8 TIPS TO DECEMBER JOY

With Thanksgiving behind us, Christmas is just around the corner. The months, weeks and days are quickly slipping by and soon we will be into another new year. It is a busy time for most people. Out of the busyness comes stress and fatigue to the point that we forget the purpose of this season and lose our joy.

Recently on a ladies’ day out, my friend Michelle reminded us to keep our joy, but also to give it away. She used small gift-wrapped packages to illustrate her point of the gift inside and not allowing anyone (and I add anything) to steal your joy. It is a gift given to you. In like way, do not steal anyone else’s joy by attitudes that are negative or critical. In fact, give the gift of joy to them.

What is this joy?

            And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field,

            Keeping watch over their flock by night.

            And an angel of the Lord appeared to them,

            And the glory of the Lord shone around them,

            And they were filled with fear.

            And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold,

            I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.

            For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior,

            Who is Christ the Lord.

            Luke 2:8-11 (ESV)

 

The angels were announcing to the shepherds that Christ, meaning Messiah, had come in the form of a newborn baby. This was cause for great joy!

In looking at the New Testament Greek word for joy, you find several definitions. The word is ‘chara’ meaning a calm delight, gladness, it is used of persons who are one’s joy, to rejoice and exultation. Joy is used in scripture as associated with life, the redemptive work of God and an announcement of an occasion of exceeding joy.

Within the last three years, four precious babies have been born into our family. I can relate to the definition of ‘calm delight’. The first time I held each one of those newborn babies, I was filled with such delight that my heart overflowed with love and awe of new life. But it was a calm delight in not wanting to disturb the sleeping little ones. And yes, these little ones are truly my joy.

And so, as we look at the angel’s announcement of great joy, I believe what they are saying to the shepherds is that the redemptive word of God has come to earth bringing new life for all people. That is what Christmas is all about. The joy of new life in Christ Jesus as we commit our lives to Him. He is our joy and our life. He is our calm delight. He is the gift to be shared with others.

As you rush through December, here are some helpful tips for maintaining holiday joy:

  1. Begin each day with Jesus. He is the source of your joy.
  2. Make lists to avoid stress.
  3. Do not try to do everything for the holidays all in one day. Plan in a way that preparations don’t pile up.
  4. When exhaustion weighs your down, stop. Rest. Get a good night’s sleep.
  5. Give thanks to God for the ability to accomplish His purpose in all things.
  6. Purpose in your mind to enjoy family and friends through the holidays free from conflict and pray for your family and friends.
  7. Be joyful that others may see Christ in you.
  8. Be at peace. If it doesn’t get done, it probably didn’t need to be done.

Tent Living

 

Have you ever been camping? Things seem so peaceful when you are out in the sunshine in the woods or by a lake. But all that can change in a moment when the storms come. Life is like that. When things are running smoothly, there is peace. Yet, heavy burdens can weigh us down and we struggle for peace.

But when life seems to be a burden, be encouraged knowing your body is like a tent set up on a camping trip. The campground is only a temporary place you go on weekends or vacations. But eventually you will take down the tent and go home. The tent is your place of refuge while at a place of unknowns. However, while in the tent, storms may come. They may batter and blow the tent and hail may beat holes in the fabric until the tent collapses. That is when you will pack up and go home to a place that is safe.

Our bodies are like that. The Bible tells us we have a house not made with hands; one that is eternal in the heavens. Our earthly body is like the tent that wears out. But as believers in our Lord Jesus, we are guaranteed a permanent home with God for eternity.

In the meantime, we are to live courageously on earth enduring every storm. We are to live by faith knowing we cannot see the future, but believing what God has promised to us through our Savior Jesus. Therefore, we strive to please the Lord in all we say and do as we await our permanent home in heaven.

We find the truth of this illustration in God’s Word:

1For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed,

we have a building from God,

a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.

5Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God,

who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.

So we are always confident, knowing that while

we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord.

7 For we walk by faith, not by sight.

8We are confident, yes, well pleased

rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.

9Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent,

to be well pleasing to Him.

2 Corinthians 5:1, 5, 7-9 (NKJV)

Empowered

Throughout the history of this nation, women have fought for their rights of equality. Many good things have been accomplished over the years by women in leadership. But I believe we have reached a point in time where the motive has become skewed, venturing away from the original purpose of equality. Now we are seeing women’s rights becoming about control.

Don’t get me wrong. I am all for equality and unity. But when the desire for power and control outweighs the purpose of equality and unity, then something has gone awry. It is time to take a step back and look at what God has to say about these things, and how He empowered women in Biblical days without slighting their role as women.

Empowering women to speak the truth of God’s word in love and to stand up for Jesus is a purpose with godly motivation. The Holy Spirit of God empowers women to assess situations with wisdom, act in truth and love to accomplish God’s purpose for their lives. It is nothing to be embarrassed about. It is nothing to be ashamed of. Is it nothing to be silent about. Women of God, it is time to speak up for our rights as Christians and not allow those with ungodly public platforms to lead us astray or speak for us.

  • If you are a wife, dare to be a woman who enjoys marriage.
  • If you are a mother, dare to be a woman who teaches her children about Jesus.
  • If you are a career woman, dare to stand firm in your faith in your work environment.
  • If you are a school teacher, dare to make a difference in the lives of children.
  • If you are a widow, or single woman, dare to be content with your circumstances.

As a woman of God, you have the ability to assess a situation and act upon the need of the moment in order to accomplish God’s purpose. There are women just like you whose stories are told in the Bible.  These are women who assessed situations, acted upon them and accomplished God’s purpose through their lives. We can learn a lot from their stories as well as how to pattern our lives in a way that follows their examples of courage in the face of difficult, and in some cases, dangerous circumstances. (These stories are the focus of the Bible Study I have written titled, Embracing Faith. The book will be available in July.)

But just as the human nature of Eve took matters into her own hands in an act of daring and disobedience to God, there are examples of ungodly daring in the Bible as well as in the lives of women today. The important thing is to know the difference between godly daring to serve His purpose and ungodly daring to serve human desire. As people, we do not know better than God. His thoughts and way are so much higher than our ways. So, look for God’s intentions in the lives of women of the Bible and you will find His intentions for you as well.

“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all, put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” Colossians 3:12-14 (ESV)