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December 12, 2021 3:00 am
The joy of Christmas is not in what’s opened Christmas day.
Joy does not come from what is under the tree but from who died on the tree!
The Lord needed Mary and Joseph in Bethlehem to fulfill Micah 5:2.
History is His story.
Jesus wasn’t a mere man or just one of the prophets.
Jesus was God in human flesh!
Christmas is not a rags-to-riches story, but rather a riches-to-rags story.
When Jesus arrived, almost everyone missed it.
1. The highest message came initially to the lowest of people.
2. The message of the first Christmas was a message of joy!
Great joy which shall be to all people!
At the cross, Christ defeated sin.
At the resurrection, Jesus defeated death.
3. Fear robs us of the joy of Christmas.
“Do not be afraid, the Messiah has come!”
The message of Christmas is fear not and have joy!
The condition of joy is to let go of fear.
Joy and happiness are something you choose, not wait to feel.
“Rejoice in the Lord, always. Again, I will say, rejoice!” —Philippians 4:4
Joy is a powerful magnet the Christian has because the nonbeliever has nothing like it.
4. We can have joy this Christmas because we have a Savior: Christ the Lord.
Jesus is not just your Savior; Jesus is also your Lord!
Learn more about Greg Laurie and Harvest Ministries at harvest.org.
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Hey there, thanks for listening to the Greg Laurie part just a ministry supported by harvest partners on Greg Laurie encouraging you if you want to find out more about harvest ministries. To learn more about how to become a harvest partner, just go to harvest.org. The title of my messages how to have a joyful Christmas and Christmas is here. I mean all around us are the reminders. The pressure is on to go shopping were hoping will get the right thing for a loved one or will receive that thing that were hoping to get this Christmas I heard about a little boy that decided to write God and tell him what he wanted for Christmas so he said dear God, I've been a good boy for two months, then the little guy thought well I am writing to God, and God knows everything you'll know I haven't been good for too much we crossed out to put one month I been good for one month date that I've been good for one month to cross it out and said I been good for two weeks. I thought no, I haven't even been good for two weeks he made a one week even that was too much and so had a thought. He walked over to the little nativity set. There's a figure of Mary and Joseph and the baby Jesus.
He grabbed the figure of Mary went back to his letter, set the figure down and wrote dear God, if you ever want to see your mother alive again. That's one way to go with these things out you go to the mall's malls are crazy, aren't they and parking spaces are so hard to find.
Have you ever gone stocking for a parking space to known I'm talking about the summons coming out of the mall. They have their bags are going to their car so you're looking for there a space and although they are so you put your signal on and they take a year to put the bags away in your waiting and people are backing up behind you. People are starting to haunt but you found the space you're not going to let it go and then the person put the bags in the trunk and walks away. This cannot happen.
Listen, if you're going to your parking space at a mall and you're not can leave just signal us and say no. Not getting up and I'm not going to leave but here this is the problem is that people went and if you're one of those people. Make sure you leave as quickly as possible that when you're in the car you are leaving. Don't check your phone don't check anything. Get out and I mean that in Christian love, but you know because of the pressure. It can be a very hard time for a lot of people you know. Studies have shown that depression and anxiety, stress, and loneliness increase dramatically during the Christmas season and this is ironic because the message of the Angels to the shepherds 2000 years ago were keeping watch over their flocks by night was simply we bring you great joy. But a lot of people are not experiencing great joy right now.
Maybe you're thinking will all experience great joy when I finish my Christmas shopping or I'll finish all experience great joy when I get my next paycheck or all experience great joy when those ships that are stranded out there in the harbor are actually able to unload the stuff that is in them. So all of presence under my Christmas tree or all of great joy when the hardship by going through and would listen you're looking to find great joy in any of those things we have to come back to the essential message about Christmases it's not about what's under the tree. It's about who died on the tree.
