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Jack Graham - The Joy That Never Ends

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    Jack Graham - The Joy That Never Ends

Good morning, everyone! Happy Easter. I know as you entered the room today many greeted you with the words Happy Easter. And it is that happy Easter, that joyous day that we celebrate today that is my subject from the Gospel of John chapter 15, verse 11; the words of Jesus when He said: "These words have I spoken unto you, that my joy will remain in you, and that your joy will be complete". We find everything we need in life in an empty tomb. Jesus came out of the grave, and because Christ lives, we live. Not only life forever, but fully now, alive in Christ. It's the empty tomb that changes everything. And because the tomb is empty, we find everything that we need in life.

This is the day of days. It's the day that we celebrate. We join millions of Christians from generation to generation to generation to generation, and generations beyond that, with this testimony, that Christ is alive, that Jesus lives! It is the day of days. It is the foundation of our faith, this empty tomb; this glorious resurrection! The foundation of our faith. It is the nexus of life. It is the core of the Christian faith; it is the day of all days. This is why we say, "This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it" every single day. Because we know this Easter joy is an endless joy. And that's what we're going to talk about today.

There's some evidence that this is the Day. That on April 9, AD (approximately) 30 Jesus came out of the grave! But whatever the date, we know it happened, and we believe that it happened according to the Scriptures. And this is the good news of Jesus: that Christ died and was buried, and on the third day He came out of the grave. He arose, victoriously, physically, visibly Jesus came out of the grave. And because Christ came out of the grave and the tomb is empty, we now have, not a hopeless end, but an endless hope in the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus gives us outrageous, infectious, joy! It ought to be conspicuous, it ought to be continual, it ought to be constant in our lives, contagious, conspicuous, continual, outrageous, infectious joy! True happiness!

Is this the life that you're living? We live in a mad, mad world. We also live in a sad, sad world. And so many are sad and depressed. And the Lord prompted me on this day,to speak of this joy, this celebration. Have you allowed the malaise and the melancholy, the sadness and even the hostility and the anger and the cynicism and the skepticism to seep into your soul in these days? Or are you living in this joy that Jesus gives? In this resurrection joy, this joy that comes from the Lord, we have life with a capital L. We have an abundant life to live and we have a love that's worth sharing. Life is a journey, and our journey is with Jesus and the journey leads home. And who can mind the journey if the journey leads home, and we're walking with Jesus, because Jesus is our Savior.

The Apostle Paul came near to the end of his ministry and the mission that he had on earth and he said, "I don't care about my life". This is in Acts chapter 27. "I really don't count my life as dear to myself". He said, "The only thing that matters to me, that I would finish my course with joy". Finishing with joy! Finishing with a flourish, that's my prayer! As I've been trekking with the Lord and serving Christ all these years and I trust, if Christ tarries, many more years, but my goal is to finish with joy and to finish the ministry and the calling of God for every life with joy is His calling upon us. So how do we do this? How do we have this kind of joy? Again, what did Jesus say? He said, "My joy I give to you".

Well, clearly Jesus was a man of joy. It's in the upper room when Jesus gives us these words, and it's dark and foreboding. Judas the betrayer, has left the room to go about his dastardly deeds of betraying the Lord. The disciples are fearful. It's dark, not only physically dark in that upper room that night before Jesus died, but there is this foreboding. The shadows, the room was dark. And yet Jesus is celebrating the Last Supper, the last Passover which translates to the Lord's Supper. He is celebrating this feast of the Jews, the Passover and He's breaking bread, He's drinking the cup and He's enjoying the company, dinner with His disciples for the last time. So even in the midst of this grievous trial, Jesus is spreading joy. He's flashing joy around the room.

Jesus, it might surprise you to know, though He was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, He bore not only our sins at the cross, but our sorrows and our sufferings; He took all of that to the cross, but Jesus, the man of sorrows was also a man of joy. A joyous Jesus! And some of you think of religious Jesus, someone who walked right out of a stain-glass window; the pale, sanctimonious, somber Jesus. But when I read my Bible and see through the lens of scripture, I see a joyous Jesus. I see a Jesus who loved people and welcomed people into His presence. And everyone who met Him was compelled by the presence of His magnetic personality, by charismatic, vibrant presence. To the degree that little children loved Jesus. He said, "Let the little children come to Me".

