A Pastor’s Ponderings: Have a Joy-filled New Year

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Dave HollandBy Dave Holland

My mother says I was born 40 years old, a quiet and serious child. Expressing emotions has always been difficult. So, I have to work at showing love. When I became a Christian, I considered my sober demeanor to be a godly, sort of a gift from our puritan ancestors. But as I ponder Luke 10:17-23, I am struck by the raw emotional joy Jesus demonstrates toward His Father in front of the men.

Jesus sent out 70 disciples into the surrounding villages to proclaim the kingdom of God and prepare them for His coming. In Luke 10:17 (NKJV) we pick up the story: The 70 returned with “joy” saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.” The disciples’ “joy” comes from the Greek word “chara” and means cheerfulness or calm delight. Thrilled that Christ used them to help people, they bristled with new-found confidence. There is nothing like the rush of helping people encounter God.

Christ joins the joy-party: “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven” (Luke 10:18, NIV). People who declare God’s kingdom message defeat the devil and give joy to the King. Jesus rejoiced with them. He also reminded them that it was more important their names are written in heaven. All believers in Christ possess this basis for joy as there is no greater miracle than your salvation.

But Jesus demonstrates a better joy. As the disciples share their victories, Jesus turns toward His Father and erupts in prayer, “full of joy through the Holy Spirit.” In this instance, the word translated “joy” is derived from the Greek word “agalliao” meaning to jump for joy, exult, to be exceedingly glad. Unrestrained and unashamed, Christ leaped with exuberance. I think He rejoiced more in the success of others and He poured that joy out toward Father God.

Most people are skeptical of emotional religion. They view it as unseemly to exhibit such private feelings publicly. Yet, Jesus lets us see His inner humanness with a natural display of His feelings. He is perfectly at home in His skin and secure in His masculinity. These are the kinds of feelings that wives long for from their husbands and that children need to see from their parents–emotions expressed openly in a healthy way.

When I was in Bible College, I had a dream of a little boy about age five running in a tranquil place. It was beautiful and serene with a clear blue sky. As the boy ran faster and faster, the wind seemed to blow through his hair, and I perceived that he was well-groomed, as if he had just come from the barbershop. The boy was so happy running unrestrained, feeling clean, free of worry, and playful as little boys should be. Then I realized the boy was me. It was apparent I was running toward an immense billowy cloud and as I approached it I leaped with abandon into the mist. I felt utterly surrounded and embraced by God’s presence. Liquid love and pure acceptance overwhelmed me. The Lord received me and gave me laugh-out-loud joy.

God the Father joins with Jesus in revealing His delight in His children. You are His child and His joy. I pray that you leap with the joy of the Lord in 2021. Happy-joy-filled New Year.

Dave Holland pastored churches for 38 years before retiring in Destin. He recently released his new devotional-Bible study based on the Gospel of Luke titled “Extraordinary Jesus: Ignite Your Season of Miracles.” You can obtain a copy of this book from his website, DaveHolland.org or at Amazon.com. Pastor Dave is available to preach and teach in churches and conferences.