Joy to the World!

Sermon Notes (Sunday December 20th, 2015)

Rev. Mouris Yousef, Pastor

 

Joy to the World!

Psalm 16:8-11; Luke 2:8-14

 

If you were to ask anyone on the street what is the most joyful time of the year? Without any hesitation, it would be unanimous that Christmas is the most joyful time of the year. Several of our favorite carols capture the essence of Christmas, which is joy. To name some: “Joy to the world, the Lord is come,” “O come all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant,” “Shepherds, why this jubilee, why your joyous strains prolong?” “Good Christian men, rejoice, with heart and soul and voice,” “Joyful all ye nations rise, join the triumph of the skies, with the angelic host proclaim, ‘Christ is born in Bethlehem.’”  In Luke 2:10-11 the angel of the Lord appeared to the shepherds and said, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.’”

 

I wonder how many of us feel joyful this morning? Where did all the Christmas joy go? How did things get so complicated? So rushed? So squeezed and cluttered? It doesn’t have to be that way. We can choose to step aside, step into a quieter moment, and read the angel’s words that came on that night that changed the whole world. Today we wrap up a four week series through which we focused on the four traditional themes associated with season of Advent: Hope, Peace, Love, and Joy. We have already covered the first three topics. Please allow me this morning to briefly address the topic of joy.

 

The Message of Christmas is not a Delusional Message

The question I am asking us this morning is: Where did all the Christmas joy go? It’s not always easy to feel joyful. Does that mean the Christmas message is delusional? You and I know that the message of Christmas is NOT a delusional message. We are not pretending that we live in a world that is not struggling under a curse and sin. Yet, we can be joyful. I am joyful today not because everything in my life is going just the right way. I am joyful today not because everything is exactly the way I want it to be. Let me tell you why you and I should be joyful this morning.

 

First: Emmanuel ~ God is with us

My hearts should be filled with joy today because, as Isaiah 9:6 says, “for to us a child is born, to us a son is given.” This Son is Jesus ~ Emmanuel, God is with us. I am joyful today because I am not alone and I will never walk this journey we call life by myself because my Savior walks with me. The hymn In the Garden captures that thought: “And He walks with me and He talks with me and He tells me I am His own. And the joy we share as we tarry there none other has ever known.”

 

Friends, we don’t know what our future holds, but we do know who holds our future. So many things and people might desert us in times of need, but Emmanuel won’t. We can be joyful today because we are confident of God’s presence and God’s faithfulness. In Psalm 23:6, King David reminds us, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” Friends, Christ’s joy is not determined by circumstances. It is the presence of the Lord that makes the whole difference.

 

Second: We Have Been Forgiven

We should be joyful today because we’ve been forgiven. In the gospel of Luke 2:11 we are given great news: “Today in the town of David, in Bethlehem, a Savior was born to us; he is the Messiah, the Lord.” In Matthew 1:21 the angel appeared to Joseph and said to him, “you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” We rejoice today because our Savior is born. Psalm 32:1 says, “Blessed (the Greek word μακάριος “makarios” means extremely happy) is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.” We are joyful today because we’ve been forgiven.

 

Third: We are here for a Reason

In John 20:21 Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” We should be joyful today because we know we are around for a reason. We are on earth in a mission. Once the mission is accomplished, we will be with our Lord and Savior signing praises to the Lamb with the redeemed of all ages in heaven: “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise” Revelation 5:12. When the time of our service is completed, we will return home.

 

Friends, nothing will hinder us from accomplishing God’s purposes in and through us. Nothing ~ no trouble, no hardship, no persecution, no famine, no nakedness, no danger, no sword will separate us from the Love of God. “We are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” as Paul says in Romans 8:37.  Then once the journey has come to an end, we will be greeted by the Lord Himself, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Enter into the joy of your master” Matthew 25:21.

 

Friends, Christmas is about declaring, “Joy to the world, the Lord has come.” God’s desire is that His people would be full of joy. Jesus wants you to have real joy; joy that is true joy; joy that is lasting joy; joy that is great joy. It is joy that is unshakable joy because it is not fragile. It is joy that will endure the storms of life. It is real joy that transforms the sob of the soul into a new song. It is joy that heals the broken heart and gives it new life. It is joy that turns a bitter frown into a radiant smile. It is joy that turns the deepest despair into the greatest delight. It is joy that cannot be imitated, it cannot be duplicated, it cannot be purchased in a pill, it cannot be bought in a bottle. It is joy that is found in Jesus Christ, for He and He alone is the source of joy. King David reminds us in Psalm 16:11, “You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” Merry Christmas Elmer Presbyterian Church family. In the Name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen!

 

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