Joy of Serving the Lord
As we continue our series on Joy, I want to remind each of you…to SMILE! According to the Bible, when Jesus met the women who were going back to town to tell everyone that He had risen, He said, “Rejoice.” (Matthew 28:9) So this morning, I say, “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24)
Now, I know there are some who just never seem to be happy. I once heard a story about 2 farmers, one an optimist and the other a pessimist. The optimist would say, “Thank you God for the sunshine.” While the pessimist would reply, “I hope it doesn’t burn up the crops.” Or the optimist would say, “Thank you for the rain” and the pessimist would reply, “I’m afraid it’s going to flood.”
One day, they were hunting and when they shot some ducks, they fell into a pond. The optimist ordered his dog to retrieve and quickly the dog took off. But instead of swimming, the dog walked on top of the water, retrieved the ducks, and walked back. The optimist turned to his friend and said, “Now, what do you think of my dog?” And the pessimist replied, “How sad, a dog that can’t even swim.” He needs to REJOICE!!
In the spring of 1969, a little town on the main island in Fiji made national headlines. It seems that on a Sunday morning, the preacher failed to show up for church, leaving a crowd of less than 100 people stranded. But the absent preacher wasn’t the headlines. But what happened next was national news. Now, I’m going to pause the story there and come back to it in a moment.
A more accurate reading of our text would be: “that ‘My’ joy may be in you…” Our Lord is suggesting that those who accept His sayings, those that have His word living within them, have a very deep sense of His joy…planted deeply within their hearts. Planting God’s Word within our heart, so it can grow, and change us is essential to our wellbeing. The Bible says, “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I may not sin against you.” (Psalm 119:11) No child wants to sin against or offend their parent. Storing God’s word in our heart…pleases our Father.
Can you recall the feeling of joy when your Mother or Father gave you a long embrace? A sense of being safe…of being loved. God’s joy gives you the very same feelings. It calms the seas of stress, the mountains of doubt, and the darkness of fear. It’s the warm feeling of the sunshine upon your face on a cold winter’s day. There is peace in the joy of serving the Lord.
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., who served on the Supreme Court of over 30 years was asked why he chose to become a judge? He said, “I might have entered the ministry if certain preachers I knew hadn’t looked and acted like undertakers.” So, when I say. ‘we’ all need to embrace God’s joy…I mean the preacher too. I’ve heard that if you want a little bit of heaven here on earth…then fill your day with JOY! Many will tell you that joy is an “unrealistic” way of life…but the truth is, it’s exactly the way God “intended” life to be.
If you choose, joy can almost instantly transform your life and it’s a gift that’s available to anyone! It’s really simple to have a joyful life. All you need to do is ‘believe’ in the promises of God and accept His Son as your Lord and Savior.
The Bible says, “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13) Did you hear that? God fills each believer with joy, peace, and hope. But many today are beaten down. The grind of everyday life has robbed them of their hope and stolen their joy.
But in this verse, it says that we will “abound in hope.” And in the Greek text, this ‘abounding hope’, says that it will “overflow”, “be hope in excess”. More ‘hope’ than you can handle. Have you ever been around someone who is so full of hope that it spills over onto others? They’re so filled with joy that it makes you feel guilty? Isn’t it awful…they’re just so happy!
Now speaking of being joyful, I read a true story that in the northern part of Alaska, where the Eskimos live, missionaries were trying to translate the Bible into their language. But there’s no word in the Eskimo language for “joy.” So, they had to find something…an action that showed joy and then substitute it…for the word. Then one day the missionaries a joyful event. It was when the Eskimos fed their sled dogs. The dogs would jump and down and wag their tails and get all excited. So, using what they saw in the dogs, they found a definition for joy: “wagging their tails.” So, when they translated Philippians 4:4 which reads, “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again, I say rejoice!” In Eskimo, it says, “Wag your tails in the Lord always. Again, I say wag your tails!” Now, that’s the joy of serving the Lord…and it’s good for your health.
Beloved, I’m telling you that it is healthier to be happy and joyous than to be doom and gloom. Basically, Winnie the Pooh will be spiritually healthier than Eeyore. Don’t believe me? The Bible says in Proverbs 17:22, “A merry heart does good, like medicine. But a broken spirit dries the bones.” In other words, a life of being negative. Choosing to keep a sad disposition and rejecting opportunities for joy and happiness…will affect your life…and your health. It dries your bones…in other words, it kills you.
But a merry heart, a heart filled with joy, is like medicine. It keeps you healthy. It puts a pep in your step…a little ‘sway’ in your lag…zip in your drive. The scripture tells us, “Blessed are the pure in heart…” (Matthew 5:8). The pure in heart are those whose heart is clean. A heart filled with love, joy, forgiveness, and the fruits of the Spirit. Is that your heart?
Remember the church where the preacher failed to show up? Well, it made headlines not because of who wasn’t there…but who was. It seemed that William was on his way to preach somewhere else, but he and his wife stopped in Fiji to take a short vacation first. And on this Sunday morning, they went to worship at this little island church.
So, when the preacher failed to show, William filled in and it was a service that the people would remember forever. Even the newspaper wrote about how William Franklin Graham preached a Sunday morning service. The article quoted Billy as saying he hadn’t preached a Sunday morning sermon since he answered God’s call to full-time evangelism in the 1940s. But Dr. Graham often said, “I count it a joy to be of service to the Lord.”
This morning, I extend to you the offer that Jesus spoke of in Matthew 25:23, where He says “…Enter into the joy of your Lord.”