Sermon: The Joy of Heaven

Adam Burton | April 30, 2023

True joy can only be found in cultivating a deep relationship with God, disconnected from earthly pleasures, and actively seeking it through obedience and service.

Sarah had spent her entire life searching for joy. She had searched high and low, left and right, but joy had remained elusive. It wasn’t until she reached the pearly gates of heaven that she finally found what she had been looking for. Standing before the throne of God, Sarah was overwhelmed by His presence. She asked God to show her true joy, and God answered her with a simple but profound truth: Joy can only be found in Him, not in the material things of this world.

Point 1: Joy is rooted in our relationship with God.

Joy is not a superficial feeling that comes and goes like the wind. Joy is a deep sense of contentment and satisfaction rooted in our relationship with God. It is a gift that is freely given to those who seek it with an open heart. And how do we seek it? Surrendering our lives to God and allowing His Holy Spirit to guide us. We must spend time with God daily through prayer, Bible study, and fellowship with other believers. We must guard our hearts and minds against sinful behaviors and thoughts and practice forgiveness, repentance, and humility. We must invite God to be a part of every aspect of our lives. It is only by building and maintaining a solid relationship with God that we can experience true joy, even in the midst of life’s trials.

Point 2: Joy is disconnected from earthly pleasures.

We live in a world that bombards us with messages that happiness can be found in wealth, status, and material possessions. But the truth is that these things are fleeting and ultimately leave us unsatisfied. True joy is disconnected from earthly pleasures. It is found in cultivating gratitude, developing meaningful relationships with others, and practicing selflessness. In the Bible, we see examples of Moses and Paul, who found joy despite facing adversity and challenges. They knew that true joy came from their relationship with God and were willing to sacrifice everything to serve Him. As Christians, we should prioritize our connection with God and seek true joy, which can only be found in Him.

Point 3: Joy is connected to our obedience and service.

True joy is not a passive feeling we receive but an active state that we cultivate through our obedience and service to God. In the parable of the Talents, we see the importance of using our gifts and resources wisely, taking risks in serving God, and persevering in obedience. Serving Christ is not always easy and may involve facing opposition or disappointment. But we can find joy in knowing that God is with us and has a plan and a purpose for our lives. Our obedience and service to God are not just for this life but for eternity. In heaven, we will be free from struggles and difficulties and have the privilege of serving God forever.

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There was a woman named Sarah who was wandering the earth for what felt like ages. She had been searching around her entire life for the essence of joy, but nothing seemed to fulfill her longing heart.

Finally, Sarah’s time on earth came to an end, as it does for all of us, and she found herself before the magnificent golden gate which led to the very throne of God. She was hesitant at first, questioning if she was worthy enough to enter into such a holy place, but she felt drawn in, and eventually she found herself standing before the throne of God. Initially, Sarah was overwhelmed by the sheer power of God’s presence.

However, as she gazed upon God’s face, she felt a sense of peace and joy that she had never felt before. In awe and in gratitude, she fell down onto her knees, prostrate before the Lord of Lords, and then God spoke to Sarah, saying, welcome, my child. What brings you here?

And Sarah replied, Lord, I’ve been searching for joy my entire life. I’ve traveled far and wide, but I have never found anything that could bring me true happiness. Can you show me the way?

God smiled and said, oh, certainly, my child. Joy cannot be found in the material things of this world. True joy can only be found in me.

For many days and weeks and months, Sarah basked in the presence of God, soaking up his warmth and love, and she let go of those earthly desires and found contentment in simply being with God. Sarah came to realize that true joy wasn’t something that could be bought or earned. Oh, no, but it was a gift freely given by God to those who sought it with an open heart.

And so Sarah bathed in the radiance of God’s love, and she realized that she had finally found what she had been searching for all along. It was in the arms of her creator that she found true joy. In heaven, Sarah had found her true home.

She knew that she would never be alone again, for she would spend eternity in the presence of the one who had created her. And in that moment, Sarah knew that she had everything she needed to be truly happy, for she was with God, and nothing could ever separate her from his love. Oh, it’s good to gather once again in this message series on heaven, our ultimate home.

Today we’re gonna talk about the joy that we have in heaven. And I encourage you to listen this morning with an open heart and mind to see what the Lord has in store for you through him. The title is, The Joy of Heaven.

You can find an outline on the back of your bulletin to help you to follow along this morning. You know, when we think about heaven, we often think of it as a place where we’ll be eternally happy. And yeah, I mean, that’s true.

