SUNDAY, December 9
The message of joy awaits you this advent season. The Bible describes joy as the result of our encounter with the gift of God (His grace and goodness found only in Jesus).
Joy experienced: We experience real joy when we are spiritually connected to God (through a relationship with Jesus), and when we spiritually connect to one another. Joy does not rest upon personal satisfaction or happiness; real joy asks the questions, “What honors God, and what is good for others.” Hebrews 12:2 reveals how Jesus predicates joy for Christian living: “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him, endured the cross.” Jesus honored God by accepting the cross as the purpose of His life; Jesus willingly went to the cross so that others would know eternal life. Today, as Jesus has set the example, let’s experience real joy by honoring God (living a life of faith and obedience to Him), and by genuinely loving others.
Joy from God: When the shepherds were told, “good tidings of great joy for all people,” joy was not being treated as a commodity for the benefit of man’s pleasure (that fits more with the meaning of happiness); joy was announced as a divine expression of God’s goodness poured out on the world through Jesus Christ. The message of the angels announced that the Savior, Christ, the Lord has come. He is our Savior, for he forgives us of our sin and saves us from sin’s destructive consequences. He is the Christ, for He has fulfilled every single promise of God for you and for me. He is Lord, for He rules and reigns, and is sovereign over all things. This is the reason to rejoice.
Joy for the world. The angel announced to the shepherds that the good news was a message of joy for all people. In response, the shepherds told many others what they had witnessed at the manger of the Messiah; all who heard the news were astonished (Luke 2:18). The angel’s announcement confirmed that the message of joy came from God Himself. The response of the shepherds proved that the message was sent to all people. The God of the Universe said, “I have great news for you.” He sent this message to everyone. (You were not merely carbon copied). The message was intended for you. Today, we celebrate that the Lord has come. We can rejoice. Let’s live astonished at such great joy.
Spend some time reading the following Scripture verses; notice the pattern of joy from the impact of Christ’s birth throughout Biblical history:
- In Isaiah 9:6, Israel was given a glimpse of the birth of Jesus when they were told that “there will be no more gloom for those in distress, for the people walking in darkness have seen a great light.” The message brought joy.
- In Luke 1:46, when Mary was told that she was chosen to bear the Christ child, she responded, “my spirit rejoices.” The message once again brought joy.
- In Luke 2:7-12, the shepherds keep watch over their flock when an angel of the Lord appeared. The shepherds were fearful, but the angel reassured them, “do not be afraid, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.” Once again, the message brought joy.
- In Matthew 2:10, as the Wise men anticipated their visit to the Christ child, the Scriptures explain that when they saw the star, they rejoiced. Again, the message brought joy.
Read: Luke 2:7-12; Matthew 2:1-12