“PEACE”… we’ve all used the term, we all want it, but most of us not only do not have it, we don’t even know how to get it. Click link below for a powerful 24 minute message Pastor Dan Borgelt gave last Christmas Sunday morning. I’ve transcribed his delightful opening about a childhood Christmas Sunday morning where he had the opposite of peace.
Just 24 minutes to PEACE… Audio: [24:16]
“I remember as a child one particular Christmas that was extremely un-peaceful in my life. It happen to be on a similar occasion such as this where Christmas fell on a Sunday. My parents got the brilliant idea that it would be more honoring to God if we waited to open our Christmas presents till after church.
I grew up in a family where on Christmas morning, we’d wake up, and my father had taken a mattress and put it in the hallway to barricade our way to the Christmas tree, so that not only could we not get to it, but we couldn’t even see the presents under the tree.
When it was time, my two older sisters and I would plow down the mattress, trip over each other, and run to the tree. And now all the sudden, in one year they say, “Let’s wait till after church” 🙂 .
Now, I really liked the pastor but that morning every word he said just made me so furious… he said, “And now I have another point…” and I’m just thinking the whole time, like, “I_DON’T_CARE” 🙂
That particular Christmas was everything but peaceful for me, and sort of ironic. In the middle of this Christmas story there is this announcement from heaven itself that says…
“With Christmas comes PEACE.”.
And so this morning I want to talk to you about the the peace that is available to us because Christmas happened
I get a little nervous using the word ‘peace’ and making a whole subject of a sermon about it, because peace is sort of an eroding word in our culture today. I mean we don’t really use the word peace anymore.
If someone says the word peace we think of someone saying, “Hey, like peace man”… like a hippy.
Or maybe some of us might walk past someone and after we finish talking to them will say “peace”, or something like that, and really what we mean is sort of “see you later”.
But we don’t have any real rich understanding of what it means to have peace.
This morning I want to talk to you about the idea of “Three-fold Peace” that the Christmas story talks about.
First and most importantly peace with GOD.
Second this idea of peace with OURSELVES, or inner peace,
And then finally peace with OTHERS as well. All of that because Jesus was born.”
LARRY’S NOTE: I’ve not the time to transcribe it all, but here’s a few more juicy slices from this superb sermon. To get the full impact of this message, please listen to it all (link below).
First… “Peace with God”, it’s the most important one. Peace with God is not a given… there is such a thing as NOT being at peace with God.
The Scripture tells us that our previous existence, our default setting from our birth, is NOT to be at peace with him, but instead is says to be alienated from God as his enemy.
So what has changed? What has happened that this army of God is now offering a message of peace. And of course the answer is Jesus’ birth.. He is the key to our peace with God.
However, this Peace with God doesn’t automatically come upon us simply because Jesus has been born. No, the Scripture is clear and says, “Peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
And those “whom on his favor rests” are those who enter into a relationship with Jesus Christ.
If you don’t have a relationship with Jesus Christ then you have ultimately rejected God’s offer for peace with you… you have no more peace with God than if Christ had never been born in the first place.
If you are interest in having peace with God, the perfect place to start is with a basic prayer that simply says,
“God, I want to have a relationship with your Son Jesus Christ.”
LARRY’S NOTE: Ya gotta hear his “It takes two to tango” illustration and how it’s not always true… how ‘Isis’ in our world tells us that you can have a lock of peace with only one side who’s willing to fight.
A LACK of peace is more natural… In fact, it takes two to have peace, not not the other way around.
There are a lot of people who THINK that they are at peace with God… they don’t have a problem with God, no real issues with him, they’re pretty OK with the life that he’s given them… so they would say,
“Yeah I’m at peace with God, I don’t have any problems with Him, but it takes TWO to have peace with one another, and so you should be asking yourself the question,
“How is my standing with God?” … is God all right with me; and the only way to answer that question in the affirmative, is to say, “I have a relationship with Jesus Christ, my life is hidden in him… God’s offer for peace with him.”
There’s a lot of people out there who think they have peace with God, but who don’t have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, and therefore they’ve rejected God’s peace offering, and even though they’re OK with God he’s not OK with them–there’s no peace between them and God.
