

But some of our kids are heading off for an age appropriate lesson at this time… and trust me, it is the better of two options between that and listening to me for the next 20 minutes or so.

Alright, so here at Kirkmont we began a new series last week, an Advent series as we’re preparing and discussing the Four Gifts of Christmas: we’re talking about the topic of PEACE, and the topic of JOY, and HOPE, and LOVE.  And last week we addressed the subject of PEACE and now we’re talking about the subject of JOY.

But we’re presenting it in sort of a different way because what we’re doing to light our Advent Candles, these 4 candles we’re going to call them the Candles of PEACE, JOY, HOPE, and LOVE… what we’re doing to light the Advent Candles this year, what I’m doing is sharing a part of my Testimony.

If that’s a word that’s unfamiliar to you, what we mean by that is the Story about how I came to Faith in Jesus Christ. And I’ve taken that story and divided it into four chapters if you will.

And last week I shared Chapter One and then we lit the Candle of PEACE; this week I’m going to share Chapter Two and then we’ll light the Candle of JOY.

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Now last week when we lit the Candle of Peace, it was sort of in an ironic way; if you happened have not been here, I’ll recap for you.

I shared how I did not grow up in a Christian home in any way at all; in fact, in many ways it was very opposite of a Christian home. As I was growing up I realized that my father would often mistreat my mother when they would get in arguments.

And then also when I was in 5th grade my mother learned that my father was also being abusive to my two older sisters in a different, secret, private way… if you will.

So that really shattered our family life and our home life, and robbed really all sense of peace that we had as a home.

I was in 5th grade at that time; and that’s where we left off the story last week and we’ll sort of pick up there.

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So we were living at my grandparents’ house and my father finally, eventually moved out of our home that we were living in together as a family. And my mom and my two older sisters and I moved back into our house and my parents were separated.

It had been a few months since the separation, and one evening, I think it was a Friday evening, my two older sisters were out with their friends and I was home alone with my mom, and we were sitting in our Living Room… and I had gotten in trouble that day.

I can’t really remember if it was with school, or with my mom… but I used to get in trouble a lot when I was a kid (laughter); and ahhh… I had gotten in trouble for saying a swear word of some kind; and I remember asking my mom, “What’s wrong with cussing?” … what’s wrong with these swear words.

And so she started to explain them to me one-by-one, and she got to the word, “damn”; and she used it in a way that I had not heard of it being used…  she used it in a religious way.

And she said, “When you say that, it’s like saying to someone, “I wish to damn you to hell… to send you to hell… and that’s why it’s totally inappropriate to say“.

Well, as I shared with you last week, I didn’t grow up in a religious home, so that expression was pretty new to me. I really didn’t understand what she meant by that, and so I asked her, “Well, what’s THAT mean?”

And unbeknownst to me, my mother had become a follower of Christ in recent time and she was looking for an opportunity to share her hope in Christ with me… her son. And so she had her opportunity, and she seized it.

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So there we were on a Friday evening, and she told me these FOUR sort of BASIC POINTS if you will… she said, “Dan, you know the Bible tells us that God created you to be in a relationship with Him”. 

And so I’m just sort of nodding and listening to it and she said, “But, the Bible also says that you have something called SIN in your life…” and since I was always getting in trouble that wasn’t hard to convince me that I had “sin” in my life (laughter)… that didn’t take any convincing…

But…” she said, “the big deal about that sin is that it separates you from your relationship with God… and that’s the bad news” she says… “But the good news is that the Bible doesn’t end there… God’s Love Story doesn’t end there.”

She continued, “The Bible says that He loved you so much, He wanted to have a relationship with you so much, that He sent His Son Jesus Christ to die on the Cross for your sin… and that if you would TRUST in HIM, you could have your sin forgiven and have your relationship with him restored.”

And then finally she just said, “You know Dan, I think you’ve been given a wonderful gift, and you really have to decide now whether or not you’re going to accept it or not.”

Well… I suppose you could say I made a “decision” to accept it… but, man, GOD HAD WORKED ON MY HEART… I don’t know, maybe before that, but certainly in the midst of that conversation to the point where… as I recollect, I say to people, I had no real decision to make… it was clear that I was going to say ‘Yes’ to this gift that God had offered me”.

