This Advent as we focus on celebrating the arrival of the Messiah, let’s walk through this series of devotional thoughts together!
Each week there will be 5 devotional thoughts that will focus on a different facet of the topic of the week- Hope, Joy, Love and Peace. There will be scriptures, personal sharing, journaling questions, posting challenges and more. And there’s a playlist for each week.
Do the 5 devos however you like - weekday mornings or evenings, a couple here or there, or even in one lump sum on the weekend or your day off.
However you do them, our hope is that you will:
- experience Hope, Joy, Love and Peace in new ways
- feel connected with others in our Worship Center family
- be prompted in practical ways to live out your faith in real life
Enjoy the journey!
The Good New of Christmas is Joy
JOY: DAY 1
Good Tidings of Great Joy
The Good News of Christmas is that we have great joy!
In Luke 2:10b the angel tells the shepherds, “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people.”
Jesus IS that Great Joy!
Joy has within it a sense of delight. To REJOICE has within it a sense of re-delighting. Joy, by definition means, a feeling of great pleasure and happiness.
Jesus was the fulfillment of joy - in his birth and in his life.
2 Peter 1:16-17 ‘“For we were not making up clever stories when we told you about the powerful coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. We saw his majestic splendor with our own eyes when he received honor and glory from God the Father. The voice from the majestic glory of God said to him, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy.”’
It’s fairly easy for me to think of Jesus bringing God the Father joy, but what about us? Do you think of yourself as bringing God joy?
Luke 15:10b tells us there is joy in the presence of God’s angels when even one sinner repents.
Repentance means to change your heart and life, it includes sincere regret or remorse. It’s not easy. It kind of kills our pride, but it is oh so freeing!
It’s not a one-time thing.
It starts with salvation when we first acknowledge we are sinners in need of a Savior, and all of heaven rejoices!
But it goes on from there. Almost every day we are faced with our humanity and we find ourselves once again in need of grace. And the beauty of Jesus’ arrival in our life can be celebrated once again. Like the great hymn says, “We need thee every hour, oh gracious Lord.”
It’s okay to need.
In fact, it should be expected.
Maybe this is what James had in mind when he said:
James 1:2 “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.”
Need can be the driver that causes us to embrace His presence.
I don’t know about you but I drift. From Sunday to Sunday my full tank can leak as the worries and responsibilities of this life drain me. But if I can find a way to use those distractions to remind me to rejoice it changes everything!
I have, we have, access to the joy of the Lord at any time.
Okay, this may seem a little weird, but will you humor me for a moment and smile?
Yes, smile. Raise the corners of your mouth and smile.
And now, take it one step further and show your teeth.
Can you feel it? Joy is there. Waiting to come.
This season as we celebrate advent, the coming of the Good News of Christmas. Let’s smile. Let’s feel His presence.
When you feel needy it can be a cause for great joy as you embrace who He is and what is on offer.
When could you see yourself needing to smile this week?
On the flip side, make a list of people or things that make you smile - they can be simple or profound. My grandkids make me smile, the red cups at Starbucks are always a winner for me, and gathering together on Sundays fill me with joy. What fills you?
Prayer: Father God, as I walk through this day and this week, I pray you help me feel your smile on me whenever I need it and then help me to smile, actually smile, and be filled with joy!
Want more? Check out the playlist for this week! The Good News of Christmas- Joy
JOY: DAY 2
The star fills us with joy
Last week we talked about how hope is like a light in the darkness. This week let’s see how joy is like the star.
The wise men followed the star and, “When they saw the star, they were filled with joy!” Matthew 2:10
Stars are all around us in this season. Here’s some fun facts about stars:
- You can only see them in the night/darkness.
- God knows them all by name (Psalm 147:4, Job 9:9) but they cannot be counted by man (Jeremiah 33:22).
- God brings them out like an army (Isaiah 40:26).
- They sing (Job 38:7).
- They are under God’s command and appear in His order (Isaiah 45:12, 48:13).
- The stars were provided to light the night (Jeremiah 31:35).
Numbers 24:17 talks about “a star that will rise from Jacob”.
Jesus is the star. He brings joy!
He lives in us and we shine His light through us.
Matthew 5:14 says “You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden.”
Just like the star on a Christmas tree we can shine Jesus’ light as a city on a hill.
How could you shine that light today: send someone an encouraging note or text, buy someone a coffee for no reason, pay for the person behind you in line somewhere, maybe even invite someone to go to the Worship Center Christmas Eve Service with you, or invite some to come over for dinner.
Daniel 12:3 says, “Those who are wise will shine as bright as the sky, and those who lead many to righteousness will shine like the stars forever.”
I’ve been blessed by some encouraging notes lately and I let that inspire me to write some of my own and bring a spark of joy to someone’s day.
Who do you want to bless today? How will you shine like a star?
Prayer: Father, remind me of the joy of Jesus all throughout this season. May I feel your joy light within me and give me creative ideas and courage to be a shining star to those around me!
Every time you see a tree with a star on it, think of it as a symbol of joy!
