Faithlife Sermons

At The Heart of Christmas (3)

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So far in this series we’ve been through Hope and Peace and today we are covering joy. Realistically joy is much more than happiness. It’s deeper and longer lasting. Happiness comes for external circumstances, Joy transends the natural into the Spiritual.
Joy-Deep rooted, inspired happiness.
Nehemiah 8:10 (ESV)
10 ... for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
I love the book of Nehemiah and studied it extensively. In Chapter 8 Israel was going through the ritual cleansing of sin called the Day of Atonement. They didn’t have Jesus and the immediate forgiveness of sins, so they had a day where they would bring in their sacrifices and seek forgiveness through the shedding of animal blood. Following the day of atonement is the Feast of Tabernacles. This feast was supposed to give an entire week of celebration because they were free and forgiven for the sins that weighed them down. However, Israel, while rebuilding the temple was in a time of mourning. It took some convincing from Nehemiah for Israel to begin to rejoice.
Nehemiah was showing Israel that it isn’t enough to Receive the word or just to read the word, but we have to rejoice in the word.
Psalm 119:162 ESV
162 I rejoice at your word like one who finds great spoil.
Why because the word not only brings condemnation, but salvation to those who read and understand it’s words.
Fast forward to Jesus’ Birth story and we find Mary leaving Bethlehem and going to visit Elizabeth. Elizabeth has John the baptist in her womb. John would be born first and John would blaze the trail to get Israel ready to receive Jesus.
Luke 1:39–45 ESV
39 In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah, 40 and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. 41 And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, 42 and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! 43 And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45 And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”
In this moment we see 3 people’s Joy rise.
Elizabeth’s Joy
Why as Elizabeth joyful? Well in v41 it tells us that she was filled with the Holy Spirit. We have the benefit of receiving the Holy Spirit and keeping him on the day we receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. The Jewish people did not.
When Mary entered Elizabeth’s house Elizabeth knew, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, that she was carrying the Messiah. The reality is that our presence, as Christians and carries of the Word of God should cause other people to rejoice when we come in the room. We all know those people who make us cringe when they walk in. We know they carry sadness or are constantly negative. They always drain our energy and we do the best we can to avoid them.
This could have been the case for Mary. Mary almost lost her husband because she recieved God. Her body and appearance would forever changed and she is pregnant in the summer months. Which isn’t usually pleasant for pregnant women.
Elizabeth found joy in Mary’s faith.
Luke 1:45 (ESV)
45 And blessed is she who believed...
Is our faith giving other people a reason to find joy? We have the news of the savior which has come for the forgiveness of our sins. This time of year shouldn’t be about the presents we bring, or the food we enjoy as we come together with family and friends we haven’t seen in a while. It should be about the gospel that is alive with in us.
People should rejoice at our faith.
2. John’s Joy
Luke 1:41 (ESV)
41 And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb.
Many scholars believe this was the time when John was also filled with the Holy spirit which the angel had promises in
Luke 1:15 ESV
15 for he will be great before the Lord. And he must not drink wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb.
John rejoiced, I believe, because he recieved his purpose. From the point of John’s foretelling conception his purpose was to be a trail blazer for Jesus. He was to help people prepare their hearts and mind for Jesus’ path. He would preach of the coming salvation and tell of the freedom to be found in Jesus.
I find that many Christians lack joy because they don’t understand their purpose. For many of us our purpose or calling isn’t in our job. It isn’t in what we accumulate or the size of our bank account, but rather our purpose is centered on the news we carry within and the spreading of that news to other people.
We are supposed to be like John the Baptist. We are supposed to lead people to Christ and help people prepare their hearts to receive his salvation and the Christmas season is the easiest and best time to do this. The idea of Christ is on most people’s minds, even if they aren’t Christians. You cannot escape the nativities. The decorating that point to Jesus and the reason for this season. The world has tried to cover up Jesus through Santa, but there are those who use this time to proclaim the Birth of our Savior.
3. Mary’s joy.
Mary’s joy compelled Mary to Worship.
Because Mary believed the word of God in her life, She experienced to power of God in her life.
Many of us look for God’s power. You may be saved and waiting for God to bring peace and joy into areas into your life, but without believing that God will it is likely that he won’t. Belief creates a path for God’s power to work.
For many of us are like a house. We are connected, through faith, to the grid like our house is connected to the electrical power plants around us. The breaker box is full power. Just like God’s word is full of power, but we haven’t created a way for that power to travel into different areas of our life.
When we want power to surge through our house we have to crate path lines from the breaker box through the house. Those path lines, when activated through a switch or a plug allow lights and energy to surge. The power is always in the breaker box but without purposeful connection the power cannot be let out.
God’s spirit is the connection to the grid and God’s word, and the belief that is word is the line in which his power travels.
Luke 1:45 ESV
45 And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”
Mary Received the word of God which brought her great joy in her times of trial and discomfort.
OUR JOY- Where do we get our joy? If we aren’t in God’s word and we aren’t receiving his truth where does our joy come from and are we joyful at all?
My prayer is that each on of us will devote time this Christmas season to energizing our faith through God’s word. I pray that we take time to read each morning and receive what the truth that Jesus brings.
I pray the gift we bring to our family and friends is the time WE spend in the word of God.
Many of us are going to connect with people we haven’t seen in a while. Many of us going to go places we haven’t been in a while. And my prayer is that your joy isn’t that of Holiday cheer, but rather the joy of being filled with the Spirit of God.
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