Wednesday, December 30, 2015


Our Father, we thank You that when the fullness of the time was come, You sent forth Your Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because we are sons, You have sent forth the Spirit of Your Son into our hearts, crying, Abba, Father. Wherefore, we are no more servants, but sons, and if sons, then heirs of God through Christ. Glory be to You, our Father, through Christ Jesus, our Lord, world without end. Amen.


Our great and mighty God, we thank You that You supply all our needs according to Your riches in glory by Christ Jesus. For, in Christ Jesus, we possess all things. O Lord, grant that we would fully trust You to provide each day our daily bread. Bless us that we might bless others. And unto You, our Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.


Our Father, we confess our own unrighteousness and the unrighteousness in our land. Forgive us our sins, O Lord. Grant us peace through forgiveness as we look to Jesus for our salvation. Amen.


Our promise keeping God, we bring the sacrifice of praise into the house of the LORD. You have not left us desolate, but have given us the Great Shepherd that we might rise up and lie down in peace. O Lord, You have kept Your promises to Your people, to give us a Righteous Branch who will take away all our sins so that we can stand before You in Him in righteousness. We praise You, through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who has ascended on high and has sent His Holy Spirit to dwell with us forever. Amen.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Joy to The World- Christmas Sermon

Christmas Sermon
Rev. 21:1-7
Joy to the World Sermon Notes

         The readings this morning were talking about the Advent of the Holy City, the New Jerusalem coming down from God out of Heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. That New Jerusalem is the church, the bride of Christ.
         This is a tabernacle of God that dwells with men. In it, they shall be His people and God himself shall be with them and be their God.
         In this glorious tabernacle, God shall wipe away all tears. We can get that. But it also says that death will be abolished. So, too, sorrow, crying and pain. For, in this heavenly city, the former things are passed away and all things are new.
         We do not yet see the fully inaugurated city. It is here. We are in the New Jerusalem but there is still death, although we, who are in Christ, have become immortal. The Spirit dwells with us and comforts us, wiping away our tears, comforting our sorrows, easing our pain.We have a foretaste of that final city when all things will be new, death and sorrow and sin and hell shall be no more.
         This passage says, “It is done. I am alph and omega.” Jesus cried out on the cross, “It is finished.” And in that place He paid for the sins of His people that they might have the fullness of joy. And He sent His Holy Spirit to dwell with us always until the end of this age and the beginning of the undending age.
         So, there is great joy among the people of God. When Mary had a baby, the baby was the promise of good tidings of great joy. This is the fundamental characteristic of the people of God. They are a people of great joy because of these good tidings, this gospel.
         The gospel is the promise that God will save His people from their sins. Our promise keeping God has done exactly that. If you realize this great truth, your joy is full.
         How is your joy? Are you joyful? Is the gospel good enough news to you to fill your heart with exceeding great gladness?
Gal. 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,  23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
The fruit of the Spirit is something God gives us. Many of the aspects of the fruit are things that we do. They all mark a true Christian, one who is walking by the Spirit. But a couple of them seem to be not so much what we do but what we are. They are state of being sorts of fruits. I am particularely referring to joy and peace. And the two go together. A joyful man is at peace and a peaceful man has the joy of the Lord.
         But pastor, you don’t understand. I am happy about the forgiveness of sins, but my heart is full of sorrow. My circumstances are difficult and joy is only for a moment. It comes and goes but mostly I just get by from day to day.
         Dear Saints, the joy in God is glorious because it is joy from God. We rejoice in Him but He also grants us His Spirit of rejoicing. The Good News makes us glad, even in the midst of tremendous trials and continuing struggles. In fact, the good news is so good because it does exactly that. In the midst of our fallen world and all of its subsequent trouble, sickness, sorrow, death, sin and suffering, the good news of Jesus Christ fills us up and we overflow with joy.
         A few weeks ago I defined joy as cheerful gratitude.
5479. cara¿ chara, khar-ah´; from 5463; cheerfulness, i.e. calm delight: — gladness, x greatly, (x be exceeding) joy(-ful, -fully, -fulness, -ous).
I struggle with an exact definition because it is clear from Scripture that joy is not merely the feeling of happiness. It is not the sort of happiness you express when laughing at something or someone that is exceedingly silly. That is part of it but it leaves us short. Sometimes we can view our lives with a cosmic comedic aspect and laugh at ourselves and our circumstances. But sometimes our circumstance are so dire or so unfunny as to make that definition of joy laughable.
         But God calls us to joy even in the unfunny difficulties of our lives. So, a happy giddiness won’t quite do. A cheerful gratitude almost gets there but not quite. In that definition I have really defined gratitude, not cheer, thankfulness, not joy. It might be better to call joy, a grateful cheer. Or maybe, a gratitude of delight.
         It is a bit easier to comprehend if we focus on where our delight, gratitude and cheer is focused. Our joy is full if our joy is in God. That is the point of joy. Sometimes our circumstances give us great joy. This time of year that happens. We are among family, friends, presents, celebration and we might feel full of joy. But our circumstances may press back upon us and zap our holiday cheer. Then what?
         We need to refocus. What is the focus of my joy? What is the source of my joy? If we focus on God’s gift to us then our joy can sustain us, even in the midst of circumstances that threaten to kill our joy. If our joy is focused on Jesus, then it returns as often as we refocus, as often as we remember Him.
But there is more. It is not only our focus, as if we had to make ourself joyful. God, Himself, is our joy, and He dwells with us. The Spirit of God in us rejoices at the presence of our Savior. Remember John the Baptist jumping for joy in the womb of His mother and the presence of the in utero Jesus.
Rev. 21:1   And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. 
2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 
3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. 
4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. 
5 And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful. 
6 And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. 
7 He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. 

