Speak Joy

Tim Lundy
Dec 5, 2021    46m
This message of hope looks at the question, "What role did the angels play in the Christmas story?". In the Old Testament, the angels frequently brought judgment, but in the New Testament, we learn that they came to bring hope, and peace, and the good news of Jesus Christ. Now, instead of the angels, we are called to share the Gospel. Video recorded at Los Gatos, California.

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.

Tim Lundy: [00:00:46] Hey, Venture, it's December. Believe it or not, December's here, and Christmas is coming, and we've got so much planned. We've got Christmas Eve services that we'll be able to do in person this year, and this year we're going to have the Winter Wonderland, it's a winter festival that we've literally been planning for a year. We wanted to do it a year ago, Covid shut us down, we can do it this year. It's going to be over four different times, three nights and one afternoon, next weekend. So Thursday night, Friday night, Saturday night, from four to eight o'clock right out front here, our whole front parking lot will be turned into a winter festival. And it's for everybody in the family, there'll be all different types of games activities, we've got a sledding hill with real snow, a place for snowball fights. We also have bounce houses for kids, and a trackless train, and Christmas trees, luminaries, there will be a live nativity, and also entertainment, different groups that will be singing or playing. Literally, it is designed as a winter festival that you, your family, and especially your friends can come to be a part of.

Tim Lundy: [00:00:46] We're doing it over the four nights because we want you to partner with us in a couple of different ways. One, invite somebody, we don't do this for you as the church, we do this with you so that you can invite your friends. And hopefully, as they begin a connection here, it begins a journey where people that may be far from God, or far from church, begin that journey toward Jesus Christ, so make sure you invite somebody. And then secondly, when you sign up to serve, we need about one hundred and fifty people still to serve over the four nights, and every spot where you serve, it's pretty simple, but we need people there who have a heart to reach our community. And so I want to encourage you to go online, make sure you get the information, get one of the flyers, get somebody, invite them, but also go online and look for how you could serve and partner with this as well. I'm really excited about it because I think this whole month allows us to turn outward, it allows us to reach our community, and I think we're offering some activities, we're offering some messages, that I know our world desperately needs today.

Tim Lundy: [00:03:03] In fact, before we dive into this message and new series, why don't we take a moment just to pray? Pray for our Winter Wonderland, pray for all that we have planned, and pray for how we can be a part of it. Will you pray with me? Father, I do thank you, I thank you for the excitement of Christmas, I thank you for this time of year, I thank you for what it means. I thank you, as a church, you've given us an opportunity to serve our world, and I pray, would you bring people on this campus who are far from you? Would you point them to you? Would we have the opportunity of introducing them to the joy of Christmas that is only found in Jesus Christ? And we pray this in His name. Amen.

Tim Lundy: [00:03:43] Well, this series and this month, we're focusing on the theme of joy, and specifically, the joy of Christmas. Because there are few things in the world that should produce more joy than Christmas. But if you look at the world today, joy can feel kind of elusive. It's interesting, I was reading an article in the New York Times, a woman named Laura Holson wrote it and she wrote it about joy. She said, "Joy, it seems, is everywhere these days when it comes to marketing. It's used to sell boxes at IKEA. It's included in ads for drinks at McDonald's. It's used as a prescriptive. There are T-shirts that shout joy is an act of resistance. There's the Chasing Joy podcast. There's a number of books that are being published, devoted to joyful living, or joyful marriage, or joyful productivity." But then she asked this, "If Joy is everywhere, why does happiness feel so elusive? Why has so much changed in our world? When politics in this era has divided Americans into two camps, angry and angrier? Our world is threatened by climate change. The booming United States economy is showing signs of fatigue." And I kind of laughed when I read this because she wrote this in September of 2019. Little did she know when she wrote these words, COVID was right around the corner and all that we would go through.

