Christmas Has Spectacular News For Every Age

Understanding the link between true joy and patience.

James Greer
Dec 23, 2018    24m
In his Christmas sermon Pastor James Greer teaches about the link between joy and patience. He uses two couples from the Christmas story to illustrate the link, Zechariah and Elizabeth, and Joseph and Mary. A lot of the problem with struggling to find joy is worry. When we are worried we struggle to control things around us, and this robs us of our joy. So we need to surrender worry, this is where patience comes in, specifically biblical patience. When we surrender our worries to God, and have the patience to believe he will take care of things as he has promised to, our lives will become filled with joy. Video recorded at Pineville, Louisiana.

messageRegarding Grammar:

This is a transcription of the sermon. People speak differently than they write, and there are common colloquialisms in this transcript that sound good when spoken, and look like bad grammar when written.

James Greer: 00:01 That's fantastic. Let's pray. Father, we thank you for this time of season. We thank you that it reminds us of the birth of one, that you love this so much to give us your son. God, you said in Luke, you told us when we come to this point, not to worry about what we're going to say, but allow the Holy Spirit to lead us. God, I pray today that you would give me your words. I pray that the people here would be receptive. God, I pray that we could enjoy our journey to you. It's in Christ's name I pray. Amen.

James Greer: 00:28 Hey, I want to shout out to Alexandria, but I also want to take a minute and remember Darrell. Darrell's at home with his dad, and his dad's going on to be with the Lord. But I got a message from him while ago. He said, whatever happens, I want it to be the best Sunday ever. Isn't that something? And he's there. So let's pray for Darrell and his family right now. Father, I pray for comfort for Darrell and his family. I pray grace for his father. I pray that you would have the right people to come around about them, God. And I know that you said that you have a comfort that surpasses all understanding, I pray that on their lives, it's in Jesus' name I pray. Amen.

James Greer: 01:05 Well, good morning Journey Church, Amen. What I want us to do is I want to wish you merry Christmas, but I want to talk about a journey to joy. I mean, it's absolutely amazing when you really start thinking about the Christmas story, all that God did to bring Jesus to us. I mean he gets the Virgin Mary pregnant, to where he can bring a sinless son. He takes Zechariah, Elizabeth, and they're old in age and they become pregnant where they could have John the baptist, the pre-runner of Jesus Christ. So we're going to say, hey, the joy that we're going to learn today is going to be what goes on in us, not around us. It's so important that you understand that Zechariah and Elizabeth, they were older in life, but they learned how to have a journey to joy late in life. Mary and Joseph, there were a young couple, so they learned how to have a journey to joy as a young couple. There's two keys to learning to have a journey to joy.

James Greer: 02:08 One is you have to know that joy's what's going on inside of you, not around you. If you continue worried about what's around you, and what's happened to you, you'll miss the joy and the season of Christmas. The second thing is you got to learn to believe God's word before it comes about. I mean, if there was anybody that had circumstances that could have brought defeat and discouragement, it was Mary and Joseph. They were engaged, and she becomes pregnant, and she has to tell her fiance what has happened to her? And if you looked at everything that had happened, it could've brought discouragement and defeat, but instead they learned to believe what God said was going to happen before it ever happened. And therefore what happened in them was more important than what happened around them.

James Greer: 02:54 So it's so important that you understand what worry is. Worry is really a control issue. I mean, when I worry it's because I'm trying to control something. I mean I'm trying to control an outcome, I'm trying to control who's here, I'm trying to control the decisions they make. See, worry is a control issue, and worry then robs our joy. But you're going to learn later on, surrender is a God issue, and it swallows up all the worries. So it's a spectacular news for every age today, it doesn't matter if you were older or younger or in between. God really took what looked like a mess in every one of their lives, and turned it into an unbelievable miracle.

