The following is an automatically generated transcript with minor editing from the audio of a message I preached at Bergen Missionary Church.

Lord, we are humbled by your invitation to participate in, in the work that you’re doing here on Earth, saving, rescuing. inviting people, people who don’t deserve your love people who don’t deserve your, your presence. And yet you invite and you use us, the church. To do that. As I share from your written word, your spoken and living Word, I just asked for your spirit to teach our hearts, and that you would reveal to us what we need to learn what we need to grow in, and how we need to embrace you in new ways, and maybe even in old ways revealed in new ways. And so we asked all this through Christ, amen.

We’re in John 16. So you can turn there if you have a Bible. I’ve been teaching Sunday school when I’m not preaching. So I wasn’t here for the last two Sundays when Rob is preaching. But I listened to the recording from last Sunday. And, so I got an idea of kind of where we’re at and where we’re going. And if you missed any of the the services, most most of the messages are on our website, so you can listen to them there. I’m depending on that service more now that I’m missing some of these sermons.

There’s a very timely release of a book this week, actually on Friday. So this week, I’ve been thinking about this sermon, kind of what am I going to what I’m going to talk about what I’m going to bring out of this passage, where we’re going to be starting at verse 16 and work our way right through to the end of chapter 16. I thought, there’s just so much here, it’s one conversation, it really is about one thing, or one big picture. But there are lots of little things that a preacher could pull out. And I looked at what different people preached on from this passage. And there are actually lots of different lots of different individual items that could be pulled out. But there’s been a bit of a theme in I don’t know if it’s in my life, or maybe even in the lives of some of you talking to me and conversations I’ve been having. And the theme is around the concept of joy. And so and it’s been on my heart and on my mind. And so I wanted to, to bring that out of this passage, even though there’s much more to be to be said from this. So if I miss something, and you’d like, more kind of to take out of this passage, trust me, I got more, so you can talk to me if you want to. There’s like three or four sermons that I could could do for this passage, but I’m gonna I’m gonna focus on the, the topic of joy from this passage.

This book that was released this week on Friday, it’s called the joy project. And I thought that was pretty cool. It’s written by Tony Reinke. And he’s, he’s a guy from Desiring God, John Piper’s ministry. And so I got, I get their email updates, and they got this email saying, there’s this book, and they give all their books away for free, digitally. So I downloaded it, and I started reading it and immediately it’s started saying things that I wanted to say this morning, but just so much better. So I’m going to read as an introduction, rather than trying to come up with my own clever kind of introduction. I’m going to read a paragraph from his introduction, I think we’ll all relate in some way or another. So he says,

We conclude that the barriers to abiding joy are the unhealthy choices that clog our lives. The root problem, we think, is that we’re stuck in a rut of predictability and laziness. So we must unstick ourselves. We turn to self improvement. We make new resolutions we scour the internet for lists blogs that promise lasting change with easy effort. We buy productivity apps for our phones, we resolve to become more chill parents, better friend winners and more purposeful people influencers. We need to sit less and walk more we need to sleep more and eat less we need to get to the gym a few times a week to lose fat and build muscle. We need to purge fast food drop the carbs and fork down more vegetables. We drink more water, less coffee, less soda. We buy organic, Fairtrade RB gh free, gluten free free range. We pay off credit card debt and build our savings. We clip coupons. We invest money in an New retirement plan, we set aside some funds for future vacation, who cleaned out the garbage, we purge your closet to junk, we buy apps to track our progress and planners to micromanage our days, we commit to staying on top of our emails, checking our phones, less often watching less television, visiting the library more, and reading our neglected stacks of books.

