Fill Your Tank With Joy!

Matthew 11:2-6 (Read 11:2-11)

2 When John, who was in prison, heard about the deeds of the Messiah, he sent his disciples 3 to ask him, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?” 4 Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: 5 The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. 6 Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.”

Are we there yet?  On this Advent Journey, some have chosen to stay behind.  Those who have chosen to come have been touched with the idea of HOPE at the end of the journey. Last week, we spent time realizing that the journey is not easy.  There are so many distractions and wrong turns that the only way we can travel is with true peace. This week on our journey, we stop and fill our tanks.  With what do we fill our tanks?  (I’m glad you asked!) We fill our tanks with joy. But is this ok? I asked it Thursday and I asked it Sunday and still I ask it.  And my answer is always the same…yes! 

In 2nd Corinthians, Paul calls us ambassadors. And we are called to “rejoice” – spread Joy! … a joy knowing that there is more to this world than what we hear from this world! In Philippians 4:4, Paul puts it this way:  Rejoice in the Lord, always and again I say rejoice!  It’s not enough to say it once.  Paul knew how oppressed the people were so he said it twice … “Rejoice.”  Did you know that in this context, the word rejoice – joy, is a command?  Wooh! Can God command us to have joy…to rejoice? Does that mean I have to have joy all the time? Does that sound unreasonable! Pastor Francis Chan talks about joy in the light of some of God’s commands. For instance: “Do not kill.”  Would anyone say to “not kill” was unreasonable? Of course not.  Friends, we are called to live our lives with joy in our hearts! Dr. Willie Jennings of Duke Divinity School asks: Can we practice joy as an act of resistance against despair and its forces? Rejoice in the Lord, always…what do people see in you? Are you full of joy or are you the kind of person who, when you begin to talk to someone before you open your mouth, the other says, “What are you mad about this week?” Some people just try to suck the joy out of us!  What if we said next time they start to talk, “Knock it off…work it out!” No grudges! Truth is, joy is in short supply these days. 

We’ve all done bad things in life. Few of us have reasons to be joyous, save for the GRACE that Jesus gives so freely! So, in this world, we have to fight for our joy!  Rejoice in the Lord always! William Barclay said, “one of the highest human duties is the duty of encouragement. The world is full of discouragers. We have a Christian duty to encourage one another. A word of praise, thanks, appreciation or cheer often has kept a person on his or her feet. Blessed is the person who speaks such a word! To be an encourager is to bless, praise and glorify God and others!”

The Psalmist said it in Psalm 126:  Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; then it was said among the nations, “The LORD has done great things for them. The LORD has done great things for us, and we rejoiced. Laughter and shouts of joy are signs of coming restoration! Would you be part of that joy…that restoration this Advent season?

Jesus said that John was the greatest among all living because, though he doubted, he knew and he believed. What if we were to walk out the door this season not worried about a blessed thing because we knew without a doubt that Jesus was in control and wants pure joy for us! All that would be left for us to do is “Rejoice!” …to live and bask in joy.  I can almost hear God now, “calm down My children, I know how all this ends!”

Let joy take your mind captive. Will you point your mind to Christ who, being born of a virgin and growing in wisdom and stature, went about calling the outcast, healing the broken, forgiving sins, being crucified by the empire, dying, rising again, giving us victory over death.

Happy “Third Week of Advent;” Gaudete Sunday – Sunday of rejoicing!

I just love being your pastor!   Joy, joy – Pastor Alexis

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