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Summary: What we gather around announces JOY.

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Let Every Heart Prepare Him Room

Series: Joy to the World

December 8, 2013 - Brad Bailey

INTRO

The most popular hymn of Christmas... "Joy to the world."

The words are by English hymn writer Isaac Watts, based on Psalm 98 in the Bible. The song was first published in 1719 and as of the late 20th century, "Joy to the World" was the most-published Christmas hymn in North America.

Among those who have recorded version of the song...The Supremes in 1965, Andy Williams, Mariah Carey, Hoyt Axton, Clay Aiken, Whitney Houston, and more recently The Jonas Brothers. [1]

What we gather around announces JOY.

Our culture has developed a common phrase of what we wish someone..."Merry Christmas."

Great greeting. there's noting wrong with being merry.

But when we think of being merry...it can miss something deeper at hand. Merry often carries the sense of being able to check out. "Eat drink and be merry for tomorrow we die." But joy is not about checking out...it's about the discovery of something...that we can check into.

Joy is... more transcendent.

The first verse of that great Christmas song declares to us:

Joy to the World , the Lord is come!

Let earth receive her King;

Let every heart prepare Him room,

And Heaven and nature sing,

And Heaven and nature sing,

And Heaven, and Heaven, and nature sing.

This first verse declares that joy was coming to the world in the coming of the Lord... and calls all to receive our king.

The central call of this verse says,

"Let every heart prepare Him room."

> That is the calling we are going to take up toady...and over the next couple Sundays... to make room to receive him.

When it comes to preparing for Christmas...so often times people express feeling frustration and tension in this season... a conflict between consumption and contentment... between activity and adoration... between rushing and reflection.

Common challenge heard is how busy everyone can feel.

Christmas... can be a challenge to be as focused as we'd like to be.

There's a lot of activities that this season can bring:

• Get a tree, decorate the tree.

• Get out the lights...put up the lights.

• Decorate the house...the outside...the lawn.

• Baking

• Shopping for gifts, wrap the presents, attach the tags and put on the bows.

• Time to make plans for the out of town trip.

• Get cards...address cards...mail cards.

An elderly widow decided it was too much trouble to get all of her kids and grandkids Christmas presents, so she decided to send them a check with a card. A few days after she mailed all the cards, she discovered she forgot to include the checks in the cards. Imagine all those kids opening a card from grandma with a note inside that says, “Buy your own presents.”

> When we're busy...it's easy to forget something.

I don't think that our challenge is primarily activity... busyness.

I've found that it's these very activities that hold something rich within them.

• The giving of gifts can be a beautiful way of connecting with God's giving nature...WHEN we focus more on giving than getting.

• The lights can be a beautiful way of seeing light amidst darkness.

• Time with people and sending cards can be a beautiful part of loving others.

All of these can connect me with God's heart.....IF my heart is open to Him.

I think the bigger challenge is a matter of the space within our hearts.

We need a voice that calls out...

I believe we need to hear the voice of Isiaiah...[2],

Isaiah 40:3-5 (NKJV)

The voice of one crying in the wilderness: "Prepare the way of the LORD; Make straight in the desert A highway for our God. 4 Every valley shall be exalted And every mountain and hill brought low; The crooked places shall be made straight And the rough places smooth; 5 The glory of the LORD shall be revealed, And all flesh shall see it together; For the mouth of the LORD has spoken."

God has just declared that the day of ultimate freedom is coming... a pardon for sins...for the waywardness of his people. And now he declares that it's time to PREPARE for the coming of the Lord. Preparation is the first word God so often set out...it was the word he gave the people as Isiaiah spoke...and the call which precedes God's coming.

While these words related to the nations freedom from exile...they clearly spoke of the coming of one unlike any other.

It was a prophetic promise that grew in God's promise of a Messiah.

And so it is...when the Christ comes...a voice rises up with these words:

Luke 3:4-6 (NLT)

Isaiah had spoken of John when he said, “He is a voice shouting in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the LORD’s coming! Clear the road for him! 5 The valleys will be filled, and the mountains and hills made level. The curves will be straightened, and the rough places made smooth. 6 And then all people will see the salvation sent from God.’”

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