Thursday, December 18, 2014

Christmas Joy

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, "Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him."  When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him.  Matthew 2:1-3

Many songs we sing at Christmas are reminders that Christmas time is supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year. Songs like “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” “Have a Holly Jolly Christmas,” “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire,” “Jingle Bells,” and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” all communicate loud and clear that Christmas time is to be a joyous, trouble-free season

But the truth is that not all of us feel “merry and bright” this time of year.  Sometimes the circumstances of our lives snuff out the “magic” of the Christmas season.  The world doesn’t look like a winter wonderland, just winter.  Disillusionment at Christmas is not an unusual thing. We are bone tired and weary from shopping, Christmas programs at school and church, and one party after another.  We get so hyped up with expectations about what Christmas is supposed to be that often the real thing doesn’t measure up…and we are disappointed.

What can you do this Christmas to avoid disillusionment? How can you improve your level of joy this Christmas? The answer may be found in the story of the Magi (the Wise Men) in Matthew 2. 

The Wise Men
These men had set out on a journey following the star to find this newborn King. From the attitudes of these wise men and the events that surrounded their journey, we see how we can raise our level of joy at Christmas.  They arrive unexpectedly from "the east." They ask their troubling question, "Where is He that is born King of the Jews?" igniting a flurry of activity.  There is the private meeting with Herod, the sudden reappearance of the star, and their worship of the tiny Jesus.

·      Our level of joy at Christmas is directly related to what we seek. 
Have you ever had that kind of experience—when you were disappointed by Christmas because it did not deliver what you thought it would? The problem is not Christmas. It is in our expectations. We are looking for the wrong thing.

The Magi in Matthew 2 show us how to increase our level of joy at Christmas by looking for the right thing.  What was it they were looking for? Verse 2 tells us. They came to Jerusalem and said, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.” They were looking for Jesus. Christmas for them was an opportunity to worship Jesus.  That is what we need to be looking for and expecting this Christmas—an experience of worship, a fresh glimpse of Him who was born King of the Jews. If our goal this Christmas is to worship Jesus, then I doubt very seriously we will be dissatisfied with our experience.

·      Our level of joy at Christmas is directly related to where we look.
We learn from the Magi that there are wrong and right places to look for Christmas. They started by looking in the wrong place.  The Magi went where kings should be born—to the palace of Herod the Great in the capital city of Jerusalem. But what a mistake that was! When Herod heard of the birth of a new king, his jealousy was aroused and he determined to seek him out and destroy him.

The Magi looked in the right place when they looked to God. The trip to Jerusalem was not a total loss. While there they discovered where they should have looked in the first place—the Bible. The scribes in Jerusalem said that according to the prophet Micah the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem. With this new information, they looked again at the star and followed it to Bethlehem until it stood over the house where the child Jesus was living. We can experience joy at Christmas – and all year – when we look for the right things in the right places.

Scripture to Claim: My lips will shout for joy when I sing praises to You; And my soul, which you have redeemed. Psalm 71:23

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