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Community Bible Chapel Podcast
1/13/19 The Joy of the Lord is Our Strength Neh. 8:1-12
-It would seem to me that God could give us all kinds of weapons to defeat sin and its effects in our lives.
-Passages like John 17:13 are puzzling to me.
-Out of all the things He could have given them to battle the trials of the world, He prayed, “that they may have the full measure of my joy within them.”
-Now, as we continue to introduce our theme for the year, we have to consider the striking statement of Jesus together with Nehemiah’s encouragement of the “joy of the Lord is our strength.”
-This concept of the God’s joy runs all through God’s Word.
I invite you to join me in the book of Nehemiah 8
-Last week we walked through the worship that happened at the Watergate and how many aspects are still part of our worship today, and just started into our theme for the year.
READ Nehemiah 8:1-12
-We identified God as a God of joy, and we are going to dig deeper into that today, but the bottom line is that our joy comes from the Lord because God is joy.
-Unlike human joy, God is joy in His very essence.
-So His joy is the source of our joy.
-The joy of the Lord is both a description of who God is and what He gives.
Difference between joy and happiness?
-Now, I have heard so many sermons and read so much on this it makes my head swim.
-Some would say that
-Happiness is fleeting and earthly.
-Joy is permanent and heavenly.
-Some say that joy is an unemotionally transcendent thing and happiness is an emotion that comes and goes.
-I’m just a simple guy, why do we have to make it so complicated?
-Now, this might grate against something you have learned in the past, but I ask that you hear me out and weight the Biblical truth.
Consider the English language
-Blessed, happy, joyful – are they really not much different?
-3 terms that essentially all speak to the same thing.
-Joy = feeling of great pleasure and happiness.
-Happy = feeling of great pleasure or contentment.
-If you look at the synonyms you find them listed in each other’s list.
-We use these terms interchangeably all the time.
-Now, I understand that words have meaning and that’s why we have different words that have slightly different meanings.
-Maybe we should think of them as a spectrum of joy rather than different terms.
-Many of the words we use are speaking about the same basic thing.
-When I’m talking about a Macintosh apple and Golden delicious apple
I understand them to be different, but they are the same basic thing – apples.
-“That’s” fantastic and “that’s awesome” are pretty much describing the same thing.
-Happy – joyful – blessed – ecstatic, cartwheels – all the same basic thing.
-But who cares what the dictionary says, what does the Bible say?
-There are somewhere in the vicinity of 22 different Hebrew words and 15 Greek words translated as happy, blessed, and joyful.
-And much like their English counterparts, most are used somewhat interchangeably and refer to the same basic things.
-In the same sentence.
Esther 8:16 “For the Jews it was a time of happiness and joy, gladness and honor.”
Psalm 68:3 “But may the righteous be glad and rejoice before God; may they be happy and joyful.”
-These are using different terms to describe the same thing.
-Over a 100 different verses that use happiness and joyful are used together.
–Interchangeable between translations
Jer. 31:13 NIV “I will turn their mourning into gladness;
I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow.”
I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow.”
NASB “For I will turn their mourning into joy And will comfort them and give them joy for their sorrow.”
Holman“I will turn their mourning into joy, give them consolation, and bring happiness out of grief.”
-What does the Bible say about where we find happiness ?
-Common grace – available to all. “God causes rain on the just and unjust.” I Kings 4:20 “they ate, they drank and they were happy.”
-That about sums it up – happiness comes from earthly pleasures.
-In God’s common grace – to both believers and non-believers – we can all find happiness in the things of this world.
-Special grace – available only to believers in Jesus.
-Speaks of salvation .Ps. 68:3 “But may the righteous be glad and rejoice before God; may they be happy and joyful.”
In Jesus’ parable about the faithful servants in Matt. 25
“You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness (EVS – joy)!’”
-That is a happiness that is only available by special grace for those who are believers in Jesus.
What does the Bible say about where we find joy?
-Common grace – available to all
-Prov 23:25 “May your father and mother rejoice; may she
who gave you birth be joyful!”
-I Chron. 12:40 “There were plentiful supplies of flour, figcakes, raisin cakes, wine, olive oil, cattle and sheep, for there was joy in Israel.”
-Again, joy is available in God’s common grace to all.
-Special grace – available to believers
-Ps. 5:11 “But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy.”
-Rom 14:17 “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” The Biblical record doesn’t say that happiness is worldly and temporal or that joy is heavenly and permanent.
-They are both used for earthly and heavenly.Conclusion of happy, joy, blessed
-Scripture tells us we can find happiness and joy in the world – common grace.
-And that we find happiness and joy in the Lord – special grace.
-The Scripture doesn’t differentiate between happiness and joy.
-What it does differentiate between is where you find
happiness and joy.
-If you find happiness and joy in the world – it will be fleeting.
-If you find happiness and joy in the Lord – it will be permanent.
Now, I want to dig into and develop this idea
God is joy
God the Father is joy
Psalm 45:7 ”You love righteousness and hate wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy.”
-This is prophetic of Jesus being given joy, but it’s the joy of the Father that is being given.
Psalm 30:11 “You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy”
-This speaks of the action of God’s joy that turns that wailing into the joy of righteousness through faith.
-Jesus tells the parable of the faithful servants in Matt. 25.
-The one with 5 gained 5 and the one with 2 gained –and the one with one buried it in the ground.
-The masters response to the first two servants was “enter into the joy (happiness – NIV) of the master.”