You see, Jesus was born to die, that we might live. The incarnation was for the purpose of the atonement. He came with the specific purpose to go to La Crosse, died for the sins of the world and rise again from the dead, so you don't need Christmas presents to make you happy.
You need Christ's presence in your life. The message of the season is not shop till you drop.
Nor is it let it snow.
We need to go back to those wise men who got it right when they said we have come to worship. If you want a joyful Christmas make it a Christmas that is filled with worship. Here's the bottom line.
Commercial Christmas cannot deliver on its promises.
It can't deliver the magic.
You can't deliver the delight they cannot deliver the hope that it promises but Christ cancel, let's go back to the first Christmas. Let's go back to the story as presented to us in the gospel of Luke and by the way, turning your Bible to Luke chapter 2.
So when we last looked at the Christmas story. We found that very young woman named Mary being told that she was going to be the fulfillment of a Bible prophecy, the angel Gabriel appeared to her and told her she would literally be the fulfillment of the promise of the prophet Isaiah, and she would bring forth the Messiah. Of course Joseph was implying this, but an angel of the Lord appeared to him and told him to take Mary as his wife because that one that was going to be born would be called Jesus and he would save his people from their sins.
Now, seemingly out of nowhere, but really right in God's schedule. Caesar Augustus gives a ruling that all the world should be taxed. You know it's a funny thing. Caesar history tells us he was actually of small little guy so little Caesar, if you will, gave his decree pizza pizza. No, not really. He gave his decree. Everyone should be tax and so now Mary and Joseph find their way back to Berkeley again because that is where they were rooted they were both of the house of David, but even that was for a purpose because Micah said that out of Bethlehem. The Messiah would come. He said now Bethlehem will you be little among the thousands of Judah get out of you shall come forth. One whose origins had been from everlasting or literal translation would be the vanishing point. So this was all part of God's big plan to accomplish his purposes. Because history is his story. The reality is history swings on the hinge of the door of a stable in Bethlehem and there, the son of God was born. And of course Jesus wasn't Jesus wasn't a mere man or just a prophet. He was God coming to us in human flesh as he entered our world.
He was God with skin on literally walking among us and the birth of Jesus was one of the most momentous events in all of human history because the eternal God literally became a fetus and was born of a woman, and he did this in order to become the Savior of the world, my friend Joel small bone is a part of the band called for King and country, and he wrote this beautiful little piece, and I quote from it, to think a baby born in a stable, no prestige, no privilege, no social media no social status.
No political campaigns. No private airplanes, yet he turned DC into ADD. He's the most famous name around the globe.
He reconnected us back to Kevin and turn brought heaven down to culture. So really, when you get down to it, the story of Jesus is not a rags to riches story. It's a riches to rags story because God love the glory of heaven.
Jesus love the comfort in the bliss of being surrounded by the Angels and being in the presence of the father of the Holy Spirit to be born in a barn and a very unsanitary environment as he entered our world and when the first Christmas came.
Most people missed it altogether. There were no twinkling lights hanging from the eaves of buildings.
There were no reindeer on anyone's lawn children did not find it hard to sleep that night because basically it was a night like any other night. In fact, on the first Christmas. It was business as usual it was a bleak time spiritually for the Jewish people. There had been an icy silence from heaven and the Jewish people and not heard from God for 400 long years, not one angelic appearance. Not one prophet speaking for the Lord not one miracle had been performed for 400 years and then out of nowhere, but really right on God's timetable. Everything changes in the announcement close out that Jesus has been born. But everyone missed it. The innkeeper missed that he didn't have room in his hotel or in is in for Jesus. The people of Bethlehem missed it, the people of Rome missed it.
The religious leaders misted even when King Herod went to them and made them aware of the birth of this child and what does this mean in the Bible and they knew the scriptures to go to that spoke about Messiah, but they didn't make this short journey from where they were to go see about the camp.
If this was true. Everybody missed it for the most part.
