• Mount Tabor UMC

Devotional for December 7

We are a family of singers. We don’t always sing well or on key, but we will belt out a song on a road trip within the first few minutes of our journey. One of the first songs our daughter learned to sing was the chorus of We Sing Joy (Joy to the World) by Cloverton. We would hear her sweet little voice repeat over and over “We Sing Joy” for months on end whether in the car, in bed singing herself to sleep, while playing with her toys, and of course during Christmas. For her, joy is simply being happy. Giving and receiving presents, playing with friends, riding her bike, and eating her favorite desserts all bring her joy. She experiences happiness and joy with a childlike innocence often forgotten by adults.

As adults, we come to realize through experience that happiness and joy are not synonymous with each other. Instant pleasure does not always equal ultimate happiness even though we often wish joy would be easily obtained. We often think that happiness and joy can simply be purchased. We quickly find out, however, that our purchased happiness is only temporary and we are again faced with the troubles of the world. In fact, God can use unhappy events/circumstances for us to discover true, lasting joy. The Bible teaches us how we should learn to find joy in the hard times. Luke 18:16 states ‘But Jesus called them to him, saying “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God.” A child’s spiritual innocence keeps one connected with God. Children do not as readily feel guilt or shame and more readily believe faithfully even without seeing with their own eyes.

So, how can we experience joy with the innocence of children? Lucky for us, Jesus Christ restores our innocence and offers us forgiveness. He loves us and wants us to be joyful! This is how believers can “Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy” (Psalm 47:1) when we are faced with unhappy situations, long and hard days, or when we are expectantly waiting for something to satisfy our souls.

An important part of the Christmas Story involves the wisemen who studied the stars and wholeheartedly believed God’s word. Their belief in the One who would be born king of the Jews led them through the desert on camels adorned with food, drink, and gifts for the king. The wisemen recognized the worth of Christ and made the journey with expectant hearts. They actively sought Jesus for a long period of time. Matthew 2: 9-10 states the wise men could hardly contain themselves when they arrived at the house where the star shown above. Their journey was over and they ‘rejoiced with exceeding great joy!’ They kneeled and worshipped him. They probably smiled and laughed, patted each other's backs, and could not wait to spend time with Jesus. I imagine their hearts grew with the joy and excitement of being with the King of Kings. Although the Christmas Story was beginning and they did not know what the future held, they were certainly gifted with one of the greatest gifts, the innocent and everlasting joy that comes from wholeheartedly following Jesus.

This advent season, while we are expectantly waiting to celebrate the birth of Jesus, simply keep the words “We Sing Joy, Hallelujah” at the forefront of your mind no matter the twists and turns your journey may take you. Allow yourself to approach him with innocence, knowing he has freed us from guilt and shame and wants us to come to him as children. Live for joy and believe wholeheartedly in what God will show us this season.

Written by Jason, Tamara and Emersyn Levi