Tag Archives: Joy

Advent Day 18: Christmas Shopping with God

Joy 8

Philippians 4: 3-9

“ Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”

When we live in a country where we are more likely to experience first-world problems we can easily become anxious about superficial and materialistic things; at no other time of year is this more evident than during the Christmas holidays. In other parts of the world parents worry about clean drinking water for their families, the safety of their war torn community, being able to afford basic school fees so their children can obtain a basic elementary education, they worry about their children acquiring diseases that are almost non-existent here in North America. While our first-world problems are a far cry from the issues facing people in developing nations, God still hears our prayers and petitions, even though they are not life threatening problems. He hears our prayers because He cares about what is on our hearts.

Christmas can be stressful and anxiety producing. This is an important time to turn to God in remembrance of what the true meaning of the Advent season is about. If you can’t afford to purchase certain gifts due to a financial budget, give that concern to God. When we turn to God with our materialistic concerns He has an amazing ability to send His Holy Spirit to remind us of what Advent and the celebration of Christmas is about. The season is not about gift giving, that is called consumerism, not Christmas. Trust in the Lord, trust that He understands if you are unable to afford an extravagant Christmas or even the basics for the holidays. As you walk through the malls searching for gifts to buy for family and friends, pray! Yes, pray! Pray that you will be responsible with the finances you have. Pray that those who you are purchasing gifts for will have a softened and understanding heart towards your financial constraints. Pray that you will be a grateful giver.

There was no Christmas in Jesus’ lifetime, it didn’t exist and this is why the holiday season is not ultimately about gift giving. Christmas day is about rejoicing in the fact that we have an amazing God who sent His son to be our salvation, this is what we rejoice about. Holiday gifts are nothing more than a sweet bonus and a time to be in the company of those we care about.

The Christmas Gift Challenge:

For every gift that you are going to wrap (or place in a gift bag), stop and give thanks to God for one gift that He has given to us here on earth. Here’s some ideas of gifts given to us by God:

  • Jesus
  • His word (The Bible)
  • Grace
  • Mercy
  • Spiritual Gifts
  • Forgiveness

Challenge #2

Every time you go to the mall for gift shopping, stop and give thanks to God for blessing you with the resources to be able to purchase gifts for others. I guarantee this will change your shopping experience. When you are in the mall being tempted by all the bling and enticing marketing, it is easy to forget what the season is about, but by bringing God into your shopping experience, this is a simple way to open your heart, mind and wallet to God while trying to avoid being drawn into the deep end of holiday consumerism. May God Bless you as you bless others during the holidays.


Advent Day 17: J is for Joy ?

Joy 3

Day 17

Hebrews 12: 1-3

12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

What was the joy that Jesus had? Joy should not be confused with happiness. In fact, it is an insult to Jesus Christ to use the word happiness in connection with Him. The joy of Jesus was His absolute self-surrender and self-sacrifice to His Father— the joy of doing that which the Father sent Him to do— “. . . who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross . . .” (Hebrews 12:2). “I delight to do Your will, O my God . . .” (Psalm 40:8). Jesus prayed that our joy might continue fulfilling itself until it becomes the same joy as His. Have I allowed Jesus Christ to introduce His joy to me?” Oswald Chamber, My Utmost For His Highest, My Joy…Your Joy, August 13. http://utmost.org/my-joy-your-joy/


Jesus’ joy came from doing the will of our Father and he wants us to experience that same joy. Think back to at least 3 times in your life when you handled a challenge, trial, or major frustration in a manner that was not joyful. You may not have been joyful at the time, but it is never too late to respond with joy for what God has taught you and brought you through. Take some time right now to find a verse about having joy in Christ or God, read the verse aloud as a prayer of thankfulness to God for the joy that He has given you. May the joy of the LORD remain with you always!


Advent Day 16: Joy in knowing Christ

Joy 1

Contagious Joy 

Joy: “A source or cause of delight”, Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Who or what is the source/cause of delight in your life?

Psalm: 97:11-12

“Light Shines on the righteous and joy on the upright in heart. Rejoice in the Lord, you who are righteous, and praise his holy name.”

