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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

Unshakable hope = unspeakable joy

Editor's Note

About the author: Brian and Cynthia are active members at ZPC and have 3 grown children; Zach, Jacob, and Hannah. Additionally, two new children have been added to our fold this year, Dhamar and Sophey. We are deeply thankful for the opportunity to worship and be in relationship with all of the people at ZPC; it is home for us.

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: Psalm 126

When I received the request to do this devotional on joy I was pretty far away from joy and thought it might be really good for me to ruminate on it. You see, we have been gifted with two bonus daughters this year….AFTER empty nesting for 3 years. As excited and nervous as we are to be able to pour into these two young women’s lives, it is not without its challenges. We know it is God’s will, which keeps us taking the next step.

As we move into this hectic season we are discovering yet another layer of emotional healing for us to embark on with them. One of the new daughters has such a highly fantasized view of Christmas that there is no way for us to match it, and the other one hates Christmas…think Grinch before his heart grew three sizes.

And then I read Psalm 126.

“When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion,
we were like those who dreamed.
Our mouths were filled with laughter 
our tongues with songs of joy.
Then it was said among the nations,
The LORD has done great things for us,
and we are filled with joy.
Restore our fortunes, LORD,
like streams in the Negev.
Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy.
Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow,
will return with songs of joy,
carrying sheaves with them."

The third verse tells us that the source of this joy is PAST TENSE, they already had received it. For the Israelites joy came in the recounting of all that God had already done for them. Rescue after rescue...provision after provision. But that was only a foreshadowing of the greatest gift ever, the gift of a baby, the gift of redemption in Jesus. For us, ALL OF US, that source of joy has already been given as well. It is immediately available to us.

Chris Tomlin has a version of Joy to the World that includes the lyrics “Unspeakable Joy.” This is the gift of God; unspeakable joy. It is not found in the most festive tree. It is not found in the most expensive present, or the most beautiful church service. Believe it our not, it’s not even found in an argument-free holiday get together with the entire family. No, that joy is found in the person of Jesus. It is found in knowing that no matter what, God sent that baby for us. It is found in unshakeable hope. 

It will be incumbent on my wife Cynthia and myself to help Dhamar and Sophey, and all people we encounter, see the source of our joy. We need to let others see that our unshakable hope has begotten unspeakable joy. Then maybe all of our hearts can grow three sizes larger.

Activity:

Take five minutes. Just. Five. Minutes. To think about all that God has done in your life and especially that Jesus brings us unshakable hope and unspeakable joy, no matter what.

Prayer:

Thank you Lord for this opportunity to ruminate on joy. I ask now that you would help us all to live in that hope rooted in Jesus, that it would become contagious and that all around us would be drawn to the true source of joy they see in us. 

And all of Gods people said,

AMEN!

Posted by Brian McCall with

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