And so I said something to her like, “Well, I wanna say ‘Yes’ … and what do we do with that?” And she said, “Well I think we could just say a simple prayer together”.

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And you know what we did… how precious it was… we were in our living room…

(Pastor Dan walks off stage and down to front row of seats and says) …

I can remember it like it was yesterday because my parents had horrible taste in design (LAUGHTER)… and so we had a PINK area rug, with PINK and BRIGHT BLUE floral couches… and we KNEELED beside each other (he kneels at the seat of the first pew).

And my mom was here, and me here, in 5th Grade in front of the couch, and we prayed together… and she said, “Would you want to pray with me”? … and that’s what we did.

And she said, “Let’s say a simple prayer… like an “ABC Prayer”… and it went something like this:
A – God I ADMIT that I am a sinner;
B – God I BELIEVE in Your Son Jesus Christ, that He died on the Cross for my sins, and
C – God I want to COMMIT my life to you.

And so we prayed that prayer together, and we both stood up, we had tears in our eyes, we gave each other a hug, and it was just a precious and powerful moment for us…

And so it’s with great JOY to be able to tell you Chapter 2 of my testimony, letting you know how someone could come from a non-religious, abusive home and eventually become a follower of Christ and a pastor… as it all started with my mom’s willingness to share Jesus Christ with me… and so yeah, it’s with great JOY to be able to light this candle… we have the Candle of PEACE lit (match strikes… lights, then blows out).

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By the way I was told that I almost blew myself up last week because I used a lighter with fuel in it that could conflict with the fuel in these candles, so someone said, “Use matches… 🙂  (laughter).  So, I appreciate how none of you stopped me last week from… (LAUGHTER) …

Anyways, let’s talk about JOY together then as we dive into the Bible.

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I’m going to go to a place maybe you’re not expecting. In fact, this first Scripture doesn’t even have the word “Joy” in it at all. But I believe we’ll make the connection for you here in just a few minutes.

Ephesians 1:13,14

Some of you may recognize this Book of the Bible; it’s in the New Testament; it’s written by a man named Paul, he’s writing to the early Church in the City of Ephesus, and he writes these words… he says to them,

“And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation.” 

You see how when I was preparing my testimony and I came across this passage I thought, “Oh, how neat, it fits well”, because this is basically what he’s saying to them. They once heard the Word of Truth as well, they received it, they responded affirmatively, and as a result it became the Gospel, or “Good News” of their Salvation.

“When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, …”

So once we believe in Jesus Christ we receive a “seal” of some kind, and what is a seal? The Scripture tells us that seal is,

“the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.”

Ephesians

So this is a passage telling us that when we believe in Jesus Christ… as soon as we believe in Jesus Christ,  we immediately receive the Holy Spirit which serves as a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance to come.

Now let me explain why I think the Bible is rationally letting us that when we acknowledge Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, why we receive the Holy Spirit.

Who is the Holy Spirit?

First let’s go back to my testimony, what my mom told me: OK,
– God created us to be in a relationship with Him;
Our sin separates us from being in a relationship with Him

But friends, for those of you who are followers of Christ, what happens to our sin when we trust in Jesus Christ and stop trusting in ourselves?  What happens… ?

IT ALL GOES AWAY… “as far as the East is from the West”.

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So the very thing that used to block us and keep us from being in a relationship with God is now removed… so people hear that and they think, “Well, that’s great; someday I can go to heaven”.

That’s absolutely true, it does mean that as well. It means you can start praying to God in Jesus’ Name and reading His Bible in a more personal way.

But, there’s also something else that profoundly happens.

When we trust in Jesus Christ, and our sin is removed, and our relationship with God is restored, HE DOES NOT WAIT UNTIL HEAVEN TO REUNITE WITH US. He immediately reunites with us through the Third Person of the Trinity.

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We believe in ONE GOD who exists in the FATHER, the SON, and the Holy Spirit, and this passage is saying, “As soon as we trust in Jesus Christ, our sin is gone, so God takes up residence in us, REUNITING us, RESTORING us to “like the Garden” where God walked with Adam and Eve… restores that union with us immediately by the Holy Spirit coming and living inside of us, serving as a deposit, guaranteeing our inheritance to come. 

So the first thing is we see that when we TRUST in Jesus Christ we receive the Holy Spirit.

