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Posted By Nan

Luke 6:17-26

This section is a powerful encouragement to Jesus’ disciples. Then, as now, they lived in a cruel world that gave little support to those who were not prepared to follow the world’s way of greed and “dog eat dog”.

Yet Jesus was calling His disciples to a different way of being. A way that was gentler, more loving, more caring. To a time where being poor was not a crime. Instead He proclaimed that the poor belonged in the Kingdom of God. In different versions of the Bible poor has many meaning. Having read many different versions I believe poor is multi layered. There are the poor physically, who cannot afford a roof over their heads and food. There are the poor spiritually, who seek more because they know they do not have enough. 

Jesus also proclaimed that those who cried because of circumstances in their life would laugh.

He reminded the people that they were blessed when people hated, excluded and insulted them. Even when people judged them and claimed they were evil because of their faith in Jesus. All were blessed.

Those under such sorrow and persecution would rejoice and dance for joy because their reward in heaven was a cause for much joy.

Those who are in this earth and are rich without faith in God had already received the comfort. 

The same with those who were well fed.

Those who were happy and who were spoken well of. They had already received their reward.

Jesus also reminded the people that the prophets sent by God had been poor, hungry and sad. People had hated, excluded and insulted them. They had also been rejected because of the word of God they proclaimed. They had faithfully served God and been rejected by the people. 

Those who were evil had money, food and frivolity. People idolised them. But God rejected them.

So here is another source of Joy. The Joy that comes from God when He rewards us for our faithfulness to Him. We may never see that reward until we get to Heaven, but how great to spend eternity in Joy. 

Posted By Nan

Luke 2

The Joy of this chapter is all about the birth of the Messiah, Jesus. What greater cause for Joy? This Joy we celebrate every Christmas when we mark the birth of our saviour.

What I find striking about this chapter of Luke is the number of people, ordinary people, who knew about Jesus’ birth. 

First were the shepherds. They were told the great news and decided to see for themselves. As “The Message” says “seeing is believing” and these shepherds came and saw exactly what they had been told.

Simeon also saw. He was sent by the Holy Spirit to the Temple in Jerusalem, just as Jesus was being brought into the temple. He saw what he had been told throughout his life. What he saw was the baby Jesus. He knew this baby was the saviour of the world.

Likewise Anna came to the temple. She had been directed there and she was able to see the saviour. 

Both Simeon and Anna believed. They had remained alive to see this baby. Now they were satisfied their lives could end.

I wonder what happened to the shepherds. Did their belief in this baby continue? Or did the years fade their memories and their belief? Or did they sit out the lonely nights watching sheep, gazing at the heavens and praising God?

Was the joy of the shepherd a lifelong joy?

We need to be more like Simeon and Anna. Eagerly anticipating. Never losing faith. 

I have been reminded of that recently. I have been finding it hard to build up my counselling practice and have lain awake many nights asking God for guidance as to whether I should even continue in my work. Today God showed me His requirements for me to continue and believe. So I will do what I imagine the shepherds did. I will gaze at the heavens and praise God. I will believe and eagerly await the next step in God’s provision in my life.

May this be your practice too. To be the shepherd watching the heavens and praising God.

Posted By Nan

Luke 1

This is a well known chapter of the Bible. Luke’s story of the birth of John and Mary’s encounter with the Angel of God. 

But there is more to this story than just that.

I have relished the opportunity to read this chapter and ask God to point out aspects of this chapter He wants me to understand.

The understanding I have been given today is different to the understanding I have gained in the past. 

First there are the references to Joy.

There is the joy the Angel has told Zachariah he and Elizabeth will experience at becoming parents at last.

Then there is the joy of baby John in Elizabeth’s womb reacting with joy at Mary’s arrival because He has recognised the woman chosen by God to bear Jesus.

Finally there is the joy of the community at the blessing God has given Zachariah and Elizabeth in their wonderful baby, John.

When God blesses us with a child there is much joy. Having a baby is so special.

More interesting is the joy unborn John, filled with the Holy Spirit, demonstrated upon meeting Mary. Not even born, but already filled with the Holy Spirit and a Holy purpose.

Two examples of joy. Joy at a baby and joy because of the Holy Spirit’s revelation.

We must never overlook all God’s sources of joy.

I find it interesting to note that Zachariah doubted the ability of God to give him a son. As punishment, he was not allowed to talk until he demonstrated his faith in God by insisting the baby was called John.

Those nine months of voicelessness must have given Zachariah a great opportunity to reflect on God and devote time to worship and an increase of faith.

By contrast, Mary believed the Angel and never doubted that God would do as He said. Her only concern was how this was to happen as she was a virgin. She never questioned God’s answer. She believed it would happen and saw herself as blessed by God.

Her fitness to be the mother of God’s Son was demonstrated here.

God sends us many experiences of Joy. Sometimes those causes for Joy are miracles. Other times they require us to believe.

Sometimes believing requires a period of waiting and having faith.

When we believe then we can experience true joy.

Posted By Nan

Mark 4 

I have already covered these parables in a previous blog so I am going to talk about a different aspect of them. For this I have read the chapter in The Message.

In the first parable about the sower, Jesus told His disciples that he was teaching them about God’s Kingdom. He explained that he was telling everything to the people in stories so they would be prepared and ready for the good news. They were being nudged towards the awakening of faith. The source of great Joy.

Jesus was careful to stress that He was not telling things in stories to hide the truth about the Kingdom. Instead He was telling stories to bring the good news into the open.

Many times in this chapter, Jesus asks his disciples if they are really listening. Then He warned them to be wary of the advice of those who follow the world’s ways. He warned the disciples to not take advice on how to advance themselves in this world. He reminded them that giving was the way to follow Him. We are to be generous, not stingy. Generosity creates more generosity. Stinginess merely creates poverty.

True faith in Jesus, the type that creates Joy, requires courage. It is risky to trust God. It is risky to follow Jesus when the world laughs at those who follow Him. The path of Joy is not for the faint hearted.

If you want to experience God’s Joy, then you need to step out in courage and generosity.

Posted By Nan

Matthew 28:1-10

This section of Matthew 28 speaks of a new aspect of Joy.

The women have gone to the tomb to anoint Jesus’ body.

When they arrive they see an open tomb and an angel sitting there.

The angel tells the women not to be afraid because Jesus has risen and is not there. 

It is recorded that the women hurry away. They are afraid but they are also filled with Joy.

It is a good point. We encounter God, or His messengers, and we are filled with awe and fear. But our encounter with God also fills us with Joy.

So sometimes there is fear mixed with Joy.

We must never feel we have failed because we feel fear when we feel Joy. Sometimes that is the correct response to God.



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