Joy to the World the Lord is Come typography
Kay Chance
A Christmas Devotional
“Today, if you ask a group of Christians, ‘What does joy mean?’ most will grope for words, with only one emphatic opinion: that joy is different from happiness. This is like saying that rain isn’t wet or ice isn’t cold. Scripture, dictionaries, and common language don’t support this separation.”
— Randy Alcorn
Kay Chance
A Christmas Devotional
“Today, if you ask a group of Christians, ‘What does joy mean?’ most will grope for words, with only one emphatic opinion: that joy is different from happiness. This is like saying that rain isn’t wet or ice isn’t cold. Scripture, dictionaries, and common language don’t support this separation.”
— Randy Alcorn
white windflower illustration
What is joy?
Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines it as:

  1. the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires; the expression or exhibition of such emotion
  2. a state of happiness or felicity
  3. a source or cause of delight.

As Christians, we know that joy is deeper than our circumstances, so in throwing out the first definition, we often negate the words happiness and delight as well. We see them as almost unbiblical, but that is simply not true.

Let’s consider how the word joy is used throughout the Psalms:

  • You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore—Psalm 16:11.
  • And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me, and I will offer in his tent sacrifices with shouts of joy; I will sing and make melody to the LORD—Psalm 27:6.
  • For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning—Psalm 30:5.
  • Shout for joy in the LORD, O you righteous! Praise befits the upright—Psalm 33:1.
  • Clap your hands, all peoples! Shout to God with loud songs of joy!— Psalm 47:1
  • My lips will shout for joy, when I sing praises to you; my soul also, which you have redeemed—Psalm 71:23.
  • Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!—Psalm 95:2

And then there is this…

“Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets —Luke 6:22–23.

Even through difficult times, there is joy because there’s more to it than this present affliction.

The dictionary, the world, does get joy wrong. It’s not dependent on worldly well-being, success, or good fortune. But let’s look at that last part: the prospect of possessing what one desires.

We may think we know what we want and need. We may think we can fill ourselves with things to help us feel secure and significant. However, those things we think we desire will never bring us true joy. Our deepest longing, our deepest needs, our deepest desire is to have a relationship with our Creator.

Whom have I in heaven but you?
And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you
—Psalm 73:25.

Biblical joy is a deep soul-settledness that literally makes us happy and evokes a joyful response. It’s not dependent on circumstances or our accomplishments or who we are. The Christmas story shows us—it’s about Jesus. Joy comes through relationship with the God who created us, loves us, and laid down his life for us. The One who we will be with for eternity.

As you prepare your hearts for celebrating the birth of Christ, read the following passages in light of what joy really is and reflect on the questions provided. You may want to journal your responses.

You can also use this as a way for your entire family to celebrate the Christmas season. Talk to your kids about what joy is and read the bible verses above about joy, as well as the following passages. According to their ages, children can draw pictures, use the verses as copywork, or journal their own answers to the reflection questions.

Read: Luke 1:39–45

Questions for Reflection: How did Elizabeth react when Mary came to her home? How did the baby in her womb react? Why do you think they reacted this way? What good news had the Jewish people been waiting for from the Lord?

long green pin branch illustration
Read: Luke 1:46–55

Questions for Reflection: Why does Mary’s spirit rejoice? Why can you rejoice?

Read: Luke 2:8–20

Questions for Reflection: When the angels appear, what is the initial reaction of the shepherds? Why do you think they were afraid? Would you have been scared under these circumstances?

What message does the angel give the shepherds? How is this “good news of great joy?” How did the shepherds respond to this message? What did they do?

Do you “make haste” to see Jesus? What might that look like in your life today?

Read: Matthew 2:7–12.

Questions for Reflection: When the star “came to rest over the place the child was,” how did the wise men react? What did they do? Why do you think they responded this way? What does it mean to worship Him? What is your reaction to knowing that a Savior was born for you.

Cultivating Joy Throughout the Year
Joy is in the Lord, in having a relationship with Him. We can continue to cultivate joy in our lives. Jesus said:

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing—John 15:4–5.

windflower bouquet with pine branches illustration
What is that fruit?

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law—Galatians 5:22–23.

“When you think of ‘works’ you think of effort, labor, strain, and toil; when you think of ‘fruit’ you think of beauty, quietness, the unfolding of life. The flesh produces ‘dead works’, but the Spirit produces living fruit.” — Warren Wiersbe

Beauty, quietness, the unfolding of life—there is joy. The Spirit wants to produce that in you.

May you experience the joy of the Lord throughout this coming year. May you worship your Savior and choose to abide in Him because “joy to the world, the Lord has come.”

“Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. May not copy or download more than 500 consecutive verses of the ESV Bible or more than one half of any book of the ESV Bible.”


ay Chance homeschooled her children for fifteen years. While teaching them, she discovered a passion for writing and developing curriculum resources. She loves sharing natural learning methods and creative lesson ideas with other homeschooling parents. Kay is the co-executive editor of Homeschooling Today magazine and the author of the older extensions for the Trail Guide to Learning series. She makes her home in Texas with her husband Brian.