Joy to the World!

We all have storms in our lives. We don’t necessarily need to be in a rocky boat to experience a storm. All of us have experienced storms in our lives.

December 26, 2022

We all have storms in our lives. We don’t necessarily need to be in a rocky boat to experience a storm. All of us have experienced storms in our lives. In fact, Jesus never promised a storm-free life, but He did promise a storm-proof life. The difference between the two is that storms can’t overcome us when we’re living a storm-proof life.

Matthew 7:25 (ESV) – And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.

If our lives are built on Jesus our Rock, our response to every storm should be joy. In the Bible, there are only three legitimate ways to responding to a storm:

  1. Rejoice – He who sits in the heavens laughs (Psalm 2:4) Laugh at your problems instead of focusing on them.
  2. Feast – You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies (Psalm 23:5) When enemies come, God prepares a table for us and asks us to feast on it. Stop looking at the enemy; instead, eat and feed on God’s word.
  3. Rest – And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion (Mark 4:37-38)

The best time to sleep is in the midst of a storm! When Peter was imprisoned soon after James was killed, the angel of the Lord appeared to him and had to wake Peter up because he was asleep (Acts 12:6-7). Despite his troubling circumstances, Peter was able to rest.

Nehemiah 8:10 (ESV) – And Nehemiah continued, “Go and celebrate with a feast of rich foods and sweet drinks, and share gifts of food with people who have nothing prepared. This is a sacrificial day before our Lord. Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the LORD is your strength!”

Joy is our portion. There was a time when we used to cry, wail and be sorrowful, but that time is over because Jesus has come. Our reason for sorrow is over because Joy has come, and the joy of the Lord is our strength!

Three Stories of Great Joy

1. The Shepherds Meet Their Lord

Luke 2:10 (ESV) – 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. 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.”

The good news of Jesus is the good news of great joy. It is understandable when we enter our prayer rooms weeping, anxious, disappointed, upset etc, but if we leave in the same manner, it only means that we haven’t met the Person of Great Joy, yet.

The good news of great joy is for all people, not just for Christians. Jesus is our great joy because He is our Saviour and Lord. If we don’t have Jesus as our Lord, we become the lord our lives, and as long as that is the case, we will only survive and not thrive. But when we understand who Jesus is, and we ask Him to be our Lord, life only gets better and better. That is why He is the “good news of great joy”! When He becomes our Lord, and when we come under submission, we won’t have to worry about how we are going to grow in life. The only thing we need to do is submit. Submission is a privilege because we don’t have to take the stress and burden of life – Jesus does it for us. Sometimes we need saving from our own selves and our way of thinking. That is why we need to receive Jesus as the Lord and Saviour of our lives.

Luke 2:20 (ESV) – And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

The shepherds returned rejoicing because they had met their Saviour!

2. A Baby Leaps for Joy

Luke 1:41 (ESV) – And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit

Luke 1:44 (ESV) – For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.

When Mary greets Elizabeth, the baby leaps in Elizabeth’s womb upon hearing the sound of her voice. The moment we hear the good news of Jesus, joy leaps within us, and we are filled with the Holy Spirit. Joy does not come in spurts, but has the capacity to lead to an overflow of the Holy Spirit when we hear the good news of Jesus.

Isaiah 12:3 (ESV) – With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.

The Holy Spirit is not meant to be contained within our souls. The Bible says that streams of living waters will flow out of us! Our bodies were meant to be covered by the Holy Spirit, and not the other way around. When Adam and Eve were in the Garden of Eden, they were naked, but they did not feel ashamed because the presence and the glory of the Holy Spirit was covering their bodies. What stopped the Spirit of God to cover their bodies was the knowledge of good and evil. Everytime we forsake the knowledge of God and try to depend on our own understanding, we stop the Holy Spirit from flowing. For the Spirit to flow out of our bodies, He needs to first flow out of our souls. Our souls
have two valves – the valve of the heart and the valve of the mouth. When our hearts open in worship and our mouths open in praise, the Holy Spirit begins to flow from within us and has the capacity to overcome our thoughts and emotions and even our bodies, to a point where we can experience healing in the physical. He can cover our bodies with His glory. When Jesus was on the mountain, praying, He was transfigured (Matthew 17:2). Paul says in Romans 12:2 to be transformed by the renewal of the mind. The word transformed here is the same as transfigured. We can overflow and be consumed by the Holy Spirit to a point where we can be transfigured and our physical appearance can change. One of the ways to overflow in the Holy Spirit is by being joyful.

