Jesus: Our Source of Joy (A Christmas Devotional)
The delicate melody of sentimental Christmas carols in a crowded department store.
The twinkle of silver tinsel and colorful lights as it adorns a majestic evergreen.
The anticipation of children’s red-cheeked faces as they pass by frosted storefront windows.
There is a nostalgic buzz during the Christmas season that prepares a way in the heart for warmth, excitement, and good tidings.
But what is it about Christmas time that evokes such a sense of wonder and joy?
To fully understand how to answer that question, let’s first look at the meaning of this often shallowly defined characteristic.
If you enjoy this devotional you will also appreciate Heaven’s Birthright: The Name Of Jesus
What Is Joy?
Joy can often be defined as an emotion or feeling brought on by good fortune, success, or the possibility of receiving something that one desires.
We often associate this kind of joy with young children opening Christmas gifts on Christmas morning or rosy-cheeked bell ringers on the street corner collecting the goodwill of men in small, red tin buckets. We see it in the way the lights on the Christmas tree dance around the living room. This kind of joy invokes a swelled feeling of contentment and expectation.
I would argue that this joy is among the blurred lines of happiness. And while we can experience feelings of joy as we witness the generous hearts of those around us, what happens to your joy if you experience hardship, brokenness, and disappointment? What does is say about your joy if your “Merry Christmas” is not so merry and bright?
How Biblical Joy Differs From Worldly Joy
Happiness, or worldly joy, is most common in our world today. It is the kind of feel-good emotion contingent on its circumstances and outcomes. We see these feelings after receiving a gift from someone we love, when the barista at our favorite coffee shop remembers our name and drink order, and when life is generally going pretty well for us.
But what happens when the situations of our lives aren’t going the way we have planned or even how we would have liked them to happen? In most cases, when this happens, the natural mental and emotional response is one of disappointment. We do not feel much joy let along the good tidings of great joy we read about in the Christmas story.
James 1:12, in the New Living Translation (NLT), says, “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.”
So how do we remain joyful during these conditions?
We must remember that Biblical joy is resourced from the deep, immovable well of our souls where God dwells. This caliber of joy can be found in the Lord, regardless of the circumstance we find before us.
Then, as we remember that trials will come, we ask the Holy Spirit to remind us of this great joy before us and a chance to partner with the kingdom of heaven.
Joy in the Calling
Mary, a young teenage girl with a full life ahead of her and betrothed to a carpenter, learns just how deep the true joy of God would run.
Not only does her survival depend on this covenant between her and her soon-to-be husband, but now she has met with a holiness that, in the culture of her day, was only reserved for the educated men, those considered set apart.
Little did she know, the Holy Spirit would call her into a destiny of joy that would surpass all understanding.
Mary was greatly troubled at the appearance of the angel Gabriel. So much so that in Luke 1:29, in the NLT, we read that she was “confused and disturbed.” Not only was she most likely afraid of such a blinding greeting, but her questions of doubt for Gabriel showed just how human we are on this side of heaven.
We witness such a beautiful exchange throughout the remainder of this chapter. We see fear traded for joy, uncertainty traded for faith, and confusion traded for assurance.
And just like Mary, when we trust in a holy, sovereign God, our joy will remain steadfast.
Joy in the Field
The birth of Jesus Christ included a birth announcement of great fanfare; however, its recipients were welcomed with anything but.
Shepherds, the lowest of the low. Thought to be incompetent and often overlooked, they were considered among the tax collectors and those who would clean trash and feces from the streets.
Now, I don’t know about you, but I can’t even seem to fathom any fulfillment or appreciation in an occupation like that. How does one continue to go into work each day, knowing they are despised, judged, and ridiculed? Where is the joy in that calling?
Yet, God is in the business of restoration, and suddenly, He will change the perspective and importance of the one who looks after smelly sheep in the sun-scorched and coyote-infested fields all day.
I love when God moves in the suddenly. I love the part the shepherds played in the birth of the savior of the world. I am always reminded of how God uses sinners, and those looked down upon, in the best ways.
Within the blink of an eye, perspective can change. Hearts can be healed. And joy during an undesired circumstance can abound.
God used the shepherds to be the first to receive the news that the Messiah was here. He chose to announce to a group of rag-tag, sweaty, and undesirable brothers and invited them to be the first to come and worship Him. They were the first to celebrate the greatest gift of all. They were the first to visit baby Jesus.
He restored dignity in them, which would change how the world would view them. (I mean, have you ever seen a nativity scene without shepherds?!)
And not only that, God revived their purpose, their calling, and their joy so much that this little babe they came to worship would one day refer to Himself as the “Good Shepherd” to all mankind.
What a joy that must have been! What great love!
Unending Joy in God’s Presence
Our circumstances may look bleak. They may cause feelings of discouragement, hopelessness, and unworthiness. The reality of Christmas, and of every time of year, is that we will often face struggles. Dear friend if you are struggling this Christmas day to feel joy I want to encourage you to lean into the true meaning of Christmas. Christ Jesus, our perfect gift, wants to walk with your on this arduous journey.
The son of God , our Savior, restores all that is broken.
He gives sight to the blind, courage to the meek, and restores joy abundantly.
I love how Psalm 21:6, NIV, encourages. It says, “Surely you have granted him unending blessings and made him glad with the joy of your presence.”
As we search for Him, Jesus will make us glad.
As we lean into our calling, He will bless us.
Now is the perfect time to hear this good news.
In Him, there is assurance and joy.
Will you sit with Him at the manger?
Heavenly Father, thank You for Your Son, Jesus. You promise to restore our joy when we come to You, so Father, be with us now. Enlighten Your path for us as we seek Your face in all we do. And be close as we walk through trials with a steadfast assurance that You are good. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Christmas Devotional Discussion Questions
Is there a circumstance in your life where you have lost your joy?
Where in your life have you partnered with earthly joy instead of Biblical joy and vice versa? How did the outcome of the circumstances differ?