"The Gift Of Joy"
The next three weeks I plan to write about three wonderful gifts each one of us can receive this Christmas. These are gifts that were promised by Jesus two thousand years ago. They are the gifts of joy, peace and abundant living. For believers, these gifts are all ready theirs. They need only open the package and follow the directions to appropriate them in their lives. For those who do not believe, they are available by simply opening their hearts and receiving them by faith.
The first gift is joy. It is important that we do not confuse joy with happiness. Happiness is determined by circumstances. It comes and goes as circumstances change. The joy that Christ gives is internal. It is not built upon circumstances, but it is built upon a humble acceptance of Christ’s love and a willing obedience to His word. It is only when we abide in Him and walk with Him daily that we can experience His joy.
The joy of Christ is that internal excitement that allowed Paul and Silas to pray and to sing praise unto their God from their prison cell. It is the joy that prompted the German Christian martyr, Herman Lange, to write these words to his parents just prior to his execution by the Nazis in W.W.II, “I am, first, in a joyous mood, and second, filled with great anticipation. In Christ I have put my faith, and precisely today I have faith in Him more firmly than ever. Look where you will, everywhere you will find jubilation over the grace that makes us children of God. What can befall a child of God? Of what should I be afraid? On the contrary, I rejoice.”The joy of Paul and Silas and of Herman Lange is not automatic for the believer, but it is available to every believer. It comes from a lifetime of abiding in Christ.
A believer who is filled with the joy of Christ is like popcorn. Ordinary corn placed in a skillet and heated to 400 degrees Fahrenheit simply dries up and gets hard. Popcorn reacts totally different to heat. When it is heated to 400 degrees, it expands and breaks open its tough outer shell. This allows the pure white pulp to burst forth into an edible treat that is many times the size of the kernel, and it is a eating delight of young and old alike.
The parallel to life is clear. When the heat of life’s trials comes, many people shrivel up and become embittered. For those who humble themselves and walk with Christ, adversity becomes a catalyst for them to enlarge and burst forth with blessings for those around them.
If you are a believer reading this article, and you do not have the joy of Christ at this time, don’t let Christmas pass you by without renewing this wonderful gift that Christ gives to all who are willing to follow Him. Renew your commitment to Him and begin the New Year believing that He will help you overcome whatever your obstacles may be.
If you are a seeker, don’t let this Christmas season pass you by without at least considering the possibility of receiving this wonderful gift that Christ wishes to give to you. If you have questions about how to receive the gift of Christ, I would be happy to talk with you about them. You may reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.