Matthew R. Perry

Four Marks of a Joyful Spirit (Part II: Center the Joy)

In Devotional, Sermons on November 29, 2007 at 12:01 pm

blocmary.jpg(This sermon was preached on Sunday, November 25, 2007, at the Boone’s Creek Baptist Church, Lexington, KY. It’s based on Luke 1:39-56. You can listen to the sermon in its entirety by clicking here. You can read the previous post in this series here.)

Once you seize this joy found in Christ and His Word, you must center this joy. You must put this joy front and center and let nothing transplant this. Easier said than done, I know. It takes effort and sacrifice. Yet, some want all the benefits and the blessings that come with Christ without wanting to pay the price and sacrifice. My dad always told me, “There’s nothing worth having that’s not worth working for.” In centering this joy found in all that Christ is and all that He brings, we must make a decided effort in this task.

Look with me at Luke 1:39-40: “In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah, and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth.” Why did Mary move in haste? She heard not only about what God was going to do in and through her, but she also heard about what God had already done in Elizabeth! This was not a day trip. This “city of Judah” was around 80-100 miles away. Who knows if she even told her parents where she was going! But she had to go and see what God was doing. Remember, Elizabeth was six months along and showing. I’m sure she was a sight to behold. Though aged, I’m sure she was aglow as any new mother would be.

Now, let’s notice the reaction:

And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. [45] And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”

Listen to me carefully: the only way one can have their joy centered is through the work of the Holy Spirit. Some denominations believe that we should pursue the Holy Spirit because of all the gifts he gives and all the blessings he bestows — and soon we begin seeking the blessings more than we do the one who blesses. Yet, I must tell you that the purpose of the Holy Spirit is to point people to Jesus. And the Spirit is all over here.

Notice a few things. First, did you notice that Mary did not give any explanation as to her arrival? All the Scripture says was that she merely greeted Elizabeth. Yet, when Mary said this, the baby leaped in her womb! Don’t you dare tell me that’s not a viable life in there. Don’t tell me that there is nothing going on in that womb — or in any other womb for that matter. That child was receptive to the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:30) and could respond! And remember what that child was supposed to do — point to Christ! Already, he was fulfilling his purpose — joy in Christ!

Secondly, did you notice that Elizabeth was filled with (that’s right) the Holy Spirit and started speaking a prophecy? Luke 1:42-45 again says:

“Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! [43] And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? [44] For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. [45] And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”

I know when Theophilus heard this, he likely marveled. “You mean God could speak and use a woman in this way as well?” Don’t miss that! Don’t just call this women’s intuition — this is the Spirit of God speaking through this blessed woman! The Spirit revealed that Mary and her Child were blessed — and that she was the mother of this human Jesus coming into the world. And she recognized that God had strengthened Mary for obedience in believing what the world would say was absolutely preposterous.

Do our situations, circumstances, or even our friends and family take center stage when we consider God’s will for our lives? Do customs and traditions in our culture — even in our churches — take precedence over the path God has for us?

Tomorrow, we shall look at how we secure the joy in the midst of those who try to steal our joy in Jesus.

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