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Summary: We tend to look for happiness and joy in the wrong places. This sermon considers some of the hopeless ways we seek joy, comparing them to the true joy offered by Christ.

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2003 Christmas Series

JESUS "I OFFER TRUE JOY"

Hope Christian Church

December 28, 2993

Dr. David L. Haun

CHRISTMAS - GOOD FOR HEALTH. According to Dr. Harry Sands, director of the Postgraduate Center for Mental Health in New York, the Christmas season can be an emotional pressure valve for us. We need it to release feelings that most of us contain the rest of the year. Dr. Sands writes, "These feelings - compassion, concern, joy, a desire to reach out and touch someone - are in all of us all the time. However, the day-to-day pressures in our society are so great that we don’t stop doing other things to express our feelings. But once a year, when Christmas comes around, we’re able to give vent to those feelings - and it’s good for us. Christmas allows us to connect with each other on an emotional level." (1)

Almost 105 years ago during the Christmas Season, a preacher by the name of Charles Spurgeon preached a sermon on the true joy of Christmas. The sermon took well over an hour to preach. (2) Today, I would like to share with you. what I gained from this hundred year old message, for in all those years the truth of this message for our need has never changed.

I.

THE TRUE JOY OF CHRIST DOES NOT COME FROM THE USUAL EXPECTED SOURCES

A. True Joy Doesn’t Come from Possessions. The Babe had none.

... Jesus replied, "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head. Luke 9:58 (NIV)

This Christmas season we have seen the reruns of Ebenezer Scrooge, whose goal in life was wealth and position - at least until Jacob Marley showed him the futility of his life. Possessions just won’t make it.

The height of man’s absurd search for possessions was reported by Psychology Today magazine in a contest they called Scamarama, asking their readers to send in a creative scam. They printed their winners. The grand prize was titled: WISH YOU WERE BORN RICH? NOW YOU CAN BE! If you are one of the growing millions who are convinced of the reality of reincarnation, here’s a once-in-a-lifetime offer! First, leave us $10,000 or more in your will. After you pass away, our professional medium will contact your spirit in the other world. Then you tell us when you’re coming back and under what name. Upon your return, we regress you, at age 21 through hypnosis to this lifetime and ask you for your seven-digit account number. Once you give us the number, we give you a check on-the-spot for your original investment plus interest! The longer you’re gone the more you will receive! You may come back to find yourself a billionaire! Show your future self how much you care-leave a generous "welcome-back" present. We’ll take care of the rest. ( 3 )

Tony Klinedinst has written, "When you have nothing left but God, then you become aware that God is enough." ( 4 )

B. True Joy Doesn’t Come From Position. The early believers sought none.

In this new life one’s nationality or race or education or social position is unimportant; such things mean nothing. Whether a person has Christ is what matters, and he is equally available to all. Col. 3:11 (TLB)

We live in a world that glorifies "winning." Whether it’s position, power, recognition or acceptance, our goal is to achieve a position of acceptance and worth.

The problem with "position" is that it tends to be based on what other people think, not what really is true. Eric Hoffer, a social philosopher, who won the Presidential Medal of Honor, taught that however much we guard against it, we tend to shape ourselves in the image others have of us. And living our lives in that way comes from a lack of true meaning in one’s own life. ( 5 )

C. True Joy Doesn’t Come From Philosophy. Christ’s Birth and Ministry was Centered in the Simplicity of Common People and Life.

Few [called by Christ] would have been considered wise in the world’s eyes. Few were powerful or influential decision makers. Few were wealthy. Among the earliest disciples, five were fishermen, one was a tax collector, and the careers of the rest are unknown. None (with the possible exception of Matthew) had the status of education or wealth. ... God does not seek out the people whom the world admires; instead, he reveals himself to humble and searching hearts, regardless of their worldly position. God can use us no matter what our position or status. To the worldly wise, it would have made more sense for God to call the leaders and the influential people. But God does what seems foolish to the world -- he calls those who do not have these characteristics and achievements (6)

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