Invited to Share Joy | Sandals Church

Invited to Share Joy | Sandals Church


(lighthearted music) – Hey, everybody! Welcome to Sandals Church. We are all about this
vision of being real, and that vision is for every
single person here joining us because there is a place for you here. And if you have kids, you have to check out our
Sandals Church kids experience at kids.SandalsChurch.TV. And as we’re in the holidays, now is the perfect time to
catch up on any of that content and check it out. We’re so glad you joined us today. Enjoy the message. (uplifting music) ♪ Every breath, open door ♪ ♪ A new beginning ♪ ♪ Leads us on something more ♪ ♪ It’s never-ending ♪ ♪ The world awaits to be discovered ♪ ♪ Every moment filled with wonder ♪ ♪ All we know is we were meant for ♪ ♪ This great adventure ♪ ♪ This great adventure ♪ (uplifting music) – What’s going on, Sandals Church? (audience cheers) So good to be with you guys. Thank you for that. And Merry Christmas, by the way. I could say that, right? It’s Christmas time. Merry Christmas to you guys. How many guys are actually
ready for Christmas? All right! Look at the Christmas spirit in this room. It’s alive! Man, I love this time of the year and I don’t like it at the same time. I think that’s just how
it goes for so many of us. But what I do find rare and
unique about this holiday season and about celebrating Christmas is that it’s something that
is shared by a lot of people. What I mean by that is
you can be very religious or very non-religious and you
still care about Christmas. You might view it as different, you might have a different kinda meaning that you attribute to it but
you care about Christmas. You could be a Jesus follower
or not following Jesus but to some degree, you
still care about Christmas and we celebrate it. We share a lot of things in common, whether it be traditions that we do, songs that we sing, smells, food, colors, there’s aspects of Christmas
that we’re all sharing. And one of these vivid memories
I have during this time is walking into a store and seeing as part of their decorations this word written in red
hanging from the ceiling: joy. But then I look right
below it and it’s chaos of clothes and product and just stuff that people are scavenging
through, trying to find items. And I think that’s such a telling picture of what Christmas can feel like for us. We’re hearing songs, “Joy to the World”, ♪ Fa, la, la, la, la ♪ You gotta get in the mood,
but then it’s just chaos. And Christmas, oftentimes,
is another reminder for us that happiness is hard to have. Joy is difficult for you and I to actually embrace an experience. But listen now, happiness is important. In fact, I would even say that happiness is a God-given desire. So it’s not a bad thing that you and I wanna live a happy life, whether you follow Jesus
in here or you don’t, happiness is important to life, and I think all of us, I mean, it would be hard for
me to find someone in this room who didn’t wanna be happy in their life, didn’t wanna experience some level of joy on a regular basis in their life. But it’s harder to find. And the reason why it’s
so difficult for us is because it’s not so much the desire but the route that we
go to try to be happy. That’s what can be so destructive. The things that we try to
do to have a happy life. It could destroy ourselves, our marriages, our families, our relationships, our work. We will take a very
dangerous path to be happy which is why today, you
and I so desperately need the Christmas story,
this announcement of joy. We need this as adults,
especially as adults. Man, I read this study this week, you could take it with a grain of salt, but it said that kids, on average, will laugh hundreds of times a day. Some even said kids will
laugh 400 times a day, adults maybe 20. And there’s one for you already. (audience laughing) So you got maybe 18, 19 left for the day. But we need joy, happiness. We need these things even though they seem
to escape us so quickly. But you know what the
good news is for us today is that joy is available. Joy is available. It’s the good news of Christianity
that’s available for us. Regardless of who you are, what life situation you’re
dealing with right now, and maybe even where you come from, it does not matter because God has made joy available for you. And we’re gonna read in the
story about why that’s true. So follow along with me
here in Luke Chapter 2. This is from the Gospel of Luke which is Luke’s biography on Jesus, his story of this man named Jesus, and here’s how his biography starts. He says that night, there were shepherds staying
in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep, and suddenly an angel of
the Lord appeared among them and the radiance of the
Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified but
the angel reassured them, don’t be afraid, he said. I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The savior, yes, the Messiah, the Lord has been born today in Bethlehem, the City of David, and you will recognize him by this sign. You will find a baby wrapped
snugly in strips of cloth lying in a manger. And suddenly, the angel was
joined by a vast host of others, the armies of heaven
praising God and saying, glory to God in highest
heaven and peace on Earth to those with whom God is pleased. When the Angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, let’s go to Bethlehem. Let’s see this thing that has happened which the Lord has told us about. They hurried to the village