Tim Lundy: [00:05:11] You know, as I think about Christmas this year, and I think about our desperate need for real joy, sustainable joy, and how much it's tied into the message of this season. And I want to encourage you, we're going to focus all month on how we can participate in that joy. Now, I know for some of you, you go, Tim, this is actually a hard season for me, this is sorrowful. Many people have lost someone. Many people are going through hard times. And so I'm not just talking about what she's describing here, where we use joy as a marketing campaign as a church, and we're trying to manufacture some feelings. We want to look in Scripture and look specifically where the Bible calls us to joy and how that joy is produced. And I think you, specifically as well, see it in the Christmas story, especially for what it means in the world.

Tim Lundy: [00:06:09] If you have a Bible, you could turn to Luke chapter 2, we'll look at the passage here. And Luke chapter 2 is one of the most famous chapters in the Bible, we know it so well, and every year as a pastor, you know, when you're preaching through Christmas series, you're always looking at the different characters in the story and how we can relate to them, and so you preach from Mary's perspective, or preach from Joseph's perspective, or the wise men, or the shepherds. And we'll look at these different parts, but there's a character and a group of characters in this story that I really think we don't often look at as people we could imitate, I'm talking specifically about the angels, the angels in Luke 2.

Tim Lundy: [00:06:51] I mean, we kind of think of the angels, you know, as these divine messengers of God, there's these spirit beings. And if you're not a follower of Christ, maybe you look at angels and the whole categories outside your wheelhouse. Here's all we know from Scripture, angels are servants of God, they're powerful servants of God, they're his messengers, they carry out his will, and they are able to live in a dimension in a way that we don't always sense them. But at times they pop up in Scripture, and especially if you look at the beginning of these stories around Jesus' birth, we see angels several times because they're declaring a really radical message.

Tim Lundy: [00:06:51] In Luke chapter 2, after Mary and Joseph were gone to Bethlehem, and after they're there, and while they're in that region, and they have the baby, Jesus. It says in the first part of verses 8 and 9, "And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear." Shepherds were in the same region; we know there was a field where they kept sheep about two miles outside of Bethlehem. And so a couple of miles away, shepherds are down for the night and suddenly an angel appears. When it says the glory of the Lord shown around them, I mean, you're talking about this bright, blinding light, and they were with great fear, literally, the phrase is they were terrified.

Tim Lundy: [00:08:27] And then their response, "And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” Now, as I looked at this angelic pronouncement, and again, here would be the difference, so often when we're looking at the stories, how we relate to it. But I was really looking at it and going, what can I learn from the angels? In fact, the more I began to study this passage, I was amazed at it. And maybe you hear that, and you go, Tim, if there's any passage I've heard at Christmas, I've heard Linus in the Charlie Brown special say it a hundred times.

Tim Lundy: [00:09:16] And yet, when you start digging in in it, you realize it's pretty radical what they're stating and what they're promising, especially in the context of that world, and I think that's what we often lose. In fact, I'll just walk you through it a little bit, and then we'll turn it toward how we could apply it, and then I'll ask you some questions of evaluation for your own life, and then we're going to end with some action steps.

Tim Lundy: [00:09:42] As you look at it, so the angel said to them, and the first thing we see here, he says, fear not. Fear not. In fact, this is the number one command in scripture, more than any other, we're commanded fear not, fear not, fear not. And every time the angels show up, they say, fear not. Now there's a good reason, I mean, it'd be kind of terrifying if you're out there and an angel shows up. But there's a deeper reason, and I think the reason God gives us this command over and over to not fear, is that frankly, we're a fearful people.

Tim Lundy: [00:10:15] In fact, I saw there's a site, an interesting guy. His name is Fred Culbertson, and he's collected and organized strange phobia, he's got a site phobialist.com. And so he's gone through, and he says in it that all these phobias are documented, they're real ones, medical ones. Listen to some of these, one of these is peladophobia, it's the fear of bald people, OK? Geniophobia, it's the fear of chins. I have a fear of my second one forming, I don't know if I've got a fear of chins in general. Aulophobia, it's the fear of flutes, so this isn't somebody you want to give tickets to the symphony, I guess. This one, I even have a hard time pronouncing it, paraskevidekatriaphobia, I'm sure I said that wrong, it's fear of Friday the 13th. I don't know if it's talking about the movies or that day, probably the day in it. Pentheraphobia, the fear of mother-in-law, I'm not going to touch it, just leave it alone. Pteronophobia, the fear of being tickled by feathers. Again, I look at these, I go, this is crazy. But that's what he's saying, these are literal phobias that people have.

