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Monday, December 31, 2012

Put the Past Behind and Look Forward to a JOYful New Year!

 Have you had your Joy Juice today?  Make sure that you’ve got plenty to help you celebrate the coming of a new year!

            As we look back over this past year, there may be regrets about decisions that were made, circumstances that didn’t work out the way we had hoped…maybe even relationships that were damaged.  We may wonder why God allowed certain things to happen in 2012, because we truly do not understand.

            Maybe you’ve been praying for a specific request and God has not granted that “heart’s desire”.  Do you quit praying?  Do you give up on God?  Or like Elizabeth in the book of Luke, do you remain faithful?

             The people in Elizabeth’s day measured a woman’s value by her ability to bear children.  Elizabeth was a descendant in the priestly line of Aaron. She and her husband, Zachariah, a Temple priest, lived an upright and blameless life. The great disappointment in their lives was that although they had prayed fervently for a child, Elizabeth had reached an advanced age without having conceived.

            But Elizabeth remained faithful….and trusted God.  He had a plan in which He would give her a special son, John, at just the perfect time!   John was the forerunner of Jesus.  

            We can glean much truth from the example of Elizabeth:
·        God does not forget those who have been faithful to him.
·        God’s timetable and methods do no have to conform to what we expect.

        Let's intentionally commit to drinking our Joy Juice faithfully and trusting in God to accomplish His purpose for us in the New Year... in His perfect timing.

Friday, December 28, 2012

JOY in Rejection??? Are You Kidding Me?!

Have you had your JOY JUICE today?  Don’t save it for special occasions only! It’s what we need every day of the year.

             During Christmas we talk a lot about the birth of a baby named Jesus. But let’s not forget that baby soon grew into a man….and he went about teaching people “truth”.  Luke 4:14-15 tells us: “Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside.  He taught in their synagogues, and everyone praised him.”

            If we were to stop reading there, we might think that everyone loved Jesus….that everywhere he went, people thought he was wonderful and believed that He was who he said he was. BUT when we continue to read in that very same chapter of Luke, we find that when he went “home”…to Nazareth where he had been brought up as a young boy…he was rejected.

            Have you ever felt rejected?  Rejection is hard to accept.  It hurts.  It crushes our spirit.  We begin to doubt our self worth when we are rejected by others.  When you find yourself in this unfortunate set of circumstances where you experience rejection, think of Jesus and know that He truly understands.

Isaiah 53:3 tells us:   He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.”

Where’s the joy in rejection?  It's in knowing that Jesus understands our hurt and that HE will never leave us or forsake us! 

Thursday, December 27, 2012

May Your Candle of JOY Shine Brightly!

Have you had your JOY JUICE today?  As you begin to put away your Christmas decorations, don’t put away your JOY!

            One of my favorite Christmas decorations is our advent wreath with candles. We began a family tradition the year we lost my husband’s father.  With our children, we would honor their grandfather by lighting the candles each Christmas in his honor….all the while celebrating the REASON for the season…..Jesus Christ.   

            The first candle represents the candle of HOPE. Our hope comes from God. "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.(Romans 15:13)

            The next candle is the candle of preparation.  Preparation means to “get ready”.   (Luke 3:4) "Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him."

            The third candle is my favorite, because it’s the candle of JOY….it’s even a different color from the rest!  But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord”. Luke 2:10

            The fourth candle is the candle of LOVE…"For God so loved the world that he gave his Only Son….” John 3:16

            Lastly, we light a white candle to remind us that Jesus is the spotless Lamb of God, sent to wash away our sins.  His birth was for his death, his death was for our birth!

            May we never forget that we have reason to celebrate with JOY every day of the year!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas is Over, but the JOY is Forever!

Have you had your JOY JUICE today?  Even though Christmas day has passed, we can continue to bask in the JOY of Jesus!

            In most of our homes, the gifts have been unwrapped and the space under the tree is bare.  Some of our homes show signs of much activity and the “busyness” of Christmas….bulging garbage cans from used wrapping paper as the gifts were torn into and boxes which were no longer needed.  At my house there are crumbs on the kitchen floor from little ones who enjoyed their Christmas treats… and there are more than a few finger prints on window panes, glass doors, table tops and even the walls. 

