Joy

Exhorting them in many other ways, he preached good news to the people.

This Advent we focus on the promises of God. We have provided a handy follow along book of reflections and devotions covering thirty promises of God broken down under the categories of hope, peace, joy, and love. This week we reflect on God’s promise of joy.

Remember that promises from God are things we can absolutely count on. As such, we have absolute and perfect assurance that God’s promise of joy will be fulfilled.

As I began reflecting on this Sunday and its readings and gospel, the song: “I’ve got joy, joy, joy deep in my heart” kept ringing in my ears. Indeed, that is God’s desire for us, that we would have His joy deep within us.

I would be remis if I did not remind myself and all of us that God’s joy, here on earth, is not giddy happiness. It is not the worldly definition of happiness at all. Rather, it is a deep and profound contentment that all is well in my life. Happiness is an emotion while joy is both emotion and state of being.

Joy means I have an assurance, a promise from God that I can face whatever comes with a feeling of good pleasure, inner contentment, and satisfaction because I am in Jesus, because the Holy Spirit dwells with me and guides me through everything.

God is at work in our lives, and He has shown us a way through, especially through trials. If we have placed our faith and trust in Jesus Christ, there is no question as to our ultimate outcome. We can therefore be joyfully content no matter what.

John came as the Forerunner to preach a message of good news. The Savior, the Messiah, the One Who will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire is coming, and we know He is returning. By John’s preaching people came to repentance, a change in their lives that gave them real joy. They were no longer burdened by wrongs they committed, and they were refreshed. They could approach life joyfully.

So too we. Our Advent guide points out, we have (1) Each Day as a Gift, (2) A God Who Gave His Life for Me, (3) Salvation, (4) A God Who Delights in Me, (5) An Approachable God Who Listens, (6) A Choice of Joy Amidst Trials, and (7) God’s Trustworthy Promise. We can live joyful lives in all these promises.

We are called to the knowledge that God is indeed with us. He is present in our everyday lives. He is accessible and open to us. In any circumstance or situation, we can accept comfort and peace, contentment – that is: joy from God.

Paul re-reminds us: The Lord is near. Have no anxiety at all. Let us then go forth with joy, joy, joy, deep in our hearts. 

Hope.

The days are coming, says the LORD, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and Judah.

This Advent we focus on the promises of God. We have provided a handy follow along book of reflections and devotions covering thirty promises of God broken down under the categories of hope, peace, joy, and love. This week we reflect on God’s promise of hope.

First, let us cover what a promise is. A promise is an assurance that what is said will come to be. I am sure we have been assaulted in our lives by unkept promises, whether the kids forgot to clean up or take out the trash, a seller reneges on a guarantee, or more seriously a promise is broken at a level affecting our relationships.

Every broken promise hurts. Each affects our trust relationships. Assurance seems not so assured. But thanks be, we have a God Who provides promises we can absolutely count on. You see, God cannot lie. God, in His perfection, can only utter truth. As such, when God makes a promise, we have absolute and perfect assurance that His promise will be fulfilled.

God promised to give us hope. But what is hope? Hope is not the kind of wishy-washy thing we engage in day-to-day – I hope I win the lottery, I hope my ship comes in, I hope it doesn’t rain or snow. No, the hope God offers is a certainty about the future. In God’s promises of hope we have certainty that the things He said will come to pass and that impacts our lives in the present. If we know our future, how we live today changes.

Our study guide covers seven areas of hope promised by God. It helps us inspect our lives and see if we are living today as our future portends. The hope promises are these:

Light in the Darkness – Jesus is the Light. He helps us inspect those areas of darkness in us that need His cleansing light.

Renewed Strength – we do not have to struggle – God will come through on our behalf no matter the circumstance.

Hope and a Future – for those loyal to God, who follow His gospel way – our current situations are not our always situation. God has a plan and future waiting for us.

A Full Life and Eternal Life – It is life that is a gift now/today and awaits us eternally. This life cannot be taken away from us unless we allow it. This life was won for us in the passion, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus.

Anything is Possible with God – yes, God has no barriers unless we erect them through unbelief.

God Is Our Firm Anchor – He cannot be moved, and He gives us assurance. Let us be confident in our hope.

This week let us focus on our assured hope.

Living His
promises.

Then I, John, saw a new heaven and a new earth. The former heaven and the former earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. I also saw the holy city, a new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, God’s dwelling is with the human race. He will dwell with them and they will be his people and God himself will always be with them as their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there shall be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain, for the old order has passed away.”

Christians are sometimes referred to as ‘People of the Promise.’ The Easter Season is a wonderful time to focus on what that means.

Throughout Old Testament history we hear the promises made to Israel’s leaders. God made specific promises to Abraham, Jacob, Joseph and Moses as well as others.

Abraham would have descendants as numerous as the stars of the sky. Jacob received a similar promise. Joseph had dreams that indicated his future ennoblement. He didn’t have direct assurance that it would happen, yet lived a life of patient endurance sustained by his belief in the promises of God made to his fathers. Even in the midst of struggles Joseph lived uprightly and he came to save his father, brothers, and his people. Moses received the promise of freedom in a land flowing with milk and honey.

These are but shadows and precursors to the ultimate promise that David would receive. God told him through the Prophet Nathan that his house and kingdom would endure forever and that his throne would be established forever.

In the coming of Jesus, the One who would did all in accord with His Father’s will we receive the finality of all of God’s promises. Jesus’ promises to us relate to the far future and to present life on earth. Some are conditioned upon our placing our faith in him and some on other conditions such as obedience, prayer, and humility.

John saw the promise of the kingdom, what it would really be like for the faithful. This isn’t a promise given to everyone, but to those who are the baptized faithful, the ones who stand strong in doing Jesus’ will. For those who, even in the struggle, keep their focus on God. We can rejoice in that promise. That beautiful kingdom, that New Jerusalem, is ours in the ages to come.

The key is to keep our eyes on the prize, on the promised Jerusalem (not the earthly one). Jesus left us with the command (one which can be a struggle). That is, we are to love one another as He loved us. It can be difficult at times, it can require will power and the courage to forgive – but in the end His promises are so well worth our effort.