Saturday, December 26, 2015

December 27, 2015

"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!

December 26,2015

"Zechariah asked the angel, "How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years." The angel answered, "I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news." Luke 1:18-19

"How will this be," Mary asked the angel, "since I am a virgin?" The angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God." Luke 1:34-37

"This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins." Matthew 1:18-21

We live in an age of "reality" TV shows, virtual reality devices and a 24/7 media that seeks to shape your sense of reality.

No wonder people are questioning, "What is real?"

Christmas give us the answer. Christmas clearly proves that God is real and faith in Him defines, yes, redefines our reality.

The events of that first Christmas challenged how Zechariah and Elizabeth and Mary and Joseph defined their reality.

For Zechariah and Elizabeth, in their "real" world, old barren people didn't have babies. They had long since cashed in their dream of being parents. They had done all the right things and lives served the Lord. But He had not honored them with a child. Disappointing as that was, they chose to remain faithful to God. They had adjusted to a world of bareness.

And then one day, an angel showed up with a word news from God that challenged their reality.

When the angel asked them to believe the unbelievable they had to decide which reality would define their belief.

Mary and Joseph were both the kind of young people you would love to claim. They were faithful to God and lived with integrity. Their wedding was fast approaching and they looked forward to completing their love and being man and wife. Honoring God in their relationship wasn't easy, but it was right and they had done so.

Then the angel confronted Mary with a word from God that challenged her reality. How can a virgin conceive? She had saved herself for Joseph and now her first child would not be his. She had to decide which reality she wanted to live in? Did she want to please God and risk her relationship with Joseph, or disappoint God to protect her marriage plans?

Would she believe what made sense or would she believe the unbelievable and trust God - and Joseph? She had never heard of anything like this before. Could she trust God to do the impossible or remain in the world she knew?

We are not sure how the news came to Joseph that his fiance' was pregnant. Did Mary tell him or did the rumor mill get to him first? If she told him then she surely told of the angel and the plan of God. I am sure he wanted to believe her but it was an unreal story. Virgins don't get pregnant. He thought he knew Mary, but her story didn't square with the reality he knew. What would he believe?

And then the angel came to him in a dream and confirmed Mary's story. Now he would have to be open to a new reality.

Each of these principles in the Christmas story were asked to believe the unbelievable. They were asked to shift from a reality of limited possibilities to a new reality where "nothing is impossible with God"! Everyone of them took the leap of faith. And through their altered reality, God changed reality forever!

So, on this day after Christmas, we find ourselves in the very same place they were. Christmas challenges our reality. Are we going to believe what we know and what we see? Are we going to live in the limited world of sight and sound and senses and previous experiences, or are we going to believe God?

Christmas was impossible - but now it is real! Before Christmas, salvation was impossible, but now it can be real! Before Christmas we were limited to a world of human possibilities, now we can step into a new reality of infinite power, presence, and peace.

Christmas is the ultimate reality show! Which reality will you show?