Overture to Joy

Worship Service for September 13, 2020

WELCOME

Good morning. Welcome to CrossPointe Community Church’s online video presentation. I thank my wife, Gail, for being behind the camera as we speak and Lindsay Brandenburg for receiving and posting these files to YouTube so that you can participate.

ANNOUNCEMENTS

Since we changed our worship time to 9:30 am, I will remain after worship until 12 noon for those of you who wish to drop off your offering. You may place it in the box that is located in the lobby.

If you prefer to send your offering in the mail, the address is

CrossPointe Community Church
P. O. Box 126
Chippewa Lake, OH 44215-0126

Our Church leaders will be meeting today after worship to discuss, among other things, when to return to a 10:30 am start. I will include their decision in Wednesday’s e-mail. By the way, if you don’t receive my weekly e-mail and would like to, let me know at randykmeyer@hotmail.com.

Once again, let us open our hearts to praising and hearing the Word of the Lord by reading through the worship service. Please take advantage of the opportunity to read, pause, reflect, and pray when you feel led. I hope you also noticed that most of this service is also available in video format on the same page where you accessed this.

CALL TO WORSHIP

[I am reading from Paul’s first letter to his friend Timothy as a call to worship for three reasons. First, because it contains a salutation that includes the words ‘grace and peace’ as does Paul’s letter to the Philippians, which we will read from later. Second, it reminds us of our theme from two weeks ago about, “always being prepared to give an account of the hope we have in us in a gentle and respectful way” (I Peter 3:15-16). Thirdly, and most pointedly for today’s songs, it speaks of the grace of the Lord Jesus. With that in mind]

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, in keeping with the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus, to Timothy, my dear son: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.

I thank God, whom I serve, as my ancestors did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers. Recalling your tears, I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy. I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.

For this reason, I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love, and self-discipline. So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me His prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God. He has saved us and called us to a holy life – not because of anything we have done but because of His own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel!

I Timothy 1:1-10

HYMNS OF PRAISE

Grace Flows Down

Giglio, Louie/Padgett, Rod/Bell, David E.

Amazing grace,
How sweet the sound.
Amazing love
Now flowing down.
From hands and feet
That were nailed to the tree,
As grace flows down
And covers me.
It covers me, it covers me,
It covers me,
And covers me.

©1993 dB Music
CCLI License No. 1843349

Now That You’re Near

Sampson, Marty

Hold me in Your arms…never let me go.
I want to spend eternity with You.

I stand before You Lord… and give You all my praise
Your love is all I need…Jesus, You’re all I need.
My life belongs to You…You gave Your life for me.
Your grace is all I need…Jesus You’re all I need.

Hold me in Your arms…never let me go
I want to spend eternity with You.

And now that You’re near, everything is different
Everything’s so different Lord.
I know I’m not the same…my life You’ve changed
I want to be with You…I want to be with You.

(REPEAT FROM ‘I stand before You Lord)

Now that You’re near, everything is different
Everything’s so different Lord.
I know I’m not the same…my life You’ve changed
I want to be with You…I want to be with You.
I want to be with You…with You.

This arrangement©2008 Hillsong Publishing (admin in the US and Canada by Integrity’s Hosanna! Music/ASCAP
CCLI License No. 1843349

Think About His Love

Harrah, Walt

Think about His love.
Think about His goodness.
Think about His grace
That’s brought us through.
For as high as the heavens above,
So great is the measure of our Father’s love.
Great is the measure of our Father’s love.

Think about His love.
Think about His goodness.
Think about His grace
That’s brought us through.
For as high as the heavens above,
So great is the measure of our Father’s love.
Great is the measure of our Father’s love.

Great is the measure of our Father’s love.
Great is the measure of our Father’s love.

