“Joy Unspeakable”

On my way to work every morning, I pass one of those electronic billboards, with frequently changing messages. Yesterday, I noticed a holiday message, “Eat, drink and be merry!  Enjoy the holidays!”  The sad truth behind this message is for some, the only joy they will experience during the holidays will be in eating, drinking, and being merry.

As I reflected on the billboard message, and thought about the Advent theme for this week, several questions came to mind.  Where do you find joy?  How do you experience it?  Most importantly, what is true joy?

As followers of Jesus, we know a joy that transcends the temporal and far exceeds anything you might experience in the physical through eating, drinking, and being merry!  In fact, this joy has nothing to do with our physical condition or our state of mind.  It is a joy that, in one sense is incomprehensible to the human mind – what some would describe as “mind blowing.”

God is the source of our joy!  There is an amazing picture of God in the prophetic book of Zephaniah. “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) According to the Bible, joy is something God Himself experiences.  Jesus experienced joy even as He faced the horrors of the cross. “Jesus, the author and perfector 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 12:2).

Jesus said to His disciples, “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 wants our joy to be complete, filled to capacity, and overflowing.   The joy He saw beyond the cross is the same joy He gives to those who follow Him.  And, His joy, in turn, makes our joy complete!

Knowing this helps us understand the message the angel spoke to the shepherds on the night of Jesus’ birth.  “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 2:10-11)

Do you know this joy?  Do you live in this joy?  Perhaps we need to pray the prayer of repentance and restoration David prayed in Psalms 51:12 “Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation.” Only then, will we know what Peter described as “joy unspeakable and full of glory.” (1 Peter 1:8)

I wish you true joy this Christmas season!

Published by Larry Doyle

Dr. Larry Doyle served as the Director of Missions for the Piedmont Baptist Association from September 1, 2003, to May 31, 2016. Since retiring from the Piedmont Baptist Association in 2016, Dr. Doyle has served as interim pastor and pulpit supply for several churches in the Piedmont Triad area. He served the Pinecroft Baptist Church from August 2018 to October 2020. His ministry began in the pastorate in Kentucky, his native state. He served as pastor of three churches while completing his undergraduate, graduate and post graduate degrees. (1968–1979) He and his wife Becky, a native of Greensboro, served as missionaries with the International Mission Board in Ecuador from 1980 to 1992. They returned to North Carolina where Larry pastored the Union Cross Hispanic Baptist Church in Kernersville from 1992 to 2000. In January 2001 he and Becky moved Honduras where they served as the On-site Coordinator for Disaster Relief with the North Carolina Baptist Men, coordinating volunteer teams in rebuilding houses and churches after the destruction of Hurricane Mitch. Upon returning from Honduras in January 2002, Larry served as the International Ministries Director for Baptist Metrolina Ministries in Charlotte, NC, a position he held until answering the call to become the Director of Missions for the Piedmont Baptist Association in Greensboro, NC in September 2003. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Western Kentucky University, and received a Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. Today Larry enjoys “Strengths Coaching” and mentoring pastors and church leaders. He also enjoys finding, refinishing and repurposing old, discarded furniture. Larry and Becky have two sons, Steve and Tim, and are the proud grandparents of five.

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