Advent lasts for four Sundays leading up to Christmas. The time before Christmas is Advent, a season of preparation for Christmas. Christians prepare for celebrating the birth of Jesus by remembering the longing of the Jews for a Messiah. In Advent, we’re reminded of how much we ourselves also need a Savior, and we look forward to our Savior’s second coming even as we prepare to celebrate his first coming at Christmas.
This year 2017 Advent began on Sunday December 3rd and ends on Sunday December 24th, Christmas Eve.
This blog series will be posts on the themes most often used for the four weeks of Advent, Hope, Peace, Joy and Love. This is the third in the series. The first was“The Hope Of Advent”, the second "The Peace Of Advent" this third post is:
The Joy Of Advent
Joy comes upon us unexpectedly. It jumps out at us from behind sunsets, peeks out in the smile of a stranger, and takes hold in a child’s laughter. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, a Jesuit biologist and philosopher, once wrote, “Joy is the infallible sign of the presence of God.”
Dictionary.com defines joy as "the emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying; keen pleasure; elation."
With this definition, we could say that "happiness" and "joy" are interchangeable. But that’s not biblical joy.
When Paul wrote his second letter to the Corinthians he had been under tremendous trials and tribulations.
2 Corinthians 1:8 (NKJV)8 For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia: that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life.
2 Corinthians 2:12-13 (NKJV)12 Furthermore, when I came to Troas to preach Christ's gospel, and a door was opened to me by the Lord,13 I had no rest in my spirit, because I did not find Titus my brother; but taking my leave of them, I departed for Macedonia.
Yet he rejoiced when Titus came and told him about how much they cared for him.
2 Corinthians 7:5-7 (NKJV)5 For indeed, when we came to Macedonia, our bodies had no rest, but we were troubled on every side. Outside were conflicts, inside were fears.6 Nevertheless God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus,7 and not only by his coming, but also by the consolation with which he was comforted in you, when he told us of your earnest desire, your mourning, your zeal for me, so that I rejoiced even more.
Later on he told them that the church in Macedonia had an abundance of joy even though they were very poor.
2 Corinthians 8:1-2 (NKJV)1 Moreover, brethren, we make known to you the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia:2 that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded in the riches of their liberality.
Neither of these look like they should be occasions for being joyful or happy. Here’s the difference between happiness and biblical joy or the joy of the Lord.
Happiness is usually dependent on circumstances. If everything is going well I'm happy. If not, not so much.
Our joy should rise above circumstances. This joy is not produced by something external that makes me feel happy. It is supernatural result of a life filled with the Holy Spirit of the living God.
Galatians 5:22-26 (HCSB)22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith,23 gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law.24 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.25 Since we live by the Spirit, we must also follow the Spirit.26 We must not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.
James 1:2-3 (NKJV)2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials,3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.
Remember what the angel told the shepherds when he announced Jesus’ birth?
Luke 2:10 (NKJV)10 Then 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.
Joy is conferred by Christ upon his followers.
John 15:11 (HCSB) “I have spoken these things to you so that My joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.
What had He told them that would give them so much joy?
John 15:1-10 (HCSB)1 “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vineyard keeper.2 Every branch in Me that does not produce fruit He removes, and He prunes every branch that produces fruit so that it will produce more fruit.3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.4 Remain in Me, and I in you. Just as a branch is unable to produce fruit by itself unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in Me.5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without Me.6 If anyone does not remain in Me, he is thrown aside like a branch and he withers. They gather them, throw them into the fire, and they are burned.7 If you remain in Me and My words remain in you, ask whatever you want and it will be done for you.8 My Father is glorified by this: that you produce much fruit and prove to be My disciples.9 “As the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you. Remain in My love.10 If you keep My commands you will remain in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commands and remain in His love.
Jesus’ birth was then and still is an occasion for joy as expressed in the familiar Christmas carol Joy to the World.
Joy to the World , the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven, and Heaven, and nature sing.
Joy to the World, the Savior reigns!
Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, repeat, the sounding joy.
No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as, the curse is found.
He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders, wonders, of His love.
We can choose to live in an attitude of resentment, anger and fear or we can choose to pursue the joy of Christ. We have a choice. God gives us a joy that is impossible to describe.
1 Peter 1:3-9 (HCSB)3 Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. According to His great mercy, He has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead4 and into an inheritance that is imperishable, uncorrupted, and unfading, kept in heaven for you.5 You are being protected by God’s power through faith for a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.6 You rejoice in this, though now for a short time you have had to struggle in various trials7 so that the genuineness of your faith—more valuable than gold, which perishes though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.8 You love Him, though you have not seen Him. And though not seeing Him now, you believe in Him and rejoice with inexpressible and glorious joy,9 because you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
Christ personally, realized through faith, is the believer's unspeakable joy - The Wycliffe Bible Commentary
Joy which is better experienced than expressed because there are no words to describe it. It is a joy on account of the glory of God, which the believer lives in the hope and faith of; and by it saints may know a little what heaven itself will be. - Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Luke 2:4-12 (HCSB)4 And Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family line of David,5 to be registered along with Mary, who was engaged to him and was pregnant.6 While they were there, the time came for her to give birth.7 Then she gave birth to her firstborn Son, and she wrapped Him snugly in cloth and laid Him in a feeding trough—because there was no room for them at the lodging place.8 In the same region, shepherds were staying out in the fields and keeping watch at night over their flock.9 Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.10 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:11 Today a Savior, who is Messiah the Lord, was born for you in the city of David.
12 This will be the sign for you: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in cloth and lying in a feeding trough.”
Isaiah 53:1-6 (HCSB)1 Who has believed what we have heard? And who has the arm of the LORD been revealed to?2 He grew up before Him like a young plant and like a root out of dry ground. He didn’t have an impressive form or majesty that we should look at Him, no appearance that we should desire Him.3 He was despised and rejected by men, a man of suffering who knew what sickness was. He was like someone people turned away from; He was despised, and we didn’t value Him.4 Yet He Himself bore our sicknesses, and He carried our pains; but we in turn regarded Him stricken, struck down by God, and afflicted.5 But He was pierced because of our transgressions, crushed because of our iniquities; punishment for our peace was on Him, and we are healed by His wounds.6 We all went astray like sheep; we all have turned to our own way; and the LORD has punished Him for the iniquity of us all.
Matthew 26:26-28 (HCSB)26 As they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take and eat it; this is My body.”27 Then He took a cup, and after giving thanks, He gave it to them and said, “Drink from it, all of you.28 For this is My blood ⌊that establishes⌋ the covenant; it is shed for many for the forgiveness of sins.
John 15:13 (HCSB) No one has greater love than this, that someone would lay down his life for his friends.
Romans 10:9 (HCSB)9 If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.
The King has come . . . and He’s coming again.
But this time, He’s coming in “His Father’s glory with his angels . . . with power and great glory.” So, let’s prepare every single moment for that triumphant day!
Matthew 24:27 (HCSB)27 For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.
Matthew 24:30-31 (HCSB)30 “Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the peoples of the earth will mourn; and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.31 He will send out His angels with a loud trumpet, and they will gather His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.
1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 (HCSB)16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the archangel’s voice, and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.17 Then we who are still alive will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air and so we will always be with the Lord.
18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.
Revelation 1:7 (HCSB)7 Look! He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, including those who pierced Him. And all the families of the earth will mourn over Him. This is certain. Amen.