Well, Christmas is almost upon us once again.
This is my absolute favourite time of the year. How about you? The decorations are up in the shops, the Christmas Carols are playing (mostly) and it seems easier to start up conversations with strangers as you stand in line, waiting to be served with a trolley of soon-to-be wrapped gifts.
We had a wonderful day at church this past Sunday as the children in the Children’s Ministry performed on stage for their parents and families. They did an absolutely fantastic job. It was such a blessing seeing our own children be a part of this celebration. The theme was ‘joy’.
What does joy mean for you?
Over the years, I have realised that joy is not happiness and it is not a feeling. In my own life, at least, I have discovered that joy is a knowing and a decision. It is going back to the default setting that we were created for.
My husband is a fantastic artist and is able to work with many different mediums. As a part of his studies, he painted a skull. He bought a plastic one so that he had something to look at as he painted. I was looking at it one day and realised that it was actually smiling. Google it and you’ll see what I mean. It was then that I received the revelation that our default setting is joy.
At the time, I had had the most atrocious week, nothing seemed to be going right and worse yet, I had to present a speech for my Bible College course I was attending and I hadn’t even started it yet. I decided to take my skull friend, under a towel with me and use him as my prop. I was going to put my revelation into action.
I can tell you, the last thing I wanted to do was to stand up and talk. I was so nervous, I was so emotional from the happenings of the week and I was also totally unprepared. But, I began and God stepped in to help. I removed the towel and gasps arose from around the room. I could almost read their thoughts from the faces they made but I pressed on. I asked my cautious listeners, “What do you see?” Of course I got the ridiculous answers but then suddenly, the teacher said thoughtfully, “He’s smiling”.
I then went onto explain that it is the skin on our face and our mouth that covers up this smile. Our inner creation (signified by our skull) doesn’t change. It’s only the circumstances around us (signified by our skin and mouth) that do. I was greatly encouraged to see that there were a lot of “Ah ha” moments going on. Hence to say, I passed that portion of the class. Phew!
Do you have joy?
What does it look like in a practical sense? Well, when life is in turmoil all around you, you have a deep sense of knowing that all will be well in the end because your trust is in Jesus. In the movie “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”, one of the main characters, Sonny, has an amazing saying: “Everything will be alright in the end so if it is not alright, it is not the end.” This can be said of any situation that you may find yourself or your loved ones in.
Romans 8:28 (ESV) says,
“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”
It is absolutely true. If good has not yet come out of your situation, you can be rest assured that God is still working behind the scenes and it is not over yet.
To sit in that quiet place of confidence that God does know what He is doing, even when you feel that your heart has been torn in 2, that He is working behind the scenes even though you may feel abandoned, that He does have a plan to work things out for your benefit, and He has promised that He will never leave you – this is true joy.
To know that He will fight for you when needed. To believe that He will provide for you when you are lacking. To receive His never ending love for you when rejection and insult is coming from all sides. This is true joy.
” … let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1b-2 (ESV)
What was the joy that was set before Jesus? YOU. I believe that He saw you, me, and every other person who was to be reunited with His Father God in the coming generations.
You bring Jesus such great joy as you trust in Him. He is for YOU.
I love what Romans 8:31b (AMP) says:
“If God is for us, who can be [successful] against us?”
Joy has come into the world in the personhood of Jesus. You can trust Him. He has your best interests at heart. Reconciliation and relationship with God was always His ultimate goal for you, and still is to this day.
Christmas time can be very stressful. I would like to encourage you to purposely choose joy in this season – both the Person and the knowing that deep down in your soul, God has your back.
I am praying for each and every one of you this week.
I would love to hear how you celebrate Christmas and what it means to you. Please let me know in the comments below.
Have a fantastic week filled with the joy of the Lord!
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