Waynedale United Methodist Church
Tuesday, March 31, 2020
Making Disciples of Jesus for the Transformation of the World!

September 3, 2017 Sermon

“Full of Joy: God Washes Us!”
Luke 15:3 – 7, Nehemiah 8:9 – 11

Ted Jansen  September 3, 2017  Waynedale UMC


1.)        Let us sing the third verse of the song, “Joy to the World.”  

            “No more let sins and sorrows grow, Nor thorns infest the ground; He comes to make His blessings flow Far as the curse is found, Far as the curse is found, Far as, far as, the curse is found.”

            There is a definite negative tone about this verse as it mentions sins, sorrows and the curse.  Yet, as we sing about the negative, we also sing He, meaning God in Christ, comes to make His blessings flow.   Joy comes as we sin and feel sorrow for our lives.  The blessing of love in Christ comes and brings us joy in spite of our selves.  We see that truth communicated in our scripture.    


2.)        Jesus shared in Luke 15:3 – 7 a story about a Shepherd. I invite you to focus on the Shepherd as I read this scripture. 

            “Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?  And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’  I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.”

            What does the Shepherd do in this parable?  The Shepherd counts each sheep, the shepherd goes looking for the lost sheep, the Shepherd finds the lost sheep, the Shepherd holds the sheep with joy and brings it home and invites others to celebrate.  


3.)        I want to focus on Luke 15:5.  “When he finds it (the lost sheep) he joyfully puts it on his shoulders.” 

            The Shepherd has a heart of joy and cannot contain this joy to himself.  He has so much joy he wants others to know joy as well.  This sheep is surrounded by joy.    

            Do you think the sheep had joy while it was lost and wandering?  What do you think the sheep felt?  It might have been relieved but it also might feel embarrassed, guilty, weird, or troubled if it wanted to run away. 

The Shepherd surrounded this sheep with joy.  I believe that the sheep gained joy because it was surrounded by joy.  


4.)        Jesus continued by saying that just like sheep who are found by the Shepherd, and surrounded by joy so too does the joy of God surround sinners who come to God.  The joy of God and the angels is even greater than we can imagine.  A sinner is surrounded with joy when God, the Shepherd finds them.   

            When a person is lost, alone, far from God, and are found by the Lord what do they feel?  They might feel guilt, shame, embarrassment, troubled.   Guess what?  That person is surrounded with joy.  God’s blessings want to wash all the past from your heart and make you new, a new child full of joy.  What a gift to be surrounded by joy! 

            That is something personal and practical that we can do for one another, we can be joyful with our welcome and unconditional love.   “No more let sins and sorrows grow!”          


5.)        “The joy of the Lord your strength?”  Do you know where that scripture is found?  Do you know how this mention of joy came about?  Let’s discover together. 

We find this verse in Nehemiah 8:11 and the context is when Ezra, the priest is bringing the Law of the Lord to the people of Jerusalem.  The nation had been in exile and had recently returned to fortify the wall and city of Jerusalem.

Ezra reads the Law others are explaining what the Law means to the people.  As the people hear and understand they realize how far they are from God’s plan for their lives.  This causes the people to bow down and weep.  Nehemiah then gives this message.    (Nehemiah 8:9 – 11)

 Then Nehemiah the governor, Ezra the priest and teacher of the Law, and the Levites who were instructing the people said to them all, “This day is holy to the Lord your God. Do not mourn or weep.” For all the people had been weeping as they listened to the words of the Law.

 Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

 The Levites calmed all the people, saying, “Be still, for this is a holy day. Do not grieve.”

            This was a holy day, a sacred day, a day not for grieving or sadness.  They were to know joy!  Wow.  In that moment when they were aware of their sin, they were instructed to be joyful.  “No more let sins and sorrows grow!”  

            There were to be surrounded with joy, God’s joy, God’s love, God’s grace, God’s presence in this moment.  They were to continue to experience joy and make sure that all were surrounded with joy. 


