Joy. This short, simple word printed on Christmas cards, ornaments, plaques, shirts, plates and almost anything Christmas is possibly the most well-known of all Christmas “words”. Despite its simplicity, the word is anything but simple. Most people equate Joy with happiness, but in truth, joy is much deeper than that. Joy comes from the Greek word “chara” meaning a feeling of inner gladness. In other words, happiness despite what might be happening around us!
With this definition in mind, isn’t JOY exactly what we need today? If we look around at our world, there are so many circumstances that can make us feel “unhappy”. For many, the holidays themselves are a time of loneliness or deep sadness. The loss of a loved one, financial distress, broken relationships, health worries… can make for a very joyless season. On top of personal melancholy, the state of our country and fear of the future can make us downright depressed!
We need a deep-down JOY, and this is actually what Christmas is all about. Let’s consider the “first’ Christmas to understand this word more fully.
Read Luke 2: 8-20
Jesus’ birth came after a time of silence in the Jewish nation. God had not spoken for 400 years. His last words were spoken through the prophet Malachai in approximately 430 B.C. and so while many had begun to “forget” about God, the devout continued to study the scriptures waiting patiently for God’s promise to be fulfilled. And one starry night in the little town of Bethlehem, the promise came to fruition. The shepherds were the first to learn of the great event proclaimed by angels:
““I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!”
The good news was that God was no longer silent. The good news was that God had come to earth to reveal himself to man, the long awaited Messiah had finally come: Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Listen carefully, the [a]virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and she will call his name Immanuel (God with us) (Isaiah 7:14) The Good News was that man now had direct access to God through Jesus Christ. The savior would rescue, redeem and restore man’s relationship with God. And for all who trusted in Him, forgiveness, freedom and eternal life would be their destiny. This message was not just for the shepherds or the Jewish people; it was a message for all mankind. The reality of a savior who would set people free from the bondage of sin, remove their guilt once and for all and reunite them with the Father for all eternity is not just good news, it is the BEST NEWS IN THE WORLD.
This is, indeed, a reason for GREAT JOY!
No matter what you are experiencing this Christmas season, let the truth about what Jesus’ birth means cause you to “celebrate”! Joy is not based on our circumstances on the outside but rather on what is inside of us. Trust Christ; accept His sacrifice; claim His power and find true JOY!
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