"I want to talk about joy again this morning," pastor Brad stated after welcoming us on a sunny, summer morning. "There sometimes exists a gap between the joy we feel we’re expected to have, and what we’re experiencing. The hardships of life often leave people cynical. I come to bring you good news."
1. Brooke shared details about this year’s VBS program that will start in 24 hours… “74 kids pre-registered this year. 25 youth volunteering and 30 adults. Thank you!!”
2. There's a council meeting Tuesday.
Darlene played "Great Is Thy Faithfulness" to lead us into worship this a.m. Offering taken, we entered into a time of prayer after which Brad began his message.
Jesus tells his disciples, "In a little while you will see Me no more, and then after a while you will see Me" The disciples ask themselves “What does He mean by ‘in a little while?’”
Jesus zeroes in on what they are talking about and responds, “Are you asking one another what I meant when I said, ‘In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me’? 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."
Brad's message focused on the implications of this passage beginning with this metaphor of childbirth. The joy of giving life outweighs the pain of giving birth. Pain is temporary but worth the result, a great joy. Though life has its hardships and pain, in the end there is going to be great joy.
Shortly after this Jesus was crucified, but it was not the end yet. When Jesus was risen, the joy was astounding and nothing could take their joy. Paul later wrote to the early church how though they suffered they were generous. 2000 years later, we’re resurrection people, we have pretty good lives, but the level of joy may be lost on us. Jesus says we’re supposed to have joy, yet why do we so often not see it?
Jesus’ ministry began at His baptism. fully aware of His being loved and accepted. When John the Baptist baptized Him He hears a voice. “You are My son whom I love, in whom I am well pleased.” Jesus’ ministry begins here.
Brad stressed, "Identity and acceptance comes before achievement and work."
Jesus hears this voice… "You’re My son and I love you." Jesus depended on God’s acceptance.
Out of His fullness we have all received grace. And He wants that joy to be complete, a sense of constant well-being based on the reliability of God. Ultimately I know all is well with me because I am loved. Paul doesn’t just say “Rejoice,” He writes “Rejoice in the Lord.” As Nehemiah writes, “The joy of the Lord is my strength.”
Matthew 11:19 asks what are the ways God replenishes your spirit? How do you like to get re-filled? Jesus never said life would be easy, but no matter what it is like in our outside circumstances, our hearts can be full.
Brad underscored that my life isn’t just about me. It’s about God’s life flowing through me out into the world.
Do you know who you are apart from money, power or reputation? Significance is about who we are before anything we do. We have a part to play that is way beyond ourselves.
On one occasion the Lord's disciples asked, “Aren’t you hungry?”
He replied, “My food is to do the work of Him who sent Me.”
Life's hardships -- cancer, war, huger, hatred -- all raise why questions. Jesus said in effect, "In a little while I will be back and set all things right." Sin and suffering and death will be defeated. Then there will be no more questions.
If you're tempted to get impatient, if you wonder when this will ever happen, I will tell you. In a little while. In just a little while. In only a very little while.