This is the audio from the December 4, 2022 sermon, “The Christmas Excitement: A Great JOY!”, shared by Tom Lemler at the Deer Run Church of Christ.
Text: Matthew 2:1-12, Philippians 2:12-18
Today continued our Christmas sermon series with a look at the Christmas excitement experienced by the wise men. When I think about excitement and exceedingly great joy, I often think about accomplishing or experiencing something that is extremely difficult or even thought to be impossible or at least highly improbable. There seems to be a correlation between the effort put forth and the joy produced. In fact, it can be the times of greatest difficulties which lead us to a joy that is unlike any other. For these Magi from the east, it was the earnestness of their search that led them to “rejoice with exceedingly great joy” when the star reappeared and let them to the house in Bethlehem where they found the child Jesus. As we examine the story of the Magi, I want us to also consider our own story and reflect on the elements of our great . . .
- Journey. Matthew 2:1-8, Philippians 2:12-13
- The wise men set out on a great journey with the goal of being able to worship a child who had been born king of the Jews. They had observed a sign that led them on a great journey, not knowing exactly where they were headed. Our journey to Christ is often similar in that we receive a calling from God’s Word and we continually grow in holiness and righteousness as we pursue God each day. Given Herod’s reaction, it appears to have taken the wise men up to two years to find the Christ after first seeing the star in the east. They kept searching and learning until their goal was accomplished. When Paul tells us to work our our salvation, he is not talking about earning our salvation through our efforts bur rather to live in such a way that our path to salvation in Christ becomes evident to us and to those around us. Life’s journey will be difficult and full of trouble but when it is a great journey toward God, it leads us to a great joy.
- Observation. Matthew 2:9-10, Philippians 2:14-16
- Having a great observation is not only about being able to see, it is also about knowing the significance of what we observe. The wise men noticed something that stood out to them and for some reason it carried a message to them that no one else seemed to get. We really don’t know if this star was exclusively revealed to the wise men or if it was visible to anyone who happened to be paying attention to the sky. I tend to believe that it was something God placed in the sky for all to see, yet the vast majority of people paid it no attention. Whatever the case might be, these men observed something that both got their attention and led them to action. Paul writes to us and challenges each child of God to live as those who “shine like stars”. Our joy ought to be amplified when we observe the working of God in someone’s life, just as the joy of the Lord ought to grow in others as they see our good works and glorify our Father in heaven. When we seek to live with great joy in the midst of a troubled world, we live in such a way that a great observation leads us and others closer to Christ.
- Yielding. Matthew 2:11-12, Philippians 2:17-18
- The wise men appear to come from positions of influence and power as they are able to spend much time traveling, they gain an audience with Herod, and they have precious and valuable gifts to give to Jesus. Yet the very heart of their trip was to worship and yield to the authority of this child that was born king of the Jews. Their plans, even in their changed departure, was a continual yielding to the will of God. It is this very element that helps us in having joy that the world knows nothing of when we find ourselves dealing with the struggles of life. Even when it feels like our life is being poured out through the trouble of this world, we gain strength as we yield to God and desire His will to be done in us and through us. When we daily yield to Jesus, we find that even the sorrows and grief of this life can result in the growth of our faith and testimony as we seek to make Jesus known.
Today, how will you have a Christmas JOY that others can see?