Earlier this week, I was watching the news or reading a some news on an app. I can't remember what it was. But it just struck me. I mean, it was something that I've known, but it just struck me again, as to how much of the news that gets reported is negative. How much of it is really just bad news? I mean, it seems like every time you turn on the TV, whether it's local news, whether it's national news, you open a news app, whatever it is, it just all seems to be mostly bad news. And it is, I mean, it's even been reported that 90% of all news media that gets reported is bad news. I mean, nine out of every 10 times you and I turn on the TV for news, or we open up an app for news, what we're feeding ourselves is bad news. There's a lot of reasons for that, no doubt, but one of them is just that there's no shortage of bad news to report. I mean, there are bad things that are happening in our world all the time. We're at the very end of the year. And as we look back on a year, there's been no shortage of bad news that has happened in our world. As you look back over this year, we see your Russia invade Ukraine and all the terrible things that have gone on in that part of the world. Throughout this year, we've, we've seen what happened in a supermarket in Buffalo, we've seen what happened in Uvalde. And I could go on and on. We've all experienced and seen these things throughout our world and things that gets reported on in the news. And it can be really overwhelming to see how many negative and horrible things are going on in our world today. But it's not even just the bad news that we see happening in other places. That's also the bad news that you and I get in our own lives. 2022 was the year that some of you received the diagnosis of cancer, or maybe it was someone that you love that you found out has cancer, it was 2022. Or some of you found out that you had a miscarriage or someone that you loved, had a miscarriage, it was 2022 that you lost a job or that you've been dealing with the loss of someone that occurred during this year. I mean, it's not just the news that gets reported on it's the news that we receive in our own personal lives as well. And it just seems like sometimes with the the news and all the negative and bad news that is reported on and that we're always reading about and we're always being told about and then as we receive more bad news in our lives today, that it can cause us to live in so much fear, so much worry so much anxiety and even depression and just being down in the dumps. Because every time we turn the corner, there's bad news that's being reported somewhere else, or we're the ones who are receiving the bad news, even in our own lives. This kind of thing isn't unique to human AI. Today, it's been going on ever since the beginning of the world pretty much and when sin entered into the world, it was going on 2000 years ago when Jesus showed up on the scene. No doubt that there were those who were receiving bad news of illnesses and sicknesses and in pain and, and loss and suffering and things that they were experiencing in their own lives in the same way that we experience things in our own lives in 2022 that they did in the first century, they would have received bad news throughout their world as well, the Jewish nation, the Israelites were living under the rule in the oppression of the Romans, right? And so every time they would have turned the corner, someone would have been telling them well, the Romans are up to this. Now they told us we we can't do this now. Or we have to do this certain thing now. And they just kept squishing and pushing. And no doubt a lot of them probably felt like the society and the culture that they lived in was just becoming more and more godless and terrible to live in. And all of these negative and bad things were happening in their own world. And I'm sure that they too were filled with anxiety and worry and fear that they were often depressed because of what was going on in their own lives and the things that were all happening around them that they just couldn't seem to control. But as we get into Luke Chapter Two today, God breaks through all of the bad news. And he declares through an angel that he has some good news to share. And it's such good news that it will cause great joy. He says, among all people, not just some people but For all people, and so I can't wait to dive into this today. And for us to see all that we see here and what it would have said to them during the first century when all this was happening and unfolding and what it still even says to us today. Let's start in Luke Chapter Two beginning of verse one. And Luke says in those days, Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. He says, this was the first sentence this took place, while Cornelius was governor of Syria, and everyone went to their own town to register. So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem, the town of David because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. Okay, so we mentioned earlier how they would have been living under Roman rule and being oppressed by all the Romans and Luke here mentioned Caesar Augustus, the great Roman emperor of this Roman Empire that was built during this particular time. This was a title that he had been given it wasn't his original name. His original name was Gaius Octavian. He was the grandnephew and later adopted son of Julius Caesar. But because he had made a name for himself had been a great military leader who had helped make Roman rule into a great empire. The Roman senate is the one who gave him this new title, Caesar Augustus. It was a title that meant he was an Honored one that he was a majestic one. We even have a Marin inscription that's labeled him as this way, divine, Auguste Caesar, he's addressed as divine right son of a god imperata of land and see the