By Stephen Wang
09 Dec. 2012 Sunday
|Sermon: Joy In Jesus||video||audio||doc|
|Worship song: Give thanks||video||audio||lyric|
|Worship song: Joy to the World||video||audio||lyric|
|Worship song: Go Tell It On The Mountain||video||audio||lyric|
ADVENT READINGS and CANDLE LIGHTING
Today is the second Sunday in the Advent season.
We celebrate Advent during the weeks before Christmas Day. Advent means “coming,” and this is about the coming of Jesus into the world 2000 years ago to be our Savior.
The Gospel of Luke in the Bible tells us that an angel appeared to a young woman named Mary. The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.” (Luke 1:30-32)
Later, when Mary thought about all this, she said: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on, all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me---Holy is his name.” (Luke 1:46-49)
Now we will light the first and second candles.
Why are we lighting these candles?
The first candle represents HOPE. The second candle represents JOY. Mary experienced great JOY in knowing that God would bless her to be the mother of the Messiah, Jesus, even though she knew this would also bring her great difficulties.
Jesus’ birth fulfills God’s promises to His people, and begins His great acts of redemption to overcome all evil and bring His reign of righteousness, peace, and JOY. This JOY is for all who put their trust in Him.
The apostle Peter wrote that we also can experience this great JOY in Jesus; though you have not seen Jesus, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls. (1 Peter 1:8-9)
Scripture Reading: Luke 1:26-38
26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”
29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” 34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”
35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called[a] the Son of God. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. 37 For no word from God will ever fail.” 38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.
Good morning. Let us pray.
God our father, it was with great and incomparable and glorious joy that we come to your presence, your holy, holy, holy presence, to worship you, your spirit and your truth; to worship you as our exalted God, the one true living God. Father, we invite your spirit to overshadow, to come upon this place, and to fill this place with your whole measure of your presence, so each and every one of us will experience your glory today. Father, fill us with your knowledge of yourself; fill us with your knowledge of your love; fill us Lord our God with your presence. Speak to us, teach us, transform us. Lord, for those who do not know you here today, and for those who do not know youin this beautiful nation of our country China, we pray that your precious son Jesus’ blood will be sufficient and efficient in saving each and every soul, the souls of our loved ones, the souls of our families, the souls of our friends, and the soul of our nation China. Come, Holy Spirit, and start your work in us, and spread this love of Jesus throughout this nation, that we will be the light to the world, to the ends of the earth. We pray this for your glory, for your exaltation. In the precious name of Jesus, Amen.
Joy In Jesus
The theme for today is Joy in Jesus. But unfortunately I have some depressing news for you. What? Depressing news? What do you mean? Last year, we lost a friend because she was very, very depressed. And so I’d like to share with you some statistics that illuminate a little bit about depression worldwide. It’s estimated that every year we have 450 million people who are depressed to varying degrees. This results in about 850,000 deaths every year. About 150 million people claim disability. And what’s really, really sad is that the fastest rate of increase of depression is not among the old people, is not among the college students, but it is amongthe children. Children. Young children. Apparently, France, US and India have the highest prevalence of the depression; but we live in China, so we are happy. By 2020, the researches tell us that depression would be the second highest, most common disease in the world after heart disease. And if anybody can quantify this, it is estimated that it costs us in trillions. But we know that there is no price to life. We cannot place a price because each and every one of us is extremely precious to Jesus Christ. You are precious, believe it or not. You are infinitely precious more than a trillion dollars, more than seven trillion dollars. You are infinitely precious.
What is Joy?
So that’s the depressing news. Is there any good news there? Is there anything that I can look forward to? Yes, the answer is Jesus. How do we spell “joy?” We spell it in Jesus. J-E-S-U-S, Jesus! That’s how we spell joy. Now, would you like to know how to have joy? Well, let’s have a little bit definition in mind. Someone may ask, but what is joy? Well, that’s happiness, right? I want to be happy! Some people say, a way to look at happiness is that happiness is circumstantial. It is if all the circumstances are lying themselves favorably, I’m going to be happy! I can only be happy when everything lies up favorably. Circumstantial. But I have told you already the definition of joy. The joy is Christ, not circumstances.
Where is God?
