Sunday Sermon: ‘The Joy of the Lord’

I. Joy @ Twin Oaks

Today is our annual church picnic. Let me begin by saying that I am so thankful to be a part of this church. I know that Twin Oaks is not the ‘only church’ around, there are many other good churches, but Twin Oaks is the church that I want to be a part of. During my time at Twin Oaks the Lord has often said to me – ‘Terry, there are not a lot of churches like Twin Oaks. I chose this church especially for you.’

One of the reasons I love Twin Oaks so much is because it’s a place full of spiritual joy. For the first time in my life, I have fun in church! Is that wrong?

Paul wrote to the Philippians – Philippians 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice.

Here is an important truth that many of God’s people have missed – the Lord wants us to be full of His joy. Joy is not necessarily the same thing as happiness. Happiness often depends upon our circumstances. Joy depends upon our confidence. Paul says – ‘Rejoice IN THE LORD.’ Rejoice in who God is and His love for you.

Perhaps this will help you better understand what I am talking about. The word ‘grace’ and the word ‘rejoice’ are linked together. Actually the word ‘grace’ comes from the word ‘rejoice.’ God’s grace gives us ample reason to rejoice! That is seen in a story found in the Old Testament.

II.  The Joy of the Lord Is Your Strength

Many of you are familiar with a man in the Bible called Nehemiah. Nehemiah was a Jewish man who lived about 400 years before the birth of Christ.

When we first meet Nehemiah, the city of Jerusalem is in great trouble. The Jewish people had become very sinful and therefore the Lord caused enemy nations to attack them and to destroy their homes, as well as take many of them into captivity.

But we read in the book of Psalms –

Psalm 30:5 For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.

It’s God’s desire to bless His people and even if He must chasten us, He always does so with the intent of bringing us back to Himself so that He can bless us once again.

Because of the people’s sinfulness, God caused the walls around their city to be torn down. But then, after the people had suffered enough for their sin, the Lord called Nehemiah to go to Jerusalem and to help them rebuild their walls and in just 52 days, the walls were completely restored.

After the walls were restored, we read this from the book of Nehemiah-

Nehemiah 8:1 And all the people gathered themselves together as one man into the street that was before the water gate; and they spake unto Ezra the scribe to bring the book of the law of Moses, which the LORD  had commanded to Israel.  2 And Ezra the priest brought the law before the congregation both of men and women, and all that could hear with understanding, upon the first day of the seventh month. 3 And he read therein before the street that was before the water gate from the morning until midday, before the men and the women, and those that could understand; and the ears of all the people were attentive unto the book of the law.

For several hours the priests read from the Bible as the people stood with their families and listened. What did the priests read? They read about how God wanted to bless His people, but if His people rebelled against Him, He would cause them to be defeated. They read exactly about what had happened to their ancestors and the city of Jerusalem. To help make sure that the people understood all that they had heard, they then held Bible studies after the sermon.

Nehemiah 8:7  … and the Levites, caused the people to understand the law: and the people stood in their place. 8 So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading.

The Levites took what had been read and broke it down so that everyone could understand what it meant and how it applied to their lives.

How did the people respond to what they heard?

Nehemiah 8:9 … For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the law.

They wept because they began to understand that it was their own sinfulness that had caused their problems. So often we want to blame God or others for our problems when much of the reason often lies in our own heart. The Bible speaks of a ‘godly sorrow which brings us to repentance.’ (2 Cor 7:10) It’s good to own up to our sin, but once we confess our sin, the Lord wants us to receive His forgiveness. That’s His promise –

1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Most likely the people began weeping and kept weeping over their sins. God receives no pleasure from Christians who get down on themselves and stay down. What God wants is a relationship with us. In the old Westminster Catechism ,that was written in the early 1600’s, the first question asked was–

Q – What is the chief end of man?

A – Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.

The people began to weep and kept weeping, therefore Nehemiah told them -

10 Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the LORD is your strength.

For the joy of the Lord is your strength. God is the source of all true joy. Joy is a part of His nature. Heaven will be a place of eternal joy. We experience this joy the most when our relationship with Him is real.  It’s not about rules and regulations. It’s about a relationship with Him that is comparative to a branch attached to a vine. As that branch is attached to the vine, life-giving nutrients flow into it, thus producing fruit. As a believer abides in Christ, he or she receives what is needed to produce what the Bible calls the fruit of the Spirit.

