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Tuesday, December 29, 2015
"Joy Is The Flag Flown High"
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"The joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10). “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people" (Luke 2:10). "To Him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before His glorious presence without fault and with great joy— to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen" (Jude 1:24,25).
Our pastor, John Keefer, is similar in age, just a few years older than us, so we tend to share some similar generational memories in our service for the Lord. A week ago Sunday, during his sermon, he had a recollection of a song that I had not heard or considered for several years: "Joy Is The Flag Flown High". Old-timer readers will likely recall singing it.
I immediately smiled, upon the mention of that song, and hummed the tune under my breath as I pictured our young congregation in northern Pennsylvania singing in the early 80's. We lifted our hands high to the sky, many clasping a hankie or a tissue, as we waved our "flag" while joyfully singing, "Let it fly in the sky let the whole know, let the whole world know, let the whole world know, let it fly in the sky and let the whole world know that the King is in residence there!" I whispered to Brooksyne sitting next to me, "I would sure like to sing that song again".
Apparently I wasn't the only one desiring to sing "Joy Is the Flag" since this last Sunday the worship leader invited the children to the front, and instructed them to wave banners and play "noisy" instruments. They were happy to oblige and it was a noisy but joyful time. As the song came to an end, Nolan who is only three years old, gleefully shouted out "ONE MORE TIME". Of course we sang it one more time with an extra dose of joy. (See below for video.)
The song has a simple yet profound message using the analogy of our heart being a castle. Joy will be present and demonstrated in our lives when the King resides in that castle. After all, we who believe, are children of the King. Among the blessing of living for Christ is joy. In the angelic announcement to the shepherds we read, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people" (Luke 2:10).
When I pastored in New England I preached a sermon titled, "Where Does The Joy Come From?" I had several people prepared to demonstrate common sources of joy: some good, some neutral, and some bad. One mimicked the "joy" attained through alcohol and drugs; another carried his skis over his shoulder as he excitedly told of the joys of skiing and another spoke of the joy of a family gathering. The basic outline to that sermon is below.
Look around you today; this week; this season. Do some people-watching at the local mall, the post office, or even the faces of the drivers you share the road with. You might even see some road rage. It's likely that you'll see more impatience, looks of stress or lack of consideration than people who demonstrate a deep, expressive joy!
Greed, anger, jealousy, fear and other destructive attitudes have filled the hearts of people since the fall of Adam and Eve. But Nehemiah (verses 8:1-10) encouraged the listeners who gathered at the Water Gate by proclaiming, "The joy of the Lord is your strength." This call to joy was issued to the people after hearing the reading of God's Word. They did not have access to the Scriptures as we do. When, after many years of spiritual desolation, they finally heard the Book of the Law read aloud they stood, lifted their hands and responded "Amen! Amen!" (Nehemiah 8:6).
The priests further explained the meaning of the Scriptures to them and, when the listeners realized how far they had drifted from God's commands, they bowed down and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground. They began to weep openly. Nehemiah wanted them to recognize it was a new day and to realize their greatest source of strength would come from having joy in the Lord. It was a joyful occasion that their hearts were tender. The better we understand God's Word, the more comfort we find in it; the darkness of trouble arises from the darkness of ignorance, but joy comes when we are enlightened and responsive to God's revealed truths.
The very heart of the gospel is the message the angel proclaimed to the shepherds as expressed in Luke 2:10, "I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people". Just consider the aspect of "great joy" these lowly shepherds received in the message of the Gospel. This event had none of the normal trappings we associate with joy today. It wasn't available to just the Hollywood elite, the intellectual, the wealthy, or the big name politicians. The joy the angel spoke of wasn't related to flashy consumer goods, there was no big sweepstakes giveaway, no great buy at the mall.
Instead the angel spoke of joy that originates from an entirely different source. This great joy is the result of the birth of Jesus who came to save all people who ask forgiveness for their sins. The angel's message went on to proclaim, "Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord."
We encourage you to look to the genuine Source of lasting, enduring joy. Let us express deep and abiding joy daily as a testimony of what Christ has done for us, what He has done in us, and what He wants to do through us. Toward the end of Nehemiah 8 we read this phrase "And their joy was very great." (Nehemiah 8:17). May God bless each one of you with great joy in this dawning of yet another year.
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, the media is usually devoid of good news, but rather we hear about corruption, murder, terrorism, greed, and bickering politicians. How marvelous that an announcement made by an angel some 2000 years ago would bring great joy not only for the people of that generation, but it continues to resound even to our generation and those that will follow. Your coming to earth brings great joy and provides eternal hope to all who believe on You. Today I will not walk under the cloud of bad news but I will soar above the clouds because my steps are ordered by You, not by the news of the day. You are my strength, my hope and my deep, abiding joy! Therefore I will praise You all the day! Amen.
Special Year-end appeal:
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"Where Does The Joy Come From?"Here's the simplified outline to the message I referred to that I preached in New England.
Real joy is a result of:
Luke 2:10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.
Luke 24:52 Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy.
Acts 8:8 So there was great joy in that city.
Philippians 2:29 So then, welcome him in the Lord with great joy, and honor people like him,
Philemon 1:7 Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the Lord’s people.
2 John 1:4 It has given me great joy to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as the Father commanded us.
3 John 1:3 It gave me great joy when some believers came and testified about your faithfulness to the truth, telling how you continue to walk in it.
Jude 1:24 To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
"Joy Is The Flag Flown High" Video Mount Pleasant children. I am still learning to record video and this time held the phone in my hand. There is an issue with the sound varying in volume. This may be due to my hand covering the tiny microphone as I held the phone. I had turned the video off, assuming the song was over, before three year old Nolan, keeping rhythm with his foot and hand held shaker, shouted out with a big grin, "One More Time!"
"The Joy Of The Lord" Video Twila Paris This song will also bring a smile beginning with some bluegrass sound!
It is a blessing to see Robert and Greg back to work in their home improvement company. Both had overcomings through the year from serious injuries. We appreciate those who work hard to provide the goods and services we all enjoy.
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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.
Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."
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