December 21, 2014  Luke 2   Great Joy 


     You will know it is Christmas time when there are more pine needles on your carpet than on your tree.    The credit card is smoked along with the turkey and ham.  A trip to the mall and back is more challenging then the Indy 500.    You are pulling an all-nighter because of the words "Some Assembly Required".  Your Christmas list is written in black while your check book balance is written in red.   It is Christmas time when the days are short and there seems to be a lot more night than day light less than 9 hours of day light for us now.     It is Christmas time when you hear the stores will be open all night.  When you hear the words it is black Friday and Cyber Monday along with a bunch of other such days that keep springing up.  Brothers and Sisters Christmas season is here again.  
    The angel in this passage said to the shepherds I bring you good news of great joy.  Now that great joy we know is in Jesus and so we are glad it is Christmas season.  It is not a little joy but great joy.   This event is huge.  This is not a parade or one king winning a battle over another king.   This joy this news is lasting.   It is for all people.   It benefits the whole earth.   It is so big that the heavens are bursting forth in joy and song.   The last Sunday of November I preached on Jesus turning the water to wine.   Jesus restored joy to that wedding.  That was his first miracle.  Why shouldn’t it be his first miracle?   Think of the joy Jesus brought when he healed someone.   Think of the joy Jesus brought when he cast demons out of people.   Good news of great joy but are we filled with joy?   Is the world filled with joy?   I look around and I do not see a lot of joy today in the world.     There seems to be a lot of bad stuff.   I have often struggled with joy in my life.  I believe I have a lot more joy in my life because I know Jesus.  I have thought about the concept of joy especially for us Christians.   Does the world see Christians filled with joy?   We do not want to be like the guy in this story. 

     There was once a young boy who went to spend the week with his grandfather on the farm. While walking around he noticed the chickens, they were scratching and playing around. The little lad said, “They ain’t got it”. Next he saw a colt in the field playing and kicking up its heel’s to which he replied, “He ain’t got it”. After examining all of the animals on his grandfather’s farm and saw that none of them had “it”, this boy finally found the old donkey in the barn.   When he saw the donkey’s long, frowning face and the way that the donkey just stood there he screamed for his grandfather to come quick. “I found it, I found it” the boy kept yelling. When his grandfather asked what he had found he said, “Pawpaw, I found an animal that has the same kind of religion that you have.”   There certainly is room for sorrow and pain but there must be room for joy also.   The bible declares there is joy.   God promises joy.  

     I prayed as I was preparing this message and ask the lord to give me some new thoughts about joy.    I started to think about God and joy.   I had to ask myself some questions.    Do I need joy?   Can I give myself joy?   Am I full of joy?   Have I asked God to give me joy?   God promises to meet our needs as we walk with him.   Is heaven full of joy?   Does God experience joy?   Or is heaven always at war?   Does God experience joy when I wake up breathing?   Does God experience joy when I pray?   Does God experience joy when I muck up?   I did not say sin.   Does God laugh?   He must have a sense of humor because he made me.  God must have a really strong sense of humor because I know God has called me to preach.     I do not know about you but I think some of my attitude about joy comes from how I think where God is at with joy. 

     Zephaniah 3 the LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save.     He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.”   God you will take great delight in me?   I almost want to say don’t you have anything better to do?   He will rejoice over me with singing.   Are you sure about that?  Well that is what the bible teaches.    God told Adam and Eve be fruitful and multiply.  I want more people.   God wants more children.  But God that is going to cost you a great deal.  God knew Adam would sin.  God knew the price that he would have to pay and he went ahead with his plan.   I think God gets joy from his creation.  I know he is perfect and it is hard to understand him and his ways.  We never totally figure him out.  The galaxies worship Him.  The plants and animals on earth worship.  I think God delights every time the song bird sings and hundreds and millions of song birds that sing.   I think God appreciates every single flower that blooms.   I think God derives satisfaction from the millions of flowers that man often ignores.   I ask myself does God experience joy when the animals migrate?    Does God experience joy when the lion catches supper at the expense of course of someone else?    