Tim Lundy: [00:11:34] Now the reality is we are fearful people. I looked up one on my own, there's actually one, angelophobia, it's the fear of angels, and especially people are fearful that angels have arrived and they're going to bring judgment. Now, why would they have that fear? In fact, why would the shepherds be fearful of an angel? You know, frankly, there's good reason when you read through the Old Testament. Often when the angels show up, it's not a good sign, it's usually a sign of judgment, it's usually they're executing that judgment when they come. It's interesting when we get to the New Testament, something changes, now the angels are showing up, and they're not bringing a message of judgment, they're now bringing a message of hope and peace.

Tim Lundy: [00:12:25] In fact, if you look at it, they say, "Fear not." Why? "For behold, I bring you good news." I'm not here to judge, I'm not here to execute, I'm here to bring you this good news. Now again, this is one of those phrases, good news, that it's also translated gospel. If you saw it in the Greek, this word good news, the Greek word, euangelizomai, euangelizomai. Or gospel is, euangelion, euangelion. For English speakers, in Greek, they didn't use the v, we would probably transliterate it, Evangelion. Now, when I put this word up here, what word do you see in the middle of it? Evangel. And so any of the words that we use today like evangelize, that means to share the good news. Or Evangelical, oh, that's a political term almost today, you know, literally, that term started around people who had identified their lives around the gospel, they identified around this good news.

Tim Lundy: [00:13:35] Now, as we see it in this passage, when they say, you know, we're here to share good news, we immediately go to Scripture, we go to Jesus, we go to the Gospel. But when the shepherds heard that term, good news, that's actually a term that was used often in the world, especially in the Roman Empire. In fact, often they would send a herald, the emperor if he had new news he wanted to share. Especially if there was a military victory, the herald would come into town and he would say, I want to share this gospel, I want to share this good news that's happened in the Empire, we've defeated the Egyptians, or we defeated the Carthaginians. I mean, they would just share that, so that term gospel or good news, it was very common.

Tim Lundy: [00:14:29] In fact, it's fascinating to me if you look at the history of the Roman Empire, starting with Julius Caesar if you know your Roman history. Julius Caesar recognized what he thought the Roman Senate was not going to be powerful enough, and so as he began to seize power and made himself emperor, he was assassinated for it in 44 B.C. But his nephew, who he named as his successor, Octavius, who became Caesar Augustus, he was able to negotiate the politics of it while in the same way seizing power in it. And one of the key things he did in that process over the years from when he was named emperor in 27 B.C. as he consolidated his power, he identified himself as not just Caesar, but he was also lord, he was god. In fact, often they had money printed that Caesar was the son of god, that Caesar was the Kurios. And so when they would make these pronouncements of this good news, this gospel of Caesar, in some ways it sounded very similar to what the angels were pronouncing.

Tim Lundy: [00:15:40] In fact, there's an inscription it goes back to 9 B.C., so this is several years before Christ was born, and it's about Caesar Augustus. It's the Priene Calendar Inscription is what it's called today, and you see the actual stone. Look what it says in it, it says, “The providence which has ordered the whole of our life…has ordained the most perfect consummation for human life by giving to it Caesar Augustus." So in other words, the world has made the greatest human ever, Caesar Augustus. "By sending in him, as it were..." And look what it calls him, "A savior for us and those who come after us, to make war to cease, to create order everywhere…the birthday of the god [Augustus] was the beginning..." And here's our word again, "The beginning of the gospel, the good news, for the world that came by him.” Now, I point this out to show you that when the angels said this, when they use this term, this good news, the shepherds have heard this before. They've heard the Roman authorities, they were always saying, here's the good news of what our emperor has done, here's the good news of how our empire has expanded, here's the good news of this new victory that we have.

