Circumstances have a tendency to cause despair. Illness (physical or mental) can knock us flat. Financial woes or debt can weigh us down. Past or present sin or failure can hold us back. Strained or severed relationships can wipe us out. There are many circumstances in this world that impact us greatly.
However, these feelings of despair are NOT what we desire. In no way is that the way we want to live life. At a deep level, we desire JOY instead. We want joy’s deep settled happiness and contentment.
If we were to ask for what we REALLY want for Christmas this year, I would guess that joy would be on all our lists.
So, we should ask the question … is it possible to receive JOY for Christmas this year … no matter what our circumstances are? And can we KEEP joy throughout the new year, no matter what difficulties may come?
When I look to the pages of the New Testament, I see joy talked about often. The Greek words translated “rejoice,” “joy,” and “great joy” appear 136 times in our English New Testaments. The New Testament writers tell us that what we most want for Christmas (joy), is a central theme of the Christian faith. We come to Jesus, not Santa … to Bethlehem, not the North Pole … for what we most need and desperately want. Joy is not for sale on Amazon, but it is available to each of us.
But what kind of joy is the New Testament referring to? Is the New Testament joy driven by circumstances, or something else? Just a quick summary of the word translated “exceeding joy” (i.e. “joy to the max”) demonstrates a surprising reality.
- In Matthew 5:11-12, people rejoice with exceeding joy, even when they are experiencing persecution.
- In Luke 1:47, Mary has exceeding joy, even when her betrothed is considering divorce, and her community misunderstands her situation.
- In 1 Peter 1:6, people have exceeding joy while going through a variety of difficulties.
- In 1 Peter 4:13, people experience exceeding joy even while suffering.
So, not only does the Christian faith talk about joy, it talks about an exceeding joy that persists, even in the most dire circumstances! Well, where does such a joy come from? Certainly not from this world. This world delivers us joy-squashing circumstances. True joy comes from heaven above. And that joy is delivered to the world when the Lord came.
Jesus’ arrival delivers a circumstance-proof joy because it anchors our settled contentment not on the rough waters of this world or the frailty of our own flesh, but in the glories of heaven, and on the faithfulness of our Omnipotent Savior. Notice:
- Matthew 5:11-12 – though persecuted we have joy because of the reward awaiting in heaven.
- Luke 1:47 – though misunderstood we have joy because the Lord has reached out to us.
- 1 Peter 1:6 – though experiencing various difficulties, we have joy knowing about the salvation of our souls.
- 1 Peter 4:13 – though suffering, we have joy because of the glory we will share with Jesus one day
There is a joy that is delivered to us through faith in Christ, when we look to Him and to heaven. And the blessing of this joy is known to us because the Lord has come. Over the next month, we will look at the Christmas account in Scripture to find our reasons for joy in Him. Each day from November 28 to December 25, we will have a daily devotional with Scripture reading and a suggested Christmas carol to help point our hearts to Him and to Heaven this Christmas season (see below for links to download the devotional guide or access the Christmas playlist … or check back on this blog daily beginning November 28 for each days devotional). Additionally, we will have worship services at Wildwood Community Church through this same era that will focus on these same themes (see the schedule for these services below).
During Christmas 2021, let us remember the great truth of the classic Isaac Watts song – “Joy to the World, the LORD has come!!!”
- Access & download all 28 devotionals in pdf format by clicking here.
- Access @ download all 28 devotionals in ebook format by clicking here.
- Access the 2021 Christmas playlist on Apple Music by clicking here.
- Access the 2021 Christmas playlist on Spotify by clicking here.
2021 Christmas Worship Service Schedule at Wildwood Community Church
- November 28: Sunday worship at 8:30, 9:45, 11:00 (livestream at 9:45 at this link). Sermon on Psalm 98
- December 5: Sunday worship at 8:30, 9:45, 11:00 (livestream at 9:45 at this link). Communion in the service. Sermon on Luke 1:5-38, 2:36-38.
- December 12: Sunday worship at 8:30, 9:45, 11:00 (livestream at 9:45 at this link). Children singing at the end of the 9:45 and 11:00 in our worship services. Sermon on Luke 1:39-55.
- December 19: Sunday worship at 8:30, 9:45, 11:00 (livestream at 9:45 at this link). 2021 version of our worship team’s “Carol of the Bells” at the conclusion of the services. Sermon on Matthew 2:1-12, 13:44.
- December 24: Christmas Eve worship at 4PM, 5PM, 6PM (livestream at the 5PM service at this link). Candlelight, carols, Scripture Reading and a message on Luke 2:1-20.
- December 26: Sunday worship at 9:45 and 11:00 (No 8:30 service on December 26, and no children’s ministry, student ministry, or adult classes on this day. All who gather will join us in the worship service on this date.
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