            The cheerful noise has begun to die down and the pace of things is beginning to slow a little.  But the JOYful truth of why Jesus came to earth never diminishes! The love that we experience because of that baby born over 2000 years ago is truly an inexpressible gift!  The gift is wrapped up and tied with a beautiful ribbon of sacrificial love in John 3:16-17.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”

            Let’s not ever forget the price that was paid for each of us.  A price paid by Jesus so that eternal life can be freely ours!

            May the JOY of Christmas go with us every day of the year!


Christmas Day JOY JUICE

            Have you had your JOY JUICE today?  Start the day with a peaceful, JOYful serving.

            Happy birthday, dear Jesus!  Have you told Him that today?  Many of us are busy with family or getting ready to celebrate later in the day.  But let’s take just a few moments now to be reminded of why we should be filled with HOPE, PRAISE and JOY!   

  • We can have HOPE because God is faithful and keeps His promises to us. 
  • We should RADIATE with PRAISE and gratitude as we celebrate His birth and focus on why He came: to save us from our sins!
  • And as we recall the Christmas story in Luke, the angels sang a message of JOY! 

and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’ Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.’ (Luke 2:7-14)

            On this Christmas Day, may each of us radiate HOPE, PRAISE and JOY in Jesus!  MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Monday's JOY JUICE...Christmas Eve

Have you had your JOY JUICE today?  It’s perfect for Christmas Eve!

            It’s the day before Christmas and all through the town
            People are scurrying and hurrying to get home before sundown.
            Still presents to wrap and even a few more to buy!
            Not sure if we can get it all done, but we’re  gonna try!

            Does this sound like you?  Are you running a marathon today trying to get ready for tomorrow?  We want to make sure Christmas Day is special for those we love, that’s true.  But let’s stop and take a deep breath!  Let’s make sure we don’t miss the JOY that is ours as we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ!   Instead of running and racing through our day today, let’s prayerfully focus on why this time has been set aside, why all over the world many people are celebrating.  Maybe our “poem” should read like this:

            It’s the day before Christmas and our hearts are overflowing;
            We are filled with the JOY of Jesus so our smiles are glowing.
             Though we ARE busy getting ready for this special holiday,
            Never do we want to miss the truth that Jesus is the Only Way.

            God sent Him to earth as little baby boy…..
            To save us of our sins! THAT’S true Christmas JOY.
            Father, help us to pause amidst the busyness, work and play!
            And give praise to You as we celebrate Christmas Day!

            I will be praying that God will pour out MUCH CHRISTMAS JOY into your Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and throughout the new year to come!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Dressed for Christmas JOY!

Have you had your JOY JUICE today?  Christmas JOY JUICE is sweetened with a special kind of love from the Heavenly Father.

            This week we’ve gone through our spiritual wardrobe and made sure that we are dressed for Christmas! We have

  • Stepped into our Pants of Prayer—asking God to surround us with the awe of what Christmas is truly all about: the birth of our Savior!
  • We’ve slipped into our Joy Jacket and Coat of Compassion.  Now we are warm and ready to share the love of Christ with others.
  • Our hands are covered in beautiful, dutiful Giving Gloves—prepared to give a helping hand to anyone in need.
  • And our feet are snuggly shod with the Shoes of Peace—proclaiming the truth that Jesus is our only hope for peace and genuine joy.

Today, let’s make sure that our wardrobe is complete by wearing the Locket of Love around our neck.  The locket rests right over our heart…symbolizing the love God has for each of us. Have you given your heart to Him? 1 John 4:8 tells us “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”

This Christmas allow God to radiate His love and JOY through you….as your locket of love sparkles with a renewed love for Him.

May you share God’s love as you are “dressed and ready” for Christmas! Hopefully, we will receive such JOY from wearing our spiritual wardrobe, we will find ourselves putting it on every day of the year…not just at Christmas!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Christmas Shoes of PEACE and JOY

            Have you had your JOY JUICE today?  If you’ve not noticed, drinking in plenty of Christmas JOY JUICE fills you with PEACE!

            The Christmas story tells us that a host of angels appeared to the shepherds the night of Jesus’ birth and sang a JOYful song!  No matter what translation you read, the meaning is the same. Listen to a few different versions of Luke 2:14:

The New International Version (NIV) says:
"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."

 The Easy-To-Read Version (ERV)  “Praise God in heaven, and on earth let there be peace to the people who please him.”

