Thursday, December 4, 2008

Joy To The World!

Psalm 98

Joy to the World is a familiar carol that we have been singing as long as I can remember.
As I listen to it being sung in different churches, hear it on the radio - I wonder - do I have joy? Do you have joy?

We often hear during this season things like, keep Christ in Christmas or Jesus is the reason for the season - so, I wonder -

Is there a way we can gauge whether or not we have omitted Christ from Christmas? I believe there is a guage and that guage is joy! A believer who has joy during the holiday season is the one who still has Christ in Christmas. Likewise, the believer who has lost joy is the one who has removed or replaced Christ with all the other things that have become part of Christmas.

Take time to read Psalm 98 today. In this passage we hear about joy. The people of Israel believed that when God came near, it was a time filled with joy. This is the message of Christmas. God came to earth in the form of a tiny baby named Jesus. Psalm 98 was written to describe what the Israelites believed. They knew that there was a direct connection between God's nearness and joy.

Let's look at what happened when God came near. In verses 7-9 it says nature responded to God's nearness. Have you seen nature respond? Have you taken time to listen to the birds sing, watch the trees dance, observe our Tennessee mountains pointing to God?

In verses 4-6 we are told the nations rejoiced in God's nearness. That seems like something far from our world today, yet we know that every single person will worship our God and rejoice at His nearness someday. When He returns, "every knee will bow."

In verses 1-2 Israel remembered God's nearness in the past and acknowledge that God had been merciful to them, and as a result, they rejoiced! Are you remembering all God has done for you?

As we apply these three elements to the birth of Christ, we see each of these things happening.

Matthew 2:1-2 Nature respondedto God's nearness with a beautiful star shining more brightly than all the others.

Matthew 2:2 Wise men representing the nations came to worship the newborn King.

Matthew 2:5-6 Israel's prophets acknowledged Christ's birthplace.

Presents, parties and plans often steal the joy of Christmas. Why? They actually take the focas off Christ. How can we implement joy to the world this season?

J -Jesus/joy comes through God's nearness to us. Stay close to Jesus. Focas on Him, spend time with Him, praise Him, thank Him.

O -Others/ look to the needs of those around us. We tend to be wrapped up in our plans instead of the people God has given us to serve. God reminds us that what we do for those in need, we do for Him.

Y -Yield to Him/true joy can only come when we yield our lives to Jesus Christ. Whatever He plans for us will always be best. Part of Psalm 98 talks about righteousness and judgment.. Whenever we read of God's righteousness and judgment it is a call for us to yield our lives to Him through Jesus Christ.

It is still early in the season - take time to check your joy. It is not too late to be filled with joy, supernatural, unexplainable, God-given happiness, no matter what the circumstances, deep inside peace and joy!

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