Read His Words Before Ours!
“But the angel said to them, ‘Don’t be afraid, for look, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people!’” (Luke 2:10)
“(…) Do not grieve, because the joy of the Lord is your strength.” (Nehemiah 8:10)
These messages of joy, received by different people at different times,
originated from the same source: God Himself.
This joy was revealed to us through His Son, Jesus, who is Christ the Lord, the representation of God the Father. (Hebrews 1:3)
He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. (John 1:29)
He is the great light shining in the darkness. (Matthew 4:16)
Sin separates mankind from God, the source of our joy, throwing humanity into utter darkness. There, we grope in inky blackness, searching for joy through different means without success.
Until suddenly, into humanity’s desperation comes the greatest news ever declared:
“But the angel said to them, ‘Don’t be afraid, for look, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people: Today in the city of David a Savior was born for you, who is the Messiah, the Lord.’” (Luke 2:10-11)
The shepherds were dirty, lowly, and homeless. Outcasts without reputation, these were the first recipients of this great news.
What unconditional love God has for all mankind!
Matthew 2:1-12 records the wise men from the east who saw Christ’s star and followed it to find little boy Jesus. Like the shepherds, they made haste to go and see the Christ.
Wealthy magistrates and lowly shepherds displayed one shared response upon welcoming the Savior of the world: joy.
The joy of God had appeared in flesh to His people!
But not all willingly embraced this exuding joy.
Herod, king of the Jews, rejected this babe who was God Himself, wrapped in flesh come to rescue mankind from their darkness of sin.
Rather than delighting in the great Joy revealed,
Herod chose the cords of dark death,
seeking to kill the Light of the world.
In like manner, the chief priests, with full knowledge of the prophecies surrounding Christ’s birth, treated His coming with indifference and arrogance.
Both Herod and the chief priests were full of themselves.
They rejected the Light of Joy, refusing to allow it to penetrate their hearts.
They missed the great gladness of God.
Like King Herod and the chief priests, not all experience the advent of Joy.
Especially at Christmas.
Some of us become so busy planning for the event, we forget to acknowledge what Christ’s long-awaited arrival means for our sin-wrecked hearts.
We spend our attention on what will provide immediate pleasure, rather than the real joy of renewed hearts and souls awakened from death to life.
Christmas pleasures come and go, and can leave a wake of frustration or emptiness behind. In his book Peace with God, Billy Graham wrote, “There is a vacuum in the heart of man that only God can fill.” We belong to God, and only in Him can we find lasting joy.
Our sin separates us from Him, but He offered His Son as a sacrifice to pay the penalty for our sins that we might be restored back to Himself and His Joy.
Therefore, rejecting His Son means forfeiting His joy.
The Israelites who returned from captivity during the time of Nehemiah understood the emptiness of life without God. They realized their experience in captivity was a result of their rejection of God. Now, back at home and freed from exile, God’s word was read aloud for the first time in a generation.
As the people realized the devastating extent of their sin, they were heartbroken.
Nehemiah comforted their rightful grief with these Christmas-like tidings, ‘’Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.’’ (Nehemiah 8:10) He told them to celebrate, for the Lord had brought His strong joy near!
What plans are you making this season?
Are you celebrating from the overflow of joy the Savior has revealed?
Or you are focusing on the immediacy of other pleasures?
Israel’s joy washed over them when their hearts repented; centuries later, the shepherds in their lowliness and the wise men in their majesty celebrated the arrival of God’s Joy . . .
. . . For in the city of David, a Savior was born, who is Christ the Lord.
He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.
If you confess with your mouth that He is Lord,
and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead,
you will be saved. (Romans 10:9)
This Christmas, let’s turn our hearts to repentance and acceptance of His gift of grace as we experience His strengthening, magnificent joy!
Embracing God’s fullness in our lives is rooted in scripture and memorizing His word is vital to our continued growth and depth with Jesus. Tap and hold from your mobile device to download this week’s verse and make it your phone’s lockscreen!