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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Choose JOY in Jesus!

           Have you had your Joy Juice today?  It’s the last day of 2014.   Where did the time go?  Are you regretting that you didn’t drink enough JOY JUICE this past year?

Regrets…we all have them.
·        There are things that we have done that we wish we had not.
·        We’ve said things in anger or simply without thinking and may have hurt someone we love.    
·        We may have made some bad decisions that have affected relationships, job performance or our financial security.
·        We may not have accomplished our goals that we set for ourselves in 2014.

       We have a choice to make. Will we put on our “sad face” :( and pout & whine about what could have been or should have been? That’s a sure way to let the enemy steal our JOY! OR we will choose to focus on  the scripture found in  2 Corinthians 5:17?  If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone; the new has come!”

Let’s choose JOY in Christ.  He will forgive our past sins, mistakes and shortcomings. (That’s the “old” stuff.)  He wants to fill you with new joy…His joy so that you can move away from the past and run joyfully forward into the New Year…2015.
Let’s say goodbye to any regrets we have regarding 2014 and put our trust in the One who will make us into His new creation.  Get ready for a joyfully blessed new year!  

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Trust + Obedience = JOY

            Have you had your JOY JUICE today?  Yesterday we drank our JOY JUICE as we listened to Mary’s “Song of Joy”.  Today let’s take a closer look at Joseph.

            Joseph was a man of integrity and strong beliefs.  When Mary told Joseph that she was with child, he was confused and didn’t know what to do.  God knew that Joseph needed reassurance, so He sent a messenger to confirm Mary’s story and give him guidance about how to handle the situation.  Joseph was sensitive to God’s instruction and was willing to be obedient regardless of the consequences.

            God honors integrity.  We all need to aim toward a life of integrity and obedience to God.  Instead of following our feelings and trying to understand all the details of a situation before going forward with God’s plan for our lives, we need to accept the truth that God has a master plan.  In Jeremiah 29:11 God says to us: "For I know the plans I have for you…plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

            Do you trust God to be in control of your life? A new year is about to begin. Odds are, each of us will find ourselves in a difficult situation at some point during the year.  When we do let’s follow Joseph’s example: Trust + Obedience= JOY!

Let’s pray for each other to be sensitive to God’s plan in our lives…and get ready for a sweet serving of joy.


Monday, December 29, 2014

A Song of Joy

             Have you had your JOY JUICE today?  Since Christmas is over, let’s slow down and ponder the JOYS of the season past.

            The part of the Christmas story that talks about Mary “treasuring and pondering these things in her heart” is so special.  Until Gabriel’s unexpected visit, Mary’s life was probably quite ordinary.  Can you imagine her surprise, when she was told by this angel that she would be the mother of the very Son of God?!

            What was Mary’s response to this unexpected news?   Though she found Gabriel’s news puzzling, she never doubted the message.   When the angel explained that this would be the Messiah, she immediately responded: “I am the Lord’s servant.  May it be to me as you have said.”  (Luke 1:38)

            Mary’s complete “Song of JOY” can be found in Luke 1.   This expression of her heart shows us how intimate her relationship was with God.  .

            God’s best servants are usually ordinary people who love Him and make themselves available to Him. Are you like Mary….so in love with Him that you are willing to say: “I am the Lord’s servant.  May it be as you have said.”  Our true character is revealed by how we respond to the unexpected.  Let’s strive to be more like Mary and respond with a heart of genuine love and availability.  If so, then we will be singing our own Song of Joy!!!!

Won't you to join me as we close out the old year and look forward to many more songs of joy in the new year? Let's start singing! :)

Friday, December 26, 2014

The Sheperds were Overjoyed!

            Have you had your Joy Juice today?  Hope you had plenty to last through Christmas!

            How quickly Christmas Day came and went!  The rush of the holidays is coming to a close.  But will we forget why we’ve been celebrating?  Let’s take the JOY of Christmas and share it with others.