Tim Lundy: [00:16:56] And yet, notice the difference in what the angels declare, they say, "Good news of great joy that will be for all the people." So every time Caesar made a pronouncement of a gospel or good news, every time the herald would say it, it was good news if you were one of the powerful people in Rome, if you were a Roman citizen. If you were the one that had the power and the might to be able to extend it around the world and oppress anybody you wanted, especially the Jewish people who felt that oppression and felt the thumb of Caesar on them. So every time they heard him pronounce, oh, it's a gospel, it's good news. They went, yeah, right? Then the angels go, no, actually, I've got some different good news, and this good news actually produces great joy, and it's going to be for all people. Not just Roman citizens, not just Jewish citizens, not for any one nationality, it's going to be for the whole world.

Tim Lundy: [00:18:05] And how can he say that? "For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord." Again, I love the radical part of this pronouncement, remember, I told you, Caesar Augustus, he would print coins that said he was the savior, he would print coins that literally said he was the son of God. And especially this word curious. This was the word used only for Caesar. In fact, they would say, Caesar Kurios, Caesar is Lord. And suddenly the angels go, well, actually, "I've got good news that a Savior..." And that word sótér, a rescuer, one who'll throw off the oppression. Who's also the Christ, the Messiah, the Anointed One, the one that everyone had been longing for, he's also the Lord.

Tim Lundy: [00:19:01] You know, in the New Testament, this is the only time these three terms are ever used together in this way. Such a unique pronouncement, because it's pointing very uniquely that Jesus Christ, while Caesar may use the same terms, he actually embodies them. While Caesar grabs these terms to inflate his power, Jesus actually is this power and is willing to humble himself to the point, that this will be the sign for you, this is how you know it's real, you're going to find this baby wrapped in swaddling cloth. You're going to find this Christos, you're going to find this Lord, the Savior, the Messiah, as a baby in a manger, and it's a son. Here, I want to point it out to you, because it's going to happen real, in real-time, in real space.

Tim Lundy: [00:19:58] And as it continues, "Suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, 14“Glory to God in the highest." They suddenly, they just start praising God, because what they're saying in this moment is only God could come up with a plan like this, only God could attain this, only God could do this. Part of what the Angels model for us is, there's a place to just stop and worship God.

Tim Lundy: [00:20:26] And I think one of the reasons we love to worship so much at Christmas, Christmas is this combination of the majesty and the mystery of God's plan, of how God would come as a little baby in a manger, in order that he could lead us as Savior and Lord, in order that he really could bring good news of great joy for all people. `nd I think that's one of the reasons we love to worship in this season, it's one of the reasons we love to sing, one of the reasons I love our Christmas Eve service. I love, just in the moment, the majesty of being able to worship what only God could do.

Tim Lundy: [00:21:10] And the Angels model that for us, they say, "Glory to God in the highest.” But notice they don't stop there, they say, "And on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”. On Earth, he's bringing an actual peace on Earth, that people can have peace with God, that people can experience peace with each other, because God's pleased with them because of what this Child will do.

Tim Lundy: [00:21:34] Now, again, it's interesting, because remember he's saying this under the reign of Caesar Augustus. And if you look at history, Caesar Augustus of all the Caesar's, is the one who said to have established the Pax Romana, the almost 200 years of peace that they experienced in Rome. But it was a peace that was purchased through bloodshed, through oppression, through power and might. And frankly, it was a peace that you got to experience if you were one of the haves, not if you're one of the have nots.

Tim Lundy: [00:22:13] See what Jesus brings, His good news, His gospel is so much more radical because it's a peace not just in one country, not just in one empire, it's literally a peace with God himself, and a peace with each other. in a way that lasts forever. Guys, that's the announcement of the angels, that's what they declared that night. And you put it in that context, and you realize what God commissioned them with, that he sent them as the first messengers to declare the good news, to declare the gospel, to declare it to the world. But isn't it interesting, think back since that time, since that first generation with Christ, where do we see angels doing this declaration today?