“When you’re in love with someone, you are excited about the relationship and time spent together. Likewise, when you’re in love with Jesus, you can’t keep to yourself the joy that comes from knowing Him—it just spills over, bearing witness and strengthening other believers. In fact, as you give testimony of who God is and how He’s working in your life, it makes no difference whether you speak quietly or with great exuberance: in their spirit, Christians will pick up on the deep, genuine gladness in your heart that goes beyond natural happiness. And people who don’t yet know the Lord will find themselves hungering for the relationship you have. In that way, they will be drawn to His Spirit in you.” From Charles Stanley, In Touch Magazine, December 13, 2011, Contagious Joy.


Question: Has your faith in Christ resulted in an outpouring of joy? Do you experience joy when engaged in spiritual disciplines (e.g. daily devotionals, prayer, fasting, serving others, musical worship) ?


Advent Week 3: Joy; John the Baptist

Joy 2

John the Baptist, Good News is Difficult to Hear

Luke 3:1 -23 (The appearance of John the Baptist and his message)

We ended our story of John with his father Zechariah prophesying over him and then we are told he spent the rest of his days growing up in the wilderness. By Luke 3 we are reintroduced to John as he prepares the way for Jesus’ public ministry. What is the message that John had for everyone:

Vs 3-6

“He went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah, ‘The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’

Vs 10-17

“And the crowds asked him, ‘What then should we do?’ In reply he said to them, ‘Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever ahs food must do likewise.’ Even tax collectors came to be baptized, and they asked him, ‘And we, what should we do?’ He said to them, ‘Do not exhort money from anyone by threats or false accusation, and be satisfied with your wages.’ As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John whether he might be the Messiah, John answered all of them by saying, “I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”


John’s message isn’t exactly what we think of when we talk about Christmas and the Christmas message. Our culture has romanticised the meaning of the Christmas story. It has been watered down and commercialized in such a way that makes the birth of Christ seem like a fairy tale. John’s harsh re-entry into the story of Jesus is not one that at the onset releases warm holiday feelings. In this chapter of Luke the prophecy that was fulfilled at John and Jesus’ birth springs into action and it doesn’t look pretty right now. Despite John’s blunt and direct preaching style, people still repented of their sins and changed their ways. They marked their repentance with baptism, the symbolic act of cleansing.

So what have we learned about the actions of those who received the good news of forgiveness of sins and salvation? Well let’s take a look at what they did, they:

John Said: If you have, share with those who don’t have

Action: Give someone your extra tunic

John Said: Stop cheating people financially

Action: The tax collector’s collected no more than correct amount

John Said: No more extortion, threats or false accusations. Be happy with what you earn

Action: The Soldier’s stopped extorting, threatening and telling lies against people

These were examples of the Good News in action. It required sharing of goods, financial integrity and not abusing one’s power over others. The Good News that John and Jesus came to proclaim required hard work. It required confession of sin to each other, repentance to God of one’s sins and making an active change. The Good News was Jesus coming to earth and showing people how they can participate in changing the world by making themselves right with God. The Good News was not new news. In the Hebrew scriptures (Old Testament) God asks of His people to do the exact same things, but somewhere along the line people stopped following the light and became attracted to the darkness and weren’t making any efforts to make their way back onto the right path. This is where Joy comes in.

God sent Jesus to be among humanity on earth as a human, yet he still remained a divine being, and showed us the way back to the light. These individuals had reason to rejoice. The oppressed could rejoice because now there was proof that God was a champion for justice and righteousness. The Messiah was now here to tell them how much God loved them despite their circumstances. The oppressors and the wrong do-ers could now rejoice because someone was here to tell them and show them how to change their ways and make things right with God once again.


-Will you rejoice with the oppressors and wrong do-ers by repenting and making things right with God and those around you or will you be like Herod Antipas and shut John up silencing the Good News?

-Will you be like those in the crowds and ask God, “What then should I do?”



(Credit: Baptism image is from Holy Trinity Anglican Church)