            That’s what the shepherds did in Luke 2:15-20:
“When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.’  So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph and the baby, who was lying in the manger.  When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about his child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.”

            These shepherds were overjoyed at the revelation of the truth and they went about excitedly spreading the word!

            How about you and me?  Do our lives reflect that kind of excitement?  Though Christmas day is over, let’s strive to joyfully and excitedly take the good news with us wherever we go, every day of the year.  What better way is there to share the JOY of the Lord?

Don’t leave the joy of Jesus just for Christmas time.  Take it with you everywhere, every day!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Happy, Joyous Birthday, Dear Jesus!

            Have you had your Joy Juice today?  Merry Christmas! It’s Christmas Day--the perfect time for celebrating with joy!

            Our hearts should be overflowing!  “JOY TO THE WORLD, THE LORD HAS COME, LET EARTH RECEIVE HER KING!”

            This is the day we have set aside to honor the birth of Jesus.  Let’s not lose that truth amidst all the packages, people, food and fun!  Sure, it’s a wonderful blessing to be able to share this day with our loved ones. But may we never forget to give God  thanks for His “indescribable gift” of Jesus.

            Let’s celebrate His birth throughout this Christmas day.  It’s very appropriate that we sing  “Happy Birthday, dear Jesus”.  Singing is a wonderful way to praise and worship our Savior…for all of us, young and old.

            Listen to how the angels sang in Luke 2: 13-14:  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, good will toward men!’ "

            Have a wonderful, blessed Christmas Day. Hope you’ve invited Jesus to be your guest of honor.  May your day be filled with  JOY beyond description!

Happy Birthday, dear Jesus! And Merry Christmas, dear friends!  

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Good News of Great JOY....on this Christmas Eve!

            Have you had your JOY JUICE today?  Perk a big pot full, because it’s Christmas Eve! 

            As a child, I remember bubbling over with excitement every Christmas Eve!  My siblings and I could hardly go to sleep because of the joyful anticipation of what Christmas morning would bring.

            In our Christmas story in Luke 2, we read about the excitement of an unlikely group, the shepherds.  They usually didn’t have a lot to be excited about…but on that special night, they were in store for much joy and excitement!

“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 Saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.” 

            Talk about a birth announcement!!  At first the shepherds were afraid, but their fear was transformed into great JOY when they heard the good news.  Their Savior had been born…our Savior!

            On this Christmas Eve, let’s ask God to fill our hearts with the wonder of this blessed event, the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ.  Ask Him for child-like excitement and anticipation---not about the gifts we’ll receive tonight or tomorrow, but about THE GIFT we have already received!  Accept Him with great JOY!
Get excited! It’s time to celebrate the birth of the King! JOY TO THE WORLD!  

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Open Your Heart to Christ and Find True Joy

           Have you had your JOY JUICE today?  Why don’t you curl up with a warm cupful as we read more of the Christmas story today?

            Yesterday we read from Luke and were reminded of why Joseph and Mary were in the little town of Bethlehem.  Let’s read verses 6 & 7 today: 

“While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born 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.”

            Like a good mother, Mary was prepared in case the baby was born while they were on their trip to pay their taxes.  She had packed “swaddling cloths” to keep the baby warm and snuggly wrapped….just as hospitals do today!
            She wrapped him in those cloths and placed him in a manger.  Stables were often caves with feeding troughs called mangers, carved into rock walls.  But no matter what kind of stable it was---the fact is, the surroundings were dark and dirty.  Not exactly the kind of place the Jews expected as the birthplace of the Messiah King.

            How often do we limit God by our own expectations?  Keep in mind that He is at work even when we don’t see Him---even in the dirty, dark stables of our lives.

            Christmas is a wonderful time to give ourselves totally to God—every area, especially the dark and dirty stables of our heart.  When we do, we will experience a JOYful peace and will understand why we can sing: JOY TO THE WORLD, The LORD has come!!!!!!

