In the Toronto Star this past week Omar Mosleh wrote about a coming phenomenon that has not been seen since medieval times and may account for the wonder that the wise men seen in the heavenlies when Jesus was born.
"On Dec. 21, which is also the date of the winter solstice, the gas giants Jupiter and Saturn will appear to align in the night sky, occurring as a single ultra-bright light in a rare event known as the 'Christmas Star.'" (Though science tells us at the time of Jesus' birth, Venus and Jupiter were aligning.)
Of course, I'm going to peek into the heavens on that date, but it's got me thinking. How like our amazing Father in heaven who has every detail choreographed to the most minute detail to come as a Babe with a brilliant star above Bethlehem and then to come again for His bride (the rapture of the church) with another brilliant show from above.
Matthew 24 says to take heed when you see these things happening, for Jesus is coming soon. The increase in wars and rumours of wars, increase in famines, pestilences (Sars, H1N1, Ebola and now Covid), earthquakes and natural disasters (the world has experienced these in 2020 like never before.) Racial uprising. (Lawlessness V12) Moral degradation where right is wrong and wrong is right. Churches are closed with our mental and spiritual health ignored by those who govern. Life feels out of balance, yet there is One who holds all in the palm of His hand.
The stage is set. The times are perilous, eerily lining up with prophetic Scripture. The Christmas star is inching into place. Maybe it's not just Christmas that is coming…
Walter Wangerin Jr. writes…
"God is coming! God is coming! All the element we swim in, this existence, echoes ahead the advent. God is coming! Can you feel it?"
Yes, I can feel it! And the Spirit of God within me leaps for joy. I am in no way predicting any time frame, but I could see God working that way...including the curious, the compelling, the creative. What I am saying is this... if you do not know Jesus as your Saviour the time is now, for time is short. (Send me a comment and I will personally contact you and explain the how.) But if you are a believer look up and lift your head in joyful anticipation.
As we enter into this third week of advent, let's embrace the joy! We are not a people with no hope. We are not locked up, locked in, and locked down… we are God's people and if anyone should be rejoicing it is us. Covid, nor the powers that rule this earth have the last word. Jesus does, and He says JOY is ours. No one can take that from us.
This week we will light the "Shepherd's Candle," which symbolizes JOY.
Luke 2:8-14 "Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great JOY which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Saviour who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger." And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: "Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!"
After this past year of constant turmoil, who doesn't need more joy? I'm not referring to happiness (which depends on good happenings) I am talking about joy no matter what is happening around you. James said in chapter 1:2-4 "My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing."
John 16:24 Jesus invites… "Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full."
Joy is but one decision away…and that is the decision to pray and ask for it. Though deeply disappointed in our governments decision to cancel Christmas and church yet leave the schools, bars and restaurants open, and allow seniors who are supposed to be the high risk ones and live in community living like my mother-in-law to go shopping whenever they want...makes no sense, however, they can't cancel my joy. I've proven this every day this week as I asked God to step into my vacillating emotions and bring joy. (Okay, I'll be honest, I had one angry day. LOL)
I have a good friend, Heidi McLaughlin, who has just released a book called Fresh Joy. I recommend this book whether you are on a mountain top right now, in the deepest of valleys, or somewhere in between fighting back the doldrums. A fresh jolt of JOY is ours for the taking.
She writes…"Joy is an inside job and is not dependent on our surroundings… We cannot have joy through our own effort: it is through drinking from Him (Jesus), eating His words, resting in Him, drawing strength from Him, staying in His presence, and trusting Him to meet all needs."1
I also find it rich how God has so used her to write on joy when she has the word "laugh" in her name. (McLaughlin) And if you think this is just another self-help book, think again! It is a God-help book where with what Heidi has endured through the crucible of suffering most definitely qualifies her to write on JOY. Her God-story will inspire you. Super Christmas gift idea too.
Here are the JOY-filled Scriptures to read this week. May they inspire Christmas in your heart as they have in mine.
- Monday – Luke 1:5-13 Zacharias is told he, and his wife Elizabeth would have a son in their old age. They are over-joyed.
- Tuesday – Luke 1:14-17 Zacharias is told to name his son John. John would prepare the people for their coming Messiah.
- Wednesday – Luke 1:18-25 Zacharias doubts … as we all do. Elizabeth indeed gets pregnant and Zacharias is rendered mute until John is born.
- Thursday – Luke 1:39-45 Mary visits Elizabeth and baby John still in the womb leaps for joy, sensing the presence of Jesus in the womb of Mary. (Now if this is not a testimony to life inside the womb, I don't know what is.) Elizabeth blesses Mary.
- Friday – Luke 1:46-56 Mary magnifies the Lord. Pure joy!
- Saturday – Luke 1:57-66 Elizabeth gives birth to John.
- Sunday – Luke 1:67-80 Zacharias prophesies of John's ministry to prepare the way for Jesus.
Put on this beautiful rendition of "Joy to the World" by Phil Wickham and let's light this third candle of JOY together and rejoice like the shepherds of old. And don't forget to peek out on December 21st, about 45 minutes after sunset if you live in Canada, (you have more time the further south you live before the star slips below the horizon).
Star of wonder,
Star of night,
Star with royal beauty bright
…one similar to the Christmas Star and rejoice with me. Jesus is Coming.
All Scripture is taken from the NKJV
Scripture references for the daily readings supplied by biblestudytools.com and the descriptions by me.
1 Heidi McLaughlin, Fresh Joy (Burlington, ON, Canada: Castle Quay Books,2020), Pg 154.