It’s just a wonderful thing to do once a week, coming to church and enjoying the music, being uplifted, meditate, and hear the message. I think it’s wonderful that we are able to do that. We reflected on joy last week, we discussed the joy that comes from faith is different from the joy that we feel when everything goes well, it’s very different. The joy that comes from faith is deeper than our feelings. It is not our response to whatever is going on in our situation, but it is our statement of faith. It is our faith about what God will do ultimately. So the joy of faith is about God, who will do something wonderful in the end, ultimately. Today Zephaniah also speaks about joy. He said, “Sing aloud. O Daughter, Zion, shout O Israel, rejoice and exult with all your heart. O daughter, Jerusalem”. He talks about joy, but it sounds like a commandment, rejoice. It’s almost like telling you, how can you tell somebody to be joyful? It doesn’t make sense. Either you feel joyful or not. When you don’t feel good, how can you be joyful? If you’re already joyful why do you tell them to be joyful? It’s Superfluous, it’s unnecessary? Why are these people talking about joy in that manner? I realize that to them, joy is not an emotional language. That’s what I discovered. Joy is not an emotional language. Not only did Zephaniah said that, but also St Paul, so people in the scripture do not see joy as an emotional language. This is what St Paul said, he went one step further. “Rejoice in the Lord always”. Again, I will say rejoice almost like a commandment. So I am telling you to rejoice because to them it is not an emotional language to them joy is a life perspective. It is a point of view. It is their attitude. It is the way they approach their lives. So what they’re telling us, is you should approach life with joyful perspective.
We have to approach our life with a joyful perspective. No matter how hard life may be, we should go through it with joy. It should be the way you approach your life. Sometimes life seems gloomy. I mean these days, today I see some sun but you know these last few weeks we constantly have so many clouds in the sky and we don’t see much sun, so sometimes you feel the life is gloomy. Yes, life can be gloomy, but you know what? Life is not all gloomy. There is some part that is joyful, there is some part that is light. It’s not just gloomy, it has some light. Yeah, of course, life is hard, but there are some reasons in life where we should be joyful and also thankful. I want you to find that point. That’s an entry point, and enter through that entry point and that joy, joy will come alive. But when you take life with a gloomy attitude, your life will become gloomy. But when you find that entry point, the joy in your life and go through with joy, life will open up. That is what God did and does with us. Today Zephaniah declares an almost unbelievable statement, and when I read that I was so shocked. How could he say that? This is what he said, “the Lord your God is in your midst. A warrior who gives you victory. He said he will rejoice over you with gladness. He will renew you in his love. He will exult over you with loud singing.” That really shocked me. Who am I that God is so joyful for me? Who am I that God is so joyful that he would dance and sing? That was an unbelievable statement that Zephaniah made. It’s not because we are so great that God rejoices over us with gladness it’s not because we did exactly what God desired that God would exalt over us with loud singing. When Zephaniah says that I rejoice over you, I hear God’s resolution, God’s desire. I’m going to make you the person with whom I’m pleased. You may not be that person right now, but I’ll make you that person with whom I am very pleased. So God saw that joyful side inside of us and then found that entry point and enters into us, and he sees us and he rejoices. He rejoices over us. I believe that that’s a solution to our problem. That is gospel. That is good news. When you are able to do that, your life will be brightened up. Find that entry point of joy and you enter into it. When you find that, then your life will open up. That’s what God did with us. Let me ask you, when the prodigal son came home, imagine the father’s face. Would it be the face of anger and rage, for what he did because he did something terrible, but was his face a face of anger and rage or was his face a face of joy? I believe that the father’s face was bright, happy, and filled with joy, but not the brother. His brother’s face would have been the face of anger and rage, but the father’s face was a face of joy. That is good news. That is what Zephaniah found in God. When you read Zephaniah, it begins with God’s rage and anger.
Do you want to see how angry God was? This is what he said. “I will sweep away humans and animals. I’ll sweep away the birds of the air and the flesh of the sea. I’ll make the wickets stumble. I’ll cut off humanity from the face of the earth, says the Lord.” This is what Zephaniah said, God was filled with anger and rage because of injustice, of the people, but the end of the book, Zephaniah found God who rejoiced over people. Zephaniah found that kind of God who rejoices over us. God rejoices over us with gladness. God exalts over us with loud singing. You know, when I think about that constantly, it is almost too much for me to accept. How could God rejoice over me? It is too much accept. If God forgives me and just accepts me, even that is too much, but God rejoicing over me? That is really a hard concept to accept and that’s what Zephaniah found in God. Well, you know, that is the reason why we can be joyful. We can be joyful because God rejoices over us.
God is the Reason
God overlooks our sins and he rejoices over us and that’s the only reason we can be joyful. God has taken away the judgments against you. God is in the midst of us. God came to us, Emmanuel. That’s what we celebrate on Christmas Day. God came to us. That itself is good news. God renews us in his love. We don’t need to fear disaster anymore. We don’t need to live with fear anymore. Don’t let your hands grow weak because we have become a person with whom God is pleased. My friends, this Christmas season, I hope that you can find this kind of God who rejoices over you. God is not there, ready to punish you. God has forgiven you. God has sent Jesus Christ. God rejoices over you. Trust that God is happy with you. With that joy. Now, let us live a life that God is pleased with. Let us chase away the darkness with the joy. Let us drive out the fear with joy. Let us overcome our weaknesses with joy. Joy is power, I hope all of you find that and restore that joy in your life again. You’ll be alright in God’s hands.