         I want to look at several scriptural texts about joy. The point here is not to fully understand these texts and the contexts of these texts. It is more a word study on joy. I want us to see that joy is all through the New Testament and it is often there right beside trouble. Trouble and joy are not mutually exclusive. They exist side by side.

Is. 61:1   The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;  2 To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn;  3 To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.
In this Old Testament prophecy of Jesus we see that the Advent of our Lord comforts those who mourn, gives them beauty for ashes, joy instead of mourning, praise instead of heaviness. And the purpose of all of this is to glorify God.
When we are joyful in the presence of our difficult circumstances, even in the presence of our enemies, it reveals that God is with us and glorifies the Lord.

Matt 2:9-10 9 When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.

Luke 2:9-11 9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. 10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
Good tidings of great joy. What was the great joy? That a Savior is born, who is Christ the Lord. What would the early disciples have thougth about this Savior? That He would take the throne of David and like David, defeat all of Israel’s enemies. That would be joyous news. But we know that Jesus did not do that, at least not in the way that Israel expected.
And yet, the Angels, who no doubt, did know God’s plan, announced that this was good tidings of Great Joy because Christ was coming. Whom did He save? He saved His people from their sins. At the core of our joy is this great truth. We are saved from our sins. This is a joy that can settle in on us no matter the circumstances.

John 15:9-13 9 As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.  10 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love.  11 These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.  12 This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.  13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
Jesus is giving the disciples some of His very last commands and encouragements. He does this so that His joy would remain in them and that their joy migh be full. Jesus wanted His disciples to be full of joy. And He tells them about this on the very eve of His suffering and departure from them.
He goes on to tell them that they will suffer. John 15:18 If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. He has told them that they will be put out of the synagogues and suffer and even die for His sake. And yet He has told them all of this ahead of time so that His joy would be in them and would be filled up. Jesus expects that His joy would accompany suffering, persecution and even death.

John 17:13-16 13 And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves. 14 I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 15 I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
This is Jesus’s high priestly prayer. In it, He prays to His Father that His joy would be in His disciples. He prays that His joy would be there even though they will be hated by the world. He says that they will be ‘in the world’. That is, they will suffer all the things the world has to offer and yet He still enjoins them to joy.

How Did They Do?
Acts 20:22 And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there:  23 Save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me.  24 But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.
In Acts, Paul was warned not to go up to Jerusalem because he would be arrested, bonds and affliction awaiting him. What was his response? That he would finish his course with joy. He looked at pain, suffering, sorrow, even death to all be experienced with the joy of the Lord.

2 Cor 8:1-4 8:1 Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia; 2 How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality.  3 For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves; 4 Praying us with much intreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints.
The Macedonian saints had great power. What was it? It was that they were in great trial of affliction and deep poverty. And what was their demeanor? Joy. They had the power of God to experience joy in great trial of affliction and deep poverty.

