Psalm 125:1-5 (ESV)
Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but abides forever. As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the LORD surrounds his people, from this time forth and forevermore. For the scepter of wickedness shall not rest on the land allotted to the righteous, lest the righteous stretch out their hands to do wrong. Do good, O LORD, to those who are good, and to those who are upright in their hearts! But those who turn aside to their crooked ways the LORD will lead away with evildoers! Peace be upon Israel!
The theme for this third week in Advent, is Joy. Joy is not synonymous with happiness, although many people equate happiness with joy. We speak of joy quite a bit. As we approach the celebration of Christmas, let us look at it some more, for we speak of the joy of Christmas all the time. Christmas, Jesus born into humanity so that He could redeem us from our sin! The Angels announced to the shepherds that they brought good news of GREAT JOY. Yet, Jesus’ birth was to redeem man from our sin. That redemption means that He came to die. He laid His life down to ransom us.
Do we think that made God happy? Were the angels happy? Was Mary happy when she found out that her son, Emmanuel, Jesus, Alpha and Omega, Beginning and End, would pay for our sin when He grew up? I think not. So when we speak of joy, what do we mean? Paul says to count it all joy when we suffer persecution for Jesus. To me, joy is like love. It is not really an emotion, it is a choice. Joy is an overall sense of inner peace that persists even when things are not perfect on the outside. Happiness is fleeting, and comes and goes.
So the joy of Christmas, can persist, even knowing that Good Friday is coming... After all, we can’t have Easter without Good Friday. And we can’t have Good Friday without Christmas.
Like the Wisemen from the East, bring your gifts of Gold, for His Royalty; Frankincense, for His Deity; and Myrrh for His death and burial. But death cannot hold Him. He holds the keys to death and hades. Choose the joy of the Lord, and celebrate Christmas, honoring the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, our Paschal Lamb.
by Virgil Stripes
photo: Mt. Zion from the Mount of Olives.