Christmas The Source of Joy Luke 2 Dec 2006 am
“The Gift Of Joy”
There is no language that has as many words for joy and rejoicing, as does Hebrew.
In the Old Testament thirteen Hebrew roots, found in twenty-seven different words, are used primarily for some aspect of joy or joyful participation in religious worship.
Hebrew religious ritual demonstrates God as the source of joy.
In contrast to the rituals of other faiths of the East, Israelite worship was essentially a joyous proclamation and celebration.
------- The good Israelite regarded the act of thanking God as the supreme joy of his life.
Pure joy is joy in God as both its source and object.
The psalmist says, "Thou dost show me the path of life; in thy presence there is fullness of joy, in thy right hand are pleasures forevermore". (Psalm 16:11)
Luke records the following words in the second chapter of his gospel;
“I bring you good news of GREAT joy…”
Now, the word ‘great’ is the Greek word ‘megas’ it’s where we get our English word mega.– the good news the angels proclaimed was not just the good news of ‘joy’ – NO it was the good news of MEGA joy… Mega joy for all people, mega joy for me, mega joy for you…
The second reason I want to talk about joy, as we begin this series, is because for many – Christmas is NOT a joyful time…
SURE – we sing, “Joy to the world the Lord is come” “O come all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant” “repeat the sounding joy”
BUT joy – real joy seems to elude so many.
BUT I am sure that is not news to you – hey we have all heard the statistics (maybe we’ve been part of them, a time or 2) statistics, of how the Christmas season is a time a great depression for so many,
AND LISTEN – it’s not only those out in the world who feel this way, I’ve seen people, even people who belong to Christ – people who attend church, people who sing songs of praise - go around this time of year looking like the Grinch and sounding like the scrooge…
They are; stressed out, worn out, burnt out and joyed out…
I. Give Your Worries to God
“Do not be afraid…”
UNDERSTAND – worry is one of the main reasons people loose their joy?
NOT only during the Christmas season BUT all the time… It’s hard to be joyful when you are stressed out and worried… Worry is: Asking “what if” and answering
. Stewing without doing
. Worry Corrie Ten Boom says - “does not empty tomorrow of it’s sorrows, it empties today of it’s strength.”
The word “worry” in the Greek actually is made up of 2 words that mean, “to divide the mind” (merizo, nous).
Worry divides the mind between positive thoughts and damaging thoughts.
Interestingly our English word “worry” has much the same meaning, it comes from an old Anglo-Saxon word that means to “choke” or to “strangle.” This is exactly what worry does, it chokes our joy, it strangles it.
UNDERSTAND - worry is probably the least productive thing you ever do…
Mickey Rivers, at the time an outfielder for the Texas Rangers, stated his philosophy of life: “Ain’t no sense worrying about things you got control over, because if you got control over them, ain’t no sense worrying. And there ain’t no sense worrying about things you got no control over either, because if you got no control over them, ain’t no sense worrying.
Let me read 2 passages that deal with giving up your worry…
LISTEN – is not a coincidence that Paul talks about rejoicing and worry in the same context – BECAUSE if you are ever going to be able to rejoice ALWAYS… you must learn how to overcome worry…
Paul says the key is GIVE every anxiety to God…
AND Jesus said in the passage we just read from Matthew 6; that the things people in this world are frantically seeking after, “Your father knows that you need them...”
LISTEN - If you are a Christian you are one of God’s children. Now that is an awesome truth, an incredible concept, one you must not allow yourself to overlook or minimize;
“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” 1 Jn 3:1
“I am a child of God…”
AND UNDERSTAND – that when you really understand and believe that you are a child of God, it WILL take of worry in your life…
My children and I’m sure yours as well; do not worry about whether or not they will have a home to live in, food to eat, clothes to wear, they don’t worry about if there will . They don’t worry about money for school lunches, school supplies, or field trips...
Why? Because they know that we are aware of their needs and they trust us to take care of that stuff. How much MORE will God take care of your needs.
“If that is how God clothes the grass of the fields, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he cloth you...O you of little faith”
II. Refuse To Focus On What You Don’t Have
… Solomon writes in Pr. 14:30; “A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones..”
Question – why did the Grinch think that he had stolen Christmas for the whos?
Because he thought that he had taken away all the things that Christmas was about… This act was, or so he hoped, the final note in his symphony of nastiness and not niceness…
That’s why - WHEN the Grinch heard coming from Whoville not sounds of sadness but sounds of joy - he was perplexed…BECAUSE “it came without gifts, it came without tags, it came without packages, boxes or bags…”
UNDERSTAND – the reason the Grinch couldn’t take away the who’s Christmas was because the who’s refused to focus on what they didn’t have… That’s a pretty powerful lesson Dr Seuss.