“Don’t be a spectator. Be a groover. The one who hears the music, dances!”

If we listen to the song of heaven, we can’t help but dance! We can’t listen to the good news of Jesus and remain the same. Imagine dancing when the devil comes knocking at our doors. It’s like a slap on his face! Once we receive this good news, nothing and no one can steal our joy! Keep listening to the good news of Jesus, and joy will leap within us, filling us with the Holy Spirit.

3. A Significant Birth in a Not-So-Significant Place

Matthew 2:10 (ESV) – When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.

For the wise men, the star signified the birth of a king. Kings are never born; princes are born and then become kings. So the wise men knew that this star was extraordinary and not a natural, everyday occurrence. So, using their own wisdom, they went to the palace in search of the newborn King, because that seemed to be the most logical place to look for Him. But God in His grace, redirected them through the star to the manger when Jesus was born.

The shepherds saw the same star but did not rejoice. On the other hand, the wise men “rejoiced exceedingly with great joy” upon seeing the star. That’s the difference between a shepherd and a wise man. Wise men don’t need an angel to come and tell them to rejoice. They can see the signs before it happens.

The difference between an immature Christian and a mature one is that an immature Christian is happy when everything seems to be going well, but a mature Christian can rejoice in spite of what their circumstances look like because they have tasted the goodness of God and have stayed on the word of God. They can see the signs that follow the storm, and rejoice.

Matthew 2:11 (ESV) – And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother,
and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him
gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.

When the wise men followed the star and reached the right location, they expected to see a king. Instead, they found a baby in strips of swaddling clothes, and in a manger no less! But they were not disappointed, because they were not focused on what the surroundings looked like, but they found what they were seeking for – a KING! When we only look at things as they are, we will only look at things; we will only be able to see our circumstances. But when we come searching and seeking for something with a heart of expectancy, we will find what our hearts are really longing for. The wise men came looking for the King, and so, although the circumstances and surroundings were not fit
for a king, they were not disappointed because they found what they were looking for. So the only way they could then respond was to bow down, worship Him and offer their gifts!

As long as we look at ourselves in the mirror through our own understanding, we will only see flaws. We will only see infirmities. We will only see weaknesses. But if we can look beyond what we see in the natural and look for the King that lives in us, we will be able to say with confidence, “Christ in me, the hope of glory!”

Colossians 1:27 (ESV) – To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

When we are looking for something, rather than looking at something, we can pull that reality out by faith. It is just a matter of revelation. In all these three instances, the shepherds, baby John and the wise men saw the significance of King Jesus and rejoiced. How much more should we rejoice when we have the King living within us!

It is for our benefit that Jesus sent His Holy Spirit to live in us. It is more beneficial for us to carry the Spirit of God than to see Jesus in the flesh. The same Spirit of Jesus is in us, so we have the greatest reason to rejoice. We no longer need to wait for signs to see the King. The whole Kingdom of God has been deposited in us and lives in us – the Kingdom of Righteousness, Peace and Joy!

Joy is loud!

Psalm 98:4 (ESV) – Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises!

We can’t be joyful and stay silent. Rejoicing requires us to groove and make noise!

Here are some practical tips to keep in mind while praying:

  1. Close your eyes when you pray to avoid distraction and to tap into the invisible reality of heaven.
  2.  Open your mouth and start giving thanks. Thanksgiving helps us to get out of the rut we find ourselves in, and teaches us to rejoice instead.
  3. Come as you are. We don’t need to pretend in front of the One who knows and sees everything and yet chooses to love us beyond it all.

As we stay in His presence, His presence changes us and His grace comes through in our lives. Overcoming and overwhelming joy is already within us, but it is up to us to bring it out. Release God’s word! Release joy!

About the author

Samuel Thomas

Samuel is a second-generation pastor with a rich heritage in the Holy Spirit. He has been the pastor of Lighthouse Church since 2017 with a two-word mission statement: transforming lives. Samuel's priority in life has been to know Christ and to grow deeper in His love.

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