As we have prepared our heart for the Christmas season this week, we have been looking at the elements of Christmas that the world tries to incorporate the holidays. The problem, of course, is that they can only be understood in light of the true meaning of Christmas. This season is full of talk about joy, peace and love, while the source of these things, Jesus himself, is being systematically removed. This puts those of us who know Him in a very good position. We have what the world is trying to buy. We have them because we have Jesus.
As Christians we need to stir up these things during the holidays. The holiday season can be a time of great stress if we let it. However if we remind ourselves that the spiritual forces of joy, peace and love reside in us and if we stir them up, it can be a time of victory and of sharing these wonderful gifts with those who do not know Him.
This week we are looking at joy. Christmas has become a time to focus on happiness. The giving of gifts and the gathering of families are centered on as the basis for this happiness. These are wonderful things, but happiness by nature is dependent upon outward stimuli. When the outward changes the happiness changes. Pleasure is a god in our society and Christmas has become the celebration of this god. Joy produces happy feelings. Joy is a source of pleasure. But joy is not, from a scriptural standpoint an outward thing. It is a product of the spirit of man. When we have been born again we have joy within us. It is part of the package of salvation.
Knowing that joy is in there is half of the battle. Understanding how to release it is the other half. When we are being bombarded with sad feelings, how do we tap into the joy that remains within us? When we are attacked with depression, how can we drive out the depression by accessing the joy of the Lord. The answer is so simple it is profound. It is also a difficult process to begin. Once begun, however, you will find that it will produce the promised result.
Our world has many solutions for sadness or depression. These conditions have almost become a national obsession. We look to pleasure to distract us from the sadness. We buy things we don’t need or we give ourselves to everything from sports and other activities to various types of media. We use anything that will distract us from the sadness, depression and boredom we feel. In extreme cases we end up addicted because we need increasing amounts of distraction to keep away the sadness.
The other thing we will lean to is phycology and psychiatry. Counseling and prescription drugs are used to try and “deal with” depression. I believe there are cases where depression is chemical in nature and a doctor’s help can be required. I also believe that this has become an excuse for many people to justify their behavior. It is also a trap that the devil uses to keep people bound to these things. The Word of God has a better solution.
Philippians tells us how to unlock the joy that is in us. This joy, once released into our life can and will drive out sadness and depression. Remember, it is not just our joyful feelings we are tapping into. It is the Joy of the Lord and as such contains His power. If it were just a natural change in attitude we were talking about it might or might not help us. It is not. I
\t is the joy that flows from God himself that was placed in your spirit at salvation. It is a supernatural flow of power that will not just change your attitude but change you.
What is the this key? Rejoice. This word appears over 200 times in the new testament. What does it mean? From a scriptural point of view it means to act in faith on the joy that Jesus says is in you. It is there. Any faith operation involves an action that will release what you are believing for into the natural world. In the case of defeating depression or sadness that action is rejoicing.
What is rejoicing. It can be different things to different people but I believe there are some principles that we can apply in general. Rejoicing is acting like you have something to be happy about. If your sports team wins the championship, you might shout, dance or even sing. If someone gives you a tremendous gift you would react in some way. Jesus gave you a wonderful gift. He paid for it with his life. At Christmas we celebrate the event that set that gift into motion. We need to act like this gift is real.
One of the problems with proactive rejoicing is that we usually don’t feel like it. We feel just the opposite. The devil tells us we are being hypocritical if we rejoice when we feel no joy. That would be true if this was a natural thing. It is not. We are not acting on what we feel, we are acting on a spiritual reality. Jesus really did give us this gift. We really are saved and going to heaven. He really has taken up residence in our lives and he really is there to strengthen us and meet every need. We don’t respond because we feel these things we respond because we believe them.
The power in this is that if we will get pass the feelings that wants to keep us from releasing the joy and begin to act joyfully in what we believe, the feelings do follow. These feelings are not dependent on outward things because they were not produced by outward things. They were produced by acting on what we believe. That does not change. If I rejoice in the Lord I will release the joy of the Lord and depression and sadness will be driven away. That is a promise.
Use the Christmas season as a time to practice rejoicing. Meditate on the wonderful gift God has given us during this season. Begin to rejoice for that gift even in the midst of the stress and pressure of the holidays. Rejoice for that gift even if you are not able to do all you would like or if you are separated from those you love. Maybe you have no loved ones to share the holidays with. Rejoice in the Lord for He will never leave nor forsake you. Let this rejoicing seep into your daily life. Rejoice in the Lord right in front of the world. It ‘s the one time of year they won’t think your strange. Well at least they’ll think your are less strange.
As you do you will tap into the Joy of the Lord. That joy will change your outlook on the season and it will spill over to those around you. Strike up a carol. Not a winter song or a secular song. A carol about Jesus. People might even sing along. Rejoice and let your rejoicing spread joy to those around you. You may be surprised at the results for you, your family and even the world you live in.