Chara 5

1 John 1:3-4

For the past two summers we have vacationed on the Outer Banks in North Carolina. Both years we went with our friends, each family renting a condo in the same complex. Both years as we planned the trip the most essential question was not how much it cost or what the weather would be like or what place was available. The biggest question was whether or not we could all go at the same time.

That was the most important issue because we realized that, although we enjoyed the beach and the sun and the surf, what we enjoyed most was being with our friends. Being together completed the joy of our trip.

John, perhaps one of the earliest followers of Jesus, is writing about what he has seen and heard about the Gospel. According to verse 3, why does John share this information? What is the motivation listed in verse 4?

Our vacation would have been very pleasant if we had gone on our own. But it was so much more enjoyable because we could share our time with others. It is the same with the good news of Jesus Christ.

We can be satisfied that we are saved by Christ, that we have heard Jesus’ message ourselves. But if we are going to live a life of joy, part of the fruit of the Spirit, we will find joy in sharing our message.

John is writing to inform others of what he has learned, either from Jesus himself or from others who knew Jesus. His reason for sharing is to offer these others an opportunity for eternal life, but he is also inviting them into the fellowship of all who believe in Christ. Bringing others into this fellowship is a source of joy for John.

We can also experience that joy of fellowship when we invite others to know Jesus as we know him. When we are of the same spirit and attitude with others in our faith we can experience the joy of the fruit of the Spirit.

DAILY CHALLENGE: Can you find joy in sharing the Gospel message?

Chara 4

Romans 15:12-13

Now that we are into the second week of January we are working to pack away all of our Christmas decorations. But, even as we put away all the trappings of the holidays, we must remind ourselves to keep the attitude of Ebenezer Scrooge in “A Christmas Carol.” Scrooge vowed that he would keep Christmas in his heart all year long.

Paul is writing to the early church in Rome, a group of believers who are apparently struggling with maintaining their faith. Keeping our faith alive is sometimes hard to do. But Paul makes reference to the Old Testament prophet Isaiah.

Who is the “Root of Jesse?” What does Paul want the Roman believers to do? What will they receive? What does Paul want hope to do in them?

Just because the holidays are over doesn’t mean we should pack away what we know and what we celebrated. Bidding farewell to the happiness of Christmas and what it all means can cause some sadness. Many may feel challenged to keep alive the spirit of the holidays, the joy of remembering the gift of Jesus.

Paul’s reference to Isaiah is a reminder of the Christmas story, the fulfillment of prophecy. And that reminder can help us recall why we have joy.

The joy that comes from the reality of Christmas does not end when the evergreen trees are taken down and the ornaments are boxed up. The joy of knowing that the Root of Jesse, Jesus Christ, has been given as a gift to all of us should be with us daily. The knowledge that the Messiah has come to be our hope and our salvation should fill us with joy at all times.

Paul’s desire for the believers in Rome is certainly meant for all believers everywhere. When you trust in God, when you are in step with the Spirit, God will fill you with all joy and peace. And that joy and peace is meant to overflow in you, to be shown to others and shared with others, that they may see your joy. You should be a witness of God’s joy that is meant for all people at all times.

DAILY CHALLENGE: How can you keep the joy of Christmas in your heart all year long?

Chara 3

John 15:9-11

We have two Purple Passion plants in our house which originated from a single cutting someone gave me several years ago. These two plants are thriving, and from them have come other cuttings which have grown into plants that I gave away to friends. The plants bring me joy and I hope that their offspring bring joy to those who have received them.

Today’s passage is part of John’s account of the Last Supper, the time where Jesus was with his disciples in the Upper Room. Jesus has compared himself to a vine, explaining that the disciples are the branches. They are spiritually growing out of his teaching. Now he tells them to remain in his love and obey his commands.

What will happen if the disciples remain in Christ’s love? What two reasons does Jesus give for telling them this?

The image of the True Vine that Jesus uses reminds me of the plants I have. From a single source much joy has been spread over the years. Each portion that is cut away and used to grow another plant has the same basic substance as that original stem.

