Monday, November 30, 2015

Joy is Contagious

When a baby is born, there is usually great joy.  And at Jesus' advent, it is no different.  But it wasn't just about His birth.  God shows us a foretaste of how those of us who know Him will experience an unspeakable joy.

Gabriel said that John would bring his parents great joy and many would rejoice because of his birth.  (Luke 1:14).  Later, at his birth, it says that many relatives and neighbors heard and came and shared in Elizabeth's joy.  (Luke 1:58)  

When Mary came to visit Elizabeth, as she entered the house and greeted her cousin, the baby in Elizabeth's womb leapt for joy.  (Luke 1:44)  Interesting to see that a six month old fetus can have an emotional response.  

The angel told the shepherds that he was bringing them good news of great joy that will be for all people. (Luke 2:10)  And after they saw the baby they returned praising God.

We can go on through the Gospels reading about Jesus being full of joy;  how the shepherd who finds a lost lamb is filled with joy; how the friend who attends the bridegroom is filled with joy; and Jesus telling the disciples that they will experience His joy.

It is clear that joy is important to God.  He created us to experience it.  And when we welcome Jesus into our lives, hang around where He is working, or share life with His servants, we find His joy.  So during this advent season, my prayer is that His joy will fill all of us and we can share it with others.  If you are not experiencing joy right now, make sure you take this opportunity to spend time with Jesus.  He will fill you with joy.

Adventures at Advent

During this Advent season, I wanted to share a thought for each day.  I have always been fascinated at the amount of work God the Father did surrounding the birth of Jesus.  He prepared the timing.  He prepared the people.  He had to communicate and guide the events of history to have Mary and Joseph in place in Bethlehem.  He had to stretch the laws of nature to cause a lady on the edge of child-bearing age (Elizabeth) and a virgin (Mary) to both conceive and bear a son.

We could consider more but I think this is sufficient to point to and substantiate the sovereign power of God.  And in the midst of the Advent preparation story, there is an encounter.  The encounter is between a faithful priest whose wife and he had prayed for a child for decades.  And yet they remained childless.  Now, as he serves his turn in the holy place as a priest, God sends Gabriel, the chief angel in charge of communications, to convey a message.  This faithful couple is going to be used to raise the man who will serve as a forerunner for the Christ.

Here is the encounter:
18 Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.”  19 The angel said to him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. 20 And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their appointed time.”

I wonder how I would have responded if I were Zechariah?  You have a dream that you pray over for decades and now when it seems to be impossible,  you are told by divine revelation that you are going to receive it?  I may have wanted some reassurance too.  But Gabriel seems indignant at the questioning of Zechariah.

"I am Gabriel and I stand in the presence of God."   It is amazing to think that we as human beings can and do stare divine revelation in the face and question it or ignore it.  Sin is so deceptive.  We are so frail but we act as if we are so powerful. Gabriel then tells Zechariah that he will now remain silent until this all takes place because he failed to believe the words the angel had delivered to him.  The words of God are powerful.

Two thoughts for the day:

1.  Never give up on God-inspired dreams.  He searches always for faithful people who trust Him despite their dreams not being fulfilled.  And He may just use those folks for greater purposes than they ever could have imagined.

2.  The words of God are powerful.  He is trustworthy.  So we can receive what He has revealed to us without question.