Week 3 – Joy
Read Luke 1:41-50 and Luke 2:8-12 your notes from Sunday morning’s sermon.
Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve learned that amid the darkness and brokenness of the world, God sends his son Jesus to be born and give us hope for a life that can be reintegrated into His kingdom. We can experience the qualities of His kingdom here and now, not just after we die.
We see several examples of this in the bible. When we read Luke 1:41-50, we can see that the invitation to joy begins even before Jesus is born! Both Elizabeth and Mary experience great joy in the hope of Jesus birth. Reading Luke 2:8-12, the angel that appears to the shepherds tells them that Jesus birth is going to bring Joy to all of the people.
Joy also comes when we accept the invitation to live this life of apprenticeship to Jesus or discipleship to Him. It brings joy by the very nature of this relationship because His spirit is ridding us of everything else that oppresses us. Dallas Willard puts it best in his book the Divine Conspiracy.
He says: “We know his grace and gracefulness and his desire for us to be persons in our own right. We are to count for something, not just be robots. His spirit and the spirit of our relationship rules out all parylizing and oppressive attutudes and enables every aspect of our lives to be a joyous journey through the fields of the Lord. Joy is our portion in this fellowship. Joy goes with confidence and creativity. It is his joy, and that is not a small joy or repressed “joy.” It is a robust joy…. For nothing less than joy can sustain us in the kingdom of rightness that possesses us, which truly is a weighty and powerful thing to bear.”
This joy is not just a feeling of happiness but a state of being that carries us through all circumstances. We can have joy in every circumstance because of the hope that we have in Jesus.
- Mary and Elizabeth reacted with joy in anticipation of Christ’s coming. They expected him to make a difference in this world. Do you live in expectation of what Christ can do in you or in the difference He can make through you for his Kingdom?
- Do those expectations give you joy?
- How have you experienced the joy of Christ in your life even in unfortunate circumstances?
Feel free to discuss or ask additional questions as they arise
Last week we looked at an example Moses going into solitude and being transformed through it. This week we will look at another example of someone who practiced solitude in the bible. Read Mark 1:32-37. Jesus is in the thick of His ministry. This is a time where everyone around Him seems to have a great sense of urgency. Still, even when there are many things to get done, He takes the time to wak up early and go to a solitary place to pray. It is only after He has this time of solitude that He continues on in his work.
Now try to imagine a busy and demanding time in your life. You may be going through a time like that right now! Unless you’re already practicing solitude, I bet most of us don’t stop to go be alone with the father and pray when in those situations. What is more likely is that we tell ourselves: “I just need to get through this season, then I will have time to spend time with God again.” Maybe we even just quickly pray: “God, give me the strength to get through this busy time in my life. Or “God, please make this go away so I can rest.” What we learn from Jesus though is that we must let ourselves have true quality time with God, within those busy and trying times, not afterwards. Our strength and rest is found in Him.
This week, as you go about the busy-ness of the Holidays, take 30 minutes to an hour to spend time in the presence of God in solitude. You may need to get up early like Jesus did to be able to make it happen. Take a journal or notebook with you and write down anything that comes to mind during this time, including what you are currently struggling with. At the end of the week, go back to your notes and see if you notice any changes in your situation, your attitude, or your relationship with God. Make note of those changes. You may find it encouraging to come bcak to them later as you continue practicing solitude.
Closing Verse: Mark 1:35 – ‘Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.”