A CHRISTMAS MESSAGE

P1100695I don’t know how many of my readers will take time to read this on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, but I did not want to let the day go by without wishing my readers a very blessed Christmas.

The Christmas story is familiar to Christians the world over, as well as to many who do not, perhaps never will call themselves Christians. I even have Moslem neighbors who “do” Christmas in some way. The children are talking about how close Christmas is. They speak little English so unfortunately I cannot communicate well with them about it. Christmas is one of the most meaningful times of the year for a great many people, young, old and all ages in between. Sadly many do not take into account the spiritual side of it. It has become so commercialized that the point of the giving of those first gifts to the baby Jesus has been lost. We are quickly losing our freedom to even celebrate the spiritual aspect of Jesus’ birth.

Let’s take time this Christmas to ponder just what it has meant to us personally P1100698that Jesus came to earth to be born as a baby, to live in a human body and to die an excruciating death on a cross so that we might be set free from sin and live for eternity with Him. Let us truly celebrate not only Christmas Day, but celebrate the Christ of Christmas who gave the ultimate gift–Himself–to us. I pray that we will never minimize the true meaning of Christmas in the midst of all the hustle and bustle, the tearing open of presents, the cooking and eating of a wonderful meal and the gathering of family and friends. If we take all of this into account on this wonderful day, we will truly be blessed.

I pray God’s presence will surround you with peace, joy and love, and His angels accompany you with a heavenly chorus. I pray for health and happiness for you and your families. I pray that the Lord will bless you “with all spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Jesus” (Ephesians 1:3).

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Merry Christmas to all. And “God bless us, every one.”

Thank you so much for stopping by, whether on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, or sometime afterwards. I appreciate all of you. I do hope you will take time to leave a comment in the box below. Let me know how you plan to, or did, celebrate Christmas this year. Tell me about your Christmas traditions. And if you are not already following me, please take a couple of seconds to click on the “Follow” button above so you will receive e-mail notifications of new posts. Thank you again. Have a wonderful Christmas. God bless.

P.S. Here is a Christmas angel just for you.

Christmas theme 017

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A DAILY DOSE OF LAUGHTER

PART THREE

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Beauty and gladness

Gladness is defined as:“be gleeful, making merry, light-hearted”.33 This is found in Psalm 16:9, where David is praising God for His guidance. In the New Testament, this word “gladness” comes from a Greek word meaning “be in a good frame of mind, make merry, rejoice”.34 This word is used in Acts 14:17, when the apostle Paul speaks of the rain and fruitful seasons as being a reason to exhibit gladness. In Esther we read that the people “made it a day of feasting and gladness”.35 The exiles had just won a great victory over their enemy and redeemed their lives. Would you not be gleeful if you were one of them? Would laughter not be spontaneous?

We hear the words of Jesus as He taught the beatitudes from the mountain side.36 He is proclaiming to the people that when they are persecuted and falsely accused for His sake, they should “jump for joy” and be “exceedingly glad”. Does He also mean us today? Of course! Can you jump for joy when, simply because you are a Christian, you are accused of doing something you didn’t do? I wonder how many of us would react that way to persecution! I doubt that I would often score very high on that test. How about you? Yet that is what Jesus requires of us. What He requires, He equips us to do. So yes, it is entirely possible to leap for joy in times of tribulation as well as in times of blessing. Try it! You may just find your heart a little lighter. (I must qualify that statement: if you are 100 years old, need a walker or wheelchair, or are otherwise physically impaired, I really wouldn’t recommend the leaping unless the Lord heals you. Please stick to the laughter. I don’t wish to be responsible for any bodily injuries!)

