Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice…The Lord is at hand… — Philippians 4:4-5
The focus this week is the candle of joy.
What Is the Candle of Joy?
This candle of Advent reflects the joy of Jesus’s arrival, and the salvation made available to all. The candle of joy is also known as the Shepherd Candle, reminiscent of the shepherds’ joy at receiving from the angels the good news about Christ’s birth as they hastened to Bethlehem to see Jesus (Luke 2:8-20).
Just as Biblical hope is radically different to the secular concept of hope, so Biblical joy is distinctly different from the secular concept of joy. Secular joy is circumstantial and worldly, coming from things like financial security, relationships, health or personal successes.
However Biblical joy frees us from the superficiality of merely worldly happiness. Biblical joy is a gift, a fruit of the Spirit, a God-given grace, an emergent character quality rooted in spiritual rebirth, focused on Jesus. Biblical joy involves delight and wonder regarding Jesus, the gospel, and God’s promises for the future. Biblical joy renders personal circumstances irrelevant — which is why Paul could write from a prison the epistle of joy, the letter to the Philippians, from which we quoted at the beginning of this post.
Joy is a hallmark of the Christian life. In fact, the word joy appears over 100 times in the Bible, an epic story of a Creator more committed to your joy than you could imagine. Entrusting each sphere of life to God is the way to enjoy him.
Here are some key truths to remember:
- It is God who fills us with joy (Romans 15:13).
- Joy is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22).
- No one — and no circumstances — can take away God-given joy (John 16:22).
The gift of joy is a grace given at the time of spiritual regeneration. In light of Christ’s first advent, and in anticipation of His second advent, God has given his people a joy that no one can take away. Let Him continue to build joy deeply into your character. No matter what happens in this fallen world, we can experience more of God’s joy as we keep our focus on God, entrust our lives more fully to Christ, live in deeper communion with Him, and follow more faithfully His ways.
Heavenly Father, thank you for the miracle of new birth. Help us know afresh the wonder and joy of this Christmas season. Help us feel the excitement that overwhelmed with rejoicing the hearts of the shepherds as they hastened to see Jesus. Help us understand more deeply the gift of Jesus as a baby in a lowly manger, the significance of prophecies perfectly fulfilled, the love of the Savior who came to dwell among us, and the wonder of promises yet to be completed. Flood our hearts with joy this Advent season as we reflect on this very good news! Our joy is in you, King Jesus! Amen.
The Gospel Coalition. https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/unexpected-secret-joy