Memories That Deliver Life-Changing Joy

They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people.

It’s an old memory and a reminder of how things have changed. But it also reminds me that the unexpected can be life-changing.

Almost from the first day of the first grade, my public school teacher began to work with us as we memorized the Christmas story from the book of Luke, King James Version.  Yes, I said public school. In December, the first-grade students would line up in the gym standing on the bleachers. Wearing white smocks with big red bows, we would recite together for our parents and pretty much everyone in our little town. This was quite a big event every year when the entire grade school repeated the same performance our parents might have offered up on a cold winter night.

And do you know, I can still recite the Christmas story from the book of Luke, although as I have done a quick refresh of my memory through the years, I’ve now memorized it in the NIV version.  That’s a tip for you: now and then, you may need to review what you have memorized just to refresh the details. And, if one version isn’t doing it for you, choose one that works.

But the real reason I can remember this passage of verses is that it's a story. A tale of true events, long ago, that I love hearing and which still makes my heart joyful! #steepedintheword #averseaweek #memorizetheword Click To Tweet

But the real reason I can remember this passage of verses is that it’s a story. A tale of true events, long ago, that I love hearing and which still makes my heart joyful!

Just as my heart set out on a journey to enjoy and memorize God’s word when I was a six year old, I want to set my heart this season on memorizing verses of joy! Not every day in life is sunny, but joy transcends happiness and having a few verses tucked away for times of need is a good strategy for me.

I’ve selected four verses, moments of joy from the life of Christ, to end my year. I hope you will join me, but let me just say this before I offer up the verses…the real goal is not memorizing the words from the scripture. The real goal is to steep your heart and mind in the words of truth. To soak up the truth into your life. Even if you can never repeat a verse word for word, if you have the gist of it planted deep in your memory and your life, you have been successful!

Week 49

They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. Luke 2:10

Week 50

As he was praying, the heavens opened, and the Holy Spirit, in bodily form, descended on him like a dove. And a voice from heaven said, “You are my dearly loved Son, and you bring me great joy.” Luke 3:22

Week 51

In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away! Luke 15:7

Week 52

So they worshiped him and then returned to Jerusalem filled with great joy. Luke 24:52

Looking Further at This Week’s Verse

They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people.

They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. Luke 2:10

This is the delivery of the birth announcement to a group of shepherds on the hillside. Yes, there was joy, but there was also trepidation. Something supernatural was afoot, and that makes us uncomfortable. Discomfort was a thread running through the whole story.

Mary, you are going to bear a child out of wedlock. It had to be a shock, it had to come with a few moments of nerves, but ultimately, she trusted God and rejoiced.

Joseph, your intended is going to bear a child, it’s not your’s but is from God. We see a record of Joseph’s shock and awkward position, but he chose to enter this story that is filled with sorrow but ultimately leads us to the only lasting joy.

I was reading this morning of the current interest in the supernatural. It seems to me this is the perfect story for those who seek answers in the supernatural. Yes, it’s implausible. Yes, it may come with a few feelings of discomfort. That should not surprise us; we are walking on holy ground! God has entered the sorrow of the human story, and the intended result is pure joy!

I’d invite you to flip over to Luke. Read through that Christmas story to kick off this season of advent. It’s an old story, but it’s truth. It’s an unlikely but joyful entry of our Savior into the world. I suggest you just start reading at Luke Chapter 2.

Let’s Think This Through

  • When you consider the Christmas story in light of the supernatural events that are unfolding, describe how the aspect of miracles is significant.
  • Do you tend to avoid conversations with those who are not Christ-followers about the supernatural? What do you think might happen if we embraced this aspect of the Christmas story as a point of discussion?
  • When has God surprised you with joy? What was your first reaction?
  • What do you make of the paradox that one called “the man of sorrows” is the source of great joy?

Father, it is good tidings of joy that I focus on as I consider what you have done for me. All around me I see people focused on Christmas. Provide opportunities for me to proudly share your Christmas miracle. I don’t want to shy away from parts of your story that are supernatural because it’s uncomfortable to talk about. I want to meet the hunger for something more in empty lives with the miracle of this story. But I also want to reinforce that I don’t see it just as a story, I see it as a truth. Thank you for the miraculous gift of Jesus.

Can you believe this is the final month of 2018? Whether you have been following along through the whole year or joined us part way in, I hope you will jump on the joy bandwagon for a few weeks. Let’s celebrate a joy that will last forever, a joy that has nothing to do with the circumstances in which we find ourselves on any given day. And everything to do with a picture that’s bigger and grander and more miraculous than any other. A story, just like Mary, Joseph, and a group of shepherds on a hill one night,  we have been personally invited to join.

Author: Loretta Gjeltema

Encouraging women to thrive as they engage with God's word.

4 thoughts on “Memories That Deliver Life-Changing Joy”

  1. What a beautiful post, Loretta! I’ve gotten slack about my scripture memorization–used to do so a lot, but not so much these last few years. The Christmas scripture in Luke is such a wonderful time to focus on God’s Word. Thanks for the encouragement! I especially like your phrase, “Let’s celebrate a joy that will last forever!” That’s so true. Thank you for sharing such an inspiring and timely message. Merry Christmas!

    1. Katherine, thank you for your kind words. as a blogger, I know you realize how important encouragement can be.
      Yes, it’s a perfect time to memorize a few verses. You would be surprised how easily a familiar passage like the Christmas story in Luke can be committed to memory. I’m sure it’s because it’s so familiar.

  2. God convicted me a few months back to start memorizing Scripture again, and although I’m slow at it, and I haven’t quite seen all the fruit of it yet, I’m thankful I’ve started.

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