Advent: Joy Clarified

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BIG IDEA: We often talk about joy without really defining what it is and how Jesus brings true joy. What does it mean to live in the fullness of joy available to us?


SERIES: ADVENT
We’re taking a break from our study in Ephesians to reflect on Advent. The word “Advent” means “arrival,” and during this time of the year we reflect on Jesus’ first arrival on Earth, looking forward in anticipation to his second arrival. It’s a time of tension between Jesus’ first coming and his second.

SCRIPTURE to CONSIDER: John 16:16-24, Psalm 42:5 (ESV)

 [16] “A little while, and you will see me no longer; and again a little while, and you will see me.” [17] So some of his disciples said to one another, “What is this that he says to us, ‘A little while, and you will not see me, and again a little while, and you will see me’; and, ‘because I am going to the Father’?” [18] So they were saying, “What does he mean by ‘a little while’? We do not know what he is talking about.” [19] Jesus knew that they wanted to ask him, so he said to them, “Is this what you are asking yourselves, what I meant by saying, ‘A little while and you will not see me, and again a little while and you will see me’? [20] Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. [21] When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. [22] So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. [23] In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. [24] Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.

[5] Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my salvation [6] and my God.

KEY CONSIDERATIONS

  • Jesus wants us to experience full joy: There is a type of joy that is available to people after the resurrection that wasn’t available to them before. We are people of the resurrection, therefore we also, like the disciples, have access to full joy, the fullest joy that no one can take away from us.
  • Our joy is a witness to the truth of who Jesus is: Our society is about “what’s in it for me?” This is where most of us are when we enter into Christianity. And if we don’t live in the fullness of joy available to us, being a Christian doesn’t look that great.
  • Christian Joy is…
    • …not a Pollyanna type of joy: Jesus doesn’t want us to slap a smile on through everything, refusing to see the reality of tough situations.
    • …not high-pitched: it’s quiet, it’s deep and full, penetrating every level of our being.
    • …unconditional and not determined by our circumstances.
    • …not trapped by our feelings and emotions, but rather transcends them.
  • Spiritual Depression: Christian people are often in the doldrums or seemingly unhappy, lacking joy. Large numbers of people are no longer interested in Christianity because of this spiritual depression.
  • The following can lead to Spiritual Depression:
    • Temperament – some people are more prone to melancholy.
    • Physical Condition – physical illness makes joy difficult.
    • Demonic Oppression – the Devil is real and his goal is to steal our joy.
    • Unbelief — not believing in God, not trusting him to fulfill the longings of our hearts.
  • Full Joy: seeing how God has already fulfilled certain longings of our hearts wedded together with a real trust that God will fulfill the remaining desires of our hearts at a later time.
  • We lack joy because….
    • We’re longing for the wrong things: we often long incorrectly, not seeing the fullest possible longing of our heart. We should, at our utmost, long for Jesus. He is our hearts’ fullest desire. It is the desire we all have, but that only some of us pursue.
    • “What does not satisfy when we find it was not the thing we were actually desiring.” – C. S. Lewis in Pilgrim’s Regress
    • We’re failing to see longings fulfilled….
      • …in full:
        • Exaggeration Reflux: we are an exaggerated society where everything is made out to bigger and better than it really is. This dulls our sense of the spectacular.
        • Example: people no longer find the joy God intends for us in marriage because men have an exaggerated expectation of sex due to the influence of pornography and women have an exaggerated expectation of romance due to things like romance novels and chick flicks. These exaggerated expectations steal our marital joy.
      • …in comparison: we often compare ourselves to other people, and we exaggerate the greatness of the lives of others. That is also a thief of joy. Comparison is the gateway to coveting, and coveting always leads to further sin.
    • We struggle with impatience: Jesus is a perfect model of patience, but we often struggle with patience. If we lack patience, we will either believe that God doesn’t fulfill the desires of our hearts (cynicism) or we will turn to sin because it gives us that which should be good, but on our own time and by our own means (instant gratification).
    • We can let our self talk to us or we can talk to our self: we often talk ourselves down instead of talking ourselves up. Talk back to yourself and look to the truths of God, the promises he’s made, the promises he has fulfilled, and build yourself up with the truth. Preach to yourself. You will begin to see full joy welling up within you.

OUR RESPONSE:

  • Pray, “I believe, but Lord, help my unbelief.”
  • Long in the right way for the right things: for forgiveness, long for the resurrection, long for rebirth.
  • Start seeing the ways those things we long for are currently being fulfilled.
  • Be patient and trust that God will fulfill the desires of our hearts.
  • Talk to yourself and remind yourself, remind your soul of the truths of God, knowing that he will fulfill your desires.

Want to study this topic more?

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