So now God is going to make the greatest of all announcements you know when you have good news you can't wait to share it, and I wonder if up in heaven.
The Lord said OKI. I need some Angels to get this message to planet Earth, the Messiah is arrived. Oh everyone what a volunteer in the Lord by disabling thinking of sending Gabriel call Lord. Another angel might take to got to go. Last time I want to go. The Lords is all right you can all go and God said thousands of angels to make the announcement of the birth of Jesus and who do they make this announcement to according to the Christmas story shepherds keeping watch over their flocks by night, let's revisit that story. Now I'm reading from Luke to starting in verse eight, another war in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night, behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them and the glory of the Lord shone around about them, and they were greatly afraid.
And the angel said to them, do not be afraid, for behold I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people, for there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign fuel you'll find the babe wrapped in swaddling cloths lying in a manger and suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, goodwill toward men.
So it was on the Angels and gone away from them in the heaven, the shepherds said one to another, let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that is come to pass, which the Lord is made in me is made known to us so here's my first point.
If you're taking notes. The highest message came initially to the lowest of people. Again the highest message came initially to the lowest of people I mentioned last time that we've overly romanticized the Christmas story and we miss the raw power of it. And here's another example. I talked about how we sort of sanitize the birth of Jesus in the manger and and we've missed the fact that it was very difficult place for a little one to enter this world.
Now, let's think about the shepherds you know we think this shepherds with these wonderful people and they were in their way. But these were the very outcasts of society if we updated this today and we read there were telemarketers calling people late at night or their used car dealers trying to close deals. We we would have a different view of this, and that's all you have to think of a shepherd. They were not looked at in a positive way. They were looked at in a negative way we romanticize them and don't understand who they were.
The shepherd was so low on the social ladder. The only one that was worse than them was an actual leper.
They were stereotyped and malign friend since the testimony of a shepherd was not even allowed in a court rabbis been pastoring a sheep and goats in Israel except the desert plains in the Mishnah which gives out Jewish law set up a shepherd fell into it.
You weren't even required to rescue them. So I'm either there, the lowest of the low. No one wants to hang around whether shepherd. No one likes the shepherd so up in heaven.
God says who shall we tell first.
Who should we reveal this message to that Christ is been born, not Caesar, not the religious leaders, not the influential folk who could potentially influence others. The highest message came initially to the lowest of the low end of the social context of religious snobbery in class prejudice, the son of God, stepped forth God hand-picked the shepherds to hear this news. He left the self righteous hypocrites off the mailing list. Are you in God's mailing list. If you're Christian you are and he brings us good news and it makes perfect sense because Jesus always went out of his way to go to the people who work outcasts.
He went to Matthew a tax collector, a man who was a Jew who was working for the occupying force of Rome and Jesus not only went out of his way to greet Matthew and the love Matthew he called Matthew to be one of his disciples. Then Jesus saw another tax collector names IKEA's up in a tree when he wanted to Jericho and he said amen. Come on down from the trim coming over to your house for lunch today. People couldn't believe he would spend time with a man like Zaki is or that woman caught in the very act of adultery. Jesus took time for her.
He showed mercy to her or that woman at the well from Samaria. The Jews had nothing to do with the Samaritans. They were prejudice against the Samaritans and what is Jesus to he goes out of his way to spend time with this burned-out immoral woman that it tried to fill a hole in her heart with husband after husband and he told her about the living water that could spiritually refresher and who is this message given to initially it's given to shepherds keeping watch over their flocks by night just makes perfect sense. And now the shepherd in our mind is elevate elevated Disney you know when we tell the Christmas story and we have a Christmas play at church.
There's always going to be the shepherds who the shepherds are featured that shepherds are important and did not Jesus himself say I am the good shepherd who gives his life for his sheep and my sheep hear my voice, and they follow me. So this is something that is very important to remember that he took the highest message to the lowest of the low number two. The message of the first Christmas was a message of joy. It was a message of joy. Verse 10 the angel said don't be afraid behold I bring you glad tidings of great joy which shall be to all people, not a little joy and some joy. Great joy that is the message of Christmas. It's great joy is a will yeah that's fine for them 2000 years ago.
