Hope for a Difficult Christmas Season

This is from Dayspring by Rachel Wojo.

Hope for a Difficult
Christmas Season

by Rachel Wojo

Christmas carols fill the air; smiles and laughter are everywhere. A stroll through town reveals glistening windows boasting of tasty holiday treats and shiny red ribbon. Twinkling lights dance in unexpected places and bounce off sparkling trees.  Whether you appreciate lots of gold and glitter or simple candles, the blessing of our Lord’s birth is celebrated with expression!

While Christmas is full of joy and celebration, the world is not exempt from sorrow during this season. For many of us, our hurting hearts experience intensified ache as memories flood our minds. Perhaps the memory is of a loved one now in heaven. Maybe the memory haunts as part of a painful past; something we wish could be changed or undone. Pain not only exists from the past, but in the daily present. Discouragement doesn’t stop lurking. Disease doesn’t stop waging its war. Death doesn’t pause for a few days.

When Jesus was born, His parents didn’t plan a gender reveal party. No one ordered a baby shower cake. Oh, Mary, yes, as the mother, she prepared for the arrival of her baby. But a business trip for tax purposes was probably the last thing on her agenda. Riding a donkey most likely would have been her last wish in her ninth month of pregnancy. The point is: Jesus wasn’t born into ideal circumstances. Despite the stable which most of us would deem unsuitable accommodations, the Light of the World made His grand entrance in the form of a little baby. Human flesh held the Son of God and the glory of the night could not be contained. Angels sang their glory to God and hope, true Hope for the world was born!

Read the rest here.

Abundant #Joy

This is an excellent post by Sarah Walton of Set Apart: Hope on the Road Less Traveled.

Abundant Joy is Found
in the Presence of Christ,
not in the Absence of Pain

“Oh Lord, for years I have prayed for answers, healing, and understanding in this suffering you have allowed. Yet they have seemed not to come. Many have prayed to you on our behalf, as we have sought wisdom from the doctors you provided, and have longed for redemption of what’s been lost. By your grace, we have persevered through trial after trial, trusting  that you would uphold us and bring forth good from all our pain.

Yet, many answers we have hoped for haven’t come in the ways we desire. The world’s solutions to our pain have left us discouraged, confused, and fighting hopelessness, while the trials, burdens, questions, and uncertainties remain the same. 

I have longed for, cried, and pleaded for you to bring us out from under the pain and heaviness of these trials into a place of abundance. I have asked you to lift these crushing burdens, and carry us through the pounding waves and the raging fire that threatens  to consume our hope, testimony, and lives. 

However, in my desire for answers, I have missed something wonderful. You have answered our prayers – though different than I expected. You have been near, intimately working deep within our hearts as we have laid down our hopes and desires of this world. While you have chosen not to remove the heartache and overwhelming circumstances from our lives, you have done something greater. You have brought us into a place of abundance. For while I have been waiting for this place of abundance to come in the form of relief, you have instead brought it in the midst of the very trials I desired to be freed from. 

This place of abundance has been found in the presence of Christ, not in the absence of pain. 

Read the rest here.

What is the meaning of #Noel?

Here is another timely article from the GotQuestions? site.

What is the meaning of Noel?

Question: “What is the meaning of Noel?”

Answer: Every year, people sing songs like “The First Noel” at Christmas, and many wonder what a “noel” is. In French, joyeux noel means “Merry Christmas.” Our modern English word comes from the Middle English nowel, which Webster’s 1828 Dictionary defined as “a shout of joy or Christmas song.” The roots of the word are the French noel (“Christmas season”), which may come from the Old French nael. This, in turn, is derived from the Latin natalis, meaning “birth.” Since Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Christ, it was natural for people to refer to the celebration as the “nativity” or the “birth.”

Another possible root for noel, also from the French, is the word nouvelles, meaning “news.” As the popular carol says, “The first noel the angels did say / Was to certain poor shepherds. . . .” The meaning of “news” certainly makes sense in that context; however, the early usage and definition of noel seem to focus more on the idea of birth, and that is probably the more accurate meaning.

Read the rest here.

Sunday Praise and Worship: Let it Rise

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Today we praise and worship our Lord with the song “Let it Rise” by Big Daddy Weave. Beloved, our awesome God deserves all of our praise and glory! He alone is worthy of such praise. He is our great I AM, our All in All, and a host of other glorious and awesome names. Psalm 138 expresses this kind of praise and worship very well.

Psalm 138 

¹ I will praise You with my whole heart;
before the gods I will sing praises to You.

I will worship toward Your holy temple,
and praise Your name
for Your lovingkindness and Your truth;
For You have magnified Your word above all Your name.
In the day when I cried out, You answered me,
and made me bold with strength in my soul.

All the kings of the earth shall praise You, O Lord,
when they hear the words of Your mouth.
Yes, they shall sing of the ways of the Lord,
for great is the glory of the Lord.
Though the Lord is on high,
yet He regards the lowly;
but the proud He knows from afar.

Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me;
You will stretch out Your hand
against the wrath of my enemies,
and Your right hand will save me.
The Lord will perfect that which concerns me;
Your mercy, O Lord, endures forever;
do not forsake the works of Your hands.

 Please excuse any ads that may appear before the video begins
If for whatever reason you cannot view this video, you can read the complete lyrics here.