English Standard Version: Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

And the King James Bible: Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”
                Regardless of how it’s stated, PEACE comes with the JOY of Christmas.  Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ and when you allow Him to be your Lord, then you’ll find yourself wearing the “shoes of Peace” and spreading peace and JOY everywhere your path leads.

               Do you see how peace and JOY are connected?  You can’t have one without the other…like a pair of shoes that fit you comfortably.  Looks like we’ve found the perfect shoes for our Christmas wardrobe!  

              Slip into those Christmas shoes…the ones mentioned in Ephesians 6:15…with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.” And with that peace comes: CHRISTMAS JOY! 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Wear Your "Giving Gloves" with JOY!

Have you had your JOY JUICE today?  Pick up a great big bottle and grasp it tightly!  BUT be sure that you’ve got your gloves on….your "Giving Gloves", that is!

            Do you have a generous spirit?  When we are wearing our “Giving Gloves”, God makes our heart extra sensitive to the needs of those around us.  What a blessing you can be to others during this Christmas season…and bring JOY to someone who may not otherwise experience it!  Are you willing to be a blessing?  Then just make yourself available to God.  Open your hands and your heart to Him.

            Not only can we give financially and materially…there are countless other ways to share the JOY of the season with others.  Pull on your “giving gloves” and get ready to JOYfully bless others by:

  1. Visiting at the hospital, nursing home or with a shut-in who may be lonely and in need of a little Christmas joy!
  2. Offer to give a busy mom a couple of hours of free baby-sitting while she runs errands or simply RESTS!
  3. Make a phone call to someone you haven’t talked with lately and give them a joyful Christmas greeting.  Tell them how much they mean to you!
  4. Pray for others; share a smile; give a hug to your family members and tell them you love them!

All of these ways of giving are easy and don’t require your wallet to be involved! But it does take a little time and effort…and a JOYful spirit!

            This is Joyce Ashley of JoyJoy Ministries. “Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift!” (2 Corinthians 9:15)   Give the gift of true Christmas JOY!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

JOYfully Put On Your Coat of Compassion

Have you had your JOY JUICE today? Be ready for Christmas by dressing in your warm jacket of JOY!

            Are you appropriately dressed…for Christmas??? Though a “joy jacket” is just right regardless of the time of year, may I suggest that you also have handy your “Coat of Compassion”? 

            There are always those around us in need of a helping hand, a shoulder to cry on, a word of encouragement or material resources.  At Christmas time….more than any other time of year it seems, our sensitive spirit goes into overdrive! Maybe it’s the Christmas spirit and the fact that we have decided to wear our “coat of compassion” more often during this season.

            Let’s keep in mind that there are some needs more obvious than others. Some people will have plenty of gifts under their tree on Christmas morning, but will have an empty heart.  They might be the ones who are in need of the BEST gift of all…JESUS!  Are you willing to share Christ with them? 

            Show compassion as Jesus did…no matter what a person’s socio-economic level, regardless of age, skin color or job description.  Whether casual or close friend, family member or stranger, ALL of us need the JOY of JESUS—at Christmas time, as well as the whole year long.  God sent His son to save “WHOSOEVER”….remember  John 3:16:

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

            May I urge you to keep your coat of compassion wrapped warmly around your shoulders and be willing to share the reason for the season with others!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Dress in Christmas JOY

          Have you had your JOY JUICE today?  As you dress for the day, be sure to have a personal serving of Christmas JOY.

            Are you dressed for the season?   Many people—especially children and those who work with young ones—love to dress for Christmas time! When I served as a teacher and school counselor in the primary and elementary schools, as soon as Thanksgiving was over, I donned my Christmas sweaters, vests, shirts and accessories. Each day, I’d joyful put on some article of clothing that had candy canes or holly berries, Christmas trees or angels, reindeer or jingle bells! Oh, what fun…for the children and the young at heart!

            Dressed in my Christmas attire, it appeared that I was ready for Christmas…at least on the outside! But I must confess that many times, I truly was not always ready on the inside—in my heart.

            Let’s talk about how to dress our hearts for Christmas.  First of all, let’s open our trouser drawer and step into our "Pants of Prayer"! Buckle them snuggly around your waist to prepare for a most blessed Christmas season.  As we ask God to pour out His love and joy onto us, into us and through us, the real meaning of the season should become much more apparent. As we draw close to Him through prayer, our hearts will desire to know Him more intimately and we will become more sensitive to His leading.

            As James 4:8 reminds us: Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.”
PRAYER is a huge part of “drawing near”! 