James Greer: 03:36 So we're going to really look at four characters today, we'll be looking at Zechariah and Elizabeth, they were, the older couple. We will be looking at Joseph and Mary, they were the younger couple. That's why I say Christmas has something for every single age. See, Elizabeth was very old and they had been praying, they'd been wanting kids, they'd been wanting kids, and they couldn't have them. Her husband, Zechariah, he was a priest. He was in a temple doing what God called him to do, and God sent an angel and said that your wife is going to be pregnant. And it tells us you're never, never too old to be used by God. See, if you're not dead, God's not done. Amen? But you can look at Mary and Joseph, and you're never too young. See, She was probably just a teenager, but see the story about Zechariah and Elizabeth is not only the miracle that she got pregnant, but she was going to have a son that was going to be used greatly by God. In fact, in Luke chapter one, verse seventeen, it says this, and he (Talking about John the Baptist.) will also go before him, (Jesus.) in the spirit and the power of Elijah."

James Greer: 04:40 He said, man, not only is she going to be pregnant, your child is going to be the forerunner of Jesus Christ. He's going to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient of wisdom to the just, and he's going to make ready the people prepared for the Lord. So see, the miracle was not only was she going to get pregnant, but she was going to have a son that will use greatly for joy. See, that hasn't happened yet. When they heard the story, when the angel appeared and told them what was going to happen, she didn't have the child yet. And so it's so important, because part of your journey to joy is believing what God says is going to happen before it happens. In fact, in Luke chapter one, verse 14, it says this, "And you're going to have joy." What are you going to have? Joy. Now he said, you're going to have joy, John the Baptist wasn't born yet. "Not only are you going to have joy, you're going to have gladness, and many are going to rejoice at his birth." Can I tell you, Christmas is all about joy. God was saying, listen, I'm going to bring joy to Zechariah and Elizabeth, I'm going to bring joy to Mary and Joseph, and God wants to bring joy to you. Amen? See joy and gladness to Zechariah and Elizabeth was a result of what God told them was going to happen, before it happened. You got to understand if you're really going to get through times, if you're going to have joy, you got to let God's promises and God's word bring joy to you. Yes, God wants us to have joy in spite of what's happening around us, because what happens in us, Zechariah and Elizabeth, they were getting very old, and didn't have any children, but God told them, hey, you're going to have a child, and that brought joy and gladness. See, I don't know what you're going through today, but I want you to have a word from God. God wants this Christmas for you to have joy and gladness. And here's the word, if God could cause Elizabeth and Zechariah to have a child when they're older in life, God can take care of you, and answers your prayers in life. See, they had been praying and praying and praying and praying. I think they had even kind of get started getting discouraged, they start saying, is God going to really ever give us this child? Is is my prayer going to ever be answered? And they had disappointed that that hadn't had one yet, but see what God did, he took their disappointment and turned into the greatest delight in their life. That's what Christmas is about. God can take your greatest disappointment, and make it be your greatest delight.

James Greer: 07:16 And then he brought spectacular news to Mary, that she was going to be the mother of Jesus. Now when Mary hears that she's going to be the mother of Jesus, she had to feel inadequate. Can you imagine the angel coming to you and said, hey, Mary, you're going to be not only pregnant by the Holy Spirit, but you're going to have the son of God. She had to feel inadequate, we're going to tell you how she handled that and adequacies of her life. In Luke 1:29-30, it says, "And when she (Mary.) saw him, she was troubled at the saying, and considered what kind of manner of greeting is this?" And then 34 says, "Then Mary said to the angel, how can this be, since I've never known a man? See what Mary was doing, she was facing fear, she was facing inadequacies, and you know I'm going to tell you every single person at one time or another will face the same fears that she did. You'll say, I can't be the mother, I can't be the dad, I can't be the child, I can't be the pastor, I can't be the grandfather that I think that God really wants me to be. And you start saying, hey, how can this happen? And we're going to find out in a few minutes what Mary did to allow it to happen.

