Joy To The World

Joy To The World

The birth of Jesus brings great joy to all people.

Well hey there everyone. My name is Pastor Trent and I’m the Senior Pastor here at China Grove First Baptist Church and I’m so excited that you’ve joined us online today for a time of opening God’s Word and just remembering the birth of Jesus and celebrating the Advent season.

This is the 4th week of Advent and we’re going to be focusing on the theme of joy.  We’ve looked at hope the first week, peace the second week and last week love.  Today we’re going to look at joy.  I thought it would be fitting to look at a part of the Christmas narrative that is found in Luke Chapter 2. So I would invite you to turn with me in your Bibles to Luke Chapter 2 and we’ll be looking at verses 8 through 12 and kind of focusing in on the announcement that the angels made to those shepherds on that wonderful, wonderful night.

But the first thing I just want to ask you is to think about something that brings you joy.  What is something that just gets you really, really, really excited? What’s something that you know makes you so joyful that you express yourself in a glad way? Maybe it’s your favorite sports team scoring that last second shot in double overtime to win the national championship, and you just jump up off the couch and you’re just joyful.  Maybe it’s the birth of a child, or the announcement that you’re going to be a father for the first time, and you’re just so filled with joy. Maybe it’s your marriage that just fills you up with joy.  Throughout life, we experience times of great joy. The dictionary defines joy as great pleasure or delight.  Things that we get pleasure from or we can take delight in.  There’s lots of those things in the world. But a Bible dictionary that I use, it defines joy just a little bit differently. It says that it’s related to gladness and happiness, although joy is more of a state of being than an emotion. You know we can have a happy emotion. We can have the sad emotion.  We can have the angry emotion. Joy is not really an emotion; it is a state of being. It is this whole way that we carry ourselves when we’ve received good news or something good has happened to us.

Think for a moment, if you’re sitting there with your cell phone in your pocket on vibrate, of course. ’cause you’re watching the sermon online and you don’t want to be distracted, but you feel it vibrate. And even though we don’t want to be distracted and even though it’s on silent, many of us, as we sit there listening intently to a sermon or the vibration has woke you up from not listening attentively to the sermon.  I just started, but it’s possible, but you feel it vibrate and you’re like I wonder who that is.  And you’re like I gotta check it and like you find ways to hide the fact that you’re checking your phone.  Then you pull it out and you look at.  And what you see is a text message informing you that you just won a contest that you put your name into and you won that brand new car, free of charge that you’ve been hoping for. Like it was your dream car. You filled out this piece of paper, threw it in the box and you were just notified your name was drawn and you are the winner of the contest. I don’t know about you, but if it were me, I would just take my phone and I’d start to elbow Jennifer, my wife.  I just won my car.  Maybe go old school, pull out the bulletin and a pencil and start writing notes and pass it around and you can let other people see it.  Just won a free car.  Or you just get so excited and you stand up and say ‘Preacher, I need to testify’  ’cause you’re just so full of joy. He’s like what do you need to testify about? I just won a new car. You’re full of joy.

I experienced something similar to this the night I asked Jennifer to marry me.  Because she said yes, even though she knew and I knew, I was way out of her league. OK, I mean she was way up here. I was way down here and she still said yes and I was like I could have shouted it from the rooftops.  Or the day we found out I was going to be a father. I mean I was so full of joy and excitement that I couldn’t contain the joy and people could see I was glowing.

I mean, that was just what people would say ‘you’re glowing’. You must be getting ready to have a child. Well, I’m not. I’m not having a child, but my wife is, and she’s glowing too. We were full of joy because of the good news that we had just received.

On the night that Jesus is born, there’s a group of shepherds in a nearby field, maybe 2,3, 5 miles or so away from where the birth takes place.  And they receive good news that is going to change their lives forever and it’s going to change the world forever. And so here’s what Luke, who records it for us in Luke Chapter 2 says about this life changing announcement on this miraculous night.

