My sisters, my mom and I piled into the car early Friday morning with our hot coffee and our hotter coupons.  We started at Macys, went to Penneys, made a quick tour of the mall and then finished at Kohls.  The back of my car indicated that it had been a successful morning!  I am now the proud owner of Christmas dishtowels that wish me “Joy” whenever I am at my kitchen sink.  These towels are an encouragement to me because, as my friends know, the kitchen is not always a joyful place for me.  My sons called home from college, raving about the dorm food.  That is more of a commentary on my cooking than the University’s.  I just never mastered the art of cooking.  Maybe this blogging thing will work out!

I arrived at work today and was presented with a homemade cake ball decorated to look like a turkey!  Our resident internet guru at the ministry office has a wife who makes Rachel Ray look like an amateur.   She is an amazing cook, but her children will probably not enjoy dorm food as much as mine did.  Nevertheless, I will strive for joy this holiday season, even in my kitchen, and my new towels will aid that effort.

Christmas is a season for joy.  What is the biblical definition of joy and how can you make certain that you and your families experience that joy this Christmas?  My favorite verse on the subject is John 15:9-11.  Jesus is in the upper room with his disciples.  He has just washed his disciples feet, told Peter that he will deny his name three times,  dismissed Judas, and now they are in the Garden of Gethsemane –  waiting.    Jesus wants to encourage his disciples and strengthen them for the moments ahead.  He said, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you.  Now remain in my love.  If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love.  I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”  Study the “so that” so that you can have joy this Christmas.  

You are loved by the God of the universe.  You can know and experience his love by living obedient to his word.  Jesus wanted his disciples to have joy, his complete joy, so he taught them this lesson – right before he died.  Whatever is happening in your life today, you can receive his joy.  Obey his commands and remain in his love “so that” your joy may be complete!  

I like this verse on joy as well.  “Nehemiah said, Go and enjoy food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared” (Nehemiah 8:10).  I hope Scott’s wife reads my blog.  (Hint, hint.)

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