In 1719 Isaac Watts wrote a poem, JOY TO THE WORLD. It became a hymn. It has become for many, a most beloved Christmas carol. Listen to these words:
Joy to the world, the Lord is come! Let earth receive her King.
Let every heart prepare Him room, Let Heaven and nature sing.
The "joy" theme is always an appropriate Christmas theme even as it was at the first Christmas, as recorded in the Gospels:
Luke tells us that the angel spoke these words to the shepherds . . . Do not be afraid. I bring you good tidings of great joy (2:10)
Matthew tells of the wise men who set out to find Jesus. They followed the star to the place of His birth . . . When they saw the star they were overjoyed. (2:10)
The joy of that first Christmas can be the joy of this Christmas also.
As Christians we have learned to find joy in Him. JESUS JOY is a reality that is only found in Him. Listen to Jesus as He speaks about joy to His followers . . . that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be full (John 15:11). How amazing! When Jesus speaks about joy in this text, He makes two promises: (1) That my joy may be in you. He says that His joy can be in you . . . and also in me. (2) That your joy may be full. Not a drop. Not an occasional spurt. Not a `drying-up' creek. He speaks of a river of joy . . . joy that is sourced in Him and supplied to us.
It is possible to occasionally lapse into our pre-Christian days when we sought joy in circumstances. The contrast between happiness and joy has been explained like this: Happiness depends on happenings. Joy depends on our soul's relationship with Jesus. Paul, writing from a prison cell, wrote his JOY BOOK (Philippians) with texts like these: I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice (1:18). And: Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again, Rejoice (4:4). The key phrase is . . . in the Lord. He never changes. Circumstances are constantly in flux. So we have joy as we stay focused on Him . . . as we remain anchored to Jesus.
As a student of the Scriptures, I am often amazed at the largeness of His gift of joy. Often the word JOY has adjectives and adverbs in Scripture to amplify and enlarge the meaning of the JESUS JOY. Peter writes of Joy inexpressible and glorious (I Peter 1:8). Nehemiah writes of a great, very great joy (Nehemiah 8:17). Paul writes of an overflowing joy
(II Corinthians 8:2). The Psalmist addressed God as My Joy; My Delight (43:4). The author of the hymn, SINCE JESUS CAME INTO MY HEART understands the wide scope of God's gift of joy when he writes: floods of joy o'er my soul like the sea billows roll. Yes, he had a huge grasp of the magnitude of God's joy. The blind song-writer, Fannie Crosby, richly pondered her blindness in relationship to God's joy and wrote . . .
Oh what a happy soul I am, although I cannot see;
I am resolved that in this world contented I will be.
How many blessings I enjoy, that other people don't,
To weep and sigh because I'm blind, I cannot and I won't.
One of the attributes of the Godhead is joy. It is attributed to each of the three Persons of the Godhead:
Joy and the Father: The God of hope fills us with all joy (Romans 15:13).
Joy and Jesus: He said . . . that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be full (John 15:11).
Joy and the Holy Spirit: The fruit of the Spirit is joy . . . (Galatians 5:22).
The entirety of the Godhead is full of joy . . . identified with Him but available to us.
Have a wonderful joy-filled Christmas. I also pray that in the new year of 2008, you will discover an enlarged and an ever-enlarging joy in Him.
Founder, Senior Associate