Sermons

Enjoying Christianity

by Harold Hancock

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Scripture: Rm 12 Jan 21, 2024

Christians should strive to find joy in their faith, avoiding sin, serving others, and trusting God, because Christianity offers amazing spiritual blessings like forgiveness, prayer, and the hope of heaven. If we rejoice in what Christ offers us, it will encourage others to become Christians as well. We must change our lives and become saints if we want to fully enjoy what Christianity and heaven have to offer.

Transcript

I join with Daniel and David in the prayer and thanking you for your presence here. Those that are members, we kind of expect you to be here, but we appreciate you being here also, and those that are visitors, we thank you for being here. It's a pleasure to have you in our assembly and know your purpose is to worship God.

We hope that we give you that opportunity and we are encouraged by those that join us. online. I want to talk with you if I may this morning about the subject, enjoying Christianity. And there's a picture on the PowerPoint that shows some people worshiping God. And that is very much a part of Christianity, but that's not all of Christianity.

I think worship extends far beyond our assemblies, or we should be worshiping God other times. But I don't buy into the fact that everything we do is worship. But certainly it goes beyond worship, and Christianity is a way of life. You remember that Paul writes in the book of Romans in the twelfth chapters and talks about how We're not conformed to this world, but we're transformed.

And then when he writes in the book of Ephesians, he talks in chapter 1 and 2 about, and 3 about the great blessings we have. But then in chapter 4 he says, but now walk worthy of vocation, worthy in your call. He looks at Christianity as a calling, as a vocation, and as a way in which we're to live. And that's the sense we're using it in this morning.

Not just worship. but enjoying Christianity, just being a Christian and enjoying all aspects of Christianity. I don't want to suggest to you that I have two reasons for addressing this subject this morning. First of all, I want it to serve as an invitation to those that are not Christian. I hope that you will recognize that the Christian life is far better than what you are without Christ.

I'm mindful how that the writer of Ecclesiastes writes about life under the sun. He doesn't look above the sun and over and over. He tells us vanity of vanity. All is vanity. And it doesn't matter who we are, whether we're Christians or not Christians, if you're talking about life under the sun, if you don't look above the sun, life is going to be vain.

It seems to me like this is one big argument for Christ and for Christianity. That if you're not a Christian, whatever you do in this life is vain. I don't care how much money you get. I don't care how much properties you own. I don't care what kind of relationships you have. They're going to come to an end and all will be vanity if you're not Christian.

But you think about what Paul wrote to the Christians in first Corinthians, the 15th chapter when he confirms the resurrection and how there is life after death through the resurrection and he tells us our life is not in vain and encourages us. to be in Christ. And so I'm trying to invite you as those that are not Christians to see what Christ offers you and to give you a life that can give you joy and looks beyond even this life with joy.

And it's been my experience that there are people that understand that they need to be Christians and yet they've never obeyed the gospel. And may I suggest to you sometimes are the people that are most miserable in this life because you're walking knowing what you ought to do but not doing it and you know that what's at the end of this life is not something you're looking forward to but as the writer he says all you have is a fearful looking to judgment What a miserable life to know that every step you take is bringing you closer to hell.

I want you to see that Christ can give you joy. But the second thing I want to do, I want us to be an exhortation to Christians. I want you to understand that we as Christians, We should rejoice, and we should have joy. I think there are Christians that aren't walking the walk of Christ with joy. They're just kind of enduring it.

They're kind of miserable right now, but they just keep thinking, Well, if I can get to heaven, then everything will be good. And it will be. But I don't think that's what Christ wants, us to be downtrodden, and sad, and just not happy at all. And I have to tell you, I think that that was the way that I lived sometime in early Christianity.

Luckily, I think I met Deb, and she changed my life. Outlook on life and help me some to in Christ, but Christ don't want us to go through that kind of life He wants us to be joyful. I think we'll show that as we go In fact, let me just begin by showing you three reasons why we should rejoice and first of all I just say if God commands it He commands that we be joyful.

You remember in the book of 1 Thessalonians, Thessalonians is a letter where Paul writes and has a lot of good things to say about that church. And as he gets to the end, he just gives some rapid fire instructions like don't render evil for evil, render good, pray always. One of the things he says is rejoice evermore.

He wants us as Christians to rejoice. It doesn't mean that we're going to be happy all the time, that no sorrow is going to come into our life. And one who reads the scripture will know that that's not the meaning of that passage. For instance, in the book of John, in the 13th, or the 11th chapter, in verse 13, we have the death of Lazarus, who was a good friend to Jesus.

