CHRISTMAS 2015 # 3
“THE JOY OF CHRISTMAS” (Philippians 2:1-11)
FBC Earlville 12-20-15 10:30 AM Rev. J.B. Stopford, Pastor
INTRODUCTION Today’s Special: “A Squirrel Funny”
A small town had three churches — and all three were virtually overrun with pesky squirrels.
The first church called a meeting to decide what to do about the squirrels. After much prayer and consideration they determined that God must have wanted the squirrels there, and the church shouldn’t interfere with God’s divine will.
The second church decided that they were not in a position to harm any of God’s creations, so they humanely trapped the squirrels and set them free a few miles outside of town. Three days later, the squirrels were back.
The third church came up with the best and most effective solution: they baptized the squirrels and registered them as members of the church. Now they only see them on Christmas and Easter.
Our word for this Fourth Sunday of Advent is “Joy”. In fact, that is THE word of Paul’s letter to the church at Philippi. Note that it appears 5 times in this brief book (1:4, 25; 2:2, 29; 4:1 in NIV); and “rejoice” appears another 6 times, including the famous 4:4. JOY! It’s a Christmas word. It is a word dear to the church. AND it is the HEART of Who our Savior is. Really? Let’s see how. PRAYER
# 1 CHOOSE JOY (vs. 1-4)
A. The big “IF” (v. 1) The Message says, “ If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care…”
The thought is that the answer to each IF is I HAVE or IT HAS!
Illustration: My freshman/only year at St. Lawrence. We had a 9 pm fellowship at the chapel. We understood this verse. We understood we were one in the midst of a world (SLU) that did not understand God’s love.
Point.: that hasn’t changed much in 40 plus years – the church understands we are one in a world that doesn’t understand, is hungry and empty.
Look again at Chapter 1: words like “servant” (v. 1); “joy” (v. 4); “partnership/fellowship” (v. 5) were intimate to this prospering church – and should be in ours, too
B. The impossible “FAVOR” (vs. 2-4) The Message follows v. 1 with an immediate request, “then do me a favor:”. What would our church REALLY look like if we lived like this? Do all members agree with each other? Are all of us “deep-spirited” friends? Or have we fallen into a rut of saying “well, that’s the way it is, and nothing will change it”.
Aren’t you glad our Savior didn’t think that way? How do I know? Look at v. 5!!!
# 2 JESUS CHOSE JOY (vs. 5-11)
A. He chose the JOY of example (v. 5) – we need to have an attitude – HIS!
B. He chose the JOY of servanthood (vs.6-7)
“I [Jesus] came not to be ministered unto but to minister…and to give my life a ransom for many” (Matt. 20:28)
So what did this servanthood look like? The Amplified Version translates vs. 6-7: “who, although He existed in the form and unchanging essence of God [as One with Him, possessing the fullness of all the divine attributes—the entire nature of deity], did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped or asserted [as if He did not already possess it, or was afraid of losing it]; 7 but emptied Himself [without renouncing or diminishing His deity, but only temporarily giving up the outward expression of divine equality and His rightful dignity] by assuming the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men [He became completely human but was without sin, being fully God and fully man].”
The King of kings became a servant!
C. He chose the JOY of humility (v. 8)
Here are two $64,000 questions: First, WHEN did Jesus first humble Himself? when He was “found in appearance as a man” – THAT is the Christmas story – the JOY OF CHRISTMAS was seen in His JOY OF HUMILITY!
Second, WHERE was He before then? Let’s listen to the Scriptures:
1. At creation (John 1:3) “through Him all things were made…”
2. The Father of eternity (Isa. 9:6) “And He will be called…Everlasting Father”
3. Before Bethlehem (Micah 5:2) The Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem, He “whose origins are from of old, from ancient times” (NIV) “from everlasting” (KJV) The term “from everlasting” is, according to A.R. Fausset, “the strongest assertion of infinite duration of which the Hebrew language is capable.”
4. Before Abraham (John 8:58) “Before Abraham was, I am”
* Thus Phil. 2:8 is a HUGE Christmas verse!
D. He chose the JOY of eternity (vs. 9-11)
See Phil. 1:21-24
Point.: there will be more days in eternity than those we live on earth. So live these days with an eternal perspective!
CONCLUSION When you look at the manger scene, who do you see: Joseph, Mary, shepherds, angels, wise men (who really weren’t there), maybe. How about the eternal Savior humbling Himself to be made in the likeness of man, to become a Servant? THAT’S THE CHRISTMAS STORY!
But don’t stop there…
DO you see yourself? Do you see who you are to be? Re-read vs. 1-5 – you are a servant who gives his life for the brief time he is allotted!
In the hurt that many feel at Christmas, who can we serve?
Jesus is the JOY of Christmas. And in His JOY we find JOY!
CLOSE IN PRAYER