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Friends, we can’t receive the Holy Spirit without believing in Jesus Christ.

For those people who are out there… and maybe you’re here this morning and trying to do the “spiritual-thing”, the “God-thing”… but apart from Jesus… the Scripture is telling us you cannot receive the Holy Spirit apart from believing in Jesus.

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But… the reverse might be also true as well: “That we can’t believe in Jesus without receiving the Holy Spirit”

So if you’ve transferred your trust in Jesus Christ, and you believe in Him, then you have the Third Person of the Trinity living inside you as a deposit guaranteeing your inheritance to come.

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People always ask me… this is off-subject, but a practical question: “Pastor, can I lose my salvation?”

“The Holy Spirit is a deposit guaranteeing your inheritance to come”. 

We could look at one verse after another saying the same thing–“a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance to come”.

We could just stop there and have all the JOY that resonates from that reality right there, this morning.

But let’s go on… you wish we could just stop there (LAUGHTER).

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So… in my testimony going back to when I was in 5th grade… I mean when I finished with my mom, we gave each other a hug, eventually I started walking up the stairs and I went into my bedroom. And you know I can remember vividly walking up the steps, and thinking to myself, “Something happened”… something just happened. 

And laying in bed that night, before I fell asleep… I lay there just thinking, ““Something just happened.”

I didn’t have the words, the theological background or training to explain what just happened, but I_NOW_KNOW WHAT HAPPENED:

The Holy Spirit… the third person of the Trinity dwelled inside of me… took up residence inside of me; became a deposit guaranteeing my salvation to come.

Now I’m not saying everyone who receives the Holy Spirit knows it right then, and has that sort of feeling right then; so I don’t want you to feel insecure about that reality, but for me I knew, as a 5th grade kid, something happened. 

And one of the things the Holy Spirit does, as we’ve said, it guarantees our inheritance to come. But here’s the truth friends, it’s not the only thing that the Holy Spirit does.

Some of you might be saying, “Why are we emphasizing the Holy Spirit… what does the Holy Spirit have to do with JOY?” And that’s where hopefully I will make the connection.

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Let’s turn back now to the Book of Galatians 5:16-23. You might recognize that this is right next to the Book of Ephesians in your Bible, in the New Testament; this is Paul writing to the early church in Galatia. And he writes these words to them in Galatians 5:16-23,

So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh (the sinful nature).

So he introduces to us these two new concepts: the Spirit, and the sinful nature.

 For the flesh/sinful nature’s desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. 

How many of you could testify… you’ve experienced this passage come alive in your life? Because there are things, as a Child of God, with the Holy Spirit living inside of you… that you WANT to do, that you don’t do because of the sinful nature; or things that you don’t want to do that you do because of the sinful nature.

Either way we’ve often experienced this. This is that “war” that’s at large between the Spirit of God living inside of us and the Sinful Nature.  He says,

But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Now let’s leave that screen up. I want to take the time to address what’s just been said here in the Scripture, because it sort of raises a concern. Because I would venture to say that there’s not a single person in this room who can’t identify with one of the acts of the sinful nature.

If that’s you…. then maybe PRIDE should be on the list (LAUGHTER). Who can’t identify with one of these things?

I mean I’ve known some wonderful brothers and sisters in Christ who have struggled with just about every one of those things that are up there on the screen.

And at the end of it it says, that those who live like this don’t get to go to heaven”. It seems like we’re all in trouble, we’re all doomed.

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Let me clarify what I think the passage is saying here: it’s saying that those who live according to the sinful nature (the flesh) … remember these acts, they are “fruits of the sinful nature.

They’re the product of living according to the sinful nature; but that the real harm is that someone is living in accordance with the sinful nature, and I think what’s being implied here is that there is no war being waged. 

There’s no Holy Spirit in conflict with the sinful nature. They are free of the Holy Spirit, they haven’t trusted in Jesus Christ, and they are just living in accordance with the sinful nature as a result of it. And so those people, as a result, do not inherit the Kingdom of God. 

But then the Scripture goes on and says this, 

“But the fruit of the Spirit… “

So there’s fruit of the sinful nature, now there’s Fruit of the Spirit; the sinful nature produces certain behavior, but the Spirit of God, when it takes up residence in us, it produces certain characteristics as well,

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”

So we see that one of the realities, one of the things that the Holy Spirit produces, one of the characteristics, one of the attributes inside of , that is in DIRECT CONTRAST to the sinful nature is JOY. Which means that it is not by our nature to be JOYOUS people.

