Karrie, the girls, and I watched "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" the other night. I couldn't help identifying with the Grinch - watching everyone else celebrate, seeing people spend all their money on gifts and toys, trying to win the contest for the best lights, and feeling alone. For all of the "Christmas Joy" we're supposed to have, December sure can be a joy-less month.

Why is that?

Sunday we talked about joy. Here are a few of the thoughts that were shared:

  • WE TRY TO FIND JOY IN EVENTS.
    • We are almost always looking for the next big thing, event, program, or magical moment where we will find joy. Think about it. As soon as Christmas is over, we immediately move onto the next event - New Years!
    • The problem with event-based joy is, of course, that events always end. You might gain a euphoria or buzz from the event, but when it's over, what then? Event-based joy is empty and unsustainable.
    • “Joy is not in things, it is in us.” - Richard Wagner
  • WE BELIEVE JOY IS A RESPONSE TO THE EVENTS OF LIFE;
  • BUT JOY IS A PERSPECTIVE THROUGH WHICH WE LIVE LIFE. 
    • Joy isn’t an emotion as much as it’s a choice.
    • Joy isn’t about here and now, it’s about what comes next!
    • Joy isn’t about the temporary, but the eternal.
    • “The Bethlehem manger is much, much more than a historical milestone; it is an unfolding promise to all who believe. Jesus is the Gift who keeps on giving. The Christian can rejoice in things eternal, even when temporal circumstances are difficult.”
    • OUR JOY ISN'T FOUND IN CHRISTMAS, IT IS FOUND IN CHRIST.
      • Joy isn't in a manger. It isn't in a cross. It isn't found in an empty tomb. Joy is found in the Christ of Christmas; the  Christ who died on the cross; the Christ who defeated death.
      • Joy isn't found in the event of Jesus' coming at Christmas. It is found in Christ himself!
      • “The joy OF THE LORD is our strength.” - Nehemiah 8:10
      • Fruit OF THE SPIRIT - “love, joy, peace, patience ...” - Galatians 5:22
      • Our joy is supernatural! It is not ours, but it is the joy of the Lord, the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
      • Our joy cannot be taken away. The joy we have from Christ is ours, and it cannot be revoked or removed.
      • Our joy should be confident and evident. That doesn’t mean we should be happy and smiley all day long, it simply means that the joy we have should be visible to others by the we live. We live differently, because our joy comes from a victorious Christ who has redeemed us and given us new life.
      • To put this in perspective, check out these words from Hebrews 12:2

“Because of the JOY awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding it’s shame.” - Hebrews 12:2

Joy? Seriously? Shouldn't that word be "victory," or "hope," or something else more ... majestic?! But Joy?

Yes - for the JOY set before Him,.

  • Because Jesus understood that joy is a choice based on the promise and presence of a Holy God.
  • Because Christ's gaze was set on the eternal, not the temporary.
  • Because Christ's obedience, even through immeasurable difficulty, pain, and suffering, never wavered.
  • Because Christ's joy came from the the Holy Spirit and from a relationship with His Father.

So this Christmas, where are you looking for joy? I know times are hard. I know people are hurting. Financial crises, divorce, lost loved ones, loneliness, pain. But when your joy comes from Christ, these struggles, while still difficult, are bearable, because joy sustains and strengthens us.

May you find a joy this year that fills you up long past the holiday.

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