Moments in the life of a Pastor

Walking with God

20 Discovering Joy – Part 1

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Luke 10:1-21

1 After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. 2 He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. 3 Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. 4 Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road. 5 “When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ 6 If someone who promotes peace is there, your peace will rest on them; if not, it will return to you. 7 Stay there, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house. 8 “When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is offered to you. 9 Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ 10 But when you enter a town and are not welcomed, go into its streets and say, 11 ‘Even the dust of your town we wipe from our feet as a warning to you. Yet be sure of this: The kingdom of God has come near.’ 12 I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town. 13 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. 14 But it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment than for you. 15 And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted to the heavens? No, you will go down to Hades. 16 “Whoever listens to you listens to me; whoever rejects you rejects me; but whoever rejects me rejects him who sent me.” 17 The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.” 18 He replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. 19 I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. 20 However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” 21 At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do.

Do you want joy?  At first this may seem like a ridiculous question, of course you do and you are not alone. Look around the journey for joy is self-evident in our society, it’s what our world is seeking. The problem is that the world wants satisfying joy separate from Jesus. We are believing the lie that joy is linked to our search not the Savior. You see we don’t know how to find real joy and we don’t know how to keep it because we don’t understand where it comes from. In Luke 10 we are reminded that joy is found on our journey with Jesus because joy is joined to Jesus. Its not enough just to want joy you have to want to journey with Jesus. As long as we keep looking for joy separate from Jesus we will only find the junk. As Jesus sends His disciples out on the journey we get to see where we discover joy and where we discover the dead ends. There are a lot of wrong places to look for joy, places that just don’t produce. Today many are stumbling blindly down back alleys, rummaging through the rubbish for a remnant of joy. The sad truth is that we have become satisfied with the trash instead of searching for the treasure. Luke tells us that one day Jesus starting getting His students ready to do something special. They were supposed to go out, in twos, into the nearby towns and cities, and announce the good news of the kingdom. They were in essence told to go out and announce joy, but Jesus knew that just announcing good news doesn’t necessarily produce good news. This often overlooked truth flies in the face of our modern forward thinking society.  We want to believe that we can just name it and claim it. It’s like Bobby McFerrin’s catchy but silly song “Don’t worry, be happy” it all the way to number one on the billboard hot 100, because we like the idea that if you proclaim it you can claim it. This is the belief that we can create joy through words and wishful thinking. But Jesus reminds us that just proclaiming joy doesn’t always produce joy. Next we have the dead end street of stuff. Our society tells us there is lasting satisfaction in stuff, but Jesus told His disciples not to lean on the luxuries. They did not take all the usual stuff that society tells us we need to be happy. There was no money, or motel reservations, no extra clothes or special comforts. Instead Jesus said “See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves” This was not going to be a journey of easy in fact the exact opposite was true, instead of personal pleasure there would be pain. Joy doesn’t come from the junk we take with us on the journey, in fact the search for satisfaction in stuff will actually saturate you in sorrow. Today we have a culture built on comfort yet constantly crying. We have more money but are more miserable, more stuff but somehow still sad. Jesus says that we don’t get joy out of creature comforts or status symbols, its society that wants to sell you on the stuff. Today we have bought into the lie that life in the lazy boy is blessed, but stuff will never satisfy. Next in verse 10-11 Jesus confronts the dark dead end alley of approval, “But when you enter a town and are not welcomed, go into its streets and say, even the dust of your town we wipe from our feet as a warning to you.” Here Jesus reminds us that the source of joy is not found in society’s affirmation and approval. That if you have a need to be needed, you are going to be disappointed, the applause of men is a dead end alley because joy is not found in approval ratings. By the way applause doesn’t just ruined politicians it also poisons pastors because it distracts and leaves them both disillusioned. Now Jesus turns to topple the sacred steeple of secular and spiritual success. The street of success has not only become our firm foundation it has become our faith. Today success has become more than just what we work for it’s also what we worship. Success has become both the justification for our journey and the joy that we seek. Yet Jesus said, “Remain in the same house, eating and drinking whatever they provide … whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what is set before you; cure the sick who are there, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you” Joy doesn’t come from your profession, a pay increase or a promotion.  You don’t derive joy from accomplishing your job or being rewarded or recognized. Jesus makes no mention of a pension plan, a pat on the back, or an expense account. The street of success is really a slippery slope, not only is its steep financially but its shallow for your family. Success just like all the others toll roads we travel costs but never cash’s in. You see there is a joy that only Jesus offers and it’s not found in wishful words, creature comforts, approval ratings or even job success. It involves something surprisingly simple and yet powerfully profound, but until you are willing to recognize and reject the lies you will always be on the wrong road. Before we journey on together to discover the true source of joy we need to take an inventory of the lies in our life. What dead end allies have you been driving?  Have you been driving down the one way road of wishful but worthless words? Cruising on the highway of comfort, or trying to navigate the tight back alleys of approval? Or have you been burning your gas trying to climb the steep street of success? How many more miles and how much more misery are you willing to put on your motor?

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