Can you now understand the importance of allowing humor into your life? We need to learn to

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Color me joy

laugh, not only at humorous incidents or comedy, but also at ourselves. We tend to take ourselves all too seriously. We need to lighten up a little and force ourselves to take a new perspective on life. If Jesus jumped for joy, I ought to do the same. If the writers of the psalms advocated laughter, should we not also find occasions for hilarity? If the prophets, who delivered messages from God that were often very serious warnings, could find reason to rejoice, how can we, who have the word of God at our fingertips and the Holy Spirit dwelling within us, not also “rejoice with exceeding great joy”? I challenge you to give yourself a daily dose of laughter and let the “joy of the Lord be your strength”.37

Thought for the day: When you learn to laugh at yourself and your circumstances, healing is not far away.

Prayer: Father, I pray that everyone who reads these words (including myself) will learn to store all the humorous incidents in their lives into the retrieval system of memory. Please help each one to be able to access these ‘files’ on days filled only with clouds and darkness, where humor is not to be found, and when all reason for laughter has fled. Lord, may You illuminate our memories of good times, fun times, so that as we learn to recall them in troubled times our troubles may seem a little easier to bear. Thank you Lord. Amen.

3 3Strong’s

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Remember times of laughter

4 4Ibid

5 5Esther 9:17

6 6Matthew 5:12

77Nehemiah 8:10

 

I do hope you have enjoyed all three parts in this series. Please let me know in the comment box below what your thoughts are on this subject. What made you laugh today? Yesterday? I pray this has inspired you to look for the joy in life’s more difficult places and that you will find reason every day to take your daily dose of laughter. Find a friend to laugh with and it will be doubly freeing.

If you haven’t already begun to follow my blog, please check the “Follow” button at the top so you can receive e-mail updates as I post new stories. May God richly bless you every day of your lives.

A DAILY DOSE OF LAUGHTER

PART TWO

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Be joyful together

Joy is spoken of throughout the Old and New Testaments. The Bible tells us that God Himself joys and rejoices over us.18 The first word “joy” in this verse is translated from a Hebrew word meaning “mirth, pleasure, rejoicing”.19 Yes, God takes pleasure in you. The second, “he will joy over thee”, means “to spin around under the influence of any violent emotion”.20 Can you picture the Lord spinning around because He is overflowing with joy over you? Though it is very difficult to imagine, this is exactly what the scripture says He does. In a similar vein, Luke 10:21 tells us that Jesus “rejoiced in spirit” . This word means “jump for joy, exult, be exceedingly glad”.21 Jesus, jumping for joy? Never! This cuts right across our traditional way of thinking. Perhaps that is exactly what He intended. When we think of Jesus we frequently envision famous paintings we have seen of a very serious, sedate man. He is praying; He is blessing the little children; He is teaching the disciples; He is healing the sick; He is hanging on the cross. Seldom, if ever, has anyone portrayed Him with even a hint of a smile let alone laughter. But leaping up and down? It seems so childish. No one ever painted that kind of picture. The words of poet Edgar A. Guest seem to agree with me as he has expressed his thoughts in his poem.

THE MASTER

They seldom show Him with a smile.

Always His face is sad to see,

As if a jest could never be

Nor He be merry for a while.

The kindly humor that could pat

The brows of boys He chanced to see

And say: “Let children come to me!”

No brush has ever pictured that!

The man who loved a little child

And walked the common ways of men,

Though troubled often, now and then,

With those about Him surely smiled.

I fancy as I read His word

I hear Him chuckling, soft and sweet,

Telling to Mary, at His feet,

Some curious thing He’d seen or heard.

He must have had a twinkling eye,

Which danced at times with gentle mirth,

So greatly to be loved on earth,

So bravely on the cross to die.22

But if Jesus leaps, and if God whirls around in joyous abandon on our account, how much more should we, His children, leap and dance for joy over what He has done for us? Have you watched children jumping up and down because they are excited about something? You just can’t keep them still. Listen to their merry laughter. Learn to praise the Lord with childlike joy and experience a new freedom in the Holy Spirit.

