We’re working our way closely to the end of Revelation, and one of the most difficult things to do in the face of a society that wants to destroy you is to have joy. You just don’t feel like being happy when you feel like you’re surrounded by enemies, and it becomes incredibly hard to follow Jesus’ command to love your enemies when you don’t feel like it, but let me tell you: Joy is a discipline, not a feeling.
6 Then I heard again what sounded like the shout of a vast crowd or the roar of mighty ocean waves or the crash of loud thunder: “Praise the Lord! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns.
This crowd is described as sounding like mighty ocean waves or crashes of thunder. This sounds awesome. If you’re having a hard time picturing this, think about this:
November 1st, 2015, Wade Davis pitching against Wilmer Flores. It was the bottom of the 12th. The count was 1-2 in Game 5 of the World Series. You probably remember it. But listen to the crowd here:
That’s similar to the sound being described here.
Most of you are Royals fans. Do you remember how you felt when you found out that they had won? It was one of extreme happiness I’m guessing. That’s the feeling being described here. And that’s the natural feeling we feel when we see the justice of God.
Think about your life, and how you’re created. You are created by God to experience extreme happiness at times. Do you really think that will be at it’s highest here on earth? This is the moment we’ve been waiting for throughout all of history! But here’s the thing: it’s so certain to happen, that we can choose to celebrate it now. Because Joy is a discipline, not a feeling.
Paul agrees with this when he commands people to rejoice:
4 Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice!
How can he command us to rejoice if it’s a feeling? We’re all familiar with feelings. Can you control how you feel? Of course not. Can you control what you do? Yes.
Guess what: psychology shows us that generally, feelings follow actions. Try it right now: if you’re not having a good day, smile a good, genuine smile. Let it get to your eyes, not like a grimace.
This should affect how you live. Joy is a discipline, not a feeling. How often do you choose joy? In your marriage, are you joyful? Do you intentionally remind yourself that children are a blessing? Do you remind yourself of peoples’ good qualities? Are you more complementary or critical? When you talk about other people, do you praise their good qualities more, or do you criticize them? Do you really think that what you say about people will not color how you feel about them?
This is why relationships fail: there’s an issue, and you begin to think the worst of the other person, you choose bitterness rather than forgiveness, and you let that self-talk erode the foundation of your relationship, and the relationship ends because you’ve failed to choose joy.
Choose joy. Practice the discipline of smiling genuinely and letting that affect how you deal with people.
This is the basic misunderstanding about marriage in our society.
[[Goo-goo eyed, “I love you”s /// marriage is based on feelings, not choice. Marriages that last are ones based on the foundation of the CHOICE to love someone.]]
What are you choosing? Joy is a discipline, not a feeling.
7 Let us be glad and rejoice, and let us give honor to him. For the time has come for the wedding feast of the Lamb, and his bride has prepared herself.
8 She has been given the finest of pure white linen to wear.” For the fine linen represents the good deeds of God’s holy people.
Finally the justice of God has come to fruition. And the saints can't help it, they break out into song! It’s exciting! I don’t really need to comment on this right now. What I really want to focus on is the last part:
The fine linen represents the good deeds of God’s holy people. We are not saved by our works, we’re saved by Jesus’ works, but how we behave is the evidence that we are saved. Who you are determines what you do. And what you do, determines how your attitude. I’m always concerned for those people who call themselves followers of Jesus, but they don’t act it out. I am troubled by people who go to church on Sunday and claim salvation, but use that as a license to continue how they want rather than how Jesus commands us to.
This is what is in mind when Jesus tells this story:
1 Jesus also told them other parables. He said, 2 “The Kingdom of Heaven can be illustrated by the story of a king who prepared a great wedding feast for his son. 3 When the banquet was ready, he sent his servants to notify those who were invited. But they all refused to come! 4 “So he sent other servants to tell them, ‘The feast has been prepared. The bulls and fattened cattle have been killed, and everything is ready. Come to the banquet!’ 5 But the guests he had invited ignored them and went their own way, one to his farm, another to his business. 6 Others seized his messengers and insulted them and killed them. 7 “The king was furious, and he sent out his army to destroy the murderers and burn their town. 8 And he said to his servants, ‘The wedding feast is ready, and the guests I invited aren’t worthy of the honor. 9 Now go out to the street corners and invite everyone you see.’ 10 So the servants brought in everyone they could find, good and bad alike, and the banquet hall was filled with guests. 11 “But when the king came in to meet the guests, he noticed a man who wasn’t wearing the proper clothes for a wedding. 12 ‘Friend,’ he asked, ‘how is it that you are here without wedding clothes?’ But the man had no reply. 13 Then the king said to his aides, ‘Bind his hands and feet and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ 14 “For many are called, but few are chosen.”
In this parable, everyone is invited. Just like with the gospel, many are invited. Most do not come. The Jews who reject Jesus are the ones who declined the invitation here. But there are some who show up who just want a free lunch without participating in the celebration of the wedding. These are deeds. Those people who want to take advantage of Jesus’ grace without submitting to him as Lord are guilty of seeking “cheap grace”.
[[Preach the Gospel]]
The question both here and in Revelation 19 is “are you wearing clothes?” Are you choosing to obey that which Scripture commands- and that includes the command to joy?
What does your attitude look like? How does it affect your behavior? Your feelings will follow your actions. What are you choosing? Joy is a discipline, not a feeling.
9 And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding feast of the Lamb.” And he added, “These are true words that come from God.”
You are chosen. You are loved. You are called by God. You are blessed if you persevere until the end and you also attend the wedding feast of the lamb. And part of that is joy. Choose joy. Joy is a discipline, not a feeling.
10 Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said, “No, don’t worship me. I am a servant of God, just like you and your brothers and sisters who testify about their faith in Jesus. Worship only God. For the essence of prophecy is to give a clear witness for Jesus.”
This to me, is one of the funniest scenes in the entire Bible.
John sees this magnificent vision and he just overflows with worship, and bows down to the nearest thing to him. And the angel freaks out!
And his response is emphatic. The only thing worthy of worship is God! Not Babylon, not angels, not possessions, not comfort, not life. Only God is worthy of our worship.
And our joy is an outpouring of our worship. Remember, last week, I said that worship is a lifestyle, not a moment: our choosing of joy is the result of a life of worship because Joy is a discipline, not a feeling.
Our joy is our worship. Our lives are lives of worship, so choose joy. And as you worship, and as you choose joy, you will speak. Because the joy of Jesus is contagious. And as people see your worship, as people see your commitment to joy, they will give you opportunities to share the testimony about Jesus. And that’s prophecy.
And then John defines prophecy. It's not about prediction. It's about revelation. Remember the definition of prophecy I’ve given for Revelation?
Prophecy is something that communicates who God is, what God desires, and what God demands from his people.
And when you, by the power of the Holy Spirit choose a disciplined stance of joy, you will prophesy.
And that’s the point of the whole book of Revelation: be a people that worship so well, that you are so full of joy, that you will preach the gospel wherever you go.
[Scotty evangelizing nurses and doctors]