Pastor, author, and Bible teacher, Alan Wright. The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son. The hands down greatest celebration in the Mideast is a wedding.
Our weddings are big celebrations, but not like in the ancient Mideast or even in modern times in Middle Eastern cultures and some Eastern cultures where the celebration would go on for days and days and days. That's Pastor Alan Wright. Welcome to another message of good news that will help you see your life in a whole new light.
Merry Christmas. I'm Daniel Britt, excited for you to hear our teaching today. It's titled Winning the Fight for Joy as presented at Reynolda Church in North Carolina. If you're not able to stay with us throughout the entire teaching today, I want to make sure you know how to get our special resource right now. It can be yours for your donation this month to Alan Wright Ministries. As you listen to today's message, go deeper as we send you today's special offer. Contact us at PastorAlan.org.
That's PastorAlan.org or call 877-544-4860. And here at the end of the year, we certainly appreciate all your support through the year. More on this later in the program. But right now, let's dive in and get started with today's Christmas teaching.
Here is Alan Wright. Are you ready for some good news? Problems and pandemic cannot, must not steal our joy. We always, always, always, always have cause to praise. No one, no thing can stop us from praising God. We're in Luke chapter one, verse 46 in the middle of a series I've called God rest you, Mary, because we discover the word in old English rest actually means keep. And so when you say God rest you, Mary, gentlemen, you're not saying, may God give you a nice nap, you happy gentleman. You're saying, may God keep you continually glad in him.
And it's a wonderful blessing. We turn to what is known as the Magnificat, which is taken from the Latin for magnifying the Lord. And that's what Mary does here in this song or statement of praise to the Lord that happens after she has come to visit her relative, Elizabeth. Elizabeth is the going to be the mother of John the baptizer. And so an amazing thing happens when Mary comes in to see Elizabeth and Elizabeth has a sense of the baby. John the Baptist and her, that little unborn child leaps inside of her. And she knows that it's not just an ordinary, you know, baby inside kicking around a little bit. There was something actually happened in the spirit. Isn't that amazing?
It's just amazing to me. You know, it's all those kinds of scriptures, by the way, just parenthetically that just over and over and over convince me of the sanctity of the life of an unborn child, because here's a little child responding to the spirit. And through this, there is a great joy that leaps up inside of Elizabeth and she begins to exclaim in a really loud voice. She says, blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb. Well, Mary encounters all of this and she realizes that another confirmation of this supernatural thing that's happened. And that's when she breaks forth into this, probably a song, could just been a statement of praise to the Lord, which is really reminiscent.
We won't go there, but really reminiscent of Hannah, the mother of Samuel, her song of praise when she realized she was going to have a child. And so it's laden with Old Testament references and which is proof that Mary really knew the Bible well. And it just like, you know, when you've got the word all down inside of you and then a great praise happens, it's just the word that comes out.
And so that's what begins to happen with her. And we pick up reading at Luke one, verse forty six. And Mary said, my soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God, my savior. For he has looked on the humble estate of his servant for behold, from now on, all generations will call me blessed.
For he who is mighty has done great things for me and holy is his name and his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. I love being in a church that enjoys celebrating and it doesn't you don't have to be just so quiet. I grew up in a highly liturgical church and I thought the most significant thing about church was you had just sit there and make no noise.
Remind me of a story of a little boy that was sitting in one of those kind of services with his little sister who was about four. She was kind of making some giggling noises and he turned and said, shh, hush. And she said, she said, what? She said, you got to be quiet in church. And she said, well, well, who's going to make me? And he turned around. He said, you see those men standing back there in the back with the bullets in their hand?
They will. She said, who are they? She said, he said, those are the hushers. So they're supposed to be an usher, not a husher. But joy is the nature of the of the Christian life.
I was reading an article from Gordon Dolby this week. I didn't I didn't go further in my research in it, but I thought it was fascinating that one of the theories behind what the origin of Christmas caroling, when you go from door to door to Christmas carol outdoors, is that the word carol actually comes from a word for dance. And that many of the original carols were made for exuberant dancing and that there was a time, especially through the medieval era, where that kind of song was banished from church.
