JOY, really?

In our Advent journey brings us to “Joy.”  Are you experiencing JOY?  It is a choice we make based on the promise and Person of Jesus.  As yesterday closed, I reflected over a day of mixed emotions – some positive, some not so much. Our pastor had urged us to choose joy.  He made the point that the joy of the Lord is beyond situation and circumstance.  As much as I agree, it can be a challenge to actually live joyfully in a world where evil produces so much pain.  So, last night, in the dark of my bedroom, I prayed for faith to accept joy and to live to bring joy to the world.

On the night of Jesus’ birth, God’s messenger declared – “I bring you good news of great joy.”  The angels sang “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.” When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.”(Luke 2:14-18, NIV) And in that worship, they found joy.

Will you choose surrender of your own agenda, your own desires, to find the joy of the Lord today?
His joy is found at the end of our striving and our demands to live life on our own terms.  In the choice for joy worship is the key.  It’s more than the worship that that we do in a church sanctuary. 
True worship is the presentation of ourselves to our God with humility, our very lives a prayer to honor HIM in our thoughts, our words, our choices.

Want to find the joy that we talk about as Christians?

First, turn to Jesus, seek Him, worship Him.   

That worship starts with a willingness to set aside the demands of the day. The shepherds could have remained with their sheep. But they chose to go to see the Baby. They became part of a strange and wonderful story of God’s entry into our world. Wherever you are today, whatever your situation – find time to look for the Savior, to thank Him, perhaps just to wait quietly before Him as you offer yourself in worship.

Second, ask God to make you a source of joy for others.

Paradoxically, when we give away our demand to be ‘happy,’ and turn outward, we create the possibility of joy for ourselves and others.  Your circle of friends includes many who need to know God’s love. Perhaps they feel worthless or forgotten. Perhaps they are overwhelmed by a sense of hopelessness. They may be carrying the weight of a chronic illness, or experiencing  the limitations brought on by aging. It could be they are weighed down by guilt and regret.  

Love makes joy possible!  The suffering person needs more than your happy song.  Be the Joy of Jesus shown in love.

Be a reflector of the Light, . Only in God can we find a reason for real and lasting joy, a hope that is bigger than any set of circumstances in this world.

Let’s take on the mission of the angels and announce JOY!  You might say, “Hey, Jerry, I’m no angel.”  Neither am I. But we are people of the Spirit, “Christ’s ambassadors.” We have the awesome privilege of leading others to Him, sharing with them the Hope we have found. So, let’s pray for opportunities to be bringers of joy, messengers of hope. If your heart is so heavy that Joy seems impossible, by faith let me remind you that HE is the Healer of broken hearts, the Restorer of our relationship with the Father, the Hope of the hopelessness. Ask Him to help you. His answer may not come in the way you expect, but He will come to you. He promises!

Here is a word from the Word.  I’m using a contemporary paraphrase of the Scripture today – The Message.  Lord, use Your Word to shape our lives today. Amen.

“So reach out and welcome one another to God’s glory.
Jesus did it; now you do it!
Jesus, staying true to God’s purposes,
reached out in a special way to the Jewish insiders
so that the old ancestral promises would come true for them.

As a result, the non-Jewish outsiders have been able
to experience mercy and to show appreciation to God.
Just think of all the Scriptures that will come true in what we do!
For instance: Then I’ll join outsiders in a hymn-sing; I’ll sing to your name!
And this one: Outsiders and insiders, rejoice together!
And again: People of all nations, celebrate God! All colors and races, give hearty praise!
And Isaiah’s word: There’s the root of our ancestor Jesse, breaking through the earth and growing tree tall, tall enough for everyone everywhere to see and take hope!

Oh! May the God of green hope fill you up with joy,
fill you up with peace, so that your believing lives,
filled with the life-giving energy of the Holy Spirit, will brim over with hope! “

(Romans 15:7-13, The Message)

(Video of this blog at this link)

Come Thou Long Expected Jesus (Hyfrydol)

Come Thou long expected Jesus
Born to set Thy people free
From our fears and sins release us
Let us find our rest in Thee
Israel’s strength and consolation
Hope of all the earth Thou art
Dear desire of every nation
Joy of every longing heart

Born Thy people to deliver
Born a child and yet a King
Born to reign in us forever
Now Thy gracious Kingdom bring
By Thine own eternal Spirit
Rule in all our hearts alone
By Thine all sufficient merit
Raise us to Thy glorious throne

Charles Wesley | Rowland Hugh Prichard

© Words: Public Domain

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