Today is the lighting of the third candle in the Advent wreath. It is called the Shepherd’s candle and represents joy. During the lighting the story of the angels appearing to the shepherds announcing the birth of the Christ child and where He could be found is told. Joy is contagious and once the arrival of the Messiah was proclaimed the shepherds wanted to find the child and worship Him. May you feel that same joy today and may it draw you closer to the Savior.
This next week we will be diving deep into John’s Birth, Zechariah’s Song of praise after being muted for 9+ months, Joseph’s story, and their journey to Bethlehem. Here are some words of JOY for today as we worship.
Psalm 5:11 “But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy, and spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may exult in you.”
Psalm 16:11 “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”
Luke 2:10 “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.”
Romans 10:13 “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.”
May we be filled with the joy of the Lord today as we continue to anticipate the coming of the Christ child who brought freedom from bondage to sin through His life, death and resurrection.
One of the most touching post-resurrection appearances of Jesus was when He appeared to Mary Magdalene in the garden. It is recounted in John 20:14-18. Mary had been to the tomb and seen and heard the angels say that Jesus was not there. They had said He was risen. However, she was so overcome with grief that it had yet to truly register with her brain. They (the angels) said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” 14 Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher).
This scene touches me as it only took Jesus saying her name for her to recognize Him. In John 10:27 Jesus told the disciples that the ones who know Him will recognize His voice and follow Him ” My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” Mary knew immediately that it was her Lord saying her name. She was instantly comforted and wanted to touch Him. He cautioned her not to touch him, but to go and tell the disciples that she had seen the Lord! Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” 18 Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”—and that he had said these things to her.
Mary needed to have the Savior’s touch. He touched her with His voice and He gave her the reassurance that all would be well. Jesus confirmed He had indeed risen and that He was alive! Jesus showed her that there is eternal Hope in Him! She got all of those reassurances from Jesus just saying her name!
What do you need Jesus to say to you today? Do you need Him to call you by name, give you a word of encouragement, a word of guidance, or simply a word of Hope? He can say and do it all- if you just ask Him. Seek Him today and He will be found!
Happy Easter to you this Resurrection Sunday morning! Scripture tells us that the women went to the tomb to anoint Jesus’ body and encountered 2 angels. The angels said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while was still with you in Galilee. The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.” Then they remembered his words.” Luke 24:5b-8 Then Mary encountered Jesus himself in the garden while she was weeping. Jesus said to her, “Mary” She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” John 20:16 Then she ran to tell the disciples filled with great joy as Jesus was Alive!
I pray that you will encounter the Risen Lord Jesus this Resurrection Sunday and experience great JOY in worshiping Him! Here is a description of our future because of what Jesus did for us at the cross and through His resurrection. Praise you Jesus!
10 I am overwhelmed with joy in the Lord my God! For he has dressed me with the clothing of salvation and draped me in a robe of righteousness. I am like a bridegroom dressed for his wedding or a bride with her jewels. 11 The Sovereign Lord will show his justice to the nations of the world. Everyone will praise him! His righteousness will be like a garden in early spring, with plants springing up everywhere. Isaiah 61:10-11
Because Christ died on the cross and roes from the dead, I am redeemed and clothed in His righteousness forever! Thank you Jesus!
Paul was praying for the Colossian Christians in a very specific way. He wanted to see them walking and experiencing an authentic life with Christ. He envisioned them, and us too, living a life worthy of the calling of Jesus. In today’s passage, Paul lists the benefits of such a worthy walk with Christ and how it truly pleases Him. Colossians 1:10-12 “so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.” Wow! What a list of benefits Paul is praying for the Colossian Christians to experience in their daily walk with Jesus!
Bearing fruit in every good work. A life indwelt by the Holy Spirt, focused on Jesus shows fruit. Which of these is the Holy Spirit producing in your life as you seek to know and follow Him? Galatians 5:22-23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” James 3:17 “But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.”
Increasing in the knowledge of God. Is this your goal, to know God more fully? Could this be said of you? 1 Chronicles 28:9 “And you, Solomon my son, know the God of your father and serve him with a whole heart and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches all hearts and understands every plan and thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will cast you off forever.
strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy. Do you feel God’s strength, have endurance during the difficulties that arise each day or do you see and feel joy when you wait upon Him? Nehemiah 8:10 “for the joyof the Lord is your strength.” Hebrews 10:36“For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised.” Romans 15:13 “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.“
giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. Are you thankful for your heavenly inheritance to come and grateful for hope-filled life Jesus is providing for you right now? Ephesians 1:18 “having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints,“1 Peter 1:3-4 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you,“
I pray as you study and meditate on these benefits provided to us through our faith in Jesus that you will be blessed with a deeper knowledge of Him and be encouraged in your walk. Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, I can receive benefits of faith that lead to greater knowledge of Him, strength, endurance, patience and joy!Thank you Jesus!
Joy is a byproduct of the indwelling Holy Spirit’s work within me. Scripturally I’ve see that this joy molds and shapes my soul bringing soulful joy. It is also eternal as it began its effects upon me when I accepted Jesus as Lord of my life and will continue to work within me for all eternity giving me a source of joy that is eternal. Today I want to focus on joy that comes from the Lord, knowing Jesus, walking with him daily and belonging to Him. This type of joy emanates from Christ alone. The effects of this joy is complete. It fills me and last when earthly joys fade.
