Go

Cornerstone Community Church

Joy in the City

Intro: City-wide celebrations are big events- championship teams, inaugurations- filled with joy.

Big Idea:  God glorifies Himself by giving us joy in Christ.

Context: God has graciously brought Nehemiah to Jerusalem, rebuilt the wall, protected the people and brought revival of true religion.  The comforted people of God respond.

I. Joy in God is a gift from God.

-         We all pursue joy; it is one of our preoccupations.  Don’t often find it.  Ill. Phillie’s fan

-         Formed two groups of singers & musicians to encircle the city (v 31-38).

-         They found a great joy in God- their praise was loud.  Ill. Rock concert/big game

-         “Praise”- confess God’s character and works.  Knowing God & his grace => joy

-         “God caused them to rejoice”- He worked in them to produce the joy they expressed.

-         Jesus purchased this blessing of the gospel for us (Gal. 5- fruit of the Spirit). 

-         Joy is a normal Christian experience.  Worship should be joy-filled (Ps. 92).  Ill. Edwards

-         Spirit (Eph. 5) + Word (Col. 3) => Faith + Love => Joy => Mission (export joy!)

4 For you make me glad by your deeds, O LORD; I sing for joy at the works of your hands.  Psalm 92 (NIV)

 

“Joy is a great ingredient in praise.  Praise is the most joyful work in the world.”  Jonathan Edwards

 

18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.  19 Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord,  20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Ephesians 5 (NIV)

16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.  Colossians 3 (NIV)

 

 

 

Transition:  If it is normal for a Christian to enjoy this gift of joy, why aren’t we more joyful?

II. Why a Lack of Joy?

-         Temporary: Depressed Spirituality- affliction or prosperity.  Ill. Clogged pipes.

-         They had joy despite being surrounded by enemies & a depressed economy.

-         Feed your faith, pray for Spirit, see the gracious hand of God in your life.  Ill. Nehemiah

-         Long Term: Schizoid Spirituality- “dead in sins & trespasses”.  Ill. Water turned off

-         Lack of joy in worship reveals a heart of stone.  Taste & see the Lord is good (Ps. 34)!

“Faith praises God in sad conditions.  Faith can praise God because it sees mercy even in the greatest affliction.”  William Gurnall

Transition:  If we lack joy, we can receive it in Christ.  What does joy produce in our lives?

III. Joyfully prepare to worship each week.

-         The Levites purified themselves, the people, the gates & the wall (v 30).

-         They underwent ritual baths, and offered sacrifices to be clean for God’s presence.

-         Disobedience creates a spiritual pollution in addition to guilt.  Both must be removed.

-         Christ died to purify us from our sin- we now have free access to the Father (Heb. 10).

-         Let not your guilt & fears keep you away- Jesus opens the way to all who believe.

-         Prepare: confess your sin & God will forgive & purify you (1 John 1:9).

-         Prepare: count your blessings to promote gratitude.  Ill. Praying w/Jadon.

21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God,  22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.  Hebrews 10 (NIV)

Transition: Joy prepares us to praise God publicly and privately.

IV. Joyfully dedicate everything to God.

-         Dedicated themselves, relationships, time & money to God (Neh. 8-10).

-         Now they dedicate the wall & gates to God- to serve God’s purpose.  Ill. Miller

-         Dedication is costly- they slaughtered lots of animals.   Ill. Mission- people, time & $

-         Dedication reveals life & joy are found in Christ, not people’s idols- incarnate gospel!

-         Dedication limits our options- we make sacrifices because we love God more.

-         Joy => dedication.  Dedication responds to grace; not an effort to gain God’s favor.

-         What we have is more than He owes.  What we give is more than we owe Him.

“Loving means losing control of our schedule, our money, and our time.  When we love we cease to be the master and become a servant.”  Paul Miller

Conclusion: We have been made to pursue joy, experience joy and express joy.  Our problem is that we often look in the wrong places- misplaced joy.  The gospel calls us back to the source of true, lasting, satisfying God-glorifying joy- Jesus the Messiah.  Receiving this gift of joy leads us to worship and dedication, not just for our good, but the good of the city.

Read More