Tim Lundy: [00:23:11] Here's what I'm asking in that, isn't it strange that God used angels to be the first ones to declare this message, but who has he chosen to use today? See, he doesn't use angels to be the ones who declare, they could, and that doesn't mean that they can't in exceptional circumstances, where God uses angels to show up and show people who Christ is. But if you read through the New Testament, and you look at the last 2000 years of history, do you know who he chose to be the ones that declared this message, this good news, this gospel? His church. That's why Paul says in Second Corinthians, he says in 5:20, he says, we are ambassadors of Christ, that God makes his plea through us, that God makes this declaration through us. So what the Angels did when Christ was born, now the message has been given to us that we're the people that declare that to the world, we're the people that are those heralds to the world.

Tim Lundy: [00:24:14] And that's what got me thinking, OK, if that's our role today, if we're those messengers, what could we learn from the angels? And so I want to ask you, just kind of as I think about what they did and what they said, and I've been processing this in my own life, I want to ask you three questions, and then I want to give you three action steps.

Tim Lundy: [00:24:34] Here's the first question I would just ask you, are you a fear not or a fear a lot person? Are you a fear not or a fear a lot? Here's what I mean with that, when the Angel spoke, what's the first thing they say? They say, fear not, in fact. Every time you see them show up, they go, Fear not, fear not. Fear not. You don't have to be afraid. Fear not. Are you a person that when you speak, if somebody was evaluating what you said, and what you post, and what you write about, and how you present, are you a person that they would go, oh man, that's a fear not person? Or were you a person that when you speak, someone walking away would go, oh man, we should fear a lot.

Tim Lundy: [00:25:15] I mean, you look at it out there, we've got a fear COVID, and we've got a fear the government, we've got a fear what's going on in the courts, and what's going on in the schools, and we've got a fear what's going on with the economy, and we've got to fear what's on social media, we've got to fear what they're showing on TV, we've got to fear, fear, fear. Are we fear not people, or are we fear a lot people?

Tim Lundy: [00:25:35] Now, I know some of you go, yeah, but, Tim, those are reasonable fears, and I'm not discounting them. And so you go, we have a lot to fear in our world. I would say the same thing was true of those shepherds in that first generation, they had a lot to fear in the world, they had a horrible government system, they faced dangers we can't even fathom. And so when the angels told them to fear not, they're not discounting those things. The reason they don't fear is not because the world has suddenly become safe, the reason they don't have to fear is because God is now with them. He literally loves them so much, he's come to be with them, he's taken on human flesh, he's taken on what no one could do. He's God with us, that's why we don't fear.

Tim Lundy: [00:26:31] That's why Paul says it in Romans 8:31, after he's gone through everything that we should reasonably fear, life, and death, and principalities, and angels, and anything that you can come up with. He says, "What shall we say to these things?" What do you say to all these things that are in the world? Do you know what his statement is? "If God's for us, who can be against us?" I mean, if God is for us, and if Christmas shows us anything, guys, God's for us, God's literally with us, he's literally doing for us what we could not do when he came as God and man and lived and died and rose again. And I think we would do well if we're learning from the angels, are we people that are willing to say, fear not, we don't have to live in fear, and we don't have to be marked as fear a lot people.

