What You Need to Make the Christmas Season JOY Filled!
The last two weeks I have been encouraging the lighting of the advent wreath, why?
The reason is easy, and intentional—I want to celebrate Christmas not just on the 25th but the whole month through. I invite you to join me on this Advent journey.
- December 1st we lit the "Prophet's Candle," symbolizing hope. It reminded the old testament patriarchs to keep the hope of a coming King… a Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in a manger. It reminded the New Testament believers to have hope beyond the death of their Savior who died for the sins of the world. They began the great commission and proclaimed the good news that Jesus rose from the dead. And for us today that hope still lives as we embrace the truth of His imminent return.
- December 8th we lit the "Bethlehem Candle," symbolizing faith. The prophets of old proclaimed and gave detail of the coming Jesus-in faith. Mary and Joseph obediently embraced the responsibility of being Jesus' parents-in faith. Today, we need faith to use the word Christ-mas, to share the nativity story with our children and grandchildren … not the Santa hoax, and to not get so caught up in tradition we bend to the voice of materialism and go into debt, or not have enough to give to those in need.
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 cloths, 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!"
Why do you think the angel of the Lord came to shepherds? Surely, there were more notable visitors to rally. But no—God chose the humble, the lowly, the least expected to be part of this amazing story. These shepherds visited the Babe in a manger and came back glorifying and praising God. People marveled at what the shepherds shared about their joy-filled experience. (Luke 2:15-20)
In this world 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 happing around you. James said in chapter 1:2-4 "My brethren, count it all joy whey 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."
To be honest, I thought these verses were crazy until I went through the biggest trial of my life. When I had to fully rely on God to heal the broken, I finally understood what joy in trial means. Now I fear nothing and have peace that God has got every detail of my life in His trusty hands. That is pure joy… readily available for you and for me.
Here are the JOY filled Scripture to read this week. May they inspire Christmas in your heart, as they have in mine.
- Monday – Luke 1:5-13 Zacharias is told that he and his wife Elizabeth, would become parents to a son in their old age.
- Tuesday – Luke 1:14-17 Zacharias is told to name his son John. John would prepare the people for the 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. (A beautiful passage which we can use to magnify Him too.)
- 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. Rejoice as the shepherds of old did.
A little contest. Since my love for the names of God is ever alive within me, I would like to suggest a little challenge to find all the different names of God in your readings from Monday to Sunday and let me know the total amount in the comments. (Note:the reading Luke 1:26-38 will be in next week's reading, so do not include those verses.) Happy counting.
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