Dr. Michael Stovall
In the birth of Jesus, God identifies with us at our deepest point of need, our humanity. “Joy to the world, the Lord is come! Let earth receive her King! Let every heart prepare Him room. And heaven and nature sing. And heaven and nature sing. And heaven, and heaven and nature sing!” Happiness is a state of contentment based on a pleasurable experience. Happiness has more to do with circumstances and feelings. There is nothing wrong with being happy. I like being happy and I like being around happy people. But happiness can be fleeting. Joy, on the other hand, is a delight in life that is not affected by circumstances. Happiness is situational. Joy is settled. Happiness can vary. Joy is constant. Joy is the ground out of which peace and happiness grow. Things which cannot quiet the heart in the storm cannot provide any kind of blessed happiness. The Puritan Thomas Watson wrote, “Things of this world will no more keep out trouble of spirit than a piece of paper will stop a bullet.” The birth of Jesus was good news of great joy! We can be happy and have joy. We can also be unhappy and still have joy. Joy is our victory through Jesus Christ that in spite of my circumstances God is in complete control and working everything in my life for my good and His glory. Here are a couple of lessons we can learn from reading the birth of Jesus in Luke 2:1-20. First, joy comes from deep sense of God’s presence in our lives!The shepherds recognized something awesome. They were afraid. They are told to exchange their great fear for great joy. Followers of Jesus are not immune from difficulties Trouble can come up on us so quickly that it catches us off guard. God’s presence prevails to regain control. Christ’s birth is part of God’s promise to never leave us nor forsake us and that is good news and great joy. Second, joy is available to everyone. Joy experienced is peace. God intervenes in the human experience. Heaven came down and joy filled their souls. The underlying current of the Good News that brings great joy is that God connects/identifies with us in our humanity. You may say to me, “Preacher, you just don’t understand what I am dealing with.” You may be right. But you can’t say that to God. If you have two tuning forks of the same frequency, it is a fact that if you strike one tuning fork the other will respond without being touched. It is what is called “sympathetic resonance.” Christ’s instrument, his humanity, was like ours in every way, except that He had no sin. And when a chord is struck in the weakness of our human instrument, it resonates in His! There is no note of human experience that does not play in Christ’s as well. “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weakness” (Hebrews 4:15). We would love to have you and your family join us for Christmas Eve worship on December 24 at 4 p.m. The service will last about 50 minutes so that you and your family can come for the worship, to include the Lord’s Supper, and still have plenty of time for dinner and family festivities. Merry Christmas from Centennial Baptist Church!