Tony Reinke, The Joy Project

That’s what I want to talk about this morning. And, you know, particularly this last, the last couple items are really good things. For me, I love going to the library, I love reading books. And and I tend to resolve to do more of those sorts of things that we see as healthy as as productive as beneficial. And so none of these things I listed are really bad things, actually, all of them are good things all of them are things we should probably think about doing and, and work into our lives. But what I want to talk about this morning is how these things do not bring us lasting joy. None of them do. None of them will give us the joy that we need, the joy that will carry us through troubled times. So if you want a title for this sermon, I like titles, this is the title, we can use the promise of joy in a troubled world the promise of joy in a troubled world. I’m going to read the passage in a bit. But before we proceed, I just want to make sure we have the same kind of grasp of the word joy, what joy means. So I want to show you some pictures. And instead of me trying to work the technology allows Naomi to pull up these pictures here. So there’s one you can move on to the next one. And another one. So we’re talking about joy here. And there’s one more Okay, there we go. You can leave it on that one.

Okay, so we’re talking about joy. What were these pictures of? Buoys. Yeah, buoys, okay. That’s the image I want you to have in your head. There’s a definition that I want to use for joy. And it’s a common I think it’s a common definition among kind of Christian thinking. But I used particularly some wording that Tim Keller used in one of his sermons. So if you want a further explanation on this, I’ve got the I’ve got the sermon, I can send it to you. But what he says this is his exact wording. Joy is the buoyancy that results from delighting in the unchanging privileges we have in God. Joy is the buoyancy that results from delighting and the unchanging privileges we have in God. So joy comes from delighting in the faithfulness of God. It comes from treasuring enjoying holding, dear, the faithfulness of God.

So that’s why I wanted to show you these pictures, because boys when they are on the water, they stay put. They don’t go under, they don’t move side to side. Doesn’t matter what kind of water you have, what kind of weather you have, they stay put, and they are absolutely critical. I was doing some reading about what kind of boys exist out there. And there are lots. There are all kinds of, you know, for communication for predicting when you know, large waves will come in for guiding ships. And yeah, just all kinds of things. I’m sure you can think of some others, but they’re pretty important. And the most important thing is they need to stay put, they need to stay exactly where they’re anchored. And so the way I want us to think about joy is that we have an anchor, and we have a buoyancy, because we delight in the faithfulness of God. So the joy we experience in Christ keeps us afloat, even when storms rage, and the waters move. And animals climb on top. No, that doesn’t. That doesn’t translate. Yeah, and this and it’s because God is at the same time completely powerful, and completely faithful. So we have a God who anchors us and who keeps us in place.

But here’s the thing, there’s much in this world that seeks to rob us of joy. Although we can stay afloat, because we delight in God because He is our anchor. The storms still come and they’re not pleasant, and they seek to sink us and we think to ourselves, if only we never had to worry about health or if we never had to worry about money, or if we never had distractions from God, you know, like things that pull us away from him. If only we were smarter, then we would be happy. And if only there were no storms, then we would truly be happy. And that’s kind of true. sickness, poverty, distractions, shortfalls, of all sorts are joy stealers they seek to rob us of joy. And we can start the day off feeling great, you know, bright, beautiful morning, we’re looking forward to the day and then one negative word, one negative text or email or phone call from a friend, or from a co worker or a family member, can cause us to feel as though we’re about to sink. That’s the reality. That’s the life we live is that there are so many things that seek to rob us of our joy. So this morning, I hope that we’ll be reminded of the joy that’s available through Christ.

Let me read this, and then unpack the passage. So John 16:16-33.

“A little while, and you will see me no longer; and again a little while, and you will see me.” So some of his disciples said to one another, “What is this that he says to us, ‘A little while, and you will not see me, and again a little while, and you will see me’; and, ‘because I am going to the Father’?” So they were saying, “What does he mean by ‘a little while’? We do not know what he is talking about.” Jesus knew that they wanted to ask him, so he said to them, “Is this what you are asking yourselves, what I meant by saying, ‘A little while and you will not see me, and again a little while and you will see me’? Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.

“I have said these things to you in figures of speech. The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures of speech but will tell you plainly about the Father. In that day you will ask in my name, and I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf; for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. I came from the Father and have come into the world, and now I am leaving the world and going to the Father.”

