The Joy of Christmas

The Joy of Christmas

Luke 2:8-11

That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. 9 Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, 10 but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. 11 The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!

This great news we have, a savior born for us. A way has been made not just for heaven but for us to have an eternal relationship with the one who loves us the most.

Christmas is supposed to be a joyous time, a time of great love and happiness, for some of us, it is, for others, it is a roller coaster ride of joy and disillusionment, for others it is a difficult time they just want to get through.

The night Jesus was going to be whipped, betrayed and then ultimately delivered to the cross, He said these words to his disciples

John 15:11, 12

“I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! 12 This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you.”

Let me help you today have joy always not just for Christmas but we will start there

Robert Robinson was just a small boy when his dad died, and this meant that he had to go to work while still very young. Without a father to guide him, he fell in with bad crowd of friends.

One day his gang harassed a drunken gypsy. Pouring more whiskey into her, they demanded she tell their fortunes for free. Another time, he and his rebellious friends started harassing pastors. Another time they decided to go hear the great evangelist George Whitefield and heckle him. As Whitefield preached, a deep sense of sin came over Robert. That started a 3 year journey searching out the claims of Christ – finally, at the age of 20, he made peace with God andimmediately set out to become a preacher. Two years later, in 1757, he wrote a great hymn…

Come, Thou fount of every blessing

Tune my heart to sing Thy grace

Streams of mercy, never ceasing

Call for songs of loudest praise

Teach me some melodious sonnet

Sung by flaming tongues above…

He preached for many years until he came to a hard place in his life and then left his church because of unfair accusations. That deeply hurt him and he walked away from his faith and became very lonely, deeply angry and extremely critical in his old age.

One day as a miserable man, he was riding in a stagecoach and a lady sitting across from him – apologized to him for singing, “Come Thou fount of every blessing, tune my heart to sing Thy grace…. And then Robert said, “Lady, I am the poor unhappy man who wrote that hymn many years ago, and I would give a thousand worlds to enjoy the feelings I had then.”

At the end of his life – coming back to his faith – he said… “I lost that great emotion because I failed to flame the embers of love in order to keep joy burning bright in my life.”

How joyous will you be at the end of your life’s journey?

This is one of the most probing and personal questions that could be asked of every single one of us here today! Do you know someone whose joy has gone sour – they’re living in a tower of bitterness and over- powered by emptiness? Will this be your existence some day?

How do you feel about the Christmas season supposedly the season of joy, love, giving?

John 15 in Jesus setting up that our joy should overflow gave us 3 “remains”

John 15:4 Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.

John 15:7 But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted!

John 15:9 I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love.

The promise is, if we “remain” in these things our joy will overflow

“Remain” = Jesus is literally speaking a vow – because the very nature of God is on the line by making this statement! God cannot change, lie or reverse his promises. Look at it this way – Jesus gives a vow to validate a vow to us! This is how serious Jesus takes joy!

  1. What Are The Joy Busters In Life?

– Relationships.

We see family generally a few times a year and joy and tensions can go hand in hand it is easy to step into a role that you have to play as son, daughter, sister, brother niece, nephew and so on when we need to remember as a new creation in Christ, we are to be Jesus in every situation

Paul writes this to the church at Ephesus, Ephesians 1:22

“God has put all things under the authority of Christ and has made him head over all things for the benefit of the church.”

Whether they purchase the right gift for you or not, whether they are always a pain or a blessings, whether they are a jerk or a joy choose to put Christ first, be Jesus to your family as you may be the only Jesus they really see!

James Dobson said “Family problems can be like washing machines. They twist us, spin us and knock us around but in the end we come out cleaner, brighter and better than before.”

– Tradition.

Many times traditions can suck the joy out from our lives. Religious baggage we sometimes carry into our new relationship with Christ, ends up draining the joy right out of us!

Expectations based on the traditions of Christmas, thinking you will have the perfect traditional hallmark Christmas and when it doesn’t happen our joy is stolen from us

Paul asked a very penetrating question in Galatians 4:15 “Where is that joyful spirit we felt together…” NLT

That question needs to be asked in the church today. Is there really joy in the house?

Psalms 51:12 “Restore to me the joy of your salvation…”

Billy Sunday said, “To see some people today you would think that the essential of Christianity is to have a face so long you could eat oatmeal out of the end of a exhaust pipe.”

C.S. Lewis wrote, “It is not so much the joy of the Lord we are seeking as the Lord of joy Himself.”

– Trials.

James 1:2 “Consider it joy…whenever you face trials of many kinds.”