©1987 Integrity’s Hosanna! Music (c/o Integrity Music,Inc.)
CCLI License No. 1843349

OPENING PRAYER

Our heavenly Father, as we sing about and ponder on Your grace, Your mercy and Your love, our hearts begin to fill with joy. And so we are grateful and we thank You for this, another opportunity to celebrate, not only Your presence with us, but also the life and immortality that You have infused in us through the gospel of Christ. May His light, shining brightly in us as we worship You in this hour, be evident in us in the coming week as a result of this time. For we ask this in the blessed name of Jesus. Amen.

THE GIVING OF THE LORD’S OFFERING

(see announcement above)

Debbie Goff of Elmhurst, Illinois says,

One Sunday morning, my 6-year-old son, Joshua, was busy getting dressed for Sunday school. When it was time for us to leave, he came out of his room carrying his entire stock of neckties. When I asked him why he was doing this, he eagerly replied, ‘Cause, Mom, Reverend Wyser told us to put our ties in the offering!’ 1

PRAYER SONG

Blessed

Zschech, Darlene/Morgan, Reuben

Blessed are those who dwell in Your house
They are ever praising You
Blessed are those whose strength is in You
Whose hearts are set on our God

Blessed are those who dwell in Your house
They are ever praising You
Blessed are those whose strength is in You
Whose hearts are set on our God

We will go from strength to strength
Till we see You face to Face
Hear our prayer, O Lord, God Almighty
Come bless our land as we seek You
Worship You.

Blessed are those who dwell in Your house
They are ever praising You
Blessed are those whose strength is in You
Whose hearts are set on our God

We will go from strength to strength
Till we see You face to Face
Hear our prayer, O Lord, God Almighty
Come bless our land, as we seek You
Worship You

Hear our prayer, O Lord, God Almighty
Come bless our land as we seek You
Worship You.

For You are holy, for You are holy
For You are holy, Lord

For You are holy, for You are holy
For You are holy, Lord

For You are holy, for You are holy
For You are holy, Lord

For You are holy, for You are holy
For You are holy, Lord

Hear our prayer, O Lord, God Almighty
Come bless our land as we seek You
Worship You

Hear our prayer, O Lord, God Almighty
Come bless our land as we seek You
Worship You.

©2002 Darlene Zschech/Reuben Morgan/Hillsong Publishing
CCLI License No. 1843349

MORNING PRAYER

Nancy Carr

Lord, thank you for your steadfast love and the blessings you shower upon our lives each day. It is a blessing and a privilege that allows us to gather here today to worship and praise your name.

Joy is the badge of the believer and Paul wore that badge as an example for us all. Even while persecuted and jailed he encouraged the newly faithful to REJOICE!

Thousands of years later, our world is filled with many uncertainties. Sometimes we feel as though we walk on shifting sand, unsure of our footing. Paul’s words still resonate with the faithful today. Be Full of Joy. Rejoice. Don’t Worry. Show Others by Example Why We Have Faith. Pray.

Paul reminds us that because of Jesus Christ we have Hope. He reminds us God is already working on our behalf.

Let us not fixate on things that frustrate us or break our hearts. Enable us to shut out noise and confusion, refuse worry, release our cares, and cling tenaciously to Your promises. Help us to shake off any discouragement, lift our heads, open our arms and receive all You want to pour into us. Fix our eyes on the Author and Finisher of our faith, who will complete what He started.

May we walk with faith, hope, love and joy today.

In Jesus Holy Name We Pray

SCRIPTURE

At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire. (This was the first census taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria.) All returned to their own ancestral towns to register for this census. And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David’s ancient home. He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee. He took with him Mary, to whom he was engaged, who was now expecting a child. And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them.

That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!

Luke 2:1-11

This letter is from Paul and Timothy, slaves of Christ Jesus. I am writing to all of God’s holy people in Philippi who belong to Christ Jesus, including the church leaders and deacons. May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace.

Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God. Whenever I pray, I make my requests for all of you with joy.

