140202 I Peter 1:6-9

Last Updated on Monday, 10 February 2014 Written by Pastor Pagels

Lutheran Education Sunday

Text: I Peter 1:6-9

Theme: Joy In The Darkness

Guest Preacher: Pastor Don Schultz, Lakeside Lutheran High School

 

I Peter 1:6-9 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith-- of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire--may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

 

What is the greatest gift you can give someone? If you're a parent or a grandparent, what's the greatest gift you can give a child? What's the greatest gift you can give to yourself?

Today, we are going to talk about something we will call "joy in the darkness." Of all the things you can give someone, of all the things you can give yourself, the best thing, is "joy in the darkness" - what is it? And how do you get it? Today God will speak to us through the book of 1 Peter chapter 1, and teach us about the gift of joy in the darkness.

Right away in verse 6, we get the definition: "In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials." The ability to rejoice greatly, even though you're earthly circumstances aren't so good. That's joy in the darkness. You "greatly rejoice" even though you are suffering. Can you do that?

One person I was recently reading about who had that gift was a man named Isaac Watts. Maybe you've never heard of him before - he's a Christian hymn writer - many of the hymns in the hymnal we are using today were written by him - for example, this past Christmas, you sang "Joy to the World" - written by Isaac Watts. "When I survey the wondrous cross" - Isaac Watts. "O bless the Lord my soul. O God our help in ages past." All - Isaac Watts.

He must have had one happy life if he wrote all those joyful hymns! Actually, no, the opposite is true. Isaac Watts had all kinds of physical problems as a child. And there was nothing his parent could do about it. But his dad decided to give him a gift - he gave his son joy in the darkness. And he did that by giving his son God's Word. He read the Bible to his son. He prayed to God in front of his son. He lived a Christian life and even suffered for his faith in front of his son. His father gave him Christian education. And it was the biggest blessing of his life.

Eventually Isaac Watts became a Christian pastor, but that didn't work out for him because of his health. He was too weak, too sick all the time. But the strange thing about him was that there was something inside of him, a joy that could not be touched by all the difficulties he had.

One day he was complaining, not about his health, but about some of the dreary hymns they sung back then. Have you ever done that before, complain about dreary hymns? Then his dad challenged him - you think you could do better, son? Write your own hymns. And so he did. He wrote over 600 hymns, mostly hymns of joy and praise.

How could someone who was always sick and in pain and even had to give up his job, write a hymn like "O bless the Lord my soul"? What did he have inside of him? He had a gift - "joy in the darkness." He had what 1 Peter talked about - "In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials."

How do you give that gift to your children or grandchildren? How do you give that gift to yourself? Many people try to find joy the wrong way. When there are physical problems, financial, emotional, personal, professional problems - how do you find joy?

Some people try to numb themselves with alcohol and drugs - it helps me forget my problems, people say. Maybe then, I'll be happy. Some people work all kinds of extra hours on the job. That way, I'm too busy to think about my problems, and then I'll be happy, people say. Some people give up an incredible amount of time to a hobby, or to exercising, or to something else. It's an escape, people say.

But none of these things bring real and lasting joy that can shine in the darkness. What about you - how do you deal with the grief in your life? How do you deal with the trials that God allows you to experience? Do you try to escape, or maybe forget about it, or maybe numb the pain with alcohol or drugs?

The greatest gift you can give to someone, or to yourself, is real joy that shines in the darkness. And it comes from something simple. It comes from hearing God's Word. It comes from knowing Jesus Christ. Look at the two ways you can have joy in the midst of the trials in your life…

First of all, believe that your pain has purpose: These have come so that your faith-- of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire -- may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed."

In other words, there is a purpose for the pain you feel. God is using your suffering to refine you, to improve you, to strengthen you. Just as gold is refined by fire, so are you and I are refined by trials and troubles. It may not seem pleasant at the time, but God has a purpose. Believe it, and you will find real joy that shines in the darkness.

Besides believing that your pain has purpose, the other way to find joy is to keep your eyes more focused on Jesus, and less focused on the bad things you can see and hear and feel: "Even though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy." Jesus Christ is where we find that special kind of joy, that inexpressible and glorious joy that shines even in the darkness.

Ponder his love for you. Ponder the fact that he loved you so much that he died on the cross for you. Remember his promises to you, that no matter what happens in this world, our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed to us in heaven. Keep more your eyes on Jesus, and less on your earthly problems, and there you will find joy in the darkness.

Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, we always hear people say. But just think about that - if you actually pursue happiness - if that's your number one goal - you'll never get it. That's why so many people have so many problems. Pursue Jesus - seek first his righteousness, and all these other things, including real joy, will be given to you as well.

This why Lakeside Lutheran High School, your high school, exists. This is why your grade school St. Paul's, exists. To help people unlock the secret to finding joy in their lives, to help people know Jesus Christ as their Savior from sin, to encourage students to seek first God. To teach them how to get to heaven, and how to live and find joy in this problem-filled world.

It is the greatest gift you can give to someone. It is the greatest gift you can give to yourself. O bless the Lord my soul. Amen.

 

Our Mission Statement:

Compelled by the love of Christ, St. Matthew’s Evangelical Lutheran Church and School seek to reach out to our families, community and world, using Law and Gospel to make disciples, growing and nurturing them in their Christian faith and life.

 

Worship Schedule

Sunday
8:00 A.M. & 10:30 A.M.

9:15 A.M. Bible Study for All Ages

Monday at 7:00 P.M.

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St. Matthew's Lutheran Church
818 West Wisconsin Avenue
Oconomowoc, WI 53066
262-912-6060

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