Good morning everyone on this the Sunday of the third Advent – the Advent of Joy. May the joy of the Lord be your strength!
The following short video shows the lighting of the candle of Joy and associated readings by Ila Franklin and Betty Johnson with support from Pastor Bob Muir. Click on the following to play the video.
ADVENT THREE – JOY
Rejoice in the Lord, for He is good – His love endures forever. Come let us lift our hearts to Him in thanksgiving and joy; for He calls us by name and makes us part of His beloved. Receive our praise this day O Lord, incline your ear to our voices as we invite You into our lives this morning, and may Your Name be exalted within us this day.
You . . . JOY ! . . .
Listen to Jn. 16:24.
“Up to now you have asked nothing in my Name but now you will be able to ask the Father directly anything in My Name, and your joy will be full.”
Here, Jesus was instructing his disciples, explaining to them that since He was now about to return to the Father they will now be given access to the throne of Heaven. And, as a result of this open doorway to the Father, their joy would be made full. One aspect of the meaning of joy is “gladness in persons who are one’s joy.” Our gladness is rooted in Jesus who is our joy. Jesus Offers You joy. The joy we receive from the Lord is a GIFT. It is in fact one of His attributes. He is our joy just as He is our righteousness, as He is our salvation, as He is our holiness, as He is our covering for sin, as He is our Bread of Life. When one receives Jesus, He comes with the ‘whole package!’ The joy that we receive is His joy, and it comes as a gift from Him. Joy is not something that needs be worked up, nor is it something for which we much search. The joy that He brings is within us as an aspect of His Holy Spirit that now resides in us. We have a deep well of joy ready to bubble up within us.
Galatians 5:22 reminds us, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace . . .” Joy comes to us as a gift; it comes to us as part of the fruit of the Spirit. And because this joy comes from Him, it is a perfect joy, a joy without spot or blemish. It is a joy that is grounded in the love of the Father. It is a joy eternal. It is a joy that will never fade nor fail. It is a joy that will escort us into the very presence of the Father and into the kingdom of His dear Son!
1 John 1:1-4.
“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; (for the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and show unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;) that which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that you also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. And these things write we unto you that your joy may be full.”
The disciples are telling us here that our fullness of joy is a result of the fellowship we as believers may now experience not only with these disciples but with all believers everywhere and that this joyful fellowship is now and always will be with the Father and with the Son Jesus Christ. And, this joy is grounded in the One who was in the very beginning, and identified as that Word through which all of creation sprang to life! And that this Word from the beginning took on human form and presented Himself as one to be seen and handled. To imagine that we creatures of dust can actually enjoy fellowship with our Creator! He gave us breath and life in the beginning and now has come to give us new life and a new breath so that we may sing praises to His wonderful person. And He has planted deep within each of us the capacity for true joy – a gift from His heart to ours. Peter puts it this way in 1 Peter 1:8:
“Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy . . .”
There is an acronym that I have used in the past in speaking on joy. The word FUEL can be used to enlarge upon the benefits of joy.
I would suggest that joy is a believers FUEL. The F speaks to joy being Full. The U represents joy as Unspeakable, The E for Everlasting, and the L for Lacking nothing. Let me expand with Scripture.
- Full: John 16:24 “up to now you haven’t asked anything in my Name, but now you will be able to ask the Father directly anything in My Name and your joy will be full.”
- Unspeakable: 1 Pet. 1:8; “And though you have not seen Him, you love Him; and even though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him and filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy.” NIV
- Everlasting: 51:11; “Therefore the redeemed of the Lord shall return, and come with singing unto Zion; and everlasting joy shall be upon their head: they shall obtain gladness and joy; and sorrow and mourning shall flee away.”
- Lacking nothing: 2 Cor, 8:2; “They are being tested by many troubles, and they are very poor. But they are also filled with abundant joy, which has overflowed in rich generosity.”
It is my suggestion that once we ‘fill our tanks’ with this joy it becomes the very fuel to energize us in our commitment to serve Him. We fill our tanks by filling our mind with His sure word. We commit His words, His promises to our heart of hearts – store them in our hearts as fuel – and so our tank need never run dry. As Isaiah 61:3 proclaims,
“. . . To give 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.” This verse speaks of the marvelous exchange that occurs at the foot of the cross. Our ashes are exchanged for His beauty, our mourning for His oil of joy, our heaviness for His praise, our sinfulness for His righteousness. We become His planting and thereby bring Him all the glory! Joy truly becomes our fuel.
Let us consider some of the reasons we have for such joy.
HIS VICTORY- BRINGS JOY
- His victory over sin and death; “Death is swallowed up in victory, O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 15:55-57
And from Is. 25:8 we read, “He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from off of all faces; and the rebuke of His people will be taken away from off all of the earth: for the LORD has spoken it.”
- His victory over the flesh: “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.” 5:16-21.