And verse 35 says, Jesus wept, as he saw the people that loved Lazarus weeping, he also wept. He was sad that occasion. And then you think about the book of Matthew in the 28th chapter, and here Jesus is coming to the cross, and he's gathered with his disciples, and had that last supper we talked about a moment ago, and then went out into the garden, and as he went, he said, my soul is sorrowful, and he went a little bit further, or it says his soul became sorrowful, and he went a little further, and separated himself from some of them, and had James and John and Peter with him, And he again told them, My soul is exceedingly sorrowful.

He wasn't looking forward to that death from the standpoint of physically enduring it. He was willing to suffer it because he knew what was going to come out of it. And he wanted to do God's will, but it was hard on him. And as he talks about there's tears, as, or sweat, as, almost as blood, he says. And then even for us, you think about passages like the book of Hebrews, the twelfth chapter, verse eleven, where the writer of Hebrews tells us that we are chastened sometimes by the Lord.

It's for our good, but he tells us that chastening is not pleasure for the moment. It's not good or, or a really happy time. In rejoicing time, when we're being chastened, we rejoice at what the end's going to be, but the chastening itself isn't pleasant. But what Paul is talking about when he says rejoice evermore, rejoice always, he's saying we keep coming back to this joy that we have in Christ Jesus.

And it nothing gets us down to where we just can't get back up. And part of that is, of course, because of the hope of heaven and things like that. But understand that we are actually commanded to rejoice and to rejoice always. A second thing I want to suggest to you, we need to be joyful to encourage other people to be Christian.

If you are always, as a Christian, sad, forlorn, complaining, griping, You come up to somebody else and say, let me tell you about Christ. You think they're going to be excited? Long ago, when the kids were younger, we went to the Coke museum in Atlanta, Georgia, and they had all the Coke products all the way around the world that you could.

Taste and there was one named Beverly and we tasted that and we spit and sputtered and frowned and Couldn't get it out of our mouth and then I offered it to Bev and she says no Thank you She didn't want it because of the reaction that we took and then somewhere else we came across a Disney world or something But she still didn't drink it.

She still remembered we didn't like it back then. We didn't like it now And so why should she take it? And if that's the impression we're giving people of Christianity, that, oh, it's a burden and we just can't hardly stand it, who's going to come when we say, come worship with us? Or come be a Christian alongside of me?

But if we're bearing the burdens that we bear with a smile, and we are rejoicing every day, And they can see a difference in how things of this world affect us as opposed to how they affect people that are not Christian. And then we say, come. They're much more willing to come. Now I suggest to you that people just usually want to be happy.

I guess there's some that choose to deliberately be unhappy. But most of us choose to be happy. And the scriptures, again, uh, encourage us to be this way. I mentioned the book of Ecclesiastes, and, and he's writing about life under the sun, but he still says we need to learn to rejoice and to enjoy life.

I'm looking at the book of Ephesians, uh, excuse me, the book of Ecclesiastes. And look at verse 24, and the writer says, um, Nothing is better for a man than that he should eat and drink, and that his soul should enjoy good in his labors. This also I saw was from the hand of God. So even looking at life under the sun, he says it's good.

To enjoy life. And then look at chapter three in verse 13. And also that every man should eat and drink and enjoy the good of his labors. It is a gift of God, God intends for us to, to enjoy life. And then again, in the book of, uh, please Ask Season, the fifth chapter. And this time, verse 18. And he says, Here's what I've seen.

It is good and fitting for one to eat and drink and to enjoy the good of all his labors, in which he toils under the sun all the days of his life, which God shall give him. For it is his heritage. This is what God intends for us to do in life under the sun, even. Now, he will tell us in the book of Ecclesiastes that we need to be careful.

And he tells us at the end that we need to, to keep his commandments, fear God and keep his commandments. So he's not saying go find your pleasures in sin, but he's saying it's okay and we really should enjoy life. And if you think about what Jesus said when he taught, he appealed to happiness. Look at the Beatitudes over and over, blessed is man.

And that carries with it this idea of here's somebody that's going to find happiness in doing these things. By even being humble and, and being meek and all of the things he says, even in the persecution. If we're doing it for righteousness sake, we can be happy in that and blessed in that. And then you'll remember that in John the 13th chapter, he is talking with his disciples after he's washed their feet.