and found Mary and Joseph, and there was the baby
lying in the manger. After seeing him, the shepherds told
everyone what had happened and what the angel had said
to them about this child. All who heard the shepherds’
story were astonished, but Mary kept all these
things in her heart and thought about them often. The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. It was just as the angel had told them. This is God’s word. Let’s pray together. Father, we thank you so
much for your word, God, and we ask now that you
would speak to us from it. Would you help to remind us why
we need the Christmas story, and would you help us through
it to experience real joy, God, your joy. We pray that you would do this
in the name of King Jesus. Amen. During this time, one
of the classic movies that people will throw on is “Home Alone”. If you haven’t seen “Home Alone”, it’s been out for a while so let me just go ahead
and spoil it for you. A kid, Kevin McCallister, young boy gets left at his house while the rest of his family
go on a Christmas vacation. Some of it’s his fault,
parents’ fault also as well, and so that as the movie unfolds, the humor comes as this guy tries to live out Christmas on his own. He’s gotta figure things out. And one day, in the movie, it’s a scene that really
resonates with me, and I always think about
it if I ever see it or someone else is watching it, but it’s a scene where
Kevin’s been out all day trying to do Christmas on
his own, he’s out shopping. And when he’s done, he’s
walking home, it’s nighttime, he’s walking through this neighborhood, his hands are full of bags
of stuff that he’s purchased, and at one point during
his walk, he just stops. And he turns to his left. And in this neighborhood,
he sees this big house. It’s decorated perfectly for Christmas, the lights are up, on the front porch are family and friends knocking on the door, being welcomed in. He looks through the window
and the house is packed, families inside, everyone
is singing and smiling, they’re decorating the tree, and there’s Kevin on the
sidewalk at night holding bags on the outside looking in. He’s looking in at everything that he wants to be true about Christmas but just simply isn’t. And the reason why I find that scene, that short, brief scene so
telling is because I think you and I can resonate
with that at some level. For whatever reason, celebrating Christmas is just not what you’re in the mood to do, ’cause Christmas for a
lot of us could be hard. It brings back memories of people who we don’t have in our life, and so it’s natural for us at times to feel a lot more like Kevin McCallister than the people partying inside the house. And strangely enough, in this story, when baby Jesus is born, God the Father decides
to announce to the world about this good news not to people who are inside the house
celebrating, but where does he go? He goes to the Kevin
McCallisters of the worlds. He goes to the shepherds. He goes to the people who are
on the outside looking in. He goes to people who not
other people see as popular, they don’t have a lot
of respect in the town, they’re certainly not
gonna believe their story. They’re shepherds, after all. But this is exactly the kinda person that God delivers the
good news of great joy to. And so let me tell you this, if you are here today
and you feel overlooked and you feel unseen to some degree, know that God sees you and know that at Christmas
time, joy is available to you because he goes to shepherds first. He goes to the outsiders first. He goes to the outcasts first
and he brings them what? He brings them joy. Brings them great joy. And the reason why he
says you can have joy is because this baby is born. A baby? That’s what brings great joy? Yes! And that’s our first point
today, the arrival of joy. Joy comes to us. It’s not something that
we actually can pursue. And that’s what’s so important
for us to understand. Joy is something that’s found in a person. It’s found in a person, not a pursuit. Listen to me now. It’s found in a person, not
in chasing after something, which is typically where you and I go. That’s our natural first step. We aim and say, my goal
in life is to be happy but if you make happiness
your goal in life, you will never be happy. Why? Because happiness is always a byproduct of having something else first. And the Christmas story says
it’s found in this person. Happiness is first found in a person, not in you chasing after
whatever you think you need. It’s found in a person. Strangely enough, Jesus,
a baby brings joy. And the reason why I said that
is because if you know me, you know that for most of my life, I went to a private school. I’m not gonna say always
’cause that would be unfair, but a lot of the times growing
up in this private school, I don’t remember seeing a
lot of pictures of Jesus with a smile on his face. In other words, if I were to ask you to make a list of the people in your life who you know to be most
joyful and most happy, I don’t know if Jesus is gonna
be on the top of your list, but Jesus was a happy person, you guys. He was a joyful person. He was happy! Even though a lot of the pictures we have, we got moody Jesus into
some of our paintings. We got moody Jesus, we got floating Jesus, we got crown Jesus with that
