There is no greater holiday throughout the year than Christmas. Christmas draws people together like no other celebration. Although the traditions of Christmas vary from person to person, the fact remains, Christmas time is a season that brings people together.
From the lights and decorations to parties and gift-giving, and traditions- old and new, Christmas is unlike any other day. Embedded in the story of Christmas, we find the character and nature of God. Today I want to help you unwrap a third characteristic of God.
Knowing God’s nature and character will enable you to predict His behavior. God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, Hebrews 13:8. So we can depend on Him to respond to us consistently and faithfully, no matter our circumstances. God doesn’t judge the mess we made or find ourselves in.
In Luke 2, the angels delivered a message of “great joy that will be for all the people.” Great joy is God’s promise to all mankind. Yet doesn’t it feel at times with all the hustle and bustle surrounding Christmas that joy gets lost in all of it?
Joy is tethered to God. Check out these declarations!
“But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy, and spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may exult in you.” Psalm 5:11
“rejoice in the Lord always, and again I will say, rejoice.” Philippians 4:4
“For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” Romans 14:17
Our understanding of joy is sometimes the obstacle to experiencing joy. Joy is categorically, diametrically, 180-degrees different from happiness. Some have mistakenly replaced joy with happiness, suggesting God has promised to make you happy, but that’s not true.
“Happy” is an emotional state. It’s dependent on having ideal circumstances. Happiness is volatile and always temporary.
This is why we say Happy Birthday and Happy Anniversary. These events invoke positive emotions. But our feelings can change without much warning. Contrast that with having the flu. No one wishes you a happy flu season. That does not invoke warm and fuzzy feelings.
Happiness is not bad, and it’s okay to do things that make you feel happy but understand that it is just temperamental and unstable.
Joy is better!
When we fall into the habit of doing or buying things to make ourselves happy, joy becomes undervalued in exchange for an immediate fix. Joy isn’t something we can buy, because the essence of joy is eternal.
The angel’s announcement was of the birth of Christ our Savior. The announcement reveals to us that joy is a product of salvation. Apart from salvation, at best, we can be happy, but that’s an expensive venture.
When happiness depends on having or getting things, it will not last.
Furthermore, joy is translated from the Greek word chara, and it means rejoicing, gladness, but it emphasizes the foundation of joy. What’s significant about “chara” is that it is the root word of charis, which means grace. Joy begins when we understand that Jesus paid the price for our sin, that we are free from the curse of sin.
- Your past is erased, and your future is rewritten!
- You no longer have to keep track of your good deeds vs. bad deeds.
- You don’t have to work at being good enough to get into heaven.
If joy is a by-product of our salvation, then why do I go through moments and seasons of joylessness? Joy can’t be taken from you, but you can surrender it.
By taking our focus off God and placing them on our worries, doubts, and fears, we surrender to joy.
Sin will also cause us to surrender joy. Sin always takes more from you than you will get from it. No amount of self-indulgence will ever produce joy in your life.
Joy is a fruit of the Spirit found in Galatians 5. As a fruit of the Spirit, joy is something we must cultivate in our life.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit, you may abound in hope.” Romans 15:13
Paul’s prayer was that God would fill you with all joy. It is not a onetime deposit, but something we grow in. The key to sustaining joy in every situation is faith.
There is a way to maintain joy in your life through every season and every circumstance!
- Walking in obedience to God deepens your capacity and increases your supply of joy.
- Giving increases your joy.
- Stay in God’s presence.
“You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Psalm 16:11