            Make sure you’ve got those "Prayer Pants" fastened and ready to expand with the pure JOY of Christmas!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Fulfillment of Prophecy = J O Y

Have you had your JOY JUICE today?  This Christmas recipe is proven to be the most effective source of genuine JOY ever experienced through the ages.

            Christmas Day is a little over a week away.  Have we gotten caught up in the hurry and worry? Or are we taking the time to reflect on the wonderful truth of the real Christmas story?  I’ve been enlightened this season by going back and reading in the Old Testament the prophecies surrounding the birth of Jesus. 

         In Micah 5:2, there is a prophecy that reveals that Bethlehem would be the birthplace of the Messiah.  As pointed out in the book 100 Prophecies  by George Konig and Ray Konig: "The prophecy is effective in a simple way: It eliminates all other cities and towns throughout the world as a place in which the Messiah could be born. It narrows the possibilities to one tiny village just south of Jerusalem."

       And throughout the span of the past 27 centuries, from the days of the prophet Micah up through the present time, Bethlehem is credited as being the birthplace for only one person who is widely known throughout the world. And that person is Jesus Christ.

      The New Testament books of Matthew and Luke name the town of Bethlehem as the birthplace of Jesus. Matthew 2:1-6 describes the birth of Jesus as the fulfillment of Micah's prophecy.  Doesn’t it fill your heart with JOY to see how God’s plan came to pass…and that plan included YOU and ME!?

Let's thank the Lord for the fulfillment of prophecy in the form of a baby named Jesus!  Ponder that! And have a JOYful Christmas!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

No Expiration Date on Christmas JOY

          Have you had your JOY JUICE today?  There is NO expiration date.  It’s always just as fresh as the first batch you ever tasted!

            Though we have heard the Christmas story many, many times, we should not let it be something that we take lightly.  We should continue to be in awe of God’s goodness and love.  It blesses my heart to read in the Old Testament the prophecies which are fulfilled in the New Testament…..especially the prophecies regarding the birth of Jesus.

               In Isaiah 7:14, the prophet Isaiah addressed the "house of David," meaning the family and descendants of King David; he spoke of a virgin being with child and giving birth. Isaiah said this would a sign from God and that the child would be referred to as "Immanuel," which means, "God with us."

                 The New Testament books of Matthew and Luke record details involving the birth of Jesus…born about 700 years after the time of Isaiah. They tell that he was born of the virgin Mary and is the Son of God. Because he is the Son of God, Jesus literally can be referred to as "God with us."  Just as the verses in Isaiah said!

            God has an intricate Master plan.  As we celebrate the birth of Jesus, let’s keep in mind God’s love for us from the beginning of time.

             Though the story is old, it is still just as fresh and true as when it came to pass.  Drink in the JOY of JESUS and get ready for a special season of Christmas JOY.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Mary's Song of JOY

            Have you had your JOY JUICE today? The sweet taste of the Christmas story brings a special kind of JOY.

            Nestled in the story of Jesus’ birth…in Luke…is a passage of scripture exuding with excitement, humility, and the joyful anticipation of Mary, the mother of our Lord. Chapter 1, verses 46 – 55 are known as “Mary’s Song”.  People often sing when they are happy, right?

            Mary had a special kind of joy that she expressed in those verses.  Listen to her words:

“My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant.  From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me—holy is his name.”

            What can we learn from Mary’s example?  Just in those four verses we see that she:

  • Glorified the Lord
  • Rejoiced in God her Savior
  • Expressed humility
  • Considered it a blessing to be his servant
  • Gave all glory and honor to the Might One
  • Proclaimed His Holy name

 If you & I would sing and live "Mary’s song", we would not only experience a glorious, joyful Christmas….our lives would be dramatically changed and we’d experience the Joy of Christmas every day of the year.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Sing a Song of Christmas JOY

Have you had your JOY JUICE today?  Especially during this season of the year we should allow the JOYful spirit to embrace us!

            Whether you are grocery shopping, walking through the mall or listening to the radio, this time of year the Christmas carols are ringing and lots of folks are singing.  Some of the songs are heralding the REAL reason for the season, while others are talking about Grandma getting run over by a reindeer and how some little boys and girls need their two front teeth!  But one thing most of the music has in common….it’s upbeat and has a cheerful message.

