Scripture: In the account of the birth of Jesus, Luke 2:6–14 tells of Joseph and Mary coming to Bethlehem,
“6 And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. 8 And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. 10 And the angel said to them, ‘Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.’ 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, 14 ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!’”
Main Idea: The most joyful news that any person can receive is the announcement of the coming of Jesus Christ.
More: We rejoice because Jesus brings abundant life to those who are dying.
Faith and Worship Declarations: I thank you, O God, that you brought to my ears the message of Jesus Christ, his birth, life, death for our sins, resurrection, and ascension. Above all else I rejoice in the person and work of my Savior Jesus!
“When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream. 2 Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; then they said among the nations, ‘The LORD has done great things for them.’ 3 The LORD has done great things for us; we are glad. 4 Restore our fortunes, O LORD, like streams in the Negeb! 5 Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy!6 He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.”
Main Idea: Believers can rejoice because God restores our fortunes.
More: This Psalm is about what it feels like when God turns our situations around. You may feel as though you have lost much or even lost everything through no fault of your own, or through a bad decision you made, or through some sin or folly. And you wonder if your life is permanently ruined.
But God can restore your life. He wants to restore your life. When he does, it will be like rivers overflowing their banks in a desert. You will again go into your fields planting seeds, and you’ll do it with tears because you are so grateful for what God has done. And soon you will reap the harvest of those seeds. You will come home with shouts of joy.
Faith and Worship Declarations: God has restored my fortunes. Thank you, Lord, that you can turn any situation around.
“the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit”
Main Idea: True disciples of Jesus are learning to rejoice in the Lord.
More: The word used in this Scripture for Christians is disciples. Many who regard themselves as Christians are not disciples of Jesus. They have not repented of their fundamental rebellion against God’s rule. Jesus is not their Lord. They don’t believe much of what the Bible says and thus don’t read it much.
But a disciple is someone who has come under the Lordship of Jesus and is learning his ways as taught in his inerrant Word. True disciples have the joy of the Lord. They are steadily growing in having the mind of the Lord, which brings joy and confidence.
Are you a true disciple? If not, do not let another hour go by without bowing your knees to him.
Faith and Worship Declarations:I have surrendered to Jesus Christ, and therefore I am a true disciple of his. I am filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.
“On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem: ‘Fear not, O Zion; let not your hands grow weak. 17 The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.’”
Main Idea: God is the most joyful being in the universe. He rejoices greatly over his city, over his people.
More: There is infinitely more true joy in heaven than at the wildest worldly party on earth. God wants his people to be joyful as he is joyful.
Faith and Worship Declarations: O Lord, I praise you for your joy. I am joyful, for God is joyful.
“Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, 25 to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.”
Main Idea: To be blameless before the presence of God brings joy indeed.
More:Guilt, blame, and shame torment the soul. Apart from the forgiveness of our sins, guilt, shame, and blame are what cling to us like glue and what stain us like crude oil. But through faith in Jesus Christ we become blameless before God, as innocent as an infant’s giggle. That’s why forgiven Christians have joy.
Faith and Worship Declarations: Through repentance and faith in Jesus I am blameless before God. Glory to you, Jesus, for the atoning power of your blood. Thank you for the forgiveness of my sins.
“let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Main Idea:When we put our hope in future joy with the Lord, we can endure anything.
More: This verse says Jesus endured the cross for the joy set before him. Joy is motivating. Hoping in joy to come is motivating. Joy is what we seek, and God is the only enduring source. It awaits you in heaven.
Is there something you feel you can’t endure any longer? Do it for God’s sake and set your hope on the rewards that await you for obeying the Lord.
Faith and Worship Declarations: Thank you, Lord, for the joy you have set before me. I will endure all things for the joy that you will give me someday and for the joy I have already in you.
Scripture: In 2 Corinthians 8:1–2 the apostle Paul says,
“We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, 2 for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part.”
Main Idea: Joy does not depend on wealth, provision, or peace, but rather on the grace of God.
More: In this text things don’t add up, at least with human reasoning. These Christians in Macedonia were afflicted and in extreme poverty. In Western culture that means misery and unhappiness. But not when people have biblical values and God’s grace. In any station of life, you can have joy, even abundant joy, when you have the Lord.
Faith and Worship Declarations: My joy is not based on my possessions, security, or easy life, but on the Lord. God’s grace is more than enough for me. Praise you, O God, that my joy comes from you.