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 Zechariah’s Song of praise after being muted for 9+ months, the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem and the angel proclamation to the shepherds. 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.
Today’s verse comes from Zephaniah 3:17. “The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.”
Zephaniah was a prophet to the nation of Israel in approximately 700 B.C. who had a message of repentance. He warned of coming judgement if they did not turn from their worship of idols. He also focused on the coming day of the Lord and the rejoicing that would bring. He proclaims that God is in our midst, He will save and that He loves and rejoices over each of us with singing. What a wonderful message of hope and reassurance for today. We know Jesus came showing that He saves, loves, cares, protects, holds us in His hands and rejoices over us with gladness. Let His gladness and love sink into your soul, filling you with thanksgiving and hope. Knowing that God rejoices and sings over me, a sinner, gives me great hope and creates in me a thankful heart. Knowing He alone will quiet my heart gives me peace.
Be filled with thanksgiving in knowing you are loved and that your Savior, Jesus, is rejoicing over you today!
The subject of today’s blog is one that is so relevant to 2020. How do you find contentment with all the upheaval of 2020- amidst Covid-19 raging throughout the world, devastating storms, hurricanes, flooding, fires and political turmoil reflecting hatred and animosity within our society? In Philippians 4:10-13, Paul says he has been in all types of situations and has found contentment only in Jesus. What about you? Paul begins this passage by consoling his Philippian friends who had been unable to send money to meet his needs. He says it is okay as God has this.
10 I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. 11 Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
What had Paul learned about contentment? CHRIST is the source of his contentment and strength. He had found that Christ was his all in all. He knew that Christ’s grace was sufficient in 2 Corinthians 12:9 ” “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” He knew about abiding in Christ in John 15:5 “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.” He knew about the indwelling Holy Spirit in Ephesians 3:16-17 “that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love,”.He knew about the glorious might of Jesus inColossians 1:11 “being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy;” What about you? Do you know, like Paul, of Christ’s sustaining and fulfilling power? Take a step back today and look at your world, problems and circumstances. With the grace, abiding, indwelling power of the glorious might of Jesus, can’t you get through anything? He promises His power and grace are sufficient!
Paul has hit the rewind button in Philippians 3:1-7. He wants us to keep in mind the joy we have in the Lord! He wants us to rejoice and revel in the thoughts we have because of Christ and the state of being we have in Christ. Does that describe you and you thoughts today? Are you rejoicing in spite of opposition or hard circumstances? Paul wanted the Philippian Christians rejoicing in their faith and not putting obligations on each other or placing value/trust in their worldly achievements. Paul recalls his own worldly accomplishments and knows that he could boast but he reminds them that even all those things pale in comparison to what he has in Christ, that he says is cause for rejoicing in the Lord.
Whatever happens, my dear brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord. I never get tired of telling you these things, and I do it to safeguard your faith. 2 Watch out for those dogs, those people who do evil, those mutilators who say you must be circumcised to be saved. 3 For we who worship by the Spirit of God are the ones who are truly circumcised. We rely on what Christ Jesus has done for us. We put no confidence in human effort, 4 though I could have confidence in my own effort if anyone could. Indeed, if others have reason for confidence in their own efforts, I have even more! 5 I was circumcised when I was eight days old. I am a pure-blooded citizen of Israel and a member of the tribe of Benjamin—a real Hebrew if there ever was one! I was a member of the Pharisees, who demand the strictest obedience to the Jewish law. 6 I was so zealous that I harshly persecuted the church. And as for righteousness, I obeyed the law without fault. 7 I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done.
Paul concludes in verse 7 with his own realization that all our worldly ‘things’ and accomplishments are worthless when compared to what we have in Christ. Nothing compares to life with Him now and in the future, our heavenly home, our salvation, our redemption from eternal punishment for our sins, our growing and changing character that reflects God’s indwelling Holy Spirit….. These are priceless treasures we possess in Christ and are reasons to rejoice in the Lord!
Have a blessed day- rejoicing and giving thanks for what Christ has done and will do within you.
Ezra 3:11-13 records the reaction of the people when they succeeded in rebuilding the foundation of the temple that had been destroyed by the Babylonians. God had allowed them to be deported to Babylon for 70 years to refine them and cause them to give up idolatry that had plagued them for generations. Their reaction is genuine and heartfelt. “And they sang responsively, praising and giving thanks to the Lord,
“For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever toward Israel.”
And all the people shouted with a great shout when they praised the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid.12 But many of the priests and Levites and heads of fathers’ houses, old men who had seen the first house, wept with a loud voice when they saw the foundation of this house being laid, though many shouted aloud for joy,13 so that the people could not distinguish the sound of the joyful shout from the sound of the people’s weeping, for the people shouted with a great shout, and the sound was heard far away.” The weeping was joyous but also many lamented the glory of Temple Solomon had built that was gone.
These verses about their rejoicing over the temple’s foundation reminded me of the foundation we have in Jesus, the cornerstone of our faith. 1 Peter 2:4-6describes Jesus: “As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious,5 you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.6 For it stands in Scripture:
“Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”
Our faith in Jesus places us in ‘God’s building’, His spiritual house, that has a firm foundation in Jesus. You cannot build a building without a firm foundation likewise, faith without Jesus at its base will crumble, fall and be meaningless.
Think about your foundation of faith today. Soon you will be rejoicing over your foundation, Jesus, and praising and singing thanks to Him!