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Good News of Great Joy

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Good News of Great Joy

                           Christmas Eve

                            Luke 2:8-14

 

Our long wait for Christmas is finally over – the countdown complete. And, as did the shepherds on that quiet, still hillside of ancient Bethlehem, we can cry out, “Let’s go see the thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us.” We too can glorify and praise God for all we’ve been told. (Luke 2:15,20)

When the angel of the Lord appeared to the shepherds in the field, he gave them good news of great joy for all people: The long-awaited Savior was born! Then the angel was suddenly "joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God" (Luke 2:13 NLT). This same good news of great joy is for us too! For unto us a Son is given – the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. (Is 9:6)

Let’s read Luke, chapter 2 and verses 8 through 14. I’m reading from the New Living Translation – please turn there in your Bible and follow along as I read.  That night some shepherds were in the fields outside the village, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord's glory surrounded them. They were terribly frightened, but the angel reassured them. "Don't be afraid!" he said. "I bring you good news of great joy for everyone!
The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born tonight in Bethlehem, the city of David! And this is how you will recognize him: You will find a baby lying in a manger, wrapped snugly in strips of cloth!" Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God: "Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to all whom God favors."

The good news they proclaimed that day had to do with much more than Jesus' birth, didn’t it? It anticipated His sinless life, which qualified Him to be God's sacrificial lamb. It looked ahead to His crucifixion on our behalf, His burial in that stone cold tomb and His resurrection, which signaled the Father's acceptance of Christ's payment for our sins. The announcement of good news of great joy also encompassed the idea of His ascension into heaven (Ps. 110:1). And it envisioned the day of Pentecost, when the Spirit would indwell believers (Joel 2:28; Acts 2:17), as well as the time yet to come when Jesus will return as King. The angels rejoiced because the day of salvation was here (2 Cor. 6:2).

Jesus came into our world 200 years ago. He spoke of Himself as the good news of great joy. He spoke about spiritual joy because He wanted His followers, that’s us, to experience the deep satisfaction that is derived from an intimate, personal relationship with God. Such divine contentment, such news of great joy, is not dependent upon outward circumstances but overflows from the indwelling Spirit's presence. Earthly happiness is externally produced and tem­porary and so dependent on circumstances where divine joy is internally generated through the work of the Holy Spirit, with us and in us.

Long ago the angels in heaven rejoiced at the announcement of Jesus' birth, and the shepherds praised God. Today, the angels in heaven rejoice when one sinner bows their heart before the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Have you done that? Have you given your heart, your life, your all to Jesus? If you haven’t, you need to know He stands at the door of your heart right now, knocking (Rev 3:20). If invited, He will come in, and bring a special gift for you this Christmas – the gift of eternal life in heaven with all the saints that have gone before. You don’t have to know all that’s written about God. You just have to know that you need a Savior – Jesus, the Christ, Immanuel – God with us. Do you know my LORD? my Jesus? Is He your LORD and Savior? He can be. All you have to do is bow with me and pray this simple prayer: Lord Jesus, I believe You are the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. I know I am a sinner and need your forgiveness. Forgive me LORD Jesus  and come into my heart and life to be my Savior. Thank-you LORD.

If you prayed that prayer sincerely, you are now a child of God. You have received eternal life. The angels are rejoicing and spreading the news of great joy – another sinner has begun their walk on streets of gold. Thank the LORD for your salvation. Thank the LORD for the divine joy that overflows from a Spirit-filled life. That is the good news of great joy for today! Glory to God in the highest, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.

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