They saw ~ Look up Psalm 119:18 and write it out as you use it for a prayer prompt for your study time. ~ Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.
They rejoiced ~ Fill in the blanks for the following texts, looking for keys to maintaining joy in the Christian life.
John 16:24 – “… ask and you will receive, and your joy will be full.”
So, we can say that prayer is one key to maintaining joy. Now, go back to the previous chapter in John to look at some guidelines for prayer, to give some context to the promise, and to find another key to maintaining joy.
Verse 7 reveals what should motivate our prayers. “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.”
Verse 8 reveals the intended purpose of our requests. “This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”
Verses 9-13 give us yet another key to maintaining joy. “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.”
Notice that Jesus said we are to love one another as He loves us. The next verse hints as to how Jesus would ultimately show His love. Write verse 13 down. – Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
1 John 1:4 – “We write this* to make our joy complete.” * Read 1 John 1:1-3 to see what “this” was. Note that it was in sharing “this” message that John and his fellow Christians found joy. Summarize in your own words what was being shared in John’s writing.
(Answers may vary.) They had witnessed the life of Christ Jesus (the Word of life) and knew Him to be the key to eternal life. The sharing of this good news brings us into fellowship with God and with one another.
To recap these keys to finding/maintaining joy:
- We experience joy when we pray, especially when our prayers are inspired by His word and motivated by a desire to bear fruit which brings glory to God.
- We have joy when we remain in His love and demonstrate that love relationship through obedience to His word and modeling of His sacrificial service to others.
- And finally, we maintain joy when we share what we know about Christ with others.
Psalm 16:11 also says God fills us with joy when we are in his presence, so we must explore how it is that we experience His presence.
They came ~ While we, as Christians, are assured that Christ is with us always, Scripture does indicate that there are means by which we can make ourselves more aware of His presence. We are also told to come to Him to experience the benefits of His presence more fully.
In Matthew 11:28, Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
In Revelation 3:20, Jesus invites us, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.” We often use this passage to draw non-Christians to Christ, but look at Revelation 1:20, and the heading before 3:14 to see the target audience for this passage. Who is Christ inviting to “eat with Him” (that is, come into a more intimate relationship with Him)?
Christians – the people of the church
Ephesians 2:19-22 describes another setting Christ chooses to inhabit in a special way. Fill in the blanks for this passage: “Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.”
Read Matthew 25:34-40. According to this passage, what can we do that will be counted to us as having been in the presence of Christ himself?
We can give good, drink, clothing, hospitality and care to Christ by extending those things to the least of our brothers and sisters in Christ.
When you are weary or burdened, is your first response to take advantage of Christ’s offer to come to Him and find rest?
There are many things we might go to before we go to Christ to find rest when we are weary and burdened. Examples might be other people, addictions (food, alcohol, drugs, sex), even entertainment (constant need to “get away,” vegging out in front of the TV, the “party life”).
How often do you accept His invitation to “sit and eat” with Him?
Jesus is the “bread of life” and the Scriptures are often referred to as “food” (Ps. 19:7-10; Jer. 15:16; 1 Peter 2:2; Heb. 5:11-15). So, how do we “sit and eat” with Jesus? We read His word. We listen to the teaching of His word. We spend time in prayer with Him.
Do you regularly fellowship with other Christians to experience the uniquely manifested presence of God in that setting?
Do you minister directly to Christ by being of service to others?
They worshiped ~ Before the holiday season is too long past, take time to reflect once more on the significance of Christ’s birth. Take a moment to worship Him, maybe using some Christmas music or readings from Scripture (such as Lk 2 or Phil 2:6-11) to help get your thoughts focused. As the year comes to an end, you might also take time to thank Him for the blessings you received this year, making note of any specific things that come to mind.
They gave ~ Before you move on to the application section, read and think on the following texts:
Go back through the devotion and this study guide, noting anything you might want to do to take action (remember all those action verbs in the story of the magi?) on the things you have learned and pondered from this month’s devotional. Your possible responses might include encouragement projects, or areas to focus on for personal growth (commitment to one of the forms of “being with Jesus”). You might also want to think about long-term planning for ways to keep your encouragement ministry active all next year.
What do you specifically want to do in response to this month’s devotion?