Tag Archives: joy

Above All Else Christmas Means LOVE!

     Winter Solstice came and went on December 21st. The day with the shortest period of sunlight in 2018 is now history. Slowly but surely, dark winter days will lengthen. It won’t be long until we’re watching for the first signs of Spring. Bulbs will begin poking their sweet little green heads up through still-snow-blanketed soil.

     Christmas 2018 is also now history. At our house, we’re already thinking about taking down the beautifully-decorated tree. It doesn’t look nearly as welcoming without brightly-wrapped gifts beneath. In a few days, Ron will disconnect the timer which has so faithfully turned on our cheery outdoor Christmas lights.

     Christmas Eve, our two youngest grandkids, 7-year-old Emmi and 3-year-old Reeve, lit the candle representing Jesus on the Advent Wreath. It joined the candles of HOPE, PEACE, JOY and LOVE.

     I now find myself asking, “Where the rubber of my faith meets the often mundane, cluttered and unkind road of life, how do I keep alive the Light of LOVE Christmas is all about?”

     The word “love” is used 202 times in the New Testament (KJV). John, the youngest of Jesus’ twelve original disciples, penned those words a whopping 71 times.

     John often described himself as the “one whom Jesus loved.” There wasn’t a doubt in John’s mind that he was beloved by Jesus, and he in turn loved Jesus deeply.

     So, how can I, how can you, love Jesus deeply?

     The Apostle John, writing words when in his elder years, provides that answer in a letter to his friends. John’s words remain relevant to you and me in the 21st Century.

 Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God.  But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.

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. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.

 Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other.

     1 John 4:7-11 (NLT)

     These are great words. If I’m honest, however, I’ll confess that way too often, I desire to be loved by Jesus more than I want to love like Jesus. This is an area of life where I want to grow.

     As we recover from the stress of the Christmas season caused by too much—perhaps too much spending, decorating, gathering with family and friends and eating rich foods—I hope you’ll join me to reflect on the gift of God’s LOVE, JESUS.

     What if each one reading these words asked this question of God prayerfully:

Since you loved me SO much, God, how can I love you by loving others more like JESUS loved?

     Somehow, I imagine that’s a question God will like and be pleased to answer.

In closing today’s post, quoting Tiny Tim from A Christmas Carol,

“…And God bless us everyone!”

Sue Reeve

It is Christmas every time you let God love others through you…
yes, it is Christmas every time you smile…and offer…your hand.
~ Mother Teresa

Choosing ‘Great’ JOY…

“Behold, I bring you good news of great joy” (Luke 2:10)

Not small joy. Not modest joy. But ‘great joy.’ ….the joy Jesus was bringing into the world was like no other kind in history. Once we have it, it cannot be destroyed. Jesus said, ‘No one will take your joy from you.’ (John 16:22).” [1]

     The clock on the nightstand informed me it was 3:22 a.m.

     I’d fallen asleep a few hours earlier after praying: God, show me what the “great joy” the angels declared that night of the Savior’s birth should look like for me. I wasn’t feeling “great joy.” Instead, I felt sadness mingled with madness, confused, misunderstood, and I guess, a little sorry for myself.

     When I wakened in the middle of that night, I remembered a little song I learned in Sunday School many years earlier.

                                                                                    Jesus, and
                                                                                    Others, and
                                                                                    You.

What a wonderful way to spell JOY.

     At three in the morning, the simple lyrics seemed not-so-simple but rather a challenge to think long and hard about the connection between the little acrostic and choosing joy.

     JESUS: He came as a babe in humble beginnings to bring joy. Before his crucifixion and subsequent resurrection, Jesus assured his friends, including all those who in the future would believe in Him, that the joy pronounced by a band of angels to a group of lowly shepherds, could not be snatched away.

     OTHERS: Jesus said, “Love your neighbor…” and then went on to illustrate all humankind, regardless of station in life are my neighbors. Some of those OTHERS will nurture, understand, encourage, support, and love us. Some will malign, misunderstand, criticize, betray and despise us. Jesus also said,

 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. (John 13:34 NKJV)

     Honestly, I know practicing these words will bring me ‘great joy,’ but sometimes I don’t feel like ‘practicing!’

     YOU: When I’m not feeling joyful and realize self-pity is a waste of valuable time, I find comfort and hope in remembering words of scripture that establish how valuable I am to God, how much God loves me.

     During my current season of disquiet and discouragement, I’ve developed a list of certain inspirational thoughts and verses, which I call my “A.M. Affirmations.” Declaring the words aloud in my morning devotional time helps me step into the joy Jesus promised, even when my circumstances are not particularly joyous. I’m working on a second list I’m calling my “P.M. Promises,” which I plan to read before falling asleep.

     Recently, while listening to a speaker at our church’s Ceremony of Remembrance, I jotted down some words on the back of an offering envelope. They caution me to speak to my soul. They remind me joy is possible. Because God has given me free will, I have the power to choose joy, despite life’s circumstances.

     This Advent season, I’m reminding my soul: Yes, there will be times when my journey will be filled with a variety of wrongs. But, when I consent, God’s rightness will fill all wrongs with the promise of “good news of GREAT JOY…”

May you be strengthened and encouraged by the Joy of Jesus this third week of Advent…

Sue Reeve

  1. The Dawning of Indestructible Joy, Daily Readings for Advent, John Piper

Advent – Week Three JOY

This week Ron and I lit the third candle on our Advent wreath, a light symbolizing JOY. It joined the lights of HOPE and PEACE.

     One of the most beloved Christmas Carols, “Joy to the World” was printed originally in 1719 in a collection written by Isaac Watts, The Psalms of David: Imitated in the Language of the New Testament and applied to the Christian State and Worship. It wasn’t written for Christmas.

     In this hymn, Watts asks nations to rejoice because God’s faithfulness to the house of Israel has delivered salvation.

1 Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King!
Let ev’ry heart prepare Him room,
and heav’n and nature sing,
and heav’n and nature sing,
and heav’n, and heav’n and nature sing.

2 Joy to the earth, the Savior reigns!
Let men their songs employ,
while fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains
repeat the sounding joy,
repeat the sounding joy,
repeat, repeat the sounding joy.

3 No more let sins and sorrows grow,
nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
far as the curse is found,
far as the curse is found,
far as, far as the curse is found.

4 He rules the world with truth and grace,
and makes the nations prove
the glories of His righteousness
and wonders of His love,
and wonders of His love,
and wonders, wonders of His love

     The short book of Philippians is one of my favorites in the Bible.

     The Apostle Paul references ‘joy’ or ‘rejoicing’ over a dozen times in the letter to his friends in Philippi. When he wrote this letter, he was under Roman house arrest, shackled 24/7 to a Roman guard. Not a very joyous place to be!

     Obviously, Paul had figured out having joy is not dependent on being in pleasant circumstances. I imagine he would have agreed with Henri Nouwen:

Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day.

     I’ve been struggling lately with the matter of joy, in a season when I must decide to keep choosing joy daily. The decision to “choose joy” can be difficult and confusing. In Thursday’s post, I will attempt to unpack the matter of joy a bit more. Until then…

Blessings to all as we rejoice in the fact: “the Lord is come…”

Sue Reeve