James Greer: 08:24 Third, we saw Joseph. Joseph was engaged to marry Mary, and he finds out that she's pregnant before they get married. That has to be some disappointments, that had to be some discouragement, but let's read this story about Matthew. Matthew 1:18-20, "And now Jesus, he was the Messiah, was born." You understand, they were waiting for the Messiah? They were waiting for the delivery. They're waiting for God to be with us. His mother Mary was engaged to marry Joseph, but before the marriage took place, while she was still a what? A virgin. She became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit. Now I will tell you in that something? Before she got married, she's pregnant by the Holy Spirit. Now let me tell you what, that would discourage somebody, Amen? But Joseph, whom she was engaged to, he was a righteous man, and he didn't want to disgrace her publicly. Now most of us would want to kill her. Anyway, so he decided to break the engagement off quietly. But you know what? As he considered this, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. Can I tell you something before I finish reading? One of the reasons that God blessed them, because Joseph was going to do the right thing, even before he understood it was a God thing. God will bless you when you decide I'm going to do what's right, in spite of what looks like, what might be wrong. Joseph son of David, this angel said, don't be afraid to take Mary to be your wife. Why? For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit.

James Greer: 10:10 Now, can you imagine the fiance, she's pregnant, they've never had a relationship, and she said it's a God thing? And how's he going to explain this to everybody? There's shame, there's gossip, there's criticism that people are going to talk about. People would say, man, are you crazy to believe that story? Can I tell you? You're never crazy to believe what God's word says, Amen. Even when it looked crazy. I told you when I went to Bethlehem, and Tony, I think you're going to get to go pretty soon. But when we're in Bethlehem, I told you that so many of the people there believe that Mary and Joseph, the Inn was maybe Joseph's parents. And when they went there, they were so disgraced and so ashamed because of her pregnancy, they wouldn't even let them stay at their own house. You talk about disapproval, you talk about disappointment, you talk about disgrace, Joseph and Mary went through it. Amen?

James Greer: 11:04 So what I want to do is spend the balance of the time saying, how can we go to journey to joy. Or how can we overcome the disappointments, and disapprovals, and the feeling of being inadequate. Number one, surrender our lives completely everyday to God. I told you earlier, worry is a control issue, worry robs our joy. Surrender is a God issue, and it swallows up worry.

James Greer: 11:35 Step number one, if you want to overcome the greatest problems in your life, if you want to begin the journey to joy, surrender. Mary responded like this, in Luke 1:38, "Mary responded, I'm the Lord's servant, may everything you had said about me come true. And the angel left." Do you understand how powerful that is? Do you understand what Mary said? I want everything that you said about me to come true. See, part of the joy, the journey to joy is learning what God has to say about you. She said, God, whatever you said, and the angel said, I don't want it to come about to me. See, but when you become obsessed with what people think, it's the quickest way to forget what God thinks of you. But when you become obsessed with what God thinks about you, it's the quickest way to stop worrying about what people think about you. Do you understand what God says about you? Do you understand that God says you are fearfully and wonderfully made? Did you know how many people worry about how they look, how they dress, the condition of their body and their faith? God says, listen, first of all, I want you to know if you're here today, you're are fearfully and wonderfully made. Did you know that God said you're a saint? Did you know that he said you're forgiven? Did you know that he said, if you're a Christian and put your faith and trust in Jesus Christ, you're free from any condemnation. Do you know how many people are going around condemning their self? Do you know how many people could have said, look how many people probably condemned Mary and Joseph? But see, you're a saint, you're forgiven, you're free of condemnation, you're anointed, you're chosen, you haven't been given a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind. The Bible says, you can do all things through Christ. You're loved beyond your imagination, and you're totally, totally accepted. Mary said, let all that be done unto me.

James Greer: 13:20 Journey Church, let God speak to you, let it be done unto you what he said about you. See, because God's never going to ask you to do something that he doesn't empower you and give you the ability to do it. God doesn't so much call the equipped, as he equips the called. See, our confidence has got to be in him, and not ourselves. That's what it said in Matthew 1:23, it says, "Behold a virgin shall be with child, and bear a son. It should be called his name, Immanuel. (Why?) Because God is with us." See, you understand what brought the greatest joy was Jesus being with her. Do you understand the journey to joy is always leading to Jesus? Do you understand that Jesus is now with us, he's for us, and he can take care of whatever comes into our life?0

