Today, Pastor leads us through the first episode of a three-part series in which we examine a glorious message delivered one night in a field outside Bethlehem, from an angelic host to the lowliest members of society. The long awaited Savior had been born to bring Joy, Glory, and Peace. This first episode centers on the message of Joy.
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Transcript: Welcome to “5 Minutes with Pastor Lutzer.” I’m so glad that you joined us today because I am looking forward to Christmas in a way that perhaps I’ve not looked forward to Christmas for a long time. It’s been a difficult year, hasn’t it—racial tension, political wrangling, and of course Covid? We all know what kind of a year this has been. But we want to back off and be blessed today by the words of the angel to the shepherds. As a matter of fact, this is a 3-part series and each part will be based on what that angel said to these terrified shepherds who received the good news of Jesus Christ. Remember that whenever we are exposed to the Scriptures, it is God’s will that there be transformation, that there will be that which lodges in our hearts.
Well, the first gift I want to talk about today is really the gift of joy. Do I need to even read the passage in Luke Chapter 2? You know that the angel said, “I bring you tidings of great joy.” Well, this joy, of course is independent of circumstances. These shepherds, by the way, were looked down upon by the rest of society. They were definitely the lowly—lowest class, and the angel says, “I am bringing you such good news—news of great joy, which shall be to all people.”
Now, I have to say that this joy that Jesus Christ brings is also independent of politics. Aren’t you glad for that? And the reason we know that is because when Jesus was born, the Jews were under the heel of Rome. Everywhere they went there were Roman soldiers who made demands. There was injustice all over the place, all throughout the country and yet what is it that Jesus Christ brought is the Gift of Joy—gift of joy independent of circumstances, the Apostle Paul is in prison and in the book of Philippi, as he writes to the churches, it is really an epistle of joy—joy because it comes from God to us.
Now, I want to leave you with this thought: this kind of joy is not incompatible with sorrow. Many of you are going through a very difficult time, thanks to all that has happened. Thanks to all that has happened in our society, but also because within your home within your family, you may be struggling and what we need to do is to understand that there is sorrow, but there is also joy. As a matter of fact, Rebecca and I were at a funeral recently and even though there was a great deal of sorrow, there was a great deal of hope and a great deal of joy. Now, I want to leave you with a passage of scripture today because I want you to have something to take with you that I think is going to be transforming. Let me ask you this question. When is the last time you read the book of Habakkuk? And do you remember how it ends? I wish I had time to expound the whole flow of the book. I mean Habakkuk is struggling because the Assyrians are coming to capture Jerusalem and he’s wrestling with God, but at the end of the book, he says these words, he comes to the conclusion, “though the fig tree should not blossom nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail, and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord. (Now, notice carefully) “I will take joy in the God of my salvation.” If we were to interpret that in contemporary terms, it would be this: even though I’ve lost my job, I have no source of income. I don’t know what the future holds. Everything that I have been depending upon has been taken from me, but I will joy in God. By the way is God a joyful God? Of course he is. Now, he’s very complex. We’ve talked about His Holiness and His judgement. But of course, God is a God of joy and that’s why the prophet can say I will rejoice in God. So I leave this with you. Look around and circumstances are against you. Everything that you’ve depended upon has been taken from you. Today we meditate on this and say today I get my joy from God. Well, join us again next time as I talk about the gift of glory that the Angels referred to. But as for today I want to emphasize again: you just go with God.