benefactor and savior of the whole world. This is how he was viewed during this particular time as one who had either divine characteristics, or maybe even seen as divine him self. Either way, this was the guy that was seen as the one who was running the show, he was the guy who was in charge, he was calling the shots, he was running the whole world at this particular point in time, and Luke tells us that he ordered a census and because He is the ruler of the entire Roman world, and what he says goes again, he calls the shots, he is the authority. And so because of this, Mary and Joseph have to travel from Nazareth to Bethlehem to register for this sentence, because Caesar Augustus, the great and powerful, Caesar, Augustus, gave an order that said they had to. But here's what's so fascinating. In Micah chapter five verse to a book in the Old Testament that was written 700 years before ceases, Augustus issued this decree to move them from Nazareth to Bethlehem. We read this but you Bethlehem at Frasca, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me, one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from old from ancient of times. In other words, this was a prophecy that God had inspired the prophet Micah to write about, about something that would happen in the future. And the event that he's talking about here was that the Messiah, the Christ, that Jesus was going to be born in Bethlehem. My point is, is that it may seem that Caesar Augustus was the one ruling the world at the time that he was the one calling the shots that Mary and Joseph were having to move from Nazareth to Bethlehem, because he ordered them to do so. But make no mistake about it. Caesar Augustus is not the one who's calling the shots here. This is the God of the universe who is sovereign and sits above all things, who is even working in and through a pagan ruler to carry out His will and His plan to send a Messiah, the One who would rescue and redeem the entire world. I think this is one of those things that we even see before we get into the rest of the chapter here that God is actively involved in the affairs of humanity, that he is not some god who is sitting up in the clouds, he is distant, he's got his back turn and he's not actively working and moving things in a direction that are according to his will and to his plan. He is sovereign. And I think that maybe this even says something to those of you who are here today are those of us who sometimes get a little bit too preoccupied about maybe who is in the White House in the state of our country and expending a lot of time and energy and exhausting all of that energy and time into trying to control everything, and bring God back into everything and make sure that everyone knows that the whole country is falling apart because of who it is that sits in the White House, and God isn't involved in anything anymore. If that would just change, God would be brought into the equation, and he would be starting to work and do things. Again, make no mistake about it. This is the same kind of thing that was going on 2000 years ago, it was a pagan ruler, who was in the White House, if you will, who was ruling and reigning and ordering decrees and things in a whole society, who was saying this is godless, this is terrible, things are falling apart, there's all this bad news, it would be different. If so and so was here, I wish we could change all of that. And yet God was still sitting on his throne. And he was moving things along according to His plan. Maybe sometimes you and I get a little pre to preoccupied with some of the things that are going on in this world that we feel like we have to control in order to bring God back into the equation of things when he's never left. And he's still working in and through even pagan rulers to establish and move the world where it is that he wants it to go. I hope that even causes some of us to be able to take a little bit more of a deep breath, to rest, to trust to depend in May maybe even be a little less vocal about calling out all of those who are so terrible in this world. When God sent His one and only Son to die for those same people as well. Luke says Mary and Joseph went to Bethlehem from Nazareth. Verse five, that they were pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. And then he turns in verse six and says while they were there, it's an interesting phrase while they were there. How long had they been there? Was it the day that they showed up? Had they been there a week had been there two weeks had been there a month now. While they were there, while they were there, the time came for the baby to be born. And she gave birth to her firstborn, a son, She wrapped him in cloths were told and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. This would have been absolutely shocking to the first century readers that Luke was writing this originally to you and I and many of us who have been here and grown up in church, I've heard the story and seen it over and over. And it doesn't shock us near as much. But don't forget what had been said about this particular child in chapter one, leading up to chapter two, if you're reading this story for the very first time, and you didn't really know what was going on. Luke had described this baby who was going to be born in chapter one, as the Son of the Most High that this baby who is going to be born into the world was going to be a king, one from the lineage of David and who would reign over a kingdom that would never ended. This baby that was going to be born was the one who would fulfill prophecy and these covenant promises that were made to King David himself and even to father Abraham. Before him. Zachariah had called him the most high a horn of salvation in one who would redeem the people of God. And so if you were originally reading this for the first time, and you hear