Updated: Dec 13, 2020
Encounter: Do a word search for “Joy” in the Bible, and record 5 scriptures in your journal. Maybe one is “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing” (Rom. 15:13). Underline other words that draw your heart to learn more. Begin to ask the question, how is joy described in the scriptures and is it different than how culture defines it?
I received a letter yesterday from an “admirer” that said, “Tammy, $100,000 IF YOU QUIT.” I’ve always said that after being in ministry for almost 20 years that nothing would shock me, but for a moment this piece of paper did. Maybe it was the cruel timing or the sadness that welled up wondering whose face was behind the pen, but no matter what it felt very personal.
And then I thought, “This voice sounds familiar!” It usually comes to me at moments in my life where I am at my lowest, grieving a loss, facing insurmountable challenges or on my knees asking for strength. I’ve found that the message of my Adversary comes strategically with laser like cunning to try and “kill, steal and destroy,” revealing himself as the force behind “kick ‘em when they’re down.”
But I rejoice! Because I also find there ready and waiting is our Lord with the truth that rebukes the lie, “But I have come to give you everything in abundance, more than you expect —life in its fullness until you overflow! I’m bringing you Joy! My joy that reminds you: you are my child, I created you for my purposes, you are gifted and called, I have power to transform and will restore all things, your thoughts and ways are different than mine so listen and trust me, my blessing is upon you and your loved ones. You will find your joy in me “because the kingdom of God is not about eating and drinking. When God reigns, the order of the day is redeeming justice, true peace, and joy made possible by the Holy Spirit.” (Rom. 14:17).
It is Advent, when our focus as Christ followers is to remember and rejoice in our God coming to rescue us from sin and death and to break the power of our adversary and make it possible for us to live life with our Creator once again. It shouldn’t surprise us that these messages come during this holy season. We should expect the lies that try and keep us from making room for the Christ child to be born again and again within us replacing light where there is darkness, hope where there is despair, peace where there is chaos and joy where there is misery and the greatest of these? Well that would be love, love where there is hate.
The word joy this Advent season seems as though it is mocking us. How can we experience joy in such a challenging time? I wonder if we might begin by identifying the lies. I’m not the only one that is being told to quit. What voices have you heard lately that try and draw you away from God’s life and best for you? Maybe the messages did not come through a letter from an unkind soul, but the voices all sound the same, they say:
there is no God, this is foolish, it’s just your imagination
you are nothing, you are no good, and you never will be
you don’t have what it takes
you don’t deserve being treated with respect and honor
you’re not worthy of the best kind of love
you’re not beautiful, handsome or of value
God has not called you, you have nothing to give
fill in the blank with lies that destroy God’s purpose for your life!
Don’t quit. Joy is coming! Don’t quit being kind. Don’t quit living into God’s plan for your life. Don’t quit praying, loving, looking for ways to come out of your self-absorption and touching another human being with hope, peace, JOY and love. Maybe instead of thinking of joy as something we need to grasp for ourselves and our own pleasure, we can experience joy every time we live the truth and not the lie, when we achieve selflessness to the point of personal sacrifice and stand together against the adversaries attempts to destroy.
Let us not quit seeking after our Creator who every day desires to say, "Well done, good and faithful servant: you have been faithful over a few things, I will set you over many things; enter into the joy of your Lord” (Matt. 25:21, 23).
Eden friends, as we have focused ourselves on the “few things” God has given us, we are in a time to prepare for the many things, the “much more” God is inviting us into. Let us join together committing our lives once again to be a “Welcoming community seeking transformation through relationship with Jesus Christ and encouraging others to join us.” Let us move into experiencing the joy of the Lord together.
Some of you know I begin every morning on my knees committing once again my life to God’s cause and I will never quit! Not for $100,000, not for millions, not for anything. Will you join me in a prayer each day and come with me on God’s grand adventure praying, “Lord, my life is yours, you created me to express you in this world. Fill me Holy Spirit, show me the way, teach me your truths, guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior and my hope and joy is in you all day long.”
The Joy of the Lord is Our Strength,