A funny thing happened in Huntingdon, PA last month. Edith, a mother of eight, was coming home from a neighbor’s house one Saturday afternoon. As she walked into the living room, she saw five of her youngest children huddled together, concentrating with intense interest on something.

As she slipped near them, trying to discover the center of attraction, she couldn’t believe her eyes. Right in the middle were five baby skunks. She screamed at the top of her voice, “CHILDREN, RUN!” Each child grabbed a skunk and ran.

Sometimes life is like that. You are going full steam ahead, with the wind in your sails, when you suddenly hit a sand bar. It is like confronting a room full of skunks. You just want to get out of the room. Maybe you are confused, angry, and discouraged and all your joy is gone.

2 Corinthians 7:3, 4 “…I have said before that you have such a place in our hearts that we would live or die with you…I am greatly encouraged; in all our troubles my joy knows no bounds.” (NIV)

Eusebiusof the 3rd Century said, “A vast multitude was imprisoned in every place. The prisons — prepared for murderers and robbers — were filled with spirited bishops, joyful pastors, and happy deacons … so there was no longer room for those condemned of crimes.”

Through all that, the presence of joy and the passion of joy never left these joyful Christians!

I read some stories in November of our brothers and sisters in Christ from around the world, persecuted, tortured a killed for their beliefs…what have we to fret about? What are you going through at Christmas that robs you of your joy when those going through these things still have their’s?

  1. What Are The Joy Builders In Life?

– Lift Up Praise.

Acts 16:25, 26 “But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were loosed.”

Philippians 4:4 “Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say rejoice.”

– Love The Fruit.

Galatians 5:22, 23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.”

Remember what Robert Robinson said, “I lost that great emotion because I failed to flame the embers of love in order to keep joy burning bright in my life.”

Listen, when we have been embraced by His love, then we can experience His joy – when we live his love we can’t help but have joy!

– Live in its power.

Nehemiah 8:10 “The joy of the Lord is your strength!”

– Live By Laughter.

A child laughs 400 times a day on the average, while an adult laughs only 15 times each day.

Norman Cousins He healed himself of a major chronic disease with “DLT”- Daily Laughter Therapy! He called laughter, “inner jogging.”

The Mayo Clinic in Minnesota reported in 2005 that laughter helps our breathing by disrupting our normal respiration pattern and increasing our breathing rate. It increases circulation and improves the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to tissues throughout your body.

Their research showed that laughter stimulates your immune system to fight off disease by increasing the concentration of immunoglobulin A in your saliva and by increasing the activity and number of T cells in your blood? Laughter decreases cortisol levels (stress hormones).

And it’s a natural stress reliever. Have you ever laughed so hard that you doubled over, fell off your chair, spit out your food or wet your pants? That’s because you can’t maintain muscle tension when you are laughing!

IT’S ALSO BEEN PROVEN…PEOPLE WHO LAUGH LIVE LONGER! There’s a definite link between a CHEERFUL OUTLOOK and LONGEVITY due to release of cytokines! Cytokines like laughter have a positive effect on everyone (cells) around them that brings life

One of my favorite stories is about a nurse with a grumpy attitude. A man walks into the doctor’s office and as he walked to the counter, this grumpy nurse barks, “Down the hall, first door to the right, and take off your clothes – the doctor will be in soon!” He said, “But nurse, it’s just a sore arm, I don’t think all that is necessary.” She repeated, “Down the hall, first door to the right, and take off your clothes.” He said, “But nurse.” “Down the hall, first door to the right, and take off your clothes.”

So he went down the hall, walked through the first door on the right, and saw another man already standing there in his underwear, shivering. So he said to man already in the room, “Boy, that receptionist is really something, isn’t she? I just have a sore on my arm and she told me to come down here, go through this door and take off my clothes.”

The other man in his underwear said, “You think that’s bad? I’m just trying to deliver for UPS.”

Joy is a choice….it is not dependent on others but instead is dependent on our choices.

If Jesus is Lord of your life then His joy should remain in you as you

– choose to allow His Spirit to pour through you as you are tied into the branch

– choose to believe he is for you and will do whatever he needs to bless, protect, guide, help cause growth in you

– choose to believe he is the one that loves you the most and will love you always

If you are filled with the Spirit then Joy should be a natural in you. Because Joy is who the Holy Spirit is…as much as all of the other “fruit”

Remember the news of Great joy means

This great news we have, a savior born for us. A way has been made not just for heaven but for us to have an eternal relationship with the one who loves us the most.