How is Joy Different from Happiness? [sermon]

2018-07-31T19:24:57+00:00Sermons|

Sermon on  John 16:16-24

Jesus said that He came to give us life — but not a sub-par life that lacks joy and peace. Rather, He was offering us a way to live without worry and anxiety and trust Him to be our true source of joy and satisfaction. In this message we identify that no person, power or evil can steal the joy that Christ offers us.

Watch the Sermon Here:

Sermon Outline:

Embrace joy by grounding your hope in Christ (vv. 14-16).

Stop looking for joy in temporary circumstances and find it in the timeless Savior (v. 16).

Be prepared that the pathway to joy will sometimes require a journey through sorrow (v. 17-22).

Celebrate the fact that true joy in Christ is irrevocable and continual (vv. 23-24).

Action Items:

  • Read Colossians 3 and highlight five lines that mean the most to me
  • List the circumstances I am finding hope in more than Christ and chose to release these to the Lord
  • Tell a friend in my own words how Christ is my true source of joy
  • Invite someone to church next week that needs to hear a message about peace and how to deal with anxiety biblically

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Sermon Transcript:

How many of you are on Social Media of some kind?

That is most of us. In 2019, it is estimated that there will be around 2.77 billion social media users around the globe, up from 2.46 billion in 2017. More than 81 percent of the United States population has a social media profile. As of the second quarter of 2016, U.S. users spend more than 215weekly minutes on social media via smartphone, 61weekly minutes via PC, and 47minutes per week on social networks via tablet devices.[i] That is as much as 5 ½ hoursa week on Social media (some of you more, some less).

Get this — in the year 2000, now 18 years in the past, several theologians got together to talk about how the culture we live in is affecting our view of hope. Even back then, as Facebook was budding, and media was finding new footing on the internet, they concluded that “The spread of electronic media” was denigrating people’s hope. The concluded that media, along with the advancement of technology and medicine, were teaching us to see the end of life as a regrettable rather than a passage to the promised better future. 18 years later, I fully agree.

Social media is a way to preoccupy ourselves with the past or present, rather than a tool used for fixing our eyes on the future hope of Christ. Volf and Katerberg in their book The Future of Hope explain that there are two types of memories that shape us — “Hot Culture Memories” and “Cool Culture Memories.”Hot culture memories are those which are profound and have the ability to transform us; these are things such as that we are all created equal, there is a God who loves us, and human life is to be valued. Cool culture memories are things that are shallow (or disposable) and only fill moments but don’t shape culture.

The fact that we so easily get wrapped up in the shallow in our life means we will lose the hope of God in this tidal wave of culture. We must “rejuvenate a living hope rooted in the ‘hot memory of God’s engagement with the world in Christ’s life, death, and resurrection.”[ii]Does it mean we can’t engage in cool memory of disposable moments in the past or present? No, we can engage but not at the cost of forgetting where our true hope lies.

[relv] Many Christians do not have a firm grasp on the nature of Christian hope, holding to vague beliefs of a ghostly quality of life after death.  Consequently, many Christians do not understand the real implications of biblical hope for the present life. When we don’t know where our hope is fixed, we will lack joy and peace.

For the next two weeks, we are going to talk about overcoming worry and anxiety by reminding ourselves where our hope has its foundation. [theme] I’ve entitled my sermon Today “The Promise of Perpetual Joy.”

 [structure] Today we will look at the Gospel of John and continue into Jesus’ farewell words to His disciples. As with anytime we say goodbye to someone, our last words are often thought through and weighted, the disciple’s last night with Christ was no different. These words had meaning for them in the first century, and they have lasting meaning for us in the 21stcentury.

Please open your Bible with me to John 16:16-24 on page 902. You can also follow along in the Grace Chapel app and take notes on the back of the bulletin. If you don’t own a Bible or you know someone who needs one, you are welcome to use and take the one in front of you. You can also text in any questions to 303-335-9484. Let’s encounter God through His Word.

I want to start back at verse 14. Daniel talked to us last week about the Holy Spirit being the great and final gift of Christ and he look at what the Holy Spirit does for us. Jesus said that He was sending someone greater. The greatness of the Holy Spirit is in part that He reminds us what Christ has said and done. Verse 14: “[14] He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. [15] All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.”