And he says, blessed are you or happier you if you understand what I'm doing. We'll talk more about that in a minute. But what I just want you to see is that That there's really, God intends for us to enjoy life. That He commands it as Christians that we rejoice. And that we try and show people the right way.

And that we can be happy. But let me pass on from that and just give you some reasons and, that the Christian has about rejoicing. First of all, he has a father that loves him. In the book of 1 John, in the third chapter, he talks about how we are, uh, our father loves us, and he's talking about God. And a Christian, God's the creator, and he's father of everybody in a sense.

But you read the scriptures and you understand that, that he makes us a special son or daughter when we are Christians. And he tells us in writing to Christians that God is our father and that he loves us. I suppose there's some people that, that you tell them God is the father and they, they think of what they had on earth and it wasn't that good.

Many of us are blessed and had good parents and we understand when he says, here's a father that loves you. That you know they're going to provide for you, they care for you, they, they're going to do everything they can in your power. It doesn't mean that they're not going to discipline you, that's even for your good.

It doesn't mean there's going to be some hard days, but you know that you've got somebody that loves you there with you. And he says this is one of the blessings that we have as a Christian. That we have a Father whom we know loves us. Romans 38, chapter 11, verse 31 says, What shall we say then to these things?

If God be for us, who shall be against us? You know, if God is my Father, what can come against me that can destroy me or hurt me, really? Whatever it is that I go through, I know that I have a God who loves me and cares for me. A second thing we need to remember is the spiritual blessings that we have. We have blessings in Christ that no one else has, or those that are outside of Christ don't have.

Let me point out to you about three of these blessings. I have a feeling they're going to show up a lecture. But anyway, we have forgiveness of sins. It's one of those blessings. At baptism, we are baptized and our sins are washed away. Acts 22, 16, Paul talks about how I say unto him, Arise and be baptized.

Wash away your sins. I can think of things I did before I was baptized that I'm not proud of, that I, that were sinful, that were bad. But I don't lie awake and think of those things and dread meeting those things in judgment anymore. They're washed away. They're gone. The writer of Hebrews says, God forgets them.

I don't think he's out of his recall, actually. But he's saying, it's as though he forgets them. He's not going to call me up in judgment and say, Hey, you remember when you did this? That's gone. He's not even going to mention that anymore. And then you look at the book of Romans in the 8th chapter, and he talks about how, and you've been talking about this man who is under the law and who sins, and even though he's trying to do good, he sins, and he knows that that sin is going to condemn him.

And so he asks in the latter part of Romans 7, How am I going to escape this, this situation I'm in? And he calls himself, Oh, wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me? And then he answers, Christ Jesus. And the chapter breaks, but if you look at chapter 8 and verse 1, he says, There is therefore no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who walk not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.

You know why some Christians are sad? is they haven't learned to, to realize that we're walking in spirit, or if we're walking in spirit, there's no condemnation. We sung the song about amazing grace, and it taught us about how grace brought us this far, but it'll carry us home too. I think some of us think about Christ and we think of all the do's and don'ts and, and it scares us because we think we're going to fall short sometime.

But Paul's telling us, as Christians, we're not like that man in Romans the 8th chapter where we're so afraid because if we make one mistake we're condemned. The grace of God is still there. And he teaches us in 1 John how that we can be a child of God and how we will still sin, but when we sin, we can confess that sin and God will forgive us in Jesus Christ.

I don't have to walk around being fearful that I'm going to somehow end up in hell because I somehow made a mistake that I didn't mean to make and God's going to just take out the big stick with me. I think that's the concept some people have, that God's got you on a straight and narrow and he's got the big stick and he's just hoping that you get out of line so he can hit you with the stick or send you to hell.

If that's your concept of God, you're stakingly wrong. God loves us. He gave His only begotten Son to die on the cross so that He could forgive us of our sins. Not just when we're baptized, but when we're trying to walk right and we realize we fell and ask Him to forgive us. He is there to forgive us. I tell people, there is no area.

Where people can be more successful than Christians, because we have Christ and His blood will cover us in anything as long as we're sincere and honest and and following His laws and depending on Him for salvation instead of ourselves. It doesn't mean we don't save ourselves as Peter talks about or some others talk about.

We have some things to do, but grace is what saves us, and God is what saves us through Jesus Christ, and we need to remember that. And not be so over concerned about that. There's a passage in the book of Philippians in the third chapter. Paul is talking about he realizes that, uh, he hasn't, excuse me, he hasn't attained it so that he can just sit down and quit.