I live in 2021 times are hard.
No remembrances to all people, not just for the folks back then, but for all of us right to the present day God wants you to have a joyful and happy Christmas this year, but the reality is my touch on this earlier. The holidays can be sent for a lot of folks. Maybe there's something happening in your home that's making this a hard Christmas. I just read that the Surgeon General has issued a warning about the mental health of young people and the Surgeon General told the newspaper that one of three high school students reported persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness that the 40% increase from 2000 92,019, and suicide rates went up during this time by 57% among young people ages 10 to 24 and then he pointed out during the pandemic rates of anxiety and depression have only increased man this is sad. People are down. That's why we need to tell them the real message of Christmas. No matter what you're going through.
There's great joy again Don and what's under the tree. None of the celebration of Christmas with all of its trappings, but in the essential message of Christmas. I was recently interviewed by a newspaper and I was asked about a pew research study that it been.and in this study. This was stated, quote, most Americans say they have spent some time in the past year thinking about big questions like the meaning of life whether there is any purpose to suffering and why bad things happen to people."
The age-old question, why do bad things happen to good people. I I don't have an answer that would probably satisfy you, but I can say this despite the bad things that can happen in our lives, we can turn to God. There are things that happen that are utterly inexplicable and I if you have suffered loss of a loved one has left you, and you're now celebrating Christmas. It might be even harder. A time that should be happy, can suddenly become miserable in our son Christopher when to heaven 13 years ago and I remember the first Christmas.
We celebrated after he died and it was absolutely devastating because he loved Christmas and he really got into it. He was a great rapper.
He brought present so beautifully. You can get that for me, but he get out his X-Acto blade in the tape and do all these cool things he made custom Christmas cards for people: he loved this time it's all those memories flood into your mind when you're there supposedly having a good time and it's actually a very sad time and maybe I'm talking to someone right now that's really sad and figured so sad, you wonder if you should even keep living you even thought about taking your own life. Please, please, don't even consider that you are loved by more people than you will ever realize, and you are needed in your wanted and best of all your loved by God and listen. He has a plan for your life and what is the message of Christmas. It's that God is with us. Remember, you should call his name Immanuel. And what is the purpose of Christmas or the purpose of Jesus being born Arity mention it.
Jesus was born to die. He was going to the cross. You see at the cross Jesus defeated sin without his resurrection he defeated death. So here's the message of you've lost a loved one. If they died in faith that they died trusting Christ you will see them again. We don't say goodbye. We say see you later.
Let that resonate with you because that's what Christmas is really all about my third point is fear robs us of the joy of Christmas fear robs us of the joy of Christmas look good to tend the angel said to them, to not be afraid. What powerful words are relevant words for the time were living in right now because fear can cancel out and rob us of our joy in men. We live in frightening times, don't we, and we wanders again to get worse. Violent crime is on the rise in many cities around the United States. You've seen it on your TV screens change the people going in and looting stores, robbing people holding guns until assaulting them, killing them. It's horrible, was talking no friend of mine who is the police chief and ISA chief. It seems like it's really bad out there. At least that's what I see on the news. Is it really that bad and he said it is these are scary times were living it. And then there's global issues happening right now, the emergence of China as an economic and military superpower. Did you hear about that 2021 test of China's brand-new hypersonic missile. Our chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said it was the first use weapon. In other words, hypersonic weapons don't follow a single trajectory like a ballistic missile. These twist and turn on their way to a targeted and it makes it impossible to track them until they get by the way United States does not have an equivalent of a hypersonic missile right now that's scary because this is an aggressive nation that we see them rattling their sabers right now and there's all the other issues were facing the world. The continued spread of COBIT you think over it's done. Moreover, it, and then there's a new variant there's a new strain and then there's overreach by governments locking things down and making our lives harder. It's frightening but you know what it was scary back then to because Rome was in power, and the Jewish people were wondering, will Rome ever leave us alone. They had a crazy man named Herod who is ruling over them and would execute people that will and they wonder what will he ever be free again will the Messiah ever, and the message it just comes yes it's a joyful time. It's a happy time because the Messiah has come, so don't be afraid. I heard that the phrase, fear not, appears 365 times in the Bible, not not check that personally, but I heard it's there. 365 times. That means there's one fear not for everyday heat of the year.