yellow disk behind his head, we don’t know what’s going on there, we got no sleep Jesus, his eyes are always droopy. Even though when you read the Gospels, the man was asleep inside of a boat in the middle of a storm, Jesus knew how to take a good nap. I don’t think he had a problem sleeping. And then we got super skinny Jesus too where you see his rib cage all the time. But his accusers called
him a glutton, you guys. And some of you even said,
when you read the Gospels, Jesus is either leaving a
party, on his way to a party, or talking at a party. The man Jesus knew how
to have a good time. He was a happy person. He was a joyful person. And the reason why he was is because he perfectly
reflected his father. He mirrored his father. Look what he says there. Look how he describes heaven and his father here in Luke
15 there, and he notes: In the same way, there
was more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who
repents and returns to God than over 99 others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away. What a picture of heaven! It’s a party! It’s a celebration! The father is happy. Get this. God is the happiest
person in the universe! You cannot find a happier
person than God himself. And Jesus reflected that. Because to understand
joy is to understand God. He is joyful. And Jesus brought that joy. Notice how he develops this
teaching as he grows in ages, and when he’s talking
to his disciples there in John Chapter 15. It says when you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you these things, this is why Jesus teaches us, so that you will be filled with my what? Joy. Yes, your joy will overflow. Not only has joy arrived to us, but it’s available to us. We can have the joy of Jesus. It’s available to us, the joy of Jesus. Man, he was happy, so happy kids loved him! Think about that, kids love Jesus! When you read the Gospels, the disciples would get so upset. They would be throwing kids off him. Now, you know kids don’t
go to grumpy people. And for some of you in here, you’ve been asking yourself for years, why don’t kids like me? Christmas just gave you your answer. He was a joyful person. And here’s the good news that the Angels were announcing, here’s the gospel in a nutshell. God, the happiest person in the universe, became a human being in his son Jesus. God. The infinite one became an infant child. The uncreated creator joined his creation. For many years, Christians have
called this the incarnation. It’s an important part
of the Christmas story, God comes to us and joins us as one of us. It’s hard for us, man. Even now, it still boggles our mind to think that God would become
a person like you and I. And so to help us understand
this Christmas story, let me just give you a real brief analogy from another story, my favorite story, the “Star Wars” story. Luke Skywalker, not gonna
ruin the new one for you, you can go see it, but how will Luke Skywalker
ever know who George Lucas is? And some of you are like, I don’t even know who George Lucas is. That’s okay. George Lucas created all of “Star Wars”. He created the whole universe, the whole world of “Star Wars”. George Lucas created the
character Luke Skywalker. He’s the author. The only way that Luke Skywalker, the Jedi that we all know, will ever know his creator George Lucas is if George Lucas writes
himself into the story and becomes a character in his own story. And that’s what Christmas is all about. God writes himself into your story. Your joyless story is charged with joy with this announcement that God is here and joy is available to you. That’s what Christmas points us to, and that’s what you and I are invited in to experience right now. That’s the arrival of joy. Now, here’s why we need this kind of joy. That’s the second thought. The need for joy is because of this. This kind of joy allows us, listen now, to be more happy in God and
not so much in outcomes. More happy in God and
not so much in outcomes. When you think about this story, the Christmas story, the birth of Jesus, nothing here is ideal. (chuckles) None of it is ideal. These are not the outcomes
that Joseph had in mind when he was told he had
to go back to his hometown to be registered with the government ’cause he gets back to his
hometown and he knows no one. They gotta stay in an inn. This is certainly not Mary’s idea. These are not the outcomes
that she has hoped for either: to give birth in a strange town. Even if you and I are just
watching this from the sidelines, I don’t think any of us are like, whoa, wow, this is God’s plan, yup. No! We’d be like scandal! This is a problem! We certainly wouldn’t be
announcing joy at this event, but God does. Regardless of what the outcomes look like, regardless of what the circumstances are, this is why you and I
need this kind of joy because it’s a joy that
goes beneath circumstances, deeper down than just circumstances. Look what the psalmist says there in your notes from Psalm Chapter 4. He writes, “You have given me greater joy “than those who have abundant harvests “of grain and new wine.” Now, check this out just for a second. He’s saying those who have wine, that’s a good thing, you can celebrate, and those who have a full harvest which is a way of saying
you’re provided for, things are going well for
your life, that’s all good. In other words, there are
real times for you and I when things are going right and we feel like life as well and I’m full that we should celebrate. We should be happy. That is not a bad thing to do at all. It’s a God-given desire. And it’s important that
when things are well, we celebrate, we’re happy. But notice what he says, you,
