In your Bibles, if you would turn with me to Luke chapter number two, Luke chapter number two, and invite you to stand as we honor God's word this morning. It's good to see a full house this morning.
And a lot of churches decided to close down both because it landed on Christmas as well as with the snow. But I'm glad that we're having church today. And I'm glad to worship the Lord.
Amen. Luke chapter two, verse number one. We're going to actually read through this Christmas story. It says in verse one, and it came to pass in those days that there went a decree, went out of decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria and all that went to be taxed everyone into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee out of the city of Nazareth to Judea, which is the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house.
In the lineage of David, that's about a 75-mile trek from Nazareth, a small obscure town, to a little town of Bethlehem, just about 3,000 people in that city. Verse five, to be taxed with Mary, his espoused wife, being great with child. So it was that while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. She brought forth her firstborn son, wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger. That's so shocking, isn't it? We're used to reading this text, but none of us have ever laid our children in a manger before. This is just incredible, because there was no room for them in the inn.
Again, just a shocking reality. Verse eight, and there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. Just so you understand, shepherds were kind of on the lower end of the social spectrum. Verse nine, and lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone around about them, and they were sore afraid.
Shepherding is not a real exciting work. You're watching a bunch of sheep, and you have to watch them all the time, and so these guys are visited by these angels. And verse 10, and the angels said unto them, fear not, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. Verse 11, if you'd read with me, for unto you is born in this day in the city of David, a savior, which is Christ the Lord. Verse 12, and this shall be a sign unto you, ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And there was with the angel a multitude of heavenly hosts, praising God, and saying glory to God in the highest on earth, peace, goodwill toward men.
I can tell you, if one angel startled and scared these guys, the whole sky filled up with angelic hosts would have just been incredible, wouldn't it? Verse 15, and it came to pass as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherd said one to another, let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which has come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. He made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child, and they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.
It's interesting that shepherds were the ones that God called to send out his message at first and calls preachers even under shepherds these days. Thank you, wonderful and joyful Lord. We celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Thank you that you filled your house up once again with people that love you and that are excited about what Jesus Christ has not only come to do, but is also coming back to do. Thank you today that we serve a risen Savior, and we are humbled by the fact that you sent your son to die for our sins. God, I pray that if anyone today doesn't know the Lord Jesus Christ is their Lord and Savior, that today would be the day of their salvation. Glorify your own name for your own glory's sake. We ask it in Jesus' name, and God's people said, Amen.
You may be seated today. So who started listening to Christmas before Thanksgiving? Raise your hand. Okay, yeah, so Christmas is an exciting time of year. Who has to wait till Thanksgiving's over before you like to start doing that? Okay, who battles that in your house?
Yeah, I put both those hands up too. But we love the season of Christmas. We're so excited to be able to worship our Lord, not only in the resurrection, which is around the Easter season, but we celebrate the birth of Christ here in the Christmas season. And the joy of this season really, really identifies the theme that God views Christmas as. Joy is really the theme of Christmas from the pages of Scripture.
It explodes off the Bible when you read through this Christmas story. When the angel Gabriel came to Mary in Luke chapter number one, he brought a message of joy in Luke 128. Gabriel comes to Mary and says, Hail, thou art highly favored. The Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women. The word hail there could also be translated as rejoice or be glad.
It's from Cairo. Rejoice, Mary, be glad. And those were the first words that the angel came to her with.
And why rejoice? Well, Luke chapter one, just a page back in your Bible, you can follow along. But Luke chapter one, verse 30, it says, And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary, for thou has found favor with God. Behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb and bring forth the sun and shall call his name. And in the Hebrew language, it would have been Yeshua.
It means salvation. We call him Jesus. And he shall be great and shall be called the son of the highest. And the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father, David. He shall reign over the house of Jacob forever in his kingdom.
There shall be no end. So why rejoice, Mary? Because you will give birth to the one who will save his people from their sins, and he will rule over all kingdoms. Mary immediately goes to visit her cousin Elizabeth, who she had also learned by the angel that was now pregnant with a child in her old age. And she is now six months pregnant. When Mary comes to her, it says in Luke one, verse 40, follow along if you could, it says and entered into the house of Zacharias and saluted Elizabeth. And it came to pass when Elizabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the beep, the beep leaped in her womb.
And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost. Now I've had four. My wife has had four children. There are no such things as birthing people.
There's just women who give birth. Amen. Y'all with me.
We still live in a United States of sanity somewhere. So and so this bay I have. There's been times my wife's like, hey, put your hand on my stomach. And I'm like, oh, that's that's really weird. You know, you see the whole hand come out.
The face is like that. So, whoa, you know, belly, you know, it's interesting. This baby is leaving in Elizabeth's womb.
This is very fascinating. Verse forty two. And she spake out with a loud voice and said, blessed art thou among women. Blessed is the fruit of thy womb.
Notice what she says here. And whence is he? Is this to me that the mother of my Lord should come unto me for lo, as soon as the voice of your salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. The Holy Spirit generated joy and a infant inside the womb.
Side note, does life begin in the womb? Mary's response to Elizabeth is one of joy. Luke one forty six. Mary said, my soul magnify the Lord and my spirit has rejoiced in God, my savior. The angel rejoiced at the birth of Christ in Luke chapter two, verse 10.
We just read that just a moment ago. It says the angel said unto them, fear not, for behold, I bring you good tidings. That phrase good tidings is the Greek word you long you on Gilead. So it's actually where we get the word evangelize from. It's literally I evangelize you with good news of great joy or mega. Cara, great joy, like like magnificent amount of joy. Heaven is telling us evangelizing us with magnificent joy.
