Filled With Joy

Advent

Filled With Joy

Sunday, December 11, 2022   

Link to live sermon below:

https://www.facebook.com/livinggospelchurch/videos/461479982827296

 

Welcome: 

Read Psalm 100 

 

Advent: Walker Family

Joy.  

Do you reflect on this often that our God desires for us to live joyfully, all the days of our lives, both here on earth and for eternity with Him? Jesus’ birth is a sign of great joy to all the earth! His birth is a celebration that brings forth a promised hope and a joy that our God is truly Immanuel. For those who believe, we are no longer separate from our God, but through Jesus, we are joined with Him forever, and as we spoke of last week, we share in all the heavenly blessings that Christ has. 

Through Jesus, we have a certain victory over the enemy and all his schemes, and even death. We don’t have to fear tomorrow, because we know the One who holds our tomorrows and our eternity in the palm of His hands. We know that whatever trials and suffering we endure here in this life, are not forever. We are promised a day of no more sorrows or pain or tears-only rejoicing in the heavens with all the saints. We are told by our Savior, “in this life you will have trouble, but take heart, for I have overcome the world!” We are told, “surely I will be with you to the very end of the age.” We are told that as we love Jesus, He and the Father, will make their home in our hearts. We are also told we have been given authority over all the power of the enemy, that we can walk along snakes and scorpions and crush them. 

We have been called friends by our Savior, who freely shares all He knows with us as we seek Him. We have been told that Jesus has sent another, the Spirit of Truth, the Comforter, the Helper, the Holy Spirit to guide us in every way into His righteousness, to keep us safe from harm in His truth, and shine light into every bit of darkness in our hearts. 

For all this and more, we are filled with Joy! This is not a joy dependent on our circumstances, our plans turning out exactly how we decided they should be, or how happy we are at any given moment. This is a lasting joy that comes from deep within our core, a joy that is not of this world, but of God Himself, for He is a joy! It is knowing what we have in the Lord that far surpasses all that is fleeting here in this life. It is a confidence and delight in our spirit that no matter what we endure in this earthly life, we are giddy for what is yet to come that can never be taken from us! 

 

We have Jesus and therefore, we have JOY! 

This is what we should be shouting every day because what could be greater than all of that? Nothing, absolutely nothing, even the greatest pain here on earth, won’t diminish the eternal joy we have in the Lord. We can’t even begin to fully process or imagine all the bliss we will share with Him in heaven. That is the hope we cling to while we live our days here. But we can in our spirits receive and be filled with His joy now as we live our earthly lives. This is what God desires for us, to be joyful always in the Lord. 

 

Yet far too many people spend a lot of their lives being miserable, either completely stressed out, consumed with fear or worry, or their hearts ladened with bitterness. 

Based on what I just shared that is the truth from God’s Word, why would we choose to live any other way than in His joy? Why would we choose misery? 

 

You know we spread both around us- so we either spread joy or we spread misery to those we associate with. I hope that for most, if not all of us, our intentions are never to spread misery to other people. If we do, then we have some bigger issues to work on in our hearts. 

More than likely, this is not a conscious decision we are making, but make no mistake, it is a decision we are making. It all comes down to what we choose to focus on and the steps we take to ensure a proper focus remains. 

You know the two things the enemy loves to steal from us? Peace and joy. So he will use various things or people in our lives to distract us from keeping our focus in the right place. Because once our focus shifts, there goes our joy because all we see are our huge problems or deep sorrows. 

 

King David gives a wonderful example we’ll look at today in understanding how to find and remain in the joy of the Lord. We have to remember the context of his life when we read the Psalms. These were not written when everything was going exactly to David’s plan-in fact, nothing ever went according to David’s plan. He had to surrender all plans and choose to fully depend on the Lord, just to stay alive at times. David wrote many Psalms while hiding out from the jealous and rageful King Saul who wanted David dead. He wrote them while finding shelter in caves. He wrote them while he had a moment to look up at the vast sky and reflect on the awesome power of God at work not only in his life but that of Saul’s and the entire kingdom of Israel-working everything according to God’s sovereign purpose and for His glory. When he stilled himself, he could take in the love and mighty power of God. 

 

When we read the Psalm today, and when you read them in the future, hear David’s heart and imagine what might have been going on for him as a man, at the time he penned these words of hope and praise. Listen today to his heart. Listen to what he focuses on. Listen to what he instructs his soul to do. Let us heed his example so we too might be filled with the Joy of the Lord this Christmas and always.

Psalm 16: 5-11 NIV                               

   Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup;
    you make my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance. I will praise the Lord, who counsels me;
    even at night, my heart instructs me. I keep my eyes always on the Lord.
    With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, 10 because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful one see decay.
11 You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence,
    with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

 

  • Gaze Upon Jesus.   

 

Joyful, Joyful we adore Thee! This is from a Christmas carol we sing. Joyful, we adore Thee! We bring joyful hearts to our Lord, fixing our gaze upon Him and the wonders of His love. 

