An elderly man in Coloma Michigan calls his son in Florida and says, ‘I hate to ruin your Christmas, but I have to tell you that your mother and I are divorcing; 35 years of misery is enough.’ ‘Dad, what are you talking about?’ the son screams. ‘We can’t stand the sight of each other any longer,’ the old man says. ‘We’re sick of each other, and I’m sick of talking about this, so you call your sister in California and tell her,’ and he hangs up.
Frantic, the son calls his sister, who explodes on the phone. ‘Like heck they’re getting divorced,’ she shouts, ‘I’ll take care of this.’ She calls her dad immediately, and screams at the old man, ‘You are NOT getting divorced! Don’t do a single thing until I get there. I’m calling my brother back, and we’ll both be there on Christmas Eve. Until then, don’t do a thing, DO YOU HEAR ME?’ and hangs up.
The old man hangs up and turns to his wife and smiles. ‘Okay,’ he says, ‘they’re coming for Christmas and paying their own airfares.’
Dear Friends! The joy and peace of the Lord Jesus Christ, born for us this night, be with you! Today we celebrate Christmas because it is the birthday of our God who became man and Savior to save us from our sins, a God who came to share His love with us and a God who came to live with us always as Emmanuel. “Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Christ and Lord.”
If you could use one word to describe Christmas, what word would it be? Some folks would use words like headache, busyness, expensive, or even bothersome. To many people Christmas is just another day, only a little more expensive and a lot more trouble. I have heard even Christians use these words to describe the day we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior. How sad that an event that brought so much joy in Heaven should bring so little joy here on earth.
I would like to suggest to you as we begin this beautiful season of the year that this Christmas season can be a time of joy, no matter how broke you are or how busy you are. Joy is like love- it is not merely an emotion, but a decision, and I believe you can be as joyful as you want to be. It’s all in where you choose to put your focus. If you really want to have joy this Christmas season, let me suggest 3 place to focus your heart and mind.
1 Focus on J –esus: A woman lost her 4 year old son during Christmas shopping at the Mall. In a panic, she retraced her steps and found him standing with his little nose pressed flat against a frosty window. He was gazing at a manger scene. Hearing his mother’s near hysterical call, he turned and shouted with innocent glee, “Look Mommy! It’s Jesus – Baby Jesus in the hay!” With obvious indifference to his joy and wonder, she impatiently jerked him away saying, “We don’t have time for that!”
Have we forgotten that Christmas is not primarily about us- our family, friends, shopping, presents- but about Him? If you are a Christian, focusing on Jesus means that you not only remember the Savior in the manger, but remember the Savior in your heart. Remember that this baby grew up and went to the Cross to pay for your sins, that He rose again to give you a new life, and that He lives in your heart today to give you joy!
2 Focus on O-thers: Christmas is the time we celebrate the most wonderful gift God has given us- Jesus. His focus in giving Christ to the world was His love for others, and He gave us an example that we, too should be willing to follow. Joy does not come from getting all we can get from others, but in giving all we can give to others. It is this focus others that will bring us joy. If you want to know joy at Christmas, then discover the joy of giving. Jesus said whatever you do to the least of these, you do for Him. If you want joy this Christmas, find someone in need, and in the name of Christ, give to them of your time and your treasures. There are plenty of lonely, needy people, and the Holy Spirit will show them to you, if you are willing to look for them. The Bible says that you will find joy there by focusing on others instead of yourself.
3 Focus on Y-ourself: Yet, there is a sense in which we are to focus on yourself. Your own attitudes determine whether or not you will experience joy this year. You can let worry, stress, un-forgiveness, or discouragement rob you of the joy of Jesus. Everyone struggles sometimes, but please understand – attitude is not automatic. You choose to allow these attitude to rule you.
The fact is, you can be full of faith, or full of doubt- full of the Spirit’s joy or full of the world’s woe. Consider your thoughts- listen to your words- watch your actions and ask yourself- do I have the joy of the Lord, or am I wallowing in the mud hole of my own tears?
Christmas is based on an exchange of gifts, the gift of God to man–His unspeakable gift of His Son, and the gift of man to God–when we present our bodies a living sacrifice. You are the only person who can decide to be joyful this year! God has a gift for you this Christmas- it is the joy that you unwrap by focusing on Jesus, others, and then yourself. Unwrap that gift- open it now and enjoy it!