December 13, 2010 – The Gift of JOY

Posted on December 13, 2010

Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength. – Nehemiah 8:10 (NET)

It is a sad fact that the season between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day has the highest percentage of suicides of any time of the year. People sink into depression, discouragement, and despondence, and, having no hope, no peace, and no joy, they decide they prefer to end their lives than to keep on living in this joyless world.

Of course, we who are in Christ know that what awaits these poor souls on the other side is far worse than what they faced in this world. Further, we are well aware that if we have Christ “Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.” – Psalm 30:5 (ESV) And that is just it, isn’t it—we who are IN CHRIST know this. Without Him, we would be just as lost, just as discouraged, just as hopeless and just as joyless as those who have given up on life. But because we have Christ, we have the joy of the LORD, and the joy of the LORD is our STRENGTH! There is a light at the end of the tunnel, and a reward that far surpasses any trial. We have the promise of our Lord Jesus Christ and He encourages us, “In the world you will have suffering. But take heart! I have conquered the world.” – John 16:33 (REB)

Though from our very finite human perspective life may sometimes (even often) appear to be without joy, we have great reason for rejoicing!  The fifth chapter of Romans explains:

“Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of God’s glory. Not only this, but we also rejoice in sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance, character, and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. Not only this, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received this reconciliation.” – Romans 5:1-6, 11 (NET)

No matter how bad life gets, no matter what this old world may throw at us, we can have joy, because we have been reconciled to God through Christ. The gift of Jesus is the gift of the joy of the Lord, and the joy of the LORD is our strength! May God grant that we would ever share the attitude of:

  • Mary, who declared, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. – Luke 1:46-48 (NRSV)
  • The shepherds who were told of the birth of Christ: “The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had seen and heard, just as they had been told. Luke 2:20 (HCSB)
  • The three wise men who sought Jesus: “When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.” – Matthew 2:10 (KJV)

We can, should, and DO have joy—the joy of the LORD—because it has been given to us in the person of Jesus Christ, born as a helpless baby in a dirty stable in an insignificant town over two millennia ago. I encourage you to focus on the Giver of THE GIFT this Christmas season. As we remember our hope, as we set aside time to soak in His peace, let us also set aside time to PARTY! To CELEBRATE! GOD IS WITH US! Because of this, I exhort you, brothers and sisters, as Paul exhorted the Philippian Christians: “Keep on rejoicing in the Lord at all times. I will say it again: Keep on rejoicing!” – Philippians 4:4 (ISV)

PRAYER
Loving God create in us a fountain of joy, stir in us a spirit ready to dance, kindle in us the fire of gladness, set loose in us songs of praise, for You are the One who comes with healing and blessing. It is You, King Jesus, who reconciles us to God. You are our offering, our priest, and our God, the source and the object of our joy. Grant that we would rejoice in You, during the Christmas season and throughout our lives! Amen.

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