Matthew 2:1-12 ESV 1 Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, 2 saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” 3 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; 4 and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. 5 They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet: 6 “‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.'” 7 Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. 8 And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” 9 After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. 11 And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. 12 And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way..
Thank you all. Would you bow your heads and close your eyes with me? Just one more time. As we pray for God to open our eyes to his word. Father, please. These things cannot be revealed, people cannot understand these things unless you reveal it to them more, so I ask now that You would open the eyes of our hearts to see what you’d have us, see what you’d have us to see more, to know, to believe to treasure. And to worship you about more, pandas, these things in Your precious name. Amen…
That verse, Matthew 2, verse 10, about the Wise Men, when they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. They’re not the only ones, if you read the early chapters of the Gospel accounts, that that’s the response is joy. The shepherds responded the same way.
Luke 2 10 says, and the angel said to them, if you’re not for behold, I bring you good news of great joy, that will be for all people, even marry herself when she was told about the messiah, she was promised that you will have joy and gladness and many will rejoice at his birth and later, Elizabeth the same way that when Mary came with Jesus to see her family, Elizabeth, who was going to bear John the back, is the one who would prepare the way for Jesus, it says that the baby in Elizabeth room app actually left for joy in that moment, look, Christmas is a season of joy. It’s one of the key words. Remember Joy Joy Joy, you know those Christmas carols, you’re familiar with the term. And for many people, even in our culture as a whole, even if you don’t believe the Christmas Story, Christmas is a season that they look forward to, it’s a time of good food and family get-togethers and vacation time and presence, and… I don’t know if you like snow or if you don’t like snow, I guess it’s not a tofu for that part, but it’s a very, very important part of Christmas.
It’s a key word, during Christmas. I want you to intentionally pursue joy during this holiday season, if you get down or if you are inexplicably joy, list for whatever reason, I want to offer you six ways for you to pursue joy, that’s what this sermon will be about, it is another topical sermon. I do study throughout the week on these verses to kind of weave them together, and I wanna weave together the idea of joy from the Word of God, and I wanna give you kind of hope in what the Word of God offers here. Before we do that, I wanna say a few things about joy, just to make sure we understand what joy is, ’cause I think we say the word but we don’t always know what it means. First of all, I want you to understand the joy is not dependent on circumstances, Romans 5:3 makes the just stupendous claim that we can rejoice in sufferings, 2 Corinthians 6-10 says that even when we are sorrowful, we can be rejoicing in other words, joy is not tied to your circumstances today, if you look around at your life and you say, This thing is robbing me from joy, and this thing is robbing me from join, this thing is robbing me from joy, you may not understand what joy really is.
The second thing I want you to understand is that joy is very much like peace, but where peace is more settled and quiet, joy is more exuberant and excited, so they’re very similar, they’re related to one another, but joy is more of an overflow of excitement, the kid who gets the gift that they wanted for Christmas and jumps up and down, that’s a lot more like joy than just sitting there and quiet solitude. They’re connected. Psalm 4:7 kinda draws this out, he says, You have put more joy in my heart than when they’re grain and wine abound. Do you know that in that culture, they would hold an entire festival, they would… Maybe we would call it today, harvest festival. Harvest festivals are big for people who rely on the harvest to survive, so when they’re given the harvest, when they are able to bring it in and finish it, they celebrate that it was enough for another year. It’s an exuberant. And if you read through the word of God, rejoicing, our joy is always this overflow of excitement and praise. Another thing that you need to understand about joys, that God really does want you to have joy, God really does want you to have joint fact…
Part of the reason Jesus came to this Earth was to bring you joy. He says this, John 15:11, These things I’ve spoken to you, that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be full. God does what? Your joy today. The problem often becomes that we think the way we will get joy is by getting what we want, we think it’s good, and God says actually that thing you want is not good, it’s bad, that will not give you joy, but God does want you to have happiness and joy and exuberance. Fourth, you need to understand. This is really important. Joy is a command in the Word of God. Philippians 4-4 says, Rejoice in the Lord always. And again, I’ll say rejoice. You get the idea. I don’t think you could emphasize it anymore, unless seen in the original man you script, he wrote it in big bold letters, used one of the clip art things, rejoice, rejoice. It’s a command from God, and it’s a good command from God, don’t you… Aren’t you happy that God doesn’t say, Hey, I want you to just be miserable, and that’s his command.
