Saturday, December 15, 2012

Advent Series (3): Joy to the World, Luke 2:10-11

Joy to the World
Luke 2:10-11
Advent Series (3)

By Pastor Brian
Fort Bend Community Church
2012.12.16 Christmas Joint Service


1. Merry Christmas.

I love Christmas music and I love Christmas carols. Someone said that the Christmas carols are rich in theology. This morning I would like to play a game with you. First, Rule #1: no cheating on you smart phone with the internet. Find "JOY" in any of the Christmas carols. And you will get a price if you are right.

Joy to the World

Joy to the world, the Lord is come;
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven, and heaven and nature sing.

Angels We Have Heard on High

Angels we have heard on high
Sweetly singing o'er the plains,
And the mountains in reply
Echoing their joyous strains.
Gloria, in excelsis Deo!
Gloria, in excelsis Deo!

Break forth, O beauteous heavenly light

Break forth, O beauteous heavenly light,
And usher in the morning;
O shepherds, shrink not with afright,
But hear the angel's warning.
This Child, now weak in infancy,
Our confidence and joy shall be,
The power of Satan breaking,
Our peace eternal making.

From Heaven Above To Earth I Come

From heaven above to earth I come
To bear good news to every home;

Glad tidings of great joy I bring,
Whereof I now will say and sing.

God rest you merry, gentlemen

God rest you merry, gentlemen,
Let nothing you dismay.
For Jesus Christ our Savior,
Was born on Christmas Day;
To save us all from Satan's power,
When we were gone astray.
O tidings of comfort and joy,
For Jesus Christ our Savior
Was born on Christmas day.

Hark! the herald angels sing
 Hark! the herald angels sing
Glory to the new-born King!
Peace on earth and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled!
Joyful, all ye nations, rise,
Join the triumph of the skies;
With th' angelic host proclaim
Christ is born in Bethlehem!
Hark! the herald angels sing
Glory to the new-born King!

O come, all ye faithful,

O come, all ye faithful,
Joyful and triumphant,
O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem;
Come and behold him,
Born the King of angels;
O come, let us adore him,
O come, let us adore him,
O Come, let us adore him, Christ the Lord.

O come, O come, Emmanuel,

O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

What Child is This
Raise, raise a song on high,
The virgin sings her lullaby.
Joy, joy for Christ is born,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.

O Holy Night
Truly He taught us to love one another,
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains he shall break, for the slave is our brother.
And in his name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
With all our hearts we praise His holy name.
Christ is the Lord! Then ever, ever praise we,
His power and glory ever more proclaim!
His power and glory ever more proclaim!

Christmas carols which do not have the word, joy, in it include:
  • Away in the Manger
  • The First Noel
  • O Little Town of Bethlehem
  • Silent Night
  • Thou Didst Leave Thy Throne
  • What Child is this
  • Once in Royal David's City
  • We Three Kings of Orient
  • It Came Upon the Midnight Clear
  • We Wish You a Merry Christmas

2. Joy is a key word in the biblical accounts of the birth of Christ. Joy is at the center of the announcement of the birth to the shepherds and to the world and to us. The shepherds represent common people like you and me.

In Luke 2:10-11 "And the angel said to the shepherds, "Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord."

I. The good news is the Christmas joy, Luke 2:10

1. The Angel brings the Good News--the Greek word is "evangelize"--proclaim the good news. That is right. Evangelism means to bring Good News to people. Today if you share the Good News of Jesus Christ, you are proclaiming the good news, just like the angel did 2,000 years ago.

The good news the angel proclaims is a message from God. It is not an ordinary message. It was announced by an angel, a supernatural being. It is a message from the divine, a message that the people of Israel has been waiting for 2,000 years. Finally the Messiah is here, bringing the good news of great joy.

2. This great news of great joy. Great Joy. Not just joy, but exceeding joy, an intense joy, an overwhelming joy, a joy that we don't see very often today.

Today we have one simple task. We will learn what is joy. What does this joy look like? What does this joy feel like? And what do we do when we have joy? Okay?

3. What is joy? The Greek word in Luke 2:10 is chara: It means joy, cheer, gladness, or celebration. It is a very important word in the New Testament. It appears 59 times.

