The Fullness of God

The Twenty-third Day of Advent

For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial and takes no bribe. He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing. Love the sojourner, therefore, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.  Deuteronomy 10:17-19 (ESV)

Fathom this, “For in Him [Jesus], all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell.” (Colossians 1:19) The incarnation of the Son of God is a mind boggling thing. When we read Deuteronomy 10:17-19 we are not led to think God small or mundane. The whole intent of those verses is to inspire love, faithfulness, and obedience in God’s chosen people. This is no less true of the incarnate Son, Emmanuel-God with us. When Jesus was born to Mary, all the fullness of God was wrapped in swaddling clothes; the God of gods and the Lord of lords, the great God, the mighty and awesome God, was revealed in the tiny body of a little baby boy. Fathom that, and worship the King!

Danny Panter

Deeper Love

The Twenty-second Day of Advent

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God.  Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.  Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.  This is how God showed his love among us:  He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.  This is love:  not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 1 John 4:7-12

1 John 4:7-12

As I reflect on things that I have loved in my life, it almost seems that I have no memory before June 30, 2009.  That is the day that I became a mother which brought a new kind of love into my world.  Holding my newborn child was unlike anything I had experienced up to that moment.  While my life changed drastically with the addition of this new little person in our house, it also changed spiritually.  I finally could begin to understand the love that comes from the Heavenly Father.  I began to “get” that His love is unconditional as this is the same sort of love formed for my own child.  I understand on a deeper level what it meant for God to give his only Son and the sacrifice made for us.  Isn’t it amazing that He provides these experiences on earth to help us understand His love and commitment to us and the joy He feels as our Father?  God is love.

Emily Lund



Rejoice Always

The Twenty-first Day of Advent

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, 

Rejoice always.

Pray without ceasing.

Give thanks in all circumstances.

These three verses can be a bit daunting if one takes into account all that goes on in this life. It is not always easy to rejoice in many everyday circumstances. Praying without ceasing seems pretty difficult. Being thankful no matter the circumstance is a tall order.

These verses are part of Paul’s closing remarks to the Thessalonians in his first letter to them. As a reminder, Paul is letting the Thessalonians know that life should not dictate how they go about their day or how they react to the curveballs that get thrown at them. Christ should.

Our relationship with the wonderful Prince of Peace should permeate every little thing that we do, feel, think, and say throughout our daily lives that there is no room for anything else but Him.

No matter the circumstances we find ourselves in this Advent season, we can and will find joy in our Lord if we seek Him and His will for our lives. We look to Him for our joy today, as well as our joy for tomorrow. We look forward to His return and the joy that awaits us with the return of our King!

Jimmy Gunn

True Joy

The Twentieth Day of Advent

“I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. In that day you will no longer ask me anything. I tell you the truth, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.” John 16:20-24 (NIV) 

The Greek word:”chara”, the root of our English word “joy” means “to be exceedingly glad.” In our society, all too often we equate happiness with joy, and yet, they are so different in source and meaning! Happiness is temporal, fleeting and based on circumstances and other people. True joy is a permanent possession and gift from God derived from our faith, trust and relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ.

Jesus shared with His disciples that events would soon occur that would make them very sad, his crucifixion, and those who hated Him would rejoice. Then he compared their anguish to that of a woman in childbirth, yet when she gives birth to new life, so would Jesus’ resurrection in three days give new life for the world.   This joy of new life did not replace their sadness, but it grew out of their sadness.

So it is in our life.  We experience trials and challenges in our life’s journey, yet as we persevere in faith, trusting God despite our circumstances, our sorrow is transformed to joy that can never be taken from us.

“Thank you, Lord, for this wondrous gift of Joy. May our daily prayer always be that Your Will Be Done as we trust You and experience that joy in all situations. Amen.”

Barbara Williams

How Real is Your Joy?

The Nineteenth Day of Advent

Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. 1 Peter 3:9 (ESV)

The Christmas season is not at all welcomed by some. To many in our culture, mantras of “Joy to the World” or “Peace on Earth” ring particularly hollow because their lives are neither joy-filled nor peaceful. Apparently, not everyone in our world is anxiously awaiting Jesus’ glorious return.

While it is wonderful news to us that Jesus will one day return, he instructed us that, while we wait for that, the world will hate us (Mathew 10:22; John 15:18-19). And, despising us, it will do and say hateful things to us and about us. Even during Christmas…maybe especially during Christmas.