Tim Lundy: [00:27:34] Now, as I say that, and I want to be careful on this because some people struggle with fear more. Some of you maybe you're struggling with some of the emotions, some things are valid of the emotion of fear. And I loved, I was reading the work of Scott Swain, and I loved how he put this because I think he presents a picture of it of how do we do this in a reasonable way? Listen, as he says, he says, "It seems that folks sometimes offer biblical encouragements like fear not, or do not be anxious, and so on, as if the heart were a cup full of fear and anxiety that needs to be emptied of those emotions so that it can be filled with the alternative emotions." So when you hear that you go, OK, fear not. OK, I got to get rid of all those fears, so I can now take on the right emotions. He says, "However, it fails to understand that sorrow and fear and anxiety are not always sinful emotions. In fact, such emotions may constitute appropriate responses to the loss, actual or threatened, of real goods." And this is the switch that I really like that he said, "The heart is more like a scale, specifically a balanced scale." You think of a scale that has the two sides of it, "The kind that's often used as a symbol for justice because its two sides weigh different arguments and positions in the process. A proper use of biblical encouragements and exhortations will take this picture of the heart into account. Instead, biblical encouragements should be offered as counterweights. So doing so would look like this, you might say to someone, I know that your heart is rightly heavy with sorrow due to the loss of some good thing." Maybe you're going through a season of sorrow right now, and your heart is heavy with it. Maybe you're facing something unknown right now, and your heart feels that fear. It's not that you have to be this cup that you empty all that out so you can receive what God says. "Actually, you could be overwhelmed by these present circumstances may be uncertain of what tomorrow may bring. However, let me offer you a counterweight not to remove these emotions, but to place them in relation to the larger reality, the reality of God's sovereign goodness, attention, and purpose, which offers solid reasons for encouragement. These counterweights don't remove the weights of our hearts, rather, they provide the consolation, the weight, in the middle of it."

Tim Lundy: [00:30:09] Here's what he's describing, and I want to be real clear on this because some of you are facing real fears, some of you, you're facing real sorrow. And when we talk about do not be afraid, or we talk about being full of joy in that, you feel like that, that I've got to be this cup, I got to dump all these things out and it's impossible. Those are real emotions you're feeling, here's what scripture is saying in this, yes, you've got the weight of your fears, yes, you've got the weight of your sorrows, but there's a counterweight of Jesus Christ, that he's in your life, that he's in your world. That's what Paul means when he says, "If God is for us..." If I let the reality of Christ in my life be my presence every day, if I choose to find joy in him because he came, because of what he did, because of the good news of who he is, if I let that weight settle in my life, that weight becomes my reality. These things may never fully leave you because you're still in those circumstances, but you're choosing not to fear because of the weight of Christ in your life.

Tim Lundy: [00:31:23] The second thing I think we should just evaluate in it, does the presence of Jesus in your life bring great joy, does it bring great joy? Now again, I use the same analogy of, it's not that you throw out the sorrow, some of you, I've got friends, I know that this is a hard season. You're going into a Christmas season, some of you for the first time, you've lost a loved one, you miss them, you grieve them, and you should. But do you allow, in that sorrow, the counterweight of who Christ is, of what he's done, of why he came? Bring the reality of your world, so that weight, you can choose joy even in the hard circumstances, and we'll talk more about what that looks like in this series.

Tim Lundy: [00:32:17] I would say for many of us, maybe we're not going through sorrows, maybe we're not going through hard circumstances, I would say for a lot of people, our lives are not marked by joy, and I think it's one of the worst witnesses for the church. I mean, as you look at it, this joy that is in life, if you look at the early church, look at them in Acts 2, it says, "They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity." Look at this, they shared their meals with great joy and generosity. Man, they were speaking joy, they were living joy, and they were giving joyfully, "All the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved." I would just ask this question, if you were to ask someone on the street today, describe an evangelical, describe an evangelical Christian, would great joy be one of the things that marked their lives with what they said about them? Would they go, oh, yeah, oh man, they are the most joyful people? Or would it be maybe a political term, or an angry term, or an against term? And don't say that because I'm worried about the perception out there, I say that, though, that it's strange to me that the very term evangelical comes from this root of good news, this good news of great joy. And one of the things that marked the early church in really hard times is that they were people of joy. And so I think it's good for all of us to ask us, ourselves, man, am I joyful? Do I have a joy that's based on the reality of Christ in my life, and I'm choosing that reality every day?