Have a Merry Christmas by opening your heart to Christ.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Joy...Even in Discomfort

           Have you had your Joy Juice today?  It’s the week of Christmas so our Joy Juice should be extra sweet!

            Let’s focus on the real Christmas story and read from the Bible in Luke 2:

      “So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David.  He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.  While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son.” 

            The birth of Jesus birth happened exactly as God planned….fulfilling the prophecies of the old-testament prophets.  The decree by Caesar Augustus went out in God’s perfect timing to bring His Son into the world.  The government forced Joseph to make that long….70 mile trip…to pay his taxes.  Mary, who had to go with him, was expecting her baby any time. Can you imagine how uncomfortable she was riding on the back of that donkey for such a long trip? And when they arrived, they could find no place to stay…except a stable.

           Joseph and Mary were in the perfect will of God, yet they were in uncomfortable circumstances.  When we do God’s will, we’re not guaranteed a life of comfort and ease.  But we are promised that everything---even our discomfort---has meaning in God’s plan.   That is a true Christmas gift of love, hope and JOY!
May this Christmas be filled with reminders of God’s love….even in our uncomfortable circumstances! Have a joy-filled Christmas!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Give the Gift of Joy

            Have you had your JOY JUICE today?  It’s sure to bring you lots of Christmas cheer!

We’ve talked this week about some of the traditions of Christmas.  We’ve hung the wreath in honor of God’s unending love; we’ve put up our Christmas tree and decorated our surroundings with beautiful poinsettias. We’ve even used candy canes as a reminder of Jesus, our Shepherd. I think we may be ready to place those gifts under the tree.

Why do we give gifts at Christmas time?  Do we do it out of obligation?  Are we just trying to “keep score” because someone has given us a gift? If we give with this attitude, then gift-giving will be a chore rather than a JOY.  Let’s take a lesson from the Magi who came to see the baby Jesus.

Listen as I read Matthew 2:10 & 11. “When they saw the star, they were overjoyed! On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshipped him.  Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh.”  Their act of giving was an expression love and honor.

            This Christmas as we give our Christmas gifts to one another, may we first stop to worship our Savior, as the Magi did.  If we will put Him first, then our giving to others will be a reflection of the JOY of JESUS!

Give the gifts of gratitude, love and joy by giving honor to Jesus, the One who deserves our heartfelt gifts.  Merry Christmas!


Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Good Shepherd Brings Joy

           Have you had your JOY JUICE today?  It’s the perfect drink to quench your thirst as you go about getting ready for Christmas!  How ‘bout a candy cane to snack on with your juice this morning.

             Many of us have heard the story of the origin of the candy cane.  But in case you haven’t, the story is told that many years ago, a candy maker wanted to make a Christmas candy that would serve as a witness to his Christian faith.  He began with a stick of pure white hard candy--- white to symbolize the Virgin Birth and the sinless nature of Jesus; and hard----to symbolize the solid rock, the foundation of the Church.
           The candy maker made the candy in the form of a "J" to represent the name of Jesus, who came to earth as our Savior. He thought it could also represent the staff of the Good Shepherd. Throughout the Bible Jesus is referred to as our shepherd. In John 10:11 Jesus Himself said: “I am the good shepherd.  The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” The red stripes on the candy cane were to represent the blood shed by Christ on the cross so that we could have the promise of eternal life. 

            As you browse the stores and see boxes of candy canes lining the shelves; as you see them used in decorations or given as treats….think about the story of the candy cane and celebrate the birth of Jesus with a sweet JOY that can come only from knowing Him.

 Candy canes are a Christmas treat;
 Very pretty and good to eat.
 But the real joy of Christmas is found in Christ. 
 He came, He lived and for us He died.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Christmas Flower of Joy

          Have you had your JOY JUICE today?  As you decorate your home for Christmas, why don’t you consider serving Joy Juice to all those who help with this task?  It will make the time pass quickly and joyfully!