And so they had to take it outside and go sing it from door to door. What we sure don't want is for the joy to have to be on the outside of the church. We're in a fight for joy and we need the joy on the inside. We need the dancing and the shouting and the singing and the rejoicing on the inside of the church, not hush inside and then go outside and be and be exuberant at the ball game.
Bring it in here. That's really who we are as the people of God. And so I want to talk to you about this fight for joy and what we can learn from Mary's Magnificat.
Let me start with this. God is a God of praise and celebration. If you want to understand the very nature of God, you don't have to go any further than the first page of the Bible. I speak of it often that when you see the first instance of something in the Bible, that first instance usually tells you a lot about what is to follow. So pay attention to the first mention of something in the Bible.
Well, the first mention of how God felt about something tells you a whole lot about who God is. So He created on the first day the light and He said that was good. And He continued each day of celebration.
You see the refrain is a celebration. And God saw it was good and God saw it was good until He created humanity and God saw it was very good. And it's a sense in which God's nature is on display right from the beginning and creation. He is a God who has an endless and infinite capacity for celebration and praise. Who alone in the cosmos is able and entitled to fully enjoy His own perfection and glory. And loves and delights to share that and bestow it and manifest it in all of creation. The heavens are telling His glory.
He's a God who's in some senses like what you would see. G.K. Chesterton said, and a little child who just rejoices over and over in what might become monotonous to us. I love this from G.K. Chesterton, theologian and wit, who wrote famously Orthodoxy. And his insights never cease to amaze me.
But listen to this extended quote from Chesterton. Because children have a bounding vitality because they are in spirit, fierce and free. Therefore, they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, do it again. And the grown up person does it again until he's nearly dead. For grown up people are not strong enough to exalt in monotony.
Isn't that something? But perhaps God is strong enough to exalt in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, do it again to the sun.
And every evening, do it again to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike. It may be that God makes every daisy separately but has never got tired of making them. It may be that he has the eternal appetite of infancy. For we have sinned and grown old and our Father is younger than we. If you wonder whether God's a goddess of celebration and praise, you would have to look no further than the rhythm that he wanted to put into the life of his people. So much of what you see in the Old Testament of the people Israel is simply a shadow, meaning it is an indication that there's something even more substantive that is going to come.
And so it puts it in place. But it's all pointing to the day in which it will be fulfilled in Jesus and be here in real form. If you see a shadow of a person, you know there's a real person.
But you're not looking in the face of the real person, you're just seeing the shadow. And that's what the New Testament says of the old. And so when you think of the festivals of Israel, remember they're shadows of that which was to come. But what those festivals are, three seasons, spring, summer, and fall, three festivals in the spring, one in the summer, three in the fall. There's seven.
Seven represents perfection or completion. And every festival is a celebration of something about who God is and who we are as the people of God. So when God formed a people unto himself, one of the very first things he did was through the book of Leviticus, he described to them how they're going to be all these celebrations throughout the year. If you are a faithful practicing Hebrew in ancient Israel, then you at any point in the calendar, you're either getting ready to celebrate something or you just finished celebrating something or you're talking about the last celebration or you're getting ready for the next one because it's every season of the year.
I'm saying God has made it clear in his word that this is who he is. So that when Jesus comes and he begins to try to describe, to find some language, to describe what the kingdom is like, he says in Matthew 22, the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son. The hands down greatest celebration in the Mideast is a wedding. Our weddings are big celebrations but not like in the ancient Mideast or even in modern times in Middle Eastern cultures and some Eastern cultures where the celebration would go on for days and days and days.
Some wedding celebration, basically the party would go on for weeks. That's Alan Wright and we'll have more teaching in a moment from today's important series. Unlock the power of blessing your life. Discover God's grace-filled vision for your life by signing up for Alan Wright's free daily blessing. If you want to fill your heart with grace and encouragement, get Alan Wright's daily blessing.
It's free and just a click away at PastorAlan.org. Can you imagine what it would be like to be accepted perfectly? Envision it. Being free to be yourself with no fear of rejection. If you mess up, people don't roll their eyes, make fun of you or love you less.
