Tag Archives: wondering

Lessons From Your Favorite Christmas Songs – 5: Joy to The World

Joy to the world! The Lord is come. Let earth receive her King!

Happiness is over-rated. But joy, there can never be enough joy in the world. Most people confuse happiness and joy, but joy transcends happiness. Joy is the positive confidence we posses by knowing and trusting God regardless of our circumstances.

angelsimagesSo how do we receive joy during Christmastime? By taking a few moments to rest in the presence of the One who loves you the most and has every detail of your life in his hands.

Christmas is the story that redeems us. It is wild, beautiful and in it, the impossible became possible. The babe in the manger teaches us that when God shows up and weaves his heart into our stories, our joy cannot be contained. We are valued because of him, who writes his joy into our lives when we trust him.

We repeat the sounding joy because he affirms to us: You are loved. In me, you are enough. You are valued, treasured and adored. You are blessed beyond measure. You are my child, and you dear one, are amazing.

Even 2000 years later, Jesus is still bringing joy to the world. His love – deeper than we could ever imagine – conquered death. His glory was revealed to us and quite frankly, because of it, the world will never be the same. All of us are now healers, peacemakers and Kingdom builders proving each day the wonders of his love.

May you experience the love of Jesus and a deep awareness of his presence in your life throughout the year.

Lessons From Your Favorite Christmas Songs – 2: O Little Town of Bethlehem

How silently, how silently, the wondrous gift is giv’n;  So God imparts to human hearts, the blessings of His Heav’n.

Let’s face it, stables are not palaces. They reek, they are unkept and are filled with manure. Yet, a stable is the place where Jesus first appeared. He mangercould have been born in a royal place and laid in a golden crib. His birth could have occurred in a home, less regal, but warm and tidy and filled with love. But when Jesus came to earth he chose a stable.

When God feels far away from you, does it help you to know our God appeared in the stench of a stable? If he avoided the red carpets and the royal palaces of the day to be born in a cold, dingy barn, is there any place on earth where his love won’t appear?

God meets us not so much in the lovely, the times when life is going well, but he meets us where we are most needy. Being laid in a manger trough as baby, he knew what is was like to be needy. He depended on his parents for his life.

The Christ, who gave us mercy, was at the mercy of the innkeeper, who sadly told Mary and Joseph there was no room for them. Yet he curled up in the rough hewn wood of that manger in order to reach out to all of us.

But that isn’t the greatest miracle of Christmas. No, it is in the changed hearts of those who believe in him. The Messiah makes these detours towards the blessings of heaven in our hearts possible. God’s infinite love is always available to us if we only make a bed for him in our hearts.

The miracle of Christmas is repeated over and over again each time a person moves closer to him. He became human so we could never say, “He doesn’t understand me.” He may not approve of what we do, but he recognizes our human failings, because he wrestled with humanity, also.

Heaven bowed down to earth that day so our hearts could be warmed by the miracle of his love.

No Pain, No Gain

The Olympic Games are so thrilling. The drama played out in sports is so exciting. The life stories of the athletes are awe-inspiring – especially those who come to the games well-trained and highly disciplined, but knowing they will never medal. They are ecstatic just to be at this once every four year gathering of the best of the best.

Olympic-RingsFor several years, I worked at a small organization whose CEO was one of those Olympians. Jim was a decathlete in the 1988 Olympics, setting several national records but not winning a medal. When asked how he trained for the Games, Jim described rigorous morning workouts that left him so physically exhausted he could hardly move. He talked about endless weight room sessions. He recounted how he would punish his body over and over again in order to build his personal endurance, stamina and strength. Jim continually pushed his body to extreme levels, sometimes to the point where he would throw up after practice. Yet, he considered these practices absolutely necessary to compete at this level. His quick answer when asked why was the old adage, “No pain, no gain.”

The same is true for Christians as we seek to attain a Christ-like character. This morning, I begged God to keep me on His path: Don’t let me get blown off course by this world, or worse, because I want to do life my way. Living the unchallenged, pleasure-filled, easy-going life the world tells us is best isn’t going to develop our spiritual and moral muscles. In my life, it’s been the hardships and struggles that have caused me to drop my selfishness and bend my heart towards God’s love, wisdom and grace. During those times Christ walked so closely to me that my character changed. The pain diverted me away from the never-ending tasks keeping me from hearing God’s voice and doing what God prepared for me to do. In those times, I ran to Jesus and laid my burdens at His feet, knowing He Himself would provide the solutions.

Normally, I walk somewhere between darkness and light, questions and answers. But in difficult times, I grasp tightly to Christ. Romans 5: 3-4 states, “Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character and character, hope.” When I struggle, my faith grows knowing He will remain faithful. Even in the chaotic times, I remember He holds the victory and that my story ultimately has a happy ending.

So as Christians, we should truly understand, especially where spiritual growth is concerned, there is no gain without pain. Jesus knew this. He suffered greatly while on earth – misunderstood, constantly tested by the religious leaders of the time, all the while pointing his life toward Jerusalem knowing He would die a brutal death there. Yet, He remained obedient to His Father’s will. And if the Son of God suffered to gain, why shouldn’t it be more true for us?

Here’s an uncommon way of approaching what pains you today. Make a list of the struggles currently keeping you up at night. Then consider the character traits that could be developed as you walk through these difficulties with God.  Lastly, thank God for loving you enough to allow the circumstances of your life to mold your character so you’ll be more like Jesus.

May we always whisper our doubts to Jesus and lay our burdens at His feet, knowing He Himself is our answer. Remember: No pain, no gain!