When we look upon Jesus with the eyes of our hearts; when we read His Word that tells us about Him and we let those truths penetrate our hearts, joy will rise within. It is automatic because Jesus brings joy wherever He goes and to whomever, He touches. 

You might think well that’s great when life is going well-but life has been really hard lately and I just don’t feel joyful. It’s too painful. It’s too hard. It’s too stressful.

To which I would lovingly ask you, where are you gazing? What are you gazing upon? I would venture to guess when you feel like that, you are not gazing upon Jesus. You are likely gazing upon your circumstances, your pain, your misery, and your situation. This is why we are told to keep our eyes on Jesus because God knows how quickly our joy can fade when we look around us and take in the pressures of this life. But this life is not the source of our joy, Jesus is. So we must gaze upon Him. 

 

Jesus knows the importance of focusing on joy. Since He is the source of joy for all of us, when he as a man, faced tremendous hardship and sorrow, He focused on the joy that would come through His death on the cross and His resurrection. He didn’t focus on the horror of the cross itself and all that led up to it. He focused on what would come through it. 

 

Hebrews 12:2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. 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.

This is a good example for us to follow. Let us not be consumed with the horrors and sorrows of life at times, but let us instead focus on the joy we have in Christ for all we have in Him. 

 

David said: 

Psalm 16:8 NIV I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

Can you visualize this same truth in your life? Keep your eyes on Jesus and picture Him at your right hand going into battle for you in all things you face in this life. Let us not be shaken when we see this truth of Jesus at our right hand. 

 

Nehemiah shared a powerful truth with the Israelites who needed great encouragement as they were rebuilding the wall that had been destroyed by enemies and was still being taunted by other enemies as they were building. 

Nehemiah 8:10 NIV for the joy of the Lord is your strength.

That is something very different for God’s people. Our strength is not in our own power or ability. Strength is found when we focus on the joy of the Lord within us! It’s His strength at work to accomplish all God calls us to, and as we recognize that, we are filled with joy that comes from Him! That joy opens the door for the strength of the Lord to flow through us! 

 

  • Rejoice! It’s Good Medicine.  

David also speaks of intentionally praising the Lord and as he does his heart is glad and his tongue rejoices. Notice the other benefit when we praise and rejoice in the Lord, David says his body will rest secure. We can rest when our hearts are shifted to praise and rejoicing! So joy leads to peace. 

Proverbs 17:22 ESV A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.

Think about the benefits of a joyful heart spiritually- we are stronger, at peace, encouraged in hope, and positioned to be a vessel of service to the Lord. 

Mentally- a joyful heart is encouraged, hopeful, peaceful

Physically-a joyful heart literally brings healing to our bodies. 

Have you thought much about that latter part of this verse-a crushed spirit dries up bones? When you are crushed in spirit, you are not living in hope; you are not a joyful vessel for God to flow through-you might not be of service at all because you are so consumed with your own troubles. You are not at peace, and your physical body is latching on to all kinds of sickness and troubles. 

There is MUCH truth that a joyful heart is a good medicine for us in every way possible! 

Psalm 71:23 ESV My lips will shout for joy, when I sing praises to you; my soul also, which you have redeemed.

We must be intentional-even if we don’t feel like it at the moment– we must choose to rejoice in the Lord and start speaking of the great things He has done, specifically in our lives-let us speak of them. Let us sing to Him and let us bless His name, because the more we do this, the more our hearts will come around and get on board. The more His joy will rise within. 

  • Receive the Fullness of Joy.  

As we gaze upon Jesus and rejoice in Him, His joy is made complete within us. 

Jesus teaches: 

John 15:10-11 NIV 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. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.

We must understand it’s not that God’s love for us will change, for His love is always present for us. He says, if you abide in My love-walk in it dailybe aware of it and My presence in you-always-no matter what is happening around you- then His joy is within us and our joy may be complete. 

What a Savior and wonderful Counselor we have, that He tells us these things, so we might live in joy! He doesn’t leave us in the dark or unaware. He tells us exactly what we are to do, to live life joyfully in all seasons of life. 

The choice becomes ours. Do we seek Him and listen to His counsel in what we are to do to remain in joy? Do we follow the examples of those who knew His joy and mirror what they did? Do we follow His example modeled for us as our Shepherd and Teacher? 

Christmas is a celebration of the Good News of Jesus Christ’s birth and the joy His life and death would bring to all the world! We as Believers have every reason to be joyful this Christmas and all year round! 

Psalm 68:3 NLT But let the godly rejoice.  Let them be glad in God’s presence.  Let them be filled with joy. 

                            

Conclusion:  As we gaze upon our Lord Jesus Christ, rejoicing in who He is and all He has done, is filled with JOY is an automatic by-product we receive. We don’t have to work at being joyful, we simply come to and focus on the One who is the JOY Giver!  

