Advent 3: JOY

“My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior…” – Luke 1:46-47

Parking for Christmas shopping. Trying to pick out the right gifts. Standing on line to checkout.

Some things during this season (or other times) just don’t make us so happy. But Christmas isn’t about being happy. It says in Luke 2:10 that the angel brought good news of great joy that Jesus is born! So what’s the deal with joy?

Happiness could be more of a feeling or an emotion. It’s temporary and mostly momentary. But joy is more of a state or attitude of the heart. It’s a bit deeper. We can be happy and grateful for who Jesus is but because of what Jesus did, we are filled with great joy inside and out. Knowing Jesus brings us joy, so you could even say that joy is happiness in Christ.

The fact that Jesus lives in us (and us in Him) should bring us great joy because not only did Christ arrive in Bethlehem but His Spirit resides in us as well. What an amazing truth and honor! Emmanuel is God with us, and Christ dwells in our hearts through faith. That’s the kind of power that doesn’t just make us feel happy, but causes us to live out lives of joy… joy that is an outcome of a humble baby changing everything. A baby who is our Savior.

If you’re looking for joy this week, spend more time with God & get to know Him more. The Bible tells us to rejoice in the Lord! So maybe you need to allot more time for Him. Or if you’re finding it hard to be joyful because of difficult times, give them up! James said to consider it joy when we face trials. Having faith and trusting in God fills us with joy and peace. We’re given so many reasons and so many opportunities for joy.

So be more than happy or “merry”. Be joyful so that the world would see the true source of our joy: Jesus Christ the Son of God is the Messiah!

“Joy to the world, the Lord is come! Let earth receive her King!”

Reflection Song: Only You

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Post-Easter Self-Control (Fruit Of The Spirit)

It’s the day after Easter and you’ve probably broken fast. Maybe you took that first sip of soda in weeks, or you finally got to checkout with your online cart full of things, or (like myself) you were able to dust off your Wii U and play it again. What’s different now, post-Easter?

Galatians 5:22-23 tells us that the fruit of the Spirit is made up of nine attributes: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. The point of these attributes is to contrast acts that are not of the Spirit – things like idolatry, hatred, drunkenness, selfish ambition, etc. And if you’ve been following us since the beginning of Lent, you would have noticed that each week touched upon a different attribute.

Today as we consider self-control on this day after Easter, think about how Jesus has changed everything for us. The old has gone and the new is here! As easy as it may be to jump back into old habits that we gave up for 40 days, we should think about the good that God intends for us because as Galatians 5:1 says, we are free… a liberty that includes a freedom from sin.

Thanks to the Holy Spirit, we should have better discernment of good from bad – a self-control that will continue to help us be free. And though what we fasted may not be a clear-cut good vs. bad, I’d imagine that the things we gave up were put on hold for 40 days because we felt the effects of constantly being exposed to them. But even if you didn’t fast something, I’m sure a certain image comes to mind when you think of this topic.

Jesus died and rose again so that in this Christian life we can oppose the things that go against this new life given to us. So we just wanted to encourage you, brothers & sisters, to persevere with the self-control gifted to you so that you can overcome and live for the glory of the Lord. The Holy Spirit is at work within us, so let’s make the most of this post-Easter season… It’s a new day!

For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin… – Romans 6:6

For more on the fruit of the Holy Spirit / posts for Lent:

Reflection Song: Only You

Easter Faithfulness

Christ is risen! Christ is risen indeed!

Today we rejoice and celebrate for our Lord Jesus is risen from the dead and is victorious over sin & over death. He has overcome the grave and just as He lives, we live – lives that are lived for Him. Just as God reminds us of His faithfulness on this day, we too live lives that are faithful to Him. For because of the cross where Jesus died for our sins, we are made new, made alive to God, and dead to sin.

For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.2 Corinthians 5:14-15

Happy Easter, everyone!