God, have given me greater joy than those who have everything
going right for them. In other words, there’s a
brand new level to this. And joy is a feeling, yes. It is an emotion, yes, but it runs even deeper than just that. Joy is a status of a heart. It’s a position we have. You see, joy is this. Joy is an inner happiness that
God is God no matter what. It’s an inner happiness that God is God no matter what’s going on. Whether it’s great, that’s
fine, I’ma celebrate, I’m gonna enjoy, I’m gonna take it in, or even if it’s difficult,
even if it’s painful, even if it’s very much a challenge to be excited about anything,
especially Christmas, joy is still very permanent. Because what the psalmist says, the Apostle Paul continues to develop as this story of the Bible goes on. Notice what he says
there in Philippians 4: Always, some of y’all
should circle that word. That’s your Christmas gift this year. Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again, rejoice! Rejoice! In other words, it’s not just
something that we can hope for but it’s a command that’s given to us. You should take joy. Take joy. He later goes on and says, even when we’re sorrowful,
we’re always rejoicing. ‘Cause I know a moment ago when I said that Jesus
was the happiest person, some of you were like, psh, no, he wasn’t. He was a man of sorrow. He was acquainted with grief. And that is very true. But you know what? He was both at the same exact time. Joy can sit with sorrow. Joy can sit with pain. Happiness can be present
in the midst of loss. It can. That’s why you and I
need this kind of joy. And I’m even noticing this in my own life. I’m growing into my 30s now, and I realized when people
ask me the question, hey, Fredo, how are you doing? That’s a lot more of a difficult question that I ever thought. Because if I’m being honest, and someone says, hey, how are you doing, well, I’m doing good. There’s a lot of things in my life that I should be celebrating, a lot of things for me that I should be taking joy in right now. And at the same time, there’s a lot of stuff that
I’m still dealing with. And that’s just me. We’re just talking about me. ‘Cause there’s other stuff too going on with friends
of mine, family of mine. When someone says how are you doing, there’s both a moment of, well, I’m good, and then also a moment we’re
like, I’m not so good as well. I’m good and I’m bad. And I think you and I can both resonate with that understanding that you can be both joyful and sorrowful, happy and hurting. That’s why you and I need
this joy that God offers. I’ve seen this man in an amazing way. There’s a lady at my church
at Santos Church Palm Avenue who, just months ago,
had to bury her mother, lost her mom. And this will be her first
Christmas without her mom. I know that’s why holidays
are difficult for a lot of us because we are reminded
again of the people who we aren’t celebrating with, the things that we once
had, we no longer have. I saw her last weekend at church and she was excited not
just to see me on the patio but she was excited because
she had invited her neighbors for the very first time to
church and they joined her, in the same church where she said goodbye to her mother at the funeral. She’s there, joy and
sorrow present together. It’s possible. It’s possible. And this doesn’t mitigate the pain. We don’t pretend it’s not there. We don’t cheapen it. And as Christians, we don’t certainly
invite more suffering in but we at least acknowledge
that through God and in his happiness, you can have both. Both can be very present. And if you want to experience this, I’m telling you right now, you need to let go of the
outcomes you need to have. If your happiness is completely dependent on life going the way
you think it should go, you are going to ruin yourself. Let go of the outcomes. You gotta let ’em go. Release them. There is a happiness that is not dependent on things going the way
you think they should go. And man, I was probably struck by this more than ever this week when I felt like I heard
God so just clearly tell me, Fredo, my joy can sit with your sorrow but my joy cannot sit
with your impatience. And that message came to me, that joy from God came to me in the form of my wife’s arm, in bed. Not that kinda moment, (audience laughing) but another moment. You see, for me, I’m a man of routine. Every day, I like to do
the same boring thing over and over again. It’s how I can control my life and how I get the outcomes I need. And the morning is a precious,
sacred window of time for me. Even with two crazy young kids, it is an act of God that we
get out of the house alive and that they’re at school. But man, one morning, this has just been happening
over and over again, Ashley has just noticed my impatience. I wake up, nothing’s even going wrong yet. I just jump out of bed,
my eyes are wide open, I’m just like, what’s wrong? What’s happening? That morning, she felt the tension already and she just caught me. She said, just chill. Stop. Relax. And in that moment, we
actually had less time to get Eli ready for school, he had more homework to do. Amen. Just her arm smacking me was
enough to release the outcomes, release this need of mine to
control every single moment. I can’t do it and neither can you. You cannot do it. You cannot control everything
that happens to you. You cannot control what happens
to the people around you. You cannot be God, and you know what? That is a very good thing. Because God is here so be happy in him. Be happy in him. Release the outcomes. Release this need to control so much and you’re gonna notice