Women adored and worshiped the Lord Jesus. Grown men in the middle of their careers dropped their nets, left everything behind for the compelling call to follow Jesus. Common people liked Jesus. They liked Him a lot. Crowds multiplied and people gathered wherever He went. Great crowds. He welcomed everyone. Scholars were taken back by Jesus even when He was just a boy in the temple, 12-years-of-age scholars were amazed at this young man, and now Jesus the Man of joy is confounding them again. And then sinners loved Jesus. When Matthew, a tax collector, was converted he had a big party and he invited all of his friends. They even called Jesus, His enemies called Jesus a winebibber and a glutton. He was not! But because He hung around sinful people, and because sinful people loved Jesus and welcomed Him, He was the life of the party.

In fact, His first miracle, the first miracle of Jesus was at a wedding. Jesus was welcomed at the wedding and He entered into all the joys and happiness of that first century couple and blessed their lives with His presence. And that's where he transformed water into wine. That was simply a miracle of refreshment. It was a miracle of joy! It's the joy that Jesus gives. Everywhere Jesus went joy followed. Everywhere He went there was true happiness. When the lame began to walk, when the blind began to see, when the deaf began to hear, there was incredible joy. The night of His birth, let's just even go back to that, the angels sang "good tidings of" what? The birth of Jesus was a great celebration in of all heaven. Wherever He went, when He talked, the magnificent stories, often filled with humor. Yes, Jesus told jokes! Did you know that?

When you read the story of Jesus and the stories that He told. And vHe would say things like a camel passing through the eye of a needle. Now that may not sound funny to you but the first century crowd who saw the impossibility of a camel going through the eye of a needle, this was a knee-slapping joke, if you will. And His stories are filled with warmth and wisdom, and winsomeness. And people enjoyed hearing Him talk. You would have liked being around Jesus! A friend! In fact, in the same upper room, same chapter 15 of John, Jesus looked at His disciples and said, "I call you My friends". It's the joy of the resurrection morning when the women saw that the tomb was empty, they went running, the Bible says, with joy. Can you imagine? And then when they got to the disciples and gave the report and they ended up meeting the risen Christ, these disciples who had been so sad, so despondent. They see Jesus and the Bible puts it this way: "When they saw Jesus, they were glad".

Now that sounds like the greatest understatement of all times, doesn't it? I mean, just glad? Is that it? Well, the word gladness is a great word. It means to rejoice; it means to celebrate. I mean they were really, really, really, really glad when they saw Jesus, and they celebrated. And this is why we celebrate. This is why we sing. Even on the night that He was betrayed before Gethsemane, the pouring out, sweating drops of blood in the garden on His way to the cross, the Scripture says, "When they said goodbye, the last supper, they sang a hymn and went out into the night".

Can you imagine? A singing Savior. Joyous Jesus! Laughing at the grave, in effect because He knew the end of the story yet to come. And now so do we. We do know the end of the story, don't we? And the end of the story is that Christ lives, and we will live also. He is the resurrection and the life. Therefore, rejoice. So that is the source of our joy. Jesus is the source of our Easter joy, our endless joy. But there's another thing that I want you to see in that is that Jesus, He is the strength, He is the sustainer, He is the one who gives us steadfast joy. Not only the source of Easter joy, but because Christ lives, we can speak of the seasons of Easter joy. And I use the word seasons because our Savior who is the Christ for all seasons and His joy is for every season and every stage and every age of life. It's the joy of a child, but it's also the happiness and joy that older man or older woman can experience.