He wants your joy. The path to get to that joy is not what you’d expect. And that’s the problem, that’s the problem. So let’s talk about six ways that you can pursue joy this holiday season, this holiday season, this Christmas season, the first way is you can pursue joy in forgiveness and forgiveness. I want you to imagine with me that a husband comes to the sour realization of his feelings towards his wife in hundreds of ways, you can’t even begin to count them. He’s been self-issued her, he’s been cold, he’s generally ignored her existence, she’s been lonely and sad, but she still chose to love him, and one day it popped into focus, like a joint that’s out of joint being popped and the focus is painful, but it’s a good pain, he realizes what a treasure He has all in a moment, memory after Memory and his mind floods in of the ways he’s mistreated her and recognizes the ways that it’s hurt her. He feels terrible, he feels hopeless. He thinks to himself, There’s too much damage, there’s too much hurt, there’s too much scar tissue on her soul, just doesn’t feel like I can never make it right.
He chooses to go to her and apologize, not out of selfish motivation, but on a genuine sorrow that he’s hurt her, and to his surprise, her voice cracks through tears, the words, I forgive you. What does the husband feel that moment? Now, a thousand emotions, regret over all the ways he’s failed this wonderful woman, but he at least feels joy too, there’s hope this can be restored, we could build this marriage again, she forgave me. Psalm 51 talks about the same kind of forgiveness, it’s a Psalm of asking God to forgive you and die, it’s a really good song for you to go to when you’ve sent and read through to your God. Toward the end of it, he says These things, go, Let me hear joy, and glad to let the bones that you’ve broken, rejoice, restore to me the joy of your salvation. Uphold me with a willing spirit. There’s joy and forgiveness. There’s immense joy. Forgive us. In fact, one of the greatest thief of joy in your and my life is when we don’t confess our sin, you might not realize it right now. You may still be living in the fog of sin, you may still be justifying excusing, just ignoring, you might think to yourself as your shoulders out of joint, I don’t want anyone to touch it because it would hurt…
What you need to realize is it needs to be put back into place, and the only way to get there is through a little bit of pain, the pain will be good home by yourself. The way up is down. The joy of forgiveness can only come to those who confess, to those who leave their pride, to those who acknowledge their sin, that’s the path to forgive this… What makes forgiveness so joyful? I was kinda meditating on it, I admit I was gettin a little philosophical about this this week, but I think that there are three things that make Joy… Forgiveness, especially joyful. First, the fact that it’s free, I think makes it joyful. See, in that passage, both Psalm 51 and Psalm 32, When they confess their sin, they are hoping that God will forgive them, not on the basis of doing better tomorrow, next week, next year, 10 years from now. No, they’re hoping that God will forgive them on the basis of His love, His character, the unchanging immutable character of God, that does offer forgiveness to those who truly confess, they’re banking on that, that’s their only hope, because they know tomorrow it’ll be…
They might mess up again, but God’s forgiveness is free, I think the moment the husband confesses to his wife like that and she says, I forgive you so quickly, part of the reason that’s so joyful, it’s because the wife’s not saying, We’ll see how sorry you really are. I think part of the reason is she’s not saying I need you to jump through this hoop and this hoop… And this hoop first, and then I’ll think about it. She’s saying, I forgive you. I think that’s a beautiful thing. Now, to be clear, really clear on something, forgiveness is free to the person who needs to be forgiven, it’s often very costly to the forgive, you know, you know, you know the pain that you feel and your chest when somebody’s hurt you and you wanna hold it over their head. And you choose in that moment to give that up to sacrifice, the right to get your pound of flesh and say, No, I’m gonna restore this relationship. Now, that’s just a small picture of the sacrifice that costs our God with a sin against an unimaginable Holy God, a much greater sacrifice is necessary, and we talked about that last week, we spoke about how God’s sacrifice of His son for us to restore us to Himself to forgive us for our sin is immeasurably more costly than we could even imagine, God will never ask you to make a greater sacrifice in your forgiveness that He has already made, to forgive those around you.
