God with Us Brings Joy

December 15, 2021

Pastor John Hering

1 Peter 1:8-9

1 Peter 1:8-9

Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not see him now, yet by believing in him, you are filled with a joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, because you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Has anybody every gotten a puppy for Christmas?  I’ve never seen it happen, but evidently it’s like getting a new pickup for Christmas!  I get it.  Puppies are super-cute, tiny, cuddly fuzz balls.  So, how do you wrap it up?  Just a red bow around it’s next?  Or do you put it into the box with some puppy treats and hope is doesn’t bark until opened up?  Then once the puppy is given everyone has to adore it, pet it, and probably get some cute puppy kisses.  Then you have to carry it to the neighbors, drive with it to the relatives or friends—or to the store because you want to show your new puppy with everyone you can.  Oh, what Joy!

Tonight we’re going to talk about Joy!  This Joy From God is life changing and uncontainable. When you’ve experienced this joy, you want to share it with as many people as you can. Joy bubbles over and infects everyone!  During our Wednesday evening Advent worship we have been talking about “God With Us Bringing Gifts of hope, love, and tonight, JOY.

God With Us Brings Joy

That Changes Our Lives

The account of Christmas begins in the New Testament with talking about Zechariah and Elizabeth. They are the parents of John the Baptist.  While was serving in the temple Zechariah received a visit from the angel: Do not be afraid, Zechariah, because your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear a son for you, and you are to name him John. 15 because he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to drink wine or beer. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb (Luke 1:13-15).  What added to the shock of talking to this angel was the shock that they were going to have a baby, even in their old age.  Zechariah doubted the angel’s words and he was unable to speak until John was born and Zechariah named him, “John” then his voice returned.  Can you imagine his JOY?!

Compared to Zechariah, Elizabeth’s joy would have even been greater.  First, it was considered and disgrace to have no children, for that meant the promised Messiah would not be coming from your family tree.  Children allowed the family to pass on the heritage and the family name. (My dad was worried about the Hering name continuing after him, being the only boy in his family.  We took care of that).  Also, children were so important to help around the house, learn the family trade, and take care of elderly parents.  Truly, children were a great gift from the Lord!  What a JOY!  But, up to this point, not for Elizabeth.

Then God showed up with his gift of JOY and changed her life. 24 After those days his wife Elizabeth conceived. She kept herself in seclusion for five months, saying, 25 “The Lord has done this for me in the days when he looked with favor on me and took away my disgrace among the people (Luke 1). It is a bit curious that after she found out about God’s plan and found herself expecting.  She didn’t run around wanting to share her joy like she might have with a puppy, but stayed in seclusion.  Maybe she knew no one would believe her until she was showing?  Or maybe she had been her before and lost her baby in a miscarriage?  Maybe it was her way of sharing her husband’s silence as they lived daily through the miracle unfolding before their eyes.  Whatever the reason, we do know that this blessing of Joy From the Lord Changed Her Life.

Now it was the 6th month.  Aunt Elizabeth received a surprise visit from Mary.  39 In those days Mary got up and hurried to the hill country, to a town of Judah. 40 She entered the home of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. 41 Just as Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 She called out with a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! 43 But why am I so favored that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 In fact, just now, as soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy! 45 Blessed is she who believed, because the promises spoken to her from the Lord will be fulfilled! (Luke 1).  Elizabeth’s silence is broken.  The baby leaps in her womb and she pronounces God’s blessing to Mary.  The puppy was out of the box.  Joy was flowing and it was also contagious.   Mary burst into her own song of thanksgiving that we call the Magnificat. 46 Then Mary said, My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, 47 and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior, 48 because he has looked with favor on the humble state of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed, 49 because the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name.  God Brought these Women Joy That Changed Their Lives.  Already, Immanuel, God With Us was unleashing Joy To the World! 