            Let’s focus today on WHY Christmas should be a joyful time!  It can be summed up in one five-letter word: J E S U S!   Long ago a precious baby was sent to earth by God the Father and since that time, people have found HOPE and PEACE and JOY in Him. This “indescribable gift” was given so that we might have eternal life.  Sure, we have troubles and trials, problems and challenges here on earth.  But we are promised that the best is yet to come…if we choose eternity with Christ.

            Romans 15:13 says it perfectly and tells us how to be embraced by Christmas JOY:
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

            This Christmas, let Jesus into your heart and life and be filled with the gifts of HOPE, PEACE and JOY!

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Purpose of Christmas JOY

Have you had your JOY JUICE today?  Christmas JOY is extra special! Please don’t miss any opportunity to drink it in and share it with others.

             I believe the best way we can find the JOY in every aspect of the Christmas season is to connect our hearts to Christ.  By accepting Him as our Lord and Savior, we open our hearts to Him, His goodness, His awesome love for us and we are reminded daily of His faithfulness.

            Just this morning I was reading in Isaiah 46:8-10 and found a huge serving of JOY.

“Remember this, keep it in mind,
   take it to heart, you rebels.
 Remember the former things, those of long ago;
    I am God, and there is no other;
    I am God, and there is none like me.
 I make known the end from the beginning,
    from ancient times, what is still to come.
I say, ‘My purpose will stand…”

As I pondered the words of this passage, I realized the importance of remembering the Christmas story of long ago.  Indeed, God showed Himself as a God of love and sacrifice!  From the beginning, His plan was to bring Jesus, His Son, to earth in the form of a human baby.  Jesus didn’t come to earth with the fanfare of a worldly king.  But, instead was born in a stable…the King of Kings!

            This Christmas let’s focus our thoughts on the purpose of Christmas JOY.  For He is God and there is no other like Him!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Tis the Season to be JOYful!

Have you had your JOY JUICE today?  Tis the season to be jolly…fa la la la la, la la la la!

            Is that song in YOUR heart today?  Some folks might rewrite this familiar Christmas tune, singing “Tis the season to be tired or stressed or even…sad.”  I’m pretty sure that we all LIKE to be jolly and joyful, but sometimes circumstances threaten to take the JOY out of Christmas.  Things like: 

  • Sickness
  • Loss
  • Grief
  • Financial challenges
  • Wayward children
  • Broken relationships

Many things intrude into our lives that are uninvited.  Our holidays are often filled with a variety of emotions.  Though your heart might be burdened as you face this Christmas season, may I reassure you that God knows exactly what you are going through…and HE CARES.  Imagine the agony of our Heavenly Father when He watched His Only Son die that cruel death on a cross.  He didn’t have to do that!  HE IS GOD and HE CAN CONTROL EVERYTHING!  But He did it out of  selfless love for you and me.

            Take your burdens to Him and allow Him to whisper words of comfort, strength, love and joy into your heart.  “He who has ears to hear, let Him hear.” Jesus said that over and over again in the New Testament.

        Open your heart and your spiritual ears and you might just hear Him singing, “Tis the season to be prayerful and joyful.”

            I'm praying for a blessed and joyful Christmas season for each of you. :)

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Sing a Song of Christmas JOY

            Have you had your JOY JUICE today?  This season’s batch will fill your heart with JOY and help you to sing praises to God throughout Christmas.

            There are many beautiful songs which proclaim Jesus’ birth.  We can thumb through any church hymnal and find song after song proclaiming the joy of His birth.
Just to name a few:

  1. Joy to the World the Lord Has Come
  2. Angels We Have Heard on High
  3. Away in a Manger
  4. Silent Night, Holy Night
  5. Angels from the Realms of Glory
  6. Go Tell It On the Mountain

Plus many, many more!  Each of these songs has the same basic theme: praising the Lord, thanking our Father in heaven for the wonder news of Christ’s birth.

Take time to ponder on God’s goodness and JOY!  Especially at Christmas time, we should have a song of joy in our heart. 

·         As we wake up in each morning, our first thoughts should be “thank you, Lord, for your Son Jesus”.
·        As we go through our busy day, we should praise Him for opportunities to share that Christmas joy with others.
·        When we crawl into bed at night, the last thing we should do is praise God for this season of the year to celebrate Jesus’ birth and His indescribable gift of salvation.

            Won't you join me in praising the Lord as drink in the JOY of this special Christmas season.