I have a story
for you about two little boys and they were being baby seated
by their grandpa and grandma because their parents went
up north to ski for Christmas. And grandma said, “Now
go to bed early, boys, right now because tomorrow is Christmas.
We got to get to church.” So the boys went to bed
and the youngest began his prayers first but he yelled them
out. He said, “God, tomorrow I want a Nintendo, and
I want a new bike, and I want a cell phone.” But he
yelled them out so loud his brother said, “Why are
you yelling? God isn’t deaf.” And he said, “No
but grandma is.”
to give you a gift in the next nine minutes that I have
for you and the gift is something I don’t believe
you will ever forget. For some of you, it’s new but
for many of us we learned it in Sunday school as little
children. At Christmas time, we were reminded that the first
promise made by heaven through the angels to the human family
was the gift of good tidings of great joy. And that’s
quite phenomenal because you see this was 2000 years before
there were professionals called psychologists who psychoanalyzed
the Freudian slips that probably came out of us.
Joy, the first
promise made by heaven through the angels to the human family.
Later, would come the words peace and love. But the first
word was joy. The bottom line that God promises to you this
Christmas Eve is joy. Now, here is how to remember joy.
J-O-Y. And some of you learned it in Sunday school and I
did. J – Jesus first. O – Others come second.
Y – Yourself comes last. You see JOY is really an
amazing collection of priorities. Get your priorities straight
and you’ll live an amazingly tranquil life. Oh, there
will be the downtimes, they don’t last that long.
Or if they last long, there will come spiritual strength
to carry you through from sources you never knew before
but the secret of joy is really very simply, get your priorities
straight and if you’re only in the business, if that’s
your world, this applies in your business. If you’re
in relationships, it applies there. It applies to children,
young people, adults, the married, the newly married. Get
your spiritual life straighten first. J – Jesus. Because
every human being whether you’re an atheist or a spiritual
person, you have a spiritual nature and you cannot eradicate
our limit it, just get it straight. And I can’t believe
that anyone can find a better way of putting his spiritual
life in good order, short of getting acquainted with Jesus
Christ, whom we believe was the Son of God. Get your spiritual
life in order. That means you’ll, that means you’ll
have your ethics in good line. That means your honesty and
integrity will come forth. But if you don’t start
there, you’re going to run into trouble, that’s
for sure: in your business, in your marriage, or in your
spiritual life. J – Jesus first.
Once you have
a spiritual foundation, then you’re ready for the
O. The second priority in basic living that will produce
joy and that’s others second. Yes, if your spiritual
life is straight, you’ll have a concern for others
and you’ll think of others before you’ll think
of yourself because that’s the secret of every good
business: find the need and fill it, find a hurt and heal
it, find a problem and solve it. Be attentive to the customer.
There are lots of retailing establishments today that have
forgotten that principle: customers come first. They’re
forgetting it. And they will pay for it. For people want
to be respected as persons. Others come second.
Y – yourself
comes last. Guess what: it’s okay sometimes to be
what some people would call selfish. Shocking, isn’t
it. It’s not a sin to be concerned and to take good
care of yourself. It’s just a sin when you are first
and others are second and God never comes in or if He does,
it’s at the last place. The basic priorities have
to be straight. God first, others second, yourself last.
You know, I have a dear friend Ken Leestma, and those of
you who come to this church remember him because he’s
one of our pastors. Many of you remember that he was one
of the men 50 years ago that attended a church meeting where
he recommended that they call a young Robert Schuller to
come from Chicago to start a new church here in California.
He was one of the persons who brought me here. He’s
one of my dearest friends, but today he has Alzheimer’s.
He doesn’t know his wife, he’s out of it. And
it’s very sad, especially to me because he was so
important. Without him, we wouldn’t be here today
as a church. He never knew how important his motion would
turn out to be.
So we had dinner
the other night with his wife, I almost want to call her
a widow. And what are you doing this week, Betty? Oh, she
said, I’m going Christmas shopping. I said, oh? Yep.
She said, and guess what: I can’t get anything for
Ken, and my friends aren’t here and the others have
moved, some have died, I’m really quite alone. So
she said you know what I’ve decided to do? I’m
going to go Christmas shopping for me. I got a list of all
the nice things I’d like to get. And I’m going
to go out and I’m going to have fun shopping. I’m
going to wrap them all up, I’m going to put them all
under the tree, and I’m going to wait until Christmas
morning and then I’m going to open the gifts. And
I wouldn’t doubt but Betty, if she’s not at
this service, will be at one of the other seven church services
here tonight. Congratulations, Betty. It’s a good
example for lots of people.
There are some
people that are unselfish to a fault. You have to be last
but don’t cut yourself out of your own generosity.
Be good to yourself. You’re a wonderful person, you
deserve a good Christmas. And at that point, let me suggest
that I appear tonight an offering to all of you the greatest
gift you can give to yourself, and that’s the gift
of planting the seed of ultimate joy in your life.
is not pleasure. Pleasure comes through material needs.
It’s a joy that comes from the inner spiritual feeling
of your relationship with God so I invite you tonight, wherever
you’re at: if you’re an atheist or an agnostic,
or if you’re just a secularist or if you’re
a pure humanist or if you’re just a materialistic
land driven human personality, I invite you tonight to start
at the beginning: Jesus first. Get your spiritual life on
a solid basis. And you cannot do better than turning to
Jesus Christ. Never another person who came on planet earth
with the announcement He’s come to bring joy because
He’s to be your Savior and your Lord. We all need
salvation. Even Barbara Walters had a one hour special on
how do you get salvation and is there really a heaven and
how do you get there. We know the answer, not because we’re
smarter or brighter, but we just read the right book and
in the gospel of St. John is the verse, “God so loved
this world, that He gave His only Son that whoever believes
in Him should not perish but should have everlasting life.”
Now that’s in the Bible! I believe it.
I have joy because
the deepest level I know that there’s a heaven and
I don’t know what it is or where it is, but I know
how to get there. If you know the right person, and love
Him, you’ll get there. And His name is Jesus. Whatever
heaven is, wherever it is, you can be sure He’s there.
So become a friend of Jesus. Become a follower of Jesus.
It’s quite simple. And then come to church every Sunday
and keep your priorities straight and get closer to Jesus
Christ and let the biggest part of your growing future be
in your religious life. Come to Jesus. You know, I want
to say what’s the most expensive gift in the world
and it’s free to anybody who wants it. The most expensive
gift is salvation. Christ died on the cross for you. And
it’s free to anybody who wants it. “Come unto
me, He said, you who labor and are heavy laden and I will
give you rest. Come to Me.” This Christmas gift to
you tonight. Follow Him. Find faith. And you will find joy