the joy of Christmas start to bubble up I think
in a fresh way for you. If that’s why we need it, let’s talk about how we experience. The experience of joy looks like this. It begins with this
question for you and I: where is your happiness? Right now, where is your happiness? In other words, can you locate
where your happiness is? Because what the Bible strangely tells us is that the journey to
experiencing more joy starts on the pathway to confess sin. I know that sounds weird. The idea that you would confess
sin as a means to more joy but that’s actually how it works. Confess sin! Notice what the psalmist says here. Oh, what joy for those whose
disobedience is forgiven, whose sin is put out of sight, yes, what joy for those whose record the Lord has cleared of guilt and whose lives are lived
in complete honesty, joy for those who confess sin. Now, I know this is strange
because a lot of us, maybe for some of you, you’ve grown up in a
very religious setting where confession just felt
more like a self-pity party. Look what I’ve done. Look what I need to change. Look what I need to get better in. And instead of experiencing
joy, you just get more guilt, more shame, more of a reminder
that you are not enough, not so in Christianity. This is why we are so different. This is why the gospel, the good news of God is
so radically different than every other religion
because confession is a doorway into more joy. More joy so confess sin. And here’s what confessing
sin looks like for all of us. It is you and I finding
our happiness and realizing you and I have been trying to be happy in all of the gifts of
God but without God. That’s what we do. That’s what we do. I’ll take everything you’ve
made, God, except you. It’s a lot like this, man. If just imagine with me for a moment, let’s fast forward a few days and let’s get to Christmas morning. And let’s say you’re with me at my house. It’s small but we’ll make it work. And you’re watching us open gifts. And my wife Ashley brings out
the last gift and she says, hey, this is for you. I get my gift. I see it, my eyes light up, I grab it, I hold it tightly, I
tear open the wrapping, I enjoy it, I take it
in, and I just say mine. And then I look up at Ashley
and I say, you can go. Leave. You can go now. That’s what we do. That’s sin. And she’s sitting over there, well, wait a minute, wait a minute. Fredo, this is for you, yes, but this is something that
we can enjoy together. Nah, you can go. I’m good. I’m good. That’s sin. That is you and I trying to be happy in everything that God has made for us except rejecting him. We do this in our marriages. You’ve built a marriage around happiness but without God at the foundation and that is why you are at
where you’re at right now. You’ve built a career with the desire to make money, be happy, and that is why you feel
the way you do right now. Your relationships, man, you treat people solely on the basis of does
this person make me happy, and that is why you’re at
where you’re at right now. Yeah, you’re good with God’s gifts but to hell with God. That’s confessing sin and acknowledging where we
have misplaced our happiness. So locate it and confess it and actually find more joy
in him ’cause it’s there. This is what it is. Man, maybe even if you haven’t
even been in the church, for a while, you’ve been
on the outside looking in, and you think this idea of following Jesus is so restricting, the Bible seems so narrow-minded, and becoming godly really just means you’re becoming more grumpy, but that couldn’t be
further from the truth. Psalm 112 says, “Happy are
those who fear the Lord.” Happy! Blessed are those who
delight to do what he does. Man, holiness and happiness are friends! They’re not enemies. The idea that you would grow
and become more like Jesus is the same path to becoming happy. It’s the same. So God, maybe, man, isn’t it not just so far-fetched to think that this Christmas,
God wants you happy? God wants you happy in him. He wants you full of joy in him. And that is not an enemy of growing and becoming more like him. They’re friends, holiness and happiness. They go together. They go together. And here’s how you know you’re
beginning to experience it. You share it. Lastly there in your notes, you share joy, the sharing of it. And in sharing it, you invite others into this
same kind of happiness. You invite ’em in. You’ll remember from
our story the shepherds. Once they hear this news,
they go and confirm it. Let’s go and see. Let’s go see if this is true. Maybe that’s why some of you
are here at church right now. You’ve come in, you wanna
see if this is true. Let me see for myself. And they go. They go to the manger. They’re amazed at what they see. They’re so amazed by what they see, they go and they tell
everyone else about it. And the people who hear
about this good news, they’re astonished, they’re amazed. You see, this is how you know that you are beginning to experience joy because it spills out
into your relationships. You share it with other people. Happiness is best given
away to somebody else. It’s best shared. Joy is always best shared. So who is your joy gonna share with? Who’s gonna come to church
because of your joy? ‘Cause I would imagine that you are here. You found your way to Jesus, you found your way to church because at some level,
somebody else had joy and you didn’t know what to do with it. You couldn’t write it off. Because that’s why I