This is a statement about the trinity, without using the word trinity. The Holy Spirit is glorifying Christ, and Christ is glorifying the Father and in all ways the reality of God’s Character is being ushered into our daily lives by the Holy Spirit. He is revealing the deep things of God to us (Is. 64) and all the while, glorifying Christ. The focus of the Holy Spirit is Christ, and His agenda is to make that our focus.By doing so, we gain perpetual joy and peace.

If I were to say to you, where is your hope in a world full of evil and suffering? I think most of you would say, “It is in Christ.” But others may say, my hope is in my vacation, or my bank accountor having my family close to meor my own skills.Notice that we all place our hope IN something. In order for hope to be real it must have an object.

But for the Christ-follower, our hope is in our kids, job, work, 401(k), mountain cabin or long-range personal goals. Our hope is more than “a mode of consciousness and a particular way of ‘intending’ the future.”[iii]Christian hope has as its object the person of Christ. Our hope is different than just illusions and wishful thinking. It is grounded in the substantial and viable Christ. He is not something waiting to happen, He has happened. In Christ lies our confidence in a hope that cannot be taken; Our hope has been fulfilled and realized already! The Holy Spirit reminds us of that.

So in a farewell moment, Jesus says to the disciples, [16] “A little while, and you will see me no longer; and again a little while, and you will see me.” Jesus stoops to their anguishing hearts and gives them the reality that He is not going anywhere. He uses an almost child-like sounding statement to tell them, fix your hope and joy on me and just as I am with you now, so I will remain with you. No matter what you face, keep your hopein me.  This is worth writing down: [We] embrace joy by grounding your hopein Christ.

Once again, He is reminding them what he said in 13:31, 33 — A little while I am with youbut then I will be taken, and the Son of man will have to be glorified (speaking of the Cross). But by the Cross, I will be with you again, forever. He is still promising them that no matter what comes their way, He has victory. He is calling them to trust, not in situations, but in Him as their savior.  It is as if to say:

Your circumstances do not define your life; The presence of the overcoming Christ defines your past, present and future. How often do we let the drudgery of this life DEFINE us? Our busyness, our grief, our shame, our despair — we let these things defineus rather than the overcoming Christ.

Over and over in Jesus ministry, be it in John or in Matthew or any of the other gospels, we see an invitation to COMEand find shelter and rest in Him. “Come to me all you who are thirsty…” (Jn 7:37). “The Kingdom of God has comenear to you…” (Lk 10:9). “Come to me all who are heavy laden, and I will give you rest…” (Mt. 11:28). The Old Testament too has a message of God comingto us and inviting us to come back into a right relationship with Him. So, the invitation from the God of the universe to you is: Stop looking for joy in temporary circumstancesand find it in the timeless Savior(v. 16). I am with you… and then I am still with you. Your fleeting circumstances do not offer the enteral hope I am for you. This is a daily surrender to Christ and commitment to His Word.

Still not sure what to make of this? Yeah, neither did the disciples, so they started mumbling about it to one another — verse 17:

[17] So some of his disciples said to one another, “What is this that he says to us, ‘A little while, and you will not see me, and again a little while, and you will see me’; and, ‘because I am going to the Father’?” [18] So they were saying, “What does he mean by ‘a little while’? We do not know what he is talking about.” [19] Jesus knew that they wanted to ask him, so he said to them, “Is this what you are asking yourselves, what I meant by saying, ‘A little while and you will not see me, and again a little while and you will see me’? [20] Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. [21] When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. [22] So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.

What a powerful statement! No one can take your joy from you. He uses the picture of childbirth to show us that no matter what we walk through, we have an indispensable joy. This kind of joy changes our perspective on the past and present while giving us the fortitude and influence we need for the future. This joy has Christ as the object of its hope, not merely hoping for happiness.

Charles Spurgeon, when talking about this joy, said it well, “There is a marvelous medicinal power in joy. Most medicines are distasteful; but this, which is the best of all medicines, is sweet to the taste, and comforting to the heart. This blessed joy is very contagious. One dolorous spirit brings a kind of plague into the house; one person who is wretched seems to stop all the birds from singing wherever he goes . . . [But] the grace of joy is contagious. Holy joy will oil the wheels of your life’s machinery. Holy joy will strengthen you for your daily labor. Holy joy will beautify you and give you an influence over the lives of others.”

