Tuesday December 27, 2022
Today is Tuesday, December 27 and this Christmas Season we are exploring what the Bible says about joy.
As I enter a time of prayer, I pause and become still. I calm my thoughts and silence my mind. I breathe deeply and slowly and center myself upon the presence of God.
Pause and Pray
Holy God, in the quiet of these early morning moments, I long to experience your abiding presence. Come Holy Spirit, teach me the secret of a joy-filled life. Enable me to hear the message you have for me today in the name of Jesus Christ, Emmanuel. Amen.
I rejoice in God’s faithfulness and praise him with the words of Psalm 71.
I will praise you with the harp for your faithfulness, my God; I will sing praise to you with the lyre, Holy One of Israel. My lips will shout for joy when I sing praise to you — I whom you have delivered. My tongue will tell of your righteous acts all day long. Psalm 71:22-24a
Pause and Pray
God promises joy in the Christian life. Everyone can use a little more joy. Paul’s letter to the Philippians is full of ideas and inspiration to maximize joy. Paul writes to people who are encountering stress from within and without. The Philippian Christians were threatened with persecution from people outside the church and dangerous divisions inside the church. One of the greatest sources of human joy are relationships. A relationship with God through Jesus Christ brings joy. Relationships with other people bring joy. When there is discord, disharmony and division in families and communities, joy is compromised and lost. Paul knows the answer to relationship problems is unity and peace.
Therefore, if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus. Philippians 2:1-5
Most would agree that this is a time of division in our country – social, political and ideological differences create significant polarization among people. Families suffer division and relationships are strained. Like the Philippians, Christians today experience disagreements, disunity and polarization. When family members or friends sow seeds of discord, disharmony and divisiveness, relationships suffer. Joy is compromised and lost. Healthy and strong relationships with people are a great source of joy for me. I name those in my life with whom I am closest – spouse, children, family members, in-laws, friends, coworkers, etc. Where is there harmony and joy? Where is there discord, disagreement, tension or disunity?
Ask: What relationships in my life bring me the greatest joy and how can I show my sincere appreciation? What relationships in my life are strained or unhealthy and what can I do to improve them?
Pause and Pray
Holy Lord Jesus, I am grateful for the encouragement I find in my relationship with you. Thank you for the comfort I enjoy from your love, the presence of the Holy Spirit and the tender compassion I find in times of difficulty. I highly value the relationships I have with others and am sorry for the times I have neglected them. Give me a heart to prioritize the cares and concerns of my friends and family. In all my relationships, I want to have the same mindset as Jesus. I read Paul’s words again and listen for what you are saying to me today.
Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus. Philippians 2:1-5
Ask: What image, word or phrase stands out to me when I slowly read this passage? What is God trying to say to me through these words of scripture?
Pause and Pray
God desires for me to have complete joy. What is preventing an increase of joy in my life? I ponder how I can provide more encouragement, comfort, love, tenderness and compassion to the people around me. I reflect on places I am guilty of selfish ambition or vain conceit. I acknowledge times when I place a greater value on my own needs and neglect the needs of the people to whom I am closest. There are times when I look to my interests first before the interests of those around me. What relationships have the greatest stress and strain? Where is there unforgiveness? I name these relationships before God and ask him to show me what I can do to repair and restore brokenness.
Pause and Pray
Lord, God, I invite you into my relationships. Please bless those who are closest to me. I name them before you and ask you to strengthen our relationship. I pray for those with whom I have a strained relationship and ask you to work to bring healing, reparation and peace over time. Show me what I can do to participate in the restoration you desire. Help me to love others as you taught me to love. Amen.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
As I leave this time of prayer, I go with a renewed appreciation for the relationships in my life. Lord, show me how I can more fully demonstrate my love to the people around me.
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