Last year 28-year-old Helmut Kichmeier had been missing for five hours. Eventually his wife, Joanna, found him standing in a trance in front of a mirror. She said he looked like a zombie. Apparently he was training to be a hypnotist and accidentally hypnotized himself.
Sometimes our difficulties in life are self-inflicted. But many times God allows them to happen in your life or the lives of those around you.
For one pastor, it was supposed to be like any other two-week period in his life. But it turned out to be 14 days full of trials. • A prominent member of his church committed suicide. Over 600 people attended the funeral for this "successful businessman." • A 43 year-old man in the church confessed he had murdered his father 30 years earlier when he was 13 and had never gotten over it. • The pastor had lunch with a close friend who told him how he had made 30 million dollars in 3½ years and had lost it all in the space of just a few weeks. • A Christian friend who had loaned $70,000 to another Christian-money that was to be paid back in 7 days-but the guy walked. • And the list went on.
In this letter to suffering, scattered Christian, Peter says "Not only do you have the spiritual resources to get through these trials. You don't need to feel rejected or abandoned by God. In fact you can experience real, genuine joy in the Unseen Christ."
Years ago, a Scottish man decided to migrate to America to start a new life. He wasn't rich, so he carefully got together his possessions and sold them. Clutching the money that represented his entire net worth, he decided that he would save as much as he could on food during the ocean voyage. So he went to a small store and bought a supply of crackers and cheese to get him through his days at sea.
But as the voyage progressed the sea air made him very hungry. To make matters worse, the dampness in the air made his cheese hard and his crackers soft. He was getting desperate with hunger. The last straw came when he caught the whiff of delicious food on a tray a steward was carrying to another passenger.
So he decided he would have one good, square meal, even though it might take some of his precious money. He waited for the steward to return, and asked him how much it would cost to go to the dining room and get a dinner. The steward asked the Scotsman if he could see his ticket. The man showed his ticket, and the steward told him it was all-inclusive-that all meals were included in the price of the ticket.
The poor Scotsman could have saved the money he spent on crackers and cheese; and could have gone to the dining room every mealtime and eaten as much as he wanted.
In the same way-if you are born again, if you've turned from your sin to Jesus to save you-then you have been given the gift of Joy-it's part of your salvation ticket. And yet how many Christians are trying to find joy in other places? Are trying to find joy on their own terms? And they're completely oblivious to the joy God has already provided them.
This morning we're going to look at three ways we can have joy in the unseen Christ.