Summary: Sometimes we need to be reminded that we have much to rejoice about! … to rejoice in the Lord always! That doesn’t mean we rejoice that things are going the way they are, but we rejoice in the Lord, remembering that He can be trusted and has us covered!
Mega Christmas Joy!
Luke 2:8-20 Intro: We’re talking about joy today. I’ve been mulling over the whole concept of Biblical joy throughout the week. What is it? Is it that important? How do we get it? Now from my studies of the Bible I know that joy is not something that depends on how good things are going around you. How often do you hear people say that they are having a bad day, or something ruined their day, or they can’t wait until this day is over? They want out of this day. Let’s try a new day and see if we can dial up a better one so we can feel some joy! [This is where I’m supposed to remind you that “This is the day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it!” It’s the only one you have, so make the most of it!] The truth is, we all have those days we’d like to teleport out of when nothing seems to go right in our lives. Especially when we find ourselves in the dark days of grief when we lose someone close to us. How can we find joy during those times? Or you get bad news from the doctor that what you feared has come upon you. How can a person rejoice when they hear bad news that may change their life?
-Here are a couple of observations about joy: sometimes it comes as a byproduct, and sometimes it needs a kick start. Here’s what I mean. Galatians 5:22 says that the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, and more. If I have received God’s forgiveness and grace and have the Holy Spirit living in me, then joy will be one of the results of God’s Spirit in me. Joy can be natural, residual, unforced when the Holy Spirit lives in us. But sometimes joy needs a kick start. That is why we have the book of Philippians in the Bible. Joy or rejoice are used 16 times in the 4 chapters of Philippians (written while Paul was in prison for crimes he did not commit). Philippians 4:4 says it all… “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” Sometimes we need to be reminded that we have much to rejoice about! And sometimes we need to be reminded to rejoice in the Lord always! That doesn’t mean we rejoice that things are going the way they are, but we do rejoice in the Lord, remembering that He can be trusted and has us covered!
-So, with those thoughts out on the table this morning, let’s look at these words in Luke 2 that inspired such songs as Joy to the World, How Great our Joy, and more. I want to see why and how these overlooked, underappreciated, unrefined and often unpleasant guardians of sheep could find on-the-job joy. I’m pretty sure it had nothing to do with their lack of coverage under Obamacare, but let’s take a look.
1. The Joy of Hearing from the Lord
Luke 2:8-14 8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." 13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 14 "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."
-Throughout the history of Israel, shepherding was a noble profession. Abel was the first to have this job, followed by Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses and of course, David. God calls Himself a shepherd and we’re compared to sheep, which is anything but a compliment. By the time we come to the first century however, shepherding has lost its luster. Shepherds made up the lowest class of people, coming in just ahead of the lepers. In the Talmud, which is a collection of interpretations and insight from the rabbis, we read these words: “No help is to be given to heathen or shepherds.”
-In order to understand how unusual it was to have the angels appear to these lowly shepherds, let’s learn a bit about them:
• Considered ceremonially unclean. Because of the nature of their work they were unable to attend any religious services.