Be Filled With Joy!

Advent 2021

Be Filled With Joy!

Sunday, December 12, 2021

 

Welcome: Good morning! 

 

Let us prepare our hearts to worship our King this morning. 

Our God is worthy of our worship every day and worthy of our very best. Let us not be here sluggard or having our minds on other things we could be doing, let us bring our very best to Him this morning. Let us give Him our full attention, all of our heart, and let us feel His joy rise within our souls. 

Let’s pray: 

Holy Spirit move in our hearts today and fill us with the joy of the Lord! In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

 

Psalm 9:2 NLT says I will be filled with joy because of you. I will sing praises to your name, O Most High.

We have one more weekend and then another partial week before we gather together at Christmas! 

December always wizzes by with a flurry of activities and preparations. In all the busyness- are you joyful? Or are you filled with more stress than joy? If so, then quite possibly you need to recenter why you are doing what you are doing and see how it really ties into the message and hope we have at Christmas. If it doesn’t, then is it really important or is it just something to keep up with the Jones’?

If why we do becomes about portraying a picture-perfect house, or perfectly wrapped and adorned gifts, or finding the perfect gift or driving yourself crazy keeping up with activities to entertain your kiddos and be the best parent who does all the Christmas things-so much that you are running yourself ragged or going broke… will any of that be lasting for you or those you love?

Because once the big celebration is over, the toys will begin to sit around, the cookies will be devoured-if not by your family with the help of your willing dogs-maybe more than once if you’re like our family in the past years, and the Christmas lights will all come down. 

 

Traditions are wonderful, so long as they are connected to the true meaning of Christmas, and in doing them they instill joy in the hearts of those who are involved, they bring peace and they point to the life and character of Jesus. They promote love, kindness, goodwill, and joy! 

 

December is busy for me-always and here is what I love about the busyness I choose to participate in. Our annual caroling event happens the first weekend in December. We have not always had great weather-it’s Dec. in WI after all and this year wasn’t the most ideal, but God did show up for us and stopped the rain while we were out. I could say in my heart, “you know what it’s just singing some Christmas carols-it’s nice and all but I’d rather stay home.” Now if you did that I’m not judging you-I’m just sharing one of my experiences in why I choose to go. 

 

Some of the carols we sing are just silly and funny songs-but that evokes joy in our heart when a group of us sing them together. It brings joy to my heart when I hear children singing songs with great excitement. Other carols we sing are praising of the coming Christ. We are singing about Jesus, His glory, and the hope we have in him. Joy to the World-the Lord comes! So as we carol, we are sharing the Gospel message! 

 

But most of all, I go no matter the weather, to see the faces of those we sing to. This year, our neighbor right behind us is in his mid 90’s and he won’t come outside, but he was clapping his hands and had the biggest smile on his face as we sang to him through an open door and his big front window. It was so sweet to see his joy rise up. He loved having a group of people on his porch visiting for a few minutes.

 

The seniors we stopped at sing along with us and it takes them back to their own memories with family and brings comfort to them of familiar carols they love to sing. They smile and enjoy the sense of community. 

 

Then there were two others who are facing mighty battles-one in grieving a loved one and another right in the midst of ongoing cancer treatments and they wept as we sang. Tears of sadness and joy mixed together. These few minutes touched their hearts, gave them joy, and filled them with the love of community. That’s priceless and will bring you right into the reason for this season.

This is joy-even in our hardest seasons, the joy of the Lord is our strength and He shows up through your community singing Christmas carols to remind You of the victory you have in Him because He came. 

 

Yesterday we made a bunch of cookies as a family. There is joy in that too! It’s time together as a family when we stop everything else for several hours and we’re just together, sharing stories, laughing, making messes, and beautiful creations. It’s a time to connect and be thankful for one another.

Now I do love eating Christmas cookies for sure, but what I love most is packaging them up and doing deliveries to certain people who don’t see many people anymore or likely don’t do as much baking of their own. These little gifts bring joy to those who receive them and more so, it brings us together to connect. Those visits matter and have a lasting impact on others. 

 

And when I’m all used up, you know you can find me on the couch with Dozer watching a Hallmark Christmas movie because that big dog and those sappy movies brings me joy. 😉 

 

Maybe for you, it’s writing special Christmas blessings to send out, making care packages to give out, volunteering somewhere, helping a family in their time of need to feel hope, helping someone who is dealing with health issues decorate for Christmas, just sitting with someone a while who is struggling so they know they aren’t alone, or maybe it’s going for a sleepover with grandkids to make gingerbread houses or curling up watching your favorite Christmas movies with your loved ones.

 

Whatever you do that is special to you, remember we are to do so with joy in our heart and let it overflow from our heart towards others. If you’re missing the joy in all you are doing, or even around Christmas itself, then bring your focus back to Jesus.

For when we look upon His face, we can’t help but be filled up with joy-for He is our joy! 

 

Let’s be reminded today of the message brought by the angel at the announcement of Christ’s birth. 

 

Luke 2: 8-14 NIV 

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

 

So when Jesus is born, Mary and Joseph don’t send out birth announcements of their first son to all their family and friends. It’s birth like no other- God sends an angel to proclaim the news of the arrival of His Son and He goes all out!