I can guarantee you that if you tried to be JOYOUS without Jesus Christ… eventually you will fail at that.  Because it is not in our nature. It is in direct contrast to what the Holy Spirit does.

So the Scripture tells us that we have these acts of Sinful Nature, the Holy Spirit comes in us and it begins to wage war and change things and make things different.

When we trust in Jesus Christ we receive the Holy Spirit, it’s the ONE and ONLY way to find TRUE JOY.

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I want to address those of you who might be here this morning and you’re unsure about whether or not to really jump in with both feet when it comes to your relationship with God, or your relationship with Jesus Christ… because quite frankly you view God in the Bible, and Religion in the Church as being something that’s really going to rob all of your JOY and happiness and freedom.

I mean isn’t that what the Church does after all?

God somehow has identified all the things you’d like to do, then He tells you in His Word, you can’t do any of them… right?

BUT THAT’S NOT TRUE AT ALL… the Scripture’s telling us here, that ONLY way to find REAL JOY is through a relationship with Jesus Christ and then to receive the Holy Spirit that produces it in us.

And I would argue not just JOY… right?  … but LOVE, and PEACE, as the Scripture says as well, and HOPE also.

This isn’t an exhaustive list of the Acts of the Sinful Nature… it’s also not an exhaustive list of the Fruits of the Spirit. I mean, the Spirit does produce other things and there are other sins besides those that you see in Galatians 5.

But if we are to have any hope, if you will, for PEACE and JOY and HOPE and LOVE then it has to come through a relationship with Jesus Christ and the Power of the Holy Spirit. It is a FRUIT_OF_THE_SPIRIT. 

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That does not mean…  don’t get me wrong, that does not mean that Christians should be HAPPY all the time.

So many pastors have tried to take this concept, communicate it and make people feel guilty because they’re going through a difficult season in their life and quite frankly, it’s hard to be happy.

That does not mean that you have to be happy all the time.

Friends, there are many reasons… we could do a whole sermon series on why God allows His children to go through very unhappy experiences in life.

But what I want to suggest to you is that JOY is more profound than HAPPINESS… it runs deeper than happiness.

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It is possible that someone through their circumstances in their life could not be happy… it’s OK for Christians at times to not be happy. If you’re here and you’re a follower of Christ and your marriage is a wreck, YOU SHOULDN’T BE HAPPY.

That’s a God-given thing saying “THIS IS NOT RIGHT”.

You shouldn’t be happy.

But that does not mean that in our unhappiness, we cannot still walk and live with the wonderful JOY that comes from being in a relationship with Jesus Christ, and from the Fruit of the Spirit.

I think JOY runs much deeper, as we’ve said, all of these run much deeper than our LIFE CIRCUMSTANCES.

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Alright I want to share with you a judgmental side of me… this detrimental side of me related to the topic of JOY comes to the idea that there are two things that cause me to question whether someone’s actually a Christian.

Question-MarkIt’s none of my business, I’m not your judge, I just thought you might want to hear this (LAUGHTER).

So those of you who are followers of Christ there are two things that always make me think, REALLY ???”

1) And one of them is for those people will say something like, “Ya know, I just don’t like kids”.

I’m always like “Really?”  I mean I think for a Christian to so blanketly say that we don’t like ANY group of people like that is in contrast to Christ’s behavior…  but KIDS ???

When I hear people who claim to be followers of Christ who have no patience or tolerance or like or enjoyment out of children, it always causes me to… so if that’s you maybe just don’t tell me it (Laughter).

2) The other one is when it comes to the subject of JOY. I just find it so difficult to reconcile the two that someone who is a follower of Jesus Christ and yet is just so unjoyous… that they exude all the characteristics whatever they might be that are the opposite of JOY. I have a real difficult time wrestling with that.

I mean, as I’ve shared in my testimony, I’ve lived through some garbage.

But the profound thing about a relationship with Christ is that we can have JOY even through all of those circumstances.

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I want to give a warning to those of you who are introverts. “How many of you are INTROVERTS here?”

