Joy, Day 1:
Scripture: Luke 2:8-14
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
A single angel could have delivered the message about the birth of Jesus to the shepherds in the fields, yet our joyful Father chose to send a whole host of angels to declare the good news! His joy and love was overflowing. As we draw closer to his Son’s birth, our anticipation and joy grow, too. It is very easy to get so caught up in the excitement of celebrating Jesus’ birth that we miss the joy of his arrival. We can show our joy not with just a single smile, but with our words, our actions and our faith--a joyful host of glad tidings. Let’s ask God to open our eyes to new opportunities to spread joy this year.
Father God, thank you for the greatest gift ever given! Your joy overflowed the night that Jesus was born as the angels filled the sky. We pray that the same joy overflows in each of us this Christmas. In Jesus’ holy name we joyfully pray, Amen.
Joy, Day 2:
Scripture: Isaiah 35:1-2
The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom. Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom; it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy. The glory of Lebanon will be given to it, the splendor of Carmel and Sharon; they will see the glory of the Lord, the splendor of our God.
The prophet Isaiah calls us to rejoice, because God will make the desert bloom and will call the people to return home on a great highway. When Jesus was born in Bethlehem, the angels brought "good news of a great joy, which shall be to all people." The good news of Jesus' birth and the promise of Shalom are still "tidings of great joy" for us today. One way to honor God and his great gift is to seek joy. Joy is everywhere! We just need to look for the joy of Jesus, the joy of salvation, the joy of grace, the joy in his love, the joy in our relationship with our Heavenly Father, the joy in serving, the joy in giving and the joy in his creation. Joyful, joyful, we adore Thee.
Father God, thank you for the gift of joy. Help us to recognize the moments of joy in our lives, and know that joy comes from you. May we live joyfully so that others will ask where we find our joy. In Jesus’ holy and precious name we pray, Amen.
What makes you the happiest and most joyful? That’s the same joy that Mary, Joseph and the shepherds felt when Jesus arrived!
Joy, Day 3
Scripture: Ephesians 5:14
“Awake, O sleeper, and rise from the dead, and the light of Christ will shine on you.”
It began as just another night out in the fields for some shepherds near Bethlehem. Perhaps two or three sat together on a rock, sharing stories or hopes and dreams while guarding the sheep. Perhaps they took turns on watch, with one sitting alone as the others slept in the dark of night. This was their life, day after day and night after night. Baa. Baa. Blah. Blah. After long years of waiting for the Messiah, did they have any idea God was about to rock their world? What? What’s going on? That light! It’s so bright. Wake up, guys! Something awesome is happening. Can you sense it? We’re surrounded by the glory of God! Do you hear it…that voice? It’s an angel! Fear not. I have good news of great joy for all people! Today in the city of David a Savior has been born to you. He is Christ the Lord. Gasp! A savior. The Savior. Our Savior has been born! Let’s go!
Without hesitation, the shepherds ran to Jesus. After coming face to face with the Messiah, they returned praising God and spreading the good news of great joy! Perhaps our soul is dark with sin, waiting for the Savior. Or maybe we’ve received salvation through Christ, but with difficult challenges and hardships, the nights have become long and dark. Or perhaps with work and school routines, many days seem rather baa, baa, blah, blah. Will we respond as the shepherds? Arise. Fear not! Wake up and sense the glory of God. Hear the good news of great joy. The Savior, our Savior, has come. He desires to be born in our hearts. Run to Jesus! Let his light shine on us and through us. Go forth sharing the love and joy of Christ. Let’s go!
Dear God, everlasting joy has come to the world through the birth of your Son and our Savior, Jesus Christ. Wake up our souls that we might arise and run to him. Empower us to share the good news of great joy with a hurting world. Amen.
Joy, Day 4
Scripture: 1 Peter 1:8-9
“Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”
What does it mean to have joy? To some, it means gifts. To others, it could mean a trip to Disney World. To the believer in Christ, it means salvation. This doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy the good things God blesses us with, but lasting joy to a believer is the promise of eternal life. Happiness and joy can be two very different things that are many times mistaken as the same. Happiness is fleeting and circumstantial. Joy, on the other hand, is a deeper, more substantial sense of God’s provision and grace. Jesus is at the center of this promise. 1 Peter 1:8-9 speaks of this joy: “Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” What does that mean at Christmas time? It means Jesus was born for the purpose of our salvation. He lived for us, died for us and was raised for us, rendering us forgiven, having access to eternal life with Him and giving us the gift of true joy.
Dear Father God, thank you for sending your Son, Jesus, to be born on this earth, to set an example of how we are to live and love, to die for the forgiveness of our sins, and to give the gift of eternal salvation for all who believe in you. Thank you for all of your blessings, but we know that true joy only comes from you. At Christmas, and throughout the year, may the promise of salvation be the source of our joy as individuals, as families and as a nation, and may our witness to others be humble and loving, pointing to you as the source of true joy. Amen.
Find joy today! Make a list of the things that bring you joy each day and challenge yourself to find more the next day. Our joy comes from Jesus and with him we can live a joy-filled life. You can even graph your joy and watch the joy of Jesus grow in your house!
Joy, Day 5
Scripture: Luke 2:10
The angel said, “Don’t be afraid. I’m here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide.” (The Message)
Praise God! The good news the angel shared that day on the hillside to the humble shepherds is for everyone. Jesus came to us all, including the plain and the ordinary. He comes to any and everyone who has a humble heart and will accept him. It does not matter who you are, what you have done, or what you do–you can have Jesus in your life! Praise God that we do not need extraordinary qualifications for Jesus to accept us into his kingdom. We just need to believe.
Heavenly Father, thank you for sending your Son, Jesus Christ, to anyone and everyone who believes in him. Thank you for the message the angel shared that evening, that the good news is meant for everybody!
Joy, Day 6
Scripture: Luke 2:10
"Do not be afraid, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people."
The Lord God chose a dark night outside of Bethlehem to announce the arrival of his Son, the Savior of the world, to some lowly shepherds. What started as paralyzing fear for the shepherds turned to great joy as they understood the message. Jesus said, "For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him" (John 3:17). God has now entrusted his good news with us and has commanded his people to share about his Son with a dark world. Do we believe the message? If so, God is calling us to share about his joy with others as we experience his glory through our relationship with him. Is God's joy part of your life? God's gifts of faith, hope and love conquer fear and hate. God is still in the business of changing dark nights into great joy!! Let us join him in his work.
Almighty God, forgive us for focusing on our fears rather than sharing the good news of your Son. Grant us the love, wisdom and warmth to speak boldly about the joy and forgiveness found only in Jesus Christ. Amen.
Joy multiples when you share it with others. Consider things you can do for someone in your family that will bring them joy. It could be matching socks on laundry day, or bringing in the mail for a neighbor, or simply playing with your siblings.
Joy, Day 7
Scripture: Deuteronomy 4:9
Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.
The story of the shepherds on an ordinary night that turned into an extraordinary experience is one of immense comfort and joy. Luke 2:17-18 goes on to say that “when they had seen [the baby Jesus], they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.” These shepherds did not forget what their eyes had seen or let it fade from their hearts, but instead spread the word so the joyous event could be retold for generations. We, too, are called to share both God’s Word and the experiences God has placed in our lives, such as answered prayers and journeys he has guided us through. Sharing these stories gives hope, peace and joy to others and reminds us of the amazing love our Father has for us all.
Holy Lord, thank you for your Word and the gift of joy it brings to our lives. Let us share the wonders of your love with the world, that all might share in your joy. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.