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God speaks - do not miss the obvious!

True confessions ... again. Sometimes I am quite familiar with something, but miss a key point. The thing I am confessing to you fits into that category--the obvious. But you have heard this before and I am thinking you might have missed it too. We last spoke of the angelic announcement in the skies above the shepherds in our last Morning Briefing: [God speaks to those others disregard:] “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people..." Your attention please: Joy is offered to ALL of us, but we will not experience it if we are fear-filled. Fear defined: worry, stress, fear of various and sundry kinds, rational or irrational. Joy can be difficult to define … difficult to describe, but so often we start by saying, ‘you know, its like happiness!’ Hmmm, is there a difference between happiness and joy? I believe so. Happiness, at some point—sooner or later, is fleeting, while joy is lasting. I like what the ol’ preacher, Charles Spurgeon, said on the difference between joy and happiness, “That word joyful is a very sweet and clear one. Happiness is a very dainty word, but yet it is somewhat insecure because it begins with a ‘hap,’ and seems to depend on a chance which may happen to the soul. We say ‘happy-go-lucky’, and that is very much the world’s happiness. It is a kind of thing that may hap and may not hap. (It is helpful to know that happiness is derived from the Latin word, ‘hap’. Hap means hap-hazard . . . hmmm . . .) But there is no hap in joy. When we are joyful or full of joy, and that of the best kind, we are favored indeed. No man takes this joy from us . . . it is a celestial fruit, and earth cannot produce its like. Here are a few other things I know about joy: Joy is not about personality or temperament. That should be a stopper for those who already crossed joy off their possibility list, since they are serious people, not given to frivolity. Joy is not about temperament or your personality. Joy must be experienced in the moment, which is why the psalmist said, "This is the day that the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it."1 Much as I have wished, much as I have wanted, cannot save joy to experience it on the morrow. Joy is not dependent on circumstances, which is why Paul could rejoice even while in a cruel Roman prison; it was the reason he expressed, "I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances ..."2 Are you kidding me? This is huge! No matter what is happening in our lives, we can maintain our joy. Amazing. Joy seems to be inextricably tied to hope. Without hope, there is no joy. Joy is linked with the heart of God - yea, it comes from the heart of God, because at the heart of God, are all things good. At the heart of God is only good! For some, that is hard to swallow because God has oft been painted as harsh, austere, far-off, possibly vindictive or a cosmic killjoy-when he is none of those. Hmmm . . . Isn't it interesting that there is only one time of year when joy is splashed on signage, cards, neon and ads? Christmas. If only we could apprehend the angelic message given to the shepherds that night in Bethlehem for ourselves . . . if only we could read the following words as for the first time: 'Fear not, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day... a Savior!' Hmmm . . . joy linked with Jesus from his first days on earth? Yes, Jesus, God's plan of redemption for his beloved creation, is the source of joy for all people. And do not miss this truth: joy is meant for all people. Again I say, 'hmmm' . . . because living with joy means we heard the first two words the angel uttered, and we have learned to trust God and obey them: Fear Not. So, let's all lay down fear, anxiety, stress and worry and allow God's joy to fill us to overflowing! Yes and Amen. Isn't it crazy how God made a way? God Made A Way,Listen: Merry Christmas, Christine 1 - Psalm 118.24 2 - Philippians 4.11

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