The question is, what will that hatred bring out in us? Are we truly living such a joyful life in Christ that, when put under pressure, that joy is what comes out? Or is it rather pain and anger just under our surface so that, when persecution comes, those are the first responses squeezed out of us?

While we await Christ’s return, we would do well to consider: how real is our joy?

Blake Coffee

No Substitute for Joy

The Eighteenth Day of Advent

Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV)

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

Out of the nine fruits of the Spirit, the characteristic of joy is a very personal and intimate gift from God to each one of us. It is not something that we can muster up from within ourselves using our own strength and will, especially during times of frustration and sadness. We greatly desire it and tend to recklessly search for it only to find substitutes that are fleeting and lack depth. In chapters 5 of Galatians and 8 of Romans, Paul gives us clear instruction for obtaining this joy: do not gratify the desires of the flesh or sinful nature but let the Holy Spirit within you dictate how you live. Once we let the Spirit take over, then there is a manifestation of joy deep within ourselves. Not only do we receive this wonderful gift of joy, but we also have the opportunity to experience God’s supernatural intervention in our lives as we miraculously exhibit the fruit of the Spirit.

Richard Lombardini

Great Joy

The Seventeenth Day of Advent

 Psalm 16:9-11 (NIV)
“Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure,
because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay.
You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence,
     with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” 
Does the celebration of our Savior’s birth bring you joy? After all, the heavenly messenger said to the shepherds on the night of His birth, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of GREAT JOY…for all people.” The Psalmist used several words in our text to refer to the sense of joy in his own heart: “glad…rejoices…secure…joy.” While some of the joy experienced by the Psalmist was the result of what God had done and would do for him, much of it came from the thought of just being in the presence of the Living God! So let’s celebrate our Lord’s incarnation this year with “great joy” as we live even now in His presence and look forward to the eternal joy we will share in the next life with all who are in Christ!!
Lewis E. Lee

Delight in You

The Sixteenth Day of Advent

But be glad and rejoice forever in what I will create, for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight and its people a joy. I will rejoice over Jerusalem and take delight in my people; the sound of weeping and of crying will be heard in it no more. Isaiah 65:18 – 19 NIV

“ . . glad . . . rejoice . . . delight . . . joy” Soaring, grand, beautiful words from the mouth of Jehovah, the God of the universe. The one from whom all of our joys flow. The one who sees the sorrow of his people and announces “good news of great joy that will be for all the people” (Luke 2:10) when his Son makes his entrance into the world as a baby. But wait . . . He also is the one who takes delight in his own people – you and me! He sees our feeble steps; he knows the grief we bear; he understands our struggle with sinful habits – and yet he takes delight in us. In my imagination he smiles . . he chuckles . . . he even laughs with joy. It’s a relationship of mutual joy and delight. The God of the universe is rejoicing in you today. Rejoice in him!

Jean Nystrand


The Fifteenth Day of Advent

Luke 2:16-20New International Version (NIV)

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

“…which were just as they had been told.” Someone has remarked that joy is a sense of well-being that saturates the soul–a conviction that God will hear every cry, right every wrong, heal every wound–even though the present world stings us with sorrow. The shepherds praised and glorified God, because in the face of Jesus they saw the future despite the present. They now knew that God would do all he said he would do. As Julian of Norwich wrote long ago using words she heard in a vision of Christ, “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.” The name for such confidence is joy. The Bible tells us what the shepherds saw, so that we, too, might see the future. The world is not alright now, not by a long shot. But it will be. It will be.

Bryan Richardson

God’s To-Do List

The Fourteenth Day of Advent

But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law,  so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. Galatians 4:4-5  (NASB)

In most of my conversations with friends, the subject of busyness is mentioned.  Keeping up with family schedules, transportation logistics, and grocery shopping are necessary parts of living this life.  I find myself writing lists to manage all of the busyness and bring some sense of order to the chaos.

Paul writes of an amazing to do list in Galatians 4:4-5.  God’s perfect plan to bring salvation to all who would believe.

God planned:     When the fullness of time came

God acted:          God sent forth His Son

God designed:    Born of a woman, born under the law

God’s purpose:   So that He might redeem those who were under the law

God loved:          That we might receive the adoption as sons

Today, I will thank Him for His great love and perfect plan that has brought peace into our wandering hearts.

Julie Livingston