Charlie Brown’s search for the true meaning of Christmas leads him in many directions. What he’s looking for is something that will make him happy, but it goes beyond happiness. Charlie Brown is looking for joy and contentment, something that will not just fill his Christmas but his entire life.
Q: How happy is Snoopy?
What does Snoopy do to get in the Christmas spirit?
We set up lights on the house, shine them with LED projections. Decorate the door, put up a manger…
Why was Snoopy decorating his dog house?
THINGS WE TURN TO FOR HOLIDAY HAPPINESS:
Decorating, Dining and Dancing
DECORATION: Attention and approval of others.
Look at all the pretty lights. Look at the house down the street. You could land a plane in some neighborhoods. Lights, music, synchronized displays. Snoop when all out on his décor and when asked what it was all about, Charlie was handed a sheet of paper explaining the contest with big cash prizes. Awards, pats on the back we all love to be acknowledged for our achievements. But those awards gather dust. It will make you feel good for awhile. Then just like that it’s all gone.
If decorating doesn’t work some celebrate by dinning and drinking.
For some Christmas is about dining.
Food, Food, and more food. Cookies, cake, candy, turkey, pies, and pastries.
What is your favorite Christmas dish?
What are the consequences of over eating all the sweets?
Eggnog, hot chocolate, and apple cider.
If the highlight of your Christmas is about eating than you will have to pay the price come January.
Food doesn’t satisfy either and so we turn to another means of finding happiness –
DISTRACTION. We also turn to entertainment during this season to find happiness.
Some people are already in line to get into the new Star Wars movie but the force won’t stay with them for long. Eventually there will have to be another movie, another concert, another game, another “dance” in order to stay happy. The entertainment of the world doesn’t bring lasting happiness so the search goes on.
If we look to these things or anything in this world to bring us lasting joy – we will be let down. Decorations, dining and distractions and the happiness they bring don’t last.
The pleasures they provide are temporary and tied into what’s happening around us and they don’t bring abiding joy.
Snoopy offers Charlie Brown happiness, but Charlie Brown is looking for something more and something that will last, something that will endure and actually help him when times get tough.
What Charlie Brown needs and what we need, IS JOY.
REJOICE. It is a command given to us over and over again in the Bible and yes it is a command.
Rejoice Always. 1 Thessalonians. 5:16.
God is commanding us to be joyful – it’s not a suggestion. It doesn’t read try joy, or might I suggest you be joyful – it says, Rejoice – Be Joyful. Because it is a command, joy must be possible for us at all times because God is not going to tell us to do something that can’t be done. Certainly God is not going command us over 300 times to be joyful if joy were not a possibility for us. If joy is possible at all times then it cannot be tied to what is happening around us, it must come from someplace else.
James 1:2-3 says, consider it pure joy whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.
Joy is what carries us through those tough times because joy is the understanding, conviction and certainty that God is in control and that God is with us.
Psalm 5:11-12. Let all who take refuge in God rejoice.
So what does it mean to take refuge in God so that we can find this joy?
Taking refuge in God means that we follow Jesus and abide or remain in him.
Jesus said, I am the vine and you are the branch, remain in me and I will remain in you.
When we remain in Jesus, when we give ourselves to him and strive to walk with him each and every day we are taking refuge in God and the joy will come.
Because joy is one of the fruits of God’s spirit we know it will develop and remain in us as we allow the Spirit of God to dwell in us.
So we experience joy not by turning to the things of this world, or even turning to ourselves but in daily turning to God to receive God’s love.
For many of us, this is where the problem comes; it is hard for us to trust that God really loves us.
It is hard for us to place our lives fully in God’s hands when we keep wondering how God can love a sinner like me.
We can see God’s love for others.
We can see God reaching out and caring for those around us, but many of us still question whether or not God can love me with all my doubts and problems and sin. I’m not sure what we can do to increase our understanding of God’s love for us because the word of God can’t be any clearer.
God says to us over and over again how much he loves us so I’m not sure we can do anything to make that clearer, maybe what we need is to just hear that message more often.
The first people who heard about the birth of Jesus were a group of shepherds on the hillsides of Bethlehem. The angel told them, Fear not for behold I bring you good news of great joy. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a savior, who is Christ the Lord.
Now shepherds were not the most respected group of people.
They weren’t the most religious, faithful, or trustworthy but they were the first to hear this good news of great joy. And the angels didn’t tell them they had to clean up their act before they could go and find the babe lying in a manger.
This means that...
WE CAN ALL COME TO GOD JUST THE WAY WE ARE.
God doesn’t require us to change before He will love us, He loves us first and then allows His love to change us and fill us with joy.
GOD’S LOVE FOR US IS UNCONDITIONAL which means that we can rejoice always or as the Psalmist says it, we can ever sing for joy. Because of God’s love for us we can experience joy at all times and in all places.
GOD’S LOVE DOESN’T DEPEND ON THINGS GOING WELL OR ON US DOING WELL, it is always available which means joy can be experienced in all circumstances. Even when we are in trouble and in danger, God is there to bring us joy,
look at Psalm 5:11b.
Spread your protection over them that those who love your name may rejoice in you. God doesn’t keep us from experiencing pain in lives – we will all go through hardships and suffering, but when we do, God’s protection, or presence, is there so that even during those times we can experience joy. The joy in these moments comes from knowing that God is with us and that his strength and power and the power of his love will see us through.
Q- So what’s holding you back from experience the joy God has to offer?
Q- What’s keeping you from being content and causing you to keep searching for something to make you happy?
During this hectic season of the year, don’t look for joy in decorations, dining and dancing, don’t look for joy in any of the things of this world, look for it in God’s unconditional love and take refuge in him.
WHAT NOW: 5 days to be Content challenge.
Read 1 Thessalonians 5:16
Q- Where do you look for happiness during the Christmas season? What things destroy this happiness?
God commands us to rejoice which means joy is not based in our circumstances or situations.
Q- Where can you find joy?
Read Psalm 5
What does it mean for you to take “refuge” in God?
In what areas of life do you need to follow Jesus more closely?
Jesus said he is the vine and we are the branches. How can you stay connected to Jesus this week and draw your life from him?
Joy also comes in knowing that we are unconditionally loved by God.
Read the following Scriptures then talk to God about His love for us.
In what areas of your life do you need God’s love and protection to spread over you?
DO: Ask God for that help today.
Joy is also found in giving ourselves away.
Find a way to do an act of service during this season.
Based on a message from Faith Church and re-imagined by Pastor Matt.
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