James Greer: 14:34 Second thing. First is surrender your life today. Second of all, we have to learn biblical patience, Elizabeth Zechariah, Mary, and Joseph, they learned to practice biblical patience, and that was their journey to have in joy. See, life's a journey. It is going to be a journey, so you might as well journey to joy. What is biblical patience? It is hopeful endurance. It's a continuing, stay under, remaining, undergoing, a persevering, enduring suffering. Patience is enduring hardship, and suffering, and pressure, and not quitting, not giving up until the task is finished. Patience is all about enduring hardship and staying at the task. Do you know one of the greatest things that Satan wants to do? He wants to bring pressure in your life, and you give up on your God given task before the promise comes. The way that you operate under pressure, is that you know that the promise of God to give you the joy and abundance is on it's way. Hebrews tells us this. Hebrews 10:26, tells us the way to endure under pressure. He says this, "You have need of patience." He didn't say you might, he said, you've got to have need. That after you have done the will of God, you might receive what? The promise. When did they receive the promise? After they had done the will of God. He didn't say, if you need patience. He said, look, since you need patience, once it's done, once we've done the will of God, the promise and the power of joy is going to come upon our life. See it's learning biblical patience, and enjoying God's promises, because all God's promises are amen.

James Greer: 15:36 See, Zechariah and Elizabeth, see they endured even under hardship, and they received the promise of the newborn son who is John the Baptist. Mary and Joseph, they endured patience, they learned that God's promises came, and she became the mother of Christ, and Joseph became to step father of Jesus Christ. Because it says, learn to be patient. You know what I always thought patience was? I thought patience was always the way I responded wrong, and sometimes that is patience. But really biblical patience is when everything comes your way, you want to give up on that marriage, you want to give up on that job, you even want to give up on God. Yet because you know the promise is coming, you don't give up. See that's real patience. You're going to face it in every area of your life.

James Greer: 16:26 One of the translations puts it a different way it says, in the message it says, but you need to just stick it out. Saying, stay with God's plans for you, be there for the promise, it won't be long now, it's on its way. See you understand, patience is not giving up until God shows up, and he shows out. See, we all need that patience, but I want you to know something, the good news of Jesus Christ, the promise is coming. Some of you are tired, some of you are discouraged, some of you are wanting to give up, and God said, I want you to know the promise is coming. What is the promise? The abundant life, the love, the joy, the peace, it's on it's way. What have you been praying for? Don't give up, don't stop praying, don't get discouraged, God said, hey, it's on its way.

James Greer: 17:08 Surrender, learn Biblical patience, you ready? Stop listening to the negative voices that come into your life. When I say negative voices, sometimes they're the thoughts that Satan plants into your mind. I'm going to be preaching on that pretty soon. See, what Satan will do, he'll plant a thought in your mind, and then he'll get you to think it's yours, and then he gets your imagination, and he starts making the problem bigger than it really is. So what we've got to do is replace negative voices with positive voices. Both the people's negative voices, but mainly the voices that you hear yourself. Did you know that that's what Mary did? Did you know when Mary said she was fearful, did you know she afraid, but you know what she did? She started replacing the fear with faith. She started saying in Luke chapter one, verse 46, Mary responded, what did she respond? She responded to what was going on in her life. She responded that she was going to be pregnant. She responded that she was engaged. She responded that, hey, she was fearful. But she said, Oh my soul praises the Lord. Man, did you know when you're discouraged, you feel defeated? One of the hardest things to do is praise God, but one of the greatest things you can do is take the focus off yourself, and put it back on God. She said, oh, how my spirit rejoices that God is my savior, my deliverer, the one that meets every need in my life. And she just kept on [inaudible] for he has regarded the lowly state of this maidservant. For behold, henceforth, all the generations are going to call me, blessed. You see, she started replacing the negative with all the positive that could come in her life. And so she just keeps on and on and on, and says for you're the mighty one, the holy one, he has done great things for me.

