3rd Sunday of Advent
Philippians 4:4-7 (NRSV)
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be
known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in
everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be
made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will
guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Today's devotion gives us cause to pause. We are reminded to rejoice always.
I don't know about you, but that commandment sounds easier said than done. Just in the month of December we are inundated with stresses such as disobedient children, sick parents, unpaid bills, fractured relationships, increased work hours, and/or a school shooting to name just a few.
The truth is there is more than enough stress to go around for all of us! There is not one human being who escapes unscathed from the stresses that we face in body, mind, and spirit on the the planet Earth.
However, when I was a child, I was taught that there is a difference between being happy and being joyful. Happiness is conditional upon our circumstances, whereas JOY is a condition of the soul!
No matter what is going on in our lives, we can still be full of the JOY of the Holy Spirit! This joy is as a result of the Advent Truth that the "Lord is near..."
He is near enough to have been born in a manger. Near enough to have visited the synagogues as a child. Near enough to have ministered upon the earth for three years. Near enough to have suffered, bled, and died, before being resurrected and ascending into heaven. And now his Spirit is as near as the breath in our lungs and beat of our hearts, available to us at all times.
Hallelujah! Why wouldn't we be full of joy? Why wouldn't we act out of spirit of gentleness? Why wouldn't we lift all of our concerns to our loving God in peace and in prayer, trusting that God is well able to supply all of our need according to God's riches in glory?
And even before we see the answer to our prayers, let us begin to offer up a shout of thanksgiving, knowing that God has a good plan for us, not to harm us, but to give us a future and a hope.
We are children of the King, dear ones! Just knowing that we are so unconditionally loved and experiencing such a amazing grace on a daily basis ought to fill us with a contagious JOY that impacts not only our lives, but the lives of those around us!
When you are a person filled with JOY, you share JOY with everyone whom you meet. Won't you be a joy sharer today?
Being joyful does not mean that you ignore your problems, it simply means that you trust that GOD is bigger than your problems, and well able to help you to overcome them.
Be at peace, my friends, and may JOY be yours this Advent Season.
With thanksgiving I lift all of my concerns to you, O Lord. Fill me with your peace and with your joy. In Jesus' Name, Amen.