My Sunday sermon notes @coe22 and @jobypmartin …
The angel to the shepherds, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of GREAT JOY…”
Great Joy. The coming of the Jesus, the Messiah, brings with it great joy. Our attempt at joy on our own looks more like the pursuit of the elusive happiness. The problem with seeking happiness is that happiness is temporary. It is based on happenings and is contingent on our ability to control circumstances all around us. And it is exhausting. It is a myth that we have any ability to be in control of many of the things that contribute to our happiness.
We typically chase happiness in one of the “If I could just….” categories. Searching for it in self improvement (physical, vocational, hobbies, religious activity, etc.), or in others (relationships, marriage, children, a better boss, etc.), or in the things the world has to offer (instant gratification, experiences, money, power, stuff, etc.). The things we thought would make us happy at one point get tossed aside in the pursuit of the next thing that surely will be the thing at last. Joby calls it the cul-de-sac of stupidity, and we keep taking laps…over an over again.
While these things we chase may provide some temporary happiness, they don’t provide lasting joy. Created things can’t fully and finally satisfy what only the Creator can do. Jesus is the only one that fulfills all that we are actually looking for. He is the only source of true joy. He is the only way to get to a point to say what Paul says in Philippians 4:4-13…things like, “rejoice in the Lord ALWAYS….do not be anxious about anything…I have leaned in whatever situation I am to be content…I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.” Paul can say these things because the secret to peace and joy is found in Jesus. In knowing “the Lord is at hand.” In “everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made know to God.” In recognizing that our life follows were we focus our attention, so “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever if lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
There is Joy in trusting that Jesus is better. The God of peace will be with us. He will guard our hearts and minds and give us a peace that surpasses understanding. Because it won’t make sense…we can’t muster this peace on our own. There is rest for our souls in recognizing we don’t have to try to control everything because Jesus is in control of everything.
When the angel told the shepherds about the Christ who was born, they went. They saw Jesus. And as they journeyed home, their outward circumstances didn’t change --- they were still lowly shepherds looked down on by society --- but they were changed. They returned home glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. Meeting Jesus brings joy that nothing else can.
“The pursuit of happiness is the insatiable attempt to control your circumstances because happiness is dependent on ever changing happenings. Joy is found in the everlasting Jesus.”
Click here to watch the sermon.