Altogether Joy December 12-16
At Christmas, we instinctively know the difference between an “almost joy” and an “altogether joy.” An “almost joy” is the happiness we find in decorations, sharing cookies, and unwrapping presents. But we all know that true joy is something that can blossom alongside frivolity and happiness, or it can flourish alongside sadness and even deep sorrow. Joy is what came at Christmas—the steadfast assurance that God is with us. For Wesley, salvation and joy go hand in hand. Joy comes from knowing that God is near and salvation is offered to all. Altogether joy is a gift— it comes from an encounter with God’s mercy, which is freely given to every sinner.
Day 1 Psalms 16:5-11
Reflect: What is David’s source of joy and what does he imply about how it is received?
Apply: “Happiness is what happens to you; joy is what is produced in you.” How is this true? What do you find yourself often putting in this blank—I’d be happy if ______ occurs?
Pray: Lord Jesus, in You, I have everything I need for life and the fullness of joy, not only in the world to come, but as a daily experience in this present world. In Your presence is the fullness of joy and pleasures forever.
Day 2 Galatians 5:19-26
Reflect: Paul contrasts acts of the flesh with fruit of the Spirit. How is this like comparing almost joy and altogether joy? Why is joy something that can only be received?
Apply: “Happiness doesn’t bring joy, and joy isn’t the byproduct of happiness.” How have you experienced this? How can you open yourself more fully to receiving God’s joy?
Pray: Holy Spirit, Your joy is unlike anything this world has to offer. Fill me with the overwhelming joy of the Lord and let it overflow to those I meet today.
Day 3 Psalm 30:1-12
Reflect: How do you see this psalm speak to this statement: “Happiness is insecure; joy is confident”? Which verses can you relate to the most and why?
Apply: Do you find it easy to be full of joy? Why or why not? What blocks you from receiving the gift of joy? Is there someone you can help understand joy is a gift from the Lord?
Pray: Jesus, You heard my plea for help and Your love lifted me from the depths of despair. As I sense Your presence and embrace Your goodness, my heart is dancing with Your joy even if my circumstances have not changed.
Day 4 John 15:9-11
Reflect: What is Jesus saying the connection is between obedience, love, and joy? How would you describe Jesus’ joy (verse 11)? Is ours to be the same? Why or why not?
Apply: How does this text speak to this idea: “Joy blooms through connection.” What are you currently doing to follow Jesus’ command to remain in His love, to stay connected?
Pray: Lord, I want to rest in Your love, moment by moment. Help me to abide in You always, so that I may be joyful, fruitful, and bring much glory to You.
Day 5 1 Peter 1:3-9
Reflect: How does Peter speak to the truth that altogether joy is a gift and not something we can manufacture? What does he say about joy in today’s trials and the joy that is to come?
Apply: “Happiness is dictated by the facts; joy is defined by the truth.” Explain this. How has the truth of God’s love for you and His constant presence with you brought you joy?
Pray: Heavenly Father, thank You that I have been given a new birth and a living hope in Jesus Christ. Despite the distresses of life’s various trials, my heart rejoices and I am filled with inexpressible joy when I think of all You have done for me.
Put It Into Practice
Week 4: As we get closer to Christmas and the stress levels increase, make a conscious decision to be a joy spreader. Start with keeping joy in your own heart by developing an attitude of gratitude. Then when you are confronted with evil, fight back with joy. It may be with a smile, with kind words, or with prayer. Share why your joy trumps happiness.