Why? Why is there such joy? For unto you is born in the city of David, a savior, which is Christ the Lord. You even continue to read in Luke chapter two. You see the age man Simeon and the aged widow Anna, both rejoicing with thanksgiving at the birth of Christ. And then anywhere from one to two years later, the wise men come to the city of the town of Bethlehem. And it says in Matthew two, verse 10, when they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And when they came into the house, they saw the young child with Mary, his mother.
And notice what they do. They fell down and worshiped him. When they opened their treasures, they presented him to him gifts, gold, frankincense and myrt. My my my little niece last night at my family's Christmas was reading, telling the Christmas story.
She's about six years old or something. And she said and brought in him gifts, gold, frank and Google and murder. And I was like, it's not exactly right, but we get what you're saying there. But they came with exceeding great joy. And so, friends, the birth of the birth of Christ is a time to rejoice.
It's a time to be filled with joy. But sadly, so much of what God has brought into the world with joy, the world has robbed because it's turned people's attention from things above to things of this earth. And people's lives are so filled with heaviness and heartache and pain because of the sins of this world. And the pleasures of this world have grabbed their hearts and attention and affections.
And I was preaching the last two weeks on on how to live with peace in a worry filled world. This world is filled with anxiety. An article came out recently that said the United States of anxiety, because anxiety has just gone through the roof in our country.
The people today seem to be offered more than any other culture has offered so many wonderful physical things that they can have. The world is drowning in depression and sorrow and heartache and pain, and nothing seems to be able to remedy it. Every day in America, 100 people commit suicide. A thousand others attempt suicide. Somebody kills himself in this country every 11 minutes. For every one suicide, there's four hospitalized who attempted it and 27 self-reported attempted suicides, along with 275 people who seriously considered it for every one.
That's an equation. Also, in places like Chicago, on an average, there's 54 shootings every week. 13 homicides every week. And that's just one major city in our country.
It's like a literal war zone. More kids are being medicated for depression. Over 20 percent of people in Ohio say they are depressed.
Two out of 10. Alcohol and drug abuse are rampant. Sexual sin, brokenness, adultery, divorce, separation. With all the advancements in our world, it seems the world is unable to fulfill the longing that is in the heart of people. There is a grasping for that which doesn't satisfy. And perhaps today you carry a heavy heart. Maybe you have sorrow and sadness. Perhaps today you're struggling with depression or anxiety or fear and doubt.
I want you to know that you don't have to do that. There is a true and lasting joy that is offered to you, not from Josh, not from a pastor, not from a church, but from the Lord Jesus Christ. And I'm simply a messenger to bring what God's Word says to you today. Friends, God offers you true and lasting joy. Now, what is joy? The word joy comes from a word the Hebrew, the Jews, and then would speak a lot with their throat as well as in the Greek language.
But it's we would pronounce it chara, but it's chara. And it speaks of filling of an inner gladness, a deep seated pleasure birthed by the Holy Spirit. Joy, according to the Bible, is much different than what we call as happiness. What is happiness? Well, happiness is an attitude of satisfaction or delight based on some present circumstance. Happiness is related to things that happen in life.
It is related to the word hap, which is a word that basically conveys the idea of chance. Happiness isn't something you really plan or program. It can happen or it may not happen. Happiness is then tied to the delight or satisfaction from an occasional happy happening or a chance circumstance. And that's the best that the world has to offer. Let's see if we can set our life up with good happenings so that we can have happiness.
Therefore, it is very elusive. You can have it one moment or one day and it could be gone the next. On the other hand, the joy that God's word speaks of is not limited to positive circumstances. The joy God's word speaks of can be enjoyed even friends in the worst of circumstances. It literally transcends circumstance. That is so incredible to have joy in spite of present problems. It is a deep down confidence that everything is well, no matter what the circumstance.
It is not an emotional state, but it will affect your emotions. And no matter what the difficulty is, there is a deep seated joy that rests in the heart of such a believer. Joy is a gift.
It is a gift not received through something the world offers. You can't buy joy on Amazon. You can buy some happiness temporarily when the item shows up. You know, the other day, one of the Amazon guys stuck a delivery package right in, not like in between the garage doors, but right in front of the garage doors.
So when you open the garage door and you back out, guess what you hear? Yeah, your happening just got smashed, right? And your happiness, I should say. So anyway, don't go down that trail. The wife was not happy.
Okay, just happened. But joy is a gift. It's not something that the world can give you. It's not something that God offers. Listen, joy is based upon God, not the world.
It is a vertical gift, not a horizontal gift. And I'm so thankful for that. I'm so thankful my joy isn't based on the world's system. Therefore, joy is not temporary. Rather, joy can be as consistent as God is. It can be as constant as God is because joy again is not based on what the world does.
It's based on the truth of God and who he is. And because God doesn't change, our joy doesn't have to change. So again, where does joy come from? Secondly, and it comes from God.
John 15 11, the day before Jesus dies, this is what he said. These things have I spoken unto you that my joy might remain, not come and go, but remain in you. And that your joy might be what? Is that good news?
Yeah, that's really good news, isn't it? Listen to Psalm 16 11, one of the greatest verses in all the Old Testament. David writes, Thou wilt show me the path of life. In thy presence is what kind of joy? Fullness of joy. And at thy right hand are what?
For how long? Anybody want pleasure forever and joy that never ceases? Where is that found? Where that's found in the presence of the joy creator and the joy giver.
This is incredible, friends. God created us with the capacity to experience this thing called joy. It God made that in us to respond to those things, and he in himself is the culmination of that joy.
He culminates that for us. And so true and lasting joy is a gift from God. The Psalmist understood this.