6.)        As I thought about the Shepherd, and the angels, and Nehemiah I thought of a father.  In Luke 15:11 – 31 Jesus teaches about joy through another story.   

One son asked for his share of his father’s inheritance and when his father gave it to him he left home.  He went far away, like a sheep that wandered away from home and spent all his father’s money in wild living until he found himself without any food, money or friends. 

He got a job feeding pigs and was miserable.  He became desperate and wanted to go home.  He figured he could at least get a job on the family farm.  The son was ashamed, lost, guilty, and embarrassed.  He was not experiencing joy.    

As he walks back home we see something amazing.  We see the heart and face of the father who is filled with joy and love.  The father runs to the son who is off in the distance, far from home, and hugs and kisses his son.  He experiences so much joy that the father tells the others that they need to get ready for a party.  The amount of joy that the father has is great because the father is so extravagant.  The father wants the best meal, the best robe, a ring and music.  The father wants his son to be surrounded with joy.   

            Though the son was not experiencing joy he began to believe and know more joy because he was surrounded by joy.    

            “No more let sins and sorrows grow, He comes to make His blessings flow…”     


7.)        We are a congregation that “Joyfully Connects People to Christ and Community.”  One of the best ways we can do that is to surround others with joy, a joy that we experience when we have been found, forgiven and fulfilled. 

Let us remember that joy came by the heart of the Shepherd.  Joy came to the people of Israel by the heart of God through Nehemiah telling them to be full of joy.  Joy came when the lost son was held in the loving arms of the Father and went to a party with great food and music.


8.)        I had an experience on Friday when I was waiting for a train on the way to the Mustard Seed.  I was dropping off a bed frame.  I was getting frustrated at having to wait and thought about leaving the line and doing other things.  But I stayed in line and got to the Mustard Seed. 

            As I talked to a worker and told him I had a donation he said he would help me and when I told him I had a bed frame he asked me, “is this a queen frame?”  I said yes it is and he was thanking God.   He had just given out his last queen bed frame and had a family with a need.  In fact she pulled up and told me thanks as I was getting this frame out of our vehicle.  The man at Mustard seed kept thanking God. 

            I realized that that train had held me so that God could give me joy, joy from this man, and joy from this family with the donation of the bed frame.  I told Sue about it later because I could not hold this joy in. 

            I started our frustrated by the train and then realized that God wanted to give me joy.  


9.)        Do you need joy today?  God wants to wash us all over with joy!  You might feel lost, sad, grieving or have done things that you are not proud of.   That doesn’t matter.  The Lord loves you and wants to surround you with joy.    


10.)      We are going to celebrate Communion and I was thinking of Jesus and joy in that Upper Room.  I normally don’t think of Jesus and the disciples having joy in that Upper Room because of all that happened that night but when I read Luke 22:14 – 16 from The Message, I gain a different perspective.   

            “When it was time, he sat down, all the apostles with him, and said, “You’ve no idea how much I have looked forward to eating this Passover meal with you before I enter my time of suffering. It’s the last one I’ll eat until we all eat it together in the kingdom of God.”

            Jesus has been looking forward to this time.  He has joy as He thinks of how this meal with bread and wine will make a difference in the life of His disciples and disciples like us.  Jesus has been excited, joyful, about this time and in the experience as well sharing His love.    


11.)      Each time we take the bread we think of His body that was broken for us and it touches us.  Each time we take the juice or wine we think of His blood that was shed and we understand that our sins are forgiven.  This is moving to our spirit. 

            Let us remember that Jesus had a heart of joy and love for His disciples then and with each of us now. 

            May we come and allow the angels to rejoice in heaven as we turn from our sin and allow the joy filled love of God in Christ find us as we celebrate Communion. 

            “No more let sins and sorrows grow, Nor thorns infest the ground; He comes to make His blessings flow Far as the curse is found, Far as the curse is found, Far as, far as, the curse is found.”