What makes forgiveness so joyful, I think it’s free to the one forgive, and I think that makes it amazingly joyful. I also think it’s securing, there’s something about that moment. There’s an un-steadiness, sin has caused this moment of… Will things ever get back to normal? Can we be restored? Can or relationship be right ever again. And the hope is, yes, it can be made right, but you don’t know until that person secures the relationship by looking you in the eyes and saying, I forgive you, I forgive you. That gives you a hope that you can build something… From that point forward, it’s securing. I think when you confess to God and He forgives you, what does John ones… To those who believe in his name, he gave the right to be called children of God. That’s secure relationship. Once a child of God, always a child of God that can never be removed from us… Gosford is amazingly securing. I think the third thing that makes that moment of forgiveness so wonderful is it explodes and understanding of how good the forgive is, you get that like in that moment, the husband confesses and she says, I forgive you, and he’s like…
I’m just amazed, I’m amazed that you’d be willing to forgive me, I’m amazed at how good you are, that you’re willing to just swallow all the things that I’ve done to hurt you and just leave them alone and forget them and move past them, I’m amazed that you would forgive me, there’s something about the joy of a better and deeper understanding of the goodness of the spouse in that moment, that makes it an even more joyful occasion. It’s the same way with our God, when we confess our sin and He forgives us. There’s something that is revealed to us about the goodness of our God, there is joy and forgiveness, I want you to also recognize this holiday season that you can find joy in deliverance. Joy in deliverance. God does not just forgive our sin, reconciliation with God includes the power to do… Right. And the example above, don’t you think… Don’t you think that that moment when the wife says I, you don’t you think that if that husband is truly sorrowful for a sin, there’s something about her forgiveness that moves him to want to do better. Don’t you think so? That’s how it should work.
And that is immeasurably more the case. When we’re forgiven by God, there is an action that’s put on our soul through the salvation process where we are made new and we want to reject the things that are behind to sin behind us and pursue a better way. You and I need deliverance. I was talking to somebody this week, they were young and they were struggling with some different bad habits, and he’s talking to them trying to help them through those things, and they looked at me and they said, I just don’t know, it feels like it’s impossible to change. Out of the mouth of babes in kids, they have a way of just revealing the truth that we all really feel… You and I might make some changes, but when we really look at our life without the help of God, we are very much the same, we might mature, grow add new skills, a little bit, but God’s salvation does not just promise forgiveness, He promises deliverance from all of the sin that corrupts your and my life, not only for gifts, but he delivers, and there’s a few passages for you to think on regarding this joy.
I think the New Testament, it talks about being enslaved to sin or being delivered from sin, phrases like that are taken directly… If you go back through the Bible, the prophets, and then back a little bit further, ultimately to the Exodus story, here’s what some of the prophets might say about the deliverance that God gives his people from their sin. I will greatly rejoice in the Lord. My soul shall exalt in my God, for He has clothed me with garments of salvation, that moment pictures a wedding ceremony getting dressed all up and beautiful garments and marrying our God, the garments that we put on ourselves is the salvation that he’s given to us. What an amazing truth that is. Or how about this? You shall go out with joy. He says, I say, If 55 is talking about a greater accidents where we are delivered from sin, and it says, you shall go out from sin with joy and be led forth. And peace, the mountains and the hills shall. Or shall break forth into singing, the the trees of the field shall clap their hands. What an amazing picture that is, that you and I delivered from our sin, it’s like creation itself is celebrating, enjoy with us that we’re no longer enslaved to our sin or…
How about Isaiah 51? In the prophetic words, the word Zion does refer to Jerusalem, but really it refers to believing community of people, the believing community of people, or get to go through a very difficult time, and it pictures their lands as being dried up and deserted and Waste Land and all that that’s the picture of what sin does to people, turns our souls into a desert. And this is what it says, the Lord comfort Zion. He comforts all her waste places, makes her wilderness like Eden, her deserts like the garden of the Lord. Joy and gladness will be found in her, Thanksgiving and the voice of song, the ransomed of the Lord, shall return from where? From their sin, and come to Zion with singing. Everlasting joy shall be upon their heads. They shall obtain gladness and joy. Sorrow and sighing will flee away, we have been given a taste of deliverance from sin today that results enjoy. Have you ever had a moment of victory over sin, a sin that has been corrupting your life and the life of those around you for a long time. Have you had that moment? What is there to do? But say Yes, yes, yes.