Not a life filled with regrets and remorse looking back, but a life filled with joy looking forward in Christ. Bejamin Disraeli was a well-known statesman; he was given the applause of men; he had great power in England. But it was Disraeli who once said, "Youth - a mistake, manhood - a struggle, old age - a regret" Youth: a mistake, manhood: a struggle, old age: a regret. That's no way to live. In Jesus whether it is in the flower of life and youthfulness of our days, those days of midlife of raising a family; those old age - grandchildren, looking on to the other side. There is a joy that is sustainable! Why? Because our joy is not in our circumstances. It's not in whether we have a good day or a bad day. It's not whether we're sick or whether we're well. It's not as to whether we're wealthy or whether we are poor. Our joy, our true happiness is all that we have in Jesus. He gives us this joy.

No wonder the Apostle Paul said, "Rejoice in the Lord always; and again, I say rejoice". He said it twice; he doubles-down on it. "Rejoice in the Lord always; again, I say rejoice". He would later say "Rejoice evermore"! That's Easter joy; that's endless joy. Because our joy is not in external things but internal things and eternal things; supernal things; things that come from heaven. It was the Apostle Peter who said in times of fiery trial for Christians, and in His own life, he said, "We rejoice greatly", and then he said, "with joy unspeakable and full of glory". Joy that was inexpressible and yet, uncontainable. Joy that is without words. Have you ever felt such joy that you were speechless? Just overwhelmed with outrageous joy? That's what we have in Christ. It doesn't mean we don't have tough times and tribulations.

But James, the half-brother of our Lord... One of the great evidences of the resurrection is that Jesus' own brother, half-brother believed in Christ, having been an unbeliever until after the resurrection when Jesus and James met up. But it was James who would later write, "Count it all joy when you fall into various trials", whether it is a small irritation or a great tribulation, "Count it all joy". Because this tribulation will work character and ultimately hope in your life. "Count it all joy". So this is a time to celebrate. It's also a time to calibrate our joy in Jesus. You know, don't you, that we choose joy. We make a choice to rejoice every single day. You also know that happiness is healthy, "for a merry heart does good like a medicine". It's medicine for the soul, for a troubled heart, for a troubled mind. And it is this joy that is our strength.

Nehemiah in building the walls of Jerusalem, faced many challenges and there was so much to overcome, and yet, he said, in Nehemiah chapter 8 and verse 10: "The joy of the Lord is my strength". That's why the devil wants to steal your joy. Because if he can steal your joy, he can steal your strength. Don't let anything, anyone rob you of your joy in Jesus! Jesus said, "My joy I give to you". He said contain it and then live it out. It's the length of our lives but it's the depth of our lives that we have in the resurrection. Do you have this joy in Jesus? Psalm 16 and verse 11 says, "You will show me the path of life: in your presence is fullness of joy; at your right-hand pleasures forevermore".

Look, the pleasures and the treasures of this world may bring lasting, fleeting entertainment or joy or happiness but it doesn't last. It just doesn't last. That's why Jesus said, "What a person gains the whole world and losses their own soul". It's the joy of Jesus that lasts. This Jesus so full of Himself. The joy of God. Our God is a happy God. In fact, there's a great old confession of faith called the Westminster Confession of Faith that the church repeated for many, many years that said: "What is the purpose of man? The chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever". Psalm 37:4: "Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart". Delight yourself in Him and all your desires, your true needs in life will be met. And all this joy is because of the resurrection. Jesus was joyous and is a joyous Savior.

Hebrews chapter 1 quotes the Messiah when our Lord said, "You have anointed me with the oil of gladness beyond my companions". That doesn't sound like a pale, sanctimonious recluse. He said, You have anointed me, the Spirit of God is upon me with the oil of gladness. And that word gladness there could be translated the oil of leaping. Like that man who was saved at the gate beautiful who went away leaping and dancing and praising God. That's the joy of Jesus. But here we have the oil of gladness Jesus said. This is the leaping Lord; this is jumping Jesus. "You've anointed me with the oil of gladness, more than all of my companions". This is the Jesus that I'm praying that you will know and follow all the days of your life.

