Sermon Tone Analysis

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Luke 2:8-12 esp.
Vs. 10
Luke 2:8-12 “In the same region [where Mary gave birth to Jesus] there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night.
9 And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened.
10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; 11 for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
12 “This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.””
Jesus is the good news of great joy for all people.
Matthew 2:9-11 esp.
Vs. 10
Matthew 2:9-11 “After hearing the king, [the Magi] went their way; and the star, which they had seen in the east, went on before them until it came and stood over the place where the Child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.
11 After coming into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him.
Then, opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.”
The Magi, or wise men, rejoiced at the star — which was just the SIGN of His coming.
The coming of Jesus changed and changes everything!
2000 years ago Jesus’ coming brought joy, GREAT joy, even in the midst of oppression, taxation, death, spiritual darkness, terrible immorality, and religious corruption.
2000 years ago — NOT today.
But maybe EVEN today Jesus’ coming can bring GREAT joy.
Jesus brings this GREAT joy in fulfillment of the prophecy of:
Psalm 45:7 (NASB95) You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You With the oil of joy above Your fellows.
Only 2 of the Gospels give us the details, the nitty gritty, about the birth of Jesus.
Both of them include messages of Great Joy.
We must remember and WE MUST TELL everyone, that ,at the heart of Christmas is the birth of Jesus and the joy He brings.
It falls on us, the followers of Jesus, to tell — the world will not.
It will tell ANYthing and EVERYthing that will distract from the message of the coming of Jesus.
In order to tell the ACCOUNT, WE must be ambassadors of GREAT joy.
In the midst of a dreary world, with all of our own problems, that can be hard to do.
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.
Oh how I wish the shooter in the Walmart at Chesapeak, VA had truly understood that.
In reading his “Death Note” left on his phone we understand that this tormented man had a KNOWLEDGE of God, a KNOWLEDGE of salvation through Jesus — but not a current EXPERIENCE of relationship with Jesus.
So close and yet so far away!
How terribly sad for him and those he killed.
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 and IN us will reveal the truth about our lives and at the same time will offer us the grace to see things change.
So, 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!
Today we begin a sermon series where we seek to recover the heart of Christmas.
It is too 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 joy, love, hope and peace, and that is the real reason for this season
This week, I want to introduce one piece of the heart of Christmas: a joy that is ours no matter the circumstances.
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 Chick-fil-A, order your breakfast, 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.
Or maybe pain because you now have to shovel it.
Stand up or stay seated.
Last one: you remember to 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.
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 “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
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.
Scripture: John 1:14 // Romans 5:8 // 1 John 4:9
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.
But the reality is that God steps into the mess of our lives.
He comes to us.
That should give us GREAT joy.
It can OFTEN 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 beautiful of and in 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 “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
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.
Romans 6:23 (NASB95) For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
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.
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