Joy is the result of the presence of the Holy Spirit among human beings. The Holy Spirit generates joy as a witness of His presence in our life. Gal. 5:22 says that joy is the second part of the fruit of the Spirit. Love, JOY, peace... Rom. 14:17 says that the kingdom of God is a matter of joy in the Holy Spirit together with righteousness and peace. Being filled with joy is a sign of being filled by the Spirit (Acts 13:52; Luke 10:21). Hence joy to the world is a witness of the activity of God. When God is at work, we have joy from the Spirit.

Therefore if the presence of the Holy Spirit working among you, joy is the natural result. You will be joyful. It does not matter whether you have a good job, or whether you are married, or whether you have money. If the Spirit is working in your life, joy is the sign. This joy is given by the Holy Spirit deep in our soul.

The angel said, "I bring you good news of great joy." This good news is the work of God. Mary was conceived by the Holy Spirit. The Baby Boy is the fulfillment of the promise of God. The savior is born to save us from sins. That is why this is the good news of great joy. God is on the move. The Holy Spirit is presence and we have joy.

4. But there is a catch. Listen carefully. It is a good news of great joy, only if you receive it or participate in the work of God. In the NT usage, "joy" (chara) is often used together with the word, "receive."

Mark 4:16 and 1 Thess. 1:6  We receives the Word of God with joy of the Holy Spirit.
We receive salvation with joy (Luke 15:7, 10; John 3:29; 1 Thess. 3:9; 7:13; Phil 1:4; 2:2; 4:1)
People receive the vision or revelation from God with great joy (Luke 2:10; 1 John 1:4).
We receive with the work of God with joy (Phil 1:4; Col. 1:11; Luke 1:14).
Matt. 2:10 In the Christmas story, the magi saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.

When God is working among you, you need to embrace to, to receive it. Then the Spirit-induced joy will be given to you as a gift.

5. For examples, when this good news of great joy was brought to King Herod, he was not happy. There was no joy, because he did not embrace it nor did he receive it. On the other hand, when the shepherds heard the good news that the Savior was born, they went to look for the baby in the manger. And they rejoiced and they praised God all over the town of Bethlehem. When Simeon received the baby Jesus in his arms, he rejoiced and was glad. "Now I am ready to die."

The joy is a gift from the Holy Spirit, but you have to receive it, embrace it, and be part of it.

6. This afternoon, we have 34 people who will be baptized. It is a joyful occasion. The joy of salvation is yours when you receive it by faith. The Holy Spirit will give it to you deep in your soul this joy of the Lord.

7. Now let us take a closer look to see what this joy looks like.

First, this joy is not like most of us think as an involuntary and internal "emotion." No, joy is not just a happy thought. Joy is not just an emotion high or ecstasy. It is an comprehensive, value-centered, Christian characteristic or Christian virtue. Just like gentleness, friendliness, generosity, self-sacrifice, the joy of the Lord even in the midst of suffering is part of Christian's Good and Beautiful Life. Whoever has the Christian virtue also has this constant joy. It is what Christmas life is all about.

Second, the Joy from the Spirit runs deeper than 'physical pleasure'. When you have a good meal, play a good game, enjoy a good movie, that is called 'pleasure.' But joy is deeper than that feeling of physical pleasure. The physical pleasure goes only body-deep, only physical. After a good meal, you need another good meal pretty soon. The pleasure is not deep. It only fulfills your body. But not joy. Joy is much deeper. It comes from your soul in response to God's goodness.

I like the children's song, "J-O-Y." The theology is so true.

I've got joy down in my heart
Deep, deep down in my heart
J-O-Y down in my heart
Deep deep down in my heart
Jesus gives it to me
And nothing can destroy it, destroy it, destroy it!
I've got joy down in my heart
Deep, deep down in my heart

Thirdly, this joy is more enduring than mere 'fun'. We always want to have fun. Fun is easy going; fun is doing something you like. Fun-loving is a personality trait that we love to have. Fun is "hakuna matata" in Lion King. That means "don't worry. Be happy" in Swahili language.

But fun comes and goes. Very quickly Simba runs into troubles. He has to face his evil uncle, Scar. Fun won't last. But joy is enduring. It lasts for a lifetime. It won't fade.

