Christmas: Great Joy for ALL People

December 21, 2018

“Behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all people!” (Luke 2:10)

A man named Tim Hansel lived every day with excruciating pain. He wrote in his book, You Gotta Keep Dancing, that “pain and suffering are inevitable but misery is optional.” That is true for a Spirit controlled disciple of Jesus. Tim also wrote “I can choose to be joyful.”

Joy is one of the nine fruits of the Spirit the Apostle Paul wrote about in his letter to the Galatians. (Galatians 5: 22-23) As evidence of the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives, joy could be paraphrased “happiness that does not make sense.”

The derivation of the word “happiness” has to do with what happens to us. But this joy, which is the fruit of the Holy Spirit living in us, is not controlled by what happens to us. That is why it does not make sense, especially to non-spiritual people.

In the very short letter the Apostle Paul wrote from prison to his favorite church, the Philippians, he used the word joy 17 times!

Appearing to the shepherds the angels explained why their declaration would bring great joy to all people: “For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:11)

Great joy came because the One born is the Savior. He is Christ, which is the Greek way of saying the Messiah. And He is to be our Lord.

Joy came because Jesus gives the Holy Spirit to those who follow Him. This joy is intended for all people, including you and me.

Are you choosing to be joyful?

Dick Woodward, 20 December 2013


Jesus: God With Us

December 18, 2018

“Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Emmanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.” Matthew 1:23

The holidays are the most family-oriented weeks of the year. Yet for many – those who have no family, singles, widows and widowers, the divorced among us, and those with painful and negative family experiences – the holidays can be the most difficult time of the year. As a pastor every year I had parishioners who asked me in early November to pray for them to make it through the holidays.

The hard reality is that lonely, depressed, and anxious people are lonelier, more depressed, and more anxious during the “season to be jolly” than at any other time of the year.

At the same time, the last four weeks of the year are filled with joy and happiness for millions of people and their families. Whether the holiday season is your favorite time or your most difficult time of the year, consider bringing the true meaning of Christmas to your holidays and to every day of your new year.

Try to block out the advertising blitz of the commercial Christmas. Carefully read the Christmas scriptures in the first two chapters of Matthew and Luke, and then read the first 18 verses of the Gospel of John.

You will see that the essence of Christmas can be described by the word incarnation. The biblical word ‘carne’ is the Greek word for ‘flesh.’ When we consider Christmas, we find ourselves face to face with the incarnation – the miracle that God decided to make human flesh God’s address when Christ was born in Bethlehem.

When asked about Jesus a little boy replied: “Jesus is God with skin on.”

Emmanuel, God with us.

Dick Woodward,  A Christmas Prescription