Now you know it's possible to lose your joy. It is. You can't lose your salvation if you are truly saved, but you can lose the joy of your salvation. Peter who was a saved man, a believer, he denied the Lord. The Bible says he went out in grief and he wept bitterly. He was a conflicted man; he was a broken man because of his sin. Sin will separate us from fellowship with God and make you miserable in life. It was David the great king, a man after God's own heart who sinned against God and when he repented, what did he pray? He said, "Lord, restore unto me the joy of my salvation". You can be a miserable Christian. You can be an unhappy Christian if you're living with unrepented of, unconfessed sin in your life. Sin will rob you of your joy. But the good news is that God loves you and He died for your sins and you can restore that fellowship and with the restoration.

And some of you, this needs to happen in your life today. You need to pray like David, "Lord, restore to me the joy of my salvation". When you do the joy will come back. It's the joy of knowing that your sins are forgiven, isn't it? Jesus said,"Rejoice that your names are written down in heaven". Rejoice that your sins are forgiven. It's like the great old song, "O Happy Day, happy day, when Jesus washed my sins away. He taught me how to watch and pray and live rejoicing every day. Oh happy day, happy day, when Jesus washed my sins away". This is all because the tomb is empty. This is Easter joy, therefore, it is endless joy. And here's one final point I want to make this morning and that is this Easter joy which is endless joy, not only the source of it. My joy, Jesus said, I give to you, not only the course of it, the flow of it, the freshness of it every day, just the sufficiency of it in our lives, but the secret of it.

What did He say? In 15:11 of John, He said, "I've spoken these things to you all these things", what things? All said in His life and here specifically in the upper room, all these promises. He said, I've given you the Holy Spirit. You have God's Spirit and the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy and peace. He said, I've spoken these things to you. God's Word. When I listen to the Lord, when I allow Him to speak to me through His word, the Scriptures bring rejoicing to the heart. Celebration to the life. It is the Word of God. "These things I have spoken to you that my joy would remain in you and that your joy would be full".

This is the fullness of joy. This is the joy that is running over. This is the joy we have as Christians. It's the joy that we should have as a church. Those early believers and followers of Jesus, they were spilled out and overflowing into the community with the power of the resurrection, with the joy of Jesus on their lips, they're winsome witness. It says in Acts 2 which we have photo, if you will, of the church in action. And it says they ate their meat with gladness and they went everywhere preaching the Gospel. This message is a message of joy. And God has called us to have a contagious, winsome witness for the Gospel.

And when we have this joy in our hearts, people want to know what is it about you? Why do you stand out? Why do you have joy even when you're in tears, even when there's great loss? Because you can say with Jesus in John 16, the later chapter, "He turns sorrow into joy"! "There is sorrow that endures for the night, but joy comes in the morning". And we know that we have joy because heaven is our home. We live with a happy hope; it is the blessed hope that Christ is coming again. And there's going to be such joy when we rise to meet Him. We will be in His presence and in heaven it will be pure joy forever and ever and ever. This endless, eternal joy that we have in Christ! And so you might even say it's Easter every day because "Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever".

Do you know this joy? Do you know this Jesus? I'm going to ask that you bow your heads with me in prayer. Every head bowed and every eye closed. And we're going to pray. And I'm going to invite you as we always do, to know and follow Jesus. Because the fact is that many do not know Christ. You don't have a personal relationship with Jesus. You don't know Him as a Friend and Brother, you don't Him as Savior and Lord of your life. But today's the day. It's a day marked on God's calendar with your name on it. And I'm going to invite you where you are right now to join me in a prayer. Pray in your heart, out loud if you choose, this prayer:

Lord Jesus, I invite You to come into my life. I believe You died on the cross for my sins, that You are alive.

The Bible says that "If we confess with our mouth the Lord Jesus, believe in our hearts that God has raised Him from the dead, we will be saved". And then it says, "Whoever calls upon the name of the Lord Jesus will be saved". So call on His name. Just pray and say:

Lord Jesus, come into my life.

The living Lord stands at the door of your heart and knocks. He said, "If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in". I will come into your empty life and we're going to have fellowship. We'll sit down and we'll enjoy a meal together and life together. So just pray:

Lord Jesus, come into my life. Thank you for my salvation.

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