Connect: Post a picture of your tree and your star, or any stars you find in your community.
JOY: DAY 3
See the joy!
Simple things make me happy and give me joy – an unexpected hug, a good cup of coffee just the way I like it, a note of encouragement, and more…
What images come to your mind when you think of joy? Maybe a child’s smile, maybe waves crashing on a beach, maybe a warm fire and a cozy blanket or all the family being together. Got more?
“Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow.” James 1:17
Let’s push it out a little farther. What are some of the good gifts you have?
What are some good gifts you give? (Think relationally, not necessarily under the tree, but maybe that too.)
You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever. Psalm 16:11
There is joy in His presence!
What brings you joy in his presence – being forgiven, having purpose, relational connection, physical blessings, hope for the future, something else? Write a little about what brings you joy and why.
You have shown me the way of life, and you will fill me with the joy of your presence. Acts 2:28
I see you Jesus! I see the joy for your presence (your presents) all around me.
Be on the lookout for joy today!
I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13
Prayer: Father, we join with Paul in this prayer. We pray that you, the source of hope, will fill us completely with joy and peace because we trust in you! Fuel us with joy!
Want more? Some people have found great joy in the One Thousand Gifts devotional.
JOY: DAY 4
“Joy to the world!”
Let’s take a look at this classic carol and see how it connects with Jesus’ words in the book of John.
"Joy to the world, the Lord is come! Let earth receive her king:
Let every heart prepare Him room and heaven and nature sing.
Joy to the earth, the Savior reigns! Let men their songs employ
While fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains repeat the sounding joy.
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
He rules the world with truth and grace and makes the nations prove
The glories of his righteousness and wonders of his love"
John 15:11 says, “I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!”
Makes you curious right? What are the “things” Jesus told that would fill us with overflowing joy?
There’s a whole lot in John 15 and when you have some time it is worth taking a closer look at it all, but for now, let’s focus on verses 9-14 bit by bit.
John 15:9 says, “I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love.
Sounds like, “Let every heart prepare Him room”. I’m in. I love, love and want to remain in that love.
John 15:10 “When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.”
Hmmm…. I didn’t see that coming, to “obey His commandments” isn’t as warm sounding as the verse 9 call-out to remain in His love, but there it is again in verse 10. Jesus says that obedience is how he remains in the Father’s love.
“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.”
Could it be that when we obey, sins, sorrows, and thorns diminish, and blessings flow?
What could that obedience mean – where faith intersects real life? Could it mean forgiving others, or receiving forgiveness ourselves? Could it mean stopping that thing God’s Spirit has been whispering to you about or starting that practice He’s been drawing you toward?
Take a moment and consider it. What is an obedience step God is offering you?
John 15:11 continues, “I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!”
When we walk in obedience there is this clear and fulfilling sense of joy! It is deep and real.
Why do you think obedience brings God joy? What does it give Him?
What does it do for us?
Let’s finish up this passage.
John 15:12-14, “This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.”
“He rules the world with truth and grace, and makes the nations prove
The glories of his righteousness and wonders of his love.”
When we listen to His truth and walk in His grace we prove His love, we show and live in the glories of His righteousness and wonders of His love!
Let’s love and be loved today!
Psalm 32:2, “Yes, what joy for those whose record the Lord has cleared of guilt, whose lives are lived in complete honesty!”
Psalm 119:74, “May all who fear you find in me a cause for joy, for I have put my hope in your word.”
Joy to the world!!
Prayer: Holy Spirit, I hear you. Help me to move in the way you are prompting me to move as I know that will foster joy in you and in me and in others.
Connect: Post your favorite Christmas carol and note a line that stands out to you and why it means something to you.
Want more? Read all of John 15. Look for how God offers to connect with us.
What stands out to you as insightful?
JOY: DAY 5
Joy is generous
Jesus started it! He was the epitome of generosity!
Hebrews 12:2b “Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.”
He not only gave up His life for us, He took on our sins and submitted Himself to a grueling series of punishments ending in death.
But did you catch that first part? He did it for the joy awaiting Him.
What joy? What was the joy He was doing it all for?
Acts 2:46 says of the early church, “They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity—”
They remembered Jesus’ sacrifice together with great joy.
Joy and generosity go together. One feeds the other.
And speaking of feeding – is there someone you could share a meal with this season? Who could you be generous with and surprise with an invitation to share a meal?
I’ve experienced generosity in so many ways – and good fellowship and meals is one of the best! My favorites are when the laughter flows and a true exchange of listening happens.
The Good News of Christmas fills us with exceeding joy – that means we have more than enough to share!
Prayer: Holy Spirit, I invite you to prompt me. Show me opportunities to be generous this season. I want to give joy because I know it will bring you joy.
Connect: Read this list and see if it inspires you to be generous in some new way and share the joy in you!
- Bring some cookies to someone.
- Shovel a driveway or sidewalk.
- Send a gift card anonymously.
- Make a holiday contribution to a charity you care about.
- Have a party.