Being in the presence of God will bring us everlasting happiness, but joy isn’t just an emotion that comes and it goes. It’s a conscious choice to trust in the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ and to follow his will. And when we read the scriptures, we see that joy comes from having a relationship with God and it’s deep-seated contentment that can’t be shaken by the trials of this world.

But here’s the thing, we don’t have to wait until we’re in heaven in order to experience joy. For even when we’re going through tough times, we can still have joy when we put our trust in God to give him our worries. He can fill us with a joy that we can’t even begin to understand.

And so, my friends, as we seek joy in God’s presence and embrace it, no matter what’s happening in our lives. So we know it’s important to seek the joy in God’s presence, but it is essential to understand how joy is rooted in our relationship with God, which is our first point. Joy is rooted in our relationship with God.

Joy is at the core of our faith, but it’s not just any kind of joy. No, it is true joy that is rooted in that relationship that we have with God. You see, as Christians, we often toss around terms such as joy and happiness and pleasure.

We use them interchangeably, but they’re not really the same thing. Theologian Henry Newman says that joy is not a feeling, rather it is a response to a person. See, true joy is a deep sense of contentment and satisfaction that doesn’t depend on our circumstances or our emotions.

Unlike happiness, which is fleeting, and pleasure, which is a momentary sensation of enjoyment, joy is lasting and it comes from our connection with the creator of the universe. Psalm 16, 11, King David prays to God, he says, you make known to me the path of life. In your presence there is fullness of joy.

At your right hand are pleasures forevermore. This verse reminds us that in God’s presence there is a fullness of joy, that his pleasures last forever. That means that no matter what’s going on around us, we can experience a sense of completeness, a sense of satisfaction when we’re in a relationship with him.

But how do we experience this kind of joy, this deep sense of joy? Well it all comes down to our relationship with God. When we surrender our lives to him, we’re filled with the Holy Spirit who guides us and empowers us.

We become a part of God’s family and our identity is rooted in him. See the connection brings us lasting peace and calm and contentment even in the midst of those most difficult circumstances. The Apostle Paul reinforces this in Philippians chapter 4 verses 4 through 7 where he says, rejoice in the Lord always.

Again I will say rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone, the Lord is at hand. Do not be anxious about anything but in everything by prayer and supplication.

With thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God and the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Paul encourages us to rejoice in the Lord sometimes, oh no, to rejoice in the Lord always no matter what. He tells us not to be anxious but to turn to God in the prayer with thanksgiving, making all of our requests known to him.

And when we do we can experience a peace that surpasses all understanding, guarding our hearts and minds in Christ. Author Jerry Bridges explains that the peace of God is not a product of human effort, no rather it is a gift from God. Let’s take a moment to consider a staggering statistic.

The Anxiety and Depression Association of America reports that almost 40 million of our fellow Americans are struggling with some form of anxiety disorder in a single year. And we’re not just talking about normal anxiety that, you know, may arise from taking a test or deciding which restaurant we’re going to go to for dinner. No, this is something that is much deeper, much more severe.

This is a disorder that affects how we live and how we function every day. While seeking help from counselors and medical professionals is crucial and can be a tremendous blessing, we must not forget the source of our true joy. As a believer in the infallible authority of the Bible, I am confident that overcoming anxiety and depression is not what brings us genuine joy.

Instead, it’s our relationship with God that fills us with a joy that transcends all understanding. Let us not neglect the common graces that God has given us, including the help of professionals, but let us also seek the Lord with all of our hearts, for in Him we find the ultimate source of joy and peace. But how do we build and maintain a strong relationship with God?

Well, it starts by spending time with Him daily through prayer, Bible study, fellowshipping with other believers. We also serve Him by using our talents and our resources to help others, to spread the good news of the gospel. But it’s not just about what we do.

We also need to guard our hearts and our minds by avoiding the sinful behaviors and thoughts that can damage our relationship with God. This means things like practicing forgiveness and repentance and humility. And finally, we must be intentional about drawing closer to God.

It doesn’t just happen by accident. We must be intentional, inviting Him to be a part of every aspect of our lives. I think some of us, we go through life and in certain parts of our life we say, yes, God, I’m all about you.

But then others, it’s like we close the door and we lock the deadbolt and it says, nobody’s coming in this door here. But friends, if you want to find true joy, true contentment, oh, we will open every door to the Lord and allow Him into every single aspect of our lives. And when we do this, we will experience the fullness of joy that comes from a deep and abiding relationship with Him.

So let us seek true joy in our relationship with God. The next time you feel anxious or depressed, obey the Bible and pray to God. Let us prioritize our connection with Him over the temporary pleasures and let us be intentional about building and maintaining a strong relationship with Him.