And to a degree, that works in the reverse as well… there are some who have a relationship with Jesus Christ… who God has declared you righteous… as his children, he has adopted you into his family; you are a Child of God, He is at complete peace with you, but maybe you grew up in a church environment where you heard: THE LAW and GUILT and SHAME, far more than GRACE and FORGIVENESS… and so you cannot accept the peace that he’s offering you to its fullest degree.
PEACE WITH OURSELVES and OTHERS
Peace with God is not the only type of piece that the Christmas story alludes to the Kingdom of God coming to earth and he’s going make life the way it was meant to be in the first place–that someday we will experience life the way God intended it to be… that someday we will be able to have complete peace with ourselves and peace with others.
The lack of peace that we feel inside and the lack of peace that we have with others is not the way that God designed life.
It’s important to realize that these 3 “peaces” are in this order for a reason: Peace with GOD; then
Peace with OURSELVES; and then
Peace with OTHERS.
They’re in that order because that’s the order in which they need to happen in our lives. It’s not possible to have true inner peace with yourself without having peace with God. It’s not possible to have peace with others unless you have peace with yourself, and peace with God.
There’s an order in which these things have to happen.
The first and most important relationship to get right is our relationship with God; and once we have peace with God then we can consider the idea of having peace with ourself as well.
If we’re still walking around, and we feel guilty about something we’ve done in the past, if we’re still carrying the burden and the shame, and is still causing a hindrance in our relationship with God… then there’s no way we’re going to ever move on to having peace with ourselves.
But once we reconcile with God and we trust in Christ, and we trust in our standing with God, we can start talking about having peace with ourselves as well.
“INNER PEACE” is a term that gets misconstrued by other religions. and and society, but it has a Biblical definition as well.
Philippians 4:6-7 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
LARRY’S NOTE: THE FOLLOWING IS REALLY IMPORTANT !!!
The Scripture is telling us that when we get our relationship with God right, all the things that come our way, that normally would have robbed us of our peace–an economic situation, a relational problem, a health situation… whatever it might be… all the things that would’ve robbed us of our peace we can take all of that and give it to God, once you make peace with Him.
And that will allow you, it says, for the peace of God then to come and to “GUARD YOUR HEART” <3. What a beautiful expression.
So some of us don’t have peace with ourself because we don’t have peace with God.
And if you don’t have peace WITH God, then you’re not going to receive peace FROM God.
The Scripture tells us that we can receive an immense amount of peace from God once our relationship with him is right, and we start taking our daily situations and circumstances to Him in PRAYER.
For those who don’t have peace with yourself even though you have peace with God, it’s because you haven’t heeded the wisdom of Philippians 4:6,7… you do not have peace with yourself, you do not have inner peace but you already have access to the relationship of the One who can give you that.. and the Scripture saying, “Go to him”.
You have a problem in your life and your default option is to try to fix it yourself. And the Scripture saying, ‘no take all of those things that would threaten your peace, and bring them to the one whom you have a relationship with in Jesus Christ’… and you will have peace with yourself–He will give it to you.
PEACE WITH OTHERS
Again, the order of these “peaces” is key, because we cannot have peace with others unless we have peace with ourself, and we can’t have peace with ourself unless we have peace with God.
When Jesus shows up, He begins moving his followers in the direction of restoring the Kingdom of God. And our broken relationships with one another are part of the things that’s going to be restored. And so he starts asking his followers to live in such a way that we begin to restore in the Kingdom of God, and one of the way we do that is to be committed to living at PEACE WITH ONE ANOTHER.
Scripture tells us then ultimately, in Revelation 21:4, that one day God “will wipe away every tear from their eyes, there will be no more death, or mourning, or crying, or pain…”
Just think about all the ways that those things have come through broken relationships… He says, “But that’s all going to be over with… “for the old order of things has passed away.”
God will ultimately some day, usher in the full Kingdom of God, which will not only give us a full measure of peace with HIM, a full measure of peace with OURSELVES, but also a full measure of peace with OTHERS as well.”
