JOY IS MORE THAN A 3-LETTER WORD
20 Very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy.21 A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world.22 So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. John 16:20-22
As we move into the third week of Advent, we are able to step into the word JOY in a way that many of us probably have never thought. My hope and prayer is that with each new day we are led closer to the GREATEST gift of JOY that still reigns today. JOY is such a small term that really packs a lot of power in the meaning of God's amazing love for the world. We see that God provided JOY as the LIGHT of the world and gave to us the fullness of His love that can penetrate any darkness that may arise. And as I am saying this, I am really praying that you may have said thank you God or AMEN in your head, because I know that so many times we take that gift from God and, just like other things, put it aside until we "need it". Well this gift of JOY cannot be contained in a box... it cannot be contained in a building... it cannot be contained by the world or the universe. In fact this JOY that has been given to us is so amazing that there are truly no words to fully describe the grace filled gift that we receive each day except to say PRAISE THE LORD!! But God was willing to create a way out of the wilderness of sin through the JOY of a child. Jesus was born in order that we may live an abundant life that is fueled by the JOY that is found in the life of Christ.
And so today I am going to break down this word JOY as a way for us to really think about the call we have in our lives to be made complete in Christ. I am going to use a little bit of the ending of my sermon yesterday to help emphasize the actions that have taken place and the actions that need to take place today for our JOY to be complete in Christ. So here we go. First, we see the three letters J... O.... Y.... I hope and pray that every time you see this word or hear it in a song, or write/type it on a sheet of paper or a computer screen, you immediately begin to think through the process to make your JOY complete. J stands for Jesus. That should not be a surprise because JOY definitely starts with Jesus who was willing
to humbly give up His position in heaven and come down and walk and connect with His LOST creation. Jesus is the gift of JOY that was packaged in flesh that gave us the opportunity to spend eternal life with God. He came so that the chasm between us and God could be bridged with His sacrificial death on the cross. So J stands for the atoning sacrificial LAMB that was sent to tear the veil and open the direct connection between God and His creation. O, O stands for offering. In order for this JOY to be made complete, God knew that as soon as sin entered into the world that God was going to need a way to reconnect with His creation and so He sent a SIN OFFERING into the world. Jesus was sent, like one who was a sheep being sent to the slaughter as the atoning sacrifice for our sin. ONE for ALL... the RIGHTEOUS for the unrighteous that the debt would be paid in full and our relationship with God would once again be restored. And finally Y, Y stands for YOU. It stands for you and for me. It stands for every person, born or unborn, that God has knit together in their mothers womb and completes the reconnection of the relationship that was destroyed in the Garden of Eden. It is YOU that God is fighting for every day. It is YOU that God sent His Son into the world to die for, not to condemn the world, but to offer grace and freedom so that we could experience abundant JOY and abundant life.
Honestly we see that in the first scripture we are going to step into this week. John is still listening and recording these words from Jesus because he is in awe of every word that is spoken. It is filled with such compassion and grace. John, as can we, felt so much love and pain in the words of Christ as we continue to grieve because the world is in such a fallen state. But God gives us HOPE to find JOY. Not just in His time but also today. Read the words again, "Very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy." We see that Jesus is using this in a two-fold manner. Jesus is not only talking about the grief and pain they will experience when He dies, but God is sharing with them that through the grief we will find JOY because of the power of God. Jesus is helping us to realize that even when it seems as though all is lost, we have the TRUTH that God is still in control. Yes, we are going to go through some pain because of the evil that exists. YES, we are going to experience loss from time to time, but as the example of the mom giving birth to the son, we should be prepared and ready to step through the pain because we know the JOY that is to come. We know that the journey is not going to be easy, but that on the other side God has given us an advocate for our lives that will stand in the gap and give full payment for our sins. How can we NOT shout for JOY because JESUS came and gave himself as a living OFFERING for YOU and for me. JOY is not a three letter word, but an ACTION plan for a life filled to live eternity with Him.
But, in order for this JOY to be made complete, it has to have reciprocation on the part of every person that has received this JOY or those who will receive this gift of JOY from God. And it is very simple to understand. In order for this transaction to be COMPLETE... we have to be willing to return the offering. So I close today by giving you the call that God is making on our lives. Y, YOU have to give back ALL you have to GOD. YOU, ME, and ANYONE who is ready to be complete in Christ must be willing to sell out fully to God by giving themselves completely.. heart, mind, soul and strength to GOD. You, Y, have to give an O, OFFERING, of ALL you are back to J, JESUS. We have to be able to lay it all down and just like Abraham
and Isaac on the altar, we have to be willing to say God I am dedicating my entire life and ALL that I have back to you. I am giving all that I am, my past... present... and future to you. I am offering my career, family, house, EVERYTHING back to you so that I may find completeness in the name of JESUS. So simply put... JOY is Jesus giving His life as an Offering for You and for me, but both YOU and me must be willing to give our lives and ALL we have as an Offering to Jesus. See JOY is more than a 3-letter word... It is an action plan for our lives that we are to live out and teach every day that we are blessed to be alive. We will look at JOY from so many different ways this week, but I felt as if we needed to begin with God's action plan for our lives before we stepped in any other direction. No one can take away our JOY because it comes with a promise.... and I don't think that God is in the business of breaking a promise. Are you ready to find UNSPEAKABLE JOY today? If so, the plan has been laid out, YOU just have to be willing to return the offering.