1 Thess 1:5-6 5 For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake.  6 And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost:
Again, Paul talks about the power of God in terms of joy. The Thessalonians received the word with much affliction and with joy of the Holy Ghost. Affliction and joy are not mutually exclusive.

James 1:2-4 2 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; 3 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.  4 But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.
         James tells us to count our temptations as joy.

1 Peter 1:7-9 7 That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: 8 Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: 9 Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.
Peter tells us that trial of our faith, though it be tried with fire, would glorify Jesus and that the result is that we would rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory. Why? Because we receive the purpose of our faith, the salvation of our souls. Again, trials with unspeakable joy.

1 John 1:3-4       3 That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. 4 And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.
Why do the disciples declare the good news? So that our joy may be full.

God’s Joy

Jude 24-25 24 Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, 25 To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.

Luke 15:7 I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.

Luke 15:10 Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.


Feigned joy is fleeting and passes away as

Rom. 14:17 For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.
Not blessing, meat and drink, the passing pleasures of life. These are good but they are not foundational. The Bible teaches that we can have truly fulfilled lives even without passing pleasures. This is worthwhile for us to think about. It is easy to get caught up in the pleasures of this life so that we continually seek after things that can never grant us righteousness, peace or joy.
But Jesus can give us all of these things. Furthermore, if you are in Him and resting in Him, He has given you Righteousness, Peace and Joy. Do you have it? Have you lost it? If so, what have you lost? Jesus?
Righteousness- justification by faith. This means you are declared righteous in the sight of God. That is a reason for rejoicing!
Peace- What a relief! It’s okay. I am at peace with God.
Joy- How does the fact that we are righteous in God’s sight not result in exceeding great joy?

Things that steal our joy.

1. Sin
         Our own sin. Confess and know forgiveness. Believe that you are forgiven. Walk in newness every day. His mercies are new every day. Believe it and live in it.
         In the world- There is much evil in the world. But you cannot control other people and their sins. Do your duty to God, your spouse, your children and your vocation and be at peace with that.

2. World
         Growing Darkness? Evil expressed in our own country and in the reports we hear from other other countries. But we should believe the Bible rather than the prognosticators of doom. The light does not stop growing. It grows brighter and brighter until a full day.
3. Trials
         But we are to learn to take joy in them.  Perhaps not for the trial itself, that would be take great maturity, but for its fruit.  And with hindsight, for the trial itself. James does say to count it all joy. We can do this if we try to see things from God’s perspective. If we cannot do this in the midst of the trial then we hold onto Jesus and His saints until He gives us enough relief for hindsight.

4. Discontent- This is why good theology matters. God really is working all things to our good and His glory. Can we see that? In our financial situation? In our family struggles? In our own growth in grace? Again, the source of our contentment is not our circumstances or our stuff but our Savior? Is your identity in Jesus? Is He enough?
         Probably our biggest temptation
         Personal Characteristics

But Jesus has come.  And this is good news.  He has come not only to save us from our sins but also to take us out of the mire and hopelessness of our sins.  That, in itself, with any reflection whatsoever, ought to make us joyful.  But there is more.  He watches over us.  He cares for us.  He leads us in the way.  He gives us hope in this life and in the life to come.  He surrounds us with likeminded saints that love and encourage one another in the midst of the temptation to not be joyful.
Finally, its not merely that you haven’t got mature enough to be joyful.  Many of the passages that I have read are commands.  You do not get the option of growing up into joyfulness.  Your Lord commands you to be joyful.  But I don’t feel joyful.  I know, that is the problem.  It is actually a sin not to be joyful.  You are disobeying God.  But how do I get out of it? You ask.
The answer is to recognize the coming of our Lord Jesus.  If you understand the peril the world was plunged into in Adam; If you understand the futility of God’s people in trying to exist in a world without the conquering Christ; If you understand the Gentiles fear and sorrow of being without Christ and without hope in the world, then the joy of the Lord shall begin to dawn on you.  For you will come to realize that without Jesus Christ, all is darkness, despair, hope against hope, true futility, the world caught in the grips of the second law of thermodynamics, utter despair.  This horror is the beginning of the understanding for the need of a Savior.  Then, the coming of the Savior begins to fill you with hope and hope realized gives way to joy.  And the joy that is to be found in Jesus Christ is both abundant and eternal.