     The angel said to the cold lowly (I better not forget smelly) shepherds I bring you good tidings of great joy.     The heavenly band and choir sprang into action.  I would say they sang.  It does not say that the angles sang.  They sang Glory to God in the highest.   The heavens burst forth with joy and praise.  I assume that God was full of joy at the birth of his son.   I think God was full of joy when you were born.  I think God is full of joy because you are in church to worship him.    I think there is joy in the heart of God when you are home and cooking super or doing dishes or working on the job.   We can look at our life and see all the bad stuff the train wrecks of our lives so to speak.  It is sometimes too easy to see all the bad stuff.  I can look at my life and say I have not been successful.    If I am not happy with me and then it becomes easy to think how could God be happy with me?   I do not know if any person could feel totally successful in their family or marriage or to be totally correct in work.    For the Christian that can impact how we feel about God and it can give us a wrong sense of God and certainly impact how we feel about ourself.    DENNIS THE MEANACE 

    Does God experience joy?   Does God experience joy over you?   We know there is joy in heaven every time when the lost is reunited with their heavenly father.   What are the qualities that flow from the spirit of God?   The fruit of the spirit are many things.    The 1st on the list in Galatians 5 is love and the second is joy.  God’s nature is love.   God’s nature is joy.   God’s nature is peace.   That flows from God.    If the Holy Spirit is controlling your life joy will flow from you.   Joy is one of the emotions in the Holy Spirit and the HS is God.   Joy is part of God’s make up.   The angel said I bring you good news of great joy.   I believe God wants us to experience joy.  John 15:10-11 puts it this way: “If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love.   I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”   They were not full of joy when Jesus spoke these words to them.   Jesus was in his last hours with the disciples when he shared this with them.  Jesus said I want you to have complete joy.     Romans 14:17  “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.”   ” Isaiah 65:18-19: “But be glad and rejoice forever in what I will create, for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight and its people a joy.   I will rejoice over Jerusalem and take delight in my people…”  I will take great delight in my people.   I do not think this sounds totally right but if God experiences joy over me can I experience joy over myself? 

    Men have pursued joy in every avenue imaginable.   Some have successfully found it while others have not.   Perhaps it would be easier to describe where joy cannot be found: Not in Unbelief -- Voltaire was an infidel of the most pronounced type. He wrote: "I wish I had never been born."  Not in Pleasure -- Lord Byron lived a life of pleasure if anyone did. He wrote: "The worm, the canker, and grief are mine alone."   Not in Money -- Jay Gould, the American millionaire, had plenty of that. When dying, he said: "I suppose I am the most miserable man on earth."   Not in Position and Fame -- Lord Beaconsfield enjoyed more than his share of both. He wrote: "Youth is a mistake; manhood a struggle; old age a regret." 

      Not in Military Glory -- Alexander the Great conquered the known world in his day. Having done so, he wept in his tent, before he said, "There are no more worlds to conquer."  Where then is real joy found? -- The answer is simple, in Christ alone.  The Bible Friend    Solomon tried all of those things and more and he learned and said in essence that the best thing to do is to fear God and keep His commandments.  Solomon had power and riches.  He had wisdom and fame.  He set his heart to pleasures and to building gardens and castles.  He set his heart to learn.  Just at the end of his writings he writes everything is meaningless and then he says fear God, obey him it is the entire duty of man. 

    Dwight L. Moody also says it well, “Happiness is caused by things that happen around me, and circumstances will mar it; but joy flows right on through trouble; joy flows on through the dark; joy flows in the night as well as in the day; joy flows all through persecution and opposition.   It is an unceasing fountain bubbling up in the heart; a secret spring the world can’t see and doesn’t know anything about. The Lord gives His people perpetual joy when they walk in obedience to Him.

     Swindoll says this about his book Laugh Again, “It’s about giving the child within us permission to look at life and laugh again “.    He adds, “I know of no greater need today than the need for joy. We need unexplainable, contagious joy. outrageous joy…Unfortunately, our country seems to have lost its spirit of fun and laughter.    I think most of us could stand some outrageous contagious joy.   Where are you going to get joy?  The world cannot fill your life with joy – you have to turn to Jesus.   The angel said I have good news of great joy.   When you pray for others ask God to give them joy.  A good prayer is Lord give me joy in my life as I serve you and as I work.   Make me successful and teach me how to live and work.