They found their hope in God. And Psalms 32 11, it says, Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, you righteous and shout for joy, all you that are upright in heart. Psalm 34 verse one and two says, I will bless the Lord at all times. His praise shall continually notice the phrase continually be in my mouth. My soul shall make her boast in the Lord. The humble shall hear thereof and be glad. And these words and statements go all through the scriptures. Joy is also not destroyed, as I mentioned, through trials or bad circumstances. Rather, it's experienced even in the midst of great pain, great hardship and even suffering.
Jesus said in Matthew five, verse 11 and 12, the first major sermon he ever preached. This is what he said. Blessed. The word means happy. The Beatitudes are literally the happy. Be happy.
Blessed. Are you happy? Are you when men revile you?
Really? Anybody want to be reviled when they persecute you? Wow. And say all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake.
How should we respond? Rejoice and be exceedingly glad. Like like this overwhelming shouting for Joyce type of spirit for great is your reward in heaven for so persecuted.
They the prophets that were before you. Isn't that wonderful? So.
So what? And you know how we like to respond when somebody like gets on us for saying something about Merry Christmas. Well, I don't believe in that Christmas stuff. Well, you should.
You know, it's a joyful time here. You don't respond like that. Merry Christmas. Well, I don't believe in that Christmas stuff. Well, God bless you anyway. My joy isn't based on them.
It doesn't have to be based upon some sort. Well, you know, I'm not you know, they don't say Merry Christmas there. Well, I do praise the Lord. We worship Christ. Isn't it crazy to you can't say Merry Christmas. Really?
Anyway, don't go down. This is Acts chapter five, verse forty one. It says, And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for their name, for his name. After Peter was beaten and John were beaten because of preaching the gospel, they rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer. Acts sixteen, twenty five. And at midnight, Paul and Silas prayed and sang praises unto God and the prisoners heard them.
They're the only ones who ever sang in a prison cell and and they worship God. And first, Peter four thirteen says, But rejoice in as much as you are partakers of Christ's sufferings, that when you when his glory shall be revealed, you may be glad with exceeding joy. There is great joy for those who suffer for Christ. The Book of Philippians was written by the apostle Paul while he was in a prison cell at Rome.
And in that prison cell at Rome, he wrote what was known as the Epistle of Joy. Sixteen times the theme of joy comes up in the four chapter book of Philippians. He says in Philippians three one, rejoice in the Lord. And Philippians four four, he says, Rejoice in the Lord always.
And again, I say rejoice. Joy was just beaming off of this man tied into this horrible prison cell in Rome. Jesus is our example of this. He's when he was enduring the great trial of the cross and suffering more than any of us would ever understand. Hebrews twelve verse two, it says, Looking unto Jesus, when you're going through trials, when you're going through difficulties, look unto Jesus. The author and finisher of our faith, he both started our faith and he will conclude our faith. Anybody glad our faith is in his hands? And it says, Who for the joy that was set before him? He endured the cross, despising the shame and a set down on the right hand of the throne of God.
He fastened his eyes on the joy that was set before him. I know for some today, this is hard. It can be a very heavy season. I am not insensitive to that reality. You know, just this last week, we had a dear family in our church, had a sister pass away at the age of forty nine.
Just very, very difficult. We have I think we've had five funerals in the last three and a half weeks. We've seen a lot of people pass away.
It can be a heavy season for folks. And I'm not insensitive to that reality. We weep with those who weep. We mourn with those who mourn. But when you come to the scriptures, praise God, we don't have to mourn as those with no hope.
You think about this. Some of us have saved loved ones, believing loved ones who passed away this year. And though they're seated, the table will be missed in our homes and tears will fill our eyes. We get a smile because they have a seat in heaven with Christ today. If they can't worship Christ at Christmas with us, where else would we want them to be than with Christ at Christmas? This is their first Christmas in heaven, rejoicing around the throne of God. You think heaven has a season where they rejoice in God for sending the sun to die on the cross for our sins? I'm sure heaven has great celebrations in heaven. Is it on December 25th, Pastor? Because I could give you a I understand all that we set aside.
I could go back to winter solstice. I understand the histories, but we get to rejoice. Thank God we have a day set aside to reflect on his birthday. And because joy is the gift of God to those who come to him by faith, it can be as constant as God is. And the reason people's lives are so up and down is because they based their joy and their happiness on the things of this life. You know, everything we have in the world will one day be lost. All of our people, possessions, places, things, all these things will be broken. People die.
Things get burned up and lost. We only have a few short years to live on this earth with our families. Our life is a vapor length lifetime. There are two things you can be certain about. Number one, your life is uncertain. And number two, it is very brief. The uncertainty of life lets us know our life could end at any moment in the brevity of life lets us know it could end.
It will end sooner than we realize. But with God, you can turn the tragedy of death into the delight of eternal existence with God. You know, for the believer, there is no such thing as goodbye at death. There is only I will see my loved one later. Praise God there with the father in heaven. Revelation 21, verse four. I've read the end of the book.
We win. It says in Revelation 21, verse four, and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes. Is that good news? Anybody looking forward to the day when all the pain of your heart is removed? There shall be no more death, neither sorrow, neither crying, neither shall there be any more pain for the former things are passed away. God's going to he's the only one that can remove all of that.
And there are people who say, you know what? I'm bitter against God. I'm so angry against God because he he killed my loved one or he took my loved one.
No, friend, he didn't kill your loved one. The Bible says Satan is the thief who's come to still to kill and destroy. Jesus said, I have come to give you life and life more abundantly. Praise God for his mercy. Praise God for his grace.
If joy comes from God, does God really want the believer to be filled with joy? Well, we read John 15, 11. Jesus said these things that I have spoken to you that.
My joy might remain in you and that your joy might be full. John 16, 24. The next chapter, Jesus says hitherto, you have asked nothing in my name.
