Last Thursday we saw that the difference between joy and its emotional cousin, happiness, is that while happiness may fade away when its source is removed; but joy lasts forever, for it is rooted in God’s eternal love, grace and faithfulness! This is JESUS JOY, the Joy of the Christ Child, the Joy that Jesus came to this earth as a tiny baby to give us.
And this is also the joy that we are admonished to be full of: “Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again–rejoice!” (Phil. 4:4 NLT). Again, in Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians, he says: “Always be joyful.” (1 Thess. 1:16 NLT). But wait. We would all love to follow that admonition. We would love to always be joyful and to be full of joy. We would love to be able to rejoice continually. But what do we do when the joy seems to be on the other side of a pane of glass? How can we act joyful when we don’t feel joyous?
We can’t. Oh, we could put on a “joyous act”, paint a smile on our faces, etc., but trying to be something we are not is hypocritical and people see right through it. How then, in the midst of the problems of this world, in the midst of the hustle and bustle of Christmastime, how can we succeed in always being joyful?
The Bible has some excellent suggestions:
“When anxiety was great within me, Your consolation brought me joy.”(Ps. 94:19 NIV). In other words, when God consoles us, even in the midst of our worst fears, it brings us true joy!
“You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in Your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” (Ps. 16:11 NIV). Here we see that true joy–and eternal pleasures too!–come from being in the presence of God!
“Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in Him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” (1 Peter 1:8-9 NIV). Peter us telling us here that joy is ours when we simply believe in Jesus!
“Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.” (John 16:24 NIV). We understand with this that simply approaching the throne of God and making requests in Jesus’ name brings us joy!
“Your statutes are my heritage forever; they are the joy of my heart.” (Ps. 119:111 NIV). David is helping us understand that simply making God’s law our first priority will bring us joy!
In summary then, Scripture tells us that Jesus’ Joy, the joy of the Christ Child, is a gift of God, one that we will find when we are in the presence of the Lord; one that is ours when we take our consolation in the Lord; one that comes from believing in Jesus, approaching the throne room of God and asking God for what we need in the name of Jesus; and one that comes from making God and His laws our first priority.
What does this all mean?
It means that Jesus’ Joy, the joy of the Christ Child, is ours at any time of the year, including this busy time; but it also means that we must access it by believing, by trusting, by being in the presence of the Lord and by making God’s laws our first priority.
That doesn’t sound too difficult, does it? It does, however, require that we set aside time from our busy schedules to enter into the presence of the Lord.
But wait. The moments I feel the least joyous are usually the times when God seems far away and I either don’t have the time to spend with Him or I am too upset to even pray. What then? How can I access this eternal joy that Jesus came to give us?
Join us on Tuesday for the conclusion of JESUS JOY! Restoring the Joy of Christmas, Part 3: How to Receive Joy from the Presence of the Lord…
In His love,
Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two, Author — “Aboard God’s Train — A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer”, Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, andScriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, withAnswers2Prayer Ministries. Follow Lyn on Twitter @lynchaffart.
(To access the entire JESUS JOY! mini-series, please click here.)