They say the three phrases that best sum up the Christmas season are “Peace on Earth”, “Goodwill to men” and “Charge it!” This year our holiday spending as Americans is expected to exceed 1 trillion dollars! The sad thing is, some people are still paying off the debt from last Christmas. Too many have fallen for the lie that more stuff brings more satisfaction!
So where is the joy of Christmas? We all need to be reminded of the difference between joy and happiness. Happiness is based on happenings. I’m happy when things are going well. Joy is something that transcends circumstances. Happiness is external. Joy is internal.
The third candle of Advent represents – joy, not happiness! The angel said, “…I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:10-11 (NIV) Notice this joy wasn’t any ordinary joy, but “great” joy! I believe this kind of joy can only come from Jesus.
Here are three ways to experience the joy that Jesus can bring into our lives.
1. Let Jesus forgive your sins.
The Good News of great joy is that a Savior has been born! He came to save us from sin. The angel told Joseph, “…You are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” Matt. 1:21 (NLT) see Matt. 9:13
We can never know joy when we carry the guilt and shame of sin No matter what you’ve done, no matter where you’ve been, Jesus can and will forgive. He came to be our Savior!
We have this promise: “If we say we have no sin, we are fooling ourselves, and the truth is not in us. But if we confess our sins, he will forgive our sins, because we can trust God to do what is right. He will cleanse us from all the wrongs we have done.” 1 John 1:8,9 (NCV)
2. Let Jesus help you in your stress.
Christmas can be one of the most stressful times of the year. The added pressures of pleasing everyone and being everywhere can be overwhelming. The Bible says that we can cast all our anxieties upon Jesus, for he cares for us (see 1 Peter 5:7).
It is only as we give our worries to Jesus, that we experience joy. The more we trust Him, the more joy we’ll have.
Nehemiah knew this when he told the people of Israel, “Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the LORD is your strength!” Nehemiah 8:10 (NLT)
3. Let Jesus be Lord of your Life.
The angels said this baby born is “Christ, the Lord!’ The earliest, singular, most common creed of the early church was “Jesus is Lord.” When we make Jesus Lord, we make him the center of everything we are and do. He is the one in charge, not us! It means we follow Him and His will, not our own.
The shepherds found the Christ Child because they obeyed the heavenly message. They didn’t sit around and discuss it or figure it out. They went to Bethlehem and found him!
Joy is not a feeling. As Christians, our joy is not an emotion, it is about devotion. Joy is the byproduct of fully following Jesus. If we deliberately disobey God, there will be no real joy in our life.
Jesus said, “When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!” John 15:10-11 (NLT)
BEFORE YOU GO…
Joy comes from pursuing Jesus. This Christmas can be filled with joy as we seek Him and His presence. “I know the LORD is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me. No wonder my heart is filled with joy…” Psalm 16:8 -9 (NLT).