This was another Christmas article I wrote for the Globe, Arizona newspaper, the “Silver Belt” in the late 1990’s for their Church Directory. As with the previous one, I submit it here as it was written then with just a few grammatical changes. Be Blessed abundantly this Holyday Season! – Pastor Roland.
Christmas is the time when Christian and non-Christian alike celebrate by giving to one another. Christians recognize this season as a time to celebrate God’s greatest Gift to mankind; His Son, Jesus Christ.
If you’re a Christian preparing for this holiday time, I’d like you to consider another aspect of what the angel said to the shepherds in the Gospel of Luke, 8:10. He said, “Behold, I bring you good news of great joy which shall be for all people.” Of course we concentrate on the good news, as we rightly should, of Jesus’ birth. The promised Messiah has come; but sometimes we overlook the fact that His coming was to provide great joy for everyone!
Now as the saying goes, “Jesus is the reason for the season.” He is also the reason for a Christian’s joy, so I’d like to explain further about the word and the concept known as joy. Notice that the angel of the Lord didn’t say, “good news of great happiness.” Have you ever wondered why? It’s because joy is greater than happiness and is actually a God given gift. The Greek word translated joy means: to be full of cheer, great gladness and calm delight. It is the same word used in Galatians 5:22 to describe the fruit of the Spirit of God, and is second only to (agape) love. In other words, we don’t produce joy, the Holy Spirit does; it is something produced by God in us. We bear the fruit, the Spirit produces it. Remember what Jesus told His disciples? “We are the branches and He is the vine.” Branches don’t produce the fruit, they only bear the fruit produced.
Now let’s compare joy with happiness. The world’s concept is: if you’re happy, then you are full of joy. If you are unhappy, then you have no joy. But what exactly determines happiness? Happiness is entirely dependent upon the circumstances that come a person’s way. Good circumstances produce happiness, bad circumstances create unhappiness. What did the Bible say in Galatians though? Joy is a fruit of the Spirit. Joy is not dependent upon circumstances, but upon the place the Spirit of God holds in a person’s life. What all this means is that when a person is walking and abiding in Christ, the Holy Spirit will manifest joy in his deepest being; no matter what the circumstances are surrounding his life. The person striving to walk in his own strength, the flesh, will be swayed by the circumstances coming their way. I would much rather have God’s best, His Spirit produced joy, over man’s less than best; just being happy when circumstances allow.
One more great blessing associated with God’s joy can be found in Nehemiah 8:10. Nehemiah responding to his grieving people said, “The joy of the Lord is your strength.” What a great statement! Notice that he didn’t say your joy or your happiness. It’s God’s joy, His delight that strengthens us. Are you walking this season in His joy, His strength? This season, when the commercialism and the hustle and bustle starts to wear you down, remember that we have “good news of God’s joy” to strengthen us; and it’s for everyone who will abide in Him. Everyone!