Luke 2:8-12 says “that night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby guarding their flocks of sheep.  Suddenly, out of nowhere, they weren’t expecting it. Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified.”  I mean, of course, if you’re a shepherd and you’re like, man we’ve had a long day. They’re starting to sit down like you take the first watch. I’m going to get some sleep and all of a sudden boom, bright light and an angel shows up. You’d be scared to death.  It’s like the paranormal movies.  You can’t really explain what’s happening, but it’s happening and here they are, they’re scared to death.  But, like in most cases we see Jesus do this. We see angels do this to people who are afraid. He says don’t be afraid. And then they say why they’re there, “Don’t be afraid. I bring you good news, good news that will bring great joy to all people, the Savior, yes, the Messiah the Lord has been born today in Bethlehem, the City of David and you will recognize Him. By this sign you will find a baby wrapped snugly and strips of cloth lying in a manger.”

You see, after the birth of Jesus, the angels show up with a message for these shepherds and it’s a message that is good news and it is great joy.  The birth of Jesus brings great joy not just to a few people but to all the people and that’s such a key part of this passage that this is for everybody. It’s not just for the kings.  It’s not just for the rich or the wealthy, or for the religious elite. The birth of Jesus is good news that brings great joy to all people. But what makes it good?  I mean, that’s what I found myself looking at this week in studying this. What made this good news? Because it’s better than Jennifer saying yes to me. It’s better than that new car.  That new car brought me joy, but this brings us great joy. This makes us more than just happy. It makes us more than just glad it gives us great joy at this announcement, but why?  What’s the reason?  It’s spelled out in the text.  The text gives us three reasons where we can find joy because of this good news.  The first one is it’s Good News that is personal.  It is very personal in nature.

I don’t know if you’ve ever received a personal handwritten letter in the mail. I know we send emails today and those can be very personal and those are great and there’s nothing wrong with that, but there’s just nothing like receiving a handwritten personal message. I know when we found out we were having TJ as the first boy in the Drye name, one thing that we wanted to do was to tell the grandparents personally.  We didn’t want to send a text or an email. We wanted to tell them personably in a personal way.  One thing that my dad and my family have always joked about us is an old joke from a comedian by the name of Bill Cosby. He would also you gotta put the stem on the apple. And so what we did to make the announcement of having a boy very personable to him, when we showed up at his house, I handed him an apple and made sure the stem was on it and that was his way and he knew immediately that we were having a boy.  And that was just a way we made it personal and you could see his face light up. He was so full of joy at that announcement.

This is a personal announcement from a personal God to these shepherds. Now you might be thinking Jesus is often referred to as the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords, the Prince of Peace, and He’s supposed to be the heir to David’s throne.  So you might ask yourself why in the world would He go to the shepherds?  I mean, why isn’t this announced in a palace to the nobles? You know, why is it not announced to the kings first and then the rest of the peasants just hear it on the news?  It’s ’cause it’s personable. It’s for all people. An interesting fact about shepherds, maybe not so interesting, but this part I find it very interesting they were not well-liked people.  They were kind of nobody’s. They were the lowest rung of the culture because they couldn’t take part in the culture. It was almost a 24/7 job.  You can’t just leave your flock.  You they weren’t able to interact with the culture around them. But another thing is they weren’t trusted by anybody.

Did you know a Shepherd could not give testimony in a court of law because they were referred to as liars. Anything that came out of the shepherd’s mouth had been a lie.  Again, I find it interesting that Jesus is going to this group who are going to be going and telling other people.  It’s an interesting truth, isn’t it?  Because he’s personal. What Jesus is showing is the Gospels for everybody, even those people you don’t trust. Even those people you don’t like.  Even the outcast of society, the Gospel is for them.

But an interesting fact about these shepherds ’cause these are Bethlehem Shepherds. It is Old Testament law or tradition that sacrificial lambs; that the sacrificial sheep that would be used in the temple for temple offerings, for sin offerings, were to be kept in Bethlehem.  Other everyday sheep, they were out in the wilderness and they grazed out there. But the temple sheep, the perfect sheep, were in Bethlehem.  So make no mistake, that when the angels come to these shepherds, with these sheep, talking about a Messiah, they know exactly what is happening.  Because they are watching over the sacrificial lambs.

And you know, if you read this passage even further, past verse 12, you see that after this, the shepherds go and they see the baby. I’m sure they took the sheep with them and it’s just amazing thing that should bring us joy that the Lamb of God was born in a manger most likely surrounded by sacrificial lambs that the shepherds had to take with them.  Now we don’t know that for sure, but it’s an assumption that that’s what happened. But either way, it’s an amazing truth that God would make this announcement to these shepherds.  To this group of people, because it’s for everybody.