It happened. I have victory. I’m not enslaved to this thing anymore, I’m not on a roller coast, I’m not on a real road, taking me to my destination at the end, I do by the power of God, have the ability to get off this path destruction. That’s joyful. We have that joy to experience that joy and deliverance, connected to the joy of deliverance is the joy of hope. This is three, the joy of hope. Psalm 30, verse 5 says, weeping, may tarry for the night, but joy comes in the morning. Amen. Some of you are going through a time of night right now, you’re reaping on your bed, literally or figuratively, I want you to know, and I want you to hear that sorrow and weeping, they last for the night. But joy does come in the morning. I think that passage, there’s some other psalms that borrow from that imagery of watchmen on the gates, looking for the morning, waiting for the morning to come. One of the greatest sources of joy in the believer’s life is a confident hope in God, listen, God may not, you might be going through a sickness right now, and God might heal you from that, but he also might not… There’s no promise of that. But God does promise, if you’re going through a sickness right now, that one day, he will make sorrow and sighing and sickness and death and sin, and a conflict and all of the garbage that’s wrong with this world, what the Bible calls the curse and sin. You’ll do away with it. You have that hope. So during this holiday season, during this Christmas season, if you want joy, one of the many things that you should be doing is banking on the promises of God, what do they promise me about my future? Yes, God might deliver me today from the fiery trial today, and I hope he does, but I don’t know if you will, but I do know that one day He will deliver all those who place their faith in Jesus Christ once and for all. Sorrow may last for the night, but joy comes in the morning. Fourth, a fourth place. You can pursue joy. This holiday season, God’s presence, God’s presence. Psalm 16:11 says, You make known to me the path of joy in your presence, there is fullness of joy, at your right hand are pleasures forever more.
Many Christians can read their Bible, many Christians know how to serve in church, there are some Christians who even understand theology and study the word of God, but I would say very few Christians are good at the habit of being in the presence of God. Myself included, being in God’s presence, or you could say Today, God’s presence being in us and us being aware of that, the Holy Spirit that God’s given to us is an indescribable joy. The psalmist says, it’s the fullness of joy. When a believer holds his God and his mind treasures who God is, and praised Him and talks with him and meditates on His Scripture, so that God is speaking back to Him through His word, as a believer does those things and is in the presence of God, they get a little taste of Heaven. Yes, it’s peaceful and serene, but if you have been in the presence of God, it is also exhilarating, energizing, ecstatic. It’s like a fresh air on a cold day, brings a smile to your face, it makes your heart glad, and you just wanna praise your Savior. The practice of being in the presence of God is really important for the believer’s life.
Yes, it happens as you pray, it happens as you read His word, but you have to do those things, right? You can’t just be reading His Word for information, it’s gotta be reading his word to hear what your God says to you, and it’s gotta be praying Back to him, living in his presence. Saro may last for the night, joy comes in the morning, and I will say that God does meet us in our night and doesn’t leave us… I’ll never leave us or forsake us. A fifth place to pursue joy this holiday season is in God’s perfect rule is in God’s perfect will. 1 Chronicles 16, he says, Let the heart of those who seek the Lord rejoice. Let them say among the nations, the Lord reigns, the Lord reigns. That brings joy that our God reigns… We confess that God is sovereign over all of the happenings of our life, small and great, nothing happens without his watch, full, knowing eye and his permission, nothing. He is in control. Now, this connects to our hope from point number four, we long for the day when God will rule this earth and everything will be made right, we long for that, but for those who place their faith in Jesus Christ, that day is at least partially in this heart, true as well.
Yes, we long for the day when every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. But today, believers bow their knee and confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. Yes, we say, Father, your kingdom come. But we also realize that all those who place their faith in Jesus Christ are a new creation, the new creation where God will rule one day, well, God rules in dislike today. And let me tell you something, there is no greater joy than submitting to a perfect ruler. Much of the problem that you and I have in our life comes from the fact that we want to be our own king, the Scriptures bring us out in a number of different ways, everyone doing what was right in their own eyes, is how the judges talks about it… That’s very much our life today, we decide for ourselves what’s good, what would be good for us, what would be good for the world, and then we go do it, and there’s a problem with that sometimes our sense of good and bad is very messed up, and that goes all the way back to Genesis Chapter 3, where the woman looked at the fruit and thought, that looks good, when God had clearly told her, No, it would not be good.
