Monday, December 19, 2022

Do You Know Joy?

Monday, December 19, 2022

 After hearing the king, they went their way; and the star, which they had seen in the east, went on before them until it came and stood over the place where the Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.  Matthew 2:9-10 NASB

Do You Know Joy?

Christmas certainly is considered to be a season of joy.  We sing Joy to the World. We read scriptures about joy. We send Christmas cards that wish people the joy of this season. 
And yesterday we lit an advent candle for the joy in knowing that the coming of the Messiah would bring joy to all men. These are traditions that are a part of our Christmas holiday every year, but do we really know joy?

Joy is a state of being more than an emotion.

We so often confuse joy and happiness. Joy is more than happiness, which is temporal and conditional. Happiness is an emotion dependent on personal feelings. Joy is the unconditional state of mind that accompanies fellowship with God. It is a contentment that cannot be shaken no matter what the present circumstances are in our lives. 

The Greek word for 'joy' is derived from the Greek word for 'grace.' This is important to note, for it tells us categorically that joy comes from the grace of God. This means 'joy' isn't a human-based happiness that comes and goes.  Rather, true 'joy' is divine in origin.  It is a Spirit-given expression that flourishes best in hard times. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23)

Joy is not dependent on circumstances.

You also became imitators of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much tribulation with the joy of the Holy Spirit. 1 Thessalonians 1:6  The Thessalonians were under great stress due to persecution; yet in the midst of it all, they continued to experience great joy. In fact the text strongly implies that their supernatural joy was due to the Holy Spirit working in them. Paul even called it the "joy of the Holy Spirit." 

Real joy is something much deeper and much more lasting than being happy.  Unlike happiness, we are not responsible for it.  It exists within us and comes into our lives as the gift of God. Joy breaks into our lives often in the most unexpected ways. It can be in a moment when love is expressed, when we are suddenly caught up in the unbelievable beauty of our world, or when that which is lost is found.  There is the joy that comes in being forgiven when we have been wrong, the joy of being together when we have been separated, and the joy that lingers in the heart, even when tears run down our cheeks. 

Joy is found in a relationship with God 

While most seek for happiness in temporary things, real joy is found in the spiritual realm. Listen to the Psalmist: But let all who take refuge in You be glad, Let them ever sing for joy; And may You shelter them, That those who love Your name may exult (be joyful) in You.  Psalms 5:11 NASB  And again in Psalm 126:2 Then our mouth was filled with laughter And our tongue with joyful shouting; Then they said among the nations, "The LORD has done great things for them."

If you don't know joy, go to God who longs to give us real joy and  Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!  Philippians 4:4 NASB

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