The following is the transcript from the February 14, 2016 service at Little Brown Church, Nashua, Iowa.
Today’s message is entitled, Joy and the 3-4 Defense.” Now, it may seem like a strange thing to talk about a football concept especially since last week was Super Bowl Sunday, but oftentimes the sermon comes out of things instead of being about things. This just happens to be one of “those” types of messages.
There are many of you here this morning that watched or read about the result of Super Bowl 50 with the Broncos winning. In fact, much was made of Peyton Manning’s – “gonna drink a lot of Budweiser” comments when he was on camera. Seems like he would have pushed Papa John’s pizza but, who am I?
And then there was the brooding, sullen, hoodie caped Cam Newton, trying to get through his after game interviews. All he can do is be curt and withdrawn until he finally has enough to just storm out of the session altogether.
Now, I’m not going to make much of either guy – I don’t personally know them but I can appreciate what they have accomplished and commiserate with the feelings of the loser. But, if you had your choice of being with someone who had a smile or someone who looked like he was weaned on sour lemons, who would you most likely pick?
I’d pick the smiley guy almost every time, and here’s why. We all like being around people who are generally upbeat, don’t we?
One thing I have never been able to understand is the notion of a grumpy Christian. Grumpy Christian; to me that seems like an oxymoron on the same level as jumbo shrimp, or plastic glass, or congressional budget cuts.
It’s genuinely hard for me to understand how someone who claims to be walking with God could be grumpy for any length of time.
You know the kid’s song, "If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands?" I’d like to re-word that a bit and sing, "If you’re happy and you know it, tell your face."
Now let me be quick to say that I am not talking about sadness. I am not talking about genuine SORROW. Painful losses in our lives can steal our joy, although I also believe Scripture teaches that joy can still be a major component of those who have lost someone or something they value.
And I am not talking about some fake happiness. I would never suggest we walk around with a plastic smile on our face pretending that everything is okay all the time.
Things happen, things go wrong, and we are faced with heartache and hurt.
I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about a basic attitude, how we carry ourselves.
Let me ask you a question. How would others characterize your attitude - your "bearing," if you will?
Do they see you living a life of joy, peace, and rest, or do they see someone who looks like they have no hope for today, much less for eternity?
Which attitude do you think will be more likely to attract someone to the gospel?
Think about it - there are over 200 references to joy in the Bible.
By joy, I don’t mean "happiness," because happiness is dependent on circumstances. Heartburn from eating a pizza too fast can make you unhappy, right?
Joy is an inward attitude that has God as its OBJECT and its SOURCE. It’s much deeper than happiness, and can present even in the midst of pain. Why; because the focus of joy is not the pain or the circumstance, but God.
How do we become people who live a lifestyle of joy? I think we have to apply a 3-4 Defensive strategy in order to develop that fruit of the Spirit in our lives.
1. Find Joy in the Lord.
First, joy has God as its object and its source. If you can focus on Him, then it is easier to have joy in Him.
Listen to Psalm 28:7 – “The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song.”
Just taking the time to think of all He has done for you in securing your salvation and in offering you a full and abundant life will go a long way to experiencing that joy.
Rejoice! Not only has He given you breath for today, we’re told in Ephesians that He has given us every spiritual blessing in Christ! He has promised to be active in your life at all times. The great, awesome, mighty God of all creation is also all-loving.
Join with King David in allowing your heart to leap for joy and give thanks to Him.
There is joy in the Lord.
2. Find joy in your salvation.
Palms 51:12 “Restore to me the joy of your salvation”
God has been very kind to remind me of this often so I can rejoice in His salvation. I find that when I listen to Christian music, whether it’s on the radio, CD or just out of the Hymn book, it never gets tiring.
Not when I reflect on how dirty I was when I came to Him for cleansing and forgiveness, and how He took me just as I was and made me a new creation in Christ. It’s my opinion that once you really get a handle on the depths from which He saved you, you can’t go very long with a sour attitude.
3. Find joy in living.
This is just kind of a basic outlook that says I am glad to be alive.
Palms 118:24 says, “This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”
One time at work, as an elderly customer was leaving, I said, "Have a good day!" He looked back at me and said, "When you’re my age, they’re ALL good."
This guy was willing to find the good in life rather than focus on the negative.
Here are four tips on finding joy in life:
- Learn to laugh.
Proverbs 17:22 “A cheerful heart is good medicine.”
A good chuckle, or a belly laugh is good for you, physically as well as emotionally.
- Learn to enjoy the little things.
I am a nature-loving kind of guy. Sunsets to me are a big deal, most of the time.
But every now and again God gets my attention with something like the leaves on the trees. Have you noticed how big some of those hummers get in the summer? You could serve dinner on them! And this town just bursts with color in the fall. Or the formation of snow drifts by the wind!
None of those are major things, but I have been given a new appreciation for these things.
- Learn to enjoy your family.
I have an awesome wife and 3 great kids and 3 wonderful grandchildren. My wife and I will be married for 33 years, and I say to my shame that I am still coming to understand how truly awesome my wife is.
My wife is wonderfully creative. She has an eye for detail and an attention for making things right. It drives me crazy and it’s one of her great attractions. She sees right through people and issues and can still be their greatest fan. My greatest fan….
Find out what makes your spouse and kids tick, and make an intentional effort to get involved with them.
Learn to enjoy your family. It will give you joy, and it will enhance the relationships in your home. And who wouldn’t like that?
- Learn to laugh at yourself.
People take themselves too seriously sometimes. We need to laugh at ourselves. If you take yourself too seriously, you’ll never really appreciate those times when you’re at a restaurant and you laugh so hard that your Coke comes spurting out your nose.
It’s hard to see the humor in that when you take yourself too seriously.
At almost every wedding we do, I get asked why do we have to come down the north side aisle? I will tell the photographer or the bride, that in order to get the light just right on my best side, you have to come down that aisle. With this much bald showing, the glare would just white out the pictures if you came down the south side. And, after all, during this ceremony it’s all about me!
Why not? I’m going bald, so I might as well have fun with it, amen?
God has called me to be a minister. But I am readily aware of the fact that I am not as tall, nor nearly as good looking or as well spoken as Billy Graham.
So I have to rely on the fact that if people come to Christ, it’s a testimony to the fact that God can use anybody to advance His kingdom; even short, stout, balding guys with glasses and a tenor voice.
You know another reason you need to not think too seriously of yourself? Because no one else takes you that seriously, either.
Learn to laugh, enjoy the little things, enjoy your family and ighten up about yourself. Having these linebackers will keep grumpy from scoring a touchdown in your life.
Joy is rooted in God, and the hope that He gives us as children of God. This verse implies that there is not only hope for the next life, but for this life as well. The hope we have for heaven gives us hope for tomorrow, and for today.
Live like a person with hope. Walk around like you have something to live for now, and to look forward to in eternity, and it will draw others not only to YOU, but will give you the opportunity to draw them to Jesus.
So let me ask you to think for a moment. Do you have joy in your life? Can you honestly say that joy is a characteristic of your life?
Or is your life characterized by a spirit of grumpiness?
If your life is not marked by joy, make it a point to get with God about that as you go through this Lenten season.
Remember, grumpy is one of the seven dwarfs, not a fruit of the Spirit.
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