TEACHER: Ken Hicks
SCRIPTURES: Luke 2:1-20; Isaiah 9:1-2, 6; Matthew 1:21-23
BOTTOM LINE: HAPPINESS is based on our circumstancs and the things that happen in our lives; JOY is a result of God’s Presence in our lives. The CHRISTmas story paints for us a picture of Discovering & Re-Discovering JOY in our lives.
QUESTION: God where are You at work in the lives of those around me? And How do You desire to use Me? [because it’s in His presence overflowing from our lives into others that we will discover our greatest JOY]
I know for me this year for some reason … and I honestly can’t put my handle on it … but I’ve been reading and re-reading Luke 1 & 2 … absolutely amazed at the story of CHRISTmas and where in so many places, life and circumstances were absolutely crazy for Zechariah & Elizabeth, Mary & Joseph, Shepherds … and yet they still believed God was who He says He was and that He would do what He said He would do.
We’ve often heard the phrase when talking about CHRISTmas … the most wonderful time, of the year … but is it?
I shared last week how this time of year is not only Stressful on most families in 1 way or another … but it can be sort of depressing too …
- For some, it’s this harsh reality that our family isn’t together anymore … maybe we don’t even have our children with us this year?
- For some … it’s our 1st Christmas without someone we love …
- For some … there’s just an empty seat at the table … and it’s been empty for a few years … but this time of year just isn’t the same without them.
- For some … life and things have changed maybe financially … and it’s just sort of depressing that we can’t “Do” or “Buy” what we used to be able to do … and we hate it …
Sometimes w/ all that’s going on … it’s difficult to discover JOY … in fact, the prophet Isaiah said this:
Isaiah 8:22 … “22 Wherever they look, there will be trouble, anguish and dark despair. They will be thrown out into darkness.”
And not to be Debbie Downer … but that’s a pretty clear picture of what we see around us I think many times in our world … if we could get to 30,000 feet and look down … Darkness … Depression … Despair …
But Isaiah also said …
Isaiah 9:1-2 … “1 Nevertheless, that time of darkness and despair will not go on forever … The people who walk in darkness will see a great light – a light that will shine on all who live in the land where death casts its shadow.”
That light is talking about the coming of Jesus … 2,000 years ago [which we can read in Matthew 4:12-16] …
Isaiah 9:6 … “6 For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. And the government will rest on his shoulders. These will be his royal titles: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
Did you know … the word JOY [or a derivative of JOY] is used over 650 times in the Bible?
Using Luke’s recording of the CHRISTmas story … he talks about JOY 5 times …
- 1:14 – Zechariah was told by the angel, ‘you will have joy, and gladness, and many will rejoice at His birth.
- 1:44 – John the Baptist leaped for Joy in his mother’s womb
- 1:47 – Mary rejoiced in God her Savior
- 1:58 – they were rejoicing w/ Elizabeth
- 2:10 – the angel proclaimed, ‘Glad tiding of GREAT JOY’
Truth is, some of us have truly allowed ourselves to believe that perhaps we can’t have JOY in our lives because of all of our struggles, and all the challenges we’re living and experiencing every single day. Some of them perhaps yeah … if we could go back and do things differently, we absolutely would do so … but some of the challenges and struggles … we didn’t speak into those at all, we’re just living w/ the results.
Now, make no mistake, JOY is different than HAPPINESS isn’t it? I say it all the time. HAPPINESS is often based on our circumstances, and when circumstances are good, we’re HAPPY. And when they’re not so good, we’re not so HAPPY.
However, JOY is a Fruit of the Spirit in our lives, and we discover JOY when we are simply abiding in Jesus as John says in his writing … [John 15:1-5].
And even in the midst of the chaos and craziness … whether there’s any sign of things getting better or not … God’s Word tells us The Joy of the Lord will give us strength! It’s in God’s Presence in our lives that there’s a filling and an indwelling of JOY.
Mary said, I bring you good tiding of GREAT JOY … and that is what CHRISTmas is all about. God With Us! We needed someone who understands.
We hear all the time, Let’s keep the CHRIST in CHRISTmas. While I totally get what they’re saying, what I might offer is that there’s no story of CHRISTmas without Him.
He is the reason we are not only having this incredible season of CELEBRATION of His Birthday, but it is because of His Birthday that we can discover JOY no matter our circumstances.
I honestly believe that this GIFT of CHRISTmas, Jesus, was just as much so that we could experience the Abundant Life In-Christ, and the JOY that comes w/ living w/ Him. Experiencing God’s Presence in our Lives, primarily so it can overflow into the lives around us, until the day God calls us home.
And if we think about it, if the only reason Jesus came was so that we could be Forgiven and spend Eternity w/ God in Heaven … if that was it … the minute we said Yes to Life, Death & Resurrection of Jesus, I think … #Boom … we’d be gone.
But it’s so much more than that. Jesus said in Red Letters … I have come that you might NOT ONLY have Life [eternal Life one day] but have it to the Full … Abundantly … full of JOY until that time.
And so if we’re struggling this CHRISTmas season, or if we know someone like my friend who is struggling this CHRISTmas season … and searching for JOY … JOY is found right here in God’s Presence in our lives. Thru the GIFT of His Son, and let’s not miss that this CHRISTmas season.