Two other New Testament verses talk about jumping for joy. We find the Philippian jailor

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Be glad and rejoice

rejoicing, jumping for joy, after he and his family had received the gospel message.23 He was extremely happy. Could he have also been laughing? Peter says that we rejoice in the fact that we are kept by the power of God even though we may be going through a place of real heaviness and temptation.24 Jump for joy when everything is going wrong? Impossible, you say. Yet Peter says we should do this very thing. Verse 8 in the same chapter says we “rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory”. Now, that’s what I call rejoicing! Jumping? Yes, most certainly. Laughing? Definitely. This is the fullness of joy in Jesus.

Even Jeremiah, often called the weeping prophet, knew times of extreme joy.“Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O Lord God of hosts.”25 This rejoicing means “mirth, pleasure, exceeding gladness, glee, blithesomeness”.26 When you are full of glee, I’m certain you will laugh. The simple knowledge that we are called by the name of the Lord should cause joy to bubble up within us. Have you ever laughed uncontrollably without knowing what you are laughing at? It is one of the healthiest things we can do for ourselves, body, soul and spirit. Like joy, it is contagious.

The Lord, through the prophet Zechariah, admonishes His people to rejoice because He was coming to dwell among them.27 Who would not brighten up and make merry at God’s announcement that He is coming to live with them? David declares that he rejoiced greatly in the salvation of the Lord.28 What better reason to “spin around under the influence of violent emotion”? When he said “greatly”, he used a word that means “vehemently, wholly, speedily, diligently, utterly”.29 In other words, he put himself completely into the rejoicing. He abandoned himself wholly body, soul and spirit in praise to his God. Remember when David danced before the Lord? It says he danced “with all his might”. It was accepted by the Lord as worship, but he was despised in his wife’s eyes because of his abandon in the dance. There was obviously a serious lack of joy or humor in the life of Michal.30

In Psalms 89:12, 98:4 and 71:23, we find the word rejoice mentioned again. This word is translated from the Hebrew word meaning “to shout, to creak (emit a stridulous sound) for joy, sing aloud, triumph, greatly rejoice”.31 Emit a stridulous sound–could that possibly mean laughter? I believe it could. Isaiah prophesies that the heart (of Israel) shall rejoice” when God’s peace comes like a river and He comes to comfort them.32 That is truly cause for joy.

8 8Zephaniah 3:17

9 9Strong’s

0 0Ibid

1 1Ibid

2 2(From the “Collected Verse of Edgar A. Guest” copyright 1934 by The Reilly & Lee Co. Canadian edition 1945.)

3 3Acts 16:34

4 41Peter 1:6

5 5Jeremiah 15:16

6 6Strong’s

7 7Zech. 2:10

8 8Psalm 21:1

9 9Strong’s

0 02 Samuel 6:12-16

1 1Strong’s

2 2Isaiah 66:12-14

Thank you for popping by to read Part “Two of A Daily Dose of Laughter”. I hope you will get your daily dose either from this post or from something in your personal life today. I hope you will come back to read Part Three, the final post in this series. And please, leave a comment in the box at the bottom.

Have a wonderful day. May the Lord richly bless you with joy and gladness, and a daily dose of laughter.

A DAILY DOSE OF LAUGHTER

PART ONE

God has made laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh with me.1

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A smile-maker

Do you ever see the funny side of life? Or is your life so full of trouble that you have lost the ability to laugh? Is humor appropriate for Christians? Most emphatically! The Bible speaks a great deal about being merry, glad, and full of joy. All through the scriptures we are admonished to rejoice. The Bible also speaks of laughter. While rejoicing may not always be the result of humor, I believe that humor does play an important part in making the heart merry. Laughter is a very powerful instrument in our lives. I cannot imagine being merry and full of joy without it.