And I want you to know, I'm not suggesting any of us can say, okay, I've been baptized, or I've been a Christian for 50 years, now I can just sit down and quit. Paul said, I just forget those things that are behind. He was talking about his life before Christian, but even his righteousness in Christ, he says, I'm not resting upon that.

In fact, he says, I pressed toward the mark. He knew heaven is his gold and he stretches and strives for heaven with every fiber of his body. And then he says, he walks where he needs the thing. Let me tell you, if you know something, the scripture tells you to do, and you're not doing it, You're not following Christ like you should.

We need to be of the attitude, I'm going to make it to heaven. And we need to walk where we've came. If I see something the scriptures tell me to do today, I need to start doing it. And I'm not suggesting anyone can just say, well, God's going to forgive me and I don't have to worry about anything. I need to be striving to do His will.

But if I'm striving to do His will, He goes on in Philippians to tell us, if we like anything, that if we're of the mind, ask God to show us and He will show us that. And we then have the opportunity of correctness. and becoming a better Christian and walking even more like God wants us to walk. And if we're walking where we are, we are pressing toward the mark, giving all diligence to make it to heaven, always walking where we've attained.

Learn something today I didn't know yesterday, then employ it in my life. And always of the attitude, Lord, if, if I'm doing something wrong, show me, because I want to do what's right, then we can make it through His grace. And we can be happy and we can be rejoicing for that reason. And if we talk about the spiritual blessings, not only is there this forgiveness of sin, But we have prayer.

You remember Peter in 1 Peter 5 and verse 7, that he tells us to cast all our troubles upon God, who cares for us. And if you think about Philippians 4, he tells us to, to not be anxious, but pray to God. And he gives us peace. I want you to think about what he's telling us. That we have a Heavenly Father.

Who is unlimited in power, and He cares for us, and that He will listen to our cares, and that He will do those things that we need if they're really for our good. And I'll just tell you, if you're praying to God about something and you haven't gotten it, then Then keep praying if that's in accordance to his word.

He doesn't work on our timetable sometimes. But if you prayed for something and it didn't come to pass, it may just be that God has a better view of things than we do. And that he's answered it in the goodness of his mind. And it will be good in the end. What a pre uh, blessing prayer is. And what a blessing it is to not worry.

But just cast your cares upon God. And that's part of the secret of how it is that Christians should be enjoying Christianity, just knowing they've got a God that is watching them, who loves them and cares for them and who hears them and who will always act in their best interest, even to the point that he gave a son so that we can be forgiven of our sins.

You know, and he makes the point, if God gave His Son, Romans 8 chapter, he makes this point. He said, if God gave His Son, what wouldn't He do for us?

And that God listens to our prayers. And then thirdly, I'll tell you that we have the blessing of Heaven. in, in Christ. Uh, 1 Peter 1 and verse 3, just turn over there for a moment and look at 1 Peter 1 and 3.

He says, Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you. What a blessing to know that we have a place in heaven that will not fade away.

Romans the 8th chapter in verse 15, he again talks about the blessing that we have. He says, For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the spirit of adoption to whom we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit Himself bears witness. He's saying, we've got this Father who loves us and cares for us, and who has given us a lively hope, a living hope of heaven.

Paul talks about in 1 Corinthians, the 15th chapter, verse 19, how that if we only have hope in this world, in Christ Jesus, we'd be most miserable. We go through things that no reason to go through unless you've got a better promise. But again, again, we mentioned in 1 Corinthians the 15th chapter. He talks about how because of the resurrection, our life is not vain.

Whatever it is we go through, it's not vain. It's just a step toward that which is even better. And it's this hope that gives us patience. Romans 8. 25 Uh, if we hope for that we see not, then we do with patience, wait for it. If we have this, that we haven't seen yet, that gives us patience. That allows us to, to bear up under things that we undergo now.

I copied down one statement I found one time that I like, says, when hope is alive, the night is less dark, solitude is less deep. And that's true. I think that when you have that hope, then the dark is less, or the night's less dark. Solitude is less deep. Fear less acute. But then let me suggest to you one other thing.

We have like minded people around us, and that should mean something to us. I want you to look over, if you would, to the book of Acts, the 18th chapter, or 28th chapter. And this is when Paul is Uh, being sent to Rome, and you remember he'd been on the ship, and the shipwreck, and so forth, and he finally comes to a, a place.

