Christmas is a time of joy, right? But where is the joy?
Some seek for it in a bottle. Christmastime is a time to drink, to forget their troubles, to be happy and convivial with friends. But that is an artificial happiness, and the next day there is no joy -- only headaches, hangovers, and arguments.
Others mistake busyness for joy. The last of the shopping needs to be done. There are parties, family get-togethers, and gift exchanges to attend. But the holidays pass, and the busyness is over. What was thought to be joy is gone, and it's back to the same old grind.
Some seek for joy at Christmastime in giving gifts or helping the needy. Giving brings a satisfaction that is not found any other way. But too often, our gift is the wrong size or was simply the wrong thing, and our help wasn't very much appreciated. And the day after, gifts are put away, or returned for a refund; and the giver finds true joy has eluded him again.
Where is joy -- joy that lasts -- to be found?
Now. I know what many of you are thinking as you reach this point. You are saying to yourself, Now comes the part about God, and how we need to repent and all of that. Of course, you are right. Many of you have heard the Gospel before, and know that Christians claim that true joy comes only through Christ. And yes, I plan to tell you the same thing again. But before I do that, I want to challenge you, regardless of whether you are a Christian or not, to ask yourself some serious questions:
Am I really joyful? Or am I just putting on my smiles and cheerfulness? Am I happy and at peace with myself and others, no mater what happens? Am I really satisfied with what I am inside, or do I sense a need -- a lack? Do I experience the joy the Christmas songs tell about?
Christmas! That holiday that takes so much effort to get ready for and to celebrate. Christmas does have something to do with the source of real joy. It is when we remember the birth of Christ, the One who came to die as a sacrifice -- our sin-offering. He is the answer to our sin problem and to our joy problem.
Every human of all time has sinned. "All have sinned and come short of the glory of God." "There is none righteous, no, not one" (Romans 3:23, 10). And God has decreed, "The soul that sinneth, it shall die" (Ezekiel 18:4). Every sinner -- and therefore every man -- is condemned by his sinfulness to eternity in hell.
However, God is not willing that anyone should perish, and has provided a perfect sin-offering, Jesus Christ. Jesus lived a sinless life, and allowed Himself to be put to death for us. God, as a testimony that Jesus was His Son and His chosen way to save men, raised Him up from the dead and made him Lord and Savior.
God made mankind to have communion with Himself. We cannot experience true joy as long as we are still sinning and on the road to eternal death. True Christmas joy comes only when we receive God's Christmas Gift, Jesus Christ. How can we receive it? The same way we receive any other gift: reach out and accept it.
What happens then? God forgives our sins and removes our guilt. We have peace with God. He gives us victory over sin. He gives us the power -- and the desire -- not to sin. He gives us peace and joy that pass understanding -- that those who have not received Him can never know. [And we learn to celebrate Christmas more by worshiping the One who gave His Son than by all the hustling and bustling, buying, and partying that marks so many celebrations.]
This joy is not the elusive kind, that comes and goes with various circumstances, or with the seasons. Jesus said, "These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full" (John 15:11).
Do you have that kind of joy? Or have you found true joy to be elusive? Your only hope of finding real joy lies in receiving Jesus Christ.
Jesus is God's gift to man.
"God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten SON" (John 3:16). "He that hath the SON hath LIFE; and he that hath not the SON of God hath not life" (1 John 5:12).
"He that spared not his own SON, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us ALL THINGS"? (Romans 8:32).
CONDITIONS FOR RECEIVING GOD'S GIFT
Repent of your sins, believe on Christ, and confess Him openly.
"REPENT ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out"
"He that BELIEVETH on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son, shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him" (John 3:36).
"If thou shalt CONFESS WITH THY MOUTH the Lord Jesus, and shalt BELIEVE IN THINE HEART that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved" (Romans 10:9).
AFTER RECEIVING THE GIFT
Rejoice, and continue following Christ in a Bible-believing brotherhood.
"Your heart shall REJOICE, and your joy no man taketh from you" (John 16:22).
"If ye CONTINUE IN MY WORD, then are ye my disciples indeed" (John 8:31).
"If any man will come after me, let him DENY HIMSELF, and TAKE UP HIS CROSS daily and FOLLOW ME" (Luke 9:23).
"Follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, WITH THEM that call in the Lord out of a pure heart" (2 Timothy 2:22).
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