“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)
Have you ever been filled with so much joy from the Lord that you could hardly contain it? It’s different from the joy of having something good happen to you. It’s a deep meaningful presence of God that makes your heart full. It’s beautifully described as an “inexpressible and glorious joy” (1 Peter 1:8).
Most of us have our favorite memories of Christmas. It might be a family tradition, a special song or movie from childhood, or even that first snow that evokes Christmas for you. It might be a simple aroma such as evergreen trees or fresh baked cookies. The scenes and scents of the holiday seasons are all nice, but none of them are truly Christmas …
Those memories are ours to enjoy as long as we don’t make them our main focus. We need to remember why its called “Christ-mas” because without Christ Jesus there would be no celebration. Without Christ there is no Christmas; only something counterfeit and much less ….
Christmas is about giving, and all about what God has given to us. “For to us a child is born, to us a Son is given.” In that phrase we find summarized all the wonder of Christmas — God becoming flesh and dwelling among us (John 1). Christ Jesus was the child born, and all of the lessons that we learn in the story of His birth give way to the awesome truth that the baby born in a manager was God’s precious Son, the most beautiful gift given to us and for us …
Then, like now, the world was largely oblivious to what God was doing. In that period, the Roman census was a grand time for travel, profit, and networking; but also a time of great stress for many. Yet, in the middle of all of that frantic activity, God came to earth. Only those truly attentive knew; and only those willing to be directed would see this babe. John tells us, “God came to His own and His own people did not receive Him” (John 1:11).
Jesus’ arrival in Bethlehem not only fulfilled Isaiah’s prophecy, but Jesus was the gift God gave to satisfy the longing within us from the very beginning of time. As the song goes, “the hopes and fears of all the years” were met in the tiny town of Bethlehem that starry night ….
When you think about that and realize that God came to earth on a life saving mission, Christmas becomes truly life-changing. Jesus is Emmanuel — God with us. When you grasp that Jesus Christ came with you in mind, willing to do whatever it took to make you fit for eternity with Him; even to giving up His own life, that gift in the manger takes on personal significance. And how can you not have joy in that?
The joy that God gives us empowers us with strength to endure even in the presence of great difficulty or sorrow, as “the joy of the Lord is our strength” (Nehemiah 8:10).
Christianity is set apart from every other religion because of the indwelling presence of the Holy Ghost, who gives us fullness of joy. Being in the Spirit and abiding in Christ is where the essence of joy is truly found: “You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” (Psalm 16:11).
It’s not a fake happiness, manufactured through material gifts or worldly pleasures, but a real sense that our joy isn’t limited to our circumstances, or a certain time or season. The joy of the Lord quickens our spirit to know that we are His children, that we are deeply loved, and that we are never alone. When Jesus came into this sinful world, His presence meant that there is hope, peace, and joy for everyone who accepts Him ….
His birth and death was solely that we could be made free from the grip of eternal bondage. In this we can have joy because we have been saved and forgiven when we humble ourselves to confess and repent of our sins and receive this gift and thereby have hope for tomorrow. We can rejoice because now our lives have purpose and meaning. And we can experience not only joy unspeakable when we receive the other free gift of the baptism of the Holy Ghost, but power to live an effective holy life (Acts 1:8).
The devil and our flesh will do everything possible to keep us from experiencing the true joy of the Lord, however we don’t have to succumb to temptations if we are willing to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus and continuously walk in the Spirit. As it is written: “walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.” (Galations 5:16-17).
Joy is the byproduct of knowing Jesus Christ personally and aligning yourself to His Will, and this only comes by meditating and studying His Word and applying it through obedience every single day.
If you miss God’s glory at the heart of this story, you miss the true meaning of Christmas. Don’t get distracted from the best part. This year, in the midst of paper wrapping, gift buying and giving, and frantic meal preparations; ponder the events and moments surrounding our Savior’s birth and remember God’s glory is the center of it all, given in the gift of His Son, Jesus Christ. For this gift is what Christmas is all about and why joy comes to the world ….
Lord thank You for everything that Christmas means. Help the memories for everyone to spotlight Your Son rather than distract from Him. Help me to be thankful for every good thing that comes with and from Jesus, but most of all, thank You that through Him You saved me and made abundant life possible. Glory to You in the highest. In the beautiful name of Jesus, my King, I pray, Amen