Joy That Changes Everything

Mary brought forth her first born son and God stepped into our lives.

The story of 650 choristers – Philadelphia Opera Company, in 2012, a large mall, everyone prepared to sing at noon, Handel’s Messiah. The responses of the focused and determined shoppers, one raised her arms in worship, others wiped tears from their eyes, they seemed astonished at what they heard in this public place. A post from an atheist read, “this got to me, it overwhelmed me, I approve,” from a Hindu, “I agree.”

JOY is found in those who worship him. Three facts in this passage…

Luke 2:7-9 – FOUNDATION

This is about history, so, don’t check out since I said history. We are reminded of the history of this event. Karen Hoyt wrote that our world is drawn to this season, but we have created a Christmas myth that covers the joy of Christmas, the wonder of the incarnation is lost, and we are left with depression, commercialism materialism. We need to return to the foundation of joy in history.

Mary brought forth her firstborn Son: the fullness of time was satisfied as well as all the Old Testament prophecies.

Fullness of TIME – Galatians 4:4 – God’s Son came through Mary, an amazing fact. The marking of time in history, the census was taken. Remember the Roman world. The Pax Romana helped take over the world. A common language helped to spread the message all over the world, Greek. Josephus says the people were waiting for something “next.”

There were 353 Old Testament PROPHECIES that were satisfied – the coming of the Messiah, 2 Corinthians 1:20 – all promises are YES and AMEN in Jesus Christ. YES (done) and AMEN (guaranteed with certainty).

All the fullness of HUMANITY – Isaiah 53:2 – the Suffering Servant came as a tender shoot, out of the dry ground, the lowliness of his arrival. Jesus learned obedience through his suffering, daily surrender to this restrictive earthly life and then there was the cross. He suffered as our example, so the fullness of humanity was satisfied.

Luke 2:10 – REALITY

Good tidings of great joy for all people. The highest of news is “good tidings.” “Tidings” is in the book of Acts 15 times, always referencing to the preaching of the gospel. This is the good news, from the evangelist. “Highest of news for the deepest of man’s experience.”

Joy is not the stronger muscle of the weaker happiness. There is real joy and fake joy.

FAKE joy is the vanity of Ecclesiastes, that which man desires and leaves him empty.

“REAL Joy is 1) the stirring of the soul 2) moved by the Holy Spirit and 3) focused specifically on Jesus Christ.” All this is for the furthest ears, it is for ALL people. All who heard were astonished. Psalm 67:4 – Let the nations be glad. The message is for all ethnos.

Luke 2:11-12 – SOURCE

A SAVIOR has been born, not a political leader. This is not an unusual term (many conquerors referred to themselves as a savior), but the term had not been used in this context. Isaiah 45:15 tells us the reason, for the destruction of sin. Do we lose our desperation for Jesus? Can it be like ignoring a ringing phone.

The CHRIST, the anointed one, it is irrevocable, there is no one with greater power.

The LORD, Exodus 3:14, the living one, the God who is.

The Revelation 19:16 – King of kings and Lord of lords.

Temple University and University of Utah study, that in homes that decorate for Christmas, there is found more joy at Christmas. Jesus is the centerpiece at Christmas. Joy is there even when happiness is fleeting.

Live in Joy, be astonished this Christmas season. Are you confused? Where do you stand with Jesus? Take the first step.

Life Group Questions:

