Joy is a response to the character of God.
When God created the world, He made it to be a place of peace and contentment. In the Magnificent Paradise, God provided fruit trees that were pleasing to the eye and good to eat. And He personally walked with His creation! But when sin entered the world, so did greed and jealousy. As circumstances changed and life presented more challenges, people found it harder and harder to be happy. However, even now in this broken world, God wants us to have joy.
Even though we try to find joy through our stuff, or our vacations, or our relationships, joy isn't dependent upon any of those things. Joy is about being content beyond our circumstances. We can have joy when we recognize that God's plan is greater than our own. Joy is a response to our trust in God.
Jesus is the reason we find joy.
God sent His only son as a baby, born in humble circumstances. Jesus wasn't what anyone expected, but this was how God wanted to rescue the world. God made good on the promise He made hundreds of years before. This December, we pray that through the story of Jesus, kids realize that God loved them so much that He sent His Son to be here on earth. The story of Christmas can remind us through every season, regardless of our situation, there's a reason to celebrate what it means to have a relationship with God.
That's why it's important for us to help our kids and families discover more about joy - finding a way to be happy even when things don't go your way.
Our Memory Verse for December comes from Philippians 4:4. When Paul wrote this letter to the church at Philippi, he wasn't saying to have joy only when it's easy. Paul was writing from prison and learned the secret of having joy no matter what his circumstances looked like. Paul's faith in God made him strong and gave him the ability to find joy, even in the difficult times.
In Philippians 4:4, we read, Always be joyful because you belong to the Lord. I will say it again. Be joyful! (NIrV) As kids memorize this verse, we hope they remember that their joy is not tied to their circumstances. Instead, we find joy when we realized that we belong to God. When we trust God no matter what, we can find joy knowing that whatever happens He is in control.
We will spend the month of December taking a closer look at the way joy shows up throughout the Christmas story.
As a friendly reminder, there will be no children's programming on Sunday, December 25.