Good News of Great Joy
Every day we are bombarded with bad news on TV and on our devices, in social media, in our personal lives or in our families.
However,the birth of Jesus is good news. An angel from God said it this way when the angelic choir gave their heavenly birth announcement to the shepherds:
” I bring you good news of great joy, which shall be to all people.” Luke 2:9
What was this good news? It was that a Savior (for all people) had been born. This was indeed good news of great joy. This is a message that can be shared today and it is still good news of great joy!
But what really is joy?
Joy is an often misunderstood quality of the Christian life. It is mistakenly equated with the more elusive emotion of happiness, and thus many Christians fail to realize the deep lasting joy that can be theirs, regardless of their circumstances.
When I looked in the concordance of my bible, I saw the following definition of joy, and it disturbed me: “The emotion evoked by well-being, success or good fortune.” This is a definition worthy of the world, but not one for a Christian. Success and good fortune? How does this definition fit with the verse in James 1:2 which encourages believers to consider it great joy when we suffer various trials and troubles?
The answer is that joy comes from deep within and is the result (fruit) of God’s presence in us. This kind of joy can weather times of sorrow, distress, persecution, and more because its foundation rests on a deep hope founded on Love. Therefore, joy is deeply connected to relationship with God.
John Piper says it this way:
“Christian joy is a good feeling in the soul, produced by the Holy Spirit, as He causes us to see the beauty of Christ in the Word and in the world.”
- This is why the entry of Jesus, Word of God, into our world is such a message of joy.
- Jesus was born into this world for a purpose. He came to break the power of sin’s hold on us that keeps us separated from God.
- God wants relationship with us! This is not just good news – it is amazing news!
How to find joy
In Philippians 4:4, Paul writes these words:
“Always be full of joy in the Lord.”
How is this possible? We can’t manufacture joy and it doesn’t just appear on command. While we can’t directly create joy, the bible gives us the keys that will unlock joy in our lives, so that it will take root deep in our hearts, becoming part of our spiritual DNA and an essential part of our Christian experience. People will detect the quality of joy in us.
“When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! John 15:11 – Jesus
Doing our own thing in disobedience to God might produce temporary happiness, but not lasting joy. Obedience to God brings joy to us because it shelters us in God’s love and overflows to bless others.
“...make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.” Phil 2:2
“I love you and long to see you, dear friends, for you are my joy...” (Phil 4:1)
People are God’s joy and He loves it when we dwell together in unity.
“In your presence is fullness of joy.” Psalm 16:11
There is joy in heaven, right?. “Yeah, sure,” you might think. “It would be easy to be joyful in heaven,” Yet the truth is that God gives us joy to experience here on earth, regardless of our circumstances. The baby in the manger is not just Savior, King, Messiah…He is Immanuel – God with us! After Jesus accomplished his work on earth, he did not leave us alone, but gave us His Spirit to be intimately with us – his presence in us!
def: persistence in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success, purposefulness
“Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2
“Consider it pure joy…when you encounter various trials because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” James 1:2
The quality of joy is such that it sustains us through difficult times. We can be glad that God will use our suffering to produce a very positive end result: the formation of Christ’s character in us and an eternal place in his kingdom. If that doesn’t give us joy, then we haven’t fully appreciated the gift that he is giving us and the price he paid for that gift.
“The precepts of the Lord are right,
giving joy to the heart.” Psalm 19:8
Sometimes when I am writing or preparing to teach, I have these moments of great joy when I can’t contain my excitement. I jump up and dance around the room, full of excitement at something that God has revealed to me in his Word and truth of it has connected with my spirit. If you are not reading or studying the Word of God daily, you are missing out on an opportunity to experience joy.
“Don’t worry about anything: instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” Phil 4:6,7
These words follow immediately after Paul’s exhortation to rejoice. We all have times of tragedy, hardship, and suffering in our lives. We feel lost in our sorrow and tears. It is hard to be joyful at these times. God understands our weakness and invites us to pour out our troubles to him in prayer. How reassuring to know that God carefully collects every one of our tears and assures us that joy will come again.
“Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy.” Psalm 126:5
“In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” Luke 15:20
The Christian life lived authentically will provide us with opportunity to witness to God’s love and saving grace. And we get to join a heavenly chorus of rejoicing when we have the privilege of seeing someone come into the joy of relationship with God.
The Joy of the Lord is our strength
I hope that you stuck with me through all of that, although I barely scratched the surface. The bible is filled with references to joy, yet joy seems to be something that eludes many of us. Perhaps though, we have misunderstood what joy is and failed to recognize it in our lives or failed to pursue opportunities for joy. I know that is true for me.
The journey of joy is one of commitment and perseverance and faith in Jesus. It enables us see beyond the immediate circumstances of life and to reject unworthy “pleasures” for the greater joy of glorifying God.
God will produce joy in us that permeates our lives and is noticeable to others, even in difficult circumstances.
It is worth noting here that this kind of joy is produced in us by the Holy Spirit who indwells every believer. If you haven’t put your faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, then God offers you so much. You just have to accept.
Remember that the Lord is coming soon. This should give us great joy and hope. There will be an eventual end to all suffering and then… eternal joy.
The bible says that we can share each others joy. (1 Cor.12:26) I would love it if you would share some of your joy with me!
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