12/10/22 Heart of Joy

Sermon  •  Submitted
0 ratings

The Heart Of Joy

Week 3 - The Heart of Christmas Brings Joy In All Circumstances
Write Up: The circumstances of life have a way of robbing us of joy. Disappointment, frustration, and loss can suck the very life from us; however, Jesus’s birth reminds us that, no matter how hard life is, we don’t have to go through it alone. God has come to us full of grace and truth, and that should bring us joy. We can trust that Jesus’s presence with us will reveal the truth about our lives and at the same time offer us the grace to see things change.
Prayer: “Dear heavenly Father, overwhelm us with joy this Advent season. Show us the meaning and purpose of true joy as we look to the birth of Christ with eager eyes. Let our joy be contagious to those around us. Light us up with your love, grace, truth, and of course, your joy.”
Scripture: John 1:14 // Romans 5:8 // 1 John 4:9


Good morning, church. Can you feel it in the air? The countdown has begun as we quickly move toward Christmas day and the celebration of the birth of Jesus! We are in the middle of a sermon series where we have been discovering the heart of Christmas.
It can be easy to get lost in all the gifts, decorations, and parties and miss the central focus of Christmas. Jesus was born to bring the gifts of hope, peace, joy, and love, and that is the real reason for this season. The first week we learned we are offered hope in the middle of our circumstances because of God’s faithfulness. Last week, we looked at the wonderful gift of peace that Jesus’s sacrifice makes available to us. We are made right with God, ourselves, and others because of Christ. This week, I want to introduce one more piece of the heart of Christmas: a joythat is ours no matter the circumstances or situations we face.
Illustration: To begin our discussion today, I want to share a few different scenarios, and tell me which ones would bring you the most joy. Are you ready? If this would make you joyful, stand up. If not, stay seated. (Consider having graphics/photos on the screen to accompany each scenario). Here is the first one: you go through the drive thru of your favorite coffee shop, order your favorite drink, and discover the car in front of you paid for it. Joy? Stand up or stay seated. Ok, next scenario. You wake up Christmas morning and find that it snowed four inches overnight. Joy? Or maybe pain because you now have to shovel it. Stand up or stay seated. Last one: you water your Christmas tree enough so it doesn’t become dry and crispy and drop needles all over your floor. Joy or no? (This illustration needs to introduce the idea that our joy often is connected to our circumstances.)
Maybe some of you saw these situations as reasons for joy. This week’s sermon is so important because, for many of us, our joy is reflective of this illustration. Our joy in life is largely connected to the circumstances in our lives. When things are going well, we feel good. When things are going poorly, we feel bad. Our joy ebbs and flows. I believe one aspect of the heart of Christmas is that Jesus came so that our joy would not have to fluctuate with our environment, but could remain steady as we fix our eyes and hearts on Him

