Twice a day we prepare food for our pets pictured above, sharing some sunbeams.
The tortoiseshell and white cat named Tink demands her food, starting an hour or more before we usually feed her.
The gray cat named Gunny will occasionally issue a weak and pitiful-sounding meow if she thinks we’re taking too long to prep the food. Mostly, though, she just paces the room while we prep the food. Well, and sometimes tackles Tink for some unknown reason. Hmmm. Maybe Gunny thinks Tink should be quieter? Giggling…
Meghan, the canine, has a very different reaction. Her response to the sounds and smells of food being prepared for her is pure, unabashed joy. She dances and jumps while wagging her tail at the prospect of receiving her meal every time we prepare it. Her tongue hangs out with a touch of drool and a distinct sparkle is in her eyes regarding the anticipation of the tasty meal being prepared.
Seeing Meghan’s joy at mealtime always brings a smile to my face, no matter what I may have dealt with prior to that moment.
And it causes me to wonder about what stirs pure, unabashed joy in my heart.
As a noun, we define joy in the following ways:
- A sense of well-being, success, or good fortune, or by the prospect of possessing what one desires, including the expression or exhibition of such emotion.
- A state of happiness or felicity.
- A source or cause of delight.
- As a verb, we define joy as experiencing great pleasure or delight.
Isaac Watts published a poem that was later set to music by Lowell Mason. We call this hymn Joy to the World. We typically only sing this hymn during the Christmas season.
The first verse of this hymn is:
Why is the Lord’s coming to earth a reason to exclaim “Joy to the world”?
Consider the following passages Isaac studied that inspired his poem.
Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises! 5 Sing praises to the LORD with the lyre, with the lyre and the sound of melody! 6 With trumpets and the sound of the horn make a joyful noise before the King, the LORD! 7 Let the sea roar, and all that fills it; the world and those who dwell in it! 8 Let the rivers clap their hands; let the hills sing for joy together 9 before the LORD, for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with equity. (Psa 98:4-9 ESV)
What elements from Psalm 98:4-9 exist in the first verse of Joy to the World?
Let the heavens be glad and let the earth rejoice; let the sea roar, and all that fills it; 12 let the field exult, and everything in it! Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy 13 before the LORD, for he comes, for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness, and the peoples in his faithfulness. (Psa 96:11-13 ESV)
How does Psalm 96 support Psalm 98 and the first verse of Joy to the World?
And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain, you shall eat of it all the days of your life; 18 thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field.” (Gen 3:17-18 ESV)
Does the Genesis passage seem out of place as a context to inspire joy? Why or why not?
How do the two Psalms above transform the context of God’s punishment of Adam in the Genesis verses?
And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:10-11 ESV)
What reason does the angel provide to the shepherds that the news shared is joyful?
Why is this good news of great joy needed?
Who is included to receive this great joy? Why? (See Gen 12:1-3)
For this reason, I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. (Eph 3:14-19 ESV)
Having reviewed the fall of man in Genesis 3 and the above passage from Ephesians 3, what is the benefit of encouraging “let every heart prepare him room”?
Our dog Meghan trusts that when she hears and sees us preparing her food bowl that she will soon taste something delightful that will make her feel good. Her exuberance at these moments is uncontainable. Her joy explodes with dancing, jumping, drooling, and sparkling eyes.
As we begin this season of advent to celebrate the arrival of Christ, can you sense the riches of Christ’s glory strengthening you in your inner being through the Holy Spirit? Why or why not?
How do you express this in your daily life?
Is there anything you need to do differently today to allow God to fill your heart with His love?
Whom will you encourage with the good news found in the scriptures above and the inspired hymn Joy to the World?
Then he said to them, “Go your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” (Neh 8:10 ESV)
Who has encouraged you recently? Sing their praises in the comments below.