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Advent: Joy

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Opening Text

Luke 2:10–11 NKJV
Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

Intro - Recap

We have spent the last couple of weeks looking at the “Advent” or “arrival” of jesus and what it means.
We have talked about the fact that Jesus didn’t come empty handed but rather He brought gifts with Him.
Week 1: He brought peace
Week 2: He brought hope
This week I want to talk about the fact that because Jesus came we can experience joy!
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Opening Illustration - Not The Greatest Time

I am an 7 on the enneagram…An adventurer
I love to do new things and am excited about the prospect of a new fun experience.
BUT I AM TERRIFIED OF NEGATIVE EMOTIONS!
If a negative emotion might be in the vicinity my natural reaction is to tell a joke quickly!
THIS IS NOT THE GREATEST TRAIT AS A PASTOR…
Funerals, Crisis, Weddings, Even counseling.
I have to consciously tell myself over and over not to make a joke…
It’s not the time!
ONE OF THE MOST UNCOMFORTABLE THINGS IS WHEN SOMEONE DOESN’T KNOW HOW TO READ THE ROOM
Even scripture tells us that everything has a time and a season.…
But even God seemingly has trouble reading the room sometimes.
Sometimes it seems as though he chooses the most inopportune times to say things…
That is made evident in the context of our scripture we read today.
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What is joy?

In our text we find the angels declaring that they have a message that is going to bring great joy!
The word joy in this passage is translated: chara:
It means to take delight or to rejoice.
The news that the angels were carrying had the power to offer an opportunity to take delight and rejoice in spite of what circumstances might dictate.
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Take Delight

TODAY I HAVE GOOD NEWS…IT’S TIME TO DISREGARD YOUR DISAPPOINTMENT!
Sometimes we take the lazy approach of only experiencing delight when circumstances are delightful.
The definition of chara is to take delight…That means that even in adverse circumstances I have been licensed to mine delight out of less than ideal circumstances.
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Circumstances at this moment were not delightful

Remember this is during 400 silent years
There is a general sense of weariness surrounding the concept of the God of Israel and His plans for His people.
Roman government has taken power
lack of prophetic insight
general degradation of opportunity for Jewish people
This cocktail would have made hopelessness the pervading thought of the day.
It is within this context that the angels say “we have news that will give you permission and reason to take delight.
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TR

As we dive into our conversation today I want us to take specific notice of a few aspects of this narrative.
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Shepherds

First lets consider who the recipients of the message are initially.
Luke 2:8 NKJV
Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.
It is in moments like these that I know that heaven does not employ the services of a PR firm.
If you want to get the word out about the fact that joy is available and salvation is on the way..you go to a more influential means that shepherds.
They were even lower on the social totum pole now that the romans had seized power
While their industry was still necessary it was not nearly as prevalent and important as it had been in generations past.
These were socially unpopular somewhat culturally washed up individuals who God sends the message to initially.
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So many better options

There are so many other people God should have sent the message to.
Let Roman officials in on the moment.
Let tax collectors be the ones to find out….(at least they have some means)
Bring in the Roman soldiers and lets start the revolution right.
BUT GOD CHOSE TO SPEAK TO SHEPHERDS!
There’s something prophetic about the deliverance of this message to the shepherds...
God loves to deliver the good news to and through those who have nothing of value to offer in return!
If you feel that you are not good enough or relevant enough to be considered…You are a prime candidate for the message of God that joy has come!
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Out in the fields

The who is interesting to me but I also want to look at the where.
In the past God has shown up in some interesting places but by this point they have come to know that the presence of God has one dwelling placeHE LIVES IN THE HOLY OF HOLIES.
Only the priest gets to go in there...
But as these shepherds are observing their profession in a less than stellar place their midnight shift gets interupted.
God shows up in the fields.
The angel is considered to be Gabriel by some commentators
There is a little bit of speculation regarding the translation “the angel of the Lord” because in the Old Testament this is a “theophany” or a manifestation of God’s presence.
Regardless we can say the presence of God because not only does the angel appear but so does the glory of the Lord.
The God who dwells in the holy place…manifests in a field in the country…
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My where is not a worry to God.
We are great at telling God why our current location is outside of his realm of movement.
If I had a better house God could move in my life.
If I had a better job God could move in my life.
If I was in a better season God could move in my life.
GOD SHOWS UP IN THE FIELDS TO LET ME AND YOU IN ON THE SECRET THAT OUR LOCATION AND OUR VOCATION HAVE NO BEARING ON HIS POTENTIAL MOVEMENT IN OUR LIFE!
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By night

