Advent Week 3 – Joy and Generosity

What a joyous time of year! We are only a week and a half away from Christmas which means there is only a week and a half left of anticipation for the big day! This advent season I committed myself to actually following an advent plan… I’ve actually been doing pretty good this year! I know that I missed posting about Week 2 and perhaps I will go back and make that post up but I knew that I couldn’t miss this week.

One of the things I have loved both about the advent series “Hark” from Mill City as well as my Advent readings, is that they really have been focusing on the response of the people in the story.  I have heard the story so many times but you just put a new spin on it when you consider, “What did Joseph think when Mary told him she was pregnant because of the Holy Spirit??” I mean, wow, put yourself in Joseph’s shoes!

Today at Mill City, Pastor Aaron spoke about joy. To hear the full sermon, you should go to millcitychurch.org! I’m not going to go into too much detail tonight, but I will just bring out a few little nuggets that I picked up from the sermon today.

Joy is much different than happiness.  Happiness is often tied to the circumstances of the moment, while joy can be experienced despite the circumstances.  Joy is recognizing that God is present in every situation and at ALL times.  In the good situations and the bad.

Remember that God is always at work.  The key to joy is to never try to figure out HOW God is at work in the moment.

This little nugget from Aaron is SO true.  Have you ever been in a situation and thought, “I just don’t understand God’s plan?” But, have you ever looked back and thought, wow, I totally see how God was working in me during that situation! Hind sight is 20/20!

Just remember and recognize that God is present. He will restore what is broken.  He will redeem what has been stolen.

Another little nugget I enjoyed from today’s sermon that is so true is, if we expect things to happen a certain way we are going to miss out on something.  Certainty in life is one of the biggest weaknesses in life.  It develops a sense of control (and us humans are never in control).  Instead, we should cultivate curiosity for what God’s will has for us.  Curiosity cultivates surrender. It is so hard not to want certainty and continuity and to have a PLAN. But what God really wants from us is just to trust him, and trust that HE has a plan for us and that it does not matter if life happens “out of order” from what we expect, because it is happening “in the order” He expects.

Finally, the last little nugget from the sermon today is the idea that even though there is a difficult circumstances, we are still joyful because in the end we know that God is present.  That because of Jesus we are a part of God’s story.  We are participating in the rule and the reign of Jesus in the world, and that should literally take the weight of the world off of your shoulders.  Wow, so good!

So, if the Sermon was about joy why did I put generosity in the title? Well, remember

MCC 1my first advent post from week 1 where I took a break from social media in order to better focus on those around me and appreciate the people I am with? Well, this week my book is talking about generosity.  It is encouraging us to pray about how we can be generous in this holiday season because God is generous with us.  The book challenges us to not only be generous with our time but also with our resources and finances.

I encourage all of you to look at the world around you and see what joy there is and what you have reasons to be joyful about! Also I encourage you to pray about how you can be generous in this time of year where sometimes money seems tight.  What has God given you that he wants you to give to others?

MCC2

“Just as you’ll never understand the mystery of life forming in a pregnant woman, So you’ll never understand the mystery at work in all that God does.” – Ecclesiastes 11:5

 

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