Just 24 more minutes to PEACE… Complete Audio: [24:16]
Recognizing the Biblical Connection between Jesus’ Birth and Our Sin
AUDIO (20 minutes):
Pastor Dan – (Transcription)
Well it’s ChristmasEve… and I’ve been thinking all week long about the reality that the majority of the people here tonight will have heard all of the passages of Scripture that pertain to Jesusbeing born…
And I started thinking to myself you know, I don’t think I’m going to be able to say anything new about Jesus’s birth.
And so I hope you don’t mind I’ve taken the liberty to do something a little bit different. We’re going to go to the Book of Exodus and we’re going to talk about Moses’s birth tonight… is that going to be all right with you guys? (LAUGHTER)
Well… by a show of hands how many of you would like to hear a sermon about Jesus’ birth?
OK. Yikes. OK. It’s going to… how many of you are awake enough to rate… ?
How many of you would like to hear a sermon about Moses birth? OK.. alright there’s a few actually.
That means that what we’re gonna have to do… I just want you to realize that if we do a sermon about Jesus’ birth, the sermon notes that I have are about Moses birth and so we’re down to no sermon notes so that might mean a short sermon tonight.
Pastor Dan Borgelt (Transcription):
“Well as we said from the outset here at Kirkmont, for our Advent Series we’ve been introducing various topics. A few weeks ago we address the topic of PEACE; and then a couple weeks ago we address the topic of JOY; and then last week we addressed the topic of HOPE.
And now we come to the topic of LOVE.
But what we’ve been doing is addressing those topics, at least a little different through the beginning of our message. So what I’ve been doing for my introduction is taking the time to share with you a part of my testimony… and by that word what I mean is just my story about how I’ve come to faith in Jesus Christ.
And I shared a part of my testimony to bring us into each of the various topics PEACE, JOY, HOPE, and now LOVE.
And so to recap, for those of you who might not have been here with us the last few weeks, the things that we’ve talked about so far…
I shared with you guys, that I like maybe many of you, did not grow up in the Christian home, in fact in many ways I grew up in a home that was very opposite of a Christian home.
I grew up in and a house where at an early age I became aware that my father was being abusive towards my mother… physically abusive towards her.
And then when I was in fifth grade, my life really changed when it came out that my two older sisters shared that my father was abusing them is well, in a different more private way.
And so my mother separated from my father upon hearing that news. But it was in that dark time that I received the greatest news that I had ever heard, and that was my mom sat me down one night, and she told me about God’s love for me and His desire to have a relationship with me; and how Jesus Christ is the one that made that possible.
By the end of the night we kneeled beside each other and I prayed to begin a relationship with Jesus Christ.
And then as the story continued, a few months later my mother decided to bring my father back into the house.
But before she brought him back into the house, the abuse that my sisters experienced with my father, I experienced with him as well–he’d used me in the same way.
And so as you can imagine my sisters and I were not excited about the idea of my dad coming back into the home. But nonetheless he did.
Last week we ended on the note of HOPE.
We ended on a note of HOPE because someone invited our family to start going to church. And it was a church that was designed for people just like our family situation–broken, far from God, really seeking in many ways….
And God used the church particularly the pastor to really speak to me and help me grow in my relationship with him.
And then a couple years later when I was in high school, the physical abuse between my father and mother did not stop and so eventually, my mom divorced my dad, and like maybe some people here in this room I did the back and forth thing. I spent two weeks with my mom, and then two weeks with my dad, and two weeks with my mom, and then two weeks with my dad.
And I was allowed to continue to see my dad because at that point I had not shared about the abuse with anyone. And so they continued to let me see him.
But today we come to the topic of LOVE. Now how do we wrap “Love” up in all of this?
Pastor Dan – transcription:
Well as we said from the outset, here at Kirkmont we are in our Advent preaching series… a four week series addressing the topics of PEACE and JOY and HOPE and LOVE and we’ve addressed the topic of Peace a couple of weeks ago the topic of Joy last week and now we’re dressing the subject of HOPEthis morning.
But we’re doing a little bit different, at least at the beginning of the message time …because what we’re doing is in order to light our candles here that we have on our Advent Wreath, what I’ve decided to do is take my testimony, and if that’s of a term that’s unfamiliar to you… it’s my story about how I’ve come to faith in Jesus Christ.
