Radiant Church’s lead pastor, Keith Welton, has a special Christmas series for the month of December. This week, he encourages us with the sermon titled “Love” from Luke 2:8-11. Below, you can watch our whole service, or listen to the sermon audio, and access the written transcript.
Missed last week’s sermon entitled “Love”? You can listen to the audio or watch the whole service here.
December 24, 2022 Worship Service
We have been in a three-part Christmas series on some of the key elements associated with the Christmas season: peace, love and joy.
Joy is a key part of the holidays. We give gifts to bring joy to others. We don’t give gifts to watch people cry! We like seeing people with smiles rather than frowns, gratefulness rather than complaints, and laughter rather than lamentation.
Joy is also a key part of the story of Christmas. God brings his Son into the world. He sends angelic messengers to announce the good news of great joy that will be for all people.
[8 And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
The birth of the Savior will lead to joy. Not to some people. Not to one race of people, or one group of people, or one family, or one socioeconomic strata. It is for all people.
- The Gift of Joy
Dictionary.com. Joy: the emotion of great delight or happiness
caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying
Emotion, feeling. How do you feel when you wake up on Christmas morning and open presents?
Feeling is something we perceive through the senses. I feel the desk. This makes it feel fleeting. I felt the sun at noon today. I feel the cold air. What I feel changes from moment to moment. That is true. And feelings can do that.
The word in the Bible gets down deeper. It gets more to the inside, of not just what we feel on the outside, but of an inner happiness,
-literally joy, as a feeling of inner happiness rejoicing, gladness, delight (b) a state or condition of happiness or blessedness
With the birth of the Savior God is bringing joy, a state of blessedness, that is for all people. This state is to be a constant state. Despite circumstances.
[I am greatly encouraged; in all our troubles my joy knows no bounds. (2Co 7:4 NIV)
True joy is joy that brings true delight. And something else this definition brings up is that joy is
It goes deep down.
-Joy is a state of being happily blessed by God.
State, a circumstance indispensable to some result; prerequisite; that on which something else is contingent:
Joy is contingent on something else. Something that unifies and connects, defines how you go through things and not by what you go through.
- The Cause of Joy
Joy is typically caused by something. Talk to an Argentinian and they are happy because their team won the world cup! Something has produced joy in your life.
These are things that bring joy. But these are superficial. We have greater needs and desires than cars and trophies. You can have these and not know joy.
Desire is infinite because we are made by God, made for God, made to need God, and made to run on God. We can be satisfied only by the one who is infinite, eternal, and able to supply all our needs; we are only at home in God. When we fall away from God, the desire for the infinite remains, but it is displaced upon things that will certainly lead to destruction.” Dallas Willard, in Relentless Elimination of Hurry by JM Comer, 146
In the Christmas account in the book of Luke, we are informed God is doing something to bring joy. He is bringing his Son into the world. That seems odd. Why? How? What? A Savior is born.
I used to be confused by needing to be saved from something. I didn’t know I needed to be saved. But when we look at the world, clearly we see a need for saving. We needed saving from sadness and depression, and evil people. We do bad things and feel terrible for it and it hurts others. We were all naughty and turned away from God. Turned away to the point of having no hope of returning. No life with God. Not just no presents. Needs are bigger than a new toy or car or house.
God sends his Son to make a way for sinners like me and you, to be forgiven, and to have hope in the life to come. This is what a Savior is. He is the one who will rescue us from our sins, from the consequences of sins. This is the joy that will be for all people. Joy that there is no more sin, no more death, no more hurt, no more hardship.
That brings joy. Joy that is not found anywhere else. When you have peace with God you can have peace in anything. When you know even the worst things this life can throw at you will be short lived and your Savior will deliver you from them and bring them into a redeemed world made perfect you can have joy in all circumstances. On the contrary, if you don’t have these, even the joy from the best things in life will seem insignificant and short lived. They are not able to fix all the problems in your life.