Philippians 1:1-4

THE MESSAGE

Randy K’Meyer

Overture to Joy

A lady on a walk noticed an old happy man sitting on his porch sporting a grin. “Excuse me” she said “I just couldn’t help noticing how happy you look. Tell me, what is the secret to your long happy life?”

“Well, the man responded, “I eat fatty foods, never exercise. I smoke three packs of cigarettes a day, and drink about a case of whiskey a week.”

“Wow,” the woman said, “and how old are you?”

“Twenty-eight,” he said! “But I’m as happy as a clam.”

What does the word ‘happiness’ evoke in you? Being surprised with a party on your birthday; dining out at your favorite eatery; laying in the sun on a sugar sand beach; opening presents on Christmas morning; or maybe three packs of cigarettes and a case of bourbon?

According to one online dictionary, “happiness is that feeling that comes over you when you know life is good and you can’t help but smile.” 2 Happiness then, ‘when you know life is good,’ is dependent upon circumstances.

That’s unfortunate because circumstances today aren’t the greatest. This year’s World Happiness Report released in March found that people are much less happy world-wide because of the pandemic and that Americans, in particular, are struggling 3 (which goes to show you money can’t buy happiness.) And when you add political unrest, riots, looting, intimidation, assaults, and murder occurring since March it makes the problem of unhappiness even worse.

That’s why I know of no greater need in the world today than the need for joy; unexplainable, contagious, outrageous, joy!

Notice I said, ‘joy’ and not happiness. There’s a difference. Biblical joy is a deep-seated assurance of God’s love and presence that yields an inner gladness and a positive and upbeat attitude regardless of circumstances. Joy is God’s gift to believers.

A gift that you and I can possess even in the midst of the negative circumstances brought on by what’s happening in the world around us.

How do I know? Because there once lived a man who became a Christian as an adult and left the security and popularity of his former career in order to follow Christ.

Persecution became his almost constant companion. He was misunderstood, misrepresented, and maligned on a continual basis. He suffered a physical ailment so severe that he called it his “thorn in the flesh” (II Corinthians 12:7). Listen to his litany of severe hardship as recorded in his second letter to the Corinthians. It has probably never been surpassed in its intensity other than what Jesus, Himself, endured:

I have worked harder, been put in prison more often, been whipped times without number, and faced death again and again. Five different times the Jewish leaders gave me thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea. I have traveled on many long journeys. I have faced danger from rivers and from robbers. I have faced danger from my own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles. I have faced danger in the cities, in the deserts, and on the seas. And I have faced danger from men who claim to be believers but are not. I have worked hard and long, enduring many sleepless nights. I have been hungry and thirsty and have often gone without food. I have shivered in the cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm.

II Corinthians11:23-27

Eventually Paul was beheaded in Rome.

Yet before he yielded his life, he fired off a letter to the church he founded in Philippi; a letter that is filled with an uncontainable attitude of joy. To be sure, he’s not singing, “Zip-a-dee-doo-dah, zip-a-dee-ay, My, oh, my, what a wonderful day” because it wasn’t that way at all.

This letter informs us that he’s in prison, he’s chained to Roman prison guards, he is awaiting trial, he is expecting to be executed.

But rather than wallowing in self-pity or begging his readers to help bust him out time and time again, he urges his readers and us to be people of joy! In fact, in these four short chapters, he employs the word ‘joy’ seven times and ‘rejoice’ nine times; culminating in his imperative in chapter four: “Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice!” (4:4).

As an overture to joy, that is, as a preview of what’s to come, let me first share with you eight circumstances in which Paul uses the word joy:

  1. When Paul prays for the Philippians, he exudes joy (1:3-4).
  2. In 1:18, he rejoices because Christ is being preached.
  3. When he compares staying on earth to leaving and going to be with
    Jesus, he was joyful (1:21-25).
  4. When he encouraged the Philippians to work together in unity,
    his own joy intensified as he envisioned this happening (2:1-2).
  5. In 2:17, he echoes Peter when speaks of joy in suffering for Christ.
  6. When he mentions sending their mutual friend, Epaphroditus, to them,
    he urges them to receive the man joyfully (2:25-29).
  7. When in chapter 3, he communicated the core of what he wanted them to know about the results of grace, he was full of joy (3:1).
  8. As he drew his message to its close, he returned to the same theme (4:4).