I’ve divided into sort of four chapters, if you will, and and share a chapter each week and then light the candle pertaining to that subject.
So, a couple weeks ago I shared part of it and then we lit a candle and so on.
And so I want to recap for those of you who might be visiting with us or you just skipped church for last couple of weeks for some reason (Laughter).
A couple weeks ago only we introduced a chapter one of my testimony; we talked about the subject of PEACE . And it was sort of an ironic way because we ended it in a very un-peaceful time in my life.
I shared with the group that I grew up in an UNCHURCHED HOME, and not a Christian home, in fact in many ways it was the opposite of of a churched home.
My father I learned, as I was getting older I became aware that he was abusive to my mother often when they would get in arguments with each other.
And then when I was in fifth grade, my life really sort of fell apart when I learned that my father had been abusive to my two older sisters as well. But in a more private and secretive way if you will.
And so that sort of tore our family apart and my mom and sisters and I moved out of the house immediately… and then after my dad moved out, we moved back into our home.
And then last week though we talked about the subject of JOY, and I was able to share, it was while I was in fifth grade; and while my family was separated right in the midst of the darkest time of my life, that unbeknownst to me my mom had become a follower of Jesus Christ.
And one evening we sat down together and she told me about Jesus Christ. She told me that God created me to be in a relationship with Him; that my sin keeps me from being in a relationship with Him. But that God loves me so much he sent his Son Jesus Christ to die on the cross for my sin… and that by trusting in Him I could have a relationship with God once again.
By the time the night was over, my mother and I were kneeling beside each other and praying for me to accept Christ in my life; and my life has been very different since then… I knew then that something happened.
But I also learned very quickly that being a follower of Christ doesn’t mean that God is going to make everything just right in your life.
And so my mom for obvious reasons kept my sisters from visiting my dad that year that they were separated.
But she misunderstood the abuse that existed… and so she continued to allow me to visit my father.
And it was during my parents’ separation and during one of the times that my mom let me visit my father that I experienced the same abuse that my two older sisters had experienced between my father and myself.
And it was one time, and it certainly wasn’t as severe as what they experienced, but as you can imagine it was still life altering, sort of life shattering for at least a period of time.
Today we get to though light the candle of HOPE… because I went through that experience with a relationship with Jesus Christ… and it made it very different.
And not only that, but there was HOPE in my in my days ahead.
First it got a little bit darker if you will… about a year after they separated, my mom having not realized what happened to me because I was unwilling to share it with anyone, she eventually let my father back in the house. And so a year after she found out about my sisters’ abuse, she let him back in the home.
And so you can imagine my sisters and I were not very happy about that and it created a lot of tension and things in the household. And so things were difficult and dark for several years.
And then this ray of hope sort of burst into our family life.
My sister was invited on a date by a gentleman… and you know where he asked her out for their very first date? But he asked her to go to church with him.
And my sister went to church. And our family hadn’t been to church a years and years and years. And I remember her calling up my mom and talking to her about it and saying. “I went to this church. You’re not going to believe what I experienced; it is very different than anything I expected.”
And my mom eventually started going with her. And then eventually my other sister and I started going.
And see I had been a Christian for several years but I hadn’t been to church, I wasn’t going to Bible studies, no one was helping me in my faith or anything.
And I remember walking into this church and just experiencing the JOY and the fellowship of the church; and Pastor Rob was his name… and how God was using his messages to speak to me and to cultivate my relationship with Christ.
And so there was incredible HOPE in the midst of this darkness because God was redeeming our family. He was redeeming our household.
And I learned early on that no matter what it is we go through. We don’t need to resent it… we don’t need to regret it, because we serve a God who is capable of redeeming all those circumstances.
So this morning it is a real privilege to be able to talk with you about HOPE … but I better light the candle first.
And yes I realize that I was supposed to light the other two candles before the service. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that I get an “F” in my annual review around here for “Liturgy and tradition”.
But hopefully my testimony is helping you to graciously understand why.
So I want to talk to you about HOPE.
