The Light of Joy

One of the things about the Christmas season that I get very excited about is lights. I love the look of houses outlined in tiny specks of shimmering light, whether they are white, green, red or blue, I love them all. I enjoy driving home from somewhere and seeing how many houses are embellished with twinkling splendor. Now don’t judge me, but I also enjoy seeing Christmas trees inside people’s homes. It’s not that I am being nosy. After all, don’t we put our trees in windows for that purpose, so the outside world can see our beautiful displays of light?

Pixabay

Pixabay

What is it about light that we so enjoy? I know that most of us would rather be out and about when it is day time. We enjoy when morning comes and feel loss at the slipping away of light as night time takes over. I personally have to convince myself that darkness is good and God allows the darkness so that we may rest. What I find fascinating about this God of ours is that He didn’t leave us in total darkness. He provided, even before sin became a reality, He provided the moon and the stars to rule the night, so even in darkness the light is still meant to preside.

Pixabay

Pixabay

There is a lesson here for us, if we are willing to see it. Light is always present even in the darkness. Darkness is, for lack of a better definition, the absence of light. But even in the deepest and darkest dark, somewhere there is still light. If we lost all electricity, the sun would still rule the sky by day and the moon and stars by night. As long as God allows the planets, stars, moons and sun to hang in space, there will always be light. What if those things disappear, or burn out? What if there is nothing left, but darkness? That will never be the case, because God is light and in Him there is no darkness.

Pixabay

Pixabay

When we think of Christmas we often have images of children playing, laughing and looking with awe and wonder at the lights and decorations. Can you even imagine a Christmas without the idea of child like joy being a part of it? I realize, not everyone grew up with wonder filled Christmases like many of us did. Some of you may not even celebrate Christmas or may think of it as merely an overly commercialized holiday meant to line the pockets of corporate America. Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, I think most of us can relate to the idea of joy.

Pixabay

Pixabay

Joy is often misunderstood. It is regularly mistaken for happiness, but joy is eternal, whereas happiness is temporary. Let me see if I can explain this in a way that makes sense. Joy is light. Joy comes out in dazzling displays like fireworks and rocket launches, but it also twinkles like Christmas lights and candle flames. The difference is that when the fireworks and rockets are burned out and the Christmas lights break and the flame smokes, joy still shines. The reason for this came in the form of a bundled baby boy, born in a stable over two thousand years ago.

Pixabay

Pixabay

No matter how deep the darkness is, joy still shines. There is no darkness or evil thorough enough to overcome joy. You might not feel like you have joy right now. Maybe you feel like you have never had joy, but you know those moments that bring tears to your eyes; those moments are shimmers of joy. You experience them when a movie has a happy ending or a musical movement runs together into a river of sound so beautiful it sweeps you along with it. You experience it when you come upon a breathtaking view or stand at the water’s edge when the sun begins its descent into a cloudless sea. This is joy.

Pixabay - nativity

Then when life tries to break you and you cannot hear the music or see the sunset, that is when you must reach back and in, deeper and deeper, to the event where joy first burst onto the scene of humanity. A virgin birth. Shepherds watching their flocks. Animals in the stable. A straw filled manger. This event was and is and evermore shall be the birth of joy. At that moment joy moved from happiness to an eternal possibility. Joy became the essence of bliss.

If you believe in that light, then even when all is dark, all you have to do is call his name. Jesus. And that light of joy will explode, once again in your soul and the darkness will scatter.

A Look Back at 2017 - My Favorite Faith Posts

I did this on my fashion page so I thought it would be good to do on my faith page as well. Since we are into a new year, I thought it would be fun to look back at my favorite posts from 2017. I picked one from each month. If you haven't read them and are interested, just click on the link below the picture. 

It is good to look back at where we have been, so we can get a better feel for where we need to go. As far as my faith posts are concerned, I want to keep writing and posting things that I hope will be an encouragement to you. We, as older women, are such a valuable part of society. We are capable, strong and worn, and that is just where God wants us to be. 