Jesus spoke of knowing God the Father, abiding in His love and keeping His commandments. He promised that walking in His love and practicing His ways would provide me with this type of joy. John 15:9-11. “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” The prescription for having complete joy is to be faithful and obedient to Jesus’ Word and to stay in His love.
The Apostle Paul experienced this type of joy when he and Barnabas were preaching the good news of Jesus to the crowd in Pisidan Antioch. They spoke the truth about God and His love for all of them in sending Jesus. The Jewish leaders were jealous of Paul and Barnabas’ popularity and heaped abuses upon them. They got others to join them in persecuting Paul and Barnabas and got them expelled from that region. Paul and Barnabas never stopped speaking boldly about Christ depending upon His love and truth to sustain them. Acts 13:49-52 “They stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region. 51 So they shook the dust off their feet as a warning to them and went to Iconium. 52 And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit. Even though things got very difficult and scary, the disciples sought to abide in Christ, trust in Him and left filled with His joy and completeness in doing God’s work.
How can you and I abide in His love and experience this fulfilling joy? Jesus’ prescription for this joy is to stay focused upon Him, engage in things that will bring glory to God, get to know Him better by studying scripture- staying in the Word, commune with Him in prayer, fellowship with other believers and worship Him in spirit and truth. Living and abiding in Him each day will bring complete joy. No matter what is happening in the world around you or even in your own life you can still experience this joy. Christ’s joy is compete and will fulfill you completely. Praise God for His provision of complete joy. Thank you Jesus!
Have you examined lately what causes you to move forward? What motivates you? According to Paul in Philippians 3:12-16 his motivation comes from what Christ did for him and his desire to live up to what God expects of him in Christ. I like the insights the Amplified text brings to this portion of scripture: 12 Not that I have now attained [this ideal], or have already been made perfect, but I press on to lay hold of (grasp) and make my own, that for which Christ Jesus (the Messiah) has laid hold of me and made me His own. 13 I do not consider, brethren, that I have captured and made it my own [yet]; but one thing I do [it is my one aspiration]: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the [supreme and heavenly] prize to which God in Christ Jesus is calling us upward. 15 So let those [of us] who are spiritually mature and full-grown have this mind and hold these convictions; and if in any respect you have a different attitude of mind, God will make that clear to you also. 16 Only let us hold true to what we have already attained and walk and order our lives by that.”
This is a very familiar portion of scripture as it reveals Paul’s heart and desire to always press onward for Christ. Paul realizes that our world and all of its pressures can and do distract us from our work for Christ. He encourages us to press onward, upward and forward in our lives leaving the worldly distractions behind and claiming, proclaiming and grabbing hold of what Christ has for us in life. What Christ has for us is far greater than anything we could attain ourselves in this life. Christ has give it to us already so we need to walk and live by His ways.
Why joy in this? I see joy in the fact that Jesus provided a way, a plan, a pattern for following Him in His Word.
I see joy in knowing the things Christ can and will provide are greater than worldly acquisitions or achievements.
I see joy in following Him knowing I already have it all in Christ and simply need to grab hold of it and walk with Him each day.
In Philippians 1:15-21 Paul expresses the facts of ministry as he sees them. He sees some preaching the gospel to win souls. He calls that good will and says their preaching is out of love, desiring that all would be saved and be eternally free in Christ. He also sees those who preach the gospel out of love of self, for self-gratification, self-gain, and self-glory. He calls that selfish ambition and realizes that they can, by their words, stir up trouble for him even as he sits in prison. However, Paul does not hold their actions against them as he rejoices that the name of Christ is proclaimed and trusts in God’s plan and sovereign control over all circumstances. “Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will.16 The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel.17 The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment.18 What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice.”
Paul’s continues reasoning that though the prayers of fellow believers and the power of the Holy Spirit, he knows God will be victorious and his place with Jesus is assured. “Yes, and I will rejoice,19 for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance,20 as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death.21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Paul knew no matter what, he belonged to Jesus! He knew the support of fellow believers through their powerful prayers and the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit were essential to his surviving in his Roman prison. Either in death or in life, he would be victorious in and through Christ.
How is it that Paul was so assured? Paul relied upon the character of God and His Word. He undoubtedly remembered Joseph’s statement of God’s principle in Genesis 50:20 “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.” Or perhaps his own words given by the Holy Spirit in Romans 8:28 “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Or Jeremiah’s words in Jeremiah 29:11-12 “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you.” Paul was a student of scripture and knew for a fact the truths about God’s character revealed throughout the Bible. He had learned to draw upon them for strength, clarity and assurance. We too need to open His Word and dig deep to replenish our joy, see our hope clearly, and gain strength and assurance. Our Sovereign God is bigger than Covid 19 or any other circumstance we face right now or in the future. Be assured like Paul that no matter what, you and I will be victorious in Christ!
My joy is increased:
I know God is Sovereign and will use all things (people, places, circumstances- yes even the Corona virus) to achieve His will.
I know God has my back and has good plans for me as I serve Him, therefore, I will trust in Him.
I know that prayer is essential for survival and brings encouragement and resolve to believers.
Let your joy be in our Sovereign God today. Trust in Him!