Summary: Christmas is about declaring, “Joy to the world, the Lord has come.” God’s desire is that His people would be full of joy. Here are three keys to experiencing the joy of the Kingdom.
EXPERIENCING THE JOY OF CHRISTMAS
ADVENT READINGS #1: HOPE
OPENING THOUGHT: Christmas… is it really the most wonderful time of the year?
• Many people find this season stressful and depressing!
ILLUSTRATION: Typical of last minute Christmas shoppers, a mother was running furiously from store to store. Suddenly she became aware that the pudgy little hand of her three year old son was no longer clutched in hers. In a panic she retraced her steps and found him standing with his little nose pressed flatly against a frosty window. He was gazing at a manger scene. Hearing his mother’s near hysterical call, he turned and shouted with innocent glee: "look mommy! It’s Jesus - baby Jesus in the hay!" With obvious indifference to his joy and wonder, she impatiently jerked him away saying, "We don’t have time for that!"
QUOTE: By Ron Mehl (Love Found a Way).
“Some people think I get a little carried away with Christmas. No, they don’t actually say anything (who wants to offend the pastor?). But I can tell. I’ve caught them rolling their eyes or changing the subject. I know that they’re thinking. They think I’m too sentimental and nostalgic. All right, I confess, I do love the trees, decorations, carols, gifts, lights, candy – and all the rest of it. And if I’m “carried away,” at least it’s to somewhere I want to go! But that’s not the reason for my enthusiasm and joy. This time of year never fails to excite me because God, the real gift-giver, found a way to love, bless, and care for people like me. While the world has made Christmas a brazenly commercial, nonsacred event, I refuse to become cynical or to allow what others do to strip My Favourite Day of its true meaning. For me, the bells I hear at Christmas announce the glorious truth that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son.”
JOY IN CHRISTMAS CAROLS:
• O holy night… A thrill of hope the weary world REJOICES, For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn!
• Hark! the herald angels sing, - "Glory to the newborn King! Peace on earth, and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled." JOYFUL, all ye nations rise, Join the triumph of the skies; With angelic host proclaim, "Christ is born in Bethlehem."
• Come, all ye faithful, JOYFUL and triumphant, O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem
• JOY to the world! The Lord is come: Let earth receive her King.
THE BIG IDEA: Christmas is about declaring, “Joy to the world, the Lord has come.” God’s desire is that His people would be full of joy. There are three keys to experiencing the joy of the Kingdom – worshipping the King, spending time with the King, and submitting to the King.
“18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. 19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. 20 But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. 21 And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins." 22 So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: 23 "Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel," which is translated, "God with us.” (Matthew 1:18-23).
TEXT: Galatians 4:15, Paul asks, “What happened to your joy?”
ILLUSTRATION: Watched Winnie the Pooh this past week with my daughter Hannah
Too many Christians are like Eeyore: “I shouldn’t be surprised if it hailed a good deal tomorrow. Blizzards and whatnot. Being fine today doesn’t mean anything. It has no sig- what’s that word? Oh, why bother. Well, it has none of that.”
• Christians should be more like Tigger – full of joy!
• (Or at the least like Winnie – content with a pot of honey – the presence of God!
JOY IN THE BIBLE: 650 times (joy, rejoice, rejoicing, glad, gladness, delight)
• Psalm 5:11 - God wants us to rejoice, shout for joy, and be joyful!
• Psalm 43:4 - the Psalmist calls God His “Exceeding Joy”
• Job 8:21 (5x!) - He will fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy.
• Matthew 25:21 - heaven is called “the joy of the Lord”