Where Do You Go For Joy And Peace?
We’re all looking for joy and peace in life, aren’t we? You’ve been looking for it all week. Almost every decision we make is because we’re looking for joy or peace. You work long hours or multiple jobs because you want the joy of having lots of money and what that can get you, or you want the peace of knowing that all your needs and wants are taken care of. Or you DON’T work because you think life will have more joy and peace without a lot of responsibility and commitment. We binge on Netflix, plan vacations, buy new things because we think all of that will give us more joy and peace.
But deep down we know that those things actually don’t deliver. I was watching a documentary this week about the greatest decade, the 1990s, and they were talking about this band that came after Nirvana and just blew up and became the most popular band in the world for a while and they interviewed one of the band members. There’s no more joy and peace having achieved this dream than I had before. I’m still empty.
Athletes, people in Hollywood, all over people are doing everything they can to have joy and peace, but realizing that the things they’re trying don’t work. I wonder if that’s you this morning. But what if I told you that God wants to bring you more joy and peace than you could possibly imagine?
Look at what Jesus says in Matthew 7:7: “Ask, and it will be given to you. Seek, and you will find. Knock, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Who among you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him. Therefore, whatever you want others to do for you, do also the same for them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” So Jesus is talking to a bunch of his new followers here and he’s teaching them how to live now as His followers.
And the first thing we see in this is that Jesus knows that some things will rob us of joy and peace. First, not having, because in verse 7 it says that we’re in a position where we need to ask for something to be given to us. There’s this angst of not having what we want, right? Doesn’t that rob you of your joy and peace? Maybe you look at your neighbors and see the new cars they have, kids maybe you see the clothes your friends wear to school are the name brand stuff. Maybe you want kids and you see everyone else having kids but not you yet. Maybe you want a spouse or even just a boyfriend or girlfriend or maybe just a second date, right? And when we feel like we don’t have the things we want, it destroys our joy and peace in life.
The other thing that robs us is not knowing. Seek and you will find. What are you looking for? What is it in your life that you don’t know the answer to? Which career path to take? How the fight will be resolved? If the treatment will work? Where to move next? What will the test results be? There’s all kinds of stuff in life that we just don’t know, and not knowing what we want to know can totally rob our joy and peace.
Look at the third thing, knock, and the door will be opened. So there’s a door between us and where we want to be. Third, not belonging. Not being on the inside. Maybe you want to have a certain group of friends, but you’re on the outside of that. Maybe you want a certain job, to live in a certain place, maybe you just want one person who you feel like genuinely cares about you. But it seems like there’s always a barrier in the way for you to have those things, so your joy and peace is dead.
Jesus is speaking to people that he KNOWS want joy and peace and are struggling to find it. But notice what he’s doing, he’s inviting them to have it. He’s inviting us to ask…inviting us to seek…and to knock. Jesus looks at people who are struggling to find any joy and peace in their lives and he’s inviting them to move toward peace and joy. God himself is inviting you to pursue joy and peace this morning, right now. Following Jesus isn’t about putting your joy and peace to death, it’s about experiencing a joy and peace that’s so amazing that it can’t be found anywhere or in anything in this world, but can only come from God giving it to you.
And here’s a really good thing we see, Jesus invites you to pursue joy and peace from God, no matter how far away God feels from you right now. Because some people will feel like you can ask God for it, then at least for you it feel like he’s with you. But if you have to seek for it, then it probably feels in your life like God’s hiding from you right now. If you have to knock, it probably feels like there’s a barrier between you and God. But no matter what it feels like, the invitation from Jesus is for all of us. Jesus doesn’t just invite those who feel close to God to have joy and peace, he’s inviting those who feel lost and broken and far away from God. No matter where it feels like God is at in your life right now, Jesus is inviting you to move toward joy and peace.
And the invitation comes with a promise. It will be given…you will find…the door will be opened. He will do it. For whom? Back in verse 8 he says that everyone who asks receives. Everyone. No one who goes to God and asks for peace and joy goes away empty. Our God is a giver of peace and joy; he doesn’t withhold it. He’s actually eager to give it to us. That’s the promise that comes with the invitation.
