Luke 1:14 He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of His birth
The great theologian Dwight L. Moody said, “Happiness is caused by things that happen around me, and circumstances will mar it; but joy flows right on through trouble; joy flows on through the dark; joy flows in the night as well as in the day; joy flows all through persecution and opposition. It is an unceasing fountain bubbling up in the heart; a secret spring the world can’t see and doesn’t know anything about. The Lord gives His people perpetual joy when they walk in obedience to Him.” [SOURCE: Dwight Lyman Moody as quoted by Edythe Draper, Draper’s Book of Quotations for the Christian World (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1992). Entry 6529.]
Catherine Marshall wrote:
“My friend Marge had an experience aboard a plane bound for Cleveland, waiting for takeoff. As she settled into her seat, Marge noticed a strange phenomenon. On one side of the airplane a sunset suffused the entire sky with glorious color. But out of the window next to her seat, all Marge could see was a sky dark and threatening, with no sign of the sunset.
“As the plane’s engines began to roar, a gentle Voice spoke within her. ‘You have noticed the windows,’ He murmured beneath the roar and thrust of the takeoff. ‘Your life, too, will contain some happy, beautiful times, but also some dark shadows. Here’s a lesson I want to teach you to save you much heartache and allow you to abide in Me with continual peace and joy.
“‘You see, it doesn’t matter which window you look through; this plane is still going to Cleveland. So it is in your life. You have a choice. You can dwell on the gloomy picture. Or you can focus on the bright things and leave the dark, ominous situations to Me. I alone can handle them anyway.
“‘And the final destination is not influenced by what you see or feel along the way. Learn this, act on it and you will be released, able to experience the peace that passes understanding.'”
Every year we see Santa letters in the newspapers and magazines – letters children wrote to Santa Claus. Most of them are so cute we can’t help but smile and sometimes laugh out loud.
One said, “Dear Santa, you did not bring me anything good last year. You did not bring me anything good the year before that. This is your last chance. Signed, Alfred.”
“Dear Santa, there are three little boys who live at our house. There is Jeffrey; he is 2. There is David; he is 4. And there is Norman; he is 7. Jeffrey is good some of the time. David is good some of the time. But Norman is good all of the time. I am Norman.”
“Dear Santa, last year you brought me a baby brother. You can skip our house this year, unless, of course, you were thinking of bringing a puppy.”
When I think of Christmas I think of________. How would you complete this sentence? Would you consider it to be a major headache, a pain in the neck, hectic, insanity shopping? Is it to you just a day when we get together as families and share presents, eat a big meal, and watch football games? And probably falling asleep on the couch before the first quarter ends……”I am not asleep; I was just resting my eyes!” Right!
Where is the joy? What is the joy? The joy is the fact that we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior who came to this earth to be crucified, buried, and rose again – to grant us eternal life. We are joyfully redeemed because of His birth on this earth. Can you just imagine the joy shouted in heaven when He came to earth. Now, where is that joy? In ToysRUs, Walmart, Target??? No, there is only hassle, hassle, and headaches there.
During this Advent season let’s focus on our themes and only our themes – first was hope, then, love, now joy.
You can surround yourself with joy because it is a beautiful season of the year. It is a celebration for each of us. It does not matter what your financial situation is, your living conditions, your family lifestyle. Joy is a decision you make and it can be overwhelmingly joyful because you make the determination by what your emphasis is. Let’s look at three areas to emphasize in your minds and in your heart –
Put your first emphasis on the J for Jesus
Galatians 2:20 (NIV) 20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
Do you remember the old Television special for Christmas. Our dear Charlie Brown asks about Christmas and Linus recites the story of Christ’s birth from Luke Chapter 2. We must remember that Christmas is not….I repeat NOT about us and our family and gifts and friends and parties. It is about JESUS. And this is the great Joy to the World.
“One year a Christmas afternoon visitor asked five-year-old Ruth, “Did you get everything you wanted for Christmas?” After a moment’s hesitation, she answered, “’No, but then it’s not my birthday!’”
It is so easy and often encouraged in this day and age to ignore what this holiday is really about. What in the world are we supposed to be celebrating? The world and Satan want us to forget. We are now to say Happy Holidays. Politically Correct or the devil’s ally?? We can celebrate Kwanza and Winter Solstice and Hanukkah but not Christmas. I know this is just the Atheists and Satan trying to make Jesus disappear. But this will not happen as long as we Christians stand firm and hold that Joy of the Lord within us. Regardless of what the world wants us to thing, it is still possible and sometimes easy to forget what Christmas is about.
Remembering Jesus in Bethlehem as an infant AND remembering the He is the Savior and holding it in your heart is what being a Christian is about This little baby became a man and went to the Cross for us; and by His resurrection proved for you and for me that He is the Messiah. Hold this in our hearts – that is J – oy.
That alone should fill us with joy!
Put the Emphasis also on the O for Others
Acts 20:35 (NIV) 35 In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ”
Putting our emphasis on Jesus and how He came for all brings us J o y. Because in Acts 20: 35 Paul shows us that joy comes in giving, in generosity. God presented us with the greatest gift of all – Jesus. The gift of true love. So we, too, can follow that example. Joy is not getting everything we want but in giving all we can give to – others. That is true JOY.
Remember always that Jesus said that whatever you do to the least of these, you do for me. Get that joy by finding someone, something in need, and in the name of Christ – give—give of your time and treasures. Ask the Lord to come to you and the Holy Spirit will show you where to find them/it. Follow and look. You will find joy by putting emphasis on others, not just yourself.
And lastly put a great emphasis on Y – for YOU
Isaiah 55:12 You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.
Philippians 4:6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.
John 15:11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.
And at the same time, we also need to emphasize our selves. Our attitudes will determine whether or not we will let joy come into our hearts. We must instantly forgive others and ourselves and open ourselves up to love everyone.
Ephesians 4:32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.
We must remain encouraged about our walk with God, our life, our prospects. Regardless of what we may be going through, we must look up and always know the eternal plan. This is not always easy, especially in this day and age. We have to work at it and choose to emphasize the good, the true, the beautiful. We can do a daily exercise of positive, loving thinking. Choose JOY. The Bible directs us to stay on the “greener” side of the fence, to look out the window with the sunrise beaming, and He knows we can. We only need to put our focus, our attitude toward the Light of our Lord.
1 Peter 1:8 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
You have a choice – be filled with Joy or be filled with unhappiness and heavy heart…full of Joy or full of woe.
“Christmas is based on an exchange of gifts, the gift of God to man–His unspeakable gift of His Son, and the gift of man to God–when we present our bodies a living sacrifice”. – Vance Havner
Luke 1:14 He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth,
Joy – only you can make the decision to cloak yourself in this beautiful coat. Put on the armor of God and accept His gift to you – Jesus, the Christ, the Lord and Savior.
What a joyful gift.