8 TIPS TO DECEMBER JOY

With Thanksgiving behind us, Christmas is just around the corner. The months, weeks and days are quickly slipping by and soon we will be into another new year. It is a busy time for most people. Out of the busyness comes stress and fatigue to the point that we forget the purpose of this season and lose our joy.

Recently on a ladies’ day out, my friend Michelle reminded us to keep our joy, but also to give it away. She used small gift-wrapped packages to illustrate her point of the gift inside and not allowing anyone (and I add anything) to steal your joy. It is a gift given to you. In like way, do not steal anyone else’s joy by attitudes that are negative or critical. In fact, give the gift of joy to them.

What is this joy?

            And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field,

            Keeping watch over their flock by night.

            And an angel of the Lord appeared to them,

            And the glory of the Lord shone around them,

            And they were filled with fear.

            And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold,

            I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.

            For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior,

            Who is Christ the Lord.

            Luke 2:8-11 (ESV)

 

The angels were announcing to the shepherds that Christ, meaning Messiah, had come in the form of a newborn baby. This was cause for great joy!

In looking at the New Testament Greek word for joy, you find several definitions. The word is ‘chara’ meaning a calm delight, gladness, it is used of persons who are one’s joy, to rejoice and exultation. Joy is used in scripture as associated with life, the redemptive work of God and an announcement of an occasion of exceeding joy.

Within the last three years, four precious babies have been born into our family. I can relate to the definition of ‘calm delight’. The first time I held each one of those newborn babies, I was filled with such delight that my heart overflowed with love and awe of new life. But it was a calm delight in not wanting to disturb the sleeping little ones. And yes, these little ones are truly my joy.

And so, as we look at the angel’s announcement of great joy, I believe what they are saying to the shepherds is that the redemptive word of God has come to earth bringing new life for all people. That is what Christmas is all about. The joy of new life in Christ Jesus as we commit our lives to Him. He is our joy and our life. He is our calm delight. He is the gift to be shared with others.

As you rush through December, here are some helpful tips for maintaining holiday joy:

  1. Begin each day with Jesus. He is the source of your joy.
  2. Make lists to avoid stress.
  3. Do not try to do everything for the holidays all in one day. Plan in a way that preparations don’t pile up.
  4. When exhaustion weighs your down, stop. Rest. Get a good night’s sleep.
  5. Give thanks to God for the ability to accomplish His purpose in all things.
  6. Purpose in your mind to enjoy family and friends through the holidays free from conflict and pray for your family and friends.
  7. Be joyful that others may see Christ in you.
  8. Be at peace. If it doesn’t get done, it probably didn’t need to be done.

What is the IT?

For the past few years, a group of friends and I have been challenged in December to ask God to give us a word for the coming year. My word for 2017 is JOY. I began the year thinking ‘awesome, my year is going to be filled with joy!’ It has been in many ways that I am so thankful for.

The year began with the birth of a baby boy into our family and has ended with the birth of a second baby boy into our family. That is JOY! In addition, I was able to complete a year-long contract of radio hosting. God provided messages and interviews throughout the year that brought great joy. We have a new church home. That, too, is great joy. However, among these joyful events, there have been trials, disappointments and discouragement as well. But God is reminding me at the end of this year what true joy is all about.

This month the Lord has taken me time and again to James 1:2 which says in part, “…count it all joy when you encounter various trials knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.”

In reading this verse, I think we have a tendency to believe that God is telling us to consider the trial all joy. We ask, ‘how can I consider this cancer joy, or this death joy, or this divorce, or this loss of job’ and so forth. You get the picture.

But as I have studied this, I have asked the question, ‘What is the IT of this verse?’ Could it be that the IT is not in reference to the trial, but rather in reference to that which we are to consider – all joy? Could it be that the IT is the Good News delivered by the angels to the shepherds who were watching over their fields at night? The angels appeared to the shepherds and said, “…Behold, I bring you tidings of GOOD NEWS of great joy which will be to all people.” Luke 2:10. Could it be that the IT is the same GOOD NEWS described in Isaiah 61:1 – the good news of Jesus Christ?

If that is the case, it changes how we would think when in the midst of trials. Count it all joy is only one phrase of the sentence. The word ‘count’ in the Greek means to consider, think about, rule over, to command, to have authority over – to be a leader. What this is telling us is that we have authority over the choices we make in our thought process.

This phrase is joined to the rest of the sentence by the word ‘when’ meaning that we will have trials. This is saying, not if you have trials, but when you have trials you have the authority over your mind to choose to think about the joy that is the Good News of Jesus, or to focus on the difficulty.

Joy is a gladness of heart and calm delight, but ALL joy is everything of anything that ever was given to those who believe in and trust the Lord Jesus Christ. Christmas is the celebration of the time in history when He came to earth as a newborn baby to live among the human race to save us all from our sin.

When trials come your way, think about the joy of knowing Jesus and claim the promises of God for all joy in the midst of the difficulty. In doing so, there is peace. The birth of this baby changed everything for you and me. Fix your eyes and thoughts on Jesus this holiday season.

Merry Christmas!