New King James Version (NKJV). Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

I’m Joy-Happy

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I’m Joy-Happy

By Joni Eareckson Tada

“But may the righteous be glad and REJOICE before God;
may they be HAPPY and JOYFUL.”

—Psalm 68:3

We’re often taught to be careful of the difference between joy and happiness.  Happiness, it is said, is an emotion that depends upon what ‘happens.’  Joy by contrast, is supposed to be enduring, stemming deep from within our soul and which is not affected by the circumstances surrounding us.

It’s an appropriate linguistic distinction, I suppose.  But I don’t think God had any such hair-splitting in mind.  Scripture uses the terms interchangeably along with words like delight, gladness, blessed.  There is no scale of relative spiritual values applied to any of these.  Happiness is not relegated to fleshly-minded sinners nor joy to heaven-bound saints.

The terms are synonymous in their effect and too difficult to distinguish when we experience either one.  Would you, for example, respond to the wedding of your daughter with joy or with happiness?  Are you happy that your friend came to know Christ or are you joyful?  Is the moment of euphoric delight in worship of Him on Sunday morning just a happenstance or just as much a part of Jesus’ promise regarding our redeemed souls?

To rob joy of its elated twin, happiness, is to deprive our soul of God’s feast.  Seek both as part and parcel in all circumstances.  When your soul is stirred by a deep contentment, be happy.  When a delightful moment strikes that is quite outside yourself, be joyful.   Don’t think about which one you are supposed to feel.  Accept them both as a gift from a God who is rich in all such emotions.

Lord, I seek the blessing of a joyful heart, the gladness of a happy countenance, and the delight of Your eternal pleasure today.

Blessings,

Joni and Friends

(Emphasis mine)


Copyright © 1998. More Precious Than Silver, Joni Eareckson Tada. Published in Print by Zondervan, Grand Rapids.

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible: New International Version.

Jesus is the Reason for the Season

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The Only Reason For The Season

by Bob Gotti

The Lord and Savior, The Great I AM, came to earth as a gentle Lamb.
Born a tiny baby in a cattle stall, born to be King and The Savior of all.
Isaiah said He’d be born of a virgin, brought into the world with no sin.
God’s sinless Son came to earth, came to offer sinful man a New Birth.

This was God’s predetermined plan, sending Christ to earth as a man.
Christ came to offer every nation, Eternal Life through God’s Salvation.
For it was God’s Only Begotten Son; who was by God the chosen One.
Chosen to be God’s Only Way, to save sinful men who’ve gone astray.

The One, who was but a prophecy, was born that day for all men to see.
Many of the prophets from Israel, had their prophecies in Christ fulfilled.
But ultimately for both you and I, The Sinless Lamb would have to die.
That little baby born in a stall, would soon die a wicked death for us all.

The Sinless Lamb from heaven above, sent to us by The Father’s Love.
Micah prophesied that in Bethlehem, would come The Savior of all men.
The city of Bethlehem, it is said, is known by all as The House of Bread.
What a place for the birth of Christ, who my friend, is The Bread of Life.

This season let your heart pause, when you hear the name Santa Claus.
As the real gift for both you and me, was not under, but nailed on a tree.
And the True Giver is our Creator, and the Gift was our Lord and Savior.
So Jesus Christ is the only reason, why men even celebrate the season.

Copyright © 12/2005Bob Gotti.

Experiencing Happiness in Christ, Even Through Depression and Sorrow

Experiencing Happiness in Christ,
Even Through Depression and Sorrow

By Randy Alcorn

The following is a recent interview I did on the topic of happiness. I appreciated being able to address how someone who is depressed can still move toward experiencing a deep happiness and joy in Christ, which is a question I’ve been asked about frequently since my book was released.

Question:  When you look at happiness, is there a distinction between joy and happiness?

Randy: Interestingly, this has been taught as if it were fact for many years, and there have been many sermons that say joy and happiness are two different things. But we get them both wrong, because people end up saying things like “Joy is not an emotion” and “Joy is not really based on anything; it‘s some transcendental, vague sort of thing. But don‘t seek happiness, because that‘s from the world, and involves sin.”

Well, a lot of people do seek happiness in sin, just like they seek joy in sin. But God is the true source of happiness, delight, and joy. In my study for Happiness, I went back to the Hebrew and Greek words and saw how there are many of them that are translated in various versions as “joy,” “gladness,” “merriment,” “happiness,” “delight,” “pleasure.” These words all have overlapping meanings. Ninety percent of a Hebrew word that‘s translated “joy” overlaps with one that‘s translated “gladness” or “happiness.” (I’m including here a diagram from Happiness, illustrating this.)

There’s been a false and negative distinction that‘s been made between joy and happiness. Unfortunately, the message we send to those both inside and outside the church is, “Seeking happiness is superficial and shallow. Go out and get it in the world, but you won’t find happiness in God.” But all people seek happiness, and because they do, we’re basically telling them, “Stop seeking what God Himself wired you to seek.” What we should be saying is, “Seek your happiness in the right place—in God Himself.”

Read the rest here.


Shared by permission of Randy Alcorn, Eternal Perspective Ministries, 39085 Pioneer Blvd., Suite 206, Sandy, OR 97055, 503-668-5200, www.epm.org