Week 33: December 11-17
Third Week of Advent: Joy
Today is the beginning of the third week of Advent. In the past two weeks we have explored the themes of Hope and Peace. This week we will focus on Joy; next week we will examine the theme of Love.
Shout, and sing for joy, O inhabitant of Zion,
for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.
What a beautiful picture from the prophet Isaiah! In his vision, he saw the redemption of the Jewish people with the coming of the Messiah. We see from this passage that the “Holy One of Israel”, the Creator of the universe, intends to dwell among his people. In fact, one of the many names for Jesus is Immanuel, literally, God with us. In sending Jesus, God the Father demonstrates again His desire for relationship with His creation. This is certainly cause for joyful celebration.
Joy to the World
Immediately following the birth of Jesus, we find that God chose to give the birth announcement of His Son to lowly shepherds. We read in Luke 2:10-11,
And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. At the time, shepherds were considered to be some unsavory characters, untrustworthy and beneath even the most common of men. It’s interesting that the shepherds’ response was to immediately go to see for themselves what had occurred in that stable. Their response to meeting the Christ is even more impactful: verse 20 tells us that they began glorifying and praising God. They worshipped.
Matthew 2:10-11 describes the reaction of the wise men upon meeting Jesus:
When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. The Maji were joyful and worshipped Him.
We can surely learn from those early visitors of the Christ Child, who recognized that he was truly the gift from God, sent to save his people. Our joy at his presence should lead us into a place of worship.
Joy in All Things
Joy is not happiness. Happiness is an emotion based on the reality of our circumstances. Joy is a deep contentment found in trusting the true and living God.
Philippians 4:4 says, Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.
When the Apostle Paul penned these words He was imprisoned by the Roman government for preaching Christ. Obviously his circumstances were not anything to be joyful about. Yet, Paul could encourage the church to rejoice, based on their standing before God in Christ.
In fact, James 1:2-3 encourages us to rejoice in trials, because the “testing of your faith produces perseverance.” As Christians we should be aware that the Lord is sovereign, even over the trials we face in life. Are you in a trial now? Maybe you’re in a financial crisis, are dealing with a broken relationship, praying over a wayward child, or have suffered unimaginable loss, illness or injury. Trust the Lord in this trial, knowing that He is in control and uses every situation to accomplish His purpose in your life.
Romans 15:13 says, 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. There is so much truth packed into that verse! The key to our joy and peace rests firmly in trusting God. Even our trust is a gift from the Almighty.
Are you struggling to find joy in life? Look to Psalm 71:23, My lips will shout for joy, when I sing praises to you; my soul also, which you have redeemed. Psalm 28:7 affirms this The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to Him. We should follow the example set by the shepherds, Simeon, and the Maji, and simply worship God.
Sing the carol Joy to the World and let the biblical truths contained in the familiar words wash over your soul. Ask the Lord to restore the joy of your salvation and glimpse the joy experienced by the early visitors of Jesus.
- Pray for gospel opportunities during the Advent season, where we can share the true meaning of Christmas
- Pray for opportunities to help others focus on the joy of our salvation in times of difficulty.
Bible Passages for Daily Reading
Sunday – Luke 1:5-13
Monday – Luke 1:14-17
Tuesday – Luke 1:18-25
Wednesday – Luke 1:39-45
Thursday – Luke 1:46-56
Friday – Luke 1:57-66
Saturday – Luke 1:67-80