By Andrea Olson
Psalm 51:12 “Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you.”
Luke 2:8-20 “That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”
Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying, “Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.” When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished, but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often. The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. It was just as the angel had told them.”
Romans 15:13 “I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.”
He’s the proof
Glory to the new-born King!
-Lyrics from “The Proof”
I am awestruck by the thought of what it must have been like for the wise men and shepherds when they saw Jesus for the first time. Here were the people who had anticipated the long-awaited Messiah for generations. They had wondered how and when He would come. They had likely speculated for years, but when they saw Him for the first time…none of that mattered anymore.
God did care. He did see them. He hadn’t forgotten, and He had kept His promises. They were looking at the proof.
The proof that all their waiting and trusting was worth it was lying in that manger. And oh, the joy that followed! I cannot imagine what that must have been like. What did that explosive and exciting praise sound like as the shepherds went back to their fields? And what about the glorious choir of Heavenly Hosts? I imagine the Shepherd’s celebration lasted for days, and their joy never waned.
Maybe you’ve heard these stories all your life, and they have become rituals with little meaning anymore. I know I’ve been there. I challenge you today to take a page from the shepherds. Try to imagine what it must have been like to be an eyewitness to the proof that God had fulfilled the Promise they had heard about their whole lives. The joy and excitement they must have felt because of Jesus. And then remember, we have access to that joy! Because we have that same proof living in us when we accept the gift of salvation through Jesus.
On this 4th and final Sunday of Advent, we pause to reflect on the joy that we received when Jesus came to earth. I pray that you can find joyful moments every day this week as we lead up to Christmas Day. I know that this season can be challenging and painful. If you find yourself in a place of hurt or darkness, I pray that God restores your joy.
Once again this week, come back to these linked scriptures every day and read them as a prayer. Soak in these Truths as you prepare your heart for what is ahead. As you read the verses in Luke 2, ask God to restore the joy of your salvation (Psalm 51:12). Then, grab your journal and write down all of the ways that God gives you joy this week.
“I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13).
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