Matthew R. Perry

When God Dishes Out the Joy

In Sermons on July 10, 2007 at 10:32 am

Look with me at Nehemiah 12:43:

And they offered great sacrifices that day and rejoiced, for God had made them rejoice with great joy; the women and children also rejoiced. And the joy of Jerusalem was heard far away.

Here we see it all come together. “They offered sacrifices” — that deals with purity and the desire for sins to be forgiven. And now it says they were filled with joy. Four times in this verse alone, we see the word or word form of joy. “They rejoiced … for God had made them rejoice … with great joy; the women and children also rejoiced. And the joy of Jerusalem was heard from far away.

A few things to note:

First, when sins are forgiven, when God is exalted, when his steadfast love and mercy endure in the heart of a sinner, and purity ensues, there will be joy. Remember Psalm 51:10-12 in which David said,

Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from your presence,
and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and uphold me with a willing spirit.

Consider Luke 15:8-10:

[8] “Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and seek diligently until she finds it? [9] And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ [10] Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

If there is a heavenly party when one comes to know Jesus Christ, we should not stand by and simply give up the golf-clap — our joy should be considerably more enthusiastic than that?

Secondly, we must remember that God places that joy in our hearts. Again, read where it says, “For God had made them rejoice with great joy.” What is this saying? This is saying that we cannot muster up this joy in our own strength or by our own will. God gives us this joy! Jesus, when he went to the cross, noted “the joy set before him”— a joy that God placed there as a blessed incentive to move toward obedience and freedom.

And do we remember the fruit of the Spirit? Galatians 5:22-23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, [23] gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” The joy comes when the Holy Spirit comes to indwell in fullness in the believer. Jesus said in John 15:11: “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.”

Thirdly, God does not discriminate when doling out the joy. Even “the women and children rejoiced.” It reminds me of Galatians 3:28 which says, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Matthew 18:3 where Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” The joy of salvation and the joy of being a Kingdom child will come to all who come to Christ by full commitment of obedience and faith.

Fourthly, when God dishes out the joy, there is enthusiasm. “And the joy of Jerusalem was heard far away.” The inhabitants in Judah heard. The enemies outside of Judah heard it. And when the joy of the Lord becomes our strength (Nehemiah 8:10), others should hear about it from near and far as well.

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