Monday, January 19, 2015

Groom Gets Wine (John 2:1-11) & the Joy-filled Life


This sermon on John 2:1-11 depicts the momentary joys of wine and weddings as a glorious pointer to life with Jesus. When he shows up at the wedding in Cana, He proves himself as the true Bridegroom. He simultaneously validates earthly celebration and heavenly anticipation.

The passage is a good reminder for those of us who struggle to embrace joy in daily life. Some of us deny joy, knowing it is fleeting; hard times always come. Others of us idolize joy, making moments into monuments. When the "good old days" consume our thoughts, we fail to relish in the delights of food, family, success, and beauty.

Joy should mark Christ-followers, for they should become experts at identifying the glory of the moment.

Below are five ideas for making joy complete:

Motivate by Memory: The past should inform and inspire, not accuse us (see Philippians 3). It's easy to remember when we were young and focused, driven and dreamy. At some point, reality hits us all--the challenges of monthly bills, power struggles, and personal failures shrink our imaginations. We begin to think of past successes as impossibilities for today. We'll never have the weight, savings accounts, career impact, and relational capital we did when we were young. This line of thinking, of course, is fallacious. Joyful people think: If I did it once, I can do it again. The past catalyzes.

Laugh at Yourself: You are not God, so you can be mocked. It's better to beat others to the punch(line). A healthy dose of self-deprecation is not such an unhealthy thing. If you slip up with your words, trip in public, or forget an appointment, rather than being overly apologetic, admit you're not perfect. Replay the event in slow motion. Say your stuttered line louder. Let's be honest: We all pick our noses, pass gas, and stumble on occasion when we're putting on our pants.

Set Small Achievable Goals: And achieve them. If you're discouraged with your prayer life, pray for five minutes. If you're disappointed with your Bible reading, plan to read a chapter. If you're depressed about your health, deny one snack stop or fast food drive-by this week. After you achieve your goal, tell yourself, "I get a point," and pump your fist in the air. Then set another goal to build momentum. 

Make a Gift Inventory: In the book of James, the Lord's brother reminds us that "every good gift is from God, the father of Lights" (James 1:17). Instead of focusing on stresses and failures, make a concerted effort to make note of (and meditate on) God's charity toward you. I try and write four things I'm thankful for on a daily basis. Not only does the discipline continually put me on the receiving end (a reminder of my neediness), but it forces me to focus on something larger than myself: my benevolent Father in Heaven. A self-consumed life is joyless; a God-directed life is full.

 

Look at Some Cat Posters: It's healthy to laugh. Especially at the stupid, mindless trivia on the Internet. Perhaps, cat posters are not your fetish. Fair enough. An occasional article on the Onion, BoredShorts video on YouTube, or Jimmy Fallon clip also does wonders to a dispirited person. Just remember that when distraction becomes escapism, it does not cheer the soul, but spoils it.


God Gets Flesh - John 1:1-18 sermon

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