As we talk about hope I want to talk to you about it in these three categories, as we put up this outline for you…sort of three questions if you will.
1. What is Biblical hope? 2. Where is it found? and 3. When can we have it?
What is Biblical hope? Where is it found? And when can we have it?
First, what is Biblical Hope?
You know when we think of hope we tend to think of it in terms of of chance or wishful thinking don’t we? We think of hope in a sense of it’s like a chance or wishful thinking.
We think of it as a last Vegas term it’s gambling.
“I really hope that the wheel stops on red and not black.”
“I really hope the total number of the dice is even and not odd”.
“The quarterback from my favorite football team has just thrown a Hail Mary pass as time expired. I really hope that one of the receivers from our team catches the ball”.
“My favorite team has just launched a half court shot. And I really hope that they make the basket”.
We think about in terms of wishful thinking as well:
“I really hope that the fifty percent off sale at my favorite store is still going on.”
And some of you really hoped that the boy that you liked would like you back.
We have a sense of hope as being nothing more than wishful thinking or chance.
And with this understanding of hope prevailing in our culture it’s no wonder then it’s not a very valuable thing. “What’s the big deal about hope… it’s nothing more than wishful thinking or chance”.
It’s no surprise then that perhaps some of you, if you were honest, would say I’m not very excited about a message about HOPE. I mean after all what does hope have to do with Jesus’ birth? What does Jesus’ birth have anything to do with hope?
I don’t need Jesus to have ‘chance’. I don’t need Jesus to have “wishful thinking”… I can do those things_on_my_own.
But Biblical hope is far greater than what we think of it in the world.
Biblical hope has a far greater sense of certainty. Let’s look at our first passage. First Corinthians 13:13, under
“What is Biblical Hope?”
Now some of you if you’ve ever been to a wedding before you recognize this chapter is the ‘Luvvv Chapter’ in First Corinthians chapter thirteen… “Love is patient, love is kind, it does not envy, it does not boast, it’s not proud, it’s not rude, it’s not self-seeking… you want me to keep going…? I was just… anyways. All right. (we’re all smiling on top of a low congregation chuckle)
Transcriber Note: Pastor Dan is so “cute”… he has such an endearing way of relating to his congregation, so personal; sometimes it’s almost like you could have a conversation with him from the pulpit. The above paragraph ending is something that needs the audio to hear the volume, tone and inflection necessary to pick up the nuances in his adorable personality. Anyway (haha) you get the idea… “he’s not just another pretty face” and we love him.
And so anyways, that’s the whole description at the very end of it. Here’s what he says,
1 Corinthians 13:13
“And now these three remain: Faith, Hope, and Love. But the greatest of these is love.”
You know, I called this passage in because I was thinking… I want to I want to show you how the Bible elevates HOPE.
We might think of it not being a real big deal, as being just chance or wishful thinking, but here’s the Bible saying, “No, Biblical hope is being mentioned in light of “terms of faith and love… as one of the three things that remain: these three remain FAITH, HOPE, and LOVE.
In fact there’s a relationship between HOPE and the word FAITH. If that’s the Love Chapter, there’s also a Faith Chapter in the Bible. Does anybody remember where the faith chapter’s found?
The book of… Hebrews… OK, look at Hebrews chapter eleven verse one. The scripture begins by defining what faith is
Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”
You see the connection again between faith and hope.
And also you see these termslike being sureof something and certainof something. I’m hoping you start to see that the Bible elevates what Biblical hope really is.
The Scripture goes on in Proverbs twenty four verse fourteen. It tells us this. And the entire book of Proverbs is just wisdom from God to you and I and he says this.
“Know also that wisdom is sweet to your soul. If you find it. There is a future hope for you and your hope will_not_be_cut_off.”
So here’s the Bible connecting the term HOPE to the idea of WISDOM.
You know we don’t think of HOPE necessarily as being a very wise thing… wishful thinking and chance? I mean going to Vegas is that very wise?
But HOPE, Biblical hope, is connected to wisdom.
And then in the New Testament the Bible says this in Titus chapter one verses one through two says,
Titus 1:1-2 “Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ to further the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness— a faith and a knowledge resting on the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time,”
Just leave that verse up there for a second. The Scripture says. The faith of God’s elect, and the knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness.