Ask and you shall receive that your joy may be full. And John 17, 13, the next chapter again, all of this is Jesus speaking the day before he dies to his disciples. This is his prayer to the father in John 17. He says, Now I come to thee and these things I speak into were in the world that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves.
That's an incredible reality. He is saying in John 15, 16 and 17, the day before he dies, I want your joy to be full. I want you to have my joy.
And father, let these things come to pass that they might have my joy in them. Was Jesus ever depressed? Was he ever down? And if there was anyone who could ever have been depressed, would it not be the one who knew every horrible thing that ever happened? Would it not be the one that's more grieved than any of us over sin?
Wouldn't be the one who was so saddened by the rebellious sinfulness of the world. Yet Jesus had a joy that carried him through life. First, John one fourth says these things right.
I knew you that your joy may be full. First Thessalonians 5 16. Paul says, Rejoice evermore.
Galatians 5 19. The fruit of the spirit is love, joy. Now, if God wants you to be full of joy, this Holy Spirit comes and gives us the gift of joy. Should the believer be characterized by joy? So if I were to ask the 10 closest people to you and say, are they known to be a joyful person?
What would they say? Well, they're just seem to be content all the time. And joy produces contentment.
It doesn't mean that you're laughing all the time. It means that you have a smile of heart, a peace and a confidence in God that no matter the circumstance, you have joy in your soul. The verb to rejoice appears 74 times in the New Testament, the noun joy appears 59 times in the New Testament.
And why is this so important for us to know? Because the Bible tells us in the book of Nehemiah Chapter eight, the joy of the Lord is our strength. And if you remove the joy from the believer's life, we have no strength to be able to live the Christian life. You ever seen dried up Christians?
They're known for what they're against. Yeah, just kind of aggravated. Boy, this is the snow on the parking lot today. Pastor Josh didn't get it all scraped off. He should have been out there with a shovel. You know, he probably prayed for this.
No, no. And his wife, she likes that snow. That simple woman. She's been celebrating Christmas since July, you know. The Bible says, let's enter into his courts with Thanksgiving and into his courts with praise. Amen. Be joyful and glad. Rejoice in the Lord. Don't be a bitter Christian. If you've lost your joy, the problem is not outside of you.
It's not circumstantial. The problem is inside of you. It's spiritual. You've turned your eyes to the world and not to the Lord. Show me the person filled with complaints. I'll show you a person who is looking downward. Show me a person filled with joy. I'll show you a person that's looking Christ word. It doesn't mean we are blind to the trials of life, but it means that we understand who's controlling the waves. So how can I have joined my life?
Let me give you a few things. Let me give you a biblical outline of how to have joy in your life. First of all, because God is the giver of joy, joy will only come to those who have believed the gospel.
You must be saved. If all of this seems so foreign to you today, it may be because you've never trusted Christ. Luke Chapter two, verse 11. The reason the angels said they brought good tidings of great joy was this reason.
Let's all read this together. For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a savior, which is Christ the Lord. Our sin has removed us from our relationship with God. We have been parted from God because of our sins. It has severed us from God. The Bible says our sins have separated us between us and our God. Sin is a destroyer.
Disrupt disrupts and destroys and devastates everything it touches, and it has touched everything. You know, behind every Christmas carol, behind every Christmas tree and letters and writing and laughter and in the stories and all of that, behind all of the joy of Christmas is the weightiness of sin. You see, if there was no sin, there would be no Christmas.
If there was no Genesis three, there would be no Luke Chapter two. It is because man has rebelled in defiance against God, against his creator, that God had to send his only begotten son to be the savior of the world. The reason there is Christmas is because there is sin. And if you think sin has cost you and I a lot, I can tell you none of us has paid a higher price than the Lord Jesus Christ. Our father has paid the highest price. First Peter three eighteen says for Christ also had once suffered for sins. The just for the unjust.
Why? That he might bring us to God. Being put to death in the flesh and made alive or quickened by the spirit. When Gabriel announced the birth of John the Baptist in Luke one.
It says. When he came to Zacharias, the angel Gabriel said to Zacharias, who would be John the Baptist father and John the Baptist was the forerunner of Christ. Luke Chapter one verse fourteen, it says, And thou shalt have joy and gladness, and many shall rejoice at his birth. And the reason of the joy is in Luke one sixteen. And many of the children of Israel shall he show your son Zacharias shall the future John the Baptist. Many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God.
The reason Zacharias you will rejoice in your son is because he will turn people to the Lord. And the emphasis is on the word turn, which means this for you to turn means you are going in the wrong direction. The world is going in the wrong. Do you think the world's going in the wrong direction? You think you look across the landscape of America, you say, Well, this world's really moving in a good direction.
Have you ever heard anybody say that? Well, you know, America's really improved itself since the nineteen forties and fifties. Well, I'm glad the sixties and seventies generation really got a hold of the truth. I'm really glad that that that that whole movement began to create what we have today. And now we just have this liberated society from God's word. And boy, we're such a peace filled, joy filled world isn't. Nobody says that. They have put their either they they're they put their head in the sand of sin that they enjoy so much where they're trying to get your vote and they're manipulating you to keep you in your misery so they can keep themselves in their office.
Tired of people buying people's votes. Now, how did he turn them? How did John the Baptist turn to Matthew three, verse one and two? In those days came John the Baptist preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying, Repent ye for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. The word repent means turn, have a change of heart, which will produce a change of life. And it says repent and notice what repentance would produce.