            Speaking of decorating, everywhere we look this month we see beautiful expressions of the season….one of which is the lovely poinsettia.  This flower was first called "The Flower of the Holy Night".  A Mexican legend tells of a little boy who had nothing to give the baby Jesus. As he prayed, it is told that a flower grew at his feet. He quickly picked it and gave it to Jesus.

Such a sweet story, though we know it to be only a legend. What we do know for fact is that the flower is named for a man named Poinsett--the American ambassador to Mexico--who is given credit for introducing it to the United States.

            A legend is a traditional story sometimes regarded as historical… but it is unauthenticated. We are not sure of the validity of some stories, but we can be certain of the truth found in the Biblical account of Jesus’ birth.  Scripture refers to Jesus as the Lily of the Valley.  A lily is a sweet and fragrant flower.   Ephesians 5:2 describes Jesus as the One Who gave "himself for us as an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savour.”   When we put Jesus first on our Christmas list and in our lives, then we will experience genuine joy!  Decorate your heart with the Lily of the valley.  And have a joyfully blessed Christmas.

Each time you see a poinsettia, be reminded of the beauty of the season.  Celebrate Jesus, the Lily of the Valley.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

O Christmas Tree---Shine with the JOY of JESUS!

          Have you had your JOY JUICE today?  You may find some under your Christmas tree this year!!  Naughty or nice, Jesus loves you and wants to be your personal friend.  That should bring us all joy!

            Many of us have our homes decorated for the Christmas holidays…or are at least headed in that direction.  Yesterday, we talked about hanging our wreath on the front door and were reminded of God’s eternal love.  Today let’s get our tree ready for the holidays!

            How did the Christmas tree come to be a tradition?  One story that I researched said that Martin Luther is responsible for the origin of the Christmas tree. The story goes that one Christmas Eve, about the year 1500, he was walking through the snow-covered woods and was struck by the beauty of the snow-glistened trees. Their branches, dusted with snow, shimmered in the moonlight. When he got home, he set up a small fir tree and shared the story with his children. He decorated the Christmas tree with small candles, which he lighted in honor of Christ's birth.  

            Some people may not believe in putting up a tree for Christmas.  And that’s perfectly okay!  But we can ALL believe that many years ago, God sent his son to earth in the form of a baby boy.  This happened as the prophet Isaiah foretold in chapter 7, verse 14, “The Lord Himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin will bear a son, and they will call Him Emmanuel, which means God with us.”

Because of Jesus, we can celebrate Christmas with JOY in our hearts! 

Whether you enjoy a Christmas tree in your home or choose to use other reminders of God’s love, don’t forget to celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ.  He is the reason for genuine Christmas joy. 

Monday, December 15, 2014

A Wreath of Joy

         Have you had your JOY JUICE today?  Most of us are busy getting ready for Christmas.  As you decorate your home or work space for the season, do it joyfully!

            Many people began decorating their homes as soon as Thanksgiving was over or even before!    Let’s consider some the traditional decorations we use to make our homes look like “Christmas”. Why do we use certain items to bring that holiday cheer into our homes?  What do they represent?

            Drive through any neighborhood this time of year and you will see many front doors adorned with beautiful Christmas wreaths.  Personally, I love wreaths and  have several throughout my home…inside and outside. The circle of the wreath reminds us of God’s eternal love for us.  It has no beginning or end! Psalm 136:26 says: “Give thanks to the God of heaven. His love endures forever.”  The greenery used in most wreaths is to represent the truth that Christ lives and He came to earth to give us the opportunity for eternal life.  The familiar passage in John 3:16 tells us “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whosoever….(that’s you and me) believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life!”

            My hope is that each time we look at a Christmas wreath this year, we will see it with fresh eyes and understanding.  May we see the joy of the Lord shining through the circle of His unending, everlasting love.