His disciples said, “Ah, now you are speaking plainly and not using figurative speech! Now we know that you know all things and do not need anyone to question you; this is why we believe that you came from God.” Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe? Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me. I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

John 16:16-33

To me, that is an incredibly hopeful passage. And I hope that it is for you as well. Jesus make several promises in this. In this passage, I think I count about 10 summer promises about the real stuff, the real trials and difficulties that will happen to his followers. And more promises are made about the persevering joy that his followers who trust Him will experience.

So the first observation you you might make, as you begin to read this passage is that the disciples are confused. And they have good reason to be confused because Jesus is talking a little bit kind of cryptically, there’s some language he’s using that doesn’t really make sense. He says a little while you will see me no longer and again a little while and you’ll see me. And so before we get to the promises, what I want to focus on, I just briefly want to explain this or address this confusion. Keep in mind Jesus is still talking about the nature of his relationship with the disciples, his followers, now are in this setting that we’re reading about, and also after he leaves them. So he’s talking about the nature of his relationship with them. He’s talked about them being his friends, he’s talked about the Holy Spirit. He’s talked about how he’s going to be with them for all time and things like And they basically are being reminded that they can trust him.

Last Sunday, Rob spoke about the role of the spirit in our relationship with Jesus, the Holy Spirit works in us to shape to shape us and to point us to Jesus. He is the presence of God living, helping us to live out a life of following Jesus. And so we’re in that context, we’re still in that same conversation. Jesus is still talking about that relationship. Jesus is talking about the coming days when he’ll be killed. And after being dead for three days, he will raise himself up from the dead. And we know that and it’s not really, I mean, we’ve heard that since we were children, if you grew up in the church, it’s just a common understanding, you know, Jesus, yeah, he died. But he rose again. So it’s, we get to these passages. And I think we forget, this is completely absurd to the disciples, like the Messiah supposed to come and be the ruler, like he’s supposed to come and take, take over control of Israel and lead them into victory. That’s what they’re thinking we have the whole picture. But the disciples had a much more difficult time knowing what Jesus was talking about. So they asked him, What do you mean? Like in a little while you’re going to go away? We won’t see you. And then again, in a little while, we’ll see you. What are you talking about? But notice, Jesus doesn’t actually answer their question.

There’s nothing there that says, Well, what I mean is that I’m going to die tomorrow. And then three days later, I’m going to be raised to life. He doesn’t talk about that, because that’s not actually really helpful. In fact, if he were to tell them that specifically, right, in that moment, they probably would have tried to protect him and rescue him and run away and whatever, because they’re just like us. They’re, I mean, you know, this terrifying concept to think about that. Jesus didn’t, doesn’t tell them what’s going to happen. He tells them how to respond when it does. And that’s the most helpful thing. He doesn’t tell them what is going to happen. He tells them how to respond when it does. Jesus says, When I go away, because I’m going to go away, you’re going to be filled with grief, and you’re going to be filled with anguish. Just like when a woman enters in to the process of childbirth.

See, Jesus is about to die, and it will be devastating to the disciples, they have depended on him. They have followed him for a few years, and they’ve seen him do amazing things. And they know he has the power to overcome death. And so for them, it’s gonna be devastating to see him actually die, to see him actually, breathe is last. But he says, you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. See, just as a woman forgets the anguish of childbirth just as soon as the baby is born. So you will rejoice when you see me again. And that joy you experience will be lasting. So Jesus makes some promises, he explains to them, there’s going to be some pain, there’s going to be some anguish. But don’t be afraid. Don’t worry, I’m going to come back. And I’m going to make everything right. So let’s look at the statements that Jesus makes in this passage, which we can take as promises everything Jesus makes his word is it stands as it is. Every word, he speaks his truth so we can trust him for these promises. So the first are four promises made for those who are followers of him actually, all these promises are for those who are followers of him. So if you are not, if you don’t identify yourself as a follower of Jesus, these promises are not for you. All right. But for those who do trust Jesus, these promises are for you. And, chances are you’ve experienced them already in some way or another. For promises about the trials of Jesus follower, you will weep and lament, you will be sorrowful, you will be scattered and will leave me alone. In the world you will have tribulation.

