I THESSALONIANS 5:16: “Always be joyful.”
OBSERVATION: “If your happy and you know it…” – enough already! “What is there to be happy and joyful about anyway?”, some would ask. We have been sequestered in our homes for almost a year, our country is divided, the virus is still at large, and our future is uncertain.
“Always be joyful?” Give me a break!
Yet, that is what the Word of God commands us to do. We are called to be people of joy. We are exhorted, no matter what the circumstances, to always be joyful. In fact, this Christmas season reminds us that this was one of the purposes Jesus came to this earth over 2000 years ago!
- “Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!” Luke 2:9-11 NLT
The experience of the shepherds reminds us of this important fact. The coming of Jesus, His birth, life, and ministry, took place to bring great joy to all people. Then why are so many people living a joy-deficient life?
I will never forget a dear friend I had in college. His name was Tom Calhoun. This brother had a smile from ear to ear. Every day, regardless of the circumstances, Tom was grinning, filled with joy, and proclaiming the praise of his Lord Jesus Christ. To be honest – I did not grow up this way. At first, it bothered me. I thought, “Is this guy for real?” And, as I got to know him, I realized that he was. He had problems just like everyone else – yet he chose to live in joy!
How did he do this?
He discovered the power of living and abiding in Jesus Christ and His Word! Joy is different from happiness. Happiness is fleeting. Happiness is dependent upon my current circumstances. Yet, joy is something else entirely. Joy is rooted in a person. Joy is rooted and grounded in Jesus Christ and His Word to us!
- “I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.” John 15:9-14 NLT
Jesus links our joy with these things:
- Abiding in His love.
- Obeying His commandments.
- Abiding in His Word.
- Loving one another.
- Living a sacrificial life.
Getting back to my friend from college, Tom did all these things. He was in love with Jesus. He was a student of the Word of God. He was living a life to please the Lord. He was willing to give you the shirt off his back to help you. And, He was always filled with love for everyone. And, something happened as I began to hang around Tom. I found out that joy is contagious.
I learned from others how to walk in the joy of Jesus! As I have grown in my faith I have learned that in every situation Jesus is with me. As Paul says in Romans 8 – “If God is for us, who can be against us!” Paul also says that God is working everything in my life toward His good purpose as I live and follow Jesus Christ. My joy is not dependent upon my circumstances. My joy is rooted and grounded in the person and work of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
- “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!” Luke 2:10-11, NLT
This Christmas season – let’s live the promise of the season. Let’s always be joyful. Let’s remember that Jesus is the reason for the season. His birth, His life, His ministry, His death on the cross for our sins, His resurrection and victory over the grave, and His soon coming return are the center of our joy. The stock market may fluctuate. The world may go crazy. Yet, He will never leave nor forsake us.
Jesus Christ is our Joy!
It seems appropriate to close these short thoughts with these familiar verses from Romans 8.
- “And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39 NLT
I don’t know about you, but that is enough for me to –
“ALWAYS BE JOYFUL!”
In Jesus Name!