Since Solomon repeatedly addresses the issue in the book of Proverbs, we may safely conclude that he experienced times of rejoicing and merriment.“A merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance: but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken.” 2 Is your heart broken? Perhaps sorrow has become the ruling power in your life. God understands our times of sorrow, but He has not destined us to live in a vale of tears and grief forever. He has made provision for our healing through the blood of Jesus and fellowship with Him. He has deposited His joy within us if we are born again3. The word translated merry in Proverbs 15 means “glad, merry, joyful, making merry”.4 Solomon tells us that “he that is of a merry heart hath a continual feast.” 5 This word “merry” means “ pleasure, prosperity, ready, sweet, wealth, welfare, well-favored”.6 Do you experience pleasure in life, a sweetness, a merry heart? Are you prospering in your spirit? Do you wish to be well-favoured? Feast your heart on good things that will stimulate that merry heart. Take the apostle Paul’s advice and think only on those things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, and of good report.7

“A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.” 8 It is a proven

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Making people laugh

fact that people who suffer from serious illnesses have a far greater chance of recovery when they laugh a lot. Solomon knew this centuries ago. The medical profession could have saved itself a great deal of trouble when it sought to prove its theory if these people had simply read the Bible. Those who are bereft of joy and laughter are often victims of depression and various physical ailments. Sometimes their bodies succumb to serious illness. Take precautions to reduce the risk of consequences of this type; be sure to make a place for a daily dose of laughter.

We are told that after the great sacrifice had been made, Solomon “sent the people away into their tents, glad and merry in heart for the goodness that the Lord had shewed unto David, and to Solomon, and to Israel his people.” 9 Rejoicing played an important role in the lives of God’s chosen people. When they were obedient and served Him, they experienced joy; when they disobeyed and rebelled against His will, there was no rejoicing. But Solomon wasn’t the only person in the Bible to talk of being merry. In his letter, James admonishes Christians: “Is any merry? Let him sing psalms.” 10 He knew that a song of praise was an appropriate expression of joy. It also promotes an increase of joy in your life. If you are feeling depressed in spirit, try singing a song of praise. It will do wonders for your disposition. Also spend time in the company of others who are filled with the joy of the Lord. You will find that joy is contagious.

Now, let’s look at laughter in the Bible. Solomon tells us that there is a “time to weep, and a time to laugh.” 11 Obviously there will be times in our lives when laughter is absent because of loss and sorrow, and in times when we have sinned and need to repent. But, as Solomon says, there is a time when laughter is good. This is the laughter of merriment. You cannot make merry in silence. Have you ever tried to hold back laughter when something looked so funny to you but you knew you shouldn’t laugh? Then you know what I mean.

When Jesus taught the people what we now call the Beatitudes, He told them that they who weep now are blessed, for they “shall laugh”. The word here means “to laugh as a sign of joy or satisfaction”.12 Jesus was filled with the Holy Spirit whose attributes include joy.13 As Christians, we also have the Holy Spirit within, therefore we have the joy of the Lord. Sometimes it needs to be awakened; sometimes in needs to be stimulated in order to increase. This will happen as we are determined to seek the Lord with all of our hearts. Although we are not told in so many words in scripture, I have no doubt that Jesus laughed. People were attracted to Him, and people are seldom drawn to those who are constantly sombre and humorless.

Though Job’s friends were poor sources of comfort to him in all his trials, they did occasionally make a good point. One of them, Bildad, told Job, “Till he fill thy mouth with laughing, and thy lips with rejoicing” .14 Here we find laughter directly connected to rejoicing. Bildad knew God well enough to believe a time of joy would follow a time of trouble. The psalmist says that “When the Lord turned again the captivity of Zion, we were like them that dream. Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing: then said they among the heathen, The Lord hath done great things for them.”15 The Israelites had been in captivity for seventy years, and when they were set free, they laughed. They laughed because of the goodness of their God. They laughed because they were released from bondage. We, too, have every reason to laugh. Our God is good to us. He has set us free in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Laughter is defined as “the experience of joy, merriment, amusement or the like”.16 To laugh is “to express mirth, to manifest joy”.17 Joy must be expressed. When laughter is absent from your life, everything will seem dull and drab. The presence of laughter is like sunshine as it bursts through storm clouds. Often we need to change our perspective concerning the things that happen to us on a day to day basis in order to experience the warmth of that sunshine. Let’s look at some hypothetical situations where aggravation and anger could be defused by a little light-hearted laughter.

