Christmas Joy

“But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid.  I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.'” Luke 2:10 NIV

We are two days away from another Christmas holiday.  Many have already begun celebrating a season that is supposed to represent peace, love, hope and joy.  It’s the season of giving and receiving.  For Christians, it’s also the season to celebrate Christ’s birth which represents miraculous events that can only be explained through a belief system that supersedes human logic.

Christmas can also be a season of stress, exhaustion, worry, depression and sadness.  In two days there will be children waking up to no presents, not even a Christmas tree and maybe even no food or heat in their homes.  Families will gather for dinner with at least one empty seat reminding them of a loved one whom they lost this year.  Kids will divide their time between households of split parents who may or may not get along.  Somebody is going to get drunk or misuse drugs to self medicate.  Fighting and abuse will increase.  Not every household in our neighborhoods and cities will be filled with love let alone experience Christmas joy.

Personally I have seen life threatening illnesses attack family members and community members.  There are people who will be fighting for their lives over the Christmas holiday.  I have also seen marriages and relationships recently come to end.  In two days there will be people experiencing Christmas without their spouse or significant other whom they lovingly shared this holiday with in the past.  If children are involved, they will be spending this holiday away from at least one of their parents adjusting to a new normal.  People have or will lose their jobs or perhaps have been jobless for months.  In  a season that is supposed to be happy and joyful, suffering seems to insurmountably increase.  So the question is, how do we find joy in such desperate and heartbreaking circumstances?

The answer? Joy in all circumstances is found when we turn our focus to Jesus.  Christ’s birth is the perfect example of bad timing and finding joy amidst dismal situations.  Mary was a virgin who’s fiance’ thought she gave herself to another man.  Joseph married a woman pregnant with God’s baby and couldn’t consummate the marriage until after Christ was born.  The mockery and judgement they must’ve endure would be enough for even the strongest in faith to question God.  But then in the end stage of Mary’s pregnancy they have to travel a distance for census purposes.  This was not flying coach or calling an Uber.  This would consist of riding a donkey or camel for days.  There was no telephone or internet to make reservations ahead of time so when they arrive in Bethlehem they find no lodging available.  One innkeeper offers them his barn to sleep in.

I’m going to interject right here-this is Mary, carrying God’s child.  God, the creator of all universe, all powerful and all knowing, knew Mary and Joseph’s story all along.  Nothing surprises Him.  God knew before He ever put Jesus in Mary’s womb exactly how Jesus would enter this world-in a barn among farm animals.  This was not a clean or sterile environment.  I can only imagine that this was not the ideal place Mary would have chosen to give birth to any of her children, but especially to God’s son.  If Mary’s faith was like mine, she would’ve had super high hopes for an elaborate birth and be sorely disappointed when she was laboring in a barn.  But when it was all said and done, Mary “treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” (Luke 2:19 NIV)  Jesus was born into a world filled with sickness, disease, addiction, abuse and heartache.  He was born into this world because it was filled with such sadness.  His purpose was to save us all from the demise of a fallen world.

Cancer, stroke, heart disease, pneumonia, divorce, discord, anxiety and debt do not care that Christmas is 2 days away.  Bank accounts don’t magically have excess for Christmas presents and special holiday dinners.  Loneliness doesn’t take a vacation on December 25th.  Christmas doesn’t gift the return of a loved one who passed away.  There is nothing in this list that exudes joyfulness or describes Christmas as the most wonderful time of the year.  Yet God calls us to joy.  Choosing joy means praising God amidst the storms that heap pain, sorrow and devastation.  Choosing joy means clinging to God’s promises and faithfulness even when He feels so far away and we question what His plan is.  Choosing joy means gratitude for another day to celebrate Christmas even though our worlds may be crumbling.  Choosing joy means knowing God’s timing is always perfect and victory will always be His even when it seems as though our enemy is winning.  If nothing more, choosing joy is simply an act of obedience because God tells us to choose joy in all circumstances (Philippians 4:4.)

Christmas carols celebrate joy.  Decorations are adorn with the word “joy.”  No matter what we are facing today there is always a choice to live in our feelings or to choose joy.  Joy in all circumstances will always bring peace that exceeds human wisdom.  When you know that kind of peace your faith will soar because you will finally believe God’s promises will be fulfilled no matter what chaos is happening right now.  Every circumstance reflects a season.  Christmas is a season of joy in spite of our circumstances.  Take time to sing the lyrics to this Christmas classic today and every day this week with a mindset of choosing joy.  When you hear these words, “JOY TO THE WORLD, THE LORD HAS COME…” Belt it out with a heart that chooses joy and watch how unshakable your faith becomes.

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Personal Prayer Request

“Jesus said, “I will come and heal him.””