about the first baby that had been prophesied about being born, and you know, this second baby, and all of these things that were said about him, you're anticipating this baby to be born into this world with great splendor with great majesty with great fanfare, one that was fitting for a king. And yet Luke tells us here in verses six and seven, that he was born in the humblest of conditions, he was even laid in a feeding trough for animals, this would have been absolutely shocking. To the original audience that Luke was writing seems completely upside down from what should have happened. If he's really the Son of the Most High if he's a king, than he should have been born in a temple. He should have been born in a castle somewhere, he should have been born something that was with splendor and majesty as he's coming into this world. You would have thought this is just wrong. This is not right. But the thing is, is that Jesus would later grow up and basically teach and model that the kingdom that he came to establish was an upside down kingdom, that it was very different than the kingdoms that we see in this world, the Kingdom In this world, the kingdoms on earth are all about arrogance and pride and dominance. But Jesus would say that the real kingdom, God's Kingdom is about humility. It's about service, and it's about others. And so even as we see here, in the birth of this king of this kingdom, we get a foretaste, that he would be all about this upside down kingdom, that's very different from the world's kingdoms. Jesus, the eternal Son of God, the Creator and Sustainer of the universe, was born in the most humbling of conditions, and placed in a feeding trough. It goes on and says in verse eight, and there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night, an angel of the Lord appeared to them in the glory of the Lord shown around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, Do not be afraid, I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all people. Today in the town of David, as a savior has been born to you he is the Messiah, the Lord and this will be assigned to you, you will find a baby wrapped in cloth and lying in a manger. This too is just one of the more fascinating things I think that we we see in this chapter as well, because I mean, out of all the people that God could have chosen to make an announcement to about the birth of his son, about God entering into the world, having taken on an additional nature to establish a kingdom here, he chose shepherds, the lowliest on the social ladder, those who were invisible in society, the outcast of society, and God chose to reveal it make this announcement to them. I mean, this isn't just the way that you do things. Again, the way we would do things, the things that make sense is that you would go to someone who has notoriety, someone who has fame, someone who is respected, you're looking for a Billy Graham type figure to go make this announcement to, to then go make the announcement to the rest of the world, because that's going to pick up traction, people are gonna respect what it is that they have to say, and you don't go to shepherds, you're gonna go to people who are invisible, who aren't even seen in this particular world. And yet, once again, we see evidence of this upside down kingdom, that Jesus came to establish over and above the kingdoms of this world. But don't miss this as well. This is noteworthy because of how much it says, I really think to you and I today, maybe there are some of you who are here today and you to feel invisible. You feel like you're not noticed you aren't valuable. Like the rest of the people that you see in the world. Maybe you feel that way, even in your own family, that you're not really seen that you're invisible, that you're an outcast. Hope what you see today, if that's you, and that's what you feel maybe about yourself, and the fact that the God of the universe chose to go to those who were invisible. Those who are out cast, those who were outliers, those who weren't noticed and respected to deliver this announcement to his son, what does that say about you? Does that say about me? Does that say about all of us, you are loved, you are valued, you are respected. No matter whether you seem to be invisible to the rest of the world, are what it is that you think about yourself, or what other people think about you, the God of the world sees you, he notices you. And he notices and sees your sin and your failures, and he still loves you and he still values you. And you don't have to get yourself to a certain place to be noticed by him. He sees you He loves you and even sent his own son into the world for you. I mean, he did say the angel said I bring you good news that will cause great joy for who for all people. Pretty sure all people include you, whoever you are, wherever you've been, whatever it is that you've done, whatever it is that you think makes you unlovable or and valuable to others or to God. He sees you he notices you and He sent Jesus for you. And this is good news, of course. And he said with this good news. It would be the kind of news that causes great joy in their lives. And the reason it would cause great joy in their lives was because of The baby because of this baby who was being born to them, and he makes sure that we don't miss who this baby is. He says that this baby carries three titles savior, Messiah. And Lord, the Savior is a title that points to Jesus's role as deliverer or rescuer that he was born into this world to rescue all people from their sins, to deliver all of us from the bondage that we're ultimately in to sin and death. This title Messiah that he was given would refer to him as the promised Anointed One of God that He was the one promised throughout the entire Old Testament that a Messiah was coming, one who was coming one day, this this