And secondly, when we take a look at the chapter by chapter themes of this letter we become aware that joy has an integral role to play at every turn:

  1. In the first chapter of Philippians we learn there is joy in living
    whether or not we get what we want, in spite of difficult circumstances,
    and even when there are conflicts.
  2. In the second chapter we learn there is joy to be found in serving the Lord, even though hardship often results in doing so.
  3. In the meat of the apostle’s letter, the third chapter, we learn there is abounding joy living in the grace of the Lord Jesus.
  4. Finally, in the fourth chapter we learn there is tremendous joy to be discovered in learning the secret of personal contentment.

Gerald Hawthorne, the author of one of my commentaries on Philippians summarizes Paul’s intent for this letter in a wonderfully succinct phrase: “I rejoice, do you rejoice?” 4

Some of us at CrossPointe had a friend who would have answered that question with a resounding, “Absolutely!” His name was Bob Taylor. He was the most joyful person many of us ever met. Despite the fact of his declining health especially the last couple years of his life, whenever you asked him how he was doing he always answered the same: “Great, wonderful, and blessed!” And the smile on his face and the twinkle in his eye confirmed to all who knew him the veracity of his words.

What was the source of joy for Bob Taylor and for Paul and for anyone really?

The answer is found in verse 2 of Paul’s salutation: “grace and peace.”

Grace, of course, refers to the unmerited mercy of God whereby we are made right with God, not through anything we have done, but solely through what Christ has done for us. As Paul writes the Ephesians, “God saved you by His grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it” (2:8-9).

This grace, accepted by faith, yields a permanent peace, that is, rest and comfort in our relationship with God. Paul to the Romans: “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (5:1).

This grace, and its consequent peace, is the source of our joy in the Lord. In fact, there’s a close connection between joy and grace; the word for joy is chara and the word for grace is charis. When we come into this grace relationship with God through faith in Christ how could we not be filled with joy?

I remember when I first became a Christian. I was an atheist. Suddenly I went from being a non-believer into being absolutely convinced there was a God of the universe and what’s more, He loved me so much that He sent His son into the world to die for me, to forgive my sins.

And my friends I was, as they say, on cloud nine. I was full of joy; every day and every way, there was no stopping my joy. No one could take it away! I began to work with the youth group in our church and one of the songs we sang was so true: “I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart, where? down in my heart, where, down in my heart. I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart, where? down in my heart to stay.”

But as time went on, my joy seemed to diminish. I know that psychologist would say there is a psychological component behind that. Human beings tend to habituate, they would say. It’s impossible to maintain feelings associated with something new and exciting they would say. The honeymoon’s over many would say.

I understand that, but there is also a spiritual component to diminished joy.

Presbyterian Pastor Tim Keller has some thought about rediscovering joy in Christ.

Do you remember when your mother used to say, ‘Don’t eat candy before meals?’ Why did she say that? Because she knew it would ruin your next meal.

The trouble with eating candy is that it gives you a sugar buzz, and then you don’t feel hungry. Candy masks the fact that your body needs proteins and vitamins. The sugar buzz from candy masks our hunger for the real nutrients we need. Things like sex, power, money, and success—as well as favorable circumstances—act like spiritual sugar.

Christians who feed on these spiritual candies may think, “Sure, I believe in God and I know I’m going to heaven,” but they’re actually basing their day-to-day joy on favorable circumstances.