Joy is deeper than pleasure, more enduring than fun. Lastly, joy is also more intense and thrilling than just 'happiness'. Happiness depends on circumstances, on outward conditions. When I get an A for my class, I am happy. When I win a basketball game, I am happy. When I got a good seat today, I am happy. It depends on circumstances. But the great joy is much more intense and thrilling, especially in a spiritual context. Joy runs deep into the core of us, and radiates throughout. It shows up in everything that we do.

It enables a person to endure joyfully the suffering and trials (1 Thess. 1:6). Last Friday, 12 girls, 8 boys, and 6 adults were shot to dead in Newtown, Connecticut, by a 20-year old. The killing doesn't make sense. Those kids are so young and they have their full life ahead of them. The nation is in shock and in grief.

Just like the massacre in Bethlehem when Herod killed all the innocent children under 2 years old. Last Sunday, we talked about Rachel weeping--mothers grieving for the lost of their children. It is as bad as it gets in this life. We grieve with them and mourn for their loss. But joy, the Holy Spirit induced joy, is deeper and more enduring and more intense than happiness. It will overcome even in times of grief and suffering, because God is still at work. The Holy Spirit still walks alongside with us, comforting and praying for us with words too deep for words.

8. Okay, Pastor Brian, how does this joy feel like? If I have a nice Christmas gift, I am happy. I know that feeling. What does this joy of the Spirit feel like? The Bible does not say much about it only some hints. And drawing from my own experience, joy feels very much like happiness, but deeper.

1) Joy serves as a backdrop of everything that I do. There are times when I still feel sad and down. But underneath the sadness, there is joy. Just like underneath the dark cloud, there is always the sun. I know that God is still at work. I know that the Spirit is in me guiding and empowering. Joy is almost like the color of this room. No matter what you do in this room, the color is till the same. Before I was 50 years old, I had this seas of anxiety from my upbringing that lived underneath everything I did. When I turned 50, I had a turnaround experience. I begin to see the work of God in me and around me. I begin to feel the Spirit-induced joy, replacing that seas of anxiety. That is the joy I believe from the fruit of the Spirit. I feel joyful even in the midst of trials and difficulties. The joy of Lord is there. I can feel it everyday.

2) In my experience, this joy is easily spike up when I see the work of God in me and around me. For examples, when God speaks through the Bible and to me, I feel the intense joy like a hot spring bubbling up to the surface. I want to sing, I want to dance, and and I want to shout. When I feel God's presence in a worship service, my joy is like a 747 jumbo jet taking off from the runway soaring into the sky. I would tear up and feel ecstatic. The joy is made full like Paul said many times when he saw the work of God or experienced the presence of God.

I don't know whether you have this experience of not. When you see your children or your disciples or the people you led to Christ grow in the Lord, you see that God is at work in their life, your joy spikes up to nth degree. You are happy; you are more than happy, you rejoice. And that joy is deep, is enduring, and is intense. It fills up your soul.

This afternoon I am going to baptize a brother. He came to me and said, "Pastor Brian, can you baptize me?" I said, "Of course, my pleasure." He said, "Please hold me down in the water as long as you can. I want to remember that feeling. It is a special day in my life." I said, "Okay. Will do." I still remember the first time I met him. I went to his home with Lily to share the Gospel with him. He was polite but stubborn. He is a biology scientist. There are just too many questions about evolution, about the existence of God, about the Bible and about everything. It took him a long time. But he begins to experience God. God is at work in his life. I see him changed and grows. I tell you that the joy of witnessing the work of the Spirit in his life is tremendously fulfilling, enduring, and abiding. I am very happy.

3) How does this joy actually feel like when I am in pain? In my experience and according to the Bible, in the midst of suffering the joy induced by the Spirit is still there.

I remember when I experienced the death of my mother at the beginning of this year. I was very sad to see her suffered. And death is horrible. I still miss her. There were tears. But amazingly, the Spirit comforted me and gives me joy--it is an inner conviction that all is well; all is calm; all is perfect in God's timing. He knows what is the best for me. Therefore I look forward to Jesus' returning in all His glory and with all the saints. For there will be no more death, no more tears, and no more pains.

