Jesus Joy

Joy cannot be contained.

It starts in the eyes and spreads across hopeful faces. Soon, the row is ignited and then suddenly an entire auditorium is full of luster and smiles and excitement.

There is no better place to see the contagious nature of joy than at VBS Parent’s Night. All week, children have been soaked with Jesus’s love, forgiveness, kindness and compassion. They have had a front row seat to experiencing the Savior. Capping off the journey, their parents are invited to a special program where the children share what they’ve learned through skits and song.

Joy shines bright, as voices sing loudly with over-the-top hand motions.

Jackson (in the orange) sings from his heart.

Jackson (in the orange) sings from his heart.

My son Jackson oozes Jesus joy after weeks like this. He loves praising God through song, and the joy jumps right off of him onto everyone watching. When I see the purity in his worship as he uses every ounce of his energy to pour out his love to God, I can’t help but praise Jesus, too.

Vacation Bible School offers so many of these children freedom: freedom from boredom, broken homes, arguments, missed meals, apathy, overlooked needs, or just not feeling special or important. They are greeted by those who generously love them, teach them, feed them, play games with them, make them laugh, sing crazy songs with them, encourage them, and most importantly through it all, introduce them to the One who can give them freedom from sin.

When a heart is full of Jesus, it overflows with joy. It changes lives.

Lauren (in the middle) sings through her smiles.

Lauren (in the middle) sings through her smiles.

I saw no faces of anger or sadness during the program. Parents beamed with pride as they watched their children sing and speak truth. They heard the gospel through precious voices, and clapped loudly as memory verses were recited and songs exuberantly sung. Most of us were humbled by the joy in our children, and touched by the message they learned and wanted to share with us.

In the end, their joy helped us see Jesus.

(I want to especially thank those amazing VBS workers who poured into my children during VBS, including Matthew, Whitney, Elaine, Peyton, Joy and Cheryl. And, I want to give a shout out to my amazing co-teacher for the week Midge, who was truly the hands and feet of Jesus to those students in our care. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!)

Sharing promises

You are blessed because you believed

You are blessed because you believed

My Jesus Journey – Luke 1:39-56, Mary visits Elizabeth

God’s promises can be overwhelming.

When God says He loves you, He is preparing a home for you in heaven, or that He will make all things work together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose, it’s hard to understand the depth and power of that reality.

Sometimes, we need to see God’s promises up close. We don’t just need to hear, we need to experience. This is separate from belief. Mary believed the angel Gabriel at his word that she would carry the Son of the Most High, and that belief is confirmed in Scripture. Yet, she “hurried” to see her cousin Elizabeth a few days later, probably when she surfaced from the shock and gravity of what had just been proclaimed to her. She didn’t mosey along, she high-tailed it. She wanted to see the truth of what had been told to her.

Mary needed someone with whom to share God’s promise.

Elizabeth had her own God-promise that had grown for six months now, and was a visible reminder to all of God’s graciousness. When Mary greeted Elizabeth, God confirmed to both women His amazing plan for the children they both carried.

The Holy Spirit came upon Elizabeth, and she began to prophesy about Mary being the mother of the Lord. She encourages Mary by saying, “You are blessed, because you believed that the Lord would do what he said.”

The greatest blessings come through faith. Mary believed God at His word. She believed God, without knowing how or when or why. She just believed. And, Jesus came.

How many blessings have I missed, how many times have I not experienced the presence and power of Jesus, because I didn’t believe?

After Elizabeth’s proclamation, Mary heart can no longer be contained. Scripture doesn’t record that Mary has shared with anyone what had happened. With Elizabeth, Mary lets go of the questions and trepidation of what was to come, and praise bursts forth.

God’s promises should prompt our praise. Yes, they may overwhelm us, they may frighten us. We may not understand. But, with God’s promise comes His presence. Jesus is Emmanuel, God with us. He is all we need. He is our strength and our song.

“Oh, how my soul praises the Lord.
How my spirit rejoices in God my Savior!
For he took notice of his lowly servant girl,
and from now on all generations will call me blessed.
For the Mighty One is holy,
and he has done great things for me.
He shows mercy from generation to generation
to all who fear him.
His mighty arm has done tremendous things!
He has scattered the proud and haughty ones.
He has brought down princes from their thrones
and exalted the humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things
and sent the rich away with empty hands.
He has helped his servant Israel
and remembered to be merciful.
For he made this promise to our ancestors,
to Abraham and his children forever.”