Hang your Christmas wreath with a heart of joy as you celebrate the reason for the season….JESUS!  

Friday, December 12, 2014

Joyfully Give Jesus a Gift

            Have you had your JOY JUICE today?  Do you have your Christmas shopping done?  (Or have you even started?)   You can always give the gift of JOY!  It doesn’t cost a penny, but, oh, how it lasts!

             It is human nature to like getting new things. Christmas time is  no exception. Most of us enjoy seeing our name on a package under the Christmas tree. But let’s not get so caught up in the gifts that we miss the most important thing: Celebrating the birth of our Savior.        Jesus should always be the focus of our Christmas.  As we share the true meaning of Christmas, may we realize that it’s not the material gifts which are important.

        Here’s an idea!  Why not give Jesus a gift?  The gift of your TIME?  Read His Word and seek His guidance through the scriptures.  We should spend time in prayer, praising God & thanking Him for the indescribable gift of Jesus!!  (2 Corinthians 9:15)

            When our hearts are in tune with His, then we will be able to see more clearly what is truly important.  Parents, spending time with your children is a precious gift.  They would much rather have YOU and your attention than any gift that can be bought!

            This Christmas, set aside time to spend with Jesus and your “someones special”. You don’t have to spend a lot of money. Just give them your time!  This may be your family’s favorite Christmas gift of all…. A gift wrapped in JOY!

When planning your gift for the special ones in your life, choose to give them love and joy by simply giving them the precious, valuable gift called “time”.    


Thursday, December 11, 2014

Christmas Gift Ideas: Honor, Love, Respect...and Joy!

           Have you had your JOY JUICE today?  Still trying to decide what to give some of your friends or family members for Christmas?  You can always give a generous portion of joy in the Lord.

            Most of us have to be cautious about what we spend on Christmas gifts.  We don’t want to spend so much that it takes us months to pay our bills!  If only we would realize that there are many valuable gifts that don’t cost any money and are much more lasting than what we can purchase at the store.  

            1 Thess. 5:12- 13 gives some good gift ideas!  Now, we ask you, brothers, to respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you.  Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work.”

            The gifts of RESPECT, HONOR and LOVE  are encouraged in these verses.  How do we show respect; how do we “hold others in highest regard?”  By going the extra mile and telling your boss, your pastor, your supervisor or anyone that is in a leadership position that you appreciate their hard work. Express to them how you have been helped by their leadership; thank them for their ministry and influence in your life.  If we say nothing, how will they ever know?  Remember, even those is high offices need our love and support and encouragement. What a great way to let the JOY of Jesus shine through you during this blessed Christmas season!

The gifts of honor, love and respect are truly valuable gifts.  And they are ones that will be joyfully remembered and much appreciated.  

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Run the Race...Joyfully...By Encouraging Others

               Have you had your JOY JUICE today?  Have you been running and racing trying to get everything done before the big day arrives.  Don’t forget how important Joy Juice is to your spiritual stamina during this busy Christmas season!

             Life is a race!  And sometimes we get tired (Maybe even exhausted!) especially during this special time of year.  Long distance runners tell us that as they near the end of a long race, their legs ache, their throat burns and their whole body cries out to quit.  But then they hear the people at the finish line cheering them on!  And that bit of encouragement helps the runner to push through the pain all the way to the end!

The same is true in the race of life.  1 Thess. 5:11 tells us to “build each other up.”  We can do that with kind words of encouragement.  For example:
·        Point out to someone a quality that you appreciate in him or her.
·         Tell a co-worker what a good job they did on a project.
·         Express your appreciation for someone’s talent or ability. 
·        And PLEASE don’t forget that our family members need to hear words of edification, as well! 

As a matter of fact, I believe that most of us would prefer a steady gifting of encouragement any day to a material gift that’s going to tear up or soon be out of style.

So put ENCOURAGEMENT on your gift-giving list this Christmas.  It will bring joy to the person as they open it and JOY to you as a smile lights up their face.