Main Teaching

As John began his gospel letter, he gave a different perspective on the birth of Jesus. Rather than tell us his iteration with the shepherds, magi, and manger, he gave us a big-picture explanation of what took place in Bethlehem. What John wrote is a cause for joy no matter what we face in life.
Read John 1:14
What John described is known as the incarnation. Coming from the Latin word carne, which means flesh, the incarnation was God putting skin on and becoming one of us. Verse 14 says the Word became flesh. (Word is capitalized because it is the person of Jesus.) He is called the Word because he perfectly embodies all of scripture in human flesh by the way he lived here on earth. When Jesus was born in the manger, he was God coming to live among us—as one of us—with skin and bone, flesh and blood.
This passage gives us two reasons for a joy that does not have to change with the seasons or shift with our situations. It can be a constant in our lives and a grounding attitude in the face of all the world has to offer.
A common misconception people carry around with them is that to be reunited with God in right relationship with him, we must work super hard to be perfect, or strive to make our way to him. One of the greatest joy robbers in our lives is thinking we can never be good enough. We are broken and flawed people who hurt others, we make mistakes, and we live selfish lives. If we are relying on our abilities to earn a connection with God, we will always be disappointed.
Story: In Discipleship Journal, Paul Thigpen wrote about an encounter with his daughter. “I remember coming home one afternoon to discover that the kitchen I had worked so hard to clean only a few hours before, was now a terrible wreck. My young daughter had obviously been busy ‘cooking’ and the ingredients were scattered, along with dirty bowls and utensils, across the counters and floor. I was not happy with the situation. Then, as I looked a little more closely at the mess I spied a tiny note on the table, clumsily written and smeared with chocolaty fingerprints. The message was short—‘I’m makin somethin 4 you, dad’—and it was signed, ‘your angel.’ In the midst of that disarray (and mess), and despite my irritation, joy suddenly sprang up in my heart, sweet and pure. My attention had been redirected from the problem to the little girl I loved. As I encountered her in that brief note, I delighted in her. With her simple goodness in focus, I could take pleasure in seeing her hand at work in the situation that seemed otherwise disastrous.” (This story needs to help show how God is at work in our lives even when we don’t see it.)
The same is true for our joy in God. Many times life can look like a messy disaster from our perspective. It can be hard for us to find reason for joy in our circumstances; however, if we look closely, we might see God coming near to us like he did that first Christmas night to let us know he is making something of our lives when we are tempted to feel hopeless.
Joy is at the heart of Christmas because knowing that we could never make it to him, God came to us. It is the only religion in the world where the deity does what is necessary to unite with humanity. Paul emphatically makes this statement in the book of Romans as he insists we can be saved through Jesus.
Read Romans 5:8
For Paul, there is not a naughty list and a good list that we have to work hard to escape or earn. The gift of God’s grace is offered to us generously without price because we could never afford it on our own. While we were sinners, Christ died for us. This is why the characters in the Christmas story are so overjoyed—from the shepherds in the field to Simeon at the temple—because the long-awaited arrival of the Messiah meant God had finally come to rescue us.
The second reason joy can be a constant reality for us in our lives is because of how much God loves us and is committed to our transformation through His power.
Looking further in John chapter one we find the author telling his readers that it is through Jesus that we see the glory and fullness of God. His arrival among us should fill us with joy because not only did God come close to us, but He came because he loves us.
Do you realize that you are loved by God? Not just tolerated or put up with but loved! Deeply loved. In fact, John says this love that God has for us is like that of a father for his children. Jesus came from the Father full of grace and truth.
This is key to understanding our second reason for abiding joy. When Jesus came to us, he came full of grace. This grace that John writes about is the Greek word charis, which means favor, kindness, or a gift of blessing. Like a wrapped gift shared from one to another can bring joy to our hearts, so this gift of Jesus is grace from God. We haven’t earned it. We don’t deserve it. But God offers it to us, and when we recognize it, it fills us with joy. God loves us just the way we are!
Jesus also came full of truth. The word John uses here is the word aletheia, which means divine reality revealed to man or a straightforwardness. Jesus holds grace in one hand that allows us to be accepted into his family, and in the other hand he holds truth that shows us the areas of our lives that must be transformed to live the fullest life possible.
The book of I John expounds upon this idea as well.
Read 1 John 4:9
The author insists the reason Jesus came to us and manifested his love among us is because he desires for us to find incredible joy in him. In order for this to happen, it requires a gift of truth and grace. It is the most loving thing to do for another—to embrace with full acceptance and humble truth telling.
Grace is a word that shows up in the church a lot, but that is because it is the way in which we are able to live with joy. As a father, I feel like I can identify with these passages and how grace and truth lead to joy.
Story: Not long ago my son got into trouble at school. We received a phone call from the office, and I could hear my son sobbing on the other end. Turns out he and some friends had been having an inappropriate conversation in the car line. A teacher overheard, and they were called to the office the next day. I talked to my son and told him I would pick him up so we could talk. A few hours later as my son got into my truck, I could tell he was terrified. He had stewed all day wondering how I would react to his mistakes and shortcomings. When he got into my car I said, “Bud, I love you. This can never happen again, but I am thankful you have the opportunity to learn this lesson now and not later when the stakes are higher.” He looked at me through tear-soaked eyes and said, “I really thought you would be more angry about this.” I looked at him and said, “I am showing you grace. Out of my love for you, I forgive you. And out of my love for you, I am telling you that you can change as you go forward.” He looked out the window and a smile came across his face as he wiped his tears. “Thanks, dad. I won’t do it again,” he said. (Tell a personal story of love with truth and grace)
Our heavenly Father sent Jesus to a manger in Bethlehem because He wanted to dwell among us to demonstrate his amazing grace and life-changing truth. We can experience joy in our lives no matter the circumstances because we can be confident in knowing that God is with us, and God is for us.


The late pastor Charles Spurgeon said it this way: “There is a marvelous medicinal power in joy. Most medicines are distasteful; but this, which is the best of all medicines, is sweet to the taste, and comforting to the heart. This blessed joy is very contagious. One dolorous spirit brings a kind of plague into the house; one person who is wretched seems to stop all the birds from singing wherever he goes . . . [But] the grace of joy is contagious. Holy joy will oil the wheels of your life’s machinery. Holy joy will strengthen you for your daily labor. Holy joy will beautify you and give you an influence over the lives of others.”
This Christmas may you come to find at the heart of this holiday a deep and abiding joy because of the love of God and the sacrifice of Jesus. It holds the power to change us and to change the world.
Let’s pray together.
Discussion Questions:
Provide these questions to your Sunday School classes or small groups, or send them home with families to discuss during the week. They are also a great way to engage with your online audience before, during or after each service.
Why does the joy we experience in life seem to be so circumstantial? How is the incarnation unique to the Christian faith? How does it shape your ideas of sin and forgiveness? When was a time in life that you received grace? How did it make you feel? How can your deep abiding joy impact the world around you?
Related Media
See more
Related Sermons
See more