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Fear will turn to joy!

Editor's Note

About the author: Jim Cochrane and his wife, Kim, have been members of ZPC since 1990. Jim currently teaches adult Sunday School and leads a Home Group.

About this post: This blog post is part of a series of daily devotionals where we are exploring traditional Advent themes of hope, joy, peace, and love. To sign up to receive text notification of these posts, text zpc advent to 39970. Advent booklets are also available at the ZPC Welcome Center. We welcome your comments and questions each day.

TODAY'S SCRIPTURE: ISAIAH 35:3-7

Strengthen the feeble hands,
steady the knees that give way;
say to those with fearful hearts,
“Be strong, do not fear;
your God will come,
he will come with vengeance;
with divine retribution.
He will come to save you.” 

Then will the eyes of the blind be opened,
and the ears of the deaf unstopped.
Then will the lame leap like a deer,
and the mute tongue shout for joy.
Water will gush forth in the wilderness
and streams in the desert.
The burning sand will become a pool,
the thirsty ground bubbling springs.
In the haunts where jackals once lay,
grass and reeds and papyrus will grow.

At the time Isaiah was writing these words, Israel was in dire straits as the Assyrians, under Sennacherib, were threatening to invade their country.  They were hopelessly outnumbered and it only seemed a matter of time until they were destroyed. In this passage Isaiah is telling the religious teachers and guides that the people are despondent, timid, and fearful (“feeble hands, weak knees”) and need to know that God has promised to deliver them from their enemies. Good things are going to come about that are simply unimaginable. The fear that exists will turn to joy! 

It happened then – Sennacherib was defeated and went home. It happened about 700 years later (with Jesus' ministry on Earth) – do blind eyes seeing, deaf ears hearing, lame walking and mute tongues talking ring a bell? And it’s happening today – people are turning to Christ and experiencing the joy that he promised years ago.

We may not consider ourselves religious teachers or guides, like the people that Isaiah was writing to, but we are. As Christians we are being asked to encourage, teach, and set an example for others that will continue to lead people to Christ. We don’t have to be Bible scholars or persuasive evangelists. There are a million ways to bring the joy of Christ and it all starts with the anticipation and appreciation of the Good News that was foretold by Isaiah and brought to us by Jesus Christ. We are called to use those gifts which he has given us. Are you a good listener, do you bake cookies, cut down trees, pray, fix computers? The list goes on.

Activity: 

Do one thing today to bring the joy of Christ to one person.

Prayer:

Lord,

Thank you that our feeble hands and weak knees will be strengthened and steadied and that we have much joy to look forward to now and in the future. With the guidance of the Holy Spirit, please help us play a part of lives being changed through Jesus Christ.

Amen.

Posted by Jim Cochrane with

Add joy by dividing

Editor's Note

About the author:  Karen Elliot has attended ZPC since 1997 and became a member in 1999. She has served as a deacon several times, is a member of the personnel team and also the hospital team.  

About this post: This blog post is part of a series of daily devotionals where we are exploring traditional Advent themes of hope, joy, peace, and love. To sign up to receive text notification of these posts, text zpc advent to 39970. Advent booklets are also available at the ZPC Welcome Center. We welcome your comments and questions each day.

TODAY'S SCRIPTURE: Isaiah 40:1-11

As I have been thinking about these verses this week, I remember the overwhelming, curl-your-toes joy that I have been blessed with the last two years. By way of background, one of my favorite quotes is by Mark Twain. “To get the full value of joy, you must have someone to divide it with.” Last year, my son proposed to my future daughter-in-law. This was followed by planning the wedding and all that goes with it and then the beautiful ceremony that has been the fountain of joy for me. There was so much anticipation prior to the big day. As the days grew closer, so did the joy of what was to come. I remember living those events as a bride so many years ago and seeing the love and joy surrounding Carrie and Christopher renewed my faith in love. You see, before the proposal, I carried a secret fear with me. I worried that Christopher would see the marriage of his parents (that did not last) and this would overshadow the choices for his future and he would choose not to get married. It would have been a failure all over again if my only son did not believe in marriage and want to get married if he found the right person. However, by the grace and greatness of God, my prayers were answered and Christopher found Carrie, the perfect partner to share his life with and receive the full value of joy.   

The joy for me comes in seeing our families coming together and surrounding them in faith and love. It was evident early on that Carrie’s family loved and accepted Christopher just as we love and accept Carrie as one of our own. Our new family growing together has refreshed our family gatherings, where we have lost the grandparent generation in recent years. My brothers and I are now a part of that oldest generation in our family but we are not grandparents yet. Although we have experienced the frailty of life by losing our parents, we have the joy of our new family that has been brought together by Carrie and Christopher.

In today’s verses we see God is there to comfort us. Although we are frail like grass, the word of God stands forever and the greatness of God is proclaimed. As verse 11 says, He will tend his flock like a shepherd, he will gather the lambs in his arms ; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young. 

 God is with us!

Activity: 

If you are in need of a little joy this holiday season and happen to frequent the drive-through lines of any restaurants, pick up the tab for the customer behind you and then say a little prayer of well wishes for them. This anonymous act of generosity may have ripple effects that reach beyond the one person you touched. 

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father,

Thank you for the blessings and opportunities of each day. Please guide me to make the right choices and also share the joy of knowing the greatness of you. May we each be gentle and joyful and patient this holiday season and also make space for quiet so that we may listen to you and so that your will be done.

Amen

Posted by Karen Elliott with

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