You know God doesn’t look at our bank accounts. He doesn’t look at our resumes. He doesn’t look at our social life. He doesn’t look at our status in the world. He just looks at us because we are His most precious creation. We were created in the image of God.  Nothing else in creation can say that.  God created humanity in His image.  And that image was tainted and distorted when Adam and Eve sinned and it’s been distorted ever since because of sin, but it can be restored through the good news, that is personable.

Romans 10:13 says “for everyone who calls on the Name of the Lord will be saved.”  1 John 2:2, says “He Himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins and not only our sins, but the sins of the whole world.” Doesn’t it bring you great joy that you’re a part of everybody?  Doesn’t it bring you great joy that you’re a part of all the world? It’s for you.  Listen, we worship a personal God. He knows your name. He knew it before your parents knew it. He knew who you were going to be, what you were going to look like before you were ever born. Because He created you and made you while you were still in the womb.  He knows every hair on your head, even if it’s zero.  He knew what it was before it became zero.   He knew what it should be for those who shave your head willingly.  He knows that number.

He knows your passions. He knows your pain. He knows your joy. He knows your thoughts. He knows your worries and He wants to have a personal relationship with you because He wants to you to tell Him and to talk to Him about all of those things. But more than that, He wants to be your personal God. And He did so through a personal Savior and that should fill us with great joy because we have good news that is for you and for me. It is personal.

But it is also present. The good news is present. It is here today. It says unto you, a child has been born today has been born today. It was this day that the Messiah had come. It was this day that the Anointed One, the promises of God, had become a reality. There was no more waiting for the king. The people have been longing for a Savior. They had been ruled by the Romans. They were being oppressed by the legalistic religion and the religious leaders of the day, and they were seeking and searching, hoping and waiting for the Messiah. Remember, when I started as your pastor back in September, we looked at Nehemiah.  Nehemiah was the last historical book of the Old Testament. It has been 400 years since there’s been a Prophet.  They are waiting. They’ve been searching and today the wait is over the Savior, the Messiah. the Lord is here and it is present still today in this place because Jesus Christ is alive today sitting at the right hand of God the Father.  He is present in this place and He was ready for you to make a decision to follow him today.

Everyone is following something. Let me be clear, you’re following something in this world.  Maybe it’s money, maybe it’s education, maybe it’s sex, drugs or alcohol. I don’t know what it is, but you are following something.  You will never find great joy in that stuff.  Because great joy comes from making a decision today to follow the Lord Jesus Christ.

You are listening to this not by mistake. God has brought you to this message ’cause He needs to tell you something and maybe He’s trying to get your attention that today is the day of your Salvation.  2 Corinthians 6:2 says “for God says at just the right time I heard you.  On the day of Salvation, I helped you. Indeed, the right time is now. Today is the day of Salvation.”  Is God calling you to put your faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ today?

A lot of people will say, well, maybe tomorrow.  You know, I’m a procrastinator, and I hate to be but I am and as hard as I try not to be, I’m still a procrastinator.  I put things off tomorrow, what I could do today.  Because in my mind that laundry basket is going to be there tomorrow, that book is going to be there tomorrow. Those dishes are going to be there tomorrow and so we fall into this pattern of, well, I know that the Gospel’s import, and I know I need to make a decision. I’ll wait till tomorrow.  What if tomorrow doesn’t come?  What if you never have another opportunity to say yes to Jesus?

You know when I talk with teenagers and college students, it becomes clear to me this becomes kind of a clear thing for me, or I see this a lot with young people. They say, well, I’m going to live it up while I’m young and when I’m older I’ll make a decision to follow Jesus.  What if you don’t make it till you’re older?  You know we’re not promised the next breath.  I know a pastor who preached a sermon and as he was walking out of the pulpit he fell dead.  We’re not promised tomorrow.  We’re not promised another opportunity.  Jesus is present now.  He’s present today.  And you need to make a decision today whether you are going to follow him, you need to choose today to follow him, because God may be saying today is the day of your Salvation.  He’s calling to you. You know it because you can just feel Him talking to you. You can feel your heart beating and you can feel it welling up inside of you getting ready to spill out and you just want to stand up and say yes, I’m going to follow Jesus and you can do that in your house.  You can do that in a car, wherever you’re at listening. You can do it today, but today is the day of your salvation. Because the good news is a present reality.