This is what the Christmas joy is all about. The angel said, "I bring you the good news of great joy that is for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord." (Luke 2:10-11) God is at work. He has entered into the our world to save us from sins. For you and for all the people, the Savior is born, who is Christ the Lord. There is no bigger event than this in the history of the world. God is with us, Emmanuel. For those who receive Him, it is the good news of great joy, exceeding joy, intense joy. It is the greatest work of God of great joy.

9. Application: Today you may feel sad, you may be unhappy, may be you are dealing with a crisis, may be you are dealing with tremendous loss. Remember the message from the angel. "I bring you good news of great joy. The savior is born today. He is here for you and for all the people." Remember that God is working among men. Let this Christmas joy be with you. Open your heart and receive the joy of the Lord to be your strength. Go ahead and smile. Go ahead and rejoice even in difficult time. J-O-Y down in my heart. Deep deep down in my heart. Jesus gives it to me. Nothing can destroy it.

10. Why are Christians not joyful today? One of the many reasons is that we are so preoccupy with happiness or the pursuit of happiness. We work too hard for happiness, a bigger house, a financially secured future, a successful career, and a happy family. We forget that real joy can only come from God. It is the work of the Spirit not ours. When we receive His presence with open hands, He will produce in us this unspeakable joy, lasting joy, and enduring joy.

II. Receive the good news with great joy

1. We have lighted the first two of the advent candles to celebrate the advent of Christ. To remember His first advent two thousand years ago and to look forward to His second advent when He comes again in all his glory.

1).      The promise of the Savior—the first candle of waiting
2).      The hope He brings—the second candle of hope. The color of these two candles are purple, the royal color.
3).      The third candle is JOY. The color is pink. It means joy. See that I wear pink today. The color of joy. When we see the flame of the candle of joy, open your heart to His presence. God has entered into our world. Welcome Him into your life. The Savior is born in the City of David who is Christ the Lord. Receive the Savior into your heart as your Christ and Lord. Be a part of the Christmas story. Receive the good news with great joy. Then the Joy of Christmas generated by the Spirit is yours forever.

2. The church which represents the work of God in the world must learn to be more joyful. The church which is responsible to proclaim the Good News to all the people must be filled with this Spirit-induced joy.

If you walk into a church where there is no joy, it is very doubtful that it is a Spirit-filled church. When we see this candle of joy, remember that the Savior is born. Let us rejoice and be glad.

Church, let us rejoice and be glad. FBCC, let us receive the joy of the Lord with gladness. Be a joyful church.

III. The intense joy of Christmas must be expressed

Joy is the essential response in our relationship with God, so much so that it cannot be contained within, it must be expressed.When you are full of joy, what do you do? Do you sit back and hold it within yourself? No, you can't. The joy of the Lord must be expressed. It flows from your soul to your face, to your body. You smile. You move.

1.  First, you Praise God. We did. Luke 2:10 as in the shepherds. Praising God is to express this joy.

2.  Second, you tell. We should. Just as the shepherds. They can't help it. They are so full of joy that they have to tell people about it. That night, the shepherds told everybody in the little town of Bethlehem of 300 to 1,000 residents. We too must tell people about the good news. The savior is born for all the people. Tell your neighbors, tell your colleagues, tell your family members. This is so good, so exciting. We must tell. In about a 2 weeks, we will enter into 2013, the year of evangelism at FBCC. We want to sow more seeds. We want tell His story. We want to share this joy. Let us tell.

3.  You dance which we will do next. Dance is part of our natural response to joy. Don't you agree? Watch the Texans game this afternoon. When the good guys score a touchdown, the whole stadium erupts into cheers. What do they do? They jump ups and downs. They lift their hands. They shout "Alleluia" --well, not exactly. They shout that is for sure.

When my son scores in a basketball game or in a soccer game, I jump up and pump my fist.

When people are joyful, they dance. Look at our culture, when we are happy, we dance at weddings and at parties. The Jewish culture dances in celebration—David the King danced. It is also a God-given response to mankind when there is something that is intensely joyful. Let us dance.

My prayer is that the overwhelming joy of Christmas will be for you. The intense joy even in the midst of suffering; the exceeding joy even in Rachel’s weeping; the Christmas joy even when it is still dark will be yours in this Christmas seasons.

Let us dance and praise God together in the joy of the Lord.

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