After an evening of celebrating the joy of Christmas at the Church at Quail Creek last evening, here is today’s Advent thought on joy.
Joy to the World – 12.13.16
Nearly 300 years ago, Isaac Watts composed a song that encompassed the theme of joy and how Creation itself exuded joy when the Messiah came to earth. While this classic carol may seem dated to some, the words are so rich that I urge you to read them slowly:
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.
When I lived in California, Paul Sailhammer served as executive pastor of the Fullerton Evangelical Free Church, where Chuck Swindoll served as pastor. He stated a definition of joy that I have remembered and held close, that joy is “that deep settled confidence that God is in control of every area of my life.”
With that in mind, the words of Watts’ carol are so much richer. Heaven, nature, rocks, hills, fields, floods are all in a state of joy, because God is in control – of creation, of nature – and of everything in between.
As we look at some of the main characters in the Christmas story, let’s check out the evidence of joy in each.
In Mary – when Gabriel said she would be a virgin and yet conceive and give birth as a teenaged mother to the Son of God, she simply said, “Let it be done according to your word.”
In Joseph – when Mary told her, then the angel in his dream that Mary, that she was carrying a boy he would name Jesus, because He would save the world from their sins.
There was joy in the shepherds when they ran to Bethlehem, abandoning everything to see this Savior, Christ the Lord.
In Simeon – his joy was magnified when he laid eyes on the infant Jesus in the Temple and exclaimed that “let your servant now depart in peace, for my eyes have seen your salvation, . . . a light to the Gentiles, and the glory to your people Israel!”
In Anna, God’s peace was shown in her giving thanks to God for His faithfulness and then shared the good news of the arrival of Messiah to everyone who were hoping like she was for His Coming.
What about you?
Where is joy needed right now? Is joy a fleeting emotion, or is it deeply rooted and grounded in the confidence that God is in control, and I am trusting in His care, provision, and power in my life, no matter the circumstance?
Is your joy in a medical diagnosis? In a financial circumstance that looks bleak? Is there joy despite a relationship that has gone sour? Are you finding joy in waiting – and waiting – for answers that seem to be saying “Wait” a little longer?
Joy to the world, the Lord is come, and the Savior reigns!
Father, may we have that deep, settled confidence that the You are in control of everything in our lives, so that we may experience —
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love;
And wonders of His love;
And wonders, wonders of His love.
Randy L. Down