One favorite Christmas song is, “Joy to the World.” The third stanza sums up our lesson for this Sunday: "No more let sins and sorrows grow, Nor thorns infest the ground; He comes to make His blessings flow Far as the course is found, Far as the curse is found, Far as, far as, the curse is found."
This Sunday morning we continue with our current Advent series, “The Gifts of Christmas,” as we focus on God’s gift to us of JOY. God’s first gift was WORSHIP, followed by PEACE, and in the next few weeks, THE GIFT, and LOVE. When we add JOY, these are God’s special Christmas gifts to us.
The Christmas story is full of JOY. Just listen to the angels that appear before the shepherds, and the Wise Men who worshipped the Baby. Even Zechariah, Anna, and Simeon experience great joy when they meet the Christ child. The Christmas story is a story of JOY!
Here is the simple formula for JOY - J + O + Y = JOY (Jesus + Others + Yourself equals JOY). JOY begins as we focus on Jesus, then on others, and, lastly, on ourself. Perspective is very important and when there is focus on the right people at the right time, we can experience real JOY. As the song says, “He comes to make His blessings flow,” and when those blessings come we experience JOY.
I hope to see you this Sunday as we worship the One who is the author and giver of JOY. What a great gift the Father gives to us!
You are truly loved and appreciated.
This Sunday morning we continue with our current Advent series, “The Gifts of Christmas,” as we focus on God’s gift of PEACE. Last week the gift was WORSHIP, and in the next few weeks we will consider JOY, THE GIFT, and LOVE. These are gifts God gives to each of us.
The word peace is what calmed the shepherds when the angel spoke to them on that first Christmas. I am sure that I too would have been frightened to see angels fill the sky with a great birthday announcement. God had not spoken in any form for 400 years and now the silence is broken. The lead angel said, “Shalom” which is translated peace.
The word meant more than just a time of rest from the battles of daily living. The deeper meaning encompasses well-being, health, prosperity, security - all things that were desperately needed at the time of Jesus’ birth (come to think of it, it is what we need today).
When Jesus was born, the world was in great need. Taxes and unemployment were high, and morality was beginning to tank. Jerusalem and all Palestine was under military control. It was not a good time for the Jews.
The Stoic philosopher, Epictetus, said, “The [emperor] cannot give peace of heart for which man yearns more than even for outward peace.” He is right and so what did God do? He gave us a baby who the shepherds found lying in a feeding trough. That baby was His beloved Son who would change the world and give peace - our word for this Sunday.
I hope to see you this Sunday as we worship the One who is worthy of our worship and as we learn about this special peace He wants us to experience.
You are truly loved and appreciated.
This Sunday morning we conclude our current series, “The Church is Us,” and begin our Advent series, “The Gifts of Christmas” focusing on the same word - WORSHIP - which is one of the pillars of a strong church and one of the greatest gifts of Christmas.
We take a look at Matthew 2:1-12 and the story of the wise men who came in search of a newborn baby. They knew something special was about to happen - a special birth - they just did not know where so they followed the star that the Lord provided (sort of like their own GPS of ancient times). They eventually ended up in a sleepy town called Bethlehem.
Little is known about the wise men. They came from a country east of the Jordan River. Most scholars believe they were from either the Babylonia region or Arabia. How many were in their caravan is unknown, but at least three.
They brought unusual gifts for a newborn child - gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Gold depicted royalty, frankincense (incense) stood for prayers, and myrrh symbolized death - very strange gifts indeed.
Three lessons we learn from the magi:
1. When we search diligently, we will find what we are looking for.
2. God expects worship and adoration when we find Jesus.
3. We must listen to the Lord’s voice and obey Him when He speaks.
I hope you will come this Sunday with a heart that desires worship because worship is one of the greatest gifts we can give to our Lord.
You are loved and appreciated.