We serve and worship a personal God who is here with a present reality. But the good news is also a powerful thing.  The good news is powerful. This message that these angels brought change the lives of these shepherds forever, and it can change yours as well.  The power is found in three words that we see in the text. 3 descriptive words of who Jesus is. And if you’re reading it in kind of the original language, there’s no really modifiers or anything. It’s just, Good news, great joy. Baby’s been born. Here’s the Gospel.  He will be or He is boom boom boom three things.

The first one is Jesus is Savior.  He is Savior. He came to save the world from their sins.  In the Greek culture, they used this word, it would have been uncommon word. They identified saviors as doctors or rulers or leaders. They would have been philosophers would have been saviors and we do this today. We have people that we consider saviors ’cause they save people’s lives. We call them heroes.  Our police officers, their our heroes their saviors for so many people.  Paramedics, firefighters, our military, doctors and nurses man, they’re heroes.  And they can save us here on Earth. And they are is so amazing at what they do. But listen, we’ve got to be saved for eternity.  So we have to have a Divine Savior to save us from our sins.

You know the Old Testament talks about this divine deliverance as well. You see it in the judges.  You know Israel strayed away, God raised up a judge and the judge was kind of considered a savior to the people because he led them back on the right path and restored them. You can think of Nehemiah as a savior ’cause he helped, or Ezra, or Zerubbabel, or any of those guys as saviors, ’cause they help restore the nation of Israel. But this is a Savior greater than any of those, because this is a Savior coming to save you from hell.

Psalm 24:5 says “they will receive the Lord’s blessing and have the right relationship with God, their Savior.” It is God who is doing the saving through His Son Jesus.  By the way, the name Jesus, if you didn’t know this, literally means God saves.  God sent Jesus His Son to be the Savior that God intended Him to be because God wants a relationship with you and me because He’s personal.  And so He sent Jesus to save us from our sins.

But He also is referred to here, not just as Savior but as Messiah. Jesus is the Messiah.  He is the Anointed One. He is anointed to do the will of God. This should be understood in the language as He is fulfilling Old Testament prophecies.  One of which is Isaiah 7:14, “The Lord Himself will give you the sign. Look at the Virgin will conceive a child. She will give birth to a Son and you will call Him Immanuel which means, God with us.”  On this night there’s power in this message because it’s literally God is with us now.  God is here. Think about it for a second.  Does this just blow your mind that God Himself was walking on this earth in the form of a man in the form of His Son Jesus?  Jesus is fully human but He’s fully God as well.  100% God is in Jesus.

We know that from the text Hebrews 1:3 says “the Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God. He sustains everything by the mighty power of His command. When He had cleansed us from our sins, He sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in Heaven.”  Jesus is the very character of God the Father. I don’t know how many of you remember something called Silly Putty.  It’s kind of old. I don’t know if young kids, I mean today they have slime and all this other stuff.  Silly Putty was like awesome and what I would do with it is every Sunday morning I would get the comics, and I would read the comics ’cause they were really good back then.  I would get my Silly Putty and I would smack it on the paper, rub it in really good and when you pull it up it was an exact imprint, pretty much an exact imprint of what you had stuck it to.

Jesus is the exact imprint. I’m not calling Jesus Silly Putty, but I’m just saying that Jesus is the exact imprint of God. He has God’s characteristics. He is all knowing.  He is all those things because He Himself is God. Because it is only God who can forgive us of our sins.  John 14 there’s this interaction between Jesus and Phillip, one of the disciples, and here’s what it says. This is verses 8 and 9 in John 14. “Phillip said. Show us the Father and will be satisfied” the disciple comes up to Jesus. Says I want to see God.  Well, that’s a noble thing to ask. We all want to experience God. We all want to know God better. Here’s what Jesus says. “I have been with you all this time; Phillip and you still don’t know who I am.  Anyone who sees Me, Jesus says, has seen the Father because Jesus is Messiah.”  The promised one, the Anointed One, God Incarnate.  And so we see that the message is powerful because He’s a Savior who will save us. He is the Messiah, the Anointed One.

