Sunday AM, December 13th, 2020

“2020 Vision … MORE”

“Joy All Year Long !”

Psalm 98:1-9

 

Today we’ll take a look at a song Isaac Watts wrote over 300 years ago, “Joy to the World.” We think of this as a Christmas song, but if you look at the lyrics, it only hints at Jesus’ birth. We could easily use it as a general-purpose song of praise. The words were inspired by Psalm 98, which we just read.

But we are living in a time when Christ is being removed from Christmas. Let me share with you a poem that was sent to me from a dear friend. It is a play on the poem “Twas the Night Before Christmas.”

Twas the season of Christmas

When all through our land,

Not a Christian was praying

Nor taking a stand.

See the PC Police had taken away,

The reason for Christmas - no one could say.

The children were told by their schools not to sing,

‘bout Shepherds and Wise Men and Angels and things.

“It might hurt people's feelings,” the teachers would say

“December 25th is just another day.”

Yet the shoppers were ready with cash, checks and credit

Pushing folks down to the floor just to get it !

CDs from Beyonce’, an X BOX, an I-pod

Something was changing, something quite odd !

Retailers promoted Ramadan and Kwanzaa

In hopes to sell books by Farrakhan & Fonda.

As Targets were hanging their trees upside down

At Lowe's the word Christmas - was nowhere to be found.

At K-Mart and Staples and Penny's and Sears

You won't hear the word Christmas; it won't touch your ears.

Inclusive, sensitive, Di-ver-si-ty

Are words that are used to intimidate me.

Now Pelosi, Now Schumer, Now Biden, Now Wolf Blitzen

On Harris, on Omar, on Obama, on Clinton !

At the top of the Senate, there arose such a clatter

To eliminate Jesus, in all public matter.

And we spoke not a word, as they took away our faith

Forbidden to speak of salvation and grace.

The true Gift of Christmas was exchanged and discarded

The reason for the season, stopped before it started.

So as you celebrate “Winter Break” under your “Dream Tree”

Sipping your Starbucks, listen to me.

Choose your words carefully, choose what you say

Shout “MERRY CHRISTMAS”,

not Happy Holiday !

Let’s face it; Christmas is a stressful time for most adults. For some, it is a time of intense loneliness or crushing grief because of a loved one who is gone. Even at its best, Christmas means parties to plan, gifts to buy, elaborate meals to cook, long trips to take, or out-of-town guests to host. Instead of bringing JOY, Christmas can bring frustration.

I heard a story about a woman who was doing her last-minute Christmas shopping at a crowded mall. She was tired of fighting the crowds. She was tired of standing in lines. She was tired of fighting her way down long aisles looking for a gift that had sold out days before. Her arms were full of bulky packages when the elevator door opened. It was full. The occupants of the elevator grudgingly tightened ranks to allow a small space for her and her load. As the doors closed she blurted out, “Whoever is responsible for this whole Christmas thing ought to be arrested, strung up, and shot !” A few others nodded their heads or grunted in agreement. Then, from somewhere in the back of the elevator came a single voice that said, “Don’t worry. They already crucified Him.”

We need to remember who is responsible for the whole Christmas thing. It is all about how God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son so that whosoever believes in Him might have eternal life.

Unfortunately, many people leave Christ out of Christmas. Instead of looking to Jesus, people look for JOY anywhere and everywhere else.

Pretty much everybody wants happiness. In fact, people do what they do for the purpose of “finding happiness.” People work hard to buy possessions that can make them happy. They look for happiness in entertainment, hobbies, sports, passions and various addictions. When you consider that happiness seems to be the main goal, it seems surprising that the Bible doesn’t talk much about happiness. But the Bible says a lot about something that is often confused with happiness. The Bible says a lot about JOY. The kind of JOY the Bible talks about goes much deeper than mere happiness. You see, happiness deals with what is happening. Happiness depends on circumstance. In fact, for most people happiness is nothing more than a temporary interruption to boredom.

Genuine joy, on the other hand does not depend on what’s happening. The kind of JOY the Bible describes can’t be found in possessions or entertainment or even in looking deeply into your inner self. The first line of “Joy to the World” sums it up. There is one reason --- and only one --- that we can find JOY in this world. As the song says, we can have joy because The Lord has come ! If you receive Christ as King of your life, He provides Joy.

 

I. There is Joy When the King Is Received.

“Joy to the world ! The Lord is come ! Let earth receive her king; let every heart prepare Him room, and heaven and nature sing.”

Historically, we know that not everyone was joyful when Jesus was born. King Herod was anything but joyful when the Magi from the East inquired about the birthplace of a new King. To Herod, Jesus was a threat. Herod was already so paranoid about someone trying to usurp his throne that he had murdered three of his own sons. He was not about to tolerate a rival king … even if he was an infant.

In a similar way, a lot of people today reject Jesus as King. To them Jesus is a threat to their plans. They see Jesus as a threat to their individual freedom, their passions or greed or pride. While Herod saw Jesus as a Threat, the Wise Men saw Jesus as a Gift, and they came to worship Him.

 

II. There Is Joy When the Savior Reigns.

“Joy to the earth ! The Savior reigns ! Let men their songs employ; while fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains, repeat the sounding Joy.”

Receiving Christ is the important first step. But then we must go on to let Him Reign in our lives. While He was living here on earth, Jesus encountered large crowds who were ready and willing to receive Him. But they were not at all ready to let Him take charge. They wanted Him to do things their way … not the other way around.

There are a lot of people today who are more than willing to receive all the good things Christ wants to offer them. But they don’t want Him to try to take charge of their business ethics, their entertainment, the language they use when under pressure, or their public image. They don’t want Jesus to be in charge of where they live, or who they date, or who they marry, or what kind of career they choose.

If you try to RECEIVE Christ without letting Him REIGN in your life, you will miss out on JOY. You see, indecisiveness and hypocrisy can actually zap the JOY out of life. There comes a time when you have to admit that you are not fooling anybody. Besides that, most of us do a pretty lousy job of running our lives on our own. Jesus knows what will give you JOY. He knows the person who will suit you best in marriage. He knows the kind of work that is made for you. It has been said that Joy is the by-product of obedience.

 

III. There Is Joy When Truth Rules With Grace.

“He rules the world with truth and grace, and makes the nations prove. The glories of His righteousness and wonders of His love.”

This last verse tells why Jesus brings JOY. JOY comes because He rules with a perfect balance of TRUTH and GRACE. You see, sometimes truth is not very gracious. When I hear someone say, “Well, I just told it like it was,” I know they probably just offended someone by going heavy on the TRUTH and light on the GRACE. Jesus brings joy because He is the perfect balance of truth and grace.

 

True JOY will be yours this Christmas if you will RECEIVE Christ and let Jesus REIGN in your life with Truth and Grace. Joy to the World ! The Lord is Come !