think it’s so fascinating that God chose shepherds first. If you really wanted to convince the world that he is who he says he is and that Jesus is who he says
he is, go tell the palace. Go tell the popular crowd. Go find the person in Bethlehem
whose social media accounts got the blue check next to their name ’cause they’ll follow them. They got tons of followers. They got tons of influence. They’re popular. Don’t go to the shepherds. They got 15 followers on Facebook and half of them are just their family, so they don’t really even count. But I think, this could be wrong, but I think the reason
why God chose shepherds is because regardless of how people might
write them off in society because of their status
and their position, the one thing they could
not write off is their joy. Couldn’t write off their joy. It was evident. You might think Jesus is silly, you might find church outdated, but what you cannot deny about
Jesus’ followers is our joy, and joy is like a magnet, man. It brings people in. Keeps them curious. Keeps them asking questions. Go and see. Go and see Jesus. I know you got questions. I know you got issues. You got problems. You think we believe this, you think we act like this, but just go see Jesus. Go to him. ‘Cause he’s given me a joy that I don’t even know what to do with but just to tell you about. That’s how you know you’re
beginning to experience it, you share it with others. And look what Mary does though. ‘Cause the shepherds talked about it but Mary thought about it. They talked to other people but notice, Luke says that she kept thinking about it over and over and over again. I love that because you
and I are like Mary. Christmas comes every year, at the end of every year, the
same thing, the same songs, the same decorations, the same tree, and at some point, it becomes so familiar you don’t even recognize it anymore and joy is almost impossible
for you to experience. But you know what? You need to keep thinking about it. Keep thinking about it. That’s what Mary did. She kept treasuring it in her
heart is what the text says. Some talked about it, others treasured it. That’s how you know you
are experiencing joy. You need to keep thinking
about the Christmas story, think on it until your heart is full and you can’t shut up about it. Because notice what the angels do. After they’re done telling
the shepherds what’s happened, they break out in a song. Glory to God in the
highest and peace on earth to all those whom God is pleased with. Angels don’t need a savior,
y’all, but they sing about him. Angels don’t need a messiah
but they’re excited about him and they’ve been around for
a lot longer than you and I, they know way more than you and I, but they can’t stop
singing about Christmas. And why are you and I in here, we just can’t stop thinking about lunch? What are we missing? What do we not know that they know? They know that God is here and they know that joy is available and they don’t even need
a savior, you and I do. You and I do. We need this savior. So think about it. You’re bored with Christmas,
think about it some more. Think about it until your heart is full and you can’t stop singing. You can’t stop being excited. And it’s gonna change you. I love how Luke’s Gospel ends. This is the last verse
there in your notes. It says then, Jesus led them to Bethany, lifting his hands to
heaven, he blessed them. You know what that means? Jesus made his disciples happy. While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up to heaven so they worshiped him and
then returned to Jerusalem filled with what? Great joy. And they spent all their time
in the temple praising God. Luke begins his story, the Gospel according to Luke about how Jesus has
come and he brings joy, and then he ends that same story by saying Jesus has now left us but he’s left us with his joy. He’s left us with his joy. And they can’t stop talking about it. How will your joy impact other people? Man, I know I’m standing right here because somebody else
in my life was joyful. Was joyful. And I didn’t know how to account for it. I’ve known this person for
years and now all of a sudden, he’s talking about Jesus? He’s got joy, and it brought me to Jesus. Your joy can do the same. He invites us in. He invites us in to know him, to experience his joy, and so hopefully, like
the shepherds, like Mary, and certainly like the angels to sing because we are happy in him. Let’s pray together. Father, would you make us the
kind of people who are joyful, who are happy just like you? God, would you help us
to repent of our sins and confess sin right now to acknowledge that we
have placed our happiness in other things? Would you help us to return
to you this Christmas season and find our life and our
happiness in Jesus alone? And would you give us
boldness to share with others, give us boldness to invite
other people in to this place so that they might come and see this baby who was born to live and to die for them and they might find
their joy here as well. We pray all of these things
in Jesus’ mighty name. Amen. – Sandals Church is a nonprofit that operates from donations
from people like you. When you donate, your money
goes to helping us create places for people to be real all over the world. And as we wrap up 2019,
I would love to ask you to consider giving a year-end donation by going to donate.sc. (techno pop music)

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