Now let’s look at the when of this whole thing.
These shepherds were watching their flock at night.
It was cold, it was dark, it was inconspicuous and unseen.
AND THAT IS WHERE GOD CHOSE TO BREAK THE MOST IMPORTANT NEWS IN HISTORY TO THE WORLD.
If you are in a season that seems dark and cold…I just want to encourage you God loves to move in the cold and in the dark.
Psalm 18:11 NKJV
He made darkness His secret place; His canopy around Him was dark waters And thick clouds of the skies.
It is in the scary and inconvenient moments of life that God is often most present...
If you aren’t feeling very satisfied with your current time slot in life…Don’t let it make you think you are disqualified from the presence of God.
We don’t serve a God who only moves over brunch.
He meets unremarkable people doing insignificant jobs at inappropriate times and interrupts their mediocrity with a message of hope and joy!
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TR

The story of Jesus time on earth begins with lowly shepherds in a inconspicuous field at a less than popular time…but God chose to meet them and inform them…However, they weren’t sure that they were worthy of such an encounter.
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Unworthy of God’s Presence

Luke 2:9 NKJV
And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid.
God’s presence shows up, which is awesome…this seems like a really good part of the story.
But look at their response to the presence of God.
“they were greatly afraid.”
This was a common response to the manifest presence of God throughout the Old Testament.
In fact not only was it a common response, but it was actually an appropriate response.
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The dirty old shepherds

one thing that is commonly made evident in the manifestation of God’s presence is the overwhelming nature of His holiness.
The shepherds were probably not the picture of moral excellence.
They might have needed a language filter
They probably didn’t have the cleanest means of conversation
Their response to the holy presence of heaven was to be greatly afraid because they knew their morality did not measure up to that of heaven.
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The Law used to be the answer to this problem

At times past, the response of the presence of God to the fear of unholy men was cleansing by means of the law.
Abraham is cleansed and equipped for covenant by a sacrifice
Isaiah is cleansed by the coals from the altar
There are numerous occurences wherein the recipient of heavens message is unworthy but cleansed by some move of God in keeping with the law of Moses.
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But today we are talking about the arrival of the message of joy.
What is it that made this message so joyous?
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No more steps…just a savior

But the angels do not respond to the fear of the shepherds by offering cleansing…rather they offer encouragement.
This is a game changing moment in the realm of religion.
Rather than telling them steps they should take…the angels tell them of a step that is being taken.
THIS IS NOT ABOUT WHAT YOU HAVE TO DO…THIS IS ABOUT WHAT HE HAS DONE!
Luke 2:10–11 NKJV
Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
The good tidings of great joy can be found in the fact that heaven replaced the news of steps with the news of a savior!
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Sometimes shepherds need a sign

These shepherds thought this news was too good to be true…There’s no way it’s that easy.
They live in a culture that has complied more than 400 aspects to religious law.
Now the angels are telling us that all of this is taken care of through the birth of a baby!
They needed some proof so that their joy could seem valid.
Luke 2:12 NKJV
And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”
The shepherds were ready for joy but they needed a sign in order to solidify it...
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Your struggle is a sign

Now on the other side of this equation…we have Joseph and Mary who have travelled to Bethlehem in order to be counted in the census by order of Caesar Augustus.
This of course was prophetic because the savior was prophecied to have been born in the city of David.
Micah 5:2 ESV
But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days.
But this verse says nothing about the trouble they would have finding a place to say.
This verse didn’t declare they would be unable to grab an Air BnB
Luke 2:7 NKJV
And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
I’m sure Mary was a little frustrated with the planning committee of heaven.
If I’m going to carry the savior of the world for nine months…the least you could have done is make me a reservation!.
{As beautiful as the moment of the birth of the savior was…it had to be somewhat ruined by the smell of horse poop.}
But her struggle…was what heaven used as the shepherds sign!
Luke 2:7 NKJV
And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
Luke 2:12 NKJV
And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”
I wanted to close this message out by letting you know that your current struggle doesn’t make sense to you.
But your struggle very well could be someone else’s sign.
Because Kayla walked through depression…Kayla has been able to talk with other individuals and help them find the steps they needed to take.
Because I’ve said yes and struggled through the process of planting a church I’ve been able to help others walking that road.
If you will take care of what God has given you in a context that is less than ideal…someone else is going to be able to have joy by the sign of your struggle!
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Just another average night on the job for the shepherds…and the presence of God showed up to let them know…JOY IS HERE!
On this Sunday in December…Someone needs to understand that the good tidings of great joy are for you as well.
Even though it’s night…Even though your not in a spot characterized by the presence of God…You can take delight and rejoice…BECAUSE JESUS HAS COME TO BRING JOY.
Joy to the Word, the Lord has come…let earth receive her king.
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