Living Out Joy  

by Ed Noble

Advent is a time of waiting but it’s more than that, it’s a time waiting with open hands, waiting with expectedness. Ultimately it’s waiting with a sense of joy. Joy is the beginning of the story. Joy is the reason for the season and Jesus is restoring the joy that has been snatched away from us. We are actually meant to run on joy. 

Nehemiah 8:10 says, “Do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

So how do you experience this type of joy? If we are being 100 percent honest all of us have had some time in our life that lacks joy maybe you or a loved one is caught in addiction, grief, loneliness or depression. These represent a void in our life and are a chance for God to come fill this space. The flip side of the coin, many of us are experiencing blessing and God’s goodness celebrating all that He has done and is currently doing in our life. 

Looking back to the original Christmas story in the midst of joylessness everyone experienced hope. Mary had a seemingly “illegitimate” child, Zacharias and his wife Elizabeth experienced a time of infertility. Mary gave birth to the Messiah and John the Baptist proclaimed the messiah – so much hope and excitement. In either cases whether we are experiencing the void or thanking God for the blessing we’ve got to look past the circumstance, the void or blessing, to the Blesser. 

Sunday, December 1

Nehemiah 8:10: “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

Eat something that feels like celebration! Give thanks before and after you eat. Ask God to strengthen you with joy. If you are feeling extra adventurous bring donuts to your office tomorrow!  

Monday, December 2

Psalm 20:5: May we shout for joy over your victory and lift up our banner in the name of God. May the Lord grant all your requests. 

Select a worship song that you like and brings you joy. Listen to it at least ten times well… maybe not 10 but as much as you can. Listen to it in your car, on your lunch break, on your office computer, etc. 

If you don’t know which worship song to choose here’s a list of 10 songs we have done at Journey! 

Tuesday, December 3

It will blossom profusely 
And rejoice with rejoicing and shout of joy. 

They will see the glory of the Lord,
The majesty of our God.    
Isaiah 35:2

What have you seen God do in your life? Where have you seen God work? A job promotion, a friendship, a relationship healed. Make a list of what has already blossomed in your life. Thank God for each of those blessings. 

Wednesday, December 4

Indeed, the Lord will comfort Zion;
He will comfort all her waste places.
And her wilderness He will make like Eden,
And her desert like the garden of the Lord;
Joy and gladness will be found in her,
Thanksgiving and sound of a melody.
Isaiah 51:3: 

Journal today a desert list. A list of places in your life where nothing is blossoming; it might feel like a wasted place. The next step give thanks and take joy even in these wasted places knowing God can bear fruit in a desert, can bring joy in an un-joyful place, can make this years desert list into next years blossoming list. 

Thursday, December 5

Matthew 1:23: “Behold, the virgin shall be with child bear a Son, and they call His name Immanuel,” which translated means, “God with us.” 

Today make a list of the ways God shows up, pay attention throughout your day to the ‘coincidental’ gifts that are clearly from God. If you need help, read James 1:17,”Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above…” 

PS: If you are looking for a verse to memorize this one is great to have in your back pocket!  

Friday, Decemeber 6

Read afresh the story of the messiah in Matthew 2:1-12. Pay attention to verse 10: When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.

Answer this question what “stars” lead you to Jesus?

Take a moment to make a list and give thanks to them. E.g.: friends that invited you to church, circumstances that pushed you into realizing that you need a change, family holiday, etc.

Saturday, December 7

Read Luke 2:14: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.”  

Part of the effects of Jesus coming is to restore Shalom. Today, try to have a deliberate conversation with someone who is doing this advent exercise. Share with each other your favorite part of the actual Christmas story. What part inspires you, builds you up and gives you hope? And, if you are brave, pray a prayer for each other to be filled with joy throughout advent and the beginning of 2020.