God is doing something great and amazing.
Joy is not based on success. We think we need more stuff, more accolades. We grow rich with those things, but we don’t have joy. We are running after the wrong things. God has provided a source of joy yet we look elsewhere.
Joy is not something we manufacture. Family pictures. You put on clothes you never wear, have to act like you never act, keep things all clean and neat and stand perfectly still and then act like you like your brother.
Who is the happiest person here? Let me hear you smile and jump for joy. And whoever does it the loudest wins the joy award! Can be fun but it is all manufactured.
Joy is found in what God does in his Son. It is a great redemptive act. Redemptive, To redeem, means to save. When your favorite toy breaks, and you think it is all over, and just when you think you are going to have to bury it and throw it away, your mom looks at it and says, “I can fix that.” A little glue in the right places, and it is better than ever. Your mom redeemed your toy. God is redeeming us.
Christmas reminds us God has given us the greatest gift we could ever receive. The gift of his Son means he is redeeming the world. He is making everything right. He is saving us from all of our problems.
God didn’t look on us and say, “They need more gadgets, and games, and other stuff!” He knew we needed a Savior. Only his Son could come and live a perfect life, perfectly obedient, and ultimately gives his life as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Through Jesus we are made whole, and through him we know how to live for God. This brings joy.
A great deal of our unhappiness is that we live with the wrong assumption that we should have heaven on earth now, that things should be easy, and people do what is right, and everyone should like me and do what I want to do, and respect me, and they don’t so we get sad and depressed. God is fixing the problems through his Son; he will redeem the world. We have the promise that he is doing that.
Right now we live in a world that is waiting for redemption. It’s like Christmas Eve. We know in the morning we are going to have all kinds of good food, open presents, play with new toys, love on each other, sit in pajamas and eat chocolate cake at 8:00 am. We have to wait for that. It’s coming. We know it and believe. We look to him and his promises, and it affects the way we do everything, but we have to wait.
God has done what we need. He has provided the reason for us to be in a state of constant joy. To be in dire straights and know there is something better.
[You have filled my heart with greater joy than when their grain and new wine abound. (Psa 4:7 NIV)}
There is something in knowing God that gives you more joy than parties, and gifts, and food and drink. He gives us something better than the best things in life. We can flip that and say that we can have all the good stuff but be missing something far more important. What does it matter to get everything onyour Christmas list but not have a relationship with God.
[These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. (John 15:11 ESV)
-Joy is a state of being happily blessed by God.
God has blessed us. He has done something amazing in sending his Son. Will we delight in it? At some point we have to receive it and delight in it.
The tradition of giving gifts is a way we can reflect what God has done for us.
- Joy is Received
When I was a little kid a neighbor gave me a hat for a birthday present. It was a Georgia team. I think I may have liked that team at the time; I certainly wasn’t opposed to them, but when everyone looked at me and asked if I liked that team and the hat, I thought and said, “No!” I had no idea then why I did that. But I just decided right then that I didn’t like that team. I even remember seeing the disappointment in my neighbor’s eyes, so I just walked away.
Gift cards-51%, 15 billion go unclaimed
Gifts get repurposed
I received a great gift and pushed the giver away. It was sad. But if this is God’s gift of a Savior, of the one who will give us true joy, make sense of life, and save us from the world, then we ought to receive it, and if we are not ready to jump up and down at least say, maybe there is more to this than I have ever known and maybe it’s worth looking into more, taking my walk with God more seriously, and helping others to know it.
If you want lasting joy you will only find it in the good news of a Savior. Even the best things in life will be found lacking because they cannot fix our true needs.
Rest, peace, silence
- How does this passage show a connection between Christmas and joy?
- Why is it good news that God has brought a Savior into the world? What is he saving us from?
- Is the joy you know in life a “state of being happily blessed by God” or is it more fleeting?
8 And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. (ESV)
English Standard Version (ESV)
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.