This year was the 25th anniversary of our church’s Living Christmas Tree. I have been blessed to be able to write the narration for it since 2012. The narration happens in between the beautiful songs and is meant to help weave everything together into a clear picture of our Savior Jesus Christ.
So many words from the Lord come out in the entire narration each year, that it has to be edited because of time in the service. So here is the full version from this year. I know it is long but maybe each section could be a brief devotion for you until we meet again next week.
These are just a few branches from the Tree – the Tree of Life who is our Lord Jesus.
May you be greatly blessed and feel completely loved by our Heavenly Father as you read His words to you, dear friend.
Opening Narration 1
The Lord is come! The Lord is come…
Joy to the whole world! The Lord sent His Son to bring joy to every person in the world. Joy that is lasting. Joy that shines in every part of our being. Joy that settles in our hearts and never leaves us.
I think it’s safe to say that joy is something we all want, right? We want to have joy in life.
Maybe there has been a time when you longed for joy only to have it slip away. Maybe you had a taste of it but couldn’t hold onto it. Maybe you’ve been thinking that joy stands for “just over yonder.”
Something you want that is just out of reach can be disheartening. The Bible says that hope deferred makes the heart sick. But we have good news for you tonight. The Bible also says, “but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” (Proverbs 13:12)
So how do you find and hold onto what you’ve been longing for?
Friend, maybe we’ve been thinking about joy all wrong. Joy is not a thing – something we can grasp. Joy is a person. A person who loves you. Joy is our Savior Jesus Christ.
And when you see Him, really see Him, then you will arise and shine, for you will know that your light has come. You will know that the glory of the Lord rises upon you, even though darkness covers the earth and deep darkness is over the people. (Isaiah 60:1, 2, NKJV)
You don’t have to wait any longer. Now is the time of God’s favor. Today is the day of grace, and your Joy is here.
When you see Him, your face will become radiant and your heart will swell with joy. (Isaiah 60:5, NKJV)
Why? Because He has already come to give you His joy. Yes, Emmanuel – God with us – has come!
When Jesus started His earthly ministry, He read these words from the Isaiah the prophet:
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor (Isaiah 61:1-3, NIV)
Jesus came to free us from being impoverished, brokenhearted, prisoners in darkness. And even though we sometimes don’t feel free, the things that enslaved us have been defeated.
In this knowledge, this truth, we can have great joy. Why? Because when Jesus came, He came:
to comfort all who mourn,
and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes,
the oil of joy instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. (Isaiah 60:2b-3, NIV)
Friend, you will not stay in that prison of darkness. Not when the glory of the Lord rises upon you.
“For you shall go out with joy, and be led out with peace;
The mountains and the hills
Shall break forth into singing before you,
And all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.” (Isaiah 55:12, NKJV)
God’s desire is for everyone to have joy – young, old, and in between. He wants you, His dear child, to experience joy in life. He wants you free from all those things Jesus died to free us from.
Our Heavenly Father told the prophet Jeremiah: “Then young women will dance and be glad, young men and old as well. I will turn their mourning into gladness; I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow.” (Jeremiah 31:13, NKJV)
How is this possible? Because God is faithful.
…let all those rejoice who put their trust in You;
Let them ever shout for joy, because You defend them;
Let those also who love Your name be joyful in You. (Psalm 5:11, NKJV)
You might be thinking, “All this talk about joy is fine, but I don’t feel it.” You might be thinking, “I’ve been waiting for joy a long time. When is it going to happen for me?”
Maybe you are grieving because of a loss. Maybe you are struggling because of a disappointment. Maybe you are just tired of trying and have given up on ever feeling joy again.
You might also be thinking, “I’m not really listening because I’m too busy looking at the commotion behind you, David.”
I understand. Life is busy. Sometimes life is hard. Sometimes it’s difficult to see the truth of the beauty of God’s love for us.
Friend, Jesus came that we might have life and have it more abundantly. That means abundant peace, abundant comfort, and abundant joy.
The Bible tells us that Jesus, for the joy set before Him endured the cross. Imagine! It was the joy on the other side of the cross that helped Him endure the pain on the cross – the cross that He hung on to pay for my sin and yours.
The King of all Kings laid down His life in joy, looking forward to our salvation (Hebrews 12:2, NKJV) – the salvation that He purchased by His death because of His great love for us.