So before, Hope was connected to wisdom… and now we see HOPE being connected to knowledge, to Godliness.
So, Biblical Hope is very different than chance… Biblical Hope is very different than wishful thinking.
I want you to think of Biblical hope and these terms. These four “C’s”
Certainty that Christ will Change your Circumstances
Having the certainty that Christ will change your circumstances, is what I believe is a decent summary of Biblical HOPE.
That doesn’t mean that Christ will change your circumstances the way that you want… right? It doesn’t mean that that’s what God’s promise always is.
We shouldn’t be certain that Christ will alwayschange the circumstances the way we want; if that’s the case we will be disappointed often.
We shouldn’t even be certain that Christ will change the circumstances WHEN we want… if that’s the case we might often be disappointed.
But we can have certainty that Christ will change our circumstances. I believe that’s a great summary of what Biblical Hope is.
He might not always remove the battle, or the difficulty that’s in our life. He might not even change the enemy that we’re up against. But… he may equip you to get through the battle that you’re going through.
But that’s a change of circumstance isn’t it? … if you’re fighting a battle and you have a knife and then God gives you a gun and says Go fight the same battle that’s a change of circumstance (Low rumbling Laughter).
He doesn’t always remove our battles. He doesn’t always remove or change or enemy. But he may give you what it takes to be equipped to go through the thing that you need to get through. That’s a change of circumstance.
So I want to suggest to you that Biblical Hope is having certainty that Christ will change your circumstances. Now I just want to ask you from the outset this morning …
Are you living with that kind of hope?
I’m under no illusion that some of you aren’t going through very difficult times right now. That some of you have relationships that are completely falling apart. That some of you, this Christmas season is extremely stressful for you because of either family, or finances, or faith crises… whatever it might be.And I just want to ask you… are you going through life with that kind of hope… or when you think of things being better… are you merely doing so with wishful thinking and chance?
“BOY be great if my marriage was better next year”.
“It be great if I finally got the career I wanted.“
Are you just approaching those things with wishful thinking or chance? Or do you have BIBLICAL HOPE…
Certainty that Christ can Change your Circumstances
Well if Biblical Hope is intriguing to us, the natural question would be,
2. Where is Biblical Hope found?
Let’s look there at our second question. Where is it found?
In the book of Romans Chapter fifteen verse thirteen …by the way, if you want to read one book in the whole Bible and you just sort of struggling with hope and you want to take this sermon and just apply it to your life this week and reinforce it. Read the Book of Romans.
Romans 15:13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Let’s leave that verse up there.
So what we see from the very beginning, is that God is defined as being the God of Hope; and it ends with saying that we might have “hope by the power of the Holy Spirit”.
So I think the first place that we ought to realize that we find Biblical hope is through our relationship with God.
In particular here, it says the Holy Spirit.
For those of you were with us last week we looked at a book of the Bible, in Galatians chapter five… where we talk about the Fruits of the Spirit. Meaning when we have God’s Spirit living inside of us it produces certain characteristics and we said “among those are things like peace, and joy, and goodness, and gentleness, and love, and self-control, and all these kinds of things.”
And I argued that HOPE was ‘probably’ included in the list as well because it’s not an exhaustive list.
But here we see specifically that HOPE is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit — it comes from God’s Spirit living inside of us.
You see the power is that when we transfer our trust from ourselves to Jesus Christ, what happens to our sin is it’s immediately removed, and God takes up residence inside of us through the power of the Holy Spirit. And these things begin to come alive in our life: HOPE JOY PEACE PATIENCE GENTLENESS SELF-CONTROL… all of those things.
So if we want to find Biblical Hope,
a) It is found in our relationship with God.
And specifically, Jesus Christ… that’s why we’re doing this for Advent.
In first Peter one, three it reminds us of that.
1 Peter 1:3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
Friends our relationship with Jesus Christ, when we’re invited into relationship with him we’re invited into a living_Hope.
b) And then the Scriptures provide a source of hope for us as well.