But we must not lose the reality of Christ’s word picture here, that like birth, so we too may have to go through pain for joy to be born. Write this down: Be prepared that the pathway to joy will sometimes require a journey through sorrow(v. 17-22). For the disciples’ immediate context, that was going to mean watching Christ be crucified and then undergoing their own persecution. For us too, it may mean that we are ridiculed for our faith, but it may also mean that we have to live through loss, suffering and evil to more fully realize the joy of the Lord. I’ve lived long enough and counseled long enough to know that some of the most painful things in life can show us the deep end of God’s joy like nothing else. You’ve probably heard someone say, “I would never go through that again… but I wouldn’t trade the end result for anything.” Sometimes the path of sorrow is the sweet pass to joy.

It reminds me of a story I read this week of a guy on a buswho was asked the reason for his daily limp at the end of the day. The other commuting passenger said, “I see you in the morning and you are not limping and at the end of each day, you get on the bus with a limp. What is wrong?” The man replies, “My shoes are too tight and by the end of the day I am in a lot of pain.” To which the other passenger says, “Then get some new shoes.” And the man quickly replies, “I don’t want to, because then I would not have that sweet feeling of relief when I take them off at the end of the day.”

Joy in the Lord is often most realized when the pressures of this world squeeze us to the point of pain. As we talked about in John 15, there are at times allowed afflictionsthat bring us to a place of dependence on God that show us His sufficiency in a new way.

I can’t help but think of Job’strial in the Old Testament. Here was a man who lost it all—family, finances, heath, friends, food, shelter — you name it, it was taken from him. Yet, what was God’s response to Job in suffering and questioning?Where were you when I created the earth? I have it all in my control (Job 38:4). And What was Job’s response to God?“I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted”(42:2). We can have this same response as Job — though sorrow may be the path I walk on, my hope is in you, Lord.Which leads to this truth: Our joy in the present should be rooted in the promise of eternal joy and victory in Christ. He already one; this is a completed hope of the past that gives us an eternal hope for the future. Jesus says in verse 22, you may have sorrow now, but there is a lasting joy that cannot be stolen. Ask me for joy, and I will give it.

He said in verse 23, “[23] In that day you will ask nothing of me.”Commentators have argued over what day is he talking about?And I just wrote down “EVERYDAY” because I think there is immediate application for them (and us) related to the day he rose from the dead, but in context, with the Holy Spirit present, we are guaranteed that every daywe will have everything we need from Him. He grantees it by continuing,Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. [24] Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, [WHY?] that your joy may be full.

He is saying, you can daily Celebrate the fact that true joy in Christ is irrevocableand continual(vv. 23-24).The perpetual presence of Joy and peace in our life comes from the fact that the Holy Spirit is making the reality of Christ known to us daily. He said in verse 22, “You will see me again” and with that we have the joy in knowing that (1) He will never die and (2) that we will never die.

He gives us Two primary sources of joy in Christ:

  • Assured resurrection— He had victory and so will we. The suffering and pain of this world is nothing more than birthing pains for the eternal joy we will have with Him, forever.

In other words, our home is not here. It is like when I packed up myU-Haul truckand moved to Chicago after college for my first pastoral job. Everyone and everything I knew and loved was here. Even after I moved and lived there for years, I still called Colorado “Home.” In the same way, we need to see heaven as “Home,” we are merely staying here for a while. Our ultimate joy is hidden with Christ and this temporal world will go away when I rise with Him.

  • Our second source of Joy in Christ is the blessing of Answered prayer— He hears us from heaven. At least two times in this farewell discourse, and elsewhere in His ministry, Jesus promised to hear us from heaven when we pray.

At times it feels like we have God on Mute (or I am on mute to God?) [guy holding a phone]. We wonder if He is hearing us or why we can’t hear Him. But friends, if your faith is in Christ and the Holy Spirit is in you, then you can rest assured that God will hear your prayers. He is saying, I will hear you and you will lack nothing. He is not on mute — He is imparting His joy and peace to you as you wade through suffering and pain. He is calling you to trust Him.

Take one of my application points and drive the hope of Jesus deep into your soul. Remember, we can only cultivate true joy in Christ by rehearsing His promises daily. Read Colossians 3, Re-read John 16, read Philippians — preach the Gospel to yourself daily.

[i]https://www.statista.com/statistics/278414/number-of-worldwide-social-network-users/ accessed June 30, 2018

[ii]Volf and Kartenberg, “Retrieving Hope,” xi.

[iii]Smith, “Determined Hope,” 205

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