-This speaks to the character of the Master bring one of joy and the servants were invited to enter into it.
-The third servant had a wrong view of the character of the Master.
-He thought the Master was not joyful, but harsh and gained a profit where he did not make provision.
-He had no grasp of the Master’s joy at all and wasn’t invited to enter it.
-So we see that our thinking about God’s character is very important to how we live our lives.
-If God is joyful, we will find strength in his joy.
-If He is a tyrant, we will hide from Him.
-Luke 15 – Jesus speaks of the lost sheep and coin and the joy in finding them.
-Then Jesus turned it upward . . .
v. 7 “joy in heaven over the lost sinner who repents”
v. 10 “there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents..”
-If the angels are rejoicing, it’s because God is joy and is rejoicing.
God the Son is joy
John 15:10-11 “If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete”
John 17:13 “I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them.”
-Jesus characterizes the joy that the disciples would experience as his joy.
God the Spirit is joy
Romans 14:17 “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit”
-Paul is making a distinction between where our joy comes from, but is also attributing joy to the Holy Spirit.
I Thes. 1:6 “You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for
you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit.”
-Joy and happiness comes to us through the presence and ministry of the Holy Spirit as He produces joy in the life of the believer.
So, God is a God of joy – a happy God.
-He takes joy in Himself, He rejoices in His creation,
He rejoices in the salvation of His children.
-And He gives us His joy.
-Now that doesn’t mean that there is not sadness, grief, or sorrow.
-Mourning over sin and its effects is natural and even healthy.
-Jesus wept over his friend Lazarus, but that doesn’t diminish or change the fact that He is joy.
-As Hebrews 1 tells us “For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
God wants us to seek Joy in Him
-Ultimately, God wants us to seek happiness and joy in Him.
-An atheist may celebrate the beauty he sees on a walk in the woods.
-He finds a certain happiness or joy in it.
-But whether he believes in God or not doesn’t change the fact that God is the source of all happiness.
-Both common grace and special grace come from God.
Chesterton said, “the atheist sees beauty but has no one to thank,
thus no one to be happy in.”
-God wants us to seek happiness, not from the world, but from His eternal nature of joy.
-And when we seek happiness and joy in Him, then life gets exciting.
God’s joy strengthens us
1. Are you experiencing His joy?
-The joy of the Lord only comes to us through our repentance of our sin and acceptance of the Gospel.-That God came as a man and took our punishment on the cross
-He paid the price.
-And through faith in Him, our sins are forgiven and we are made righteous in Christ.-At that moment we are invited to enter into God’s joy.
-Hell will be a place that will be cut off from God’s joy and there will be no experience of happiness.
-That’s why Ps. 32 says – depending on the translation you use.
“Blessed (happy, joyful) is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.
Blessed (happy, joyful) is the one whose sin the Lord does not count against them and in whose spirit is no deceit.”
-That is special grace that brings happiness and joy that is based on the reality of being made right with God – salvation.
-Through faith in Jesus, our sin is forgiven and we enter into God’s joy.
-It’s an eternal happiness and joy because it’s His happiness and joy.
-Have you done that?
And a related question for those who have that inner happiness and joy, are you walking in God’s joy?
-Are you joyful, happy, ecstatic, excited, pleased, doing cartwheels over what God has done for you?
-That doesn’t make life perfect, but it does change me in some significant ways.
-I will be growing to see the things of this world secondary.
-Don’t sweat the little things.
-Less apt to be overwhelmed by the things of this world.
-I will be quicker to redeem sin and its effects on my life and I will be looking to help others who are bogged down by life’s challenges to find the joy of the Lord.
2. In Christ, God rejoices in you
-I know this might be a new concept for some – especially all the legalists among us who are trying to earn God’s favor.
-Zeph 3:17 “The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty
Warrior who saves, He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”
-God takes “great delight in you” and is “rejoicing over you with singing”
-I wonder what song He is singing about me?
-We don’t often think about God being joyful with us because we see our sin.
-I struggle to consider it.
-I don’t get up in the morning and say to myself “Wow – God is rejoicing over me and takes great delight over me,” but wow – if I could grasp it even a little bit more,
-But what if I did? What a difference it would make in my life.
-I would have the strength of 10 Grinches.
3. Strength comes in God’s joy.
-As Paul says in Phil 4, “Rejoice in the Lord always, and I say it again, rejoice.”
-We are strengthened to find happiness and joy in the Lord – who is joy – in the midst of all circumstances.
-The circumstances might be difficult, but as James says “consider it pure joy, whenever you face trials.”
-Not that we take joy in the trials, but we take joy in the God who is in the midst of the circumstances and is the source of our joy.
-We can rejoice in how God is using those circumstances to grow us in Christ and in how He has provided “everything we need” to respond to those circumstances in a God honoring way.
-Life’s pain, hardships, and trials have the capacity to weaken us.
-Jesus prayed for us in John 17:13 “that we have the full measure of His joy.”
-Nehemiah encourages the people – “the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
-We will never be spiritually stronger than God is happy.
-Jesus gave us the full measure of His joy to strengthen us.
-Nehemiah reminds us that God is joyful and we are strengthened in it.
-Thankfully, God is fully happy within himself and His happiness and joy are ours in Christ and through the Holy Spirit.
God’s joy strengthens us for the battle that rages around us until He takes us home to be in the very presence of happiness and joy.
-In His presence!