Joy to the World!

The announcement of Jesus’ birth was focused on joy.

And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,


“Glory to God in the highest,

and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” (Luke 2:10-14)

The joy of the Lord is not defined or constrained by happenings. It is happiness that depends on what happens. The events of our lives determine to a large degree whether or not we will be happy. But joy comes from God, its source is not of this world, but from resting in Christ and knowing him.

In the gospel of John chapter 15 Jesus is speaking to the people. It’s the very familiar talk about the vine and the branches. It is the teaching that just as a branch has no life of its own apart from the vine, and can produce no fruit of its own apart from the life-giving, fruit producing vine, so it is with those who are in Christ. He ended that beautiful teaching about how those of us who follow him should also depend completely on him by saying the following.

           “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full” (John 15:11)

God sent and Christ came for your joy! Because of what Christ has done and is doing for sinful, ungodly people, there is great Joy. Those of us who have peace with God and know the peace of God can have joy running over, not only at Christmas but even in the darkest moments of our existence. I observe a brother here in the city where I live who has battled cancer for many years. Again and again he gets a bit of good news and a lot of bad news from the doctors. Amazingly, it never seems to dampen his joy! I have read of brave souls who were burned at the stake because they refused to deny their faith in Jesus. As the flames lept up around them with fury they raise their arms in praise to God. Now that is JOY!

If you lack joy in your life, run to Jesus!

From my home and my heart, “Joy to the World!” Merry CHRISTmas!


Drink Deeply From the Spring of Salvation

One of my fondest childhood memories is our family visits to Uncle Bill Wheeler’s house. He and Aunt Allie lived a simple life, making a living off the land. Fresh, hot out of the oven, cornbread and ice-cold butter milk seemed to always be one part of our visits. I loved that simple treat, and still do.

One of the things I remember most is the water. Uncle Bill and Aunt Allie had spring water running in the kitchen sink 24/7. It was gravity-fed, running from a spring up on the mountain above the house. It was not good to turn the water off because it would increase the chances the pipe would get stopped up. Even running all the time, errant leaves or a frisky spring lizard, would sometimes make it necessary for Uncle Bill to climb the mountain and clear the obstruction so the water could flow.

Water from those mountain springs in western North Carolina was as cold as if it had flowed over ice and had a subtle sweetness. Springs dotted the valleys and almost every home had a bold spring near by. It was of such quality that you didn’t just drink it to satisfy your thirst, you drank deeply and often because it was so good!

The prophet Isaiah promised,

“With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.” (Isaiah 12:3)

Then there is Jesus’ words to the woman at the well, and to us.

“Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.” (John 4:13-15

We who have our trust in Christ have in us the spring of life-giving, living water. It is nothing less than Christ himself. It is He who is our life. We can drink deeply from “the wells of salvation” not because we are thirsty but because it tastes good! Jesus said if you drink of this water you will not be thirsty again, ever! We are not driven to the spring of life to quench a thirst, it is already eternally satisfied. We drink to know fullness of joy! We come to delight in the finished work of Jesus, to experience deep, fulfilling joy in the gospel.

Not only is the spring welling up in us, and results in eternal life, but it overflows to those about us. The evidence of the work of grace in the life of a believer is the refreshing manifestation of the Holy Spirit’s presence in love, patience, kindness, forgiveness, and unique giftedness that is designed to better the lives of our brothers and sisters in the body. The more deeply I drink of the water of life and overflow with the joy of my salvation the more I am equipped to be a source of blessing for others.

Drink deeply from the spring of salvation. Your daily delight in God will spill over into the lives of others to God’s glory.

“And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment.” (Revelation 21:6)

God gives this life-giving, thirst quenching, water of life freely, “without payment”. Jesus paid it all! How can I not delight in and find my greatest joy in the work of Jesus that fully satisfied God’s demands on my behalf?

The water is in you, it is fresh and free, you didn’t have to pay for it, it never runs out, drink deeply and often and be refreshed and full of joy.