Jesus: The Source of My Joy

 

Ryan Plantz - Associate Pastor

One of my earliest memories of joy happened on a Christmas morning when I was just a child. Unfortunately, it was right in the middle of the most difficult season my family ever went through. Just one month before this joyful memory, my younger brother passed away from a very rare form of cancer. He was only three-years old at the time. It was tragic and sent my entire family into a tailspin. However, this was Christmas morning, and my heart was full of hope.

I woke up pleading with God for a new video game system I desperately wanted. I pointed to the fact that my family (myself included) was all very sad and this would certainly play a small role in cheering us up. I hoped against hope that I would find this gift under the Christmas tree. And to my surprise, what was the last gift I opened? It was this video game system I had so badly wanted. My heart was full of joy!

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What do you delight in?

Where do you find your joy? Do you find it in your job? Your spouse? Your children? Every human heart has a longing to experience joy. On this side of eternity we experience joy, but not the perfect joy we were designed for. We know only the shadows of this joy. There’s only one person who can bring us the joy we really long for — and that person is Jesus. 

Unfortunately, many of us turn to other sources of joy instead of Jesus, the source of true joy. These decisions are oftentimes driven by lies we believe deep in our hearts. Here are just a few of those lies…

Lie #1 — I’m a nobody.

Many of us forsake the joy available to us in Jesus because we believe we are nobodies. “What would God want to do with me?” I can’t help but think this was the question that was ringing through the minds of lowly shepherds as the angel of the Lord appeared to them in the field. “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 great fear” (Luke 2:8-9) And maybe by the world’s standards, you are a nobody. But understand that the Good News of Jesus Christ says that Jesus loves nobodies. Jesus became a nobody in order to reach us with His love — to save us, to transform us, and to give us the joy he designed us for. Before Jesus was revealed to the nobles, he was revealed to nobodies. 

Lie #2 — I’m above this.

Another lie many of us believe is that we’re above needing Jesus for our joy. Maybe life is going really well and we’re pretty content with what we have going on. “Other people might need Jesus, but not me. I’m doing fine.” The angel’s declaration to those shepherds that night would say the exact opposite — “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.” (Luke 2:10) Jesus is for everyone. Not just some of them. Not just the ones in need. Not just the well-behaved. Even if life is going great and all our earthly needs are met, you still need Jesus to experience the true joy you were designed for. 

Lie #3 — I’m a mess.

Maybe you’re on the other end of the spectrum. Instead of having your life together, your life is an absolute mess. “My life is too messy — once I get it cleaned up, then I can figure this Jesus thing out.” Listen, Jesus got messy for you so that you could experience the joy that comes from being in a relationship with him. He went into the messiest of places for you. Listen to the angel again, “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:11-12) This Jesus wasn’t born to a royal family. He wasn’t born into prestige or privilege. He was born into a messy situation. He lived in a messy place and went into the messiest of places in order to seek out the messiest of people to experience his joy!

Lie # 4 — I’m a failure.

Your situation might not just be a mess, it might be a total disaster. “My situation is too far gone. I’ve disappointed everyone in my life. I’m a total failure.” That might be true, but if it’s preventing you from experiencing the joy of Jesus in your life, you’re believing a lie. Even if your past is full of mistakes and wrong turns, Jesus wants to delight in you! That angel that was talking to the shepherds was joined by a whole bunch of his friends and they declared to the shepherds this beautiful truth, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” (Luke 2:14) The Good News of Jesus is that regardless of how big of a failure you are, Jesus offers you joy. He absorbed the penalty for all your failures so that you could experience his joy!

Choose to Embrace the Good News

If we want to experience the true and lasting joy of Jesus, then we need to turn away from these lies and embrace the Good News that was declared to those shepherds. Here’s how we do that…

Step #1 — Run to Jesus

After the shepherds had heard the Good News, they made a decision to leave their flocks in the field and just go. “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened. And they went with haste…” (Luke 2:15-16) They took God at His Word, believed Him, and then they ran to Him. Take God at His Word and run to him. This is not a half-hearted embrace, this is an all out bear hug!

Step #2 — Share it with Others

Those same shepherds couldn’t help themselves from telling everyone in their path about what they had seen and experienced. “And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child” (Luke 2:17). Once we’ve embraced and experienced the Good News of Great Joy for ourselves, we can’t help but tell others about it. Our joy will grow the more we share this Good News with other people.

Step #3 — Remind Yourself

In the midst of all the excitement and chaos of the shepherds, Luke takes a moment to show us what Mary was up to — “But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart” (Luke 2:19). The reality of the Good News — that Jesus lived the life we couldn’t live and died the death we deserved so that we could have a relationship with God — is something we need to store in our hearts and remind ourselves of on a daily basis. It’s not just the starting point of our faith, it’s the source and centerpiece of our faith and our joy in life!

This Christmas, don’t settle for mere shadows of joy — run to Jesus, the greatest gift, joy itself fulfilled!