Tim Lundy: [00:34:21] The third thing I'd just ask is, how are you sharing the good news in a world that desperately needs it? How are we doing what the Angels did? One thing about angels, and I love this, angels obey. God tells them to do something, they go do it. It's just part of every time you read that, they're a messenger, they are servants, there's like no lag time, they just do it. And in the same way, I would ask us, since we're now the ones who are the ambassadors for Christ, we're now the ones commissioned with this message of good news, we're the ones taking it to the world, man, are we sharing it with people? Are you sharing it with friends and neighbors? Are you looking for opportunities just to have a spiritual conversation? I'm not talking about you've got to, right out of the gate, sit down with someone, and then you're going to share the whole plan. They're probably not ready for that, especially in a culture here where we live around people who are far from God, we live around people who are far from Christianity, we live around people, they've never experienced this. And so it's going to be conversations, just spiritual conversations, listening to them, talking to them, thinking about it, looking for it. Here's the question, though, are you looking? When's the last time you had a conversation with someone that was spiritual in nature at all, with the hope that you could move them one step closer to hearing about Jesus Christ?

Tim Lundy: [00:35:47] You know, Kathy Troccoli is a recording artist, a Christian recording artist, she's won Dove Awards and been nominated for Grammys, and in the music industry, she's worked with the Beach Boys back in the day. She described how she came to Christ, she said, I grew up in a home that wasn't Christian, she said we had a Bible, the Bible was that book that stayed on the end table that no one ever touched. One summer, she was working at a swimming pool, she worked as a lifeguard, and she had a co-worker there, a girl there. And here's all that triggered it, she saw her reading the Bible, like more than once, like, she'd be on a break, and she'd read the Bible. Til finally, she just asked her, what is it with you in the Bible? I've never seen anybody read the Bible. And they just started a conversation, and they were talking about the Bible, she started talking about Jesus, and as she said, she started describing a Jesus I'd never heard about. And then she challenged her, she got her her own Bible, she said, you ought to read this too. You ought to read these gospels, that good news, in fact, that's all those four books are doing, they're sharing good news about Jesus, and through reading it, she came to Christ.

Tim Lundy: [00:36:59] Guys, it's not rocket science, but if we're the ones that have been commissioned with this message, if God has deemed his church are the ones that get to share the good news, shouldn't we be about it? Shouldn't we learn from angels, that man, when God says to do it, we just do it, and we recognize that's why I'm here, that I get to be that ambassador that shares that. So, how do we put this into action? Let me give you three simple steps, and I really want us to focus on action, because James says, don't just be a hearer of the word, be a doer. And I think too often in preaching, one thing I've learned in the last couple of years, a lot of our preaching is for hearing and learning, and actually, the Bible says it should be for doing.

Tim Lundy: [00:37:51] And so here's what I would challenge all of us to do, one, write a personal note, write a personal note, share some joy with someone, it can be a note of thanks or encouragement or just reconnection with somebody who needs joy, and this could be maybe somebody who knows Christ or doesn't. I just would challenge you, in a season when people need joy, you would be amazed if you would just stop and take some time and maybe it's a text, maybe it's an email, maybe you could do something for young people, we have this radical thing called stationary, where you actually write out notes and then you put a stamp on a letter and you mail it, it's amazing technology and actually pretty powerful. Here's what I want to ask everybody is a part of the Venture family, I want you to encourage somebody this week because if we're going to be a church and people of great joy, we need encouragement. If we're going to be people that fight fear, and really call people to fear not, we need to know who's in our camp, we need to connect with it. And so I just ask you, maybe even today, to take some time and reach out to a person or two and speak that joy into their life.

Tim Lundy: [00:39:10] The second thing I'd ask everybody to do is just pray, pray. And what I mean here, is the names of people you know that they need the good news and start praying for them every day by name. Praying that God would bring that good news in their life, praying that God would open for you, the awareness, and the opportunity to share. I mean, part of it is we get so busy we don't realize God's given us these conversations all around the place that we could talk to people and connect with people and listen to people, but we have to be aware of it and open to it, and that really comes to prayer.

