September 9 2018 Pastor Jacqueline Hines Rally Day –8 30 service and 10 45 a.m. service begin - Mark 7.24-37, * Proverbs 22.1-2, 8-9, 22-23 Perfect Love: Choose Joy
It is a very good thing that we have access to God’s heavenly joy in this world where we have much sorrow. Last week, we looked at the love song of Solomon and we talked about the joy of the Lord being our strength as we join together to build great good for God. [slide # 1 joy]
This week we look at the book of Proverbs also said to be written by Solomon, who is often called the wisest man in the world. Verse 8 tells us - Whoever sows injustice will reap calamity, and the rod of anger will fail. [slide # 2 verse 8 ]
Every day the news media fills our brains with examples of anger gone awry. Road rage, shootings, hate crimes, and brutal assaults. It is wonderful to have God’s good news that lifts our spirits. [slide # 3 good news] Good news encourages and inspires us no matter what. Good news creates an oasis in our desert moments. [slide # 4 oasis] So our weekly worship with joyful songs and laughter and amazing testimonies lighten our load. The giggles of children in the nursery [slide # 5 baby laughing] and Junior Church make us smile and we need that. [slide # 6children laughing] Our monthly brunches and regular committee and building committee meetings and youth group getting ready to start up again are all food for our soul and allow us to use the many God-given gifts and talents. We have many sources of joy.
We need the joy of the Lord to overcome our sadness and sorrow. I hate the thought of where we would be without the Lord on our side, providing joy. Joy distracts us from demons and centers us in Christ. Joy relaxes us and repairs the rough places that run riot in our lives. [slide # 7 choose joy]
I heard a doctor describe the human joint as the smoothest surface that any engineer has seen. He says that two joints together are as smooth and slippery as ice on ice. [slide # 8 ice] Our joints are made to move with ease. When damage sets in, our joints begin to look rough like cauliflower instead of smooth as ice. Joy makes our rough places smooth. The joy of the Lord is our strength.
In his book entitled Surviving in an Angry World, Baptist preacher Charles Stanley contends that if we are going to survive this angry world, we must leave room in our lives for the Holy Spirit to guide us. [slide # 9 joy team]
Stanley defines anger as a strong, intense feeling of displeasure, hostility, or indignation resulting from a real or imagined threat, insult, injustice, or frustration to you or others who are important to you.
We ought to choose to cultivate the fruit of the Spirit called joy because the bible reminds us that anger does not help us fulfill the righteousness of God. Or as Ecclesiastes says “Do not be eager in your heart to be angry, for anger resides in the bosom of fools.”
Anger may grow out of some real hurt or abuse, but if the Holy Spirit helps us with self-control, we will be less likely to exhibit negative, hurtful, or criminal behavior, or angry words and other misdeeds. When we choose joy, we choose peace and prosperity. [slide # 10 today…joy]
Part of choosing joy is being careful about what we see and what we allow our children to see. The eyes are a part of the brain by way of the optic nerve. [ slide # 11 brain] What we see effects our physical and our emotional wellbeing and the way we think and then the way we act.
The Sadducees and the Pharisees believed that the Law of Moses allowed them to get their ox out of a ditch on the Sabbath, but when Jesus went about making a simple mineral mud pack to heal or directing a lame mad to take up his bed and walk, they tried to crucify him. Getting angry at the nonsensical ways that we try to fulfill God’s will makes God and God’s people angry. The only justified anger is anger at injustice or anger at things that hurt people.
If we seek, the Holy Spirit, will help us to get all the facts and forgive, and even understand ourselves and others who are angry. The story is told of a little boy who lived with his mother and grandfather. The grandfather was not that old, but he was confined to a wheelchair and couldn’t use his arms and his face was scarred. It was the little boy’s responsibility to feed his grandfather. As he got older, he got tired of the responsibility of feeding his grandfather and he stormed into the kitchen and declared to his mother, “Mom, from now on, you can feed grandfather.” His mother then sat him down and told him you are old enough now to know the whole truth about your grandfather.
She told him about the day there was a house fire and both the mother and the father thought that the little boy was with the other, but he was not with either. The grandfather who was visiting at the time figured out what was happening and he made a mad dash through the flames and saved the little boy’s life. After getting the facts, the little boy never complained about feeding his grandfather again.
Having all the facts can help us forgive and let go of our rights to blow a gasket, be vindictive or get revenge. After all, vengeance belongs to the Lord, especially because when we take matters into our own hands without consulting God, things always get worse.
We learn important lessons from Adam and Eve who had enough shame and blame to keep them angry and in trouble, or King Saul who wasn’t even trying to control his temper, but chose rather to nurture his anger and until it exploded into violence. It was Job who understood that there is nothing to be gained from embracing anger, whether out of fear, pain, or habit. Rather it is good to please God and let God’s healing love cleanse us from our hurts, our injuries, and our damage.
Ephesians 4.32 reminds us to be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. When we forgive ourselves for getting into a mess, God can lead us out of it.
A certain spouse was married to a military officer who was prone to angry outbursts. The children and spouse would whither in this person’s presence. There was fear of physical violence in the home, so one day the spouse decided to have a talk with the offender. They set boundaries and made it clear that angry behavior would no longer be tolerated. The offending spouse was told that if there ever was another outburst, the family would leave and never return. That is how serious out-of-control anger should be taken.
Sixty years later, the spouse is a new person, a person who changed for the better by the grace of God, a person whom few could ever believe had such a hateful temper. Both spouses chose joy and everyone is better for it. For the bible warns us to AVOID provoking anger, being angry, and associating and doing business with angry. God intends for us to have joy that strengthens us to build great good. [slide # 12 hammer…]
Charles Stanley said his father died when he was a baby and his mother who had a sixth grade education insisted that he go to school. She remarried to John, whom Charles describes as the angriest man he has ever known. Charles felt so loved and cared for by his mother that he saw no need for a father figure which is the reason his mother remarried.
His stepfather never hit him, but he felt wounded emotionally and suffered for years. One day he came home to find his stepfather’s hands around his mother’s throat and he defended his mom. When John pointed a knife at Charles, his mother put her foot down, but the house was still filled with great tension all the way to the day Charles left to go college and eventually into a television ministry [slide # 13 Charles Stanley]
Charles believed his mother did not fully see the kind of man she was marrying. If we put our trust in God, and let the Holy Spirit work in us, we will eventually see what we need to see and we will do what we need to do to be free to choose joy. [slide # 14 welcome…]
Everything that is in the world is also somewhere in the church and affects all of our families from one degree to another. The church can take the lead in responding to every issue. Controlling our anger and all other good work is the work of the Holy Spirit. Our part is not always easy, but the rewards are immeasurable. May we invite the Lord in our hearts today and every day to help us choose joy! Amen. [slide # 15 need a savior]