HAPPINESS AND JOY These two words are often considered as synonyms, but the Scriptures make a distinction between them. Biblical HAPPINESS is generally dependent upon the circumstances that one experiences. The law of Moses identifies happiness in marriage, “When a man takes his new wife, he shall not go out with the Army nor be charged with any duty; he shall be free at home one year and shall give happiness to his wife whom he has taken” (Deuteronomy 24:5). Another example, “How lovely on the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who announces peace and brings good news of happiness , who announces salvation, and says to Zion, “your God reigns”” (Isaiah 52:7). In general, you are happy when life and things are going well, and you are unhappy when life and things are not going well as you had hoped they would. Biblical JOY is more of a state of being and not dependent upon your circumstances. “The Lord your God is in your midst, a victorious warrior. He will exult over you with joy, he will be quiet in his love, he will rejoice over you with shouts of joy ” (Zephaniah 3:17). Jeremiah the prophet discovered that ingesting God’s word brought him great joy . “Your words were found and I ate them, and your words became for me a joy and a delight of my heart; I have been called by your name oh Lord of hosts” (Jeremiah 15:16). The apostle John gives us a few quotes of Jesus Who is our joy , “These things I have spoken to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full” (John 15:11). Jesus prays to His Father, “But now I come to you; and these things I speak in the world so that they may have My joy made full in themselves” (John 17:13). The apostle Paul adds, “You also became imitators of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much tribulation with the joy of the Holy Spirit” (1 Thessalonians 1:6). “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us… Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, Who for the joy set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1 – 2). Jesus Christ endured the cross expressly for the joy of bringing you into his eternal kingdom. THE ANGELIC ANNOUNCEMENT TO SHEPHERDS “There were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over the flock by night. And the angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. But the angel said to them, “do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord”” (Luke 2:8 – 11). THE SHEPHERDS TERROR CHANGED TO GREAT JOY “When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another; “let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that is happened which the Lord has made known to us. So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as he lay in the manger. When they had seen this, [ with great joy ] they made known the statement which had been told them about this child” (Luke 2:15 – 17). THE MAGI’S LONG JOURNEY BROUGHT THEM GREAT JOY “After coming into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they [ with great joy ] fell to the ground and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they presented to him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh” (Matthew 2:1). “Now when they had gone, behold the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, ‘get up! Take the child and his mother and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him.’ So Joseph got up and took the child and his mother while it was still night, and left for Egypt” (Matthew 2:13 – 14). God’s plan probably did not make Joseph very happy , but he had great joy since God must have provided the Magi’s gifts to finance their trip and time in Egypt. CHRISTMAS TODAY It is quite possible that the uncertainty of the world’s chaos and current circumstances that you face today may produce in your heart and mind a lack of happiness . Nevertheless, Jesus who is our everlasting joy , assures us, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). However, let’s remember what the angel said to the shepherds, “Do not be afraid: for behold, I bring you good news of GREAT JOY which will be for all the people” (Luke 2:11). Our prayer is that this Christmas we together with you will remember and celebrate Jesus’ birth and his many blessings to us with GREAT JOY! Have a joyous Christmas!!!