And in Romans, the 28th chapter, in verse 15, it says, And from there, the brethren heard about us. They came to meet us, as far as Aperforum, at the three ends. And then, listen, when Paul saw them, he thanked God and took courage. We've got brothers and sisters in Christ that we can take courage in. And that should give us joy.

But we need to be the right kind of people for people to find joy in us. We don't mean to be, uh, judgmental. Nobody's going to enjoy it. I don't mean we can't point out somebody's wrong sometimes to try and help them, but we shouldn't be hypercritical where we just, all we want to do is find wrong with people is the idea.

And we need to enjoy converting somebody more than condemning them. If we're going to have the happiness that he talks about. And we need those that, uh, that are looking for enjoyment. We need to learn to appreciate the qualities of Christianity. We need to understand that meekness is something to be admired rather than to be pitied.

But when we have those kind of people about us, then we'll be like Paul and we'll, we'll, we'll do that. I want to very quickly suggest to you, um, three things that we can do that kind of will help us to find that joy. First one, avoid sin. You remember, and this is going to come from Genesis, the fourth chapter, verse five.

God has created the earth, Adam and Eve has sinned, they've been cast out of the garden, and then they're living life, and they have sons, Cain and Abel. And Cain says in chapter 4 and verse 5, said, But unto Cain in his offering he had not respect. So he'd done, he'd done something that wasn't pleasing to God in his offering.

Listen to the next, And Cain was very wrought, and his countenance fell. The Lord said unto Cain, why aren't thy wrt and why is thou countless fallen? You see, he did wrong. And as a result of that, his conscience bothered him and he wasn't happy. And we can't live in sin. We can't practice sin and, and find the joy that God wants us to enjoy because if we have any knowledge, our conscience is going to bother us.

We need to get rid of sin in our life. Some Christians don't try to do that. They think, I'm a Christian, God's just going to cover everything. This is not a license to sin. This is to tell you that God will forgive your sins. But you've got to be repentant. And you can't deliberately just sin. I tell people there's a difference in a misstep getting into sin and asking for forgiveness than just diving headlong into sin and undoing joy.

If that's our attitude, we're not going to find the joy. We can't love the world in Christ 2, Matthew 6 and 24, that no man can serve two masters. He'll either love the one and hate the other. And in John, or James 4 and 4, he talks about don't love the world. If you love the world, you're, you're in enmity with God.

First John 2, that we can't love the world and Christ both. So, avoid sin. If you want to find that joy that we're talking about. And secondly, serve others. We mentioned at the very first, uh, how that Jesus sometime appealed to happiness. And if you remember in John the 13th chapter, this is when he has had the last supper with his disciples, but then takes the towel and washes their feet, and then tells them, If you do this, and you know what I'm doing, and you do it, Then you'll find happiness.

He's not talking just about feet washing. That was something they needed to do to ensure hospitality back then. He's just trying to tell us you need to be a servant in your position. You need to not think about self and having people serve you, but think more about how you can serve others. Someone said you should do something every day to make someone else happy.

Even if it's just to leave them alone. Maybe that's it sometimes. But do something to make somebody else happy. And then I want to suggest to you thirdly, trust God. Uh, Doubt, worry, that destroys joy and rejoicing. But we shouldn't be doubting and rejoicing. We, we sing the song Trust and Obey. There's no other way to be happy in Jesus but to trust and obey.

What if I couldn't trust God for the forgiveness of sin? That'd be miserable. What if I couldn't trust Him to answer my prayers in a way that shows that He cares for me? What if I, I bow and I, I, I didn't know if God even heard me? You'd be a Christian most miserable. If you're going to find the joy that we should find in Christianity, you're going to have to trust the Lord.

I want one other thought for you to think about. If you don't find joy in those things, in being a Christian, worshiping God, living righteously, you're What makes you think you'd enjoy heaven? If one doesn't enjoy Christianity, would he even enjoy heaven? I ask you that. And so I'd ask you this morning, won't you change your life if you're not a Christian?

Go from sinner to saint, and learn to enjoy life as God intended to. Maybe before the rest, maybe we ought to say, if you're gloomy, change. If you're inclined to fret and pine, change. If your life is filled with doubt and gloom, get full of sunshine. If you worry, change. Stop worrying. Trust God. Don't stay around and just complain.

Change things. Be cheerful. If you're grouch, change that. Be happy. Get hope. But above all, change from sinner into saint. If that appeals to you, we can help you to obey God this morning by witnessing your confession, burying you in baptism, or just wishing us a confession of sin. We invite you to come as together we stand and sing.

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