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Dr. James C. Denison
President, Center for Informed Faith, Dallas, TX
December 14, 2010

Cliff Lee and Advent joy

Cliff Lee will pitch for the Phillies? How can this be? Our Texas Rangers were fighting the hated Yankees for the services of baseball’s best free-agent pitcher. Little did we know that he would take less money to pitch in the National League, where pitchers are allowed to bat. After our Cowboys lost to the Eagles on Sunday and our Mavericks lost last night to the lowly Bucks, there’s not much joy in Dallas today.

I’m glad this is the Advent “week of joy,” as we join the shepherds in seeking the “great joy” of Christmas. Happiness is based on happenings; true “joy” is a sense of well-being which transcends circumstances. How can we experience it today?

King David, the man for whom Bethlehem was called the “city of David,” once said to the Lord: “You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand” (Psalm 16:11). He discovered “joy in your presence,” in the presence of God.

There is nowhere else to find it. Consider this sobering statement: “Surely you know how it has been from of old, ever since man was placed on the earth, that the mirth of the wicked is brief, the joy of the godless lasts but a moment” (Job 20:4-5). Joy is found only with God. It is a gift only he can give.

Zig Ziglar is a motivational speaker who demonstrates the joy of Jesus wherever he goes. He tells the story of comedian Freddie Prinz, Sr., who took his own life in 1977. Prinz had become a father the previous year, and had just signed a multi-year deal with NBC worth $6 million over five years.

Discussing this tragedy, a commentator was asked, “Do you know of any other superstars in athletics, music, entertainment, the television industry, or movies who might also be in danger of either deliberately or accidentally taking his own life?” After a moment’s reflection, she answered: “I don’t know of anyone who is famous in these fields who is not in danger of either deliberately or accidentally taking his own life, because I don’t know a single one who is happy.”

Would you like to find true joy this morning? Then go to the Christ of Christmas. Do as the shepherds did, seeking and worshiping the Baby of Bethlehem. Jesus said, “My joy may be in you and your joy may be complete” (John 15:11). And he promised, “No one will take away your joy” (John 16:22).

Do you want lasting joy? Seek it from God alone, through Christ. Ask him to forgive your sins and be your Savior, and you’ll have his joy. Remember your salvation with gratitude and wonder, and you’ll have his joy. And “the joy of the Lord will be your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10).

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