Living as People of Joy

Living as People of Joy

The Shepherds – Luke 2:8-20

Mosaic Rockford – Dave Spooner – Dec. 16th, 2018

Intro:

  • We have learned to live as people of hope from the lives of Zachariah and Elizabeth where they continued to honor and serve God their whole lives while God had yet answered their deepest prayer. 
  • We have learned to live as people of love from the life of Joseph as he chose to extend mercy to the one who he thought had hurt and betrayed him.
  • This morning we are looking to the shepherds for how we can live as people of joy in the mundane and special days of our lives.  The joy that I am talking about today is a joy that a foundational element in our existence.  You don’t always see it expressed on the surface of our lives, but it is there sustaining and supporting us and at times exploding forth on the surface of our lives.   
  • Returning to the story, Mary was staying with Zachariah and Elizabeth for three months and returned back home to Nazareth and to Joseph, who she was pledged to marry. Soon after Mary left, Elizabeth gave birth to a son, and they called his name John.  Zachariah regained his voice, was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied the calling and life this newborn boy was to live as one who will “go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him”.  (See Luke 1:39-80)
  • In those days Caesar Augustus (who was the Roman emperor) issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world.  This meant that everyone had to go register in person in the home town of their forefathers.  This, I am sure, caused a major disruption in the lives of the empire as people had to stop what they were doing and journey to these towns.  Joseph was from the line of King David, so he and Mary had to make the long journey to Bethlehem, even though she was ready to give birth. 
  • They arrived safely, however the town was already swarming with people because of the census.  Mary’s labor started and the only place they could find was an animal stable where she gave birth with out the comforts of home and people she knew. (See Luke 2:1-8). 

Luke 2:8-13 ESV

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

14  “Glory to God in the highest,

and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” 

  • One of the ways that we can live as people of joy is having “eyes that see” what God is doing in us and around us.  

Look heavenward

  • These guys, I imagine where having a normal day on the job.  They were doing what they were getting paid to do.  They had probably lived thousands of days like the day they had just lived.  They were average Joes, doing their job.  And then suddenly everything changed when heaven broke into earth in a spectacular way. They responded the way any of us would have responded, with fear.  Could you imagine what that was like for them?  They were in a quiet place out in the country at night under the stars with their sheep settled in for the night.  Perhaps their camp fire was burning low and the meal they’d consumed was settled in their stomachs. And then an Angel appeared to them and the glory of the Lord shone around them, perhaps like a bright light appearing, yep you would be afraid as well.   
  • And this Angel had a message, it was a message of good news of a great joy for all people. A savior was born who is the Christ. And then a multitude of angels suddenly appeared and proclaimed, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”  What a night!!!  This is something they would always remember, the night that heaven broke into earth.  
  • It is safe to say that these men were believers as well.  Because as Jews, they would have been raised in the Old Testament scriptures. They would have known the story of their people and how God had interacted with them in the past and how Angels had played a part of the story.  They would have known the prophecies that predicted a messiah that was to come and save them.  It was safe to assume this because of who they were, their reaction and what the Angels said and did not say (they did not explain all these things to them, nor announced that there was a God, etc.). 
  • Sometimes God breaks into our lives in a miraculous fashion when we don’t expect it. He does so on His time frame for His purpose.  And when that happens, you will not miss it, because He will make sure that you know that it is Him. 
  • And for most of our lives, He is still active and working.  Jesus said, “My Father is working until now, and I am working.” (John 5:17 ESV) But we don’t always see what He is doing.  Sometimes we can’t miss it, and most of the time we have to look for His working.  Your joy will increase when you see and understand what God is doing in you and around you.  But you have to look for it and ask God to give you “eyes that see”.  Because not everyone does.  Jesus told the crowds in the presence of His disciples

Matt 13:14-16 ESV

‘You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive. 15 For this people’s heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.’ 16 But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear.

  • So, I want you, and I believe God wants you, to ask Him for eyes that will see Him, and ears that would hear Him and a heart that is alive, pure and open to Him.  You can’t get this on your own, you need to ask for this.  And if you do, you will see what God is doing and hear what God is saying and in doing so your faith, your relationship, your understanding and your joy will increase both in your every day living, and also the special days of supernatural wonder. 

Luke 2:15-20 ESV

When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. 17 And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

  • The next thing that will help you to live as a person of joy, is to find meaning for your life. 

Find meaning

  • Every person was put on this planet for a purpose.  And when you are living what you were created to do, your joy increases. How do I know this is true? Because of Ephesians 2:10

Eph 2:10 NIV

For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

  • Everyone has been created by God, with His specifications for each one of us.  He did this in Christ Jesus so that we will do good.  And the good He has intently created for us to do.  In order to know what you are to do, look at how He has designed you and then look for the ways that you can do the most good with your design.  The happiest, most joy filled people I know are those who are doing what they are designed and called to do.  The most miserable people I know, are those who are not doing what they are designed and called to do.  
  • The shepherds were shepherds because they were called and equipped to be shepherds. They were shepherds when the angels appeared, and then they were shepherds when the angels disappeared.  Now, if you have seen God working in your life, if you have heard His message of great joy to all people that a savior is born, you also have another purpose to fulfill. That is:   taking that message everywhere you go; talking about what you have seen, what has happened and what you know.  Everyone has purpose and you have a message to deliver while you are living out your life. There is no unemployment in Christ and no un-usefulness.  Ask for discernment for how He made you, look for opportunities to do good, and spread His message as you go.  Live as a person of joy by finding and living your life with meaningful intentionality.  
  • And lastly, choose gratitude, like the shepherds did.  They returned “glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.” 

Choose gratitude

  • Gratitude is a choice, so is your attitude.  People can’t “make you” anything.  You choose how you are going to respond and what “mood” you are going to be in.  If you are in a bad state of mind and have a bad attitude, I want you to first realize what is going on.  And second, change your attitude by choosing to be grateful.  “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you”. 1 Thess 5:18 ESV.  Doing this one thing would significantly change your life and your outlook and increase your level of joy.  Gratitude is a choice.  
  • The shepherds chose to glorify and praise God for all they heard and saw.  Could you imagine one of them complaining saying things like “I can’t believe I was interrupted after a long day of work, just when I was getting ready to sleep, I was scared out of my mind, and then I had to go all the way to town and search for this child in the middle of the night, this was hugely inconvenient and I just want to get back to my quiet life without interruption”.  This is how some of us choose to respond when there is good that comes to us from God. Choose to be grateful for what you have seen, heard and understand.  Bless God for these things and choose to be grateful for them and live from the position of gratefulness and wonder.  This will help you to live as a person of joy.

Conclusion 

  • When you think about the Christmas story, think of Zachariah and Elizabeth, and choose to live as a person of hope.  Think of Joseph and live as a person of love by showing mercy to those who have hurt you. Think of the shepherds and live as people of joy, looking heavenward, finding meaning, and choosing gratefulness. 
  • Ps 68:3 NIV may the righteous be glad and rejoice before God; may they be happy and joyful.