So since joy is Christ, how do you get this joy? I’m going to share eventually three points with you to help you and me have this joy not only at church, but every moment of your life. Would you like that? Good, thank you for answering. Now, you know, in 1966, there’s a magazine called Time, and they had a headline, “Where Is God?” The people of God also asked this question. They were enslaved in Egypt. They were exiled under Syria and Babylon. And after the last writing prophet Malachi, there was a 400- hundred-year period of silence. There was no written recorded word of God, and the people began to wonder, “Where is God? Where is God?” After the exile, they were under Persia, then under Greece, under Egypt, under Syria, and now--in the Gospel times--they were under Rome. “Where is God? I thought we are precious. I thought that we are His people. Where is He? Why are we oppressed? Why are we in such darkness and distress?” We know, from last week, Pastor Wu shared with us that we are not a hopeless people. He said that we are a people of hope because in Jesus, we have been given eternal and abundant life. We have hope because He gives us light to understand His word, and we have hope because He gives us the right to become children of God. So even as children of hope, we have something to rejoice in.
Son of Man, Son of David, Son of God
In our passenger today, we are going to divide our passenger into three divisions. Very, very easy. Read it with me: Son of Man. Son of David. Son of God. That’s all you have to remember and you will have joy. We are going to read the passenger together again, and we are just going to pick a few points to understand what this means: Son of Man, Son of David, and Son of God.
Jesus: Son of Man
Jesus is the Son of Man. This was one of what Jesus says favorite, favorite titles. The Son of Man came to seek and to save those who were lost. That is the key verse of the entire book of the gospel of Luke. In Luke 1:26, let’s read it together, one, two, three: “In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin's name was Mary.”
What do we have to rejoice about? All things begin with God. In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel. Was it a man? Was it an accident? But God by his grace, by his sovereign will, starts up the process and breaks the four-hundred-year’s silence by shouting his loudest and living word, “Jesus! Jesus!” After four-hundred-year’s silence, God breaks through and shouts, “Jesus! Jesus!” He did not go to Jerusalem to make this announcement. He did not come to the big cities. He chose a very obscure little town and He chose a very obscure person, a young lady, a poor lady, someone that you would not see would be qualified. But that does not matter, God love to choose the insignificant. He chose this insignificant place and this insignificant lady, and he said: “I will pour my grace upon you, my grace, my incomparable grace.” So what do we have to rejoice about? Not only that God sovereignly broke into history, but he chose the insignificant, he chose the little ones like you and me, to pull out his incomparable righteousness and grace, that's what we have to rejoice about.
Let's move to this next verse. “The angel went to her and said, ‘Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.’” What do we have to rejoice about? In many words, God is with you! Only today? No, always. Only when I come to church? Everywhere. Only when I'm holy? Even when you're not holy. Even when I'm sad? Even when you're sad. Wow, God is with you.
If I recall last year, it's actually a very difficult year for me. I thought ‘Lord I can't hear you, Lord are you still with me? It is so much, it pains so much.’ And then as I stayed silent for a while, God brought my children along, and they started singing, they started singing hymns, and then I began to realize, ‘Oh yes, God is with me. Whether I feel it or not, whether I see him or not.’ The truth exists even if I ignore it. Jesus is the truth, Jesus is the way, Jesus is the life. He is, he is God, and he says: “I will be with you always, even to the end of the ages.” Yeah, I'm so happy, I'm never going to be alone. And even if I cannot see Him, he may bring someone alongside to remind me of Him.
And that's what He did, my children came alongside and began to sing. And it elevated my thoughts, my heart, my affections towards Jesus. And then I was able to see again, not focusing on the dark cloud, but on the sun. The Lord Jesus Christ was shining brightly above the clouds, keeping the same promise that he is with me. It is the same promise for you, every single one of you has that promise. That is what you can rejoice in.
Jesus became one of us so that we could become one with God
So the first principle: Jesus became one of us so that we could become one with God. Jesus became one of us so that we could become one with God, right? Jesus becomes a man, God lays aside, God's son lays aside his glory, empties himself, and becomes a servant, taking on the image and likeness of man, and then He dies on the cross for us. Only a perfect man could die for us for our sins. Only Jesus is perfect, and so only Jesus could die for us. The name Jesus means “Jehovah saves.” God saves, God is salvation. And the Bible tells us that Jesus was the name that God gives his son, because he will save his people, us, from our sins.
We are all born dead
“I don't feel that I need to be saved,” some people tell me, “I don't commit any bad things, I'm ok. I shower, I dress nicely, I try to be nice to everybody…” I have some bad news for you, we are all dead until Jesus becomes our savior, and that is the son of man, the one who takes the sins of the world, the one who came to seek you, to die for you and to save you. “Save me for what?” Save me from the wrath of God that I justly deserve, save me from eternal separation from God that I justly deserve. I deserve it, but God says: “I will send my son to die, so that you do not have to die.” Wow, really? Yes, it is true. It is real. Jesus Christ is the Son of man, the Savior of the world, the Savior of you and me. And he saves us perfectly, completely, and it's guaranteed. Ok, so the heart of man can rejoice because we have a salvation that cannot be taken away from us. So let us pray together on the applications, ok, one, two, three: I adore your matchless mercy and grace. Thank you for coming to die and save me. Forgive my hidden and habitual sins. Use me in any way to make you known. Amen.
