Summary: Learn and choose the three biblical expectations that will bring you joy forevermore

I trust most of you enjoyed your Thanksgiving. I came across a Thanksgiving poem that might describe some of our Thursday night experience. Let’s see if you agree:

Twas the night of Thanksgiving, but I just couldn’t sleep

I tried counting backwards, I tried counting sheep.

The leftovers beckoned-- the dark meat and white,

But I fought the temptation with all of my might.

Tossing and turning with anticipation,

The thought of a snack became infatuation.

So, I raced to the kitchen, flung open the door

And gazed at the fridge, full of goodies galore.

I gobbled up turkey and buttered potatoes,

Pickles and carrots, beans and tomatoes.

I felt myself swelling so plump and so round,

Till all of a sudden, I rose off the ground.

I crashed through the ceiling, floating into the sky

With a mouthful of pudding and a handful of pie

But, I managed to yell as I soared past the trees...

Happy eating to all---pass the gravy, please.

For Christians, thanksgiving is not only a holiday and a meal but also a lifestyle, because God has given us much for which we can be thankful.

Beginning this Sunday, we enter the season of Advent, which means the coming of an important event: Christmas. We continue our five-part series on experiencing joy.

Last week, Pastor Winsome Wu taught on "Experiencing Abundant Joy in Life." He noted how the first Christians experienced joy despite persecution. They looked at life through God’s perspective, lived life with purpose and shared life with people.

Joy is not easy to describe to those who only know happiness in life. Happiness is the good feeling you have when you get what you want. Happiness is short-lived and leaves when the circumstances in life change.

Joy, however, is long lasting, even eternal. Joy results from what we think, what we do and how we relate to others, even to God. Joy is a matter of our spirit, the part of us that relates to God. Joy is calm delight, peace, contentment and fulfillment in life.

There is no secret to possessing joy. The Bible reveals joy as a fruit of God’s Spirit. In other words, joy is the result of God’s Spirit working in our lives to guide our thinking, our actions and our relationships. As we live according to God’s guidance, the fruit of joy grows in our lives. So joy does not come by accident, but by obedience to God.

Joy never goes on sale, not even during Christmas. The price of joy is always biblical expectancy. Everyone lives with expectancy. What we expect determines how we behave and how we feel. Biblical expectancy leads to a sense of adequacy, fulfillment and joy.

This morning, we will be looking at how biblical expectancy produces joy in our lives. Our passage comes from Luke, chapter 1, verses 26-38 and 46-55.

Luke records an orderly account of Jesus’ life, from before birth to the ascension of Jesus into heaven. The passage we read this morning records the news that Mary, a teen-age virgin, was expecting to give birth to a child. If you were Mary, would you be thankful and joyful or would you be anxious and troubled?

Mary, you need to know, was pledged to Joseph as his wife. And suddenly, an angel of God, Gabriel, tells her that she’s pregnant. Not only that, she is pregnant with the Son of God, who will save this world? Come on, Mary, who’s going to believe you?

It’s hard enough for some to accept a teenage single mother, but who would accept a far-fetched story like that? What would your fiancé do? What are the chances that Joseph would marry you now? She’s carrying someone else’s baby.

If that’s not difficult enough, Mary had no input about the child in her womb. She had no opportunity to name him or to dream about influencing her son to be doctor or an engineer. Instead, she had to name him, Jesus, which mean "save." After all, his purpose in life is to provide salvation to sinful people through his own death.

Now, Mary didn’t know all this in advance, but she knew that instead of a wedding celebration she is getting morning sickness and instead of a honeymoon she has the stigma of an unwed mother? Yet, Mary not only accepted the challenge, she was joyful. We see her joy expressed in her song recorded in verses 46-55.

But why was Mary filled with joy? Mary was filled with joy for the same reason that we can be filled with joy, no matter what our situation is in life. Mary held three expectations that brought her joy. These same expectations can also bring us joy. Let’s look together at what she expected.

First, Mary expected to have God’s favor. If we want joy in our lives, we must expect to have God’s favor also. Verses 26-33.

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