LUKE 2:7-14

Christmas brings joy to the world! The joy of Jesus.

--The joy of hymns and carols. Of gifts of love.

--The joy of a Savior and heaven, God's great gift.

--When the Holy Spirit sweetens all dispositions.

--Listen to the angel, "I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people" (Luke 2:10).

--From the virgin's womb and an empty tomb, comes a dark world's Messiah, Jesus, "Light of the world."

--We have hope, forgiveness, eternal life, in Him!

Why the reason for the season? "There is born to you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord" (v 11).

--A choir of angels sang, "Glory to God in the highest, and on Earth peace, goodwill toward men."

--Each one of earth could use much more of Jesus as well as His "peace and goodwill" with compassion.

--He is able to put men in heaven; heaven, in men.

--No other One - or religion - compares to Jesus.

To a world of woe and war..sin and suffering, He came.

--"To as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God" (John 1:11,12).

--What a glorious Gift, to receive..or give.

Evangeline Booth, daughter of the founders of Salvation Army, was born December 25, 1865, a wonderful Christmas gift indeed. When they died, she led it.

--She had a great love for Jesus, and needy folk.

--She was gifted, not only in caring, but in words.

"To daily give our own gifts to others,

To reach gladness..through sorrow.

To learn sympathy..through suffering.

To strengthen faith..through perplexity.

To find truth..through confusion.

To see a star..through mists of night.

This is goodwill. This is peace.

This is Christmas. And this is joy!"

Having hardships? Remember Mary and Joseph did too.

--Many miles on foot and donkey to Bethlehem, told, "No room in the Inn" (Luke 2:7). Room with sheep.

--"God the Son, born in a manger," yet our Creator!

What else did the angel say? Do not be afraid."

--In the Word of God, there are many "Fear not's."

--In our kind of world, there is a lot to fear.

--The Bethlehem shepherds were afraid, as some of us.

--The angel's announcement dissolved their fears.

--It was to them, "good tidings of great joy."

Let's emphasize the spiritual over the material, for of what value is all the shopping gifts if we do not have the Spirit of holiness, wonder, love and joy?

Everyone loses when people try to observe Christmas, but leave Christ out of it! Jesus is missing!

--Really, what is it, without the Lord Jesus?

--Let's keep Christ in Christmas! It is His day.

--To discard Christ, and all associated with the Biblical, historical record, is not pleasing to God.

--It is denigrating to His Son - our only Savior.

--Jesus truly is God, with the Father and Holy Spirit.

--A person without God misses His love and leading.

It is Jesus Who said, "In the world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world" (John 16:33). We need His "good cheer."

--It is He Who tells us, "love your neighbor as yourself"..and even said, "love your enemies."

--When lived aright, no other religion matches Jesus!

Some of the greatest people in the world are followers, and servants, of the Living Christ, in the love of God. Think of Charles Wesley's hymns, like,

"Love divine, all loves excelling,

Joy of heaven, to earth come down;

Fix in us Thy humble dwelling,

All Thy faithful mercies crown."

Many have loved greatly. None like God loves us.

--Paul prayed that we may "know the love of Christ - which passes knowledge, and be filled with all the fullness of God" (Ephesians 3:19). I want that.

--I want it for you. This joy, for all the world.

--Jesus' birth, life, death, resurrection, brings it.

--Let's pray more, for those who have not this joy!

The more we put Christ of Christmas in our life, the more smoothly and joyfully life becomes. How true.

--Sin and fear can "beset us." And rob us of peace.

--Such as unbelief. Doubts. Discouragements.

--A sharp tongue. A quick temper. Pride. Jealousy.

Or, such fears, as fear of the future. The unknow.

--Fear of loss of a loved one. Our health. Wealth.

--Fear of storms. Fear of terrorists. Some illness.

--Anxiety for loved ones or friends. Or servicemen.

--All on battle fronts of life, and world dangers.

What should we do with all these? Give them to God!

--Put them in the loving care of Jesus, in prayer.

--To recall all that the Holy Family went through.

--How the Lord God protected, provided, preserved.

--So we can close the door on worry, evil, fears.

--And open our hearts, in love, to those hurting.

To send kindness, and prayers, with every greeting.

And to accompany each word, and gift, with love.

To believe the best in others, and show it in us.

Another reason for Christmas joy, it is to everyone!

--Listen again to the angel, "I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people."

--Don't miss any of this, especially the last part - "which shall be to all people." That's you! Me!

--For those outside..out yonder..everywhere!

--For all those yet to come to know this Savior.

What shall we give them? Give them Jesus, the Lord.

--In loving intercession. Witnesss. And service.

Some tell me, "God can't save me, I'm too sinful."

--If you, or one you know, feel that way, consider again what the angel said, " all people."

--The wonderful thing, Jesus can save anyone!

--Can change our life, our living, like unto His.

--He can save our marriage! Can save our teenagers.

--Can save sinners, who repent, believe, follow Him.

--A gift of forgiveness is one of the finest ever!

We err when we think, "I don't need Jesus, or God."

--That is like saying, "I don't need air, or food or water," isn't it? We are not all right as we are.

--And, there is no better time than Christmas to get right with God, and receive the joy of Jesus!

--He is the one sublime Gift God wants to give all.

--His Christmas joy, and eternal life, in obedience.

Some years ago we saw John Peterson in Detroit, the composer of many hymns and cantatas we all love.

--A favorite of mine is one people hear this Season:

"Heaven came down and glory filled my soul.

When at the cross the Savior made me whole.

My sins were washed away, night turned to day,

Heaven came down, and glory filled my soul."

On a preaching mission to Haiti my wife and I stood at Christmas Bay, in Haiti, where Columbus landed.

--It happened on Christmas Day, thus he named it so.

--Christopher Columbus was a Christian, of faith.

--Spain's motto before he left, was "NO MORE BEYOND."

--Christopher Columbus felt there was more beyond!

--With his three little ships of brave men they set sail for it on August 3, 1492. Five months at sea.

Columbus said his greatest difficulty was a fearful crew, fearing "falling over the edge," for they knew not that the earth was round! Some without a faith.

--He had to keep encouraging, "Sail on! God is with us. Sail on! And God was with them, indeed.

For there was "more beyond." There is for us too.

Some say, this life is all there is, "no more."

--My friend, Jesus proved much more, "He arose alive, forever! Because I live, you shall live also."

Of course, we have our troubles, and our sorrows.

--We say our final farewells on earth to loved ones.

--Loneliness may come. Tears may flow. Jesus wept.

--But with God and His people, we have joy in Jesus!

--And few times is there the joys like Christmas!

Be a part of all this Christmas joy - with Jesus!

--Every day! - Wilbert D. Gough, Th.D., D.D. 703