  1. When does your Christmas tree go up? Who trims it? How?
    1. What other traditions do you observe for Christmas?
    2. What did you think about that study connecting Christmas decorations and joy?
  2. What is the most unique birth announcement you have every received?
  3. What do you imagine angels look like?
  4. If you could sleep out under the stars anywhere in the world, were would you lay down your pillow?
  5. Of all the people in the world the angels could have visited, why these shepherds?
    1. In what way or when has God spoken to you in ordinary life?
    2. If you had been with the shepherds on the night Christ was born, what would you have done after the angels left?
    3. In what ways did the shepherds obey that night?
    4. What should be our response when we discover God’s will and what he wants to do through us?
  6. What is the significance of the three titles given to Jesus in Luke 2:11? How about the three roles given to Jesus in the choir presentation (Shepherd, Savior, King)? What title or role of Jesus speaks best to you during this season of your life?
  7. Ken mentioned the flash mob singing the Hallelujah Chorus in the mall. How does the joy expressed by the atheist and the Hindu relate to how we can or should share Jesus during the Christmas season?
  8. Ken gave a Karen Hoyt quote, basically that our world is drawn to this season, but we have created a Christmas myth that covers the joy of Christmas, the wonder of the incarnation is lost, and we are left with depression, commercialism materialism.
    1. Why are people drawn to the ceremony and tradition of Christmas but not the Savior of Christmas?
    2. How can Christians capitalize on people’s openness to make a connection with non-believers?
  9. Ken mentioned that the Christmas story satisfies all time, Old Testament prophecies, and humanity, yet we are constantly chasing after things that will never lead to fulfillment or true satisfaction.
    1. What things in your life have changed your priorities and caused you to truly seek after Jesus?
    2. What are the effects of materialism in our society?
    3. Since there is so much depression, anxiety, and drug abuse in America, could there be a connection to the fact that we are an affluent nation?
  10. Ken spoke of real joy (joy that stirs the soul, through the Holy Spirit, and focuses on Jesus) versus fake joy (mankind’s desires and futile efforts to please others).
    1. What sort of fake joy have you settled for in your life?
    2. How would your life have been different had you focused on real joy instead of a counterfeit substitute?
  11. The phrase “glad tidings” is described as “the highest of news” and is in the book of Acts 15 times, always referencing the preaching of the gospel.
    1. What can believers do to help unbelievers know this good news and why it is so good?
    2. What is our responsibility when we discover these glad tidings?

Here is a “Good News Glad Tidings” Exercise:
As we approach Christmas to celebrate the birth of Jesus, we personally have so much for which to rejoice. As we look around this room (and KGBC as a whole), we have also so much to be thankful for in our community of faith at King’s Grant.

I would assume many of us know people who do not know Jesus. Let’s take time to pray for those people. Let’s list some people on our hearts (and on paper) for whom we are praying in terms of salvation and let’s pray together. Let’s take a moment of silence for each of us to prepare, then make a list and pray over that list. If time permits, go around the room and share a name before our closing prayer.

Let’s continue in this Christmas season with a goal to remember and continue to pray for those mentioned tonight and pray that they will receive the greatest gift of all.

Don’t Forget the Name of Christmas

Due to a technical difficulty, there is no audio or video of this week’s message, but we have these sermon notes and Life Group questions.

Do Not Forget the Name of Christmas
Hebrews 1:1-4

God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much better than the angels, as He has inherited a more excellent name than they. [NASB]

  1. How are you like your mother or father? (a talent, ability, characteristic, habit, distinctive feature)
  2. What does (or did) your father do? Would you ever consider taking over the family business? Why or why not?
  3. What are some restaurants, vacation spots, books, movies, or other areas of interest that you consider the best of their kind? What made them so much greater than the rest?

Ken began mentioning the Christmas Countdown – 30 days until Christmas. Culture – half of Americans believe in the virgin birth. Most Americans believe the spiritual part of Christmas is fading away. Happy holidays vs. Merry Christmas. Those who believe the birth of Jesus is fact, down to 55%. The sacredness of Christmas is fading too. A dangerous shift from the sacred center of Christmas. So, here are facts that define the event…

  1. What is a good way for Christians to help keep Christ in Christmas, in our society’s ever-increasing elimination of Christianity from the public square?
  2. How has modern materialism become such a distraction during this holy remembrance of our Savior’s birth?

  1. The History: the story behind the story

Ceremonies of the OT compared to the new faith of Christianity. The fulfillment of every part of the OT story. God spoke clearly, in this history. Two ways to understand this history. 1) God has always spoken in history, 2) every word spoken pointed to Jesus. God spoke to Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses… trekking all through the prophets, for 3000 years of God speaking, then 400 years of silence, then God spoke his final word, the Messiah is here, plainly and specifically telling us about Jesus’ coming.

  • John 5:39 – you are studying the Scriptures for eternal life, but they testify of ME.
  • Luke 24:27 – beginning with Moses and the prophets, taught the things about himself, in ALL the Scriptures.
  • Galatians 4:4 – in the fullness of time God sent his Son.

Larry King, who is the one person and to ask one question. I would ask Jesus, “is the virgin birth real?” If so, it would change everything, it would define history for all of us.