The angel says I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people!! 

That’s our key right there-an angel sent by God- comes and tells us Jesus’ birth gives us cause to have great joy! Then if that wasn’t awesome enough-God sends a whole company of heavenly hosts to praise God and what message do they share? Peace to those on whom His favor rests. 

And who does His favor rest upon?

Those who believe in His Son, who love Him, and who follow His ways. We talked about last week that God lavishes us with unfailing love as we love Him. So beyond what we can ever hope for or even describe-we are loved so deeply and completely. 

So how are we filled with Joy this time of year especially-and certainly all year through? 

  • Knowing  

It’s in our knowing of who Christ is, in who we are in Christ, and certainty in what our future holds. It’s a knowing of the certain victory we have over every trial; a knowing this life is not all there is that we have eternity with Him; a knowing He is with us through every hardship and sorrow we face as our strength and comforter. We don’t wonder; we know.

When you know, His joy rises up within you because He knows that victory is His! 

We look to Jesus and notice how He endured such persecution, torment, and sorrow.

Hebrews 12:2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer, and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him, he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 

 

We follow His example and look to the joy set before us of what we have in Christ and know He is King of all kings and one day all will be set right. 

Even the sorrow we feel now does not forever. Praise God. It is temporary; real for sure; and temporary because we know when Jesus returns there will be no more sorrow, no more tears, no more sadness- only rejoicing! We know…and it gives us strength and hopes to lean into His joy that is ever-present within us. 

Psalm 30:5 Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.

 

Jesus speaks of this temporary sorrow and weeping to His disciples as He’s telling them of His coming death. They didn’t want to hear it or even fathom it but listen to the promise that applies to us as well because Jesus overcame the grave! We unlike the disciples know this already-so we have every reason to remain in joy for what is yet to come! We have this benefit of His Word documented-they had to live it as it was unfolding.

 

John 16:20-22 20 Very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. 21 A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come, but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. 22 So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.

 

2 Corinthians 4:17 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.

 

No one and nothing can take away the joy we have from the Lord. 

Is there any reason even in our sorrow and hard times, that we can’t also walk in the joy of the Lord-as our knowing and anchor for what is coming? This is absolutely what He desires for us. This is what Jesus did as He endured the cross even as He entered Jerusalem when all the people praised Him as Hosanna-He felt the joy of the praises and He wept at what was going to happen and how they would miss it they would miss Him as the Messiah.

 

  • Connection to the Divine 

God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit are perfectly and wholly joyful in their triune; they satisfy one another with the fullness of who they are. The beautiful thing is, we have this same connection and satisfaction as we are connected to them. As we tune to the Spirit, we enter into the fullness of divine joy!

John 15:8-11 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.

As we remain in Christ, near Him, listen to His counsel, follow His ways, and keep our heart open to His love, His joy is not only within us but is complete in us. This is His great desire, for remember the angel said, I have good news that will cause great joy in all the people!

Christ in us is the cause of great joy! 

 

Psalm 16:11 You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

 

Simply being in the presence of the Lord fills us with joy. When joy is lacking, that’s a good sign that we have drifted out of the presence of the Lord and we should come back to Him, to center our thoughts on Him, to pray, to praise Him, and just ponder the wonder of who He is. Joy will begin to emerge the more we focus our hearts on Him. 

 

What if you have no joy in life these days and your joy is gone?

Hear this-that is not why Jesus came for you or I to live in misery and sorrow. He did not come down from glory for you or I to just get by dreading our days. He came to be cause for great joy! If we were all to keep living in misery and hopelessness then what was the point of His birth and His death? It would be for nothing. It was for us to live in the joy of the Lord-knowing a certainty of who He is and what He has accomplished, living in connection with Him, and having His joy filling our hearts. If you’re missing this in your life, then you pray this Scripture with genuineness in your heart:         

Psalm 51:12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation and make me willing to obey you.

                                                  

  • Seeking and Receiving  

We seek Him to find joy again! As we seek, He fills us with Himself!

The prophet Jeremiah understood this and how precious God’s Word is and what joy it brings to seek Him in truth. 

Jeremiah 15:16 16 When I discovered your words, I devoured them. They are my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, O Lord God of Heaven’s Armies.  

 

Here’s a truth we need to understand and remember in our walk with Christ: 

Psalm 37:4 Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires.

 

John 16:24 24 Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.

Romans 14:17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit,   

Conclusion: Let us not be indifferent to Jesus and the joy we have in Him. There are so many reasons to be FILLED with joy all because of Jesus! Let us seek Him and receive by faith the fullness of joy He desires to fill our hearts with. Let us live knowing the joy of the Lord as our strength, for that is why He came! This Christmas let us take in the wonder of why and how Jesus came and let that joy carry us through the coming year. 

Let’s pray.  Lord we thank You for the gift of joy you impart to us, that is Your joy! Thank You Lord that this joy eternal is not dependent on how happy we are, how our life is going or our current circumstances. Your joy is simply who You are, and You share Yourself with us. So we are able to live with the joy of the Lord as our daily strength. Thank You! Help us to see this as a treasured gift and choose to be filled with Your joy daily. In Jesus’ name. Amen. 

 

Final Blessing: Romans 15:13  May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

 

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