I love the Christmas season. I love the songs, the sights, and the smells of that time of year.
Oh, yes I do realize it’s February.
I just have to pause though and mention that I love, love, love the Christmas season (even in a pandemic) and I’m always sad each January because it’s over.
I can attribute the season to one word: JOY. And while I may no longer be singing about joy, or bells for that matter, I did spend a good part of the holiday season cultivating a list I knew I would need later. This list, to be exact, gives me all the feels on how to cultivate Christmas-like joy for the rest of the year.
Before we talk about specific ways to cultivate joy, let’s define the word itself. According to the King James Bible, joy is one of several words that expresses gladness or rejoicing, often used to describe the people of God as they celebrate the blessings on God.
But before we continue, I realize that I just did something I’ve never done before in my life. I defined a word using a Bible, not a dictionary. And I did it with ease.
So….what was that about?
The short answer is because my Bible has a dictionary in it. The long answer is because I started using a new Bible; one that brings me joy. Alas, let’s continue.
Joy is necessary if we are to live the way God intends, doing the things God has called us to do. In the Old Testament, Moses encourages the Israelites to serve God with joy so that they would not lose their blessing. And James tells New Testament readers “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.” (James 1:2-3)
It’s a thing. A very important thing if we want to keep in proper alignment with the will of God.
Especially when we don’t want to.
The ills of the world and the discouragement of daily life can make it hard to keep joy alive in our hearts. All the more reason for lists like these and a Bible like mine. Here’s what we can do, starting today:
Live on purpose. Mary was living her life as normal when the angel Gabriel paid her visit. She was following God’s will and doing the things she knew she was supposed to be doing. Every day, do what you know you are supposed to be doing and live as if God is watching. In fact, He is.
Allow God to do His thing. Mary and Joseph had no choice. Neither did Elizabeth and Zechariah, the three Wise Men, or the angel Gabriel. Sure, they could have interceded and done things differently because they knew better than God, but where would that have left them? When we pray about an issue, we have to be willing to step back and allow God to do His thing. That puts a slightly different spin on the Christmas story, doesn’t it?
God’s light will be seen by everyone. Y’all, when we walk with God, it is evident. When we follow God’s word and instructions for living, the results are evident. God’s light is what led the Wise Men to Jesus. Yes, you may be questioned or even persecuted, but trust me, God’s light and His will shall prevail.
Servanthood is neverending. Mary was God’s servant. Joseph was God’s servant. Elizabeth was God’s servant. Gabriel was God’s servant. Do you see where this is going? All of us are God’s servants. And as Jesus says, “but he that is the greatest among you shall be your servant.”(Matthew 23:11) Serve Him and others well…without a doubt, a grumble, or a question.
Your squad matters. I’ve always said that cousins make the best friends. In my family they do, and for Elizabeth and Mary, they did as well. These women were an important part of each other’s squad, and as we know from the study of Scripture, their offspring felt the kinship as well. Your squad matters.
Speak life into someone else. Gabriel spoke life into Mary. He told her what was about to happen and he told her not be afraid because the Lord was with her. Encouraging words, or utterances, as the Bible calls them are kind of what we are called to speak unto others. Make it a habit and do it regularly, you’ll be glad you did.
Always make room for Jesus. As a mother, when I think of sweet baby Jesus having to be born outside and sleeping in a manger, I shutter at the fact that no one made room for Him, except Mary and Joseph. Maybe the innkeepers didn’t know Mary was pregnant with the Christ child, but we have the advantage of knowing who He is. As an important part of our lives, we always need to make room for Him. Always.
Share gifts. Part of the reason we exchange gifts on Christmas is because the Wise Men brought gifts to baby Jesus. My question is this: What’s to stop us from giving gifts more than at Christmas, or Valentine’s Day, or on birthdays? My aunt used to surprise her friends and family with things she affectionately called, “happies.” Do this and I promise you will make someone’s day. 🙂
And now, more on my fabulous Bible:
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One of my goals for 2021 is to learn more about the King James Version of the Bible. To be honest, I’ve been immensely afraid of it since I started studying the Bible even more….even in seminary classes. The KJV Study Bible makes it easy to read and understand…I promise you! This is one goal I’ve embraced so far this year.
What goals did you set for 2021? How are they working for you?