covenant promise that He had made these oaths that God had made throughout the Old Testament. And this was announcing to the world that this is who he is who he was. The third title was the Lord, it's curious and Greek, this was the title that the emperor would sometimes even hold, right, he is seen as someone who has absolute sovereign authority, but again, points to him. Ultimately, as being God, this was a sign of him declaring that he was deity. And notice again, that these were not titled that the baby Jesus was going to grow into. Now, one day, once he gets going, he'll finally grow into these titles, what they're saying here, what the angel is saying is that he carries these titles, in who he is right then right there as a baby, and it's who he always has been the Savior, the Messiah, the Lord. Now, notice, again, that as the Savior, as the Messiah, as the Lord, that He was the one coming in this world to do the things that we just said, to turn the world upside down, and the kingdom to do what's necessary to rescue you and I for our sin, and again, to bring great joy. He said, This news would cause great joy, I just want to camp out on the joy aspect of this great news that once again, is not for some people. But for all people, this joy would come not because situations and circumstances around us would change, but because of him because of who he is. And because of what he would bring us in a relationship with Him. Jesus, even after he grew up, talked about this, John records it in the 15th chapter of his gospel, where Jesus is teaching about the vine, and he's teaching about the branches. And you remember, he talks about how he's the vine, and we're the branches. And he's talking about this union that we have with him and that we, as we abide in him this, this life giving stuff would just flow through us as we continue to receive it. Well, in this context of Jesus teaching about the vine and the branches, we're told this, that Jesus said this in verse 11, of chapter 15. He says, I have told you this, so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete. Now notice, first of all, and that statement, whose joy it is? Whose joy is it? His joy, right? My joy, right? Notice, secondly, where it will be? Where is it going to be? In You in Me in us, His joy is going to be in us? And notice the type of joy third of all that it is what type of joy is it a complete joy, right? His joy that's going to be in you, and it's going to be complete. In other words, no matter what your situations are, no matter what your circumstances are, no matter what's going on in your life, no matter what's happening all throughout our lawyers, law, our world, you have joy. And your joy is never lacking. In any of those moments. Your joy is always complete, you're full of it, you have it. You don't have to get out of the situation, you have to get out of the circumstance, the world doesn't have to change, who's sitting in the White House doesn't have to change, nothing has to change in order for you to have an experience of joy, because you have all of it in and through him if you're in union with Him. This is good news tidings of great joy that will cause great joy, he says and again, this is union language. He's the vine, where are the branches? What is the branch do? You just receive? You're in union with the vine. It's another image for relationship that we are in and it's really, even though we have all of these things. It's through an unconditional loving relationship that we have, where we're where we're valued. Where that joy of bounce We have it, we're united in divine, we have all the joy, it's complete, we're never lacking in it. But sometimes we don't experience it. We don't feel the joy in our lives in those moments. It's in that loving relationship that we have, we're, we're, we're open, and we're abiding. And we're just continuing to receive from Him through that unconditional loving relationship, where the joy begins to abound, and you and I begin to experience what it is that we already have. Think about a baby, maybe your own baby that you had, or a grand baby, right? And you, you're holding your baby. And a lot of times, what do we what do we do, we put our, our face right in front of their face, and we try to move it to where they're, they're actually seeing us so that they see that we're seeing them, right? And what do we do when they get their attention, we, we open our eyes a little bit more, and we smile a little bit bigger, and we change the tone of our voice and and we're saying I see you and I value you and I unconditionally love you and I'm in a relationship with you. And what do they all of a sudden start to do? They smile back. Joy abounds in that moment, they've been receiving this unconditional love and value from Psalm one that you and I experienced that as adults, you've been in rooms where someone's walked in and called your name and they genuinely look at you and in the expression on their face. And the tone in their voice just says to you, man, I see you. And I love you. And I value you. And I'm so glad to get to hang out with you right now in this moment. And what happens in your spirit. Joy abounds, you smile back, you feel loved and respected. And you begin to experience this joy in your life. Because this person who you're in an unconditional loving relationship with, is expressing his love or her love to you that you don't even feel that even in other moments when it's not maybe so highlighted in that way. But maybe you're suffering and you're in pain, and you're crying and you're going through something that's really hard, but the same person that just called your name, and we just talked about the excitement in the joy, hey, it's glad to see you and all that just walks in quietly and softly and puts their arm around you or hold your hand and just sits beside you