“But the angel said to them, ‘Don’t be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all people. Today in the town of David a savior has been born to you; He is the Messiah, the Lord.” (Luke 2:10-11 NIV)
What causes you great joy? In 2015, my prayer is that each of you will find what causes you great joy!
New parents (in most cases) find joy and excitement in the birth of a new baby. Some find great joy in giving gifts to someone special, or going to a concert, or just in having a night out on the town.
In Luke 2:1-12 we read about the birth of new baby, Jesus the Messiah. The angel tells the whole crowd the good news, that they would have cause to have great joy, for this baby shall bring joy to all people. The baby born that night was special. His birth was not to be kept a secret. We were and are to proclaim His arrival to the world and to rejoice in it.
This baby, Jesus, is the Son of God. He is our savior, in fact, He is God Himself come to earth. He was born to share our pain, our sufferings and our joys.
What gives me great joy is knowing that He still lives. And that He has given each of us gifts. He’s given us freedom of thought, freedom of passion and freedom of purpose, and an awareness of what personally can inspire us in life.
When we take time to relax and recharge, we can feel the Holy Spirit leading and helping us to know when to use our gifts. That causes great joy.
At such moments, God opens our intellect, our intuition, our imagination. This in turn, frees our instinct to find great joy, the kind of joy that can make one more joyful in a New Year.
For me joy starts in my prayer closet. There, in moments of private worship, I find great joy. This year I challenge each of you, make time for prayer in your prayer closet. This year make it obvious to all that God is in control of your life.
Another thing that causes great joy is receiving gifts. As a child, I loved receiving gifts, but now as a man, I love giving them! There is no greater joy than giving.
What causes many to lose their joy, states Bishop T. D. Jakes, in his book Instinct is not knowing the difference between tolerance and integration.
Tolerating people takes patience, which can run out then we lose joy in the relationship. When we integrate people into the fabric of our lives based on making them feel needed and respected, we show appreciation for their differences, we then easily sustain joy in the relationship.
Psalm 65:8 says of God, “Those who live at the ends of the earth stand in awe of your wonders. From where the sun rises to where it sets, you inspire shouts of joy.” Joy springs from within and creates the balance between our intellect and intuition. Like a compass these two things point the way to our greatest spiritual joy. Like a spark is to dry kindling, in a wood burning fireplace, joy can burst into a flame, and create an inspiration that ignites us to act upon what we envision, and our imagination then make us joyful.
Sometimes just observing God’s lovely creations inspires shouts of joy. The beauty of flowers, rainbows and even certain people, when we sit back and watch them, all can inspire feelings of inner joy.
It causes great joy when we know God is alive and He lives in us.
It causes great joy when we “integrate” (not tolerate) people into the fabric of our spiritual lives.
It causes great joy when we know we are free to think, free to have passions, and free to have clarity of purpose in life.
It causes great joy when we become aware of what inspires us to act.
It causes great joy when we take time to relax and let God take charge of our life.
Make these your New Year’s resolutions and watch how they will cause you to find greater joy!
The Rev. Dr. R. Joaquin Willis is pastor of the Church of the Open Door UCC in Miami’s Liberty City community. He may be reached at 305-759-0373 or firstname.lastname@example.org