How do we experience joy in such a crazy, hectic, often lonely and sad season?
On the weekend of December 5/6 I kicked off our “Christmas at the Movies” series at Christ’s Church of the Valley.
The following is a full HD message about the movie ELF and the topic is JOY!
Since its release in 2003, ELF has become an instant classic.
The movie is about Buddy the Elf, who as a toddler in an orphanage crawled into Santa’s bag of toys and got transported back to the North Pole, where he was raised by Papa Elf.
As Elf grows up it becomes more and more obvious that he is not an elf. He is in fact a human, and his real father, who doesn’t know him, lives in New York City. So, Buddy the ELF, played by Will Ferrell, begins a journey of finding his father and ultimately saving Christmas by convincing people Santa is real.
Buddy the Elf tells everyone he sees that the best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear!
That sounds great – but unfortunately many people don’t experience much joy or cheer this time of the year.
Christmas joy is often buried under busy calendars, wrapping paper, strained relationships and credit card statements.
As David Crabtree wrote, “Christmas Eve will find us lifting up our weary voices to sing, “Joy to the world, the Lord is come.” Then we rush from the service to get one last gift, or visit one last party. So soon it is over. We save the bows, burn the wrappings, strip the tree, and labor over our New Year’s resolutions. Too often we have missed the point. We’re like the man who goes to the coast but never sees the ocean. The threat of a holiday hijacking is all too real. Unless we engage our hearts in a true celebration of Christmas joy, we are easily caught up in a pointless and mindless holiday.”
Here is the truth …
Christmas can actually be more stressful than joyful if we are not careful.
Maybe your stressful circumstances are …
Your Christmas season could be void of joy for any number of reasons.
I want to remind you today of two truths about joy from the Bible and the movie ELF.
1. Life doesn’t have to be perfect to be joyful.
Buddy the Elf does not have a perfect life.
– He does not fit in at his house – literally.
– He feels lonely.
– He is made fun of.
– He is misunderstood.
Maybe you have been there or you are there … you don’t feel like you fit where you are. You feel lonely, misunderstood or made fun of. You don’t feel “happy” during this time of year.
Even if you don’t “feel” happy, you can still experience joy.
Happiness and joy are two very different things.
Happiness is external
Joy is internal.
Happiness hinges on what happens.
Happiness = “happenstance”
I’m happy because everything seemed to work out. Happiness is a volatile and temporary state because it depends on what happens.
In this world we live in, we will not always be happy.
I believe that’s why God also created us with the capacity to experience joy.
Joy transcends the external circumstances of our lives.
Happiness is dependent on the flesh.
Joy is dependent on the Spirit.
Joy is a gift from the Holy Spirit of God.
Gal. 5:22-23 – But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
This passage is not a “to do” list … this passage is a “result” list. This passage is a picture of what walking with the Spirit can look like.
These are not the fruit of …
– The person raised in a Christian home.
– The person who comes to church every week or leads a small group.
– The person who never drinks, swears or loses his temper.
These are the fruit of the SPIRIT – you don’t earn – pull off – conjure up or produce this fruit on your own!
In order to experience joy in the midst of challenging circumstances you must allow the Holy Spirit to control your life.
If you want to move from happiness to joy –
you must move from your own flesh to being controlled by the Holy Spirit of God.
You can’t do it on your own!
The good news is that God can do it in you … the Joy of God can actually transcend the #SuckyCircumstances of your life.
When we look at the very first Christmas …
Mary the mother of Jesus did not fit in; she was certainly lonely, misunderstood & likely made fun of.
Mary’s circumstances were far from perfect. She was a teenager, somewhere between 12 & 17 years old. She was in love & engaged and pledged to be married – yet before the wedding day came, Mary became pregnant! And it wasn’t her soon to be husband Joseph’s baby. The baby was from the Holy Spirit of God. I can promise you this is not what Mary had dreamed. This was stressful, and she had a lot of explaining to do with Joseph and others. Yet she was in tune with the Holy Spirit of God, so she was able to rejoice even in a difficult and uncertain season of her life.
Luke 1:46-49 – And Mary 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.
Your life doesn’t have to be perfect to be joyful!
2. Joy comes from knowing “Him.”
To everyone else at the department store, this Santa looked just like another holiday hired hand. They knew every other department store would have a similar – cookie cutter – red suit – white bearded Santa. However, Buddy the Elf is not talking about just another Santa when he says, “I Know Him!”
He is talking about the REAL Santa …
– Who lives in the north pole
– Who has a real workshop
– Who helped raise him
Buddy actually knows the real – original – famous – Santa!
Which leads me to this HUGE truth today … do you know what will really bring JOY to your life this Christmas season?
Getting to know HIM!
Getting to really know Jesus this season is what will bring JOY to your life. No matter your circumstances.
You can come to know Jesus today!
Romans 10:13 – Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.
Romans 10:9 – If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
So the question, my curious friends is … Do you know Him?
Watch this short video that presents one of the greatest descriptions of who Jesus is that you will ever see!
And realize you can know Him!!!