BY: JANICE HEFFER WRIGHT
“Joy to the World, the LORD Is Come!” This song rings out at Christmas Time, written by Isaac Watts and based on Psalm 98. During this special season, may our hearts and voices bubble over with the JOY of the Lord, spreading His love to a broken world!
Sometimes “happiness” is equated with “joy”; however, the source of each is different. Happiness depends on circumstances….”I was given a raise, I am so happy.”
“We just bought a new car, and I am so happy.” “I am so happy my son was accepted to the university.” True JOY, however, comes from the person of Jesus Christ. “The JOY of the Lord is my strength.” When the circumstances are disappointing, dire, or destructive, the true JOY of the Lord remains. Because Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever, He never changes…….His JOY is available all the time! Don’t live “Under the circumstances”, look up and see Jesus……your circumstances may continue, but Jesus is the Source of real JOY. You can choose JOY!
After they brought sin into the world, God promised Adam and Eve that Someone would come to make all things “right” again. There are many Scriptures foretelling the coming of Jesus, and we especially remember the passage in Isaiah 9:6,7: “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders, and He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over His kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever.”
Mary was the chosen one to birth the Son of God, Jesus. When she visited her cousin, Elizabeth, who was also pregnant with John the Baptist, Elizabeth said, “As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for JOY.”
The night Jesus was born, an angel appeared to frightened shepherds and said, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great JOY. For unto you this day in the city of David is born a Savior, Christ the Lord….” Luke 2:11. Then, suddenly, a huge choir of angels joyfully praised God and said, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace. Goodwill to all men.” (of course, women are included!!)
Joy to the World, the Lord Is Come!
Some years later, as John the Baptist was preaching about the coming of the Messiah, I am sure his heart was filled with JOY as he saw Jesus walking toward him. Then, he said, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world…this is the one I have been telling you about!” John 1:29
Joy to the World, the Savior Is Come!
During His lifetime here on earth, Jesus touched many lives. He healed the blind, the crippled, the deaf, the demon possessed, and all who came to Him. He showed love to the down-trodden, the hopeless, the helpless, and the outcasts. I can hear them all shouting with loud voices:
Joy to the World, the Lord Is come!
Then came the cross...the cruel cross...the real reason why Jesus took on the form of man and came to Earth. He came to “make things right again”. He came to take our punishment for sin, so that by believing in Him, we could become a member of the family of God. “God so loved the world that He gave His only son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have Eternal Life.” John 3:16. Even though Jesus knew what He would have to endure, He faced the cross with JOY, “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the JOY set before Him, endured the cross, scorning its shame” Hebrews 12:2
Joy to the World, the Lord endured the Cross!
Yes, He died, but praise God! Jesus did not stay dead. On the third day, He came back to life!! When the women went to the tomb, they were surprised by an Angel who said to them, “Do not be afraid for I know you are looking for Jesus. He is not here, He has risen just as He said.” Matthew 28:5,6. “Then the women, afraid yet filled with JOY, hurried to tell the disciples.” Matthew 28:8
Joy to the World, the Lord is alive!!
Jesus took His followers out to a mountain where He gave them their “Marching Orders”. “All authority in Heaven and on Earth has been give to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always to the very end of the age.” Then, He ascended to the Father where He ever makes intercession (prays!) for us. Romans 8:34-36, “It is Christ who died, yes rather who is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, making intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written...No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons neither the present nor the future, nor any powers neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:34-36
Joy to the World, the Lord is always present!
The Scripture is clear that Jesus will return for His followers. He assured the disciples in John 14:1-3,6, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am...I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” In I Thessalonians 3:16,17, we read, “For the Lord Himself will come down from Heaven with a loud command with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so, we will be with the Lord forever.”
Joy to the world, the Lord will return!
My prayer for all of us is that we might choose JOY every day, especially at this Christmas season, so that others may see Jesus in us. For He is our JOY!!! “May we be JOYful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in Prayer”, Romans 12:12. “May the God of Hope fill you with all JOY and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit,” Romans 15:13
Action Step: Psalm 118:24, “Though the fig tree does not bud (we can’t find the recipe for the pie), and though there are no grapes on the vines, (the store shelves are empty!), though the olive tree does not bud (we run out of oil for the cake!), and the fields produce no food (“I thought we had a turkey in the freezer!”), though there are no sheep in the pen (the dog ran away!), and no cattle in the stalls (the bank closed early!), YET, I WILL REJOICE IN THE LORD, I WILL BE JOYFUL IN GOD MY SAVIOR.” “Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say, rejoice.” Philippians 4:4
JOY TO THE WORLD, THE LORD IS COME!