while you're struggling. And you're going through that it may not be the same type of emotions that explode in those other times, but deep down in the quietness of your heart and your spirit, what is abounding in that moment. Joy, you feel the joy even there, because this person is with you, and they are for you. And you know, it's unconditional, and you know that you have it. And so this is Emmanuel, this is God with us. Jesus was born into this world, not just to forgive our sins so that we can have eternal life and go to heaven. He was born in this world to die for our sins so that we could be forgiven, so he could now give his life to us. And now we can be in a relationship with the one who loves us unconditionally with the one who grabs our face and looks at us and says, I see you and I value you and you know what I did for you. And I just love you so much. And oh, just smile writing getting us to do that. And we get to be in this intimate relationship where we just smile back at his face, and the joy begins to abound because of who he is and whom we are in relationship with him. Sometimes it's even in the tough moments where Jesus is sitting there with you. And he is just saying, I'm with you in this, I'm for you in this and you have my joy, I'm not going anywhere. And there's this deep inner joy and peace that we have. Because if you have said yes to Jesus, a lot of times we spend a lot of our energy, trying to change our situations, trying to change our circumstances, thinking, if I can just begin to get here, if I can just start making this much money. If I can get to this point in my career, if we can finally have a baby, if I can finally get married, fill in the blank with whatever it is for you, then I'll finally begin to experience real joy in my life. If you are in union with Jesus Christ, you have his joy in you and your joy is complete. You will not have more joy when you get to one of those places. It's not possible complete is complete. It's just a matter of whether you're going to experience the joy that you already have. Or you're going to turn your attention away from all the bad all the worry all the things you're trying to control in your life and the things that you have to get to be at a certain point or the negative news that's out in the world and focus or do we renew our minds to Jesus? Do we look into his face, as we're told to Oh, over and over again, and that he is our joy, and just begin to receive what it is that we already have in him. I bring you tidings of great joy for all people. And it's Jesus, Jesus is your joy you have it, where you begin to experience and walk in it today, if you haven't, I hope that you will. But if you don't have it, it's available to you. But you do have to receive it. As we close look at verses 13 and 14 angels are, we're told Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel praising God and saying glory to God in the highest in heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor, rest, this peace, this joy is available to all people were told in the preceding verses, but it's, it's all available to all people through Jesus. But it only comes to those who will accept him who's who's who will receive his favorite into their lives, who will allow his favorite to rest on them. Were familiar with gifts this particular time of season, this is a gift Jesus wants to gift you His forgiveness, He wants to gift you joy into your life. But just like any gift that you receive around this Christmas time, it's something you have to take, it's something you have to open, you have to claim it. And this is the same thing with the gift that he offers you. It's for all people, no matter where you've been, no matter what you've done, it's just a matter once again, will you receive His forgiveness in what you receive His joy? Today, It's my prayer that you will. Let's pray. Father, thank you so much for what we see in your Word today. We're reminded of how humble the conditions were that Jesus, you, the creator of the universe, the Sustainer of the whole world were born into. God, we've seen today that this kingdom is unlike any kingdom that we try to make in our own worlds. We spent so much energy trying to build up our kingdoms, and it models the kingdoms of this world in our own lives, our own kingdom and our families and yet, your kingdom that is completely upside down. And we see that here. We see through the way that you moved Mary and Joseph from where they were to Bethlehem to fulfill prophecy that you're still sitting on the throne, that you're still moving things in a direction that you want them to go regardless of how things are going on in our world, and it appears to us. So we just declare for you in these moments we trust you. Bother for those of us who have said yes to you, we recognize and we see this morning that we have joy, our joy is complete. You fills us with it. To constant flow within us. We want to experience it we make ourselves available to you to just gaze upon you and be reminded that you are our joy that it's not our situations and circumstances that have to change. Allow us to experience it in our lives no matter what's going on. And father finally I pray for those who are here today who have never said yes to you. If they've been holding out thinking that they're too far gone, they've just done too much. They're invisible. You don't see them God I pray that you will continue to work and stirring our hearts and through what we saw today through the shepherds that they would know they are seen. You saw them. You saw they were valuable enough to make this announcement to them which shows us that we are valuable to you too. Would you continue to open up their hearts to receive the love that you have the forgiveness that you have the joy that you have for them to even in this moment. In Jesus name we pray amen.