Note: This sermon on joy was written with the tragic and senseless events of the recent school shooting in mind. Our prayers and hearts go out to the victims and survivors, that God would sent His peace and the light of Jesus Christ into the darkness of this time. As the Psalmist in Psalm 42 reflects, sometimes joy may seem distant and we may feel only bitterness and grief. Yet he puts his hope in God that there will again be a day of praise and gladness. The Bible's teaching on joy is a reminder to us that Christian joy does not concede or retreat from evil, or times of grief or loss, but rather that God sends His good news of redeeming love and comfort to us precisely when we are hurting, lonely, and lost. It is the message of Jesus' victory of good over evil at the cross, that is the only hope for joy in a time of darkness. It is this joy in the Lord that is brighter than the darkness, and that gives us hope even in midst of our worst troubles.
This sermon is on Philippians 4:4-7, for the 3rd Sunday in Advent.
Sermon Talking Points
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- Read Philippians 1:7, 12-14 & 4:4. In what circumstances did Paul find occasion to tell us to “rejoice in the Lord always”? What circumstances do we find ourselves struggling to rejoice? How does the peace and joy of the Lord penetrate our prisons of hopelessness and fear? Why does this joy truly come in the Lord?
- Why is joy “seated” in a deeper place than emotions like happiness and sadness? How does this make it possible to have joy, even when outward circumstances are bad? 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18; 1 Peter 1:6-7; 4:13; John 16:22. How does joy relate/compare to the blessedness of the beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-12)?
- What is the “reasonableness” that Paul speaks of in verse 5? Titus 3:2. In other passages, this word is sometimes translated gentleness. Why ought patient listening and gentleness be characteristics of all Christians and evidenced in our interactions with others? How do the opposite behaviors harm our witness?
- How is prayer the prescription for anxiety (worry)? See again 1 Thess. 5:16-18; 1 Peter 5:6-7; Matthew 6:25-34. Why does giving thanks to God in all circumstances help change our perspective on anxiety?
- God’s peace passes both human understanding, and also angelic understanding. How does this peace have the power to change our hearts and minds, and guard them against every attack of the devil to rob us of peace? How did Jesus give us this peace? Ephesians 2:13-18; when did Jesus announce this peace to His disciples? John 20:19; 14:27; 16:33