Great joy!

Joyful. Happy. Blessed. Content. Satisfied. Glad. Delighted. Pleased. Cheerful. All of these words occur on the joy spectrum. We think of some as outward expresssions and others as internal responses, but all are aspects of joy. All forms of joy are indicators that we are walking in far more life.

When our children were little, my husband and I taught them to obey the instructions they were given quickly, completely, and cheerfully. Their attitude was as important as their actions. Sometimes cheerfulness came easy for them; preschoolers LOVE helping with “big people” tasks. Other times were challenging; in some situation neither they or us were naturally cheerful! It was important to us that they learned to work and follow their leaders in life joyfully.

Joy, in all its various forms, is important to God, too. It is a recurring theme in His word:

…This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength. (Nehemiah 8:10, NIV)

I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. (Ecclesiastes 3:12, NIV)

Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him. (Psalm 34:8, NIV)

But godliness with contentment is great gain. (I Timothy 6:6, NIV)

After he has suffered, he will see the light of life and be satisfied…(Isaiah 53:11, NIV)

But may the righteous be glad and rejoice before God; may they be happy and joyful. (Psalm 68:3, NIV)

He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me. (2 Samuel 22:20, NIV)

And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. (Hebrews 13:16, NIV)

…God loves a cheerful giver. (2 Corinthians 9:7, NIV)

But the angel said to them, Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. (Luke 2:10, NIV)

The last verse caught my attention this week. The angel could have prefaced the news of Jesus’ birth in many ways: it will give you hope; it will bring you peace; it will show you God’s love. But he focused on the GREAT JOY it would cause. The birth of most babies is a cause of great joy for family and friends. The birth of Jesus, however, was a cause of great joy for ALL the people because it offers far more life. The angel continues:

Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.  (Luke 2:11, NIV)

There are several reasons the birth of Jesus brings us great joy:

We have great joy — and far more life — because Jesus is our Savior. He rescued us from the penalty of our sin, which is separation from God now and forever.

…Our Savior, Christ Jesus…has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. (2 Timothy 1:10, NIV)

We have great joy — and far more life — because Jesus is the Messiah. He is a descendant of King David who will establish an eternal kingdom:

But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. (John 20:31, NIV)

…The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he will reign for ever and ever. (Revelation 11:15, NIV)

We have great joy — and far more life — because Jesus is Lord. He is our ultimate master and ruler…forever.

That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:10-11, NIV)

But why do these names — Savior, Messiah, and Lord — bring us great joy and far more life? Because they reset our perspective. They remind us to lift our eyes from the everyday struggles of this life and remember the bigger picture. Because of the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus we have the opportunity for far more life now and for all eternity. We have a Savior willing to rescue us from the consequences of our sin. We have a Messiah who will bring justice to the world. We have a Lord who will rule over His followers with goodness and righteousness for all eternity. Letting Jesus fill these roles in our life is indeed cause for great joy!

Great joy is not ignoring our problems, rather it is putting them in perspective. Whatever circumstances we face in this life, we can have far more life by choosing joy. We can choose joy because, through Jesus, our sins are forgiven, even when our circumstances tempt us to sin. We can choose joy because, through Jesus, justice and peace are coming, even though our circumstances are unjust. We can choose joy because, through Jesus, we will live in a perfect paradise forever, even though our current circumstances are far from perfect. Even Jesus chose to focus on His future joy when He faced the difficulty of crucifixion:

Let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from beginning to end. He did not give up because of the cross! On the contrary, because of the joy that was waiting for him, he thought nothing of the disgrace of dying on the cross, and he is now seated at the right side of God’s throne. (Hebrews 12:1-2, GNT)

Whatever you face today, face it with great joy — and far more life — in Jesus!