Luke one seventeen, and he shall go before them in the spirit and power of Elias or Elijah to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just to make ready a people prepared for the Lord. The only way you can ever get to heaven is by repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul says, For he has sent me to preach faith, repentance of sin and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
You know what that means? Repentance is me knowing what sin is, turning from my sin, turning to Christ and faith is in the Lord Jesus Christ. You cannot turn to Christ without turning away from sin. There are some people say, Oh, I'll pray a little prayer. Jesus come to my heart and save me and my soul. Save my soul in Jesus name. Amen. I'm going to go to heaven.
Really? You know what repentance means? What's that word mean? It means turning away from your sin, turning away from rebellion, turning away from unbelief, turning away from everything that God's called in the Bible sin. It's does that mean I have to be perfect? No, it doesn't mean you're perfect, but it means that you're now in a new direction of life.
It's not the perfection, but it is the direction. Don't tell me you believe in Jesus and you're still living over here in a pile of sin. You've deceived yourself. Jesus says many will say they're going to heaven one day, but they're not. If you're saved today, you have genuinely repented over your sins. You have mourned over your sins. You're sorry for your sin, not because sin hurts you, but because it offended God.
You are. You are sorry for what your sin has done against the father, against the Lord Jesus Christ. And your faith is in what Jesus, who he is and what he has done. It is Jesus Christ who brings us back into a right relationship with God. And he gives us incredible joy. Romans five eleven says, And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have received the atonement. You know why we can be glad today is because we're saved.
We are. We are his children. Isaiah 61 10. I will greatly rejoice in the Lord. My soul shall be joyful in my God for he has clothed me with garments of salvation. You know, Mary even said of Jesus, her own son. My soul rejoices in God, my savior. Mary had sin that she needed forgiven of, and she rejoiced in Christ.
Her son, who she gave birth to and would deliver, would one day deliver her. We have joy through salvation, and God rejoices over us in salvation. You know, the Bible says in Luke 15 seven, as well as Luke 15 verse 10, that there is joy in heaven over one sinner that repents. We have dear folks today that got saved this last week that are literally sitting in church with us this morning. Anybody glad about that? Isn't that wonderful?
What a what a great season. If you're not saved today, let today be the day that you trust in Christ. Let today be the day that you say, You know what, Jesus, I do believe in you. I believe that 2000 years ago you were born in a sin filled world. I believe you rose again from the dead. I believe that you are who you said you are.
I believe your word and I believe you're coming back again. I want you more than my sin. I'm willing to turn away from my sin and turn to Christ. Jesus saved me today.
If that's the desire of your heart, call out to him even now in your seat. Make your make your heart ring out with joy for God. Let let God be your savior and your joy.
It's not in reciting a 10 10 word prayer, it's it's understanding the truth and submitting to that. The Bible tells us not only is joy found first of all in those who have received the gospel, but secondly, joy is produced by the Holy Spirit. Galatians 5 22 says, But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace. You think God wants you to have joy if the Holy Spirit produces it?
Absolutely. Romans 14 17 says for the kingdom of God is not meat and drink, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Ghost. Thirdly, so God gives us joy at salvation through the work of the Holy Spirit, and it's received as we obey the word of God as we line our life up with the word of God. Jeremiah 15 16 says, Thy words were found and I did eat them up, and they thy word was the unto me the joy and rejoicing of my heart.
John said, I write these things into you that your joy might be full. Listen, when we obey the word of God, we're obeying the Holy Spirit who wrote the scriptures. And that's how you walk in the spirit. You say, How do I walk in the spirit? You don't walk in the spirit walk in the word. When you live what is in the scriptures, you're living out the word of God and you're walking in the spirit and you will have joy. Fourth, God gives us salvation. God gives us joy and salvation produced by the Holy Spirit as we submit our life to the word of God. And it is also mixed with trials.
Did you hear that? Our joy is mixed with trials. It must be.
It has to be. Because if joy could be removed by trials and you could never have it continually. But it's sustained even in trials.
This is incredible, friends. John MacArthur said, You will never experience the reality of true joy unless it is made very clear by contrast to trials. It is in a very real sense known only by its contrast, sadness, sorrow and difficulty. Listen to how what I just told you is encompassed in First Thessalonians one six. Look at this verse.
First Thessalonians one six. And ye became followers of us and of the Lord. That's salvation, right? Having received the word, that's obedience to the word, as I just talked about. In much affliction. It's what I'm talking about right now with the joy of the Holy Ghost. You became followers of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction with joy of the Holy Ghost. The affliction did not remove their joy. Second Corinthians 6 10 says this as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing.
Is that wonderful? You know how many people have to open a bottle this weekend and get drunk to to to to sedate their mental anguish? Throw some pills down their throats.
Go to the doctor and go to the psychiatrist and try to find some kind of medication that can numb them because they didn't go to the work. I'm not saying all medications wrong. Don't don't get me wrong. But what I'm saying is people go to the doctor and a psychiatrist before they go to the Lord seeking his truth. I believe much of depression, much of anxiety, much of worry is a result of people basing their life so much on what's going on in the world and not what's going on in the word. It's not true.
It is just the truth. If the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long suffering, which is patience. How patient are people filled with anxiety? Not very. You know, I'm filled with.
Filled with anxiety, but I'm so patient, really. Those are not sisters, OK? They rather fight like sisters. James one says this. My brother encountered all joy when you fall into diverse. Temptations that were temptations.
Perazimas in the Greek, it means trials. Temptations, external and internal difficulties. You know, trials are seen in the Bible as something that are very beneficial. They evidence the genuineness of your faith. Anybody ever wonder, am I truly saved? You said, I always thought that about you, Pastor. But but if you ask yourself, like, am I truly a believer?
How do you know that? You know, one of the ways, you know, if you're a Christian, listen to me, very close is when you last through trials. True believers remain. Jesus said in John Chapter eight, verse 30 and 31, if you continue my word, then you're really my disciple. In Matthew 13, verse 21, it says of a false convert who received God's word and stony soil of his heart says, yet hath he not rude in himself, but there are three lasts for a while.