Jesus: Son of David
Ok, our second division is son of David. We're going to look at the scripture [Luke 1:32-33] together, ok, and let's read it together, one, two, three:
“He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.”
So it says he will be great, Jesus is exalted above the heaven, He's got the highest name, the holiest name, the highest name, right. He is the son of the Most High. When I hear the word “Most High,” the words supreme and preeminence come to mind. God said of Jesus, that all things are created by Jesus, and for Jesus, and through Jesus. Jesus was before all things, He is above all things. He said that everything I will give to my son Jesus, and everything I will subject to Jesus. So we are looking at Christ here as supreme. Jesus, the son of David is supreme, but He is always a sovereign. In that passage, we note that he will be given the throne of David. God fulfills his prophecy, God fulfills his promise that on the throne of David will be a King forever. And He completes this prophecy and He completes this promise by placing his son on the throne. He is on the throne in heaven, and he will return to reign for a thousand years, and He will be on His Father's throne.
God Always Keeps His Promises
God always keeps his promise, God's words never ever fail, God's promises will always be fulfilled, heaven and earth will pass away, everything around us will pass away, but God's word is eternal. If you are looking for something to hold onto, if you are looking for something to anchor your soul in the storm of life, if you are looking for something that is stable and unchanging, you can hold on to God's words, you can hold on to King Jesus who is enthroned in the heavens above, and the hearts of all the believers. When we think about His kingship, remember again that God fulfills prophecy, that God fulfills his promises, and that God is the rightful place in our life, it is on the throne. He is enthroned. He must be enthroned.
God Always Blesses Obedience
Ok, so our principle for this passage, for this section is: God always blesses obedience. God always blesses obedience. You want to be blessed, then obey. You want to be blessed, then obey. You want to be joyful, then obey. If you want to have this joy that the world cannot take away, then obey. Nothing evil or wrong can ever happen to you if you obey. Because you're the center of God's will. Every time you obey, you are the center of God's will. And so if you are fulfilling God's will, that is the only thing you want to do, that is the only place you want to be. If you want to have this inexpressible glorious joy, you must be saved by the Son of Man, and then you must obey the Son of David.
Ok, he is the King of kings, and the Lord of lords. So let us pray together, the next slide: I worship you, King of kings, Lord of lords; Thanks for always keeping your promises; Forgive my disobedience and disbelief; Help me seek you and your kingdom first. Amen.
Jesus: Son of God
Ok, so we're going to move to the third division, which is the Son of God. So Son of Man saves us, the Son of David rules us, and now we're going to find out about the Son of God.
And we’re going to look at the passage [Luke 1:35] together, so we’ll read it together. OK, 1-2-3!
“The angel answered, ‘The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.’”
We have the Trinity: Spirit, Father Most High, and the Holy One, the Son of God. Trinity. Holy Father, Holy Son, Holy Spirit. We also see that God the Son is powerful--very, very powerful. Almighty. The God who is with us and the God who is for us has unlimited power, unlimited resources. He is rich beyond your imagination. And He desires to show you and display to you the riches of His power and grace and love.
The Son is Fully Man and Fully God
We also notice that this is not just a human who was born. It says the Holy One will be called the Son of God. He is fully man and fully God. He had to be a man so that He could die for our sins, but He had to be God so that he could be our Savior. Only God can save us. Only God is worthy to rule us. And only God is worthy to be worshipped. As God--true God--Jesus is equal to the Father. He has the identical, divine nature. And He has the power and the holiness of His Father. When we see Jesus, we see the Father. If you want to know God, you have to go through Jesus, you have to see Jesus, you have to look to Jesus. And that’s the way God has chosen to reveal Himself.
Only One Way?
Is there any other way? No. He is the only way, the only truth and the only life. He is the only way. But why? Why must he be the only way? Because He is the only perfect man and the only perfect God. But isn’t there any other way I could do this? No. There is no other way. God has been offended. We have committed a crime against God. And God’s standards have been transgressed. We can only come back to God through God’s way. And God has chosen Jesus to be the only way for you to come back. Jesus is the Son of man; He’s our Savior. Jesus is the Son of David; He’s our Lord. And, now, as our Holy One, Jesus is our Sanctifier through His Holy Spirit.