Before we can experience this satisfying joy, we must experience salvation. We must know Christ as our personal Savior. We must know Him from the inside out. Then, as we remain in this precious relationship, His life-giving power begins to change us, making us more and more like Himself, and producing through us His nature and characteristics.

III. Rivers of Living Water  

Four hundred years later, Jesus stood on that very same spot and on perhaps the very same day. It was the Feast of Tabernacles when all the Jewish families were to come to Jerusalem and celebrate God’s goodness.

 As a part of their celebration, they were to build small huts or tabernacles and live in them for the entire week. They were camping out if you will. There were several reasons for this:

  1. It was a reminder of how God had brought them out of bondage in Egypt and how for forty years they lived in tents as they traveled to the Promised Land.
  2. It was a reminder that the things of this world are only temporary and all that really matters is our relationship with God.
  3. It was a celebration of God’s blessings. This feast was held in the early fall, just after the harvest.

As Jesus stood there that day and watched the people, He saw them going through a lot of religious motions without any real meaning or rejoicing. Part of the ceremony was that they would pour water, mixed with wine, upon the sacrifice on the altar.

Some say that the pouring out of the water was a symbol of their prayer for new rain in a new season. Others say that it symbolized the water Moses drew from the rock in the wilderness.

As Jesus watched the people go through their rituals, He could contain Himself no longer and scripture says -

John 7:37 In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. 38 He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. 39 (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive …)

There are three key words to help us understand what Jesus was saying –

1. Thirst

If any man thirsts, let him come unto Me, and drink.

One day Jesus met a Samaritan woman at a well. Jesus asked for a drink of physical water, but then He offered to her spiritual water. The Lord told her that the spiritual water He could give her would satisfying the deepest longings of her heart and keep her from ever thirsting again. Indeed this woman had been thirsty, yet she could find nothing to satisfy her thirst. She had been married five times and was now living with a man. People try so many things to satisfy the thirst of their soul. Some try sex, others try drugs and alcohol. Some think that more money or greater achievements will satisfy them. Yet at the song says – ‘Only Jesus can satisfy your soul.’

Only Jesus Can Satisfy Your Soul
Lanny Wolfe

The world may try to satisfy
That longing in your soul.
You may search the wide world over
But you’ll be just as before.
You’ll never find true satisfaction
Until you’ve found the Lord,
For only Jesus can satisfy your soul.

Only Jesus can satisfy your soul.
Yes, only He can change your heart
And make you whole.
He’ll give you peace you never knew,
Sweet joy and love and Heaven, too.
For only Jesus can satisfy your soul.

If you could have the fame and fortune,
All the wealth you could attain.
Yet, you have not Christ within,
Your living here would be in vain.
There’ll come a time when death will find you,
Riches cannot help you then.
So, come to Jesus, only He can satisfy.

 Only Jesus can satisfy your soul:
Yes, only He can change your heart
And make you whole.
He’ll give you peace you never knew,
Sweet joy and love and Heaven, too.
Only Jesus can satisfy your soul.
Yes, only Jesus can satisfy your soul.

2. Come

If any man thirsts, let him come unto Me …

Many have told me about the great sermon Pastor Zack preached last Sunday from Matthew 11:28 – ‘Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden , and I will give you rest.’

I love what we read from the prophet Isaiah –

Isaiah 55:1 Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. 2 Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness.

3. Drink

Jesus offers to everyone of us the water of life, but each of us must drink of it for ourselves. To drink of this water is to make a personal decision on our own to put our faith and trust in Christ as our Lord and Savior.

Isaiah 12:3: “With joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation.”

Jesus told the Samaritan woman that the water of life would so satisfy her soul that she would never be thirsty again. Consider once again what Jesus cried out that day to the people –

John 7: 38 He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. 39 (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive …)

John’s Gospel tells us that as soon as this woman drank of Christ’s living water, she ran back into the town where she was from and told all that would listen that she had found the Christ. Once her soul had been satisfied, rivers of living water gushed out of her and enable to bring many to this same place of satisfaction.

The joy that you see at Twin Oaks has nothing to do with the economy or someone’s present condition. It is the joy of knowing Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior and having His Spirit flourish in us.

Are you thirsty today for such joy? It can be yours. Find one of our members and ask them how to receive this water so that you yourself may drink. Come see me. I would love to share with you the water of eternal life. If you are reading this online, you may contact me at: pastorterry@twinoaksbapt.org