Summary: Christmas Carol Series #2: There is Joy when the King is Received; When the Savior Reigns; When the Sinner Repents; When Truth rules with Grace
Joy to the World!
Christmas Carol Series #2
(adapted from Michael Luke and Bob Russell)
SCRIPTURE READING: Psalm 98:2-9
This December we’re talking about some of the Carols we sing every year at Christmas. Today we’ll take a look at a song Isaac Watts wrote almost 300 years ago: “Joy to the World.” We think of this as a Christmas song, but if you look at the lyrics, it only hints at Jesus’ birth. We could easily use it as a general-purpose song of praise. The words were inspired by Psalm 98, which we just read.
Let’s face it; Christmas is a stressful time for most adults. For some it is a time of intense loneliness or crushing grief because of a loved one who is gone. Evan at its best, Christmas means parties to plan, gifts to buy, elaborate meals to cook, long trips to take, or out-of-town guests to host. Instead of bringing JOY, Christmas can bring frustration.
I heard a story about a woman who was doing her last-minute Christmas shopping at a crowded mall. She was tired of fighting the crowds. She was tired of standing in lines. She was tired of fighting her way down long aisles looking for a gift that had sold out days before. Her arms were full of bulky packages when the Elevator door opened. It was full.
The occupants of the Elevator grudgingly tightened ranks to allow a small space for her and her load. As the doors closed she blurted out, “Whoever is responsible for this whole Christmas thing ought to be arrested, strung up, and shot!” A few others nodded their heads or grunted in agreement. Then, from somewhere in the back of the elevator came a single voice that said, “Don’t worry. They already crucified him.”
We need to remember who is responsible for the whole Christmas thing. It is all about how God so loved the world that He gave his one and only Son so that who ever believes in Him might have eternal life. John 3:16
Unfortunately, many people leave Christ out of Christmas. Instead of looking to Jesus, people look for JOY anywhere and everywhere else. An interviewer once asked the entertainer, Madonna, this basic question: “Are you a happy person?" She replied, "I am a tormented person. I’m wrestling a lot of demons. But I want to be happy. I have moments of happiness. I am working towards knowing myself …. and I assume that will bring me happiness."
Pretty much everybody wants happiness. In fact, people do what they do for the purpose of “finding happiness.” People work hard to buy possessions that can make them happy. They look for happiness in entertainment, hobbies, sports, passions and various addictions. Or … like Madonna … they look deep, deep, deep within … thinking maybe that’s where that elusive happiness is hiding.
When you consider that happiness seems to be the main goal, it seems surprising that the Bible doesn’t talk much about happiness. But the Bible says a lot about something that is often confused with happiness. The Bible says a lot about JOY. The kind of JOY the Bible talks about goes much deeper than mere happiness.
You see, happiness deals with what is happening. Happiness depends on circumstance. In fact, for most people happiness is nothing more than a temporary interruption to boredom. We’ve all heard kids complain, “I’m bored.” That means, “I want some happiness, and I’m NOT finding it!”
Genuine joy, on the other hand does not depend on what’s happening. Joy is an inner sense of well-being that has nothing to do with circumstance. The kind of JOY the Bible describes can’t be found in possessions or entertainments or even in looking deeply into your inner self. The first line of “Joy to the World” sums it up. There is one reason --- and only one --- that we can find JOY in this world. As the song says, we can have joy because The Lord has come!
If you receive Christ as King of your life, He provides Joy. In the same way that your body craves food, exercise and rest, so your Spirit craves a relationship with God. Without that relationship, your soul will become famished and restless. I believe that there is indeed a God-shaped hole in every life. If we look deeply within ourselves, we will not find happiness, but we will find that space that only God can fill.
If we try to fill it with anything besides God, we will be forever unsatisfied. That’s why the 1st stanza of JOY TO THE WORLD teaches:
1. The first stanza teaches: THERE IS JOY WHEN THE KING IS RECEIVED
--"Joy to the world! The Lord is come! Let earth receive her king;