In Romans fifteen verse four the Scripture says this,
Romans 15:4 For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
See we were meant to pick up the Scriptures — the very foundation of our relationship with God and read about people who have been in despairing situations like you and I have been or will go through.
We’re meant to read about them in the Bible and to see how God is sovereign in all of their circumstances; how he redeems them from the miry pit; how he redeems them from all of life’s circumstances and brings them full circle and has a plan in their life.
We were meant to read the scripture and see how God has worked in people’s lives in the past… realizing he’s the same yesterday, today, and forever, and understand that’s the same God who works in our life today is well.
And we have a better perspective than some of the people even in the Bible did… because the truth of the matter is that some of the people in the Bible they had despairing situations… and God redeemed them from them but they never lived to learn the point — they never lived long enough to get to see why God let them go through what he did.
There are some people who certainly experienced why God let them go through what he did in their lifetime, but many people don’t.
But when we read the Bible from our perspective we get to see how God redeems all of those circumstances.
And then finally we experience hope… where again is it found? Not only from our relationship with God, through the Scriptures, but then also through our sufferings.
c) We experience HOPE through our SUFFERINGS
Scripture tells us in Romans five, this is talking about Jesus,
Romans 5:2-4 “through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance;perseverance, character; and character, hope.”
I always found it quite interesting that he begins down this road of saying, “Here’s how God redeems suffering in our lives — it produces all these things.” He could have gone so many different directions. This could have ended in so many different ways but it ends with HOPE.
The end result of suffering, He says is ultimately HOPE… and HOPE, not chance, not wishful thinking… but true Biblical hope does_not_disappoint_us…
“And hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” v 5
Friends are things that you can go through in your life today, that you might not have been able to go through ten years ago or twenty years ago. And one of the reasons for that is because God has, through your suffering through your difficulties, He has matured you.
And one of the areas he’s matured you is in the area of HOPE.
You had to learn to have hope through a certain level of suffering and difficulties. And now you’ve seen how God redeemed that situation and now you can have hope in even more difficult circumstances.
So one of the ways that we discover true Biblical HOPE is through suffering… 1) through our relationship with God, 2) through Scripture, and 3) through suffering.
So let me ask you this then…
Where are you looking for hope?
If these are the places that were supposed to find it, where do we find it? … or least where do we look for it?
What I think often happens as people get so fixated on the problem that they end up looking for hope in the problem.
They’re forgetting that that’s the problem not the solution.
Let me give you an example.
Let’s just say someone’s here this morning, and your marriage relationship is completely unfulfilling to you. It’s unsatisfying… your husband is not who you want him to be; your wife is not who you want her to be.
And you have the sort of wishful thinking, this, this desire of course for things to be different, but, but to you it’s all wrapped up in the fact that they become someone else–be someone different.
And so you start focusing on them. And you’re hoping that they would become different.
And we get tunnel vision when it comes to our difficult times like this, and before long we realize that our hope is actually in the person.
If they would just change then we would be better off. But they’re not where our hope should lie… they are the problem if you will.
Our hope should be in Christ Jesus and in our relationship with him and in the truth of His Word.
The same could be with the stack of bills or the Health Report that you received whatever might be… we can get tunnel vision in locked in on the problem and it ends up being that our hope is actually in that … and it’s no wonder that a fails us.
Our hope should be in our relationship with Christ.
3. When can we have HOPE?
What is difficult? Where is it found? and When can we have it?
You know I think the first thing the Bible teaches us is that we can have hope, true Biblical Hope in all of our life circumstances.
You know in Romans 8:28 the Scripture tells us this… this is the first and only verse we’re going to use that doesn’t have the word HOPE in it, but I think you’ll find it applies; it says,
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, whohave been called according to his purpose.”
So the Scripture is teaching us, that no matter what happens to us in our life, God has the ability of redeeming that, of the using it, working it for our good.
That’s how sovereign God is… that’s how wise he is above all of our circumstances… whether he’s caused it to happen to you, or someone else has had it happen to you… either way he’s let it happen to you,but he say he can redeem it… He can make it for your good.
You know, as I think about my personal story of my personal testimony, this verse has come true, it’s become alive for me.