What would you give to know such joy?  Perhaps there is no greater earthly joy than for a mother to hold her newborn child.  For Elizabeth and Mary the joy went through the roof.  It was a miracle of a lifetime.  It was a miracle that healed disappointment, hurt, disgrace and pain.  But, it was only the beginning of the miracles these women would witness during their lifetime. You realize that while these women enjoyed this joyous occasion, there was Greater Joy to have.  It is such a great joy

That It Can’t Be Silenced

In our lifetime it is highly unlikely that we would see such a miracle that happened to Elizabeth and Mary.  But, there is a JOY that is even greater than the JOY That Changed Their Lives.  It is the JOY that is brought into our world by Jesus.  God With Us Brings the Greatest JOY in Jesus Christ.  This is the joy St Peter wrote about in tonight’s Word of God. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not see him now, yet by believing in him, you are filled with a joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, because you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.  Peter says you are filled with a JOY that is inexpressible and Filled with glory!  This is a JOY that is way greater than getting a puppy or a new truck for Christmas!  This JOY runs much deeper than happiness. 

We all like to be happy.  But, you know happiness comes and goes as the circumstance change.  You can be happy at a party, listening to your favorite Christmas tunes, a perfect summer day on the beach, a great time with your friends, winning a big game, eating a delicious meal, etc.  These are all wonderful things that make us happy.  But, they all disappear eventually.  The JOY we’re talking about can include happiness, but it runs much deeper.  The JOY we have in Jesus is greater than the birth of a child, your wedding day, or being free of cancer.  Our JOY has its source in the Lord God that comes to us.  Yes, us who deserve only his wrath.  Yes, to us sinners who have no right to be in heaven someday.  Yes, to us who way too often spend way too much time worrying about the things of this world, rather than our relationship and life with God.  To people like you and me God comes with his gift of his Son, Jesus Christ.   Can you express how JOYFUL you are in Christ?  Really?  Can you tell me how glorious it is that God has declared you not guilty of all your sins by the blood of Jesus Christ, made eternal heir of heaven through faith in him, and all of this by his grace?  Can you?  Maybe we should try singing the “Hallelujah Chorus” right now!   This JOY only comes from God because of the saving work of Jesus Christ from birth, life, death and resurrection.  It is a JOY that is inexpressible this side of eternity, but it is a JOY that Can’t Be Silenced!

I hope you noticed something about the JOY we receive from God With Us.  This joy doesn’t depend on your circumstances.   We are studying James on Sunday morning and are stunned to her him say, Consider it complete joy, my brothers, whenever you fall into various kinds of trials, because you know that the testing of your faith produces patient endurance. And let patient endurance finish its work, so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything (James 1:2-4).  God With Us Brings Joy that is much more than meets the eye.  God is at work to bring us eternal JOY even during the toughest times of our life.  Therefore we patiently place our trust in God knowing that he will see us through everything.  Yes, your Gift of JOY from the Lord does not depend on your circumstances, but on Jesus Christ!  This is the message of JOY we will hear from our children next Sunday (I won’t spoil it for you now!). ?

  This is JOY that Can’t Be Silenced.  It is a JOY that God brings to us through the Gospel in Word and Sacrament.  For God’s people this means JOY for you is a Spirit led Choice and a Spirit led Action.  When Elizabeth and Mary met their joy could not be silenced.  Remember what the Holy Spirit led Mary to choose to say? My spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.  She embraced the Gift of Joy from her God and lifted her voice so all generations would hear the Good News!  This was Good News that filled her heart that Couldn’t Not Be Silenced.

In a few days we are going to unwrap Jesus Christ, God’s Christmas gift to us once again this year.  Like Elizabeth and Mary our hearts are filled with JOY because we know what all God has done, and continues to do for us.  Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not see him now, yet by believing in him, you are filled with a joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, because you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls. God With Us Brings JOY – That Changes our Lives & that Can’t Be Silenced.  Raise your hearts and voices filled with God’s Gifts of Hope, Love and tonight, especially Joy! Amen!

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