But Thirdly He is Lord.  Jesus is Lord. This means ruler. Jesus is the Lord of everything and all things. He is the Lord of Lord, the Prince of Peace. Listen, Lord, as the Lord is someone who we follow, someone with authority, someone who is to be obeyed. Someone who where to go to an learn from and follow their directions. I love this when Jesus is starting his ministry, He calls the disciples.  The first disciple He called was Peter, one of the first ones was Peter.  Jesus has been teaching. He’s been preaching. There’s a large crowd. He says, hey Peter, can I borrow your boat?  And Peter says, yeah, you can borrow my boat and they push out.  He says, hey, put your nets into the water. Now Peter’s a professional fisherman. He knows how to fish. He fished all night. In fact, here’s what he says in Luke 5:5 “Master.”  Jesus just said hey put your put your nets in the water here.  Peter says, “Master, we’ve worked hard all last night and we didn’t catch a thing.” So you did your fishing at night. He says we did it the right way but we didn’t catch anything.  “But if you, if you say so, I will let the nets down again.”  Can you hear his kind of sigh?  It’s like a teenager who asked to go clean the room. It was like, OK, we’ll do it again. I mean, I thought I did it right last night, but OK, you’re the master and he did. They caught the most fish that ever caught their life. They had to bring another boat over. They caught so many fish. And here’s what Peter says in response in Luke 5:8 “when Simon Peter realized what happened, he fell to his knees.  He fell down to his knees and he said, oh Lord.”  Oh, that’s not master anymore, is it?   It’s “oh Lord, please leave me, I’m such a sinful man.”  He confessed right there that Jesus was Lord, that Jesus was the ruler, that He was someone to be obeyed and followed. And he says I’m a sinful man.  He confessed his sins.  And here’s what Jesus said in response to that. “Jesus replied, don’t be afraid.”  Sound familiar?  “Don’t be afraid from now on you will be fishing people and as soon as they landed they left everything and followed Jesus.”

The Good News is powerful because He’s the Savior.  He’s the Messiah and He’s the Lord.  Is He the Lord of your life today?  Has he saved you from your sin? Have you received the great joy that is found in this Good News? Has the power of the Gospel changed your life? There is no time like today if you’re listening.

John Dreyer, a Welsh poet, who was also a preacher. In the 1700s, he wrote this, a man may go to heaven without wealth, without riches, without honors, without learning without friends, but he can never go there without Christ.  Today our world is filled with people who are seeking some other way to God other than the one found in the blood of Jesus and His precious Name.  But all those efforts are doomed to failure.  Jesus is the only way to heaven because He’s Savior, He’s Messiah, He’s Lord.  Jesus calls us to have faith in Him and Him alone for Salvation. That means we have to believe what He says. We have to believe He is who He said He was. We have to believe that He lived and He taught these things. We have to believe that He was nailed to a cross for our sins. We have to believe that He was literally physically resurrected three days later.  And then we have to repent.  We have to believe and when we believe we have to come to this understanding that we are sinful people. And if we’re going to believe in Jesus, then we need to follow Jesus. And if we’re going to follow Jesus, we have to turn away from the things we’re following in this world. That’s called repentance. We have to believe we have to repent, stop going this way and start going this way, following the Lord Jesus.

Are you ready to believe, repent and follow today?  Today is the day for you to have great joy from this Good News.

If you want to make that decision, there will be some information for you at the end that will point you to our church website.  Feel free to contact us. Reach out to us. We would love to disciple you because making a decision today to follow Jesus is just the first step in a very long journey of being His disciple.  Today is the day because God has brought us good news that brought great joy.

Let’s pray.  Father, I thank you so much for the Word of God. I thank You that You have announced this Good News to us through the Bible. Man, it would be awesome if the angels would come and announce it to everybody. But Your Word is sufficient to announce it to us. We can experience the same kind of emotions, the same kind of feelings.  We can have the same life changing experience through Your Word.  Father, I just pray that it would bring us great joy this Christmas season.  But as we go into 2021 and beyond that we would never lose sight of the Good News that brought great joy because it’s not just a Christmas sermon, it’s an everyday message.  Father help us to live this out each and every day. Help us to show a world that we have Good News that brings them great joy.  I pray for anyone today whatever day it is that they’re listening, that if it’s the first time that they’ve ever heard the Gospel, that they would respond to it that they would believe in Jesus, that they would turn from their sins and confess him as Lord and Savior of their life, because He is the Messiah.  We ask this in Jesus’ Name Amen and Amen.