Imagine no more of that anxious feeling that you get deep down in your gut that makes you feel like the pressure is always on so you can never really relax. What you're imagining and longing for is a life with no shame. In paradise, before sin came into the world, the Bible tells us only one thing about Adam and Eve's relationship.
They were naked and felt no shame. Ever since the fall, the human heart has been riddled with shame. It's a lie that says, until you measure up, you can't be truly acceptable. Shame causes some to say, I'll try to be perfect in order to be accepted.
And others to decide, since I'll never measure up, I might as well rebel. Either way, the heart is poisoned by shame and there is only one antidote. The grace of God in Jesus Christ. In his highly acclaimed book, Free Yourself, Be Yourself, Pastor Alan Wright not only exposes the lies of shame, he leads you into a revolution of God's love that heals your soul. Discover freedom, joy, and destiny as you shed performance-based living and let God take the shame off you for good. It's a life-changing, full-length book from Alan Wright.
Free yourself, be yourself. The gospel is shared when you give to Alan Wright Ministries. This broadcast is only possible because of listener financial support. When you give today, we will send you today's special offer. We are happy to send this to you as our thanks from Alan Wright Ministries. Call us at 877-544-4860.
That's 877-544-4860. Or come to our website, PastorAlan.org. Today's teaching now continues.
Here once again is Alan Wright. All the villagers would first just wish the couple well and celebrate, and then you just find a way to celebrate. Even if you are poor, you scrape everything you have together and you spend it on the wedding. Well, this, Jesus is describing, is not a peasant's wedding. This is a king. A king who has almost unlimited resources, and he's throwing a huge wedding party, and he says if you want to understand what the kingdom of God is like, it's like that. And in the book of Revelation, the kingdom is described as a great wedding feast ongoing. In other words, Jesus just seized upon the greatest celebration that everybody in his culture knew.
This is nothing but a giant party. And he said that's what the kingdom of God is like. God himself celebrated every day of creation. He instituted feasts into the life of Israel to show us that. Jesus said the kingdom of God is like a party, and then John gets a revelation on the Isle of Potmos, and he sees in Revelation chapter 4 the four living creatures, each of them with six wings full of eyes all around, and within and day and night they never cease to say, Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty.
It was and is and is to come. And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to him who's seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the 24 elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever. And they cast their crowns before the throne, saying, Where they are you, O Lord, and God, to receive glory and honor and praise, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.
It's just heaven. Praise and celebration. And all of this praise and celebration is happening even when life is difficult. When we look at Mary's Magnificat, I want to just highlight to you the simplicity of what praise really is all about, the soul and the spirit of praise. I want to talk to you a little bit about soul and spirit and that interesting use of words here, and we want to talk about the substance of our praise. We'll talk about what really is behind it all, and then I want to talk to you about the secret of our praise.
Let me start with this. Praise and celebration is actually a very simple thing. It is like the picture we're talking about with little children. Children, though they're born in sin, demonstrate for us some kingdom realities, and Jesus says, Unless you become like a little child, you'll not enter the kingdom.
Unless you become a little child, not only is He saying, will you never really be saved, because you have to humble yourself and become like a child to really trust in God, but I think He's saying that all that you see in the simplicity and wonder of a little child is helping you to see the kingdom of God, and little children, have you noticed, you don't have to teach them how to celebrate. It just comes natural. It's more like something happens to us as we grow up that we forget how to celebrate, or we feel like we always have to tone down our celebration or maybe we just get so worried about so many things in life that it overshadows our celebration. But in actuality, the idea of praising God is something that's not so much a technique as it is a simple reaction to victory. I love watching the celebrations, especially if it's my team that's celebrating after a sports victory. You know, watching, here we are in basketball season, just to watch the players celebrating, and there have already been some buzzer-beating winning shots at the end. It's amazing to watch when it looks like that one team's going to win, and then all of a sudden the last-second shot, heroics, goes in, and then the celebration erupts, and the announcer's voice elevates. The podunks of Nowhereville have just defeated the mighty giants of Gath, and now the buzzers and the players in basketball, they just immediately just come over and just crowd in on the guy who made the winning shot.