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭8:7‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Please pray for my son. He suffered a concussion tonight. He experienced excruciating head pain while in the emergency room. He is home now and pain meds are finally bringing him some relief. We now begin the journey of a concussion recovery program. Jostling the brain is a scary thing and although this injury was no surprise to God (and I trust God with my children), it’s still a heartbreaking experience to watch your child suffer and feel helpless to make them better. Please for for full healing, comfort from pain and a hedge of protection over him physically, emotionally and spiritually. He is unable to participate in his sports event until he is cleared from his doctor and he’s struggling with disappointment from the inability to play right now. Thank you all in advanced for your prayers. God is good and how blessed we are to have direct contact with the Great Physician. 💙

Love Costs Everything

““For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.”

‭‭John‬ ‭3:16‬ ‭NLT‬‬

“I love you.” A short sentence with three simple words that hold tremendous power. Three words often said too soon, too easily or sometimes even dishonestly. Three words that can fool or heal a broken heart depending on the speaker’s true intentions. They say the tongue is like a swift sword. If that’s true then saying “I love you” is like removing Excalibur from its stone prison.

How do you know if those words are true or false? Look at the speaker’s actions. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 specifically tells us what Love is and is not. Love is PATIENT and KIND. Love REJOICES whenever truth wins. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is ALWAYS HOPEFUL and ENDURES through every circumstance. Love is NOT jealous, boastful, proud or rude. Love does NOT demand its own way neither is it irritable nor does it keep record of wrongs. Let me add this: Love does not call names, does not threaten you, does not cheat on you or lie to you and Love will never tell you it hates you. Love chooses you above it’s own needs every single time. It doesn’t make excuses, Love doesn’t blame you and it never purposefully hurts you. Love takes ownership when it makes a mistake. Love protects, provides for, comforts and empowers you. Love commits to you every day.

Love calls you on the phone just to hear your voice. Love surprises you with a special gift or an act of service just because it treasures you. Love is content just being in your presence no matter what is going on around you. Love will share its secrets and cast its burdens upon you and carry yours when you are weary. Love will pray with you and for you. Love will fight for you when you cannot fight for yourself. Love will fight your enemies with you when you’re strong enough to handle the trenches of warfare. Love will speak the truth to you even if it risks upsetting you because its desire is for you is to walk in the Truth.

Love will however, never condemn you. Love will never make you feel less than or set standards for you that are impossible to achieve. Love will always love you for exactly who you are and where you’re at in your life’s journey. Love will also never compare you to anyone else or make you pay for someone else’s mistakes. Love always sees the unique and precious gem that you are and treats you as such no matter what.

Love comes in many packages-parent/child relationships, marriages, friendships and even through extended family relationships. The greatest love comes from God Himself. His word repeatedly tells us how much He loves us. 1 John 4:9 tells us ““God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him.” God didn’t just send His son because we know that Jesus is really God Himself in human form. Thus, God actually endured condemnation, imprisonment, torture and murder for you and for me. God shows us in John 15:13 just how great of a sacrifice that is-“There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” No greater love than to lay down’s one life for another. Does that mean we should all throw ourselves in front of a moving vehicle to show our love for someone? Absolutely not! Does it mean we stop striving to serve ourselves and take on a servant heart toward others? Yes. It. Does. Galatians 5:13 sums it up perfectly. “For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love.”

God tells us to “…Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.” (John‬ ‭13:34‬b NLT) He also tell us “…let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.”

‭So the next time you say “I love you” make sure your deeds back up this sentence. Before giving your heart to someone who tells you they love you, make sure they have taken the time to show you love in how they treat you. Please note, “Making love” and “falling in love” are fantasy and romantic notions that only build up false expectations and bring demise. If you can “fall in love” then you can “fall out of love.” It’s this ideology that leads to many break-ups and divorces. It’s an ideology that is based on feeling not consciously choosing. Feelings come and go and can be swayed by circumstances. Choosing love means you choose that relationship, that friendship or to raise that child no matter what circumstances lie before you. Although love keeps no record of wrongs, to protect yourself and to protect your relationships examine the ways you and those you love are showing love to one another. Actions will always speak volumes over words. 💗

2018

Happy New Year! May God bless you in 2018 with an abundance that supersedes any human expectation you could ever imagine or dream of! New year-new posts to come…Until then, Happy January 1st, 2018!

Happy Birthday 🎂

“If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.”

‭‭Romans‬ ‭12:8‬ ‭NLT‬‬
Today, Sept 29th, is my birthday. I tend to make this day all about me thinking it’s the one day a year I get to be celebrated. Most days I feel under appreciated, overlooked and insignificant to say the least. But God has been showing me that I was not created to live my life for me-I was created to live for Him and to serve others.
Thus I can’t imagine a better way to spend today than to bless others and I want to encourage anyone who reads this to do the same. Today be encouraged to be a blessing to someone in your life or even a total stranger. Buy someone coffee, pay for a person’s groceries, help someone carry something that is too heavy, call a long lost friend and reconnect, pray with someone, strike up a conversation with your cashier, call the person delivering your lunch by name, thank a veteran, hold open the door for someone and especially SMILE at others you encounter today. Our world is full of strife but small and simple acts of kindness can be the reason someone smiles today.

Please share in the comments  how you blessed others or paid it forward with a random act of kindness!  God bless! 🙏🏻💕🎂