The second gift I would like to give you is something else that our world needs a whole lot more of-not just at Christmas, but all year round - Joy! How fitting, how right to talk about joy . . . as it was above the shepherds' heads on that Bethlehem hillside that the angels announced, "I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord." Luke 2.10-11
Joy can be difficult to define and describe, and most of us start with its similarity to happiness. Well, sure it is related, but would you rather have joy or happiness? Hmmm. In order to get at the heart of Joy, here are a few things I know about it:
Joy is not about personality or temperament ~ I've heard people say, 'Oh, it's easy for you to be joyful-it's just your personality. You're bubbly, and besides, you've got a great life!' Joy is not about personality.
Joy must be experienced in the moment; you can't save it up, it is not for tomorrow or next week. The psalmist said, "This is the day that the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it." - Psalm 118.24
Joy is not dependent on circumstances, which is why Paul could rejoice from prison! Happiness tends to depend more on external goings-on; circumstances are always changing, so happiness has the potential to elude us, sorta' like the bubble that we finally reach up to grab, only to find it popping in our hand.
->Joy is linked with the heart of God - yes, it comes from the heart of God, because at the heart of God are all things good. The more you read his Word, the more you discover this for yourself!
Joy seems to be inextricably tied to hope. There is no joy without hope....why, hope keeps joy alive! And when hope is lost in this life, (like when it is clear a loved one will soon pass away), we remember that hope in forever with Jesus is never lost.
When the angels appeared to the shepherds that night so long ago, did they say "Joy is meant for you shepherds tonight"? No, they said, 'Behold I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be for all the people!' My dear friends, joy is meant for all of us! What was the great joy? A Savior!
Bearing in mind this: 'For I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation...' I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. Philippians 4.11-13
We can live freely and experience both joy and contentment when our priorities are shaped by loving the Lord with all our heart and loving our neighbor as ourselves. These priorities shape decisions and responses ~ how we live our lives, raise our children, and conduct business. Stop for a minute and think: when you take the time to really listen to the heart of your spouse or your neighbor or your child, you are honoring God and loving others well. Doing these simple and right things produces a joy inside.
Are you contentment challenged?
Are you joy challenged? Then I pray you will get to know the heart of God; both of these flow from relationship with him. They are the gifts of the Savior.
Joy to the World, uplifting song - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DtrnuG5wZ-Y
Joy to you,