“…the joy of the Lord is my strength.”
Several years ago, a friend taught me a children’s song. The tune is more like a chant than a song and it has been going through my mind for the last several weeks. There are only three lines, so you can repeat it as many times as you want. I wish we could sing it together - here it is:
J is for Jesus
O is for Others
Yi Yi Yi Yi is for you! You! YOU!!!
The song is very fun and simple, yet it has a deep truth. We will have JOY when JESUS is first and the highest priority in our lives, followed by OTHERS such as family, friends and possibly strangers and then, lastly, YOU, or self. Doesn't that seem so simple and clear? Jesus. Others. You (Self). Whenever I’m feeling discouraged or irritable, I go back to this little chant and always discover that I have put the needs of others OR my self interests first. Everything is out of order when Jesus is not first. OYJ or YOJ certainly does not produce J O Y!
Another song about joy is one of the most famous Christmas carols - Joy to the World. This popular song, written by Isaac Watts in 1719, was not written as a song celebrating the birth of our Savior but rather a poem based on Psalm 98. “Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth, burst into jubilant song with music” (Psalm 98:4, NIV). The original theme of the poem was actually referring to when Jesus returns - Joy to the world, the Lord is come, Let earth receive her King - the second coming of the Lord.
We may not always be in the middle of happy situations during Christmas but we may still choose JOY. As I am finishing this devotion, we are traveling to Georgia to participate in my dad’s celebration of life. He passed rather unexpectedly and this is a very hard time for our family. As I cry out to the Lord, I am holding on to the fact that “…the joy of the LORD is my strength” (Nehemiah 8:10, NIV). This Christmas season, regardless of what we are facing-we can choose to remember why we celebrate. We celebrate Jesus, Savior of the world - He came as a baby, was a perfect man who bridged the gap between a holy God and sinful man, He is preparing a place for us in heaven and He is coming back again, and when He returns, even the rocks will sing! His return is the ultimate JOY TO THE WORLD!
Next time you sing Joy to the World, the Lord is come, Let earth receive her King, remember joy comes when we put Jesus first and also that no matter what we are facing today, even if this holiday season is not filled with everything happy and easy, we can definitely rejoice in the fact that one day He is returning! He came for you and for me. He came because He loves you and me so very much.
My precious husband, Bill, and I have been planted in Fort Myers, Florida for almost 35 years. As a newly married couple, God most graciously had placed people in both of our jobs to share Christ with us. Its hard to believe it has been almost 34 years since we asked Jesus into our hearts! Bill and I have been blessed with four children, 3 daughters, then a son. These blessings came quickly, all within 6 years!! During these years I'm so thankful I was able to be part of women's ministry classes at our church, helping me to grow in my walk with Him. Then came the day when I was asked that question that stretched me way outside of my comfort zone...will you teach a class? Its hard to believe that I have now been teaching more than 20 years. Bill and I love to travel, most of the time going to visit our 9 grandchildren, oh ya, and their parents! I also love reading, walking and hanging out with some very special young moms in Beloved that bless my socks off!
Julie is a Kansas girl who resides in sunny Southwest Florida. She's been married to her husband Sean for 23 years and they share two boys ages 21 & 17. She enjoys baking and biking, but her absolute favorite thing is snow skiing which is a little difficult to do in a sandy 80 degree land.
She became a follower of Christ at age 10. She loves studying and teaching God's Word. She has a passion for encouraging moms to love and follow Jesus.
Beth grew up in a loving home; however, in her early 20s she faced a very lonely time. During that time, she cried out to God and asked “If You are real, please show yourself to me!” God met her where she was and she trusted in the Lord Jesus at that time. Her life verse and desire is “no matter what happens, to conduct herself in a manner worthy of the gospel.” Philippians 1:27
Beth now resides in Tampa, Florida with her husband Larry. The Lord has blessed them by blending their family of five children. They currently have eight grandchildren and are hoping that there will be more grandchildren in the future.
Donna accepted Jesus as her Savior at the age of nine and has been amazed at God’s goodness and faithfulness throughout her life. She has been blessed to have had many mentors through each season of life, who have shown her what trusting God looks like. Donna and her husband, Bryan, make their home in central Arkansas. They have five grown children and are grandparents to wonderful grandchildren. Donna enjoys spending time with her family, laughing with friends (usually over coffee), going for long walks with her husband, and reading a good book (which may also be accompanied by a cup of coffee).
Sarah is a true Florida Cracker. She was born and raised in Southwest Florida. At the age of 6, Sarah accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior, and she hasn't looked back since. Hebrews 13:8 is one of her favorite verses, "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever." Eating delicious desserts, spending time with her family and friends, and teaching people about Jesus are a few of the things she enjoys to do in her spare time.
Sarah has been married to her best friend and husband, Brandon, for 7 years. They have been blessed with one beautiful, determined son, Asher, who keeps them on their toes. Sarah and her family live in the Tampa area. They love exploring their community together, family hugs, and eating pizza whenever possible.
Katie Flint just recently moved back home to Fort Myers, Florida with her husband, Ryan and two children, Collins and Madden. At the age of 5, Katie accepted Jesus Christ to be the Lord and Savior of her life, after attending Vacation Bible School. Through each phase of her life, God has shown her that He alone is trustworthy. The verse that has been her life source is Psalm 46:10- “Be still and know that I am God.”
She is a stay-at-home mom and enjoys exercising and baking. She has been married to her husband Ryan for almost 9 years, who is her high school sweetheart. They enjoy trying new restaurants, family trips to the beach, and relaxing at home.
Marsha grew up in a small rural town in upstate New York. In 2006, after finishing college, she moved to sunny SW Florida where she met her, now husband, Shawn. Together they enjoy spending family time with their two fun-loving toddler boys Zachariah and Kairos.
Marsha enjoys living an active lifestyle, which is helpful, considering that her favorite hobby is baking.
Though she attended church as a child, Marsha was not saved until adulthood when her eyes were finally opened to the love and mercy of Jesus Christ.
Since being saved, God has placed a loving burden on her heart to share the truth about God’s healing grace with those who may feel like forgiveness is not possible for them.