And as we do, oh, we will experience His peace, a calm and contentment even in the midst of our most difficult of circumstances. So with our focus on prioritizing our connection with God and seeking true joy, our next point is that joy is disconnected from earthly pleasures. Joy is disconnected from earthly pleasures.

You know, as Christians, we often struggle with the temptation to seek happiness in the temporary pleasures of the world. We may turn to wealth or to status or to material possessions in a hope that it will bring us a lasting joy and fulfillment. However, as we all know, every one of these things are fleeting and they will ultimately leave us unsatisfied.

In Hebrews 11, we learn about Moses who willingly suffered with the people of God rather to enjoy the temporary pleasures of sin. Look here in Hebrews 11, verse 24 through 26. By faith, Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin.

He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward. Similarly, we find in 2 Corinthians 4, verses 16 through 18, Paul writes, So we do not lose heart, though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day, for this light momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen, but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

For reminded that our momentary struggles are achieving for us eternal glory that far surpasses them all. Heaven’s joy is everlasting and far greater than any pleasure that we can find on earth. So we acknowledge that giving up temporary pleasures can be challenging, though, but the reward of eternal joy in heaven outweighs the cost.

So how can we seek the joy of heaven in our daily lives? Well, we can cultivate gratitude by focusing on the blessings that God has given us and developing meaningful relationships with others. Instead of prioritizing selfish desires, we can focus on love and compassion for others.

By practicing selflessness, we can shift our focus away from ourselves and toward the needs of others. The Bible gives us numerous examples of individuals who found joy despite facing adversity. Joe, for instance, experienced immense suffering but remained faithful to God and ultimately found joy and restoration in his relationship with Him.

I mean, remember, right, when Paul wrote, when faced many challenges in his ministry, he said, rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again as if once wasn’t enough. Rejoice.

Paul found joy in his relationship with God, even during trying times. So let us seek the joy of heaven instead of the fleeting earthly pleasures. Remember that true joy is not connected to our worldly possessions, but rather in our relationship with God.

Let us practice gratitude, meaningful relationships, and selflessness in our daily lives. And let us draw inspiration from those who have found joy in spite of challenges, knowing that our faith in God will sustain us and bring us eternal joy in heaven. Furthermore, it is important to recognize that joy is not only found in our relationship with God, but also in our obedience and service to Him.

Which brings us to the last point of message, joy is connected to our obedience and service. Joy is connected to our obedience and service. You know, as believers, experiencing joy is important because it strengthens our faith, right, and it helps us to persevere in obedience and service to God.

And so let’s take a look at a powerful illustration of the connection between joy, obedience, and service found in the parable of the talents. The story is about a master who has three servants with different amounts of money before going on a journey. And two of the servants invest and double the money that they were given, but the third servant, he buries the money.

Why? Because he was afraid. So when the master returns, he praises the first two servants for their wise investment and condemns the third servant for a lack of initiative.

This parable teaches us the importance of using our gifts and our resources wisely and not being afraid to take risks in serving God. Look at Matthew chapter 25, verses 21 through 23. His master said to him, well done, good and faithful servant.

You have been faithful over a little. I will set you over much. Enter into what?

The joy of your master. And he also, who had the two talents came forward saying, master, you delivered to me two talents. Here I have made two talents more.

His master said to him, well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little. I will set you over much.

Enter into the joy of your master. I mean, can you imagine the joy that those servants felt when they heard those words from their master? They had worked hard.

They persevered in their obedience and they served him with all of their hearts. Their reward was not just the approval of their master, but it was also the joy of being entrusted with even more responsibility and work. This scene of the faithful servants receiving the reward, it’s a powerful image of joy that we can experience when we serve Christ with all of our hearts.

When we obey God’s commands and when we use our gifts and talents to serve him and to serve others, we will be rewarded with that same deep sense of joy and fulfillment. What about our eternal work in heaven? The Bible tells us that we will continue to serve God in heaven, but up there, our work will be free from the struggles and difficulties that we face here on earth.

We will serve him in perfect joy and harmony, working alongside of our fellow believers to accomplish his perfect will. Just imagine, just imagine what it will be like to serve God in heaven. We’ll have perfect knowledge, we’ll have perfect love and perfect joy.

We’ll be able to use our gifts and talents in ways that we can only dream of now. And we’ll be a part of a family of God, community of believers who are united in our love for God and for each other. Just knowing that our obedience and service on earth prepare us for this eternal work in heaven, it should inspire and it should motivate us to serve joyfully right now.

