Summary: To invite people to accept Christ's gift of joy this Christmas.
[Title S] The other night I was watching tv when I saw it. One of the best buys of the Christmas season. For only $19.95 I could get a noodle strainer, a vegetable steamer, chopper, slicer and dicer, 4 air tight plastic bowls, one large plastic spoon, two knives, a birth stone, and a shammy and a brush to wash my car, all guaranteed for life. And if I ordered within the next 30 minutes I would get a bonus gift, they would double the order absolutely free! I’d get two for the price of one!
Two weeks ago we started a sermon series titled Gifts that won’t break. The first gift was the gift of hope. Last week was the gift of love. And today’s gift, well, it’s a bonus gift for those who opened God’s gift of love. What is it?
Let’s unwrap this gift together by reading Luke 2.8-15 together.
[S] “And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 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. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” (TNIV) [S]
A third gift from God is the gift of Joy.
Joy. Every human being has a hunger or a thirst for joy, do they not? People want a life characterized by joy. We all want it. And we all try to “get it” anyway we can. We spend more money than we have trying to attain it through our purchasing power. People might even go to different churches or try different jobs or move to new parts of the country hoping that they will experience a sense of joy. We buy cars and jewelry and trips and diamonds and homes and flat screens hoping that the joy that results will last the long term. But it doesn’t last. And you know why? Because joy isn’t for sale. Joy can’t be purchased. Joy can’t be auctioned or sold on eBay. Joy, joy that lasts, is a bonus gift that results from hearing and experiencing the good news that a Savior has been given to us.
I’ll never forget Dr. Jack Chisum. He was my professor for a business course at Greenville College prior to my D-day, the day I became a disciple of Jesus. At that time I was a young man lost in my thoughts and experiences and life. I just wanted to be with people and party. I was drifting through life. And then one day Dr. Chisum, the professor of Business and Administration dismissed the class but asked me to stay behind because he wanted to talk with me. He scooted one of the little desk chairs up next to me and began with some small talk. Eventually he came around and said, “Bryan, I and some of the other professors are concerned about you. We know what you’re doing. We know you’re not living up to the lifestyle statement. We know you’re partying and other things like that and wish there was something we could do. And then he said something like, “Bryan, this might not make any sense. But is it possible, that the “high” you’re trying to attain through manmade means can only be satisfied in a relationship with Jesus?” That was one of the most profound things I had ever heard. My professor suggested that the joy I was seeking was the result or byproduct of living as a disciple of Jesus.
[S] Jesus said, “If you obey my commands you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain n his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in your and that your joy may be complete (John 15.10-11, NIV)
And so sometime after my visit with Dr. Chisum I made Christ the leader of my life and the joy that flooded my soul was second to none. It was so far superior to anything man made that I had ever experienced. It was an incredible gift of God.