Tim Lundy: [00:39:45] So I want everybody to write a personal note, I want everybody to pray, and then the final part is if you're part of the Venture family, now if you're visiting with us, this doesn't really include you. Maybe you're kicking the tires, you are checking us out, but if Venture is your home, if you're one of our church partners, I'm going to ask you, I want you to partner with this the rest of this month. This is a month, where as a church, as much as ever, we're turned outward. And so we're doing this four-day Winter Wonderland, we're going to do Christmas Eve, so we've got for Christmas Eve services, we've got all these opportunities with this, and let me just be honest with you, if you're part of the Venture family, Winter Wonderland and our Christmas Eve services and all that we're doing, we're not doing them for you, we're not, we're doing them with you, because you're the church. And if there was ever a time for the church to partner together to turn outward, it's now.

Tim Lundy: [00:40:47] So that's why I'm asking you, I'm asking you to come to Winter Wonderland, but don't come alone, bring a friend. I'm asking you to come and actually serve at Winter Wonderland, be one of those winsome, joyful people all over this campus. So that when people come on this campus, they go, man, those people have joy, man, that marks their life, that marks this place. Be someone who you're not just thinking now, how I can get my family together and we can have our Christmas Eve experience, you're thinking about, man, who's never experienced Christmas Eve, who's never experienced Jesus before, and you're thinking outward. See, we don't do it for us, but we do it together with Him. I am asking you to write somebody, reach out personally, pray, and partner with us.

Tim Lundy: [00:41:37] And guys, as I close out, hear me on this, because anytime you're asked to do these kinds of things, it can almost feel like, well, you're asking us to help you pull off what you're wanting to do. Let me tell you why I ask this, I ask this for your sake, you desperately need it. And the reason I say that is the numbers that come back for Christians today, in the church today, we're not experiencing joy. And part of the reason I don't think we're experiencing joy, is we're not actively partnering with God, and with his church, to do what he placed us here to do. I mean, just think about it for a moment, if I were to ask you, what's the most joyful place in the world? Now, if you answer Disneyland, I didn't say what's the most joyful place on Earth, and that's debatable, even with it, I said the most joyful place in all the world. It's heaven, I mean think about, is there any place more joyful than heaven? But do you know what Jesus said actually produces joy in heaven? It's when one person discovers that Jesus is the good news, when one person experiences salvation, Jesus literally said the angels throw a party, great joy breaks out in heaven. Now, now stop for a minute, you're already in the most joyful place that ever exists, and yet this is the thing that triggers a party there. Do you realize how important this is to God? Do you realize it's so the heart of God that when people come to Christ, he can't help but celebrate? And if you and I were created in his image, and invited into his family, and commissioned with this responsibility, don't you think it's going to be part and parcel of what actually produces joy in our lives?

Tim Lundy: [00:43:44] Guys, we need to be speaking this good news, we need to be sharing this joy, because we live in a world that desperately needs it, but we were made and called to live it. And so maybe this Christmas, what would spark joy in you the most, is that you would speak this good news, that you would send a personal note, that you would pray for people by name, and that you would partner with us as we have the opportunity to share the good news of Jesus Christ.

Tim Lundy: [00:44:22] Will you pray with me? Father, I thank you. I thank you for the angels who are obedient to declare such a radical message to this world, I thank you that you've given us the responsibility of sharing that good news. I pray in this season that you would use all these things that we're doing, whether it's a Winter Wonderland, whether it's Christmas Eve services. Lord, we can come up with settings, we can come up with programs, but only you can change hearts, and you've chosen to do that through your people as we reach out, as we share.

Tim Lundy: [00:44:56] Lord, I pray for anybody hearing this, maybe they're struggling, they don't have joy because they don't have Jesus, would today be the day they embrace him and experience the joy he provides? Lord, I pray for your church, that maybe we're not experiencing joy because we're not about what you've called us to do, I pray today we would embrace it and relish it and partner with you. And we pray these things in Christ's name. Amen.

Recorded in Los Gatos, California.
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Venture Christian Church
16845 Hicks Road
Los Gatos, California 95032