Jesus has instilled his Spirit in his disciples. He is the source of the great love they have received and the great love they shared in their own ministries. From them, those who have obeyed the commands of Christ have passed on that same love, that same substance of the Holy Spirit. From that true vine of Christ many branches have spread.

Jesus told the disciples all that he had to say so that they might feel the same joy that Jesus knew. He knew the joy of being in step with the Holy Spirit of God, of being in communion with the Almighty. He wanted them to feel joy, and that joy would be complete joy.

Complete joy is that all-encompassing peace and happiness that comes when you know, deeply and confidently, that God is with you. When you are in step with the Holy Spirit you are surrounded and filled with that confidence, that security of knowing God is with you in all things. It allows you to live a life of fullness and happiness, a life free from fears and worries.

That same joy is Christ’s desire for us as well. He wants us to be filled with the joy that he knows. He wants our joy to be complete, whole, all-encompassing. He wants the joy of being in tune with the Holy Spirit to fill us at all times.

DAILY CHALLENGE: How can you remind yourself that you are rooted in Christ, connected to Christ, and springing forth from our Savior? How can you remember that you should be filled with joy?

Chara 2

Luke 15:8-10

Folks don’t seem to do it any more, but I remember the celebrations of new car purchases when I was a child. It was customary in our neighborhood for people from up and down the street to gather around the shiny, new vehicle as the proud owner let this one and that one sit behind the wheel, poke around under the hood, or run their hands along the shiny chrome. It wasn’t boasting or showing off. It was shared joy.

Jesus gives an example of the joy of salvation in this section of Luke. What has the woman lost? What does she do to find it? What is the first thing the woman does when she finds her coin?

In the verses just prior to this passage Jesus tells of a shepherd who recovers a sheep. Following this passage is the familiar story of the prodigal son. All three are examples of people who celebrate the recovery of what was lost. All three stories result in that celebration being shared with others.

These are stories of joy. They are meant to explain the joy that God feels when people turn from the sinful nature and establish a relationship with Him. Salvation, turning from sin and walking in step with the Spirit, is indeed a reason for joy. Our salvation brings God joy.

But, we should also be experiencing that same joy in our hearts. We should feel joy not only when others turn to God, but when we remember that the salvation Jesus offers is given to us. As Christians we are in step with the Spirit and we should be joyous in our attitude at all times. We have reason for constant joy.

And like the woman who found her lost coin, like the shepherd who finds his sheep, like the father who regains his son, our joy should be shared with all of those around us.

The joy you feel for your own salvation is not something to be hidden, but something that should flow from you into the lives of others. Let your relationship with God bring you joy, and let the light of your joy shine into the dark world.

DAILY CHALLENGE: Is there someone you know who can be invited to rejoice with you?

Chara 1

Isaiah 52:7-9

The other night I got to see a contestant on a game show win $1 million. The host asked him how he felt, and the young man said, "I don't know. I guess it hasn't sunk in yet."

It made me think about how I would feel if that happened to me. To receive such a tremendous gift so unexpectedly would send my mind reeling. It would indeed take some time for it to become real to me, to "sink in."

This passage from Isaiah is a prophetic one. It foretells of God's return to His people, of God bringing salvation and redemption to those who may not feel hope.

What kind of good news is mentioned in verse 7? How will those who see God's return react? Why should we burst into songs of joy?

Winning $1 million in a short span of time, minutes, would be something wonderful and exciting, yet we have a better prize than that kind of money. We have the promise of eternal life. Jesus has died for our sins and we have been redeemed (see Isaiah 52:3).

If we bear the name of "Christian" then we believe in Jesus Christ and we believe that he has provided us salvation through his sacrifice, death and resurrection. How beautiful are the feet of the one who proclaims good news. How wonderful is the person who shares the gospel message.

All who believe in Jesus and who have accepted his salvation should experience joy, the type of joy that is described in Isaiah. Our hearts and our minds should be reeling with the delirious happiness of knowing we are given eternal salvation.

And that joy should overflow our own hearts and into our lives. We should be living lives of joy, joy that is evident to all who see us. And that joy is a message to be shared with all we meet.

DAILY CHALLENGE: Do you feel joy in knowing that you are saved? How might you express that?