On the first Christmas, Shepherds spending their night in the fields with the sheep were visited by an angel of the Lord. The angel said to them, “… Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.” Luke 2:10 NKJV. The shepherds put their fear aside and followed the angel’s instructions. They followed the star in the sky and found Jesus, our Savior, lying in a manger. The shepherds glorified and praised God for all they had seen and heard, and were filled with the Joy of the Lord.
We are instructed, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials.” Count it all joy to go through trials? James 1:2 I don’t know about you, but I can say that was a tough pill for me to swallow until I understood that trials were for God’s purpose to prune, mature and teach me.
Going through a trial of any magnitude would put my mind into a whirlwind of thoughts I could not control. They were always negative and destructive. Learning to take them captive and reject anything not edifying to the Lord has brought me joy even in the most sorrowful situations.
Developing a mindset to “Count it all joy” is not easy, but worth it. When you reach the point that nothing can take away that joy, which is in the Lord, “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7.
In her book, Privilege, Kay Smith tells us, “The Word of God says, “Deny yourself.” And interestingly enough, it is one of the most wonderful principles for joy.” She uses a simple example of dieting. When you have been able to deny yourself that treat, you go to bed feeling so good you want to do it again the next day. It is the same with the Lord. When you deny yourself for Him, you feel His joy and have His peace. You will want it every day.
The first time I felt the Joy of the Lord was the result of putting myself aside and respecting another’s wishes. I was assisting a writer in editing an article. She was not accepting some of my changes. I was sure my way was better, and was digging my heels in. We were at an impasse. Thankfully, I took the situation to the Lord. What an eye opener to realize I was wrong as I was not respecting her. As soon as I apologized I felt joy like I had never experienced.
In addition to denying ourselves, we need to obey. In John 15:11, Jesus says, “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you and that your joy may be full.” This statement refers to the 15:10, where he tells us to abide in His love we need to keep his commandments. By obeying Jesus we will experience fullness of joy.
From the first Christmas to now, we are told the great joy brought to us by the Christ child is available for everyone. We need to learn to trust, obey and count all situations joy, because they are gifts from God.
The season is upon us. For many it will not be easy, breezy, but filled with trials and sorrow. I pray no matter what your circumstances, you will be filled with the Joy of the Lord this Christmas.