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How to Choose Joy in Difficulty

JOY

And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, “do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people….” -Luke 2:9


This story is so amazing to me. You do not expect to hear about the birth of the Messiah through a bunch of lowly shepherds!

And yet there it is—the lowly ones, working the midnight shift in the cold and rain (maybe even snow!) who were the first to hear about Jesus’ birth.

Joyful news in unexpected places.

And angel of the Lord had come to them! I don’t know about you, but I’d be filled with wonder and fear as well.

And who could have seen what was next? A concert of Angels singing “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”

Good tidings? Joy for whom? It says for ALL people…including them…the lowly and forgotten…the unseen.

No great leaders heard about it first. No one who was rich or any kings…just the shepherds.

Joy is a crucial part of our Christmas witness. No one ever looked at a miserable person and said, “boy, I want what she’s got!”

But to see joy that sustains in someone even as they carry heavy burdens, is so attractive. It’s the fragrance of Christ.

“Those who look to Him are radiant…” Psalm 34:5.

Now that’s a beauty secret!

Here’s what I realize this Advent: God turns things upside down in life and then comes…JOY right in them middle of it.

When we turn to God, God turns INTO us. No matter what is going on around us, the wellspring of Joy is always there, ready for you to tap into God’s presence.

How do you get into God’s presence? When I’m overwhelmed or feeling panic, I remember to do some simple things:

1. PAUSE and BREATHE. Sometimes you just have to get away from whatever is causing you to panic or have fear.


2. PRAY and reach toward God in devotion, study, journaling. You don’t always have to literally be on your knees to pray.


I often walk or even drive somewhere to be in nature. There is nothing like nature to connect you to the Creator.


Even in the cold of winter, I like to be outside for a while. Snow and cold often awaken the soul like nothing else will! I feel invigorated and alive after spending time outside.


3. PRAISE and sing! I have found that you cannot be down and praise God at the same time. When I sing praises, I am even morel lifted into the presence of the Creator God. You can praise him because Jesus Christ carries our burdens with us.


4. PRACTICE SERVICE. Our joy is increased when we serve others. When our focus is on others, we are less inclined to think only of ourselves.


Be the hands and feet of Jesus. Be intentional about doing for others who can do nothing for you.


Spread the joy of Christmas beyond Christmas day. And ask God where he wants you to spread it!

Reflection Questions

1. How are you consciously putting others first?

2. Are you staying where you are and just watching, or are you going out to see a new and wondrous things that God is bringing into your life?

3. When you feel fear, what do you do to find your joy again?

CHALLENGE

The shepherds went. They sought and found. God sent them a savior, a king of hope. God broke into their world and God is breaking into ours.

They could not possibly comprehend it all and neither can we. They could have easily let fear control their thoughts or behavior.

Joy is not a feeling. Joy is action. They just needed to go and see, flesh and blood, the savior has come! They shouted it from the rooftops…or should I say…the tops of rocks!

REJOICE! Let the heavenly angels sing in your life now...

Guard your mind, put off evil desires and set your mind on godly desires. Listen to a worship service, music and be vigilant against negative input.

Joy is in unexpected places. God chose them to tell the story and they did it with great joy glorifying God.

Now it’s our turn to take their place, shouting with joy to all that will hear:

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” Because Jesus Christ, savior of the world has been born and He lives now and is coming again! Amen.


Join me for worship, Sundays' at Center Church in Hartford 10:30 a.m. and Christmas Eve, at 4 pm in person and on FB live!

Until then, go in JOY! Jesus has come and will come again!








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