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Summary: So this month we are looking at Christmas words. Words that when we hear them, they make us think of Christmas. The first week, we looked at the word peace. I reminded you that there are three levels of peace.

CHRISTMAS WORDS

“The Gift of Joy”

1st Peter 1:3-9

So this month we are looking at Christmas words. Words that when we hear them, they make us think of Christmas. The first week, we looked at the word peace. I reminded you that there are three levels of peace.

• There is peace with God. Paul said “while we were enemies of God, the death of Jesus reconciled us to Him. Through the blood we were put into a right relationship with the Father. That is peace with God.

• There is also the peace of God. This is when we own it. It lives in us.

• Then there is peace with others. Our family. Our friends. Even our enemies.

In week two we looked at the word hope. Hope is two things. It is desire; but it is also expectation. You desire something and in your heart of hearts you know God is going to do. You desire it-you also expect it.

Today we come to the word Joy. It is mentioned in the Bible just over 200 times. Let me share with you several verses with you and I invite you to listen carefully.

• “I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow.” John 15:11

• “Consider it pure joy my brothers and sisters whatever you face trials of many kinds.” James 1:2

• “We write this to make our joy complete... We are writing these things so that you may fully share our joy.” 1st John 1:4.

• 2nd Corinthians 8:1-3 “Now, brothers, we want you to know about the grace God has given the churches of Macedonia. In the terrible ordeal they suffered, their abundant joy and deep poverty overflowed into rich generosity. For I testify that they gave according to their ability and even beyond it.” Paul seems to be saying there is a formula here if you want to learn to be more generous. Here it is ….. POVERTY + JOY = GENEROSITY.

Used just over 200 times in the Scripture, the word JOY comes from the Greek word chara and mean several things: gladness, delight, exhilaration; it is a word that is often used with an adjective-like exuberant joy or intense joy. Great joy. Extreme joy. Unspeakable joy. In other words when we are filled with joy, it’s huge. So the question is, do you have it? If your answer is well I’m not sure, let me answer the question for you— you don’t. In fact, let me begin with a simple question. How many of you have ever been discouraged? Okay. That’s about all of us. So all of us need to hear this message today.

The Bible uses the word phrase-unspeakable-often referring to joy-and uses it three times. The first time Paul uses it when he says in 2nd Corinthians 9:15, “thanks be to God for his unspeakable gift.” The second time it is also Paul and he speaks of a time when God allows him to have a glimpse of heaven-he describes it this way, “I was caught up in heaven where I heard unspeakable words, which I am not allowed to even speak/repeat. Then a 3rd is written by Peter where he talks about joy unspeakable and what each writer is describing is a kind of happiness and fulfillment that is so amazing we cannot find words to describe.

Let me ask you again. Do you have it? And if not, do you want it? So this morning I want to answer from Scripture five questions about this thing called joy. Let’s jump in.

Question one. What is joy and how is it different from happiness? After all, if we don’t know what it is, how will we know when we find it? Simply defined, it means cheerfulness. It means gladness, happiness; but it really means more than that…. it is all of those things multiplied. Like they are on steroids. You cannot use the word joy and use it in a mild way. Joy is intense. There’s nothing calm about it. Someone has put it this way: “joy is happiness with a much longer shelf life.”

You know when you’re shopping at the store, for me it’s usually for milk, you look at the date on there and you want the latest one available-because it has a longer shelf life-it will last longer. If you are choosing between happiness and joy, always choose joy. You see happiness as wonderful as it sounds, is what I would call a blurred emotion. It is simply not clear how long it will last.

There is a key word here that you really need to get/understand and it is the word gift. Joy is a gift. At this time of year, especially, we somehow think we can buy it; that joy is up for sale. Some television preachers even preach what is known as the prosperity gospel which simply means the more you give to them the more you’re going to have. And the wealthier you will become. Giving is a blessing for sure but understand this. Joy is a gift. You cannot earn it. And you cannot buy it.

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