James Greer: 18:48 I cannot tell you. God's done great things for you. And if you're not careful, I've done it before. What you start doing is looking at all the bad things that happened to our life, instead of all the great things. And Mary is turning it around, and she says, I'm going to look at the great things that God has done for me. You know what? He shows mercy. Mercy is when God gives us what we need, instead of what we deserve. From generation to generation to all that fear him. I mean, she just turn it on. His mighty arm has done tremendous things. He has scattered the proud, and the holy ones and it just, she just keeps on. She turned a negative into a positive. He has brought down the princes from the thrones, and he's exalted the humble. In other words, even at the end of the service, God says, if you'll humble yourself, you'll do what? He'll lift you up. He has filled the hungry with good things, and he sent the rich away on empty hands. I mean she just going on and on and on and on, and he has helped his servant of Israel.

James Greer: 19:40 Remember, he is merciful and then he says in Verse fifty-five, you ready? "For he made his promise to our ancestors, to Abraham, and the children forever." Do you understand that we're now heirs to the same promise that Abraham was, we're in the new covenant with them. And so what she did first, she said, surrender God, everything you said about me, let it be done to me. God, I'm going to be patient, I'm not going to give up. God, I know that the promises on the way, and the promise is Jesus Christ, and he was on the way. Then she turn the negative into a positive. That is a willful choice you have to make, and then you base your faith and hope on God's promises. Listen to this Luke 1:45, it says, You are blessed. Why? you are happy, you have joy, Because you believe that the Lord would do what he said. How are you blessed? You believe the Lord will do what he says, I don't know what's going on in your life, but you believe that God will do what he says. In other words when times are afraid, trust in the Lord. Whatever you're going through, believe what the Lord says. The real journey to joy is believing God's word before it ever happens.

James Greer: 20:59 So let me close with this. God wants you to overcome your disappointments, your inadequacies, your fears and disappointments. Number one, he wants you today is to surrender your life completely to God. He doesn't want you to worry, he wants you to surrender. When she surrendered, she said, have everything that you said about me, God, come true. And God's word will never return void unto to you. Somebody you need to be patient, you were thinking about giving up, and I don't know what it was to give up on. But God said, don't. God has a word for you, that promise is on the way. Not only the promised Jesus Christ that was on the way, the promise of the abundant life, the promise of the joy. For Zechariah and Elizabeth, they had prayed for years and years and years and years, and now the promise of a son was on the way. Now, so God wants you to know the promise is on the way.

James Greer: 22:41 Fourth, what promise do you need from God this morning? What do you need? See, God has a promise for you. What is the promise that you need to get you through the times that you [inaudible] where you can enjoy joy. Where you can enjoy what's going on in you, not around you. You want to have the best Christmas ever? Start focusing on a relationship of Jesus Christ in you, and not everything that's going around you. When you get ready to walk up to that house, and your in-laws and you're outlaws, focus on Christ in you. See, actually were messengers, the Holy Spirit is with us. So do you have the promised one who is Jesus Christ living in you? If not, there's no better time than today. The whole essence of Christmas is God loves you so much, he gave the greatest gift of all, he gave his son Jesus Christ, that whosoever believes in him will not perish, but have everlasting life. Do you need encouragement this morning, and you need to come, and you just need somebody to pray with you and to pray for you? Do you need somebody to help you find the promise? See it was Jesus that brought the joy. The closer you get to him, the more you focus on him, the more you focus on what's inside, not the outside, the greater joy you can have.

James Greer: 23:12 Would you stand, and let me pray with you, and pray for you? Father, we thank you for your son, Jesus Christ. God, I pray that every one of us could remember the true meaning of Christmas. God, it's so hard, the world pulls us in so many ways, and so many directions. And God, we want to just now be still, and know that you're God. We want to celebrate the love that you have for us. We want to surrender to you today, God. God, we want to claim your promise. For those that are discouraged, God, help them know that the help is on the way. If those that need somebody to pray with them, and to pray for them, help them just to step out. Maybe you're here today and you know this is the church that God wants you to be a part of, and you just want to say, Hey, today's a day that I want to join. Maybe you've never been publicly, biblically, baptized, and today's a day. You said, man, I'm going to make the commitment right here at Christmas, I'll remembered the rest of my life. Now, whatever it is God's called you to, I pray that you'd let him have his will, and his way in your life. It's in Christ's name I pray. Amen.

Recorded in Pineville, Louisiana.
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Journey Church
2900 Donahue Ferry Rd
Pineville, Louisiana 71360