I will greatly rejoice in the Lord,
My soul shall be joyful in my God;
For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation,
He has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
As a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments,
And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. (Isaiah 61:10, NKJV)
The King has come to give us a life full of love and joy. It all begins with our receiving what He longs to give us. Reach out your hand and accept the gift from the King who loves you.
When the angel Gabriel visited Mary and told her she would be the mother of the Savior of the world, she was a young maiden at the time.
The Scriptures tell us that this in itself was a sign from the Lord: “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14, NASB)
Gabriel also said that Mary’s baby would be named Jesus, meaning “the Lord is Salvation*”, because He would save His people from their sins. (Matthew 1:21, NKJV)
And do you know what Mary’s response was to this unexpected news? You guessed it. Joy.
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. (Luke 2:46-49, NIV)
*Strong’s Concordance G2424 and H3091
The word “joy” appears over 150 times in the Bible. “Rejoice” appears over 180 times. Together that is nearly once for each day of the year.
Someone shared with me that while reading through all those joy verses, they were overwhelmed with what the Lord had done, and how much He wants us to rejoice in His love for us.
If God so loved the world that He gave His One and Only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life – then we must conclude that the joy of salvation is for the whole world.
King David wrote: “And my soul shall be joyful in the Lord; it shall rejoice in His salvation.” (Psalm 35:9, NKJV)
Be joyful and rejoice – in His salvation. Remember what Jesus’ name means? The Lord is Salvation.
The name of Jesus tells us exactly what is in the heart of God – saving those He loves. And He loves you, my friend. He loves you very much.
Hope: that confident expectation of good, that confident expectation of real joy – hope. It comes alive in our hearts when we know who is with us. When we know Emmanuel – God with us.
That is part of why Jesus IS Emmanuel – God with us. To bring us hope, joy, and a life filled with love.
Once, when John the Baptist saw Jesus coming near, he said “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! (John 1:29, NASB)
Jesus, the Lamb of God laid down His life to give us the abundant life He promised us. He saved us.
Remember the beginning of His ministry when He said He came to free us from darkness, prison, and being brokenhearted?
He has done it!
Sing, O heavens!
Be joyful, O earth!
And break out in singing, O mountains!
For the Lord has comforted His people,
And will have mercy on His afflicted. (Isaiah 49:1,3, NKJV)
He did all this on the cross. He conquered the powers of darkness and won the victory over our sin, freeing us. He took our sin so that we could have great joy in His salvation!
At the name of Jesus… Jesus…
Jesus has been given a name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father! (Phil 2:9-11)
Jesus is Christ, Messiah – the Anointed One
He is the Prince of Peace
The Good Shepherd
The Lamb of God
He is the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End
He is the Author and Finisher of Faith
He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life
He is the Light of the World
Jesus, Yeshua is the Son of God and Son of Man!
He is the Bread of Life and the True Vine!
And He is the Resurrection and the Life!
Jesus Christ, the King of Kings, the Lord of all Lords is come!
Christ has come! And when He came, the angels who appeared to the shepherds said,
“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” (Luke 2:14, NIV)
And that’s you, by the way – those on whom His favor rests. That’s you. Peace, favor, hope, and joy to you.
And even though there is darkness in the world, even though we might not always feel that these wonderful things (like joy) are ours, simply remember this:
Yet this I call to mind
and therefore I have hope:
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him.”
The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him,
to the one who seeks him; (Lamentations 3:21-25, NIV)
Because once you seek Him, instead of your shame you shall have double honor, and instead of confusion you will rejoice in your portion. Therefore in your land you shall possess double; everlasting joy shall be yours. (Isaiah 61:7, NKJV)
Having everlasting joy is as simple as this: believe. Jesus came to bring forgiveness of sins. As it is written: “All the prophets testify about Jesus that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” (Acts 10:43, NIV)
Believe, receive, and take hold of the joy that is yours in the Savior who loves you.
The apostle Paul wrote that anyone who is in Christ is a new creation. The old things have passed away. Behold! All things have become new. (2 Corinthians 5:17, NKJV)
If that is you, and your hope is now in the Lord, my friend your strength will be renewed. You will soar on wings like eagles; you will run and not grow weary, you will walk and not be faint. (Isaiah 40:31, NIV)
Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit! (Romans 15:13, NASB)