When was the last time you experienced joy? The kind of joy you can’t contain and that sort of just spills out of you. How much of that joy are you living with today? How would you rate yourself on the joy scale? With joy being a 10 where are you today? Are you at 7 or 9 or maybe you are just a 3? The angel in the Christmas story told the shepherds that he was bringing good news to them that would bring great joy to all people. That word, joy, was a word from heaven spoken by a heavenly creature. Joy is a sought after emotion in our culure some 2,000 years later. In 2017, Twitter users voted for the most pouplar emoji of all time. The tears of joy emoji won the contest. Most people would agree that more joy in their lives and in the world would be a good thing. Not just the emoji kind of joy but deep, abiding joy. The kind of joy that doesn’t diminish when our circumstances change from good to not so good. The kind of joy that spills out of you.
Psalm 92:4; Matthew 1:23, 3:1-2; Luke 2:7-11, 20
That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them, “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! Luke 2:8-11
During the Christmas season many people don’t experience joy. They actually experience more anxiety leading up to Christmas and afterwards a sense of emptiness. Mental health professionals tell us that Christmas is the most likely time of the year to experience depression. That is a sad thought because the good news the angel proclaimed on that first Christmas is intended to be good news for everyone no matter what circumstances they are facing. It’s for the person who feels like they can’t get a break in life and will always struggle and scrape to get by. It’s for the person who is living overwhelmed with anxiety and depression and fear. It’s for the young couple who are trying to make ends meet and living paycheck to paycheck while raising their family. This good news about Jesus, which brings us joy, is for all of us no matter what our hurts, heartaches or hang ups.
On a scale of 1-10 (10-highest), where is your joy level right now? What helps you maintain joy throughout the Christmas season? Which Christmas was the most difficult for you in terms of having abiding joy? How would you explain the relationship between “joy” and the good news of Jesus? What is your favorite Christmas carol? How do you think our culture defines joy? How easy is it for Christians to become dependent on something other than the good news of Jesus to bring us joy? Why do you think Christmas is the most likely time of the year to experience depression? How hard would it be for Faith Fellowship to become a place known for its great joy? What one thing could you do this Christmas to make more room in your life for Jesus?
If you want more joy in your life this Christmas, practice these three things: 1. Say yes to Jesus through repentance. 2. Make more room in your life for Jesus. 3. Pay attention to the ways God is already impacting your life.
Dear Lord Jesus, I want to expereince the joy you bring not only at Christmas but year round. Help me to see and pay more attention to how you are impacting my life and the lives of those I love. I want to open my heart to make more room for you because I know nothing else can fill me with abundant joy like your presence. Thank you for loving me and coming the first time as a baby so that someday you could lay down your life on the cross. I know you are coming again to take me home with you where their will be joy beyond measure for all eternity. In your name I pray, Amen.