In your mind check each of the following words that you associate with genuine friendship. ( ) Dread
( ) Burden
( ) Responsibility
( ) Encouragement
( ) Joy

Check each of the following words that you associate with falling in love. ( ) Dread
( ) Burden
( ) Responsibility
( ) Encouragement
( ) Joy

Check each of the following words that you associate with successful marriage. ( ) Dread
( ) Burden
( ) Responsibility
( ) Encouragement
( ) Joy

Check each of the following words that you associate with a healthy parent and child relationship. ( ) Dread
( ) Burden
( ) Responsibility
( ) Encouragement
( ) Joy

Check each of the following words that you associate with being a Christian. ( ) Dread
( ) Burden
( ) Responsibility
( ) Encouragement
( ) Joy

Do you associate joy with friendship? Do you associate joy with the process of falling in love? Do you associate joy with successful marriage? Do you associate joy with a healthy parent-child relationship? Do you associate joy with the Christian life?

  1. Jesus was dead.
    1. The impact was devastating on his best friends and his closest followers.
      1. For many months a group of women followed him and his disciples in Galilee as Jesus and the disciples constantly traveled from place to place.
        1. There were no quick food places, not convenience stores, no stores that gave same day service to clean dirty laundry.
        2. They took care of things like cooking and laundry as Jesus literally invested all his time and all of his energy healing and teaching.
        3. The gospels of Matthew and Mark state these women followed Jesus to Jerusalem and witnessed the crucifixion (Matthew 27:55,56; Mark 15:40,41).
      2. Twelve men left jobs and families to follow Jesus twenty-four hours a day for at least three years.
        1. Unless Jesus sent them away to do a special work, they were with him day and night.
        2. They went where he went; they helped him do what he did; they slept where he slept.
    2. These men and women felt what any man or woman feels when a person that he or she is devoted to dies.
      1. They were certain that life as they knew it was over; the good days, the exciting days, the profitable days, the wonderful days were over and would never return.
      2. They thought Jesus' had failed to achieve what he intended to achieve.
      3. They lost their sense of purpose and hope.
      4. Surely they had seen, touched, and spoken to the resurrected Jesus.
        1. But each time he was with them for a little while and then he was gone.
        2. What use was that? What would that accomplish?
        3. What could God do with that?
        4. More importantly, what could they do with that?
          1. His resurrection was very different to the resurrections that Jesus performed or they performed.
          2. When Jesus or they raised a person from the dead, the person continued to live physical life exactly as he or she lived before he or she died.
          3. But Jesus' resurrection was very different--he was physically resurrected, but he lived a different kind of existence, a kind of existence that they had never seen or known.
      5. They spent the first few days after Jesus' death in hiding--they were certain that the people who killed Jesus would try to kill them.
        1. When no one attempted to kill them, fear turned into confusion.
        2. They knew how to follow Jesus when he was a living man, but how do you follow a resurrected man who has a different existence?
        3. They knew what they were supposed to do when he was a living man, but what were they supposed to do now?
        4. What were they to do today? What were they to do next week? What were they to do in the future? As far as they were concerned, it was over, and nothing made sense.

  2. Then, fifty days after Jesus was killed, the Holy Spirit came upon these men.
    1. The Holy Spirit brought them power, but more importantly the Holy Spirit brought them understanding.
      1. Now they understood the teachings of the Old Testament prophets.
      2. Now they understood God's intentions when He made promises to Abraham almost 2000 years earlier.
      3. Now they understood the reason for Jesus' dying.
      4. Now they understood the meaning of Jesus' resurrection.
      5. Now they understood the basic nature of Jesus' kingdom.
      6. Now the understood how to follow Jesus after his death.
      7. Now they understood God's real purposes.
      8. Now they understood the meaning of Jesus' message.
      9. Now they understood forgiveness.
      10. Now they understood their own purpose and their blessing.
    2. They began to share their new understanding with conviction and power.
      1. And people believed that Jesus had been resurrected from the dead.
      2. These same people accepted the blessing of forgiveness.
      3. They accepted forgiveness by making a commitment to a new relationship with God, and they made that commitment by being baptized.
      4. These people entered this new relationship with God because they trusted Jesus and accepted his forgiveness.

