1Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth!
2Worship the Lord with gladness.
Come before him, singing with joy.
3Acknowledge that the Lord is God!
He made us, and we are his.
We are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
4Enter his gates with thanksgiving;
go into his courts with praise.
Give thanks to him and praise his name.
5For the Lord is good.
His unfailing love continues forever,
and his faithfulness continues to each generation.
When you think of the word “joy,” what comes to mind?
a feeling of great happiness?
or the cause of great happiness like something or someone that gives joy to you?
a Gift from our creator?
a Fruit of the Spirit?
On Sunday when lighting our advent Candle of Joy we said “Joy is like an underground spring that wells up within us.” We responded in prayer with “Loving God, we open ourselves to you, . . . you created us for joy-filled hearts and lives. Fill us with the kind of joy that cannot be contained but must be shared. Prepare our hearts to be transformed by you.”
If you were an Israelite living in Old Testament times, Joy would have looked like shouting for delight in worship, expressing enjoyment in religious ceremonies, and reflecting with gladness over specific examples of God’s faithfulness to your people.
Things change slightly in the New Testament. Because of Christ’s birth, joy is not only expected, but also a praise-filled assurance that abides in you—reminding you that God keeps His promises and is working everything out for your good and His glory. Joy helps you fix your eyes on Jesus because joy fulfilled is Jesus.
Here is what Jesus said to his followers,
5“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. 6Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. 7But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! 8When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father. 9“I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. 10When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. 11 I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!