“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 and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.’” (Luke 2: 8-11 NIV)
When the angels brought the good news to the shepherds, they weren’t just telling the shepherds about some baby that was being born in a nearby town. The angels were bringing news that would change the lives of these shepherds forever. The news that Jesus was born brought joy to them, and it can and should bring joy to me and to you today. After studying joy this past week, I’ve begun to realize how much joy truly comes from the Lord. Joy is not merely a synonym for happiness. It is much more than that. Thankfully, joy has nothing to do with my circumstances and everything to do with the source of joy, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. In the midst of the most horrible, heartbreaking, difficult, and challenging circumstances (read 2020) I can have joy. Not because I pretend that my circumstances are somehow good or easy but because of what He has done for me. When the angels brought the news to the shepherds, Jesus hadn’t done anything on earth in his fleshly body, yet the angels were proclaiming of the joy he would bring to all people. This excites me!
In 1 Peter 1:3-9, Peter tells us that we can rejoice in the resurrection of Jesus because it will never “perish, spoil, or fade.” This is great news, and frankly I need to be reminded of it over and over again. I need to remember to dwell on the good news of Jesus because his good news doesn’t change. Since his good news doesn’t change, I can rest assured that he can conquer anything that comes my way. When I’m focused on who he is and what he has done for me, in regards to eternity, joy comes much more easily. I can rejoice because of what he has done and who he is and not be overcome by my circumstances. I hope as this year comes to an end you will choose to reflect on the joy we have in Christ.
“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4: 17-18 NIV).
Listen to “joy.” by for KING & COUNTRY. https://youtu.be/lA7n7TwPDmw
Joy to the World!
“You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (Psalm 16:11)
JOY TO THE WORLD!!!!!
I know that as a believer in my Lord Jesus, I think I should be ready to sing that carol with sparkling eyes, an exploding smile, and a full, contented heart. But truth be told, sometimes my favorite Christmas carols and even favorite worship songs bring a lump in my throat and sometimes, the songs make my eyes sparkle with tears.
There are times when special days, holidays, can underscore the circumstances that aren’t quite right in our lives. Or to rephrase that, maybe they aren’t as we expected they would be.
This year, maybe some of us are missing loved ones who went to heaven before we were
ready. Or maybe some of us are grieving losses of income, or family relationships, wayward
children, or broken marriages. Everyone I know has experience at LEAST the loss of normalcy
as we have learned to adjust to the challenges of this year.
Are you struggling to find JOY?
Several years ago, I purchased a 6 foot tall white, weathered sign that spells out JOY in festive
red letters. I habitually place it on my porch in December as a Christmas decoration. This year,
I have been slower to pull it out, struggling a bit with the word. I was pondering this on a recent
early morning commute, thinking about JOY and an acronym popped into my mind.
O – Overcoming
Y – Yesterday
No matter if that “yesterday” is one day old or 10 years old, pondering the past over the
presence of Jesus will steal my joy every time. Referring back to our opening scripture, God tells
us that fullness of joy is not going to be found in our circumstances, but clearly, we will always
find it in the presence of Jesus. And God does not stop there, he tells us that when we are still
in his presence, there are pleasures forevermore. I needed that reminder. We have the gift of
Jesus, and the privilege of His presence every minute of every day.
J – Jesus
O – Overwhelming
Y – You
My JOY sign is up…… and this year, I added LIGHTS!
Do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength. Neh. 8:10
Often joy and happiness are mistaken for the same thing. But happiness is a feeling that comes over you when life is good or something good has happened. However, happiness is fleeting, dependent upon our circumstances.
Joy, on the other hand is a permanent possession. It doesn’t come from favorable circumstances in our lives. Rather, it comes from God and His presence in our lives. We can’t lose joy any more than we can lose God. “In God’s presence is fullness of Joy.” PS. 16:11.
The joy of the Lord is unceasing, unwavering and powerful. It comes from a place of internal peace with God rather than external fleeting circumstances.
God longs to make us a people marked by His Joy. He wants to make us a joyful people in every circumstance and in every season of our lives. We can have joy in the midst of our trials because we have a genuine faith that this life is not all there is. Every trial and tribulation is an opportunity to be filled with joy at the thought of what awaits us on the other side of this life.
So, no matter what the highs or lows of this season of live bring – chose Joy!
Joy to the ALL the World
But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. (Luke 2:10-11)
Who doesn’t love good news? We all love good news, but unfortunately good news doesn’t always make it to certain populations. Just ask the first century shepherds in Israel. Those guys rarely got good news due to the fact they were literally dirty most of the time. Kids may get a pass for being consistently filthy; not the shepherds. Since shepherds were physically dirty, they were also deemed ceremonially unclean, which meant they had a hard time worshipping in the very place their perfect lambs were taken for sacrifice.
Maybe you can relate with how they shepherds must have felt. Maybe you’ve thought, “I will never be able to clean myself up enough to be in the presence of God.” If that’s you, find great joy in the Gospel of Luke. The shepherds were the FIRST group of people to hear about and experience the good news of the Savior’s birth! You see Jesus came for ALL! He doesn’t want anyone to miss out on the joy of the Lord!
You may not be in a happy place right now due to the pandemic or due to a lack of self-worth or due to some other reason, but remember this – you have access to the Messiah’s ever-present joy! No one is excluded from His grace or love! Do not be afraid! His good news is for ALL people…including you!
- Why do you feel “dirty” or “unclean” at times?
- How does the story of the angels and the shepherds encourage you?
- Who needs to hear about the great joy Jesus offers?
“4 Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!” (Php 4:4).
Ingrid Fetell Lee, author of Joyful: The Surprising Power of Ordinary Things to Create Extraordinary Happiness, says in her book that,
“…when psychologists use the word ‘joy,’ (broadly speaking) they mean an intense momentary experience of positive emotion, one that can be recognized by certain telltale signs: smiling, laughing, and a feeling of wanting to jump up and down. While contentment is curled up on the sofa, and bliss is lost in tranquil meditation, joy is skipping, jiving, twirling, giggling. It is a uniquely exuberant emotion, a high-energy form of happiness” (pp 7-8).
Ok! So there are a few things that I take issue with regarding Ingrid’s understanding of joy as it is described above. I’ll just give you one. In a word, my issue is momentary. If joy is anything, it certainly is not momentary. The Bible tells us that in the presence of our eternal God there is a fullness, a completeness, an unending and ever-flowing joy! Then, the psalmist goes on to say that we will be filled with eternal pleasures at the right hand of our God (Psalm 16:11). Momentary “joy” is nothing more than happiness. Happiness is like the waves of an ocean, it comes in and goes back out. Joy is eternal, it is never in short supply. This is exactly why our circumstances have no power to control our joy.
I’ll give you an example.
My wife an I have experienced two miscarriages during our 12 years of marriage. After the second one my heart was broken. I was absolutely settled on us not trying to get have another baby. Adoption? Sure, but traditional birth? No thanks. My wife though, she was able to look beyond our situation and see the delight, the pleasure, the joy at that birth of another child. She wasn’t defeated by the devastation of our loss. This is what real, biblical joy looks like.
You see, Jesus doesn’t promise that our lives will be without pain and difficulty. He actually promises the opposite.
The writer of Hebrews 12:2 tells us to
“[look] unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Jesus Himself was able to see past the miscarriages caused by sin and still find joy in the coming redemption of those who would trust in Him.
Father God, I thank you that I can have joy no matter my circumstances. I thank you that you found joy in taking the form of a baby and redeeming the world from sin.