When the circumstances change, it drives us to God, because when the sugar disappears, when the candy gets taken away, we’re forced to pursue the feast that our souls really crave. We’ll hunger for the spiritual nutrients we really need. 5

When we begin to substitute favorable circumstances (home, car, job, toys) for Christ and His grace and peace, we begin to forfeit the joy in Christ we were meant to live in!

How do we get our joy in Christ back without having to forfeit any favorable circumstances we may be blessed with? That’s what we are going to attempt to discover together as we work our way through this letter filled with joy!

Meanwhile, let’s return to the Christmas story in Luke, which contains the word ‘gospel.’

Were you aware that the word gospel literally means ‘the joy news?’

Jesus is born in Bethlehem and what do the angels say? “Behold, I bring you good news of great joy, which will be for all people.” The word gospel means ‘joy news.’

J.R.R. Tolkien in his famous essay On Fairy-Stories says there’s a kind of story that brings us unbelievable joy, whether it’s a movie, or a story we’re reading, or a story we see depicted on the stage, or a story we hear sung about.

He says these stories always have a certain kind of kernel to them. He says there’s always some incredible hopeless situation, and victory is snatched out of the jaws of defeat. But how? Always through someone who comes in, and whose weakness turns out to be strength, someone whose defeat turns out to be a victory. He says it’s those kinds of stories that just seem to bring us joy. He called them a joyful catastrophe, the tragedy that turns out to be a triumph, the sacrifice that turns out to bring joy, the weakness that ends up being strength, the defeat that ends up being victory.

Tolkien also believes there’s a bass string to the human heart, and those kind of stories can kind of make it reverberate a little bit, but can’t pluck it. He says there’s only one story that’s ever been written that can: the story of the gospel; the joy news!

All of those other stories take their cues from the gospel story; from the ugly duckling who turns out to be a swan, to Beauty and the Beast. Tolkien says the gospel story is the only story that will pluck that string so the whole heart never stops reverberating and vibrating with joy. And the reason it will reverberate is, of all of the great stories, this is not one more myth pointing to the great reality; this is the reality to which all of the other stories point.

It happened; it really happened. There really is a Beauty who kisses the beast. There really is a Hercules who defeats the villain. There really is a hero. There really is Jesus. 6

The word gospel means the joy news. Joy. It’s real. We have to have it. It has to be there. In Christ and Christ alone, it is!

PRAYER

(I encourage all of you to re-read Nancy Carr’s prayer above.)

CLOSING SONG

Joy To The World

Watts, Isaac/Handel, George Frederick

Joy to the world!
The Lord is come;
Let earth receive her King.
Let every heart
Prepare Him room,
And heav’n and nature sing,
And heav’n and nature sing,
And heav’n and heav’n and nature sing.

Joy to the earth!
The Savior reigns;
Let men their songs employ.
While fields and floods,
Rocks, hills and plains,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, repeat the sounding joy.

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.

He rules the world
With truth and grace.
And makes the nations prove.
The glories of
His righteousness
And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders, wonders of His love.

©Public Domain
CCLI License No 143349

SCRIPTURAL BENEDICTION

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

Romans 15:13

1 Debbie Goff, Heart to Heart, Today’s Christian Woman.
https://www.preachingtoday.com/search/?query=joy&page=2

2 https://www.google.com/search?q=happiness+definition&oq=happiness+ definition&aqs=chrome..69i57j0l7.4863j1j7&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

3 https://worldhappiness.report/ed/2020/

4 Gerald Hawthorne, Word Biblical Commentary, Volume 43; Philippians, [Waco, Texas: Word Books, © 1983]. Page xlviii.

5 Timothy Keller, pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church, New York, from the sermon “Joy,” (preached 4-18-10); to listen to the sermon, click here; submitted by Van Morris, Mount Washington, Kentucky https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2010/september/4091310.html

6 Tim Keller sermon on “The Joy of Jesus” from the Series: The Fruit of the Spirit—The Character of Christ, (May 3, 1998) https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2019/april/easter-is-joyful-catastrophe.html

Randy K'Meyer

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