For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word by and by, he's offended. A person who, oh, I'm going to get saved. I need Jesus to save me. And then when difficulties come, they bail evidence as they weren't truly saved because those who are truly saved are kept by the power of God. I don't keep myself safe. God keeps me safe.
Right. And he is able to present you faultless before his throne with exceeding joy. A faith that cannot be tested cannot be trusted.
No one would ride over the ocean on a vessel that had never been put in the water first. The joy for the believer is that there is real that their salvation is real and eternal. There is purpose in our pain. Listen, when you go through a difficulty, it's not because of dumb, bad luck that you went through that trial. Well, I've just had bad luck this year.
No, you haven't. If you're safe, there is no such thing as luck. There is no knocking on wood. You know, people, you know, knock on wood. Hope. Hope today.
Hope this year turns out good. Really? So you think, well, that's not even what you know, you ever see them? They're like, I'm going to knock on wood. Oh, that's all. There's wood.
Really? Quit knocking on wood and start knocking on the throne of heaven. Jesus said, knock on the man.
I'll answer you. That's where your joy comes from. I don't live off silly luck. Now somebody is going to be like, oh, man, you know, I'm saying good luck this morning.
You know, I was knocking on wood and I have a rabbit's hat right or rabbit's foot right now in my pocket, you know. Realized with God, everything works together for good. You never have pain that is purposeless. Romans eight twenty eight says we know all things work together for good to them that love God. We can rejoice in the Lord always. When Paul understood this, the Bible says he began to praise God for the thorns of his life. As we saw last Sunday, we can have joy in our lives no matter.
Persecution comes. Jesus said rejoice. Peter and John rejoice in a prison cell.
Paul and Silas sang praises. So joy is a gift from God received by those who've received the gospel produced by the Holy Spirit as we obey the word of God mixed with trials. And lastly, with our joy fixed on eternity, our eyes are fixed on eternity. First Peter four thirteen says this, but rejoice in as much as you are partakers of Christ's sufferings.
You go through a trial. Rejoice that when his glory shall be revealed, you may be glad also with exceeding joy. You're going to if you think you have joy at the first coming of Christ, how much joy should you have at the prospect of the reality of Christ's second coming? You know, the opening words, the song Joy to the Lord, written by Sir Isaac Watts. He wrote over seven hundred fifty hymns in the opening line of Joy to the World is sometimes sung incorrectly. Joy to the world. The Lord has come. That's not what he wrote.
Rather, he wrote joy to the world. The Lord is come. He was not describing a past event in the Lord's birth. He was actually describing the future event of the Lord's return. So if the angels declared we are rejoicing the first coming of Christ, we should rejoice so much more in the reality of his second coming. I'm telling you, friends, I've read this Bible.
I've preached many sermons, many, many hours of my life spent in studying prophecy. We are living in the last days of the last days. I believe we are watching what the world will become like during the days of Sodom and Gomorrah.
We are watching it unfold just as Lot's soul was vexed day to day by the evils of the world. I'm going to say, Preacher, you think it'll get worse? It's going to get much worse. You will be sickened every month. Things get worse. It's no longer like, boy, last year got a lot. It's like last month got worse.
Next week, it's just the slightest it was going like this, and then it's just on a free fall. And the reason for that is they replace the word of God as being the objective truth and a standard to live by in the moralities of a Judeo Christian nation that was built on the truth of God's word. As as Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, all these guys said, you can't you can't govern a people without God and his Ten Commandments without the Bible.
That's impossible. And yet the world's trying to do it. And it's going to hell in a handbasket, friends. And we're watching this world fall apart before our eyes.
The fiscal irresponsibility of a nation, the foolishness of a hundred other things I could say, drag queens being celebrated all over our nation, even down in Fairborn. People telling me they're going into libraries and reading the kids. Are you kidding me? They just found one of these drag queens recently that had all kinds of molestation charges and child pornography.
What do you think? It's disturbing enough. It just is insanity to me. And I don't hate those people. They need the gospel and they need somebody to love them enough to tell them truth. You don't let people think they're another.
What are you doing? We're living in a world that has lost its mind. Because they've lost the truth. This is this is we haven't even seen how far men can go down.
How far down they can go. But I can tell you, friends, we're going to stand on the word of God here. We're going to uphold the word of God. We're going to preach Christ. And if it kills us, we'll do it. I don't care if they throw me in prison.
I don't. It doesn't matter to me what happens on this earth. We can rejoice because Jesus Christ is Lord and we can celebrate even in the midst of difficulties. Listen, victory through the crosses of life do not happen by looking at the trial, but rather by looking at the crown before us. Jesus said for the joy that was set before him, he endured the cross.
There are some crosses we will bear. You know, mothers don't think about the pain of pregnancy for nine months. They look forward to that little baby that's going to be born every time a mother thinks about, boy, you know, that's going to be it. Never looked forward to delivery.
That that thought is quickly passed by. I can't wait till that baby's born. Looking forward to that child that's coming into the world. The New Testament church lived in expectation of the coming of Christ. Their constant encouragement to one another through trials in the early church was keep going because Christ is coming. Titus 2 13 says, looking for that blessed hope and glorious appearing of the great God and our savior, Jesus Christ. Matthew 28, they departed quickly from the Sepulchre with fear and great joy there, their sadness and sorrow over the death of Christ was quickly removed by the resurrection of Christ. Christian, no matter what you're facing, eternal joy awaits you. There will be a day you will never cry again, never suffer again, never have any one who you loved part from you.
