Concentrating on God’s love can bring overflowing joy

By Leonard Lauriault

“Joy to the world, the Lord is come! (Watts, 1719; Luke 2: 1-20; be sure to read all the scripture references).” We should be glad Jesus came to earth because we can have many blessings in him, including righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit and the hope of glory – the eternal life of joy in God’s presence (Romans 14: 17; 8: 17; Colossians 1: 27). Our cup really can overflow with joy because it’s a cup of salvation (Psalm 23: 5; 116: 13).

The joy in the first coming of Christ (Christmas) is in the salvation he brought so we could share in his glory (2 Thessalonians 2: 13-15). Jesus came to earth to suffer and die to pay for our sins, which separate us from God (Isaiah 59: 1, 2; Luke 19: 10; Matthew 20: 28; 27: 46; Hebrews 9: 27, 28). Sin keeps our cups from overflowing with joy (Psalm 38: 4-8; 51: 3). It also will certainly lead our eternal separation from God in everlasting punishment as we experience a never-ending painful death, except for Jesus’ sacrifice (Romans 3:23; 6: 23; Matthew 25: 41, 46; 2 Thessalonians 1: 6-10; Revelation 20: 14, 15).

Jesus drank the cup of suffering to offer us a cup of forgiveness so we can share in his glory (Matthew 26: 36-42, 26-28). In Luke 22: 19-20, Jesus made his sacrifice more personal than Matthew’s account indicates. His body was given and his blood poured out for “you (and me).” Drinking the cup of God’s wrath for us, so our cup could overflow with joy, also brought Jesus great joy (Isaiah 51: 17, 22; Romans 5: 8-11; 1 Thessalonians 5: 9-11; Hebrews 12: 2; Luke 15: 7, 10; John 3: 36).

All nations truly can rise joyfully because Jesus was “born that man no more may die (Wesley, 1739; John 3: 16; 1 Corinthians 15: 21-23). But did you read Romans 8: 17 closely? “Now if we are children, then we are heirs – heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory (NIV).” Each individual must drink of Jesus’ cup of suffering to actually reap the benefits of the joyful eternal life (Matthew 20: 22, 23). Having shared in his sufferings, we live because Christ lives in us, making us also God’s children (Romans 8: 14-17; John 1: 12, 13).

So, how do we share in his sufferings to attain eternal life (Philippians 3: 10, 11)? By receiving Jesus’ word with joy and following its directions in faith (Luke 8: 13; 1 Peter 1: 22-25). This is credited to us as righteousness that comes from God (Deuteronomy 6: 25; James 2:14-26; Romans 3: 21-24). And, sort of like Jesus enduring the cross for the joy of our salvation set before him, our suffering to become a Christian as well as living as a Christian isn’t really as bad as it sounds and with that outlook, whatever other suffering we experience won’t seem as great (Romans 8: 18; 2 Corinthians 4: 16-18).

Like Jesus, we must take up our cross initially and daily to be a Christian – one of his followers (John 19: 17; Luke 9: 27). We do this initially to become Christians when through repentance and baptism – immersion in water to unite ourselves with Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection (Romans 6: 3-11, 16-18; Colossians 2: 11-13; Acts 2: 38, 39; Romans 8: 9; Galatians 2: 20, 21). This is how every heart is to prepare him room (Watts, 1719; Galatians 3: 26-4: 7). Then as God’s children, we’re to continue carrying our cross daily, overcoming temptation and putting to death the sins we do commit by the power of the indwelling Spirit (Colossians 2: 20; 3: 1-11; Romans 8: 1-13, 26, 27; 1 Corinthians 10: 13; Matthew 26: 41; 1 John 1: 5-9; Galatians 5: 4). Following God’s directions always leads to joy (James 1: 21-25; Acts 8: 26-39; 16: 29-34; 1 John 2: 3-6; 3: 24).

If we bear on our bodies the marks of Christ, carrying around in our bodies his death to reveal his life, we can come joyful and triumphant as the faithful in whom Christ is born (borne) today (Galatians 6: 17; 2 Corinthians 4: 10; Wade, 1751). This comes much easier if we’re looking forward to Jesus’ second coming (1 Corinthians 11: 23-26; 2 Timothy 4: 6-8; 2 Peter 3: 10-15).

When we concentrate on God’s great love for us – expressed in the reason Jesus came and the bright future we can have as Christians – the joy at Christmastime becomes year-long, eternal-lifelong joy from an overflowing cup. We should, therefore, come and adore Jesus as our King and Savior everyday (Wade, 1751).
 
Leonard Lauriault, church of Christ