Your three-year-old just fed the dog the steak you were defrosting for dinner. How will you react? She has also dumped a bag of flour over the dog’s head. Do you see that as funny? ( I use these examples because, many years ago, I knew a family with a young boy who did those very things, among many other antics.) I’m sure your initial instinct would be to get angry and punish the child out of frustration.

Crash! Oh, no! The cat just knocked over your favorite plant and scattered the freshly-watered soil all over the carpet you recently had cleaned. The plant is ruined. And now muddy paw prints criss-cross the cream-colored couch and carpet marking the road to its hiding place behind the chair. How are you going to react? We might have an instant urge to shoot the cat. But, minus the gun, we would at least shout at him, grab him and throw him outside. Some of us would dejectedly sit down in the middle of the floor and cry. Others would be on hands and knees, grumbling, but cleaning up, and probably only spreading the muddy mess further. A good time to pray for patience! How many of us would laugh? Perhaps you think that would be either inappropriate or simply impossible.

Let me tell you a true story, one in which I was the central character. It happened one night about twenty years ago. I attended Bible study at church on Wednesday evenings. On this particular evening, the regular pianist could not be there, so the assistant pastor asked me if I would play. I followed him onto the platform where he showed me which songs he wanted me to play. All was well with that until, without thinking about where I was, I took a step backwards. Of course, my foot met with thin air, my whole body followed and I ended up on my bottom end in a V-shaped position. How, I will never know, but I found myself instantly on my feet. Maybe the Lord sent angels to help in this embarrassing situation. Everyone came running to make sure I wasn’t hurt. But my first instinct was to laugh. I didn’t live that down very soon, especially where one couple was concerned. They, too, loved to laugh and to see the funny side of things. For at least six months, every time I remembered the incident, I burst out laughing. It didn’t matter if I was driving, in bed, alone, or wherever else. The laughter would start. And to ease your minds, no, I did not injure myself. At least, not knowingly. I have since been told by a massage therapist that my tail bone in out of alignment, so that may have been the original cause.

So next time something exasperating occurs in your life, try to see the funny side. It may take some determined effort to search for it. If it is only childish mischievousness that has irritated you, without compromising your discipline of the child, look for humor in the situation. Find a reason to laugh (of course, never in front of the child unless you want him to venture on new escapades worse than these!). How would an outsider react on surveying the scene? Probably with laughter, although she may attempt to conceal her hilarity. Laughter releases tension. Laughter lightens the load. If you can find someone else to laugh with, the release is even more profitable. Try it, and see if you don’t feel better. Remember, nothing ever looks as bad in retrospect as it does when you are in the middle of it. It’s all in the perspective

1 Genesis 21:6

2 Proverbs 15:13

3 See John chapters 15-17

4 Strong’s

5 Proverbs 15:15

6 The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible Thomas Nelson Publishers

7 Philippians 4:8

8 Proverbs 17:22

9 2 Chronicles 7:10

0 0James 5:13

1 1Ecclesiastes 3:4

2 2Strong’s Concordance

3 3Galatians 5:22

4 4Job 8:21

5 5Psalm 126:1,2

6 6The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language

77Ibid

I hope you were able to find something to laugh about as you read Part One of this Three-Part article. Please come back to read the next two parts. And if you are not already following me, just click on the “Follow” button at the top and you will receive e-mail notifications for each new post. Try to find something in your own life to laugh about today and stir up the joy of the Lord.

Thank you so much for taking the time to visit my blog. I hope you will leave a comment in the box below. I really enjoy reading what my readers think about my stories. You make my day when you leave a comment.

Have a wonderful and joyful week interspersed with times of laughter, preferably with a friend or family member. God bless you.