Let me encourage you to be an encouragement to others as you share the joy of the real Christmas with others.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

A Joyful Gift Idea: Encouragement!

            Have you had your JOY JUICE today?  It’s more blessed to give than receive.  So give generously during this Christmas season..

            Especially during this time of year, we should be sensitive to the doors of opportunity God opens for us to be a blessing to people along our way.  Let’s be intentional about sharing the love and joy of the Lord with others by encouraging them with our words, our actions and our gifts.

            Speaking of gifts, I have a great Christmas gift idea for everyone on your list. It’s economical; and it demonstrates the love and joy of Jesus!  One size fits all….and it works no matter what age or gender, regardless of interests or talents. Everybody enjoys this gift whether they admit it or not.   It’s the gift of ENCOURAGEMENT.

            Author Karen Porter says that encouragement is like a chocolate candy kiss.  Even though it’s small, it sure yields wonderful results! And we find ourselves looking forward eagerly to the next taste!  In the same way, just a word of encouragement hints at the love of God and leaves us wanting more! 1 Thess. 5 :11 tells us to encourage one another and build each other up.
            Let’s ask God to make us sensitive to others during this Christmas season.   You may never know what a difference this gift will make in the life of a person who is in of a simple of word of encouragement !

Give the beautifully wrapped gift of encouragement this season, tied with a sparkling ribbon of joy.


Monday, December 8, 2014

Give JOY to Others This Christmas

            Have you had your JOY JUICE today?  May I suggest that you give “joy” as  Christmas gifts this year?

            Often we get caught up in the “what I want for Christmas” mode. It’s not just children who make their wish list.  We begin to drop hints to our family and friends about what we really NEED. And often our “needs” and “wants” are confused!   Are we guilty of spending too much time thinking about what we are going to GET for Christmas?

            Let’s be reminded that we already have the BEST gift of all…..God’s son, Jesus. What a gift of love! God sacrificed His son, so that we might know the JOY of the Lord as our strength!  This week let’s think about how we can pass that love and JOY on to others during this Christmas season.

            One way that we can share Christ’s love is simply by following the instructions of  Paul in Philippians 2:3-4: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider OTHERS better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.”   Paul was encouraging us to take our eyes off of ourselves—our wants, our desires, our rights— and think of others instead. 
            This Christmas season, let’s stop thinking so much of our agenda and begin to look around to see how we can help someone else.  You’ll be surprised at how much JOY will be in your heart when you share the JOY of Jesus with others!

 “Consider others” by sharing the best Christmas gift of all…the gift of JOY in relationship with Jesus!  

Friday, December 5, 2014

Keep Christ in Christmas!

       Have you had your JOY JUICE today?  If you have begun your Christmas season focusing on the joy of Jesus’ birth, then you are headed toward a blessed Christmas season.

       When we are intentional about keeping Christ in Christmas, then we will see His joy throughout each day. When Jesus is our priority, it becomes much easier to see His hand in all things. Even when we are going through tough times…whether financial or physical, emotional or spiritual…..we can have JOY because our faith is in Him.

 For some people, the holidays are a sad time because they have lost loved ones.  Others have been through a divorce or are separated from beloved family members due to circumstances beyond their control.  Some people dread the holidays for a variety of reasons.

            However you feel about this time of year, always remember that God loves you!  He loves you so much that He sent His Son just for YOU!  And as we approach this Christmas season, we can depend on that love to continue to be there for us.  Psalm 55:22 tells us to “Cast your burdens upon the Lord and He will sustain you.”

           Never hesitate to give Him your concerns. Lay them at His feet so that you can experience strength in Him.  That’s the kind of JOY that He wants you to have as your special Christmas gift this year.  Won’t you accept His unmatchable gift of love?

           Focus on the birth of Christ.  Let Him have your burdens so that you can experience His joy during this Christmas season—as well as every other day of the year.   