  1. What are the key differences between God speaking through the prophets of old and God speaking through his Son?
  2. Ken mentioned that all things in the Hebrew Scriptures pointed to Jesus. What lesson might we apply to our lives today? (all that we are and stand for should also point to Christ).
  3. What is significant about having a personal relationship with the heir of all things? How many people can say they have a personal relationship with world leaders, presidents, or kings? So, where do believers stand with the fact of being children of the Creator and Sustainer of the universe?

  1. The Advent: the miracle of the birth

Jesus is the radiance of God’s glory and nature. Jesus sustains it all by the power of his word. It is not that he has spoken through the prophets, and then now through the Son, but he summarizes all things through the son, It is not then versus now, he came to fulfill, the completer, the greater than, all who came before him. Not prophets first and Jesus second, but Jesus fulfills what the prophets said. The baby came as creator and sustainer. The baby is the complete and perfect representation of the Father.

  • Past – Hebrews 1:2 – Jesus made all things, the universe.
  • Present – Hebrews 1:3 – Jesus sustains all things by the power of his word, upholds it all. The perfectness of the universe, he is in charge of it all. He is the Presence, Power, Proprietorship of God.
  • Future – Hebrews 1:2 – Jesus is the heir of all things. Philippians 2 – every knee will bow, and every tongue confess that he is Lord.

Jesus is the exact representation of God, not a model, all God’s glory and holiness is seen in the person of Jesus Christ. The terms expression or nature is more like character, (the essence of discipleship – the student becoming like the master) like a mold for coinage, so all would be identical. Not one detail is left out. This baby is God coming to us – Emmanuel, “God with us.” For millions, Christmas has become decentralized, it is only the “holiday season.” Why? They have lost the sense of marvel and astonishment of the event. They don’t remember the miracle.

  1. How is the birth of Jesus the greatest miracle ever?
  2. Since God’s Glory was stamped on Jesus, how does this parallel our experience in relation to our justification, life-long sanctification, and eventual glorification?

  1. The Life: the sacredness of His ministry

This sacredness is defined by Jesus’ life and ministry. Hebrews 1:3 – he made purification for sin, he sat down. Jesus has fulfilled all the ceremonies of the OT. All the requirements are fulfilled according to the Father’s will. Jesus did not come just to show us a better way to worship but came to be the sacrifice for sin.

  • 1 Timothy 1:15 – Jesus came to save sinners.
  • 1 Peter 2:9 – called out of darkness into his marvelous light.
  • 1 Peter 3:18 – Jesus died, the just for the unjust.

Jesus sat down: how would God allow such humiliation of his Son? After, he took the most powerful seat in heaven. All this so we can have eternal life.

  1. We looked at the secularization of our culture against the sacredness of our incarnational celebration. How have Christians lost the sacredness of this moment that Jesus came to earth?
  2. Since Jesus is the Sustainer of all things, in relation to our salvation, what are some ways and reasons that Christians lose the sense of awesomeness of the Christmas season?
  3. The text tells us that Jesus made purification for sins. How is the New Testament sacrifice of Christ greater than the Old Testament sacrificial system? (OT blood of animals covered sin, NT blood of Jesus cleansed sin; OT sacrifices were annual and regular, NT sacrifice of Jesus was once for all time and unrepeatable).

  1. The Identity: the power of His name

Hebrews 1:4 – Jesus is a higher rank than angels, always so, but he is not in heaven. Heaven is not so we can be absent from earth but, so we can be present with Jesus. Angles are not to be worshipped.

  • Past – Jesus’ parents gave him the name Matthew 1:21, Isaiah 9:6
  • Present – call on his name to be saved, Romans 10:9-10, 13
  • Future – One day we will see him face to face… Philippians 2, every knee will bow, and every tongue confess Jesus is Lord.

Wrap up Questions:

  1. Why do you think the author of Hebrews made such a point of Christ’s deity to these Hebrew Christians?
  2. What impact would you suspect these words had on Jewish Christians who were considering returning to Judaism?
  3. What difference does it make to you that Jesus sustains everything by His powerful word?
  4. Jesus can easily use his power to humble us into submission, but what does that do to our free will? (every knee bow and tongue confess that Jesus is Lord).
  5. What in your life tempts you to back away from your commitment to Christ? How can you be more committed to obedience?
  6. What steps can you take to remind yourself that Jesus is the Son of God and worth following?