Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays are ways we all express greetings to one another during Christmas. But merry and happy don’t really adequately express the true feeling we should be experiencing during this season! Of course, it’s not bad to wish people a merry or happy Christmas but the emotion behind those two words fall so short of what God wants us to experience. Today is the fourth Sunday of Advent. Today, let’s ponder on the true meaning of joy at Christmas.
I think we should first define joy.
John Piper gives the best definition of joy I have heard…
Joy is a good feeling in the soul produced by the Holy Spirit as He causes us to see the beauty of Jesus in the Word and in His works.
This is really the most succinct and complete definition I have ever heard and is one worth remembering! Let’s dissect this definition and get a good look at true joy!
First of all, joy is a feeling… an emotion! It does not come from our bodies but from our soul. Our soul is the invisible part of what makes you and me, you and me. It comes from our mind, will, emotion and intellect.
Often emotions are manifested or shown forth through our bodies.
A good movie can make me cry. But not just cry… ugly cry! I’m the person you don’t want to be sitting next to in a movie theater during a movie like Hacksaw Ridge or Unbroken or It’s A Wonderful Life. The tears and tissues fly!
My body does not cause crying, it’s my emotions of sadness or happiness or wonder that causes crying. My body just shows the emotion I am feeling.
So joy is an emotion! A good feeling produced by the Holy Spirit. That tells us a whole lot! Joy is not produced by humans. It is a special emotion that comes from the Holy Spirit. Actually, it is one of the “fruits” or outward signs produced by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
BUT THE FRUITS OF THE SPIRIT ARE LOVE, PEACE, JOY, PATIENCE, KINDNESS, GOODNESS, FAITHFULNESS, GENTLENESS, AND SELF-CONTROL. AGAINST SUCH THINGS THERE IS NO LAW. Galatians 5:22-23
Joy is a special emotion only produced when we are connected to the Holy Spirit.
But why is it so special? Because it is an emotion reserved for us when through the Holy Spirit we see the beauty of just who Jesus is! Oh, the joy! Exactly!
We can all feel happiness but joy is a gift of the Holy Spirit.
And how do we see the beauty of Jesus? Through His Word and work. Through the Bible and the world around us.
2 Timothy 3:16 says…
ALL SCRIPTURE IS GOD BREATHED…
You can know Jesus by reading His Word. One of the Holy Spirit’s jobs in our lives is to take the Word of God and illuminate it so that we can understand it. If you are indwelled with the Holy Spirit He is showing you Jesus by helping you understand God’s Word. The Bible is all about pointing to Jesus! From the beginning of Genesis to the end of Revelation the Bible speaks of Jesus!
Can you see how important it is to not only read God’s Word but study and meditate on it?
You can also see Jesus in his works. His creation! The Holy Spirit will open your eyes to see Jesus everywhere in His creation. Through people and through nature! If we look for Jesus we can find Him. Ask the Holy Spirit to open your eyes!
So let’s pull this all together again. Joy is a good feeling in our souls produced by the Holy Spirit as He causes us to see the beauty of Jesus in His Word and in His works.
Joy is what we are celebrating this last of Advent. Joy is what we are to ask the Holy Spirit for.
The bible says… THE JOY OF THE LORD IS YOUR STRENGTH.
We don’t have time here to put this verse into proper context. But in a nutshell, even in bad times knowing who God truly is, and what God can do, and that He will accomplish what He says He will do will strengthen us. When we see just who Jesus is and what He has done for us already we will be strengthened.
It’s okay to wish someone merry or happy. But this season is really all about finding JOY!
Jesus, God in the flesh, came down from heaven to all sinful mankind to pay for our sins on a cross and repair our broken relationship with God bringing us in right standing with Him so we can live eternally with Him in heaven. Salvation is a free gift. We don’t have to work for it. We have to believe in Jesus and His saving work with our whole hearts.
Now that is JOY! And joy is worthy of celebrating this Advent!
Scripture memory verses this week:
BUT THE FRUITS OF THE SPIRIT ARE LOVE, PEACE , JOY, PATIENCE, KINDNESS, GOODNESS, FAITHFULNESS, GENTLENESS, AND SELF-CONTROL. AGAINST SUCH THINGS THERE IS NO LAW. Galatians 5:22-23
May your Christmas be filled with J-O-Y!