Rom. 8:37: No! In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us.” Through all what things? Verse 35 and 38 “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” WHAT’S LEFT?
- His victory brings joy over the world: 16:33 “ . . . in the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer (joy); I have overcome the world.”
And, 1 John 5: 4-5 “For whatsoever is born of God overcomes the world: and this is the victory that overcomes the world, our faith. Who is he that overcomes the world, but he that believes that Jesus is the Son of God!”
- His victory brings joy over His defeat of Satan: James 4:7 “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
In Scripture there are also recorded four emphasized occasions of special joy. These are also ours to draw upon in times of sadness.
- Joy over God’s creative work.
The angels shouted together at creation – Job 38:4-7
“when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?” The stars sang together and angels shouted for joy.
We serve and fellowship with God of creation. He has made all things and for Him are all things created. Rev. 4:11,
“Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for Thou hast created all things and for Thy pleasure they are and were created.” If that doesn’t bring joy and satisfaction to the heart, I don’t know what would. We are in His hands, hands that formed the worlds and all things in them. Hands that formed us in the womb and drew us out with a hope and a future in His presence! What unspeakable joy is ours.
- Joy over Christ’s first coming:
Luke 2:10 – Christ’s birth. “But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people. Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.” A Saviour has been born to you! Not just born, but born to you! He belongs to us in a very real sense. He is born to us, not to angels, not to animals, not to the universe, but to us, and only us!
Matt. 28:8 – “So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples.”
The fact of His resurrection must fill us with great joy. The confirming event that has secured our eternal salvation!
Luke 15:5, 10 – “And when he finds it, [the lost sheep], he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” If you haven’t already, come and repent and bring joy to heaven as well as to yourself.
- Joy in His second coming:
Is. 51:11 – “Therefore the redeemed of the Lord shall return, and come with singing unto Zion; and everlasting joy shall be upon their heads: they shall obtain gladness and joy; and sorrow and mourning shall flee away.” See also Is. 35:10 .
The book of Revelation records the rising crescendo as His return draws closer and closer.
“Rejoice ye heavens and all who dwell in them.” (12:12)
“Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessings.” (5:12)
Crying out with great joy as He prepares to cleave the sky.
- Joy over His New Creation:
Is. 65:17 – “For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind. But be you glad and rejoice for ever in that which I create: for, behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy. And I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in my people: and the voice of weeping will be no more heard in her, nor the voice of crying.”
And related to this is our future state.
Future joy – Matt. 25: 21,23 – “Well done good and faithful servant: you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler, enter into the joy of your Lord.”
This confirms for us that our joy is of Him.
And just as we will someday enter into the joy of our Lord, even today, we may enter in.
For me I have unspeakable joy that my name is written in the Lamb’s book of life in heaven.
I tell you these things that your joy may be full.
FUEL UP WITH THE OIL OF JOY
Come, let us enter into the joy of our Lord, especially today, during this Advent season. The Joy of the Lord is my strength, how about you?
This third week of Advent, let us remember that the good news of Jesus’ birth has the power to bring us great joy this Christmas season. Our joy isn’t dependent on what is going on in our life, in our world, or the people that we are with. It doesn’t depend on the gifts we give or the gifts we find under the tree. No earthly thing can ever give us complete joy. Our joy comes from the Lord. That joy that flooded the hearts of the shepherds, the angels, the wise men, the hosts of heaven, and Mary and Joseph is the joy that still has the power to overwhelm our hearts with rejoicing.
Those who gathered around the new baby were blessed because they believed that You had fulfilled Your promises. Mary and Joseph believed and were able to feel the joy of holding baby Jesus in their arms. The shepherds and wise men believed the angels and the signs and experienced the great gladness of worshipping their Messiah.
Those who knew Him and recognized Him were overjoyed at the coming of Jesus. They saw the prophecies fulfilled and their fear was replaced with happiness as they gazed on the face of the One who would be their Saviour. They trusted in Your promises and their hearts were filled with gladness as they watched Your loving-kindness manifested in the face of a tiny baby in a lowly manger.
Father, You offer that same joy to us now if we know You and recognize Jesus as our Saviour and Lord. You gave us a reason to celebrate when You gave us the unspeakable gift of Jesus Christ. You came to dwell among us. You went to Calvary’s cross for us. You overcame death and rose from the dead for us. You forgive our sins and give us eternal life when we believe in You.
Our joy doesn’t come from our jobs, our family, our relationships, our finances, or our success. Our joy doesn’t come from what we have on earth or who we are with. Our joy is a gift. It is the gift that You gave us that first Christmas in Jesus Christ. Our joy is encompassed in our Saviour, King Jesus. Flood our heart with joy this Advent season as we reflect on the good news of Jesus’ birth. In Jesus’ precious name we pray. May this season bring you all joy and peace, and may He be the answer you seek for this day, this season and this coming year. Blessings dear friends. Amen.