The laughter was hard, often and at times delightfully loud as over 1,100 children and adults came to this Sunday night's Russian Children's Christmas Celebration. The New Testament Church in Perm, Russia, was jammed and alive with the joy of life.

In the three nights of the Children's Christmas Celebrations, over 3,000 children's Bibles were given. The Word of God is filled the message of Jesus and joy. It is one of the powerful reasons children love Jesus—joy is promised to all believers.

Joy is one of the three foundational elements to the kingdom of God: "For the kingdom of God does not mean eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit" (Rom. 14:17).

Joy is an outward expression that there is an inward relationship with God.

When Jesus Christ transforms our lives His joy is experienced, expressed and it is evident to those who know and meet us that we are filled with Holy Spirit.

"Therefore with joy you shall draw water out of the wells of salvation. In that day you shall say: Praise the Lord, call upon His name, declare His deeds among the peoples, make them remember that His name is exalted. Sing to the Lord, for He has done excellent things; let this be known in all the earth" (Isa. 12:3-5).

The best way to maintain and maximize God's joy in your life is to realize that it is God's will to live in joy.

God doesn't want us going through life depressed, bored, angry, scared, or upset.

God wants us to grow our relationship with Him and live a spontaneous life, not a sporadic one. Spontaneity comes from an inward growing relationship with God.

When God's love fills your life, and you experience His joy, there are several outward acts of joyful expression:

1) Leaping for joy (Luke 1 and Acts 3)

2) Making a joyful noise (Ps. 98:4).

3) Singing for joy (Ps. 120:3).

4) Clapping for joy (Ps. 47:1).

5) Crying out for joy (Jer. 31:9).

6) Praising for joy (Ps. 43:4).

7) Laughing for joy (Ps. 126:2).

8) Shouting for joy (Isa. 12:6; Ps. 5:11, 35:27).

9) Dancing for joy (Ps.149:3, 150).

10) Skipping for joy (Mal. 4:2).

Romans 15:13: "Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Spirit."

In 2018, sing loud in the shower about His blessings.

In 2018, try skipping if you're having a bad day.

In 2018, get up, clap your hands, shout, dance; your name is written in the Lamb's book of life.

We are people of joy; our sins are forgiven. We are on our way to heaven. Let your mouth be filled with laughter. You are loved!

You and I are called by the strong Son of God to a life of adventure into the heart of God.

Quit thinking negatively! Let your thoughts be filled with His abundance in 2018.

Seek out living a life of joy by growing your relationship with God today.

Mikel French has challenged spiritual awakening all across America, where many celebrations extended into multiple weeks, and has conducted celebrations in France, Sweden, Russia, Romania, Poland, Ukraine, Moldova, Serbia, Germany, South Africa, Malawi, the Philippines, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Haiti, Japan, Singapore, India and Thailand. He conducted an outreach celebration in Manila, Philippines, reaching 200,000 teenagers with the book of hope. Through the generous support of partners, he has presented the message of Jesus Christ to millions of people in the nation of Russia through televised citywide soul-winning celebrations. Mikel considers it an honor to assist in conducting the annual pastor's conference, where thousands of pastors from Russia's 11 time zones come for training, teaching and equipping. Mikel and his wife, Marsha, reside in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

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