Here are my favorite faith posts from my blog from 2017.

January

February

March

April

May

June

July

August

September

October

November

December

I hope you enjoyed this look back at my favorite blog posts from 2017. As we move forward into 2018, I hope to grow my blog in various ways, while still being true to my belief and faith in Jesus Christ. 

If you have any suggestions or things you would like to see me talk about on the blog, please leave me a comment in the comments section or you can send me a message on Facebook. I appreciate all your input and support. I am looking forward to what this year will bring and hope you will join me on the blog! 

Thanksgiving Thoughts - Thinking About the Receiver

Today is Thanksgiving Day, a day filled with good food, family and friends, football and for many of us the beginning of our Christmas holidays. It was Abraham Lincoln, in 1863, who declared this fourth Thursday of November to be a day of giving thanks. Considering the Civil War was in full swing at that point, I find it intriguing that our 16th president felt compelled to put in place a regular day of giving thanks to God, for initially that is what it was. Perhaps in the midst of the carnage of one of our history's greatest internal wars, Lincoln realized how very lost we were without God and that a day of giving thanks would bring us back to center.

We have heard much on what being grateful does for the giver of thanks, but what about what it does for the receiver. I'd like to offer several possible thoughts.

I did include a few pics of some of the food I'll be serving today....for which I am thankful. Ha, ha. Photo credit Rebecca Trumbull

Thanksgiving food

1. Giving thanks blesses the receiver. Think about how you feel when someone takes the time to say thank you. Doesn't it make you feel good? Doesn't make you feel noticed? Doesn't it make you feel like all that work you did was worth it? I know for me when someone takes time to thank me, I feel up lifted. 

Wouldn't the same be true for God? Granted God does not have to be consoled or motivated like we as humans so often do, but the Bible, especially the Psalms talk about blessing the Lord. 

I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.
— Psalm 34:1 (NASB)
I will extol You, my God, O King, And I will bless Your name forever and ever.
— Psalm 145:1 (NASB)

I would include passages that talk about praising God, as those which bless Him as well. Just as we can be blessed by being thanked, God is lifted up when we give thanks to Him. 

Thanksgiving food

2. Giving thanks creates a connection with the receiver. When you give thanks to someone you are acknowledging their existence. You are telling them they are worth your time and your effort. You are connecting with them as a real, and important individual. Isn't that one of the reasons we labor to teach our kids to say thank you? We want them to acknowledge there is another person in the world besides themselves, whether it be their teacher, the fast food worker at McDonalds, the clerk at a store or their grandparents. 

When we give thanks to God we are creating a connection with Him. I know I have days where I feel disconnected from Him. It might be sin, it might be that I am not feeling well, it might be things that are bothering me, or it might just be the weather, but regardless of what caused the disconnect, as soon as I go to Him with thanksgiving and praise that connection is restored. This is the result of our choice to acknowledge, He exists and without Him we are nothing. 

for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His children
— Acts 17:28 (NASB)
thanksgiving food

3. Giving thanks creates meaning and purpose. When I receive thanks from another it makes me feel good. It reminds me that I am important and that what I am doing has meaning and purpose. Many of us work jobs that we do not feel make a real difference in the world, but we must never underestimate the power of a life planted exactly where God wants it to be. I try to remember that working in retail. At times customers can be less than grateful, but I always feel my job is worthwhile when I hear a thank you, either from a customer, my boss or a fellow employee. 

Obviously we cannot give meaning or purpose to a holy, omniscient God, but when we thank Him we are acknowledging the meaning and purpose He has given to us. Every time I approach God with a humble attitude of gratitude I am reminded of the great love He has for us. 

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.
— John 3:16 (NASB)

Today as you gather with people you care about,  remember not only to be thankful, but that your giving of thanks has an effect on the ones you give it too. 

Have a blessed day!

Even He Called Him Lord

This morning as I was reading my devotions I was directed to a passage in Matthew. It was a familiar read, but as I started looking at it I was floored by a few words that I hadn't really noticed before. Let me show you the verses.