It wasn’t… See, the second you humble yourself and you’re willing to bow your knee to a perfect God who does know good and evil, who does know what would be good for you, it won’t be bad for you, and you bow your knee and you submit under his leadership and rule in your life. That’s a moment of great joy. So I would challenge you to submit to Him today. This is how Romans Chapter 14 says that The Kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness. And peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. In other words, if you are in the Kingdom of God today with Jesus as your King, that is a place of joy and peace and righteousness in the Holy Spirit. You have access to joy, the sixth in the final way or place to pursue joy today is in service to and from one another. In service to and from one another, in fact, to my surprise is I did this word study to prepare for this sermon. Joy, I think I didn’t actually count it up, but it anecdotally, search or seen this way, Joy was used far more often.
When talking about our relationship with one another and serving one another, that it was in any other way in the New Testament… This is how Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 2, verse 19 and 20 says, For what is our hope? Our joy or crown are boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming. Is it not you? For you are our glory and our joy. When was the last time you said about that? I said that about someone who was not your daughter, son, granddaughter, grandson. You are my joy. You are… Why does Paul say that? You gotta understand a little bit of context of Fresenius. He probably was in Thessalonica for three to six weeks. That’s how long it took Paul to start that church there, which is just spiking, if you think about it. Okay, while there, he had to likely support himself, he made tense likely all day long during the work day, Susi got off of work, he’d go and reason as much as he could with the people in the temple on sometimes, it seems like from some of the language he stayed up at night working on the tent, and then was preaching during /teaching during the day, the way that the Thessalonians responded to the Gospel, to his service and sacrifice for them, gave him an unimaginable joy, the joy of serving someone else is real and spectacular. I’ll flip it around as well, I want you to recognize this, you can have joy in being served as well. This is what Paul says in Philemon 1:7, For I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you. There is no joy quite like the joy of serving someone else, at the very least, you will… One day, know that you’ll be able to stand before God and hear him say, Well done for whatever service you rendered at the very least, the floor. But sometimes your service to someone else become something deeper and better, sometimes it becomes deeper and richer than any friendship that you can have around common interests, sometimes you serve someone in their extraordinary moment of need, and then when you hit your moment of need, they come back and serve you, and the joy that you have at that moment is unimaginable, that is a joy that is multiplied, that’s a wonderful joy, pursue joy this season… Yes, forgiveness in deliverance, in hope. In God’s perfect rule, in God’s presence, and also by serving others, you will not find joy just getting what you want, you will not find joy in self-discovery, you can find true, lasting, securing joy in your relationship with God, His forgiveness, unless joy. His deliverance secures that to his presence enriches that joy. His promise is Give joy. His rain prospers your joy, and his way of sacrifice and serving others is the path of joy. So I would challenge you this holiday season, yes, pursue your joy, but pursuing those six things, and I think you will find your life deeply enriched. Would you please buy your heads, close your eyes, we’re gonna close. In a song, in just a moment here. Quiet your hearts. We really examine your life for a second. Do you have joy? A lack of joy is normally a by-product of not circumstances, but one of those six factors that I talked about… You confessed all your sins. Are you seeking His deliverance from your sin? Are you resting in his presence? Are you bowing your knee to Him in your life every day? Are you serving others? Listen, I know for people that have a lack of joy in their life, some of these things are hard because it feels painful to even think of taking a step forward when you don’t feel like you’ve got joy just laying before you. What the Word of God says about joy, and I’m saying There’s hope you can have joy, you can… But the path forward is by bowing your knee to God, Father, we bow our knee to you today, work in these people’s heart that they might submit to you and find you have a deep, deep joy that you give, but as they live in righteousness, seeking to please you not living for themselves.
You would deliver them from the things that Rob them joy, as we know you do want that for them, or we are such sinful people, we’ve corrupted the way you intend for us. Cleanse us. Forgive us. Restore to us the joy of our salvation, we pray that.