I LOVE Christmas! I am not a very exuberant person by nature, not easily just all happy and light-hearted, but give me a vision and some understanding and I come alive. My Holy-Holiday-Calling is to remember and release a spirit of rejoicing in myself and in others as we make Jesus Christ and worshipping Him central to our sincere and over-the-top Christmas celebrating! And for all of the days of the year to follow…
“Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is sacred to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” Nehemiah 8.10
The joy of the LORD is your strength. Are you hearing the sound?
This is the truth of this Christmas season for me. This is the message of hope God has directed me to over and again. This is the revelation of the gospel I am just beginning to understand. This is what the Apostle Paul tried to get through to the Philippians when he said “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again, Rejoice!” (Ph 4.4). This is what I heard for the millionth and the very first time this Christmas season. It is the words you hear Linus recite in “A Charlie Brown Christmas” and a sweet child’s voice inserted into Amy Grant’s 2008 Christmas hit, “I Need a Silent Night.” It is the truth above the roar of busyness and my epiphanic-fervor:
“Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of GREAT JOY which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the City of David a Savior who is Christ the Lord.'” Luke 2.8-11 NKJV
The revelation of Jesus Christ and His arrival as our Savior was good news of great joy! Our strength indeed!
The Jesus and joy connection?
“I have told you this so that My joy may in you and that your joy may be complete” (John 15.11).
“Ask and you wll receive and your joy will be complete” (John 16.24).
“But I say these things…so that they may have the full measure of My joy within them” (John 17.13).
God set forth (even commanded) celebrations for the purpose of joy for the people. One example:
“And on that day they offered great sacrifices, rejoicing because God had given them great joy. The women and the children also rejoiced. The sound of rejoicing in Jerusalem could be heard far away” (Neh. 12.43)
Joy is a verb. You gotta take action.
“I will rejoice in the Lord. I will JOY in the God of my salvation” (Habakkuk 3.18).
Jack Hayford’s notes in The Spirit-Filled Life NKJV Study Bible gives this on the word “joy” in Habakkuk:
JOY: Strong’s 1523: To joy, rejoice, be glad…contains the suggestion of “dancing for joy” or “leaping for joy” since this verb originally meant to “spin around with intense motion.” This lays to rest the notion that the Biblical concept of joy is only a “quiet inner sense of well-being.”…altho everything is wrong in Habakkuk’s world-he is leaping for joy over his relationship with God …
These can be joyless times. The “holiday season” may have just been one more drain on you after a year of disappointment or lack. The condition of our nation may be bringing fear. Religious duty, a significant loss in our lives, strain in our marriages, unhappiness at work or any number of things may cause us to put on the smile-mask a Christian “should” wear and yet feel as flat and used up as the neighbor’s giant inflatable Santa looks on the lawn this morning.
But the good tidings of great joy are for me and for you. So how do we appropriate it? How do we walk in the kind of joy that gives us the strength we need to endure? Repeat the sounding joy.
The sounding joy? Good news! Great joy! I have a Savior! He came to save me! I think I’ll jump up and twirl and spin around like a madwoman while I echo the angels as loudly as I can: Glory to God in the highest! Glory to the God of my salvation! And peace to us here on earth, goodwill towards us from You, Father!
It is possible, I truly believe, that this act of joy as a verb – to joy – may actually begin to bring true giddy life-giving happiness to my soul. The sounding joy: God is God! He is faithful! He rules! He reigns! I receive my King! I join with all heaven and nature in rejoicing that the curse has been broken on my behalf! He has saved me from certain death and a joyless existence! Glory to God in the highest!
Repeat the sounding joy. Repeat the sounding joy. Repeat, repeat the sounding joy!
Not just at Christmas, but – as needed!
Joy! Seriously – be glad and dance a little!…Jeanie
NOTE TO SELF: Don’t let the enemy steal my joy! Not one day. Worship and crazy praise a must!
pictured: an etsy.com image, Stephanie on Christmas morning (in the midst of physical joy!) finding out she had received the antique oak dining table and chairs she really wanted, and the chalkboard in the kitchen with my “epiphanic” stuff on it (and I am preety sure I invented that word this Christmas!)