Sunday, December 28, 2014

December 29, 2014

“But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.”   Luke 2:10-11

God is aware of your fear!

Fear usually arises out of our weakness or areas where we feel out of control. God knows that.

Zechariah and Elizabeth lived under the fear that they would be judged as less spiritual because they were childless. Children were seen as a sign of God’s blessing and God’s blessing was considered a reward for your level of spirituality.

So, Zechariah had labored faithfully as a priest but had done so with a heavy heart over being childless and being disrespected because of something he couldn’t control.

You get a sense for the level of his disappointment when he hesitated to believe the angel’s announcement.

But to that fear the angel spoke, “Fear not!”

Mary’s biggest fear after being assured that God would cause her to become pregnant with the divine child even though she was a virgin, was how her pregnancy would be viewed by Joseph and the rest of her neighbors in Nazareth.

What if Joseph didn’t believe her story and chose to divorce her? She had no control over how he would respond.

What if the people of the town didn’t believe her story – she could be stoned to death! She had no control over what they might decide to do.

Those were very real fears, but to them the angel spoke, “Fear Not!”

Out on the Judean hillside those shepherds also struggled with fears. They feared insignificance. All they were was lowly shepherd, some of the most overlooked and unappreciated people in the land. The shepherds had little control over the level of disrespect they received but it was hard to take.

But God valued them and gave them significance by sending the angel to say, “Feat not!”

You and I see our weaknesses as obstacles to faith, but God sees our weaknesses as opportunities to show His power!

As God told St. Paul, “My strength is made perfect in your weakness!”

The exciting news is that God used weak and fearful people to change the world! He met them in their doubts and at their inadequacies and in their anxiety and unleashed His power through them.

You may feel weak and your life out of control but "Fear not" a miracle is on its way!

December 28, 2014

"But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people." Luke 2:10

Once famous evangelist, Billy Sunday said, “if you have no joy, there’s a leak in your Christianity.”

Joy was a new experience for the shepherds because joy arrived with the coming of Jesus! But it should not be a novel experience for you. Jesus intended for His believers to live in joy:

"I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete." John 15:11

"Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete." John 16:24

So, what can you learn about joy from this encounter between the angel and the shepherds?

First, joy comes from receiving the good news.

These shepherds heard the good news in a very dramatic way. The angels came to them with this amazing announcement. How great was that?!

You will not get the news from an angel but the good news is no less powerful. One of your main responsibilities is to put yourself into places where you can receive the good news. Whether that be church service or small group or listening on radio or on the Internet or watching TV or in your daily devotions, it is up to you to get your daily dose of good news! No one else can do that for you.

How can you have joy if you are not regularly hearing the good news? What are you doing to make sure you regularly hear the good news?

Second, joy comes from responding to the good news.

The shepherds immediately responded to the good news. When they heard about what was happening they went to see it for themselves.

What do you do with the good news you receive? Do you obey it? Do you test it? Do you live it out in your daily living so that you know it it true? Do you let it guide your decisions and steer your emotions? Joy is not an emotion, but it is an action that leads to positive feelings. Feelings always follow faith and faith is the preferred response to the good news.

Living in joy means receiving the good news and responding to the good news and thirdly, joy results from relationship with the good news!

Joy is the natural response to living in relationship with Jesus. If you receive the good news just for information you will not live in joy. If you receive purely for inspiration it will not remain. But if you will commit to living in an intimate personal relationship with Jesus, your joy will not leak. The good news is about truth and Jesus IS the Truth! The good news is about finding your way and Jesus IS the Way! The good news is a way of life and Jesus IS the Life!

How is your relationship with Jesus? How well do you know Him? Is He your Source of Joy?

Don't let the joy leak out of your life. Plug that leak by plugging into Jesus! Receive His good news daily and respond to it and live in relationship with it!

Have a joyous day of worship!