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A Christmas Devotional — Joy to the World!

Below is a Christmas devotional I wrote several years ago based on the hymn “Joy to the World” that I thought I’d share with you this Christmas. It originally appeared in a collection of devotionals for Third Presbyterian Church in Richmond, VA.

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Scripture Reading:              Isaiah 9:1-7

Devotional:

“Joy to the world! the Lord is come,” our hymn boldly proclaims. And in verse two: “Joy to the earth! the Savior reigns.” This parallels our Scripture when Isaiah spoke of the coming of our Lord with phrases like, “there will be no more gloom” and “You have…increased their joy.” Our hymn and Scripture together describe a profound joy that would ignite even the coldest heart.

So why does this level of joy seem largely absent from my life and from the lives of many around me? Why do endless concerns about family, work, finances, health, etc. seem to dominate much of our thinking, leaving scant time for reflecting on the nature of God, our sovereign Savior, and His work in the world? “Let every heart prepare him room,” we sing. But have we done that?

For me, the answer is no. And I think it’s because I haven’t fully processed why I’m called to such joy. Do I truly comprehend who God is and what He did by coming down from Heaven and living among us in poverty temporarily so that we could live with Him in riches forever? Do I truly comprehend that despite years of fleeing God and living in selfish depravity, he still sought and forgave me at the cost of his Son’s suffering and death? Because if I did, my heart surely would prepare Him room, and I would start to experience that profound inner peace and joy that we sing about.  And while I would still face stiff challenges in life and the world may seem chaotic around me, I would no longer cripple myself by carrying those burdens, trying to be my own ruler. “He rules the world with truth and grace …” As we sing that powerful line this Christmas, may God deepen our understanding of His Son’s birth and the profound sense of joy it promises.

Prayer:

Lord, I admit I have been too focused on my own concerns and unwilling to prepare my heart to fully receive You and the joy You promise. Help me to lay all my concerns at Your feet, freeing my mind to reflect on Your grace and opening wide my heart to fully receive Your joy this Christmas. In Jesus’ name. Amen.