So these are promises about the trouble that we will have because we identify ourselves as followers of Jesus just in just by that nature, the nature of our identity with Jesus, we’re going to experience some trouble, we’re going to have some sorrow, we’re going to have some pain. It has been said that when a person begins to follow Jesus, they become at the same time, a happier person and a more sorrowful person at the same Time, we, when we start following Jesus, we experience more joy and more happiness. But at the same time, more sorrow and more pain. There’s happiness because of the hope we have the promise of eternal life and fellowship with God. But there’s sadness because the world around us doesn’t see what we see.

There’s trouble because as C.S. Lewis puts it, we’re being sent by the great king into enemy occupied territory. We’re sent to help those who are being held captive by the enemy, just as we were. But both the enemy and many of the captives that we encounter, don’t want our help. The enemy hates us and the captives don’t believe us. We have trouble because although our souls are marked by the seal of Christ, saved for all eternity, our bodies are fading away. And our minds fail us. As we’re still in the process of being renewed by the Spirit. We experience the consequences of sin, both ours and the sins of others. We have trouble because we have moments of such darkness, darkness caused by both pain and by success. Our vision is darkened because of the pain we experience, and the natural tendency to depend on our natural kind of unreliable sources of comfort. And our vision is darkened by by seeking after the success and riches that we’ve had a little taste of, and we want more of it. We’re darkened by those things. We rely on our emotions we rely on money, possessions, even, we rely on relationships with others, things that are good, but we depend on them, like I said, for our joy. And we turn from Jesus, like the disciples and run home to safety. Our vision is darkened by the lie that Jesus can’t save us. Or the lie that we don’t need saving.

Jesus promised that those who identifies his followers will have trouble. His followers have always experienced trouble all throughout history. Trouble caused by persecution or by riches and success. We are victims of the scenes, both of ourselves and others. That’s really depressing. That’s a really that’s, but we identify with it right? We all experienced trouble. But I want to talk about the promises of hope. Your sorrow will turn into joy. Your hearts will rejoice. No one will take your joy from you. Whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. in me, you will have peace. And I have overcome the world. We can truly rejoice because Jesus has given us what no other person thing experience can give us. I’ve said this before last month, when I was preaching on fear, I said that Jesus did not come to give us a new way to God, people have been trying to get to God, since the beginning of time. Jesus didn’t come to give us a new way to get to God, he came to bring God to us. Because we cannot do it. History has shown that we have failed over and over and over again, to get to God. And so God has given us a way for him to come to us for his presence to dwell within us. Jesus came to bring the most powerful and the most faithful and loving person into our lives.

And this is a gift that separates us from all other people in the world. I’ve talked to upset a few times already. That the the very essence and the unique. The only truly unique thing about the church is the presence of God. All other things that the church does can be mimicked by human effort. But no one can mimic the presence of God. No one can fake it. It’s a gift that sets us apart. And the thing is, we still experienced pain and sickness we heard some some prayer requests. There’s just so much sorrow. And if we all shared if we all took the time and shared things that are going on in our lives, we would have a lot of things to pray for. We’d have a lot of sorrow and a lot of grief. So in that way, we’re no different than anyone else. We experienced the same things everyone else experiences, but just like those buoys, we have Have an anchor. And we have buoyancy, we have a joy, a hope that keeps us level that keeps us in the right place. And that is the presence of God, the presence of the one who is completely powerful and completely faithful.

Jesus said in verse 23, to 25, I just want to address these verses in particular, because they often raise questions. Verse 23, to 25, talks about. I’ll just read it, it says, In that day, you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Until now you’ve asked nothing in my name. Ask and you will receive that your joy may be full. Jesus is saying that we can now ask things of the Father directly. That was never the case, before you had to go through a priest. In pre-Jesus, Israel had to go through priests to ask things of God. We have complete access to the Father. And when we are following Jesus, when He is our trajectory, when he is in front of us, and we are on his path, everything we asked for, from the Father will be given, because our desire is for what Jesus is leading us in. And what whenever our desires line up with Jesus, will we ask for things from the Father and he’ll give them to us? We ask for joy and he’ll give us joy.