OK.. and half the introverts were too shy to raise their hand… right? (LAUGHTER).  “It’s me.. it’s me.. it’s meee.. 🙂

I want to give a warning to you introverts… here’s a challenge to you because sometimes your shyness could be mistaken for having a LACK OF JOY… a lack of friendliness.

And so I want to challenge you. If you’re here as an introvert… to leave here this morning and say, “Alright, I’m a quiet, introverted person, but that does not give me the right to mask and hide the JOY of JESUS CHRIST in my life… so how can I make it come through?” How can the Joy of Christ still come through in my personality?”

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Those of us who are EXTROVERTS we love things like JOY because… I walk into the office and if I’m in a good mood and I’m feeling JOYOUS like I just love to be… I CAN SHOW IT TO EVERYBODY (Laughter).

PEACE… last week’s message was on peace… like I really don’t know how to ‘do’ peace as an extrovert (laughter), maybe our introverts appreciated it (Laughter).  But anyways….

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Quickly friends, I think God invites us to find JOY in so many different ways, in all different types of life… I want to just quickly share with you 3 different ways He does that:

1) I think He invites us to find JOY in the simple things.

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In Deuteronomy 16:15 the Scripture tells us this… this might seem like an odd passage to you. There are so many Old Testament passages where basically this is the gist of what God is saying… He says, “Look… as my people… you know what.. just delight in the food that you’re eating, in the wine that you’re drinking… JUST BE JOYOUS“… there are so many wonderful passages where God just invites us to find JOY in the SIMPLE THINGS.

Here’s what he says in Deuteronomy 16:15

Speaking LOUDLY… “For seven days celebrate the festival to the Lord your God at the place the Lord will choose. For the Lord your God will bless you in all your harvest and in all the work of your hands, and your joy will be complete.

DEUT 16 15

2) I think He invites us to find JOY in each other as well.33

In Philippians 1:3-5 the Scripture tells us this,

“I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now,

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Let me just ask you before we move on to the last one… in this Holiday Season...
1) What needs to happen for you to make sure that you find JOY in the LITTLE things?  …and
2) What needs to happen to make sure that you find JOY in each OTHER?
What work of God does He need to do on your heart so it doesn’t all just “fly by” and you never find time to have JOY in any of the little things?

What does He need to do in your family dynamics relationally, both in your immediate family and in your extended family, so that you find JOY in those times together?

Maybe your only option is to invite someone from the Church family to come over to your house during the Holiday Season, have dinner with them and just find JOY in their company.

I think He invites us to find joy in the simple things; He invites us to find joy in each other; and finally, and most importantly, the others flow from this certainly…

3) God invites us to find JOY in our relationship with GOD.
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In Psalm 47:1-2 the Scripture tells us this,

Clap your hands, all you nations;
      shout to God with cries of joy.

 For the Lord Most High is awesome,
    the great King over all the earth.

Psalm

Perhaps it’s possible that this Holiday Season, as we’re talking about this message, your circumstances are so difficult that you cannot imagine being able to find JOY in the SIMPLE things… or find JOY in OTHER PEOPLE… this is the truth though… THE ABILITY TO FIND JOY IN OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD because He is AWESOME… He is GREAT.

And no matter what our circumstances are this Holiday Season we can find_JOY_in_Him.

A.W. Tozer wrote these words,

What I am anxious to see in Christian believers is a beautiful paradox. I want to see in them the joy of finding God while at the same time they are blessedly pursuing Him. I want to see in them the great joy of having God yet always wanting Him.

TOZER

And then finally, C. S. Lewis wrote, as we transition to the communion table,

“Joy is the serious business of heaven”

To him, Joy and our relationship with God were so connected, he said, “Joy is the serious business of heaven”.

C.S.-Lewis-Quote-Joy-in-Heaven

Friends, we have a wonderful privilege of being able to have communion together this morning… we often do so remembering Christ’s sacrifice, which we should.

We want to invite our elders to come down.

That leads us to have sort of solemn hearts and attitudes often.  This morning I want to invite you to maybe approach this thing slightly different… to be reminded that Jesus was not a victim on the Cross. We’re not mourning His death.

We worship Jesus because we know He willingly laid down His life as a sacrifice for our sin.

This table is also called “The Eucharist or Thanksgiving; so I invite you to participate in communion with JOY on our hearts.

GIVE THANKS

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