  3. And joy exploded.
    1. The first people who became Christians were so joyful that the whole city of Jerusalem could see that they were different.
      1. Each day they visited each other's homes to eat together (Acts 2:46).
        1. They shared meals with gladness and sincerity of heart.
        2. They found it natural to praise God--praising God is a natural expression of joy.
        3. It was natural for people to like them--they were different in a wonderful way.
    2. Joy kept exploding in the city of Jerusalem in the most unexpected ways.
      1. Peter and John, two of Jesus' followers, healed a lame man who sat asking for money at one of the gates to the temple area (Acts 3:7-9).
        1. The man was born lame, and he was over forty years old (Acts 4:22).
        2. He immediately began walking, and leaping, and praising God.
        3. It caused so much excitement in the temple area that the temple authorities arrested Peter and John for preaching Jesus' resurrection.
      2. Later, the number of people who believed in Jesus' resurrection were increasing so fast that the same authorities arrested all the apostles (Acts 4:1-22).
        1. The court told the apostles, "We told you not to preach Jesus' resurrection any more, and you refused to obey our authority."
        2. So they publicly flogged these men.
        3. These men rejoiced that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His [Jesus'] name (Acts 4:40,41).

  4. This explosion of joy was not confined to the city of Jerusalem or the beginning of Christianity.
    1. The book of Acts tells us about a high government official from Ethiopia that became a Christian (Acts 8:26-29).
      1. This man heard one lesson a single time as he rode in his chariot.
      2. He understood who Jesus was, why Jesus died, and the purpose of Jesus' resurrection.
      3. With that knowledge and understanding, he asked to be baptized.
      4. When he was baptized, he continued his journey home, alone, rejoicing.
    2. Acts also tells us about Paul and Silas' visit to the city of Philippi (Acts 16:11-40).
      1. They performed a miracle, and the miracle made some important people angry.
      2. As a result Paul and Silas were whipped publicly and thrown into prison.
      3. After being whipped, thrown into prison, and being locked in stocks, at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing praise to God.

  5. This joy was to naturally exist in those who became Christians.
    1. In Romans 12:9-21 Paul gives the characteristics of a converted person.
      1. In verse 12 one of those characteristics is that the person rejoices in hope.
    2. The Christians in the Roman province of Galatia were told that joy was one of the basic expressions of the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22).
    3. The church of Philippi had serious problems in their interpersonal relationships.
      1. That problem destroys joy.
      2. Paul told them to rejoice in the Lord (Philippians 3:1).
      3. Again, he told them, "Rejoice in the Lord always; again, I say rejoice" (Philippians 4:4).
      4. Their lack of joy contributed to their problem.
    4. The Christians at Thessalonica were told, "Rejoice evermore" (1 Thessalonians 5:16).
    5. Peter wrote to Christians who were abused and jailed because they believed in Jesus Christ.
      1. He told them to rejoice because their faith was being refined just like you refine gold (1 Peter 1:6-8).
      2. He said the fact that they loved and trusted Jesus should cause them to greatly rejoice.

  6. Does being a Christian produce joy in your life?
    1. Christianity by design is to create that joy in any person who is converted to Christ, who makes a commitment to God.
      1. When a person chooses to turn from evil and to Christ,
      2. When a person in faith commits,
      3. When a person is truly converted to Christ,
      4. When a person expresses all this by being baptized into Christ,
      5. One of the natural expressions of relationship with God is joy.
    2. That joy exists for two basic reasons.
      1. The Christian is given a blessing and a purpose.
      2. The blessing is the continuing forgiveness of God (1 John 1:5-10).
      3. The purpose is to live for God now and with God in eternity (John 3:16-18).

Christians are different. If you associate with the Christian, you can sense the difference. The difference is real, it is genuine, because the Christian has a purpose that is bigger than life, and is even bigger than death. That purpose affects the way that the Christian does things. It affects the way that the Christians treats people. It affects every aspect of the Christian's life. People see the purpose in the joy.

And it is in that purpose that the Christian finds joy that cannot be destroyed.

Having purpose in Christ produces a joy that cannot be destroyed.

"David, why do you preach?"

"I want other people to find what I have found."

It can only be found in Christ. I don't desire for people to claim to be Christian if they don't repent. It is only with faith, conversion, and commitment that we find the joy that comes through serving Christ's purposes.

Are you willing to establish a new relationship with God? It would thrill God, the angels in Heaven, and us if you will be baptized into Jesus Christ.

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Morning Sermon, 5 July 1998

 Link to next sermon

 Link to other Writings of David Chadwell