We can find joy in the process of serving, not just in the end result. We can look for opportunities to serve in our community, in our church, and we can reflect on our motives for serving, making sure that they’re pure and that they’re pleasing to God. But let’s be honest, serving Christ is not always easy.

We may face opposition, rejection, or disappointment. However, even in the midst of these challenges, we can find joy knowing that God is with us and that he has a plan and a purpose for our lives. We can trust in his goodness, in his faithfulness, and we can rest in the assurance that our eternal reward is waiting for us in heaven.

So my dear brothers and sisters in Christ, let us pursue joy in our obedience and service to God. Let’s look forward to our eternal work in heaven with hope and with anticipation. And let’s remember that even in the midst of challenges and difficulties in this life all, we can find joy in knowing and serving our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Let me tell you a story about a man named Michael. Michael had recently passed away and found himself standing in front of the gates of heaven. Michael was in awe as he gazed on those pearly gates, feeling a sense of wonder that he had never experienced before.

See, throughout his life, Michael had always devoted his time to serving others, and now he had arrived at a place where serving was the very essence of his existence. So as he approached the gates, he was greeted by a radiant angel with a smile that could just light up a room. The angel asked Michael about his life on earth and he shared his experiences with helping those in need.

The angel listened intently, nodding in approval. And then the angel took Michael’s hand and he led him into the heavenly realm. What Michael saw was beyond his wildest dreams.

The streets were paved with gold, the air was filled with the sweetest fragrance he had ever smelled, and as he walked, he saw countless angels and humans serving one another with love and with joy. Some were singing, some were dancing, and still others were doing what seemed like work. Michael felt a deep sense of joy in his heart as he walked around.

He had spent his life serving others, but here he had found a place where serving was not a duty, but it was a source of joy and fulfillment. The angel turned to Michael and said, you know, in heaven we find joy in serving because it is the very essence of love. When we serve others, we’re not only fulfilling their needs, but we’re also expressing our love for them.

And in doing so, we find that our own hearts are filled with an even greater love and joy. Michael nodded in understanding because he had experienced this love and joy in his own life. In heaven, it was magnified a hundredfold.

He knew that he had found his true home, a place where serving was not a burden, but a joy. And from that day on, Michael spent eternity serving others, spreading love and joy wherever he went. And as he did, he found that his own heart was filled with a joy that surpassed all understanding.

And in heaven, serving was not just an act of kindness. Oh, but it was a way of life. Ask for musicians who come forward at this time.

As we think about the wonder, the beauty of heaven, let’s not forget that our time on earth is limited. You know, all of us are on a journey. Continuing to follow Jesus can be the most crucial decision that we can make.

For when we have a relationship with God, we can experience a joy that surpasses all worldly pleasures. This joy comes from obeying and serving God with all of our hearts. You know, in Acts chapter 16, Paul and Silas found themselves in a predicament.

They were in prison. They had their feet and their hands chained up. Talk about anxiety and depression.

But instead of wallowing in despair, what did they do? They started to sing. They sang hymns.

And suddenly an earthquake occurred and the prison doors, they flung open and the chains fell off. And the jailer, he thought that their prisoners all had escaped and he was about to take his own life with his very sword. But Paul reassured him, don’t do that.

Everyone’s still here. Jailer then looked at Paul and he said, what must I do to be saved? And Paul responded simply, yet powerfully, believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.

The jailer went from being on the verge of taking his life to discovering that true joy in Jesus Christ. And the same transformation can happen to you as well. All you need to do is believe in Jesus Christ and trust in him to save you from your sins.

So, and he will give you an eternal hope and joy that never fades away. In a moment, we’re going to sing a hymn of invitation. I surrender all, but before we do, I would ask if you just take out your bulletin and in terms of that connection card, in the middle there, there’s a section for decisions.

What decision might you need to make today? Do you want to be saved? Do you want to be baptized or become a part of our church family?

Or maybe there’s something else that God is urging you to do. Fill out that card, drop it off in the offering plate or in a moment I’ll be standing down here you can bring it to me. You know, no matter where you are on your journey, know this, that this church, Central Baptist Church welcomes you with open arms.

You don’t have to have all of the answers or be perfect in order to follow Jesus. Oh no, we are all flawed and sinful individuals. But with God’s guidance and with the Holy Spirit, we can find true joy and fulfillment in this life and in the next.

So as we sing, I’ll be standing down here down in front to receive anyone who wants to make a decision. Know this, know that we are here to support and to encourage you in every step of the way.