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.
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.
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.