Sisters,
What word on the “spectrum” best describes your joy?
How does reflecting on Jesus’ life and purpose bring you great joy?
What circumstances challenge your joy?
Thankfulness helps us maintain and restore our joy. Choose far more life — and experience great joy — by taking a few moments to thank God for His work in and around you.
-Shari

Copyright 2019-20, Shari Damaso

At the Name of Jesus

While waiting for our children to be born, my husband and I undertook an important task: choosing a name. It felt like a huge responsibility, selecting the name that would carry this child through life. The name had to be just right: not too cumbersome or common; not too formal or weird; not too old for a newborn or too young for an octogenarian. The syllables had to flow well. It had to evoke positive emotion — at least in us, the parents. So many considerations! Part of the challenge was defining someone we had yet to meet. Would the name we chose fit the person God was adding to our family?

A good name is more desirable than great wealth. Respect is better than silver or gold. (Proverbs 22:1, GW)

A name is much more than a word. We answer when called by name. Others know us by our name. When people hear our name, they have an image or impression of us. It describes us and become part of our identity; it is a symbol, a representation, of who we are.

Names are very important to God. Throughout the Bible, names and their meanings are explained. In fact, angels told Mary and Joseph the name God had chosen for His Son:

And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. (Luke 1:31, NASB)

She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins. (Matthew 1:21, NASB)

Jesus means to deliver, to rescue, or he saves. What a big name — and life mission — for a baby to grow into! While Mary and Joseph were relieved of the task of choosing a name, I imagine they pondered how a child — their child — could live up to all this name implied.

But Jesus did grow into His name. He fulfilled His God-given purpose on earth. He delivered people from the power of sin and death. He saved people from the punishment they deserve for their sin. He will return to rescue people from the presence of sin and death. We find far more life in Jesus, in His deliverance, His salvation, and His rescue.

When we hear a name mentioned we react to it based on our experiences with that person. We may feel sad when hearing the name of a loved one who is deceased. We may feel joy at the name of a long-lost friend. We may feel a surge of love hearing the name of a person or pet that is especially dear to us. We may feel anger or pain at the name of someone who has wronged us. We may feel hope and anticipation hearing the name of a person we are about to meet for the first time.

People also react to the name of Jesus. Currently, His name is often used as a curse word, a term of contempt or disgust. But one day every person who has ever lived will react to His name this way:

…God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:9-11, NASB)

Imagine what it will be like when everyone reacts with reverence to the name of Jesus. It gives me goosebumps just to think about everyone giving Him the response He deserves! I believe in that moment we, God’s daughters, will experience far more life as never before. I believe His presence will fill our hearts with more love, joy, and peace than we can imagine. I think we will gain a deeper understanding of Jesus as our deliverer, rescuer, and Savior.

Fortunately, we do not have to wait until Jesus returns to have far more life. We can begin living in fellowship with Him during this lifetime. Think of how rich life would be with a best friend who is:

  • Immanuel; God with us (Matthew 1:23)
  • Faithful (Revelation 19: 11)
  • True (Revelation 19:11)
  • The Light of the World (John 8:12)
  • The Way (John 14:6)
  • Wonderful Counselor (Isaiah 9:6)
  • Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6)
  • The Word of God (Revelation 19:13)
  • King of Kings (Revelation 19:16)
  • Lord of Lords (Revelation 19:16)

Jesus is all of these and more to each person who calls on His name.

And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. (Joel 2:32, NIV)

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. (Romans 10:9-10, NIV)

Consider the incredible love that the Father has shown us in allowing us to be called “children of God”—and that is not just what we are called, but what we are. (I John 3:1, PHILLIPS)

Being able to call on Jesus and receive the name “child of God” is a great privilege. Living in His name and experiencing far more life is an honor. And one day, on our knees, we will have the joy of calling out the name of our Deliverer, Rescuer, and Savior.

Sisters,
What does the name of Jesus mean to you?
Are there any of His names (characteristics) you doubt?

Are there any barriers that prevent you from calling Him your best friend and experiencing far more life?
Experience far more life by being alert to how His names are active in and around you.
-Shari

Copyright 2019-20, Shari Damaso