You know, it's really fun. In football, I like to see these giant 350-pound guys, they go and they start pouncing. They got all those pads on, so sometimes they'll just crush. I'm sitting there like, if it's my team, like, don't crush our player. You know, I used to play soccer, and for whatever reason, in soccer, the celebration is different. As soon as somebody in soccer wins, hits a goal, you just start taking off running. I don't know why we do that. You just take off running, and everybody on the team's running after you, and at some point, you just slide down on your knees.
I don't know, that seems like that would hurt bad. But anyway, all these different kind of celebrations, my point of this being, do you have to tell somebody to celebrate if they've just been part of or seen a great victory? You don't have to. All you have to do is just allow for it. So the issue of our celebration and praise is not an issue of so much our lack of training or our lack of skill. It is automatic if you understand the victory that's taken place. So the notion of Christian praise is not so much about trying to ramp up somebody's emotion about something. The notion of Christian praise and celebration is much more about really grasping the victory that's taken place. This is why when people get caught up in the Holy Spirit and they become so celebrative and rejoice in the Lord is because the Holy Spirit is making real, making known the goodness of God and the victory of God by sweet assurances that commune with your spirit. That's why when you get in touch with God, you want to celebrate because you know the victory more clearly. See, in this world, we got all these problems and pandemic and all this stuff going on and it starts stealing our joy because we're not as in touch with the cosmic victory of God. But when we are, we just celebrate. So in one sense, praise is very, very simple and that's what basically has happened to Mary is that Mary is just responding to this extraordinary miracle that's taken place.
That's just what it is. And I think that honestly that it's the picture of what every Christian's life can be. I mean, she was a unique woman in time that was the mother of the Messiah, but she understood that there was a miracle that was taking place in her. And the more you understand that a miracle has taken place and is taking place in you by the presence of the Holy Spirit, the more you just praise. Alan Wright, our good news message for Christmas, winning the fight for joy. Hey, stay with us, Pastor Alan is back, joining us here in the studio, sharing a parting good news thought for the day in just a moment. Unlock the power of blessing your life. Discover God's grace-filled vision for your life by signing up for Alan Wright's free daily blessing. If you wanna fill your heart with grace and encouragement, get Alan Wright's daily blessing.
It's free and just a click away at pastoralan.org. Can you imagine what it would be like to be accepted perfectly? Envision it. Being free to be yourself with no fear of rejection. If you mess up, people don't roll their eyes, make fun of you, or love you less. Ever since the fall, the human heart has been riddled with shame.
It's a lie that says until you measure up, you can't be truly acceptable. In his highly acclaimed book, Free Yourself, Be Yourself, Pastor Alan Wright not only exposes the lies of shame, he leads you into a revolution of God's love that heals your soul. Discover freedom, joy, and destiny as you shed performance-based living and let God take the shame off you for good. It's a life-changing, full-length book from Alan Wright.
Free yourself, be yourself. The gospel is shared when you give to Alan Wright Ministries. This broadcast is only possible because of listener financial support.
When you give today, we will send you today's special offer. We are happy to send this to you as our thanks from Alan Wright Ministries. Call us at 877-544-4860.
That's 877-544-4860. Or come to our website, PastorAlan.org. Back here now with Pastor Alan. And at Christmastime, winning the fight for joy. And I'll be transparent, this message was presented right after or in the middle of the pandemic, gathering together. And Christmas probably being a very, very special Christmas that particular time of our lives. I felt like Daniel the Lord had really put on my heart during pandemic, but it is enduring now.
And I think this message is so appropriate right now. We're in a fight for joy, not just pandemic, but so much of the unrest in our own culture has created a kind of spiritual malaise. And there is so much sadness and so much bad news all around us that it feels like that joy, which is our inheritance as Christians, that we're in a fight for it. It's a spiritual battle.
So really excited about joy that is available this Christmas. Thanks for listening today. Visit us online at PastorAlan.org or call 877-544-4860.
That's 877-544-4860. If you only caught part of today's teaching, not only can you listen again online, but also get a daily email devotional that matches today's teaching delivered right to your email inbox free. Find out more about these and other resources at PastorAlan.org. That's PastorAlan.org. Today's good news message is a listener-supported production of Allen Wright Ministries.
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