Choose Joy this Christmas

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Christmas is the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

1. I love the Christmas Season. It's the most wonderful time of the year. I love the family gatherings, the food, the music, the food, the giving of gifts, the food, etc.
2. But it can also be a time when things are complicated and even painful. It starts out with two families blending into one... except at Christmas when both families expect you to be with them. Anyone with families out of town?... Throw in divorced families and it really gets complicated. Maybe a career impact it too. I have never had a job where I could just go home to see my parents for Christmas. explain
3. Despite all of this, Christmas is still the most wonderful time of the year. But not because of what's happening, but because of what happened!

Christmas is the Most Wonderful Time of the Year Because of What Happened!

The thing that makes Christmas so wonderful and so terrible at the same time is that everything is magnified at Christmas... everything is exaggerated - both the good and the bad. Time gets compressed into a narrow window of time.

At this time of year… every year we are reminded that there are:

Problems we can’t solve.
People we can’t control.
Expectations we can’t seem to meet.
At the same time, Christmas points us to something that is incredible. It’s not wonderful because of what’s happening… everything is exaggerated during this time… it’s wonderful because of what happened.
Regardless of what’s going on in your life, the life of your family, your job… this is the most wonderful time of the year.
Think about it, for a month… more… we are focused on an event that stands in the center of history. BC & AD

God sent Jesus into the World to be the Center of Your Life

It centers our lives on something stable, on something hopeful... gives us a sense of purpose.
This event has the power to stand at the center of our lives and when Jesus is the center of our lives, it centers our lives on something stable and hopeful and purposeful. And we don't need to be afraid.
The fact that your Christmas is not what it could be or should be and that You can't fix it is exactly why God sent His Son Jesus Christ into this world.

Christmas is the Most Wonderful Time Because of Who is For us!

Even in dark times, we are reminded every year that there is a light that shines into our World. The darker our world, the brighter He sines.
The Gospel of John was written after all the others. John was the only disciple to die a natural death. He was very old when he wrote his Gospel. He had seen it all. He stood at the foot of the cross holding Mary as Jesus died. At one point he had lost his faith … then he outran Peter to the empty tomb.

John talks about the significance of Jesus Birth

He tells us why it’s the most wonderful time & the most significant time of the year for us today.
In case you are wondering. John had not had an easy life. he wrote this during a terrible time for both Jews and Jesus followers.
The Roman Empire was built on violence and slavery. John had lost his friends... family members... and in some ways his whole society.
John was alive when Nero sent General Vespasian into Galilee and then he worked his way through Galilee slaughtering thousands of people and forcing the men, women and children into slavery.
John either saw or even experienced the Siege for 7 months of Jerusalem by the Romans where thousands of Jews starved to death or were killed trying to escape. Josephus - 1,100,000 were killed during the seige and war with 97,000 forced into slavery.
John either saw or heard about the Temple being destroyed by the Romans... perhaps remembering Jesus teaching there in AD 70.
By the time John wrote this, his friends Peter and Paul had been executed by Nero.
It was a dark time for his people and for the world. And Still John Believed. In fact, at the end of his Gospel, he writes
John 20:30–31 The Living Bible
30 Jesus’ disciples saw him do many other miracles besides the ones told about in this book, but these are recorded so that you will believe that he is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that believing in him you will have life.
IOW, He said Jesus did a whole lot more than I am writing about, but I told you these so that you will believe in Him … live a rich and satisfying life and spend eternity in heaven.
As he sat to write the story of Jesus in these darkest of times, he remembered that it was dark then as well.
Herod the Great ruled as a Roman Client King. He was a madman who murdered his family members along with many Rabbi's in order to secure his power.
Herod sent his butchers to Bethlehem to murder every child 2 years old and younger.
As bad as Herod was, it would Pilate who would finally take Jesus life... after declaring that he could find no guilt in him.
So where do you begin the story of Jesus. John started here...
John 1:4–5 The Living Bible
4 Eternal life is in him, and this life gives light to all mankind. 5 His life is the light that shines through the darkness—and the darkness can never extinguish it.