“If I can’t buy or I don’t receive the gifts I want – I’m depressed…”
“If a don’t have a family, or a picture perfect family, OR if I have lost a loved one – Christmas will never be the same…
it will never be joyful again.”
UNDERSTAND – you will not always be able to give or receive all that you want; UNDERSTAND - your families are not perfect; and
UNDERSTAND – at times love ones will leave you to go home to the Lord – BUT these things should not affect your Christmas joy…
WHY? BECAUSE – as the GRINCH so correctly said, “Christmas does not come in a store… Christmas means so much more…”
AND LISTEN – the true meaning, the core of Christmas, can never be taken away… But it suffices to say for now – that it is only when you make Christmas something it was never intended to be that this time of the year can be a downer…
III. - Never Forget The Reason
“But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring good news of great joy that will be for all people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.”
CIRCLE – “a Savior has been born to you…”
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
CIRCLE – “shall not perish”
The word translated perish means, to destroy to make an end to, to annihilate…
The word means according to The Theological Dictionary of the New testament
“definitive destruction, not merely in the sense of the extinction of physical existence, but rather of an eternal plunge into Hades and a hopeless destiny of death…”
LISTEN - the reason for Christmas – is that YOU needed a Savior, The reason for the season, is God’s gift to you - so that you would not have to perish – would not have to be destroyed, so that you would not have to be plunged into Hades and a hopeless destiny of death… NEVER allow yourself to forget that.
UNDERSTAND – The Christ child did not come 2,000 years ago; so that we could give each other presents, decorate our houses, drink eggnog, have parties and sit on Santa’s lap.
NO Christ came – that little Baby was born to a virgin, and was laid in a manger for one reason, and one reason only – to die for your sin…and mine.
Jesus was born to die…
THAT’S, the reason for the season… NEVER forget it.
Christmas is about God giving His son to die for you.
Question – How do you think God feels when he looks down at us, and sees us give more time, more energy, more everything to all of the trimmings the world has wrapped Christmas in…
BUT give so little to Christ…?
A. W. Tozer said, "We are called to an everlasting preoccupation with God."
Are you preoccupied this Christmas?
Have the trappings of the season snared you?
If you want to keep joy in your Christmas remember the reason… LISTEN –
God loved you so much that He gave His Son, He loved you so much that He watched, He stood on the sidelines as His son was – mocked, beaten, spit upon and crucified…
That is why Christmas should make you say with great joy – with mega joy,
“I matter to God and that’s all that matters to me…” !!!!
It doesn’t matter what I get or can’t give – it doesn’t matter if my family is perfect or not… BECAUSE, I matter to God…” !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
LISTEN - nothing can separate you from the real joy of Christmas… BECAUSE the real joy of Christmas – IS – grounded, anchored and tied to the love of God…
..Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
--2 Corinthians 12:9-10
Ten thousand enemies cannot stop a Christian, cannot even slow him down, if he meets them in an attitude of complete trust in God. They will become to him like the atmosphere that resists the airplane, but which because the plane's designer knew how to take advantage of that resistance, actually lifts the plane aloft and holds it there for a journey of 2,000 miles. What would have been an enemy to the plane becomes a helpful servant to aid it on its way....
If this should seem like a bit of theorizing, remember that always the greatest Christians have come out of hard times and tough situations. Tribulations actually worked for their spiritual perfection in that they taught them to trust not in themselves but in the Lord who raised the dead. They learned that the enemy could not block their progress unless they surrendered to the urgings of the flesh and began to complain. And slowly, they learned to stop complaining and start praising. It is that simple--and it works!
"Lord, I wish I could more readily 'stop complaining and start praising.' I pray for Your grace to work within me that I might allow the trials to lift me aloft rather than press me down. I'll do it in Your strength today. Amen."
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardships, or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?…No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Rm 8:35,37-39
QUESTION – how can you NOT be joyful when you think about how much Almighty God loves you?
Hold Your Thoughts Captive
Paul writes in 2 Cor 10:5, “take captive every thought”
LISTEN – if you do not hold your thoughts captive – there is a good chance that you will lose your joy this Christmas season… if you do not control your thinking you are in trouble…
UNDERSTAND – if you start thinking negative things during this time of year –
Ø if you start thinking about what you want BUT you don’t have,
Ø if you start worrying about this & this,
Ø If you start thinking depressing thoughts – it should be no surprise that you start to feel & act depressed…
“Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy think of such things…”