Jesus is our Sanctifier. God is holy, Holy, HOLY! There is no darkness in him. He is light. There is no imperfection in Him. He is pure. There is no evil or wickedness in Him. He is good, He is loving. Perfectly good, perfectly loving, perfectly holy, holy, holy.
We Are All Imperfect
But then, I don’t see perfect Christians. Stephen, you don’t look perfect to me. If you ask my children and my wife, they know how imperfect I am. I am very, very imperfect. So, there Stephen! You are imperfect! I can only come to God because of Jesus Christ, because Jesus Christ says to me that all my good acts, all my righteousness is like filthy rags. The only way that I can accept you Stephen is if you put on the righteousness of my Son, Jesus Christ.
Is that all Jesus? That’s all. That’s all I need to do to be holy? To have Jesus as my life? To put on His righteousness in order to be saved by Him? To obey Him as my Lord and be sanctified through Him, that’s all? Yes.
All You Need is God
You notice it’s all God. God from the start, God until the end. He is the beginning and the end. The first and the last. The Alpha and the Omega. Everything begins by God, is sustained by God, and will be completed by God. So, as the Son of God, He is my sanctifier. So the principle here for this section is, “Our oneness with God determines the eternal import and impact of our lives.”
How Do I Become a Christian? How Do I Have Victory in My Life?
If you are not a Christian, the only way to become perfect and righteous in God’s sight is when you have Jesus Christ as your righteousness. If you are already a Christian, He is the one who is already sanctifying you. Now, if you are wondering, Why don’t I have victory in my life? Why don’t I have joy in my life? Why don’t I have peace in my life? It is because of the imperfect oneness that you may be experiencing with God. Oneness with God is the most important aspect of your Christian life. Because God created you for Himself. God created you to walk with Him and to enjoy the life with Him. He created you for a relationship with Him.
So, if you want to have joy in your life, be one with God. Jesus said, “I am the vine and you are the branches. If you remain in me, I will remain in you.” And through His life in us, He produces the eternal fruit that we desire in our lives to have a meaningful life, a purposeful life, abundant life, and a true life.
Let’s say a prayer together:
I worship you as the only true living God. Thank you for revealing yourself to me. Sorry for worshipping idols above you. May your will be done in my life always. Amen.
Jesus is our JOY!
Jesus is our joy. Joy is Jesus. We have three divisions:
The Son of Man where we see Jesus as our Savior.
The Son of David where we see Jesus as our sovereign Lord.
And we have Jesus as the Son of God, our Sanctifier.
If you want to be filled with joy, Jesus must be your savior. If you want to be filled with joy, you must obey our sovereign Lord. If you want to be filled with joy forevermore, you must be sanctified and wholly one with Jesus. One, one, one with Jesus.
Questions we MUST ask ourselves
I have some questions and I want you to answer in the affirmative:
Will you ask God to forgive your crimes against Him? YES!
Will you enthrone Jesus as your eternal king and sovereign Lord? YES!
And will you make it your life goal to enjoy God and to glorify Him? YES!
I am totally convinced if you have answered yes, yes, yes with all your heart, with all your mind, with all your body, with all your soul, with all your strength, if you have said, “YES, Jesus! Yes, yes, yes! You’re my Savior, you’re my Lord, and you are my God!” then you will have this glorious and inexpressible joy. When people see you, they will not see you. They will see Jesus living in you. “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” [Galatians 2:20] The life I live in the body, it’s by the Spirit that I live. I no longer live by sight, but I live by faith.
You Can Be Happy!
I know that we talked about the bad news--about the depression statistics. You don’t have to be depressed, you don’t have to be sad, you do not have to be unhappy, you don’t have to be separated from God, you don’t have to bear all your sins. You can easily, easily have the joy that we are talking about--this glorious and inexpressible joy. And the way I want to end this is to share one of my favorite verses with you: Isaiah 45:22. Let’s read it together:
“Turn to me and be saved,
all you ends of the earth;
for I am God, and there is no other.”
Turn to Jesus and you will be Saved
You want to be saved? Turn to me, God says!
Who can be saved? All the ends of the earth!
Why can we be saved? Because God said it!
Is there security? Because God said it!
Can it be perfectly done? Yes! Because God has done it through Christ.
If you want salvation, turn to Jesus. If you want joy, turn to Jesus. If you want true joy, obey the Lord Jesus. If you want everlasting joy, be one--wholly one with the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will have this inexpressible and glorious joy. Do you believe that Jesus is savior? Do you believe that Jesus is Lord? Do you believe that Jesus is God? May He be enthroned in this church, in our lives, in this city of Beijing, and in this country of China! He is God. He is God. He is God! Forevermore praise and glory and worship to Him. Hallelujah.