And people ask, Well, what if I asked for a new house? What I asked for a new car? Come on. We know the difference. We know if the spirits in us, we know what God wants to give us we really do. I believe I firmly believe that the Holy Spirit leads us in prayer. And when we’re when we’re praying those silly prayers, we know that we know the difference. We know that these are not things that ultimately will give us joy. So Jesus said, we can ask things of the Father. And because he is with us the promise that he made to the disciples that that he will return he will be with them again. And no one will be able to steal that joy.

That is the reality we now live in. For the disciples, they had to wait. But that’s the reality we now live in. We live in the presence of Jesus through the Holy Spirit. And so we can experience the joy of Christ. And no one can steal our joy, because joy with the joy of of God through Christ was not given by human effort. Right? None of us, like I said, we cannot get to God is not by human effort we get to God. It’s by the effort of Jesus Christ, that we have the presence of God. And because it’s by his power, and his authority and his infinite defeat of the enemy. No one can steal our joy because of that, because no human effort gave it to us. So no human effort can take it away. We have complete access to God and his power and his joy. But all of us do experience times of grief. life throws all kinds of storms, in our path that are unpleasant, and emotionally exhausting. When our joy is dependent on how well things are going in life, we have no hope. In times of grief, we have moments of feeling good, because things are going well.

But those won’t last. We all know that from experience. They won’t last but deep down inside, for those who follow Jesus and trust him. Even though the storms are raging and it is unpleasant. There’s a buoyancy there we stay put, where God can use this and share in his joy with others. In the storms that of life that come at us we can have a firm confidence that it’s temporary. It’s not going to last forever. Even if we go through a long period of of storms and grief. It’s temporary. His life is temporary. So my challenge for all of us this morning is to be reminded often of the promises and the faithfulness and the power and the love of God, to be reminded often have that.

Ask the father daily for his joy to be given through Christ. I want to read a song There are so many Psalms I was trying to find one that spoke well to this, this topic, and I could choose from lots but I chose Psalm 16. And the Psalms are filled with calls to joy. And the Psalms are filled with prayers, for joy. And, and if you’re ever in a time when you just feel like the joy of that God promises is so far out of reach. Go to the Psalms, choose one, you’ll probably find something on joy. But let me read Psalm 16. And if you’ve never received this gift from God, let this be your prayer as I read.

Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge.
I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord;
    I have no good apart from you.”

As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones,
    in whom is all my delight.

The sorrows of those who run after another god shall multiply;
    their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out
    or take their names on my lips.

The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup;
    you hold my lot.
The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
    indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.

I bless the Lord who gives me counsel;
    in the night also my heart instructs me.
I have set the Lord always before me;
    because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.

Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices;
    my flesh also dwells secure.
For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol,
    or let your holy one see corruption.

You make known to me the path of life;
    in your presence there is fullness of joy;
    at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Psalm 16

Let’s pray. Would you stand with me as I pray.

Father, we receive this word as truth as promises that you’ve given to us through Jesus Christ, the one who is defeated death and defeated sin. And who is able to bring you to us to fill us with your presence. And we trust that that is true. Lord, if there’s anyone here who has not trusted in you and your promises, I just asked that you would speak to them now. Invite them. Give them courage, and humility to come before you and ask you to save them.

I pray that for those of us who have trusted you for a long time, that we would be reminded of the joy that’s available to us that are the joy that we have access to would keep us in the place that you need us to be the place that you’ve called us to be. No matter what storms come our way we can stay afloat, and we can stay steady. Because of your faithfulness. Help us to delight in the promises that you have made.

Remind us to to enter into the stories and the accounts of your faithfulness, to trust that you will continue to be faithful just as you always have been. And Lord as we enter into a time of fellowship and enjoying the presence of your people together. Be with us, be among us. Bless us with your presence. And we also ask that you would bless the meeting that follows after that we would enjoy hearing updates and that you would continue to work through this church through this through the ministries of this. This family we call Bergen church. We pray all this through Christ, amen.


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