Eternal joy in the paradise of God. And for most of us, that's anywhere from 25 to 50 years away. And if Christ comes back, we're going there this year, right?
My daughter's getting married this summer. I said she's playing in July 15th. I said, I really feel the Lord's coming back like July 14th. I just had a dream.
She's like that. That was pizza too late at night. It would be funny for all of eternity, though, if that did happen, wouldn't it? Told your baby. Actually, I wouldn't mind walking her down the aisle and, you know, get married and then it goes after right there.
That'd be fine. But how amazing will the joy be of the day we finally get to cast our eyes upon our savior, the one who loved us. The one who said I was born in a little obscure town called Bethlehem. My parents had to rush me to Egypt because Herod tried to slaughter me when I was an infant and I was raised in Egypt for. And then I had to come back to Nazareth where I grew up.
And even in my own town, I was rejected. I came to my own, my own, received me not. I was persecuted, hated, spit upon, crucified. I died. But yet I rose again. And I love you. And I've prayed for you. And I called you and I saved you and I kept you. And now you're with me forever. I'm going to wipe all tears from your eyes. There will be no more sorrow, no sadness.
I'm going to give you a new body that can never grow old, never tire, never have any pain. You are with me forever. What joy that is. What a day that's going to be. Imagine the day that you and I get to see our loved ones in heaven. What do you think you're going to say to Grandma and Grandpa?
What do you think? What do you think you're going to say to Mom and Dad the first day you see them in heaven? What do you think the first thing your child's going to tell you when they run up to you in heaven?
Dad, Mom, you can't believe it. What do you think those loved ones that you led to Christ will say to you in heaven? Thank you for telling me of Christ. What do you think it's going to be like that first day you're going to say, this is infinite joy and his right hander pleasures forevermore. Josh, you could never even touch the garment of the glory of heaven. Your preaching was miserably low compared to what reality was.
It's going to be overwhelming, friends. So as we gather around our family gatherings today and maybe in the coming days, make sure you bring up Christ. Ask your family, Mom, Dad, do you know Jesus? Talk to your kids about Jesus.
Talk to your family. Do you know your grandma and grandpa are saved? Do you know that for sure? Do you know for sure your mom and dad are saved? It's a tough conversation, yet it's a whole lot tougher when they die and you don't know.
Have that conversation now. You say, I don't know what I would say, then I would love to come and talk with your family sometime. But go through our Share Jesus class. Learn the Word of God. Tell them what Jesus has done for you. Bring them to John 3.16. Say, hey, there's a message my pastor preached. I'd love you to hear this sermon. Bring them the Word of God. Invite them to church.
Bring them next Sunday. Now, what can keep me from joy? Let me close with a couple thoughts. There are things that can steal our joy. Number one, sin will rob us of our joy. Anybody ever lost joy in life because of sin?
Yeah. We get into sin, selfishness, pride, all these other things that can get ahold of our lives. Don't let the world suck your joy through sin. Sin robs believers of their joy because instead of being filled with the Spirit, they grieve the Holy Spirit. And how could I have the joy of the Holy Spirit if I'm grieving Him?
Right? But praise God if I confess my sins. He is faithful and just to forgive us. You know what David said in Psalm 51 after he had sinned? He said, God created me a clean heart, renew a right spirit within me. In verse 12, he says, restore unto me the joy. He didn't say restore my salvation. He said, restore unto me the joy of my salvation. And when he confessed his sins, God restored his joy. The weak faith will cause also you to lose your joy. People who have a weak faith in life. You know, fear and doubts and worry and fretting and anxiety.
Jesus said five times in three directly. He said, do not be filled with worry. Do not worry.
Do not. Don't you know you have a father in heaven that loves you? What a what a joy we have. Weak faith elevates fear over the faith in God. And earthly focus will also cause people to lose their joy. The Bible says the love of money is the root of all evil, which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith and pierced himself through with many sorrows. The Bible says, say your affection on things above, not things of the earth.
So as I close today. Where are you going to for joy? Where is your joy found? You know, joy is not found in unbelief.
You know, the guy who helped me start lighthouse 13 years ago with eight people, two of the people who came here, one was a converted atheist in his agnostic girlfriend, who both got saved in our youth ministry and came here. I can tell you, as an atheist, he didn't want to live anymore. Yet, you know, when you become an atheist, when you kill God in your mind, you kill purpose in your existence. Because the creator determines the purpose of its creation. And when you remove a creator, if you are the result of random, dumb, blind evolutionary chance, you don't have a meaning.
You hear me? You have no purpose. You are a piece of sludge that climbed out by electrical spark and became what you are by random mutation chance. You are simply lucky and you have no reason to exist. And you're just absorbing energy that when you die, you'll go back into the and you have no meaning in life. But when you come to the Bible, God says, I've created you infinitely marvelous in my own eyes. I've intricately designed you even inside the womb. I know your days before they were even written.
I've made all of your DNA deoxyribonucleic acid and your 100 trillion cells and 130 million light sensitive refractors that focus and non-focus abilities of your eyes and your brain and all these things that God's done inside of us and speech and language and purpose and meaning are all attached to God. And when guys like Voltaire, who was a famous atheist, got to the end of his life, he said, I wish I had never been born. The atheist life is the miserable life. I love seeing Eric Woodworth, who was a committed atheist who used to make his mom cry for going to church, who's now on the mission field preaching the gospel.
This morning, his first Christmas service in Honduras, Tegucigapa, Honduras, preaching Christ to these dear Hondurians. What a joy that is. It's not found in pleasure. Lord Byron lived in pleasure more than anyone. He lived as a hedonist, and he wrote, the worm, the canker and the grief are mine alone. Jay Gould, it's not found in money because Jay Gould, the great American millionaire, said when he was dying, I suppose I am the most miserable man on earth. It's not found in position and fame. Lord Beaconsfield enjoyed more than his share of both. He wrote, youth is a mistake, manhood is a struggle, old age is regret. It's not in military glory.