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Make Room for Joy

            Have you had your JOY JUICE today?  Are you taking the time to soak in the warm joy of the Christmas season?

            Luke 2 tells us that while Joseph and Mary were in Bethlehem, “the time came for the baby to be born, 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.”

             Though I know all of this was God’s perfect plan, I’ve always felt a little sadness that there was “no room for them in the inn”.  Just think about how uncomfortable that stable must have been for Mary.  She had to give birth…not in a nice hospital room…not even in the comfort of her own home.  She gave birth to the King of Kings in a lowly, smelly stable.  His bed was a manger filled with hay….  “Because there was no room for them in the inn.”

            This Christmas let’s ask ourselves if we have made room in our hearts for Jesus.  We would have no reason to celebrate Christmas, if it were not for the birth of our Savior.   It is imperative that we focus on that gift…the indescribable gift that came in the form of a baby. I can guarantee if we will make Christ a priority, this Christmas will be filled with a special kind of JOY!

Make room in your heart and your home for the inexpressible joy of knowing Jesus as your personal Savior.  He IS the reason for JOY. As 2 Corinthians 9:15 says: Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!”

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Rejoice in the Birth of Jesus!

            Have you had your Joy Juice today?  During this Christmas season, please don’t forget to put “Joy” at the top of your Christmas list. 

            Joy truly is a gift.  God gave us His Son Jesus and no better gift will there ever be! Philippians 4:4 reminds us to “rejoice in the Lord always”.   No, we won’t always be in joyful situations; we will not always be happy. But if we’ll keep Jesus as our focus and depend on joy in our relationship with Him…then we will be “rejoicing in the Lord”.

          Christmas is rapidly approaching. There will be many fun activities….like parades & parties, shopping & baking.  But let’s not take our eyes off the real reason that we are celebrating. If we do, we will be in danger of missing the JOY of Christmas.

            So what can we do to assure that we are keeping the main thing the main thing?  Here are a few suggestions:

  • Let’s start the day with a prayer of gratitude, thanking God for the birth of His Son, Jesus.
  • Read the Christmas story from the Bible.  Why not let that be our daily devotionals during this entire month?  We can find the story of Jesus’ birth in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
  • When we decorate our homes, let a nativity set be the focal point so that we’ll have a visual reminder of the birth of Jesus.
  • And let’s choose to worship faithfully in the church of our choice.  To gather with fellow Christians during any time of year is special, but at Christmas it’s extra JOYful!
 Rejoice in the birth of Jesus and have a joyfully blessed Christmas season.  

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Open the Gift of Indescribable Joy

          Have you had your Joy Juice today?  Children drink gobs of Joy Juice during this season of the year…and we should follow their example.

            Don’t you love to watch children during the Christmas season?   The wonder in their sparkling eyes, the excitement in their voices, the squeals of delight when they see the lights and packages with their names on them!   I can remember as a little girl being thrilled over the Christmas season. Countless times a day, I would ponder over the pages in the catalogs that would come in the mail. My wish-list grew longer and longer….hoping that at least some of those items would be under my tree on Christmas morning.   

            Even though my parents were careful to keep things in perspective, I’m afraid my focus was in the wrong place.  I knew we were celebrating Jesus’ birthday, but I’m sure I really didn’t grasp the significance of His birth. As adults, we do we grasp the significance of the birth of Jesus? Or are we caught up in the “hurry and worry” of the holidays? We should be intentional about celebrating the right thing….and teach our children about the real reason for the season.

            This year, let’s put our focus on the BEST gift of all. “Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!”  2 Corinthians 9:15 says. God has already sent His love to us wrapped in the form of his Son, Jesus.  When we open that glorious gift, our focus will not be on material things. Instead, we will desire what’s in the best Book of all ….the Bible….God’s Word.   And that promises to bring a JOYful Christmas to all of us.

Open the gift of indescribable, glorious joy….and share Jesus with others throughout the holidays.