And I had planned on preaching about choosing joy. It's a great lesson for the Christmas season. Happiness is good. But JOY is better. You see, happiness is dependent on our circumstances. Joy isn't. Happiness changes with our situations. Joy doesn't.
For many of us, the holiday season means joy, fun, laughter and peace. But for many others it can mean hopelessness, stress, and despair. Maybe it's because of a recent loss of a loved one or the financial stress of the season or difficult family relationships.
Whatever the reason, sometimes it feels like our happiness can be drained for the season.
But it doesn't have to be that way. Because we can choose joy. Happiness is the generic. Joy is the authentic, real deal. Think of it this way: Happiness is Dr. Thunder, but Joy is Dr. Pepper.
And the birth of Jesus into our world brought Joy. In Luke 2, (click here to read it), the shepherds were given a message from an angel of the Lord that said the birth of Jesus is good news that brings great joy for ALL people. Not just people who have it together. Not just people who have the right position or the right possessions. Not just for those who seem to have it easy. Joy is for us all.
In fact, in James 1 (click here to read), in the Bible, James says that we can have joy even in difficult times. You see, joy is a deep contentment that comes from knowing Jesus. And that isn't based on our circumstances or situations.
Paul, a follower of Jesus, said in the Bible (read it here) that he had learned to be content, to have this deep contentment in life, regardless of how much he had or didn't have in life. And here's what Paul said was the secret to joy and being content. He had strength through his relationship with Jesus.
Here's the truth that the Bible is clear on: An authentic, real relationship with Jesus brings an authentic, real joy into our lives.
In the Bible, Paul says this in Romans 15:13: I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him.
Paul nails it! We are filled with joy, not because of the right circumstances or the perfect life, but because we place our trust in Jesus.
Our joy is not in possessions or position, but in a person: Jesus.
And the message of Christmas is a message of Joy To The ENTIRE World: When we couldn't get to God, God came to us through the gift of His Son, Jesus.
And that's something to be more than happy about. That's something that can bring us JOY.