Jesus was and is the Light of the World

Jesus gives life. Nothing can change it or stop it.
Jesus brought LIFE for everyone.
John says that in spite of all that's happened...
• all the executions
• Crucifixions
• The Jewish nation is basically out of business...
• The sacrificial system was messed up...
• everything and everyone that he had know and loved was taken away
In spite of all that has happened, that Jesus light shines into the darkness and all of that darkness will never overcome His light.
He knew Peter had been killed. He knew his friend Paul had been killed. He was probably the last of the apostles alive... but with a smile on his face, he wrote, "In spite of everything this world has tried to get rid of the light that is life, the darkness had not overwhelmed it. The world could not put it out. Caesar could not put it out...Nero couldn't do it. The destruction of the Temple did not do it. And even the death of Jesus did not do it.
Remember, this is John, the one who raced to the tomb when he heard Jesus had been raised from the dead, but waited for Peter before going in. This was the same John who had breakfast with the risen Lord on the beach. This was John, who was absolutely convinced that no matter what happens in life, and that no matter what we face in this life, and that no matter how deep the heartache, no matter how extreme the fear or how deep the depression... there is a light that shines into the darkness and no amount of darkness can put it out.
No matter how dark it may seem right now, there is a light that shines in your darkness and that darkness will not overwhelm it.
So at Christmas… maybe more than any other time of the year, we are confronted with...
complications and unmet expectations.
We miss loved ones… when those we love remind us of those we lost.
When we see the darkness around us
remember… There is a light and a life that penetrates the darkness and His light overcomes the darkness in your life.
Let me give you some practical steps you can take to step out of the darkness into the light that is shining into our world.

Steps to step out of the darkness into the light

Begin a personal relationship with Jesus.
Begin each day by committing that day to following Jesus.
Colossians 3:17 NLT
17 And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.
1 Corinthians 10:31 NLT
31 So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
Spend time Every Day meditating on God’s Word
Meditate on the Wonders of God
Psalm 119:27 NLT
27 Help me understand the meaning of your commandments, and I will meditate on your wonderful deeds.
Meditate on God’s Instructions for life
Psalm 119:15 NLT
15 I will study your commandments and reflect on your ways.
Psalm 119:48 NLT
48 I honor and love your commands. I meditate on your decrees.
Bad programming causes us to be depressed, to manipulate others, to be discouraged, to have self destructive thought patterns, self doubt, self criticism and criticism of others, poor relationships...
Re-programing our thinking transforms our lives…
Romans 12:2 NLT
2 Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.
You reprogram your mind by focusing on God’s Word
Joshua 1:8 NLT
8 Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.
John 15:7 NLT
7 But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted!
You reprogram your mind by monitoring what you think about
Philippians 4:8 NLT
8 And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.

Let go of grudges every day

Ephesians 4:26 NLT
26 And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.” Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry,
Matthew 5:21–24 NLT
21 “You have heard that our ancestors were told, ‘You must not murder. If you commit murder, you are subject to judgment.’ 22 But I say, if you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment! If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the court. And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell. 23 “So if you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the Temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, 24 leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God.

Spend time every day with people you love and who love you

Proverbs 13:20 NLT
20 Walk with the wise and become wise; associate with fools and get in trouble.
Hebrews 10:24 NLT
24 Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.
Proverbs 27:17 NLT
17 As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.

Develop a Daily Routine

Develop a daily routine that brings satisfaction in each area of your life.
Set aside time with God
Take time for your own emotional and mental health… Unwind after a work day so when you are home you are really home.
Spend quality time with your spouse
Take time to train your children...
Use what’s left for work and then
Use what’s left to use your gifts in ministry.

Remember, Jesus is the Life and Light of the World

John 1:4–5 NLT
4 The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.
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