At that time Jesus said, ‘I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants. Yes, Father, for this way was well-pleasing in Your sight. All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.

’Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.’
— Matthew 11:25-30 (NASB)
Bible

I'm sure most of you who read your Bible regularly are familiar with this passage. I don't know about you, but I am often reciting the last three sentences back to Jesus reminding Him that He is responsible to give me rest and help me bear the load of this life. I try to do that with humility, mind you, because He does say that I should learn from Him and we can't be teachable if our hearts are made of the granite of pride and self. 

The words that struck me this morning were these: 

...Jesus said, “I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth...
— Matthew 11:25 (NASB)

Let me set the back drop for you. This is Jesus, the One who is part of the triune God-head. He, as far as we are concerned, is on the same level with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. He was there at creation. He was the only person capable of taking on the sin of the world, walking into hell and coming out unscathed. Why then is He addressing His Father in this way? Couldn't He have simply said, "Father?" 

Father and baby

As with so many things that Jesus did, He was once again giving us an example to follow. 

1. Praise. There is something elevating about praising God. When we lift Him up we are placing Him exactly where He is supposed to be. Not only that, but praise ushers us into His presence. If we do a simple word search in the New American Standard version of the Bible we find the word praise used 256 times. Out of those 127 are used in connection with the Lord and 86 are used in connection with God. It would seem that praising God is a priority.

When Jesus was riding into Jerusalem on a donkey the crowds were shouting,

Donkey
Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord; Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”
— Luke 19:38 (NASB)

The Pharisees scolded Jesus, telling him to rebuke his followers.

But Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out!’
— Luke 19:40 (NASB)
mountains

Why then, would Jesus need to praise the Father, when in reality they are one person? Jesus is showing us that praise is an important component in a relationship with our Father. 

2. Relationship. There is no doubt that Jesus has a relationship with the Father and the Spirit. Relationships are facts of life. We have relationships with our significant others, our children, our coworkers and the people in our lives we call friends. Out of the many interactions we have with people on a daily basis the ones that are closest to us will be the ones that we invest the most time and effort in...or at least they should be. When I get together with my girlfriends we talk about what? Our families. These are the relationships that are important to us. 

Girlfriends

Jesus made a point throughout his years on this earth to talk about His Father. Look at a few of these verses.

And He said to them, “Why is it that you were looking for Me? Did you not know that I had to be in My Father’s house?”
— Luke 2:49 (NASB)
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.
— Matthew 7:21 (NASB)
“Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven.
— Matthew 10:32-33 (NASB)
For whoever does the will of My Father who is in heaven, he is My brother and sister and mother.”
— Matthew 12:50 (NASB)
And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, ‘My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.’
— Matthew 26:39 (NASB)
And Jesus, crying out with a loud voice, said, ‘Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit.’ Having said this, He breathed His last.
— Luke 23:46 (NASB)

These are just a few of the many verses throughout the Gospels where Jesus makes reference to the Father. Jesus knew how important this relationship was to Him and His purpose was to make the way clear so that we could enjoy this same relationship with God. 

3. Humility. By calling God the Father, Lord, Jesus is acknowledging a hierarchy of authority that we all need to be aware of. Jesus understood humility.

who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped,
— Philippians 2:6 (NASB)

If God's own Son chose to place Himself, humbly under the authority of His Father, then aren't we, even more so, obligated to fall at His feet? Jesus made a choice to honor His Father's perfect plan to bring salvation to His creation. Was it easy? Refer back to Jesus' time in the Garden of Gethsemane. He prayed earnestly that the cup could pass from Him, but in the end said, "Your will be done." How often are we at odds with God because we do not want to do what He has laid out plainly in scripture? Yet our Savior honored His Father completely, even to the point of death on a tree. 

If you are feeling, not quite right in your walk with the Father, why not revisit these three things that Jesus did? Praise God, renew your relationship with Him and humble yourself. I know for me, when I place God first in my life and in my day, He takes care of the rest.