Why would God promise to do this for us? Jesus tells us in verse 9. If we, who are filled with sin, treat our kids well, how much more will our Father in heaven who will have no part of evil treat his kids? God promises to give us joy and peace because he’s a good Father, and we’re his kids. Guys we have a good Father who’s eager to fill our lives with joy and peace. So ask him; seek him, knock on your Father’s door. You’re not being a nuisance; you’re invited to do it.
But, what does that actually look like when God gives us joy and peace? Does that mean…that he’ll just give us whatever we ask for? Whatever we pray for God will just…do? Maybe. Maybe we’ll ask God for something that we think will bring us joy and peace and in his goodness he’ll be delighted to give it to us.
But maybe in his goodness he won’t give it to us. Sometimes, as a good Father, he’s going to know that what we’re asking for won’t lead us to joy or peace. He’ll know that this isn’t the right time for us to have it. Just like you wouldn’t give your child everything they ask for. When my baby hears my car keys jangle and her eyes light up and body shakes in excitement about this new toy and she reaches for it, I don’t give them to her. Because she’s going to take them and shove them into her gummy mouth or into her eyeball. They’re definitely going to hurt her. When she turns 16, I probably STILL won’t give them to her. Maybe at 25.
In Matthew 7 the kid’s asking for bread and a fish. Those are good things that are good for the kid. That’s why in verse 11 it says that our Father gives good things to those who ask. Here’s the problem, in our brokenness we don’t even always know what IS good for us to ask. Maybe it’s not good that we get that job, or that house, or that spouse. And so really God is being good to us by saying No. But that’s the beauty of it. We have a good Father who knows whats best for us and wants us to have the most joy and peace possible, so we can trust him even if he says no.
Is there something you’ve been asking God for, and he’s been saying wait? Or he’s been saying no? Or it doesn’t seem like he’s saying anything at all? Maybe the way you need to apply this text this morning is to trust him. Trust how God works in your life. Trust that he IS leading you toward the most joy and peace.
But so, what do we do if we don’t know if something’s good for us or not? What if we’re not sure if something will really bring us joy? Look at what Paul writes in Romans 8: In the same way the Spirit also helps us in our weakness, because we do not know what to pray for as we should, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with unspoken groanings. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because he intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. God knows that in our weakness we don’t always know how to pray, but the Holy Spirit actually prays for us at those times. And Jesus, who searches our hearts, knows the mind of the Spirit, because He is God, and Jesus himself also goes to God for us. Guys God himself is fighting for our joy and peace for us! It’s not just us doing the asking and seeking and knocking, God is even doing THAT for us when we’re weak!
Do you see how aggressively God wants us to have real, lasting joy and peace in life? He doesn’t even leave it all up to us; he says he’s gonna pray for our joy and peace too!
When we experience it, when the Spirit starts to grow us in joy and peace, it’s gonna rock our worlds. Look at verse 12 again: “Therefore, whatever you want others to do for you, do also the same for them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” That seems almost out of place, but it’s not. When our Father in heaven gives us good gifts, gives us joy and peace, that’ll transform our lives to the degree that we treat other people the way we want to be treated. So us receiving joy and peace from God will mean that we seek the joy and peace of others around us. So, really, it’s not just God who wants to give us joy and peace, it should be our church community as well. The church should be a community of people who are all promoting the joy and peace of each other. So this is important for you because you’ll have a community of people promoting joy and peace in your life. It’s important for others because God’s gonna use YOU to promote joy and peace in their lives. And so it’s gonna be like a snowball of joy an peace rolling down a hill growing bigger and bigger for the rest of life.
But here’s the key to all of it guys: Is God your Father? Is God your Father? Jesus says to ask…your Father. Seek…your Father…knock on your Father’s door. This isn’t just a churchy saying, I’m being totally serious, is God your Father? If you know that he is, then prayerfully depend on Him for all of your joy and peace in life. Not other things.
If you don’t know if he is, or if you’re sure he’s not, then I can confidently say that he has you here, listening to this message from His word, because he wants to adopt you into His family. He wants to pour out joy and peace into your life. And Jesus told us how this adoption happens. Look at what Jesus said in John 14 to one of his disciples: Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, you will also know my Father. From now on you do know him and have seen him. God is your Father if Jesus is your Savior.”
Believe in Jesus; be baptized in Jesus’ name, give your life to him, and God your Father will produce the fruit of joy and peace in your life in ways that you could have never dreamed.