So whatever you're facing right now God would say don't be afraid because fear will rob you of your joy. Let go of that, and choose to rejoice choose to rejoice.
If you feel like it or not. Paul wrote these words to the people in Philippi rejoice in the Lord always and again I say rejoice. I was a well Paul he was probably sitting around some beach having a good to know he was imprisoned when he wrote it. Yet he is saying. Let me loosely paraphrase everybody. If anyone has a reason to complain. It's me, but I'm not doing that. So lighten up and rejoice in the Lord always just thank God for all that he is given you in the is given you a lot.
Why should they rejoice very simple answer. There is born to them in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. That brings me to my fourth and final point we can enjoy this Christmas because we have a Savior, who is Christ the Lord, you have a Savior. One of the Savior from Savior from sin saved you from hell he saved you from judgment. The fact is, he saved us. He's saving us, and he will yet save us. So he saved us were forgiven of all of our sins and our sins are not only forgiven there also forgotten but then he's saving us as your struggling with temptation and other issues.
He's there to help you would sustain you and strengthen you and ultimately he will save you when you get to Kevin and you enter into his presence a wonderful thing.
It's a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. So he saves us, but Dennis R. Lord, he protects us, and he watches over us and one day he will welcome us into heaven. Let me ask you this. In closing you find yourself depressed right now you find yourself in pain. Are you lonely are you feeling despondent. I've good news for you a Savior has been born in this Savior is ready to come into your life. As I pointed out in my last message Jesus was born, so we might be born again. Jesus said to a religious man named Nicodemus, you must be born again. What is that even mean it means you need to have a spiritual rebirth when you say the God I need your help.
I need your forgiveness that I want Jesus to come into my life and be my Savior and my Lord, and he can do that for you right. The same Jesus who was born in the manger who died on the cross and rose from the dead, now stands at the door of your life in the Knox and he says if you hear his voice and open the door he will come in. Would you like to open that door of your heart, your life and ask Christ to come in.
You don't have to be alone in this Christmas season. He will be with you and she will live in you but you must ask him to come in is only a prayer away so here's what I like to do if you want your sins forgiven.
If you want to know with certainty that you go to heaven when you die if you want Jesus Christ to come into your life. I'm in ask you to pray a prayer with. I'm also going to say that there might be someone watching right now that is sort of wandered away from their faith. You been a prodigal son or daughter. It's time for you to come home again. We all love that song all be home for Christmas when it you come home this Christmas home dear father, home to the family of God, home to the church again to get right with the Lord. If you do that this can be a joyful Christmas for you song an appraiser simple prayer if you want Jesus to come of your life and forgive you of your sin or if you want to make a recommitment to him. You can pray this prayer with me, you can print out loud if you like you can trade in the quietness of your heart. If you choose to pray with me right now.
Pray these words Lord Jesus, thank you for being born in the manger of Bethlehem. Thank you for dying on the cross for my sin and rising again from the dead. I turn from my sin. Now, and I choose to follow you from this moment forward. Thank you for hearing my prayer.
In answering this prayer in Jesus name I ask this payment. Everybody thinks or listening to this podcast to learn more about harvest ministries follow the show and consider supporting it. Just go to harvest.org and find out how to know God personally go to harvest.org and click on know God