Alexander the Great conquered the known world in his day. Having done so, he wept in his tent because, he said this, quote, there are no more worlds to conquer. Where are you looking for joy at?
It's not going to be found in any of that stuff. Just read the book of Ecclesiastes, right? It's all vanity. It's not where joy is found, it's found in the infinite glory of Christ. God, in your presence is fullness of joy.
In your right hand are pleasures forevermore. We were designed to respond to greatness. We celebrate greatness. We see something great and we just get it inflated with joy. We just, oh, that was so amazing. Did you see that? See how the bingles beat the Patriots, did you?
And Tom Brady and, you know. We get excited about these kind of things, don't we? We get excited about how fast that guy went around that loop on that track, you know.
He was, that was so incredible how fast. You see how fast the same bolt ran that 100 or 200. I mean, we celebrate greatness. We wear their jerseys.
We mark our bodies up with their numbers. And none of, and they are like dust on the ground compared to the infinite glory of one day seen Christ. Friends, we're going to be so overwhelmed with him when we get to heaven. We will, we could stand for 10,000 years with our mouth open and just wonder and gaze upon him. Our minds will just be flooded with infinite joy and saying, I can't take my eyes off of him.
You think you saw a sunset that was nice. Wait until you see the one who designed that from all of eternity. Wait till you see the magnificence of his, of his eternal universe, this massive universe.
And it's like a marble in his pocket. You stand in his presence and you'll say, I can never get over God. So let me ask you, what are you selling him out for? What thing on Amazon is so much better than God? What sin is so worth holding onto you that you say, I would not bow down to Christ today. I will not surrender my life to the Lordship of Christ. He will not be my king and my God and sit in the driver's seat. I will continue in my sin. I will reject Christ as savior. What would you do that for?
Wouldn't it be great on December 25th of 2022 would be the day that you said today is the day of my salvation. I'm done running. I'm done rejecting.
I'm done living for me. I know how miserable and how broken and how frustrated my life can become when I'm in the driver's seat. I feel him drawing me. I feel his conviction. There's something in me that realizes this is the truth.
I'm drawn to it. The Holy Spirit is letting you know that this is reality and today can be the day of salvation. If you would humble yourself and say, Jesus, you are Lord. I am not Lord.
You are Lord. I believe 2000 years ago you died on the cross. You were buried. You rose again. And I need you to be my Lord and savior.
I need my sins removed. And I recognize today it's only through you. Heaven. Heaven would split open the sky and say tonight's a night of rejoicing for all the world. It says because unto you is born this day in the city of David, a savior, which is Christ the Lord. Let today be the day of your salvation at the end of this service, which we're concluding. We'll have men and women standing at that door and that door. You could just walk up to one of them and say, I need to be safe today.
I need I need to know when my life's over. I'll be in heaven. Can I talk to you for a minute?
They will pull you aside in a little room, sit down and show you from the Bible, answer any questions you have and show you from the Bible how you can know what what you need to do today to be safe. Wouldn't that be great? Wouldn't it be great going to bed tonight saying, you know what? If a nuclear bomb dropped on America, if something terrible happened and we all died, I know that I would be with my family in heaven.
Wouldn't that be the greatest thing you could ever have? My joy in life is knowing that my children, my wife, my loved ones are saved. So no matter what happens in 100 years from now, we're together. We're with Christ.
This is joy forever, friends. And it's offered. You couldn't pay for it.
You and I would save millions if we could just to pay for something like that. And God says, I offer it to you if you just come and receive Christ. And Christian today, don't sell out your joy for anything else. It's all in Christ. Let's all stand this morning.
With heads bowed, knives closed. Maybe today you just want to come and take a moment and worship the Lord. Maybe there's something you just want to come and. Get right before him. You know, as we come to the last Sunday of the year, maybe there's something you just need to come and pray for, maybe a heaviness on your heart.
You need to turn over to him. Maybe something you need to confess to the Lord. Maybe a loved one that you're going to be talking to today or this week that needs saved. You can come and pray for it.
Whatever your need is, you can come. If you're saved today and you say, pastor, I know Christ is my savior. Would you raise your hand as a testimony of your faith in Christ? Praise God.
Amen. You can put your hands down. But if you're here today and you say, pastor, if I were to stand before God, I don't know if heaven's my home. If I stood before Jesus today and he said, why should I let you in heaven? I don't know what I would say.
I'm not sure of that answer. I don't know that I've truly repented of my sins. If you were to ask the 10 closest people to me in my life, I'm not sure that they would say that I'm a true Christian. Today I need to be saved. I need to be saved.
And I recognize that. Could you pray for me, pastor Josh? And with heads bowed and eyes closed, if that's you today, would you just raise your hand and I might know to pray for you. Just lift it up and I'll pray for you. Thank you, I see.
Thank you, I see. Everybody else, just raise your hand and I'll know to pray for you, my friend. Pastor, could you just remember me in prayer because I don't want to be separated from God.
I don't want to die in my sin. I'm going to pray for you today. And if you're not saved, why don't you come today and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Make the greatest decision you'd ever make. Father, we are so thankful today for your word, for the truth, for the gospel. We thank you for the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord, our King, and our God. We praise you today that we can celebrate the birth of Christ. Joy to the world, the Lord has come. God, I pray for those that don't know Christ today, that they might be saved. That they might have the courage, even come with the ones next to them, that they would come today and trust in you. Help us as families to be loving and gracious, yet bold, to stand for the truth. We ask it in Jesus' name, amen.
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