You’ve heard about what happened to my mother, and what happened to my sisters, what happened to myself… and I can honestly say, now, that because this verse is real and it’s alive. .. that I don’t have any regret about what happened. I don’t resent any of it.
I don’t wish that God would have made things different in my family… because I’ve seen how he was able to take all of that, for the good.
Now… perhaps one exception is I guess… to be totally transparent and vulnerable with you… when I tell people about what happened to me… some people immediately just think well the apple doesn’t fall very far from the tree… and I have sensed people be… skeptical of me, because of what happened to me as a child.
And that’s bothersome I guess.
But beyond that… in general… I have seen more ministry opportunities arrive because of what God allowed to happen to me.
Perhaps my testimony in the last few weeks have connected with some of you. That wouldn’t be the case if God wouldn’t have allowed what happened to me to happen to me.
I don’t regret or resent anything about my childhood because Romans eight has come alive in my life.
But I want to ask you … it’s not about me, I want to ask you… “Is there anything that has happened to you in your life, or that is happening right now… that you haven’t gotten to the point where you can say you know what God I don’t resent that… I don’t regret it… I’m at peace with what you allowed to happen because I know that you can work all things for the good.” If we’re honest with ourselves, most of us will probably find something that we still need to give over to God and say “God, will you graciously show me why you let this happen?”.
And even if you don’t… that’s why FAITH and HOPE are connected… that you might say to God,“I have the faith to hope in you regardless.”
And some might say to me well. “Yeah pastor you know… that’s great all for circumstances like yours, but I mean let’s just ramp it up a notch.
We preached a whole sermon series here called Kirkmont Cares where we exposed ourselves to the difficulties of the world. We learned that:
there are ten million people in the world who don’t have access to safe drinking water.
there are twenty five million people in the world who are victims of human trafficking.
there are a hundred fifty million orphans in the world…
I mean come on what about them? What about the mother who cries over her child, prays for healing, and and never gets it?
Where is Christ changing their circumstance?
We must end when it comes the subject of HOPE on this note: in First Corinthians fifteen, nineteen, the Scripture tells us this.
1 Corinthians 15:19
If only for this life we have hope in Christ, then we are to be pitied more than all other people.
If the only source of our hope… if our hope is limited to and confined to the things that we can see in our life, the Bible says, “We are to be pitied more than all others”.
If the most hopeful thing we can long for is something that this world has to offer us… we’re to be pitied more than anyone because God has something so much greater in store for us.
If we can only hope for the things that we can SEE and GRASP then we are to be pitied more than anyone, because God has so much more in store for us.
I want to ask you as we close this morning then…
“Has something happened in your life that God is just simply not going to restore that circumstance… in this life?
Some if you have lost a loved one… a child… another family member, a spouse… and the despair of that loss is not going to be redeemed by God on this side of redemption.
You will live with it for the years to come. But… your hope is not only in the things which are seen. We have hope for that which is eternal for the place which God has in store for us for all of eternity.
Some of you have reached a point in your health where there’s no going back. You want us to pray for you and we will, but for all practical purposes you realize that your health is now declining, and it’s not going to get better…
…that Christ is not going to change that circumstance here on Earth.
Thanks be to God …because your hope doesn’t end with that which is SEEN… you have the hope of that which is UNSEEN … and the HOPE that which is ETERNAL as well.
We invite our praise team to come forward as we sing our closing song together this morning. Thank you for your patience and listening to me a little bit longer than normal this morning
Why don’t the rest of us pray as they get set up, and we’ll sing together.
Gracious father. We thank you for the truth of your Word as always. We come before you this morning and we ask that we might live with Biblical hope that comes from our relationship with you first and foremost.
And we pray that, God… by your grace and mercy You would show us how you’re capable of redeeming deeming all of our life circumstances… perhaps either here now in this life, or at least give us the HOPE in the reminder of the promise of eternity. We ask these things now in Christ’s name.
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.
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.
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.
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”.
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).
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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”.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
It’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.
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?”
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….
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.
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.“
2) I think He invites us to find JOY in each other as well.
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,“
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.
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.”
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.”
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”.
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.