Sunday, December 06, 2009

GIFTS & GIVERS: Oh, for the Joy!

ASK PEOPLE THEIR FAVORITE CHRISTMAS CAROL and many times the answer will be "Joy to the World." Sure, they like "Away in a Manger," but when it comes to Christmas carols it's "Joy" that wins out! (No, "Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer" does not classify as a "Christmas Carol.")

JOY is one of the top emotions for the season, and rightfully so.  There is JOY when the kids see Santa and packages with their names on them under the tree.  There is JOY when the aromas of fresh-baked Christmas cookies and breads permeate our homes. There is JOY that comes as we hear the clarion call of the bells, and yes JOY when we sing the Christmas songs.  Truly, JOY is the emotion of Christmas.

JOY fills the Christmas scene.  There was the JOY that filled the proclamation of the angels (Luke 2:10-14). There was JOY in the shepherds hearts as they saw the new born baby and recounted the message of the angels (Luke 2:16-20).  I am sure there was JOY in the heart of Mary as she pondered the little one in her arms and the greetings brought to Him that night (Luke 2:19). And there was JOY in the attitude of the magi who had traveled so far to worship the new born King (Matthew 2:1-12)

JOY is a gift that God gives to us, and like His gift of peace, it is not dependent upon the circumstances.  For when the angels withdrew to heaven and the shepherds returned to their fields, life was still waiting to be lived.  They were still shepherds...but forever a different group of shepherds for they had met the Good Shepherd on that dark starry night.  And when the magi returned to their far away countries by a different route because of the threat of death over their heads, they returned a different group of kings for they had worshiped the King of kings. And even when Mary and Joseph had to bundle up their new born son and head south to Egypt for  fear of Herod (Matthew 2:13-18) they knew that even though they were in exile they carried with them God's promised Deliverer.

JOY is still a gift that God offers us today.  Even in our rough and tumble world, His JOY remains firm and steadfast in the hearts of those who know Jesus, the Son of God, our Savior.

So, this Christmas, receive again God's gift of JOY, and remember, this gift is given to be shared.  How? By letting Christ dwell richly in you.  By focusing your heart on His.  By remembering that is was His JOY to go to the Cross for you. (Hebrews 12:1-3) As you do these things, His JOY will be manifested in and through you, and you will sing with the carolers of the ages,
"Joy to the world the Lord is come,
Let earth receive her King.
Let every heart, prepare Him room,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven and heaven
And nature sing."

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Lately, I’ve pondering all the things that are going on in the middle east. God seems to be opening Jewish eyes miraculously and moving in Jewish circles more than in gentile circles which led me to the 11th Chapter of Romans and then to the jewsforjesus website.

It’s always fun to read people’s testimonies and I am enJOYing reading them. As I was reading Ceil Rosen’s testimony (Moishe’s) wife, I noticed how our JOYous celebration of Christmas impacted her so I thought I would share with everyone the link to her story (in case you haven’t already read it) as I’m sure all Christians will find it just as enjoyable as I did.

http://www.jewsforjesus.org/answers/lifestories/ceil

It was interesting to notice that secretly listening to forbidden, nevertheless joyous Christmas carols on her record player contrasted dramatically against the heavy oppression she experienced in her orthodox Jewish faith which seemed to her to consist only of endless rules and religious duties. Also, some seeds regarding prophecy were planted as well with Christmas music.

Christmas does indeed give Christians a wonderful opportunity to “shout it from the rooftops,” and the fact that there is so much pressure in recent years to take anything about God or Christ out of the public squares or the public eye is a good indication that when people hear or see the truth, eyes are opened.

Perhaps we should really go all out on outdoor Christmas decorations while it is still legal to “shout it from the rooftops” in our country. For while I hope it never happens, the day may come when only indoor Christmas decorations are allowed.

Maybe we should go all out Christmas caroling as well! Very few people find carolers outside their house (at a reasonable hour) singing, “Joy to the world” or “Away in a Manger” intrusive or even consider it an attempt to push “religion” down anyone’s throat. Yet, music has a powerful affect upon the heart rather than the head and certainly seemed to have a powerful effect upon Ceil Rosen.

Perhaps Christmas decorations and caroling are some ways we can try to give people “the fruit of the spirit” for Christmas.


gentledove