Reflection Song: He Has Overcome


Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5 | Week 6 (Palm Sunday) | Good Friday | Easter

Lent, Week 3: Joy

Do you ever regret giving something up for Lent? Whether or not fasting is fairly new to you, it’s easy to lose sight of why we do it.

Yet, Lent is a time to fast with joy. There may be times where you feel like you are fasting grudgingly, reluctant to continue or maybe even start! But remember why we are are doing all of this as we make our way towards Easter: preparing a way for the Lord. This isn’t a time to be somber or grim – it’s a time to find joy in the cross! A joy that brings freedom by the power of Christ’s sacrifice and resurrection. (“Shout for joy, Hallelujah! He has overcome!”)

I imagine it this way… Say you are burdened with carrying a ton of heavy textbooks in your backpack. This weight, this burden, is then lifted and you experience walking like you’ve never felt before – that release, that freedom, that joy! The same is with our sins or the things that detract us from Jesus. When we let go of these things and know that the power of the cross releases the hold of sin and death in our lives, our walks are forever changed and we are set free! That ought to stir up some joyful response in us!

Remember what Jesus said in Matthew 6:16-18 about fasting: “…do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting… But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father… who sees what is done in secret…

This week, try to tap into that joy in your life and walk with the Father. He knows what you’re doing and wants the best for you as you strive to resemble Christ. Lent isn’t about feeling sad or regretful – be joyful as you fast and prepare with spiritual gladness this Lenten season as you are with God and as He is with you. Keep going strong with the joy of the Holy Spirit!

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.Psalm 51:10-12

Reflection Song: He Has Overcome


Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5 | Week 6 (Palm Sunday) | Good Friday | Easter

Week 4 of Advent

I don’t know about you, but our Christmas Sunday was filled with Christmas worship songs, new and old. It was a wonderful time of glorifying and loving our Lord Jesus Christ.

As we draw nearer to Christmas in this last week of Advent, let us focus on the love and presence of the Savior. His arrival is that much closer today – and since Week 1 of Advent, what have we done to prepare the way?

We’re very much looking forward to the birth of Jesus! As you may already know, Jesus is called Immanuel/Emmanuel (God with us, Matthew 1:23). In what ways are you allowing God to be with you this Christmas season, and how will you open up new avenues in your life for Him to be more present in 2015?

In this world, doors of opportunity are constantly opening and closing but remember that His love is unfailing and true. Presents are great and a fun way to show “holiday cheer” but while these presents that come & go, God’s presence is always with us. We pray that you have a great Christmas this year with your family & friends, remembering the significance of Jesus’ birth, and have a happy new year as well!

Reflection Song: Here I Stand

Week 3 of Advent

What do you think of when you hear the word “joy”? Perhaps this Christmas present reveal from 1998. Or this cartoon.

But to me, the word “joy” almost instantly triggers a few Christmas songs: Joy To The World, God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen (“tidings of comfort and joy”), and Angels We Have Heard On High (“joyous strains”). So what is joy and how is it different from happiness?

I believe the difference can be summed up by the N64 kid above. Whereas your average child may have been happy to receive an N64 console, this particular child was filled with much joy! Joy by definition is a feeling of great or extreme happiness. And if happiness is a reflexive emotion, then I’d like to think that joy is our choice to take the next step and have a happiness that much greater. The birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ on Christmas justifies this kind of joy – we then make a choice to be joyful and, in response, we rejoice (to feel or show great joy)!

So when we hear “tidings of comfort and joy”, it’s the news of comfort, peace, and joy in the birth of Jesus. Our reaction and reflex then is made up of “joyous strains”, joyful songs of praise!

We may be glad to receive certain presents this year and that feeling may even last a while. But nothing gives everlasting joy like Jesus Christ – the whole reason for this time of year! In this third week of Advent, think about how Jesus brings you joy and in what way you can rejoice in His birth in these final 10 days.

Reflection Song: Only You