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Abundant joy

Editor's Note

About the author: Jane Burgess and her husband Claude have been members at ZPC since 2003. They have 2 children: Kristin and Thomas.  Jane serves as a ZPC Deacon, is on the Zionsville School Board, and volunteers in the community.

About this post: This blog post is part of a series of daily devotionals where we are exploring traditional Advent themes of hope, joy, peace, and love. To sign up to receive text notification of these posts, text zpc advent to 39970. Advent booklets are also available at the ZPC Welcome Center. We welcome your comments and questions each day.

TODAY'S SCRIPTURE: Isaiah 12:2-6

You may have seen Pixar’s movie, Inside Out. In the movie there is a character named Joy. My family has always teased me that Joy is my character. As opposed to the other characters, who are also emotions (Disgust, Anger, Fear, and Sadness), Joy is the engine that keeps everyone moving and happy with her energy and positive vibes. I have been asked what my source of joy is and what makes me happy. I point to the one who has blessed me beyond measure throughout my life: from an orphanage in Korea as an infant to blessing me with the most loving, incredible parents and family, to providing the blessings of my wonderful husband and two children, dear friends, our ZPC family we treasure and many opportunities throughout my life. I have always been so grateful and have felt so very blessed. Does this mean that I have not experienced challenges, trials, or failures? Absolutely not. God has taught me probably more through the challenging times when my faith has been tested, yet I know he has always been present and that when I put my trust in him, great things happen. This brings me abundant JOY.

So what is Joy? Joy can be considered true contentment based on faith.  Joy and happiness are nearly synonymous but not quite. Joy is one of the fruits of the Spirit as mentioned in Galatians 5:22. True joy is unshakable and is not dependent on current circumstances like happiness is. It is easy during this Advent season to get so busy with our to-do lists and our over scheduled calendars that we lose sight of the reason for the season and the true source of our joy. 

The prophet Isaiah calls us to sing, shout, and testify to the greatness of God, and to cast off our fears. In Isaiah 12:5-6, the prophet says, “Praise the Lord in song for he has done excellent things; Let this be known throughout the earth. Cry aloud and shout for joy, O inhabitants of Zion; For great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.” 

May we remember and celebrate the true joy of the season because “in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10-11). May unshakable joy be ever present and reflected in what we say and do. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer during this busy, yet JOY-filled, season. 

Activity:

Take time today to reflect on the blessings that God has provided in your life that bring you joy. Thank God for the blessings big and small in your life. 

Prayer:

Thank you God for the joy of this season made possible because of your son, Jesus Christ, who you sent for me and to be with me. Thank you for the abundant blessings that you have provided in my life. Help me today to share your love and joy with my family, friends, co-workers, and those you put in my life today. 

Amen

Posted by Jane Burgess with

Fear will turn to joy!

Editor's Note

About the author: Jim Cochrane and his wife, Kim, have been members of ZPC since 1990. Jim currently teaches adult Sunday School and leads a Home Group.

About this post: This blog post is part of a series of daily devotionals where we are exploring traditional Advent themes of hope, joy, peace, and love. To sign up to receive text notification of these posts, text zpc advent to 39970. Advent booklets are also available at the ZPC Welcome Center. We welcome your comments and questions each day.

TODAY'S SCRIPTURE: ISAIAH 35:3-7

Strengthen the feeble hands,
steady the knees that give way;
say to those with fearful hearts,
“Be strong, do not fear;
your God will come,
he will come with vengeance;
with divine retribution.
He will come to save you.” 

Then will the eyes of the blind be opened,
and the ears of the deaf unstopped.
Then will the lame leap like a deer,
and the mute tongue shout for joy.
Water will gush forth in the wilderness
and streams in the desert.
The burning sand will become a pool,
the thirsty ground bubbling springs.
In the haunts where jackals once lay,
grass and reeds and papyrus will grow.

At the time Isaiah was writing these words, Israel was in dire straits as the Assyrians, under Sennacherib, were threatening to invade their country.  They were hopelessly outnumbered and it only seemed a matter of time until they were destroyed. In this passage Isaiah is telling the religious teachers and guides that the people are despondent, timid, and fearful (“feeble hands, weak knees”) and need to know that God has promised to deliver them from their enemies. Good things are going to come about that are simply unimaginable. The fear that exists will turn to joy! 

It happened then – Sennacherib was defeated and went home. It happened about 700 years later (with Jesus' ministry on Earth) – do blind eyes seeing, deaf ears hearing, lame walking and mute tongues talking ring a bell? And it’s happening today – people are turning to Christ and experiencing the joy that he promised years ago.

We may not consider ourselves religious teachers or guides, like the people that Isaiah was writing to, but we are. As Christians we are being asked to encourage, teach, and set an example for others that will continue to lead people to Christ. We don’t have to be Bible scholars or persuasive evangelists. There are a million ways to bring the joy of Christ and it all starts with the anticipation and appreciation of the Good News that was foretold by Isaiah and brought to us by Jesus Christ. We are called to use those gifts which he has given us. Are you a good listener, do you bake cookies, cut down trees, pray, fix computers? The list goes on.

Activity: 

Do one thing today to bring the joy of Christ to one person.

Prayer:

Lord,

Thank you that our feeble hands and weak knees will be strengthened and steadied and that we have much joy to look forward to now and in the future. With the guidance of the Holy Spirit, please help us play a part of lives being changed through Jesus Christ.

Amen.

Posted by Jim Cochrane with

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