Katie Peterson | Staff Writer
Trust, freedom, peace and joy are the four keys to achieve true Gospel joy, according to Pernita Mukes, guest speaker for the Fort Leavenworth Protestant Women of the Chapel’s virtual Christmas Program Dec. 8, which streamed live on the PWOC Fort Leavenworth Facebook page.
In her remarks, Mukes said Webster’s dictionary defines joy as an emotion to pleasurable circumstances and situations in life. Then she referred to the Gospel of Luke when the word joy, in Greek “chara,” is used during the angel Gabriel’s proclamation of Christ’s birth.
“(Chara) has a very similar definition as joy. So, when we look at the word joy it’s not very different from how the world perceives this emotion,” Mukes said. “But when we look at the word joy through the gospel, it is what our source of joy is. Our source of joy is not a situation or circumstances; it is Christ himself, the greatest gift delivered to us.
Mukes said the issue with trust is that it is often misplaced, which causes people to be prisoners of their own sin. The birth of Jesus addressed that.
“God himself is interjecting into humanity as a vulnerable baby to illustrate to the world how we as a people need rescuing from ourselves, our desires, our lust, our self-ambition and our self-righteous ways,” Mukes said. “Remember, who we trust, not what we trust.
“When we choose to trust in God and his character, then we will find a God who pursues us relentlessly, loves us fearlessly and unconditionally and sacrifices to no point,” she said. “Trusting in him frees us from our own oppressive state and we ultimately enter into freedom.”
In talking about freedom, Mukes quoted passages from the book of Isaiah and the gospel of John where Jesus is referred to as the light that the darkness cannot overcome.
“We are all prisoners in our own demise. There is only one who frees us and that is found in the personhood of Jesus Christ,” Mukes said. “Trusting in God frees us because we trust in the character of who our God is and what his will and purpose for his creation is.
“This freedom prevents us from being entrapped to the world’s moral standard and compass,” she said. “Trusting in God allows us to enter into his freedom, which gives us the assurance of having his peace that surpasses all understanding.”
Mukes said the peace promised by Jesus is not the same as the peace promised by the world.
“This peace is having rest in knowing that I am in the hands of the potter who has all knowledge, understanding, wisdom and insight in guiding me to accomplish his purpose and plan,” Mukes said. “When this peace enters into my very fiber of existence, it allows my soul to prosper and not be in turmoil from the lust of the world, the greed of men, and the self-made moral compass of my own understanding.
“This peace brings me comfort. This peace in which nothing is missing, and nothing is broken,” she said. “The peace in knowing that God is enough, his plans are good. I am free from my own self-made way and I can concede to his precepts and directions.”
Mukes said the hardships of 2020 has made peace hard to find, but Christians have a choice to trust in the daily interjections of God through the Holy Spirit.
“Peace can only be obtained when we can put our trust in him and free ourselves from this world,” Mukes said. “When this peace becomes an integral part of us and is grafted into our very soul, then and only then can we enter into his joy; the joy to the world.”
Mukes said joy can be summed up by the words of Jesus in John 15:9-11, which reads: “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept 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.”
“This is Jesus speaking before he has to experience the most gruesome, painful, physical hardship. He is talking about joy,” Mukes said. “His joy was not based on his circumstance, on what he was about to encounter. His joy was based on his trust that he had in his father. He had an eternal perspective.
“Towards the end of every year, we get to reflect on his arrival to earth and focus on our loving Father who is about to deliver … the greatest gift, Christ the Messiah,” she said. “Joy delivered, far exceeding everything else we could ever want or desire.”
The program also featured sing-alongs and pre-recorded videos in which PWOC members shared their Christmas traditions.
For the full program, visit the PWOC Fort Leavenworth Facebook page.