Let’s pray: 

Offering: Kids Alive love offering Dec

 

Remembrance of Fran Porter: I can’t think of a more perfect message than today’s message of being filled with Joy, as we remember Fran. To know Fran, was to love Fran. 

Today as a church family, we will take time to remember and celebrate her wonderful life. Fran was a long-time member of Living Gospel Church and a long-time resident of the Rio community. 

She is someone who radiated joy as you visited with her. In these pictures, she and I were sharing root beer floats on her front deck and she and Helen (another incredible woman in her mid 90’s) were enjoying a long overdue visit as we celebrated their winter birthdays. Helen and Fran became great friends by sitting near each other at church. They got to talking and started making plans to go for lunch often in Columbus after worship.  As they each grew older and they were unable to come to church, they still made a point to call each other and write to each other as encouragement. They both treasured their friendship and each one would always ask me about the other as I met with them. This was the last time they saw each other in person that I know of. It was extra special for them. 

Every time I would visit, Fran would smile and so enjoy our time spent together. She enjoyed that tremendously from all of you who would stop by or write. She would speak of you all often and how much she loved you all. In fact, on one of our visits, she showed me every card she received from you all. 

Fran was not able to come to church in the past several years, so, unfortunately, there are many of you here today who never got the pleasure of feeling her love and seeing it in her smile as she looked upon your face, but she is a treasure I will hold dear in my heart always. For those who did know her, that even though you haven’t likely seen her much in recent years, she has never forgotten you and her love for each of you and this church family remains strong. She always wanted to hear what was happening with you and your loved ones. So, I would gladly tell her and keep her informed. 

And Fran was forever a servant to others. That is how I first knew her, was her days of service at what was then the Casino Supper Club. She was there caring for all of us who came out to dinner. She worked in other businesses around the community too some of you might remember as well. She carried that servant’s heart with her till her final days. Each time I came to visit, she would make a special pot of coffee and find some treats to offer. Whether I needed that cup of coffee or not, I would always take it, because I knew she brewed it in love and it brought her joy to serve others. 

We would visit and she would tell me all about her family whom she adored with all her heart. She pulled out different photos to share, and one in particular of four generations together she was so proud of. She loved her family deeply and was overjoyed when more of them moved back to WI. Several had been in different states for many years and in the last couple of years, quite a few have moved back up here. I’m so grateful they had that time to be closer to their mom and grandma. She was very well cared for by her family. Her son Gary, who lives in Rio would visit her every single day and they would often play Scrabble. She enjoyed playing those games and would tell me all the time how good Gary was at Scrabble and how he never made it easy for her. Her son Duane and daughter-in-law Karen often visited too, in fact, they came to church here several times with her. I got to know them over the years as well and her face would just light up when they arrived-often bringing her a meal or some sweet treats. I never had to worry about Fran being on her own because she had such a wonderful family looking after her. 

Fran had a great attitude. It’s not that she was without struggles or pain. She had much of that in her life. She lost two husbands and in her later years suffered from a lot of pain in her legs and restless nights. She had a great deal of fluid building up in her legs for quite a while now. I would ask her how she was and she would say, “well I’m doing ok. I’m grateful I can get around and I really don’t have it that bad. Life is pretty good.” Every time I would leave, she would stand at her door and say, “Thank you! Thank you! Thank you for your visit. I love you.” 

She knew and valued the gift of time spent together. 

I will forever hold our last clear conversation together in my heart for I know that was a gift for me and Jon-it was after her heart attack and before her stroke. She was clear as a bell and so joyful even after having a heart attack. She was laughing, full of hope, and radiating the joy of the Lord. She was saying how much she loved Jon and I and what a wonderful couple we are, so good for one another and typical Fran-she was spending her time speaking a blessing over us-incredible.  

Fran had told me in past visits that she was at peace and had lived a good, full life. She knew her body was growing tired and she knew her Savior would welcome her home so she had nothing to fear. 

I believe with great joy in His heart, Fran’s Savior and Lord, held out his hand to her and said, “‘Well done, good and faithful servant! Come on home and Enter into the joy of your lord.”

Let us pray: Gracious and merciful Father we thank you for your promise of salvation to all those who receive your Son, Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Thank you for the peace and comfort we have knowing our loved one Fran has received the fulfillment of your promise and she joins you now in heaven for all eternity. Be with us and her family now and in the days ahead as we grieve. May your healing love and grace cover us. Help us Lord to live our lives showing the same love and kindness to others as she did. Help us to choose to live with joy in all seasons of life as Fran did. May her legacy live in on all those she has touched. In Jesus’ name, we pray. 

Announcements: Join us next Sunday as the kids do a short play for Christmas. Wear your festive attire also!  Christmas Eve 3 pm, Christmas morning worship. Light of the world! 

If you want to be part of the DR service team talk with Bob Breneman-we have to choose our week-looking at end of June/early July. 

Final Blessing: 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.

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