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Friday, October 31, 2014

Inspired by . . . Day 31: the JOY of the Lord

 

 

This post is part of a 31 day series on JOY

You may access all the past days by clicking here.

 

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Let them praise the name of the Lord: for His name alone is excellent;

His glory is above the earth and heaven.

He also exalteth the horn of His people, the praise of all His saints;

even of the children of Israel, a people near unto Him. Praise ye the Lord. Psalm 148:13-14

 

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This is it! Day 31. Wow. Seriously, I can’t believe I managed to write a blog post {and have it posted!} every day for 31 days. If you knew my life, you would see what a miracle this is – but then, your life is probably a lot like mine, at least in the time department {or lack thereof}, so if you’ve been here every day and/or if you’ve been writing for 31 days, too – thank you, and congratulations – we made it!!!

The very best part about the last 31 days is God, and the changes He’s made in our lives. I don’t think I’m being presumptuous here. He has changed me, and I know He has changed at least one {or more} of you - -for the better. That’s what happens when we read His word. Believe His word, and act on His word.

 

Thank God, the JOY of the Lord is an actual experience now,

and it goes beyond any conscious experience,

because the JOY of the Lord takes us into the consciousness of God,

and the honor at stake in our body is the honor of God.

Have we realized that the Son of God

has been formed in us by His wonderful Redemption?

This is the glory of the saint here and now—

the glory of actual holiness manifested in actual life.

 

Oh, my friend, I pray this is true for you; that the JOY of the Lord is an actual experience! My heart aches for this to be true in your life.

 

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Endings are the hardest part for me to write. Always have been.

So, rather than write an ending, I’m looking at this JOY series as a beginning! I love writing about JOY here on the blog and that’s not going to change. Plus, I have some other topics planned for the next couple of months to inspire us as we all navigate through the holidays - - with JOY!

 

I hope you’ll join me.

 

Shalom,

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Quotations taken from The Psychology of Redemption, © Discovery House Publishers

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Thursday, October 30, 2014

Inspired by . . . Day 30: the JOY of solitude

 

This post is part of a 31 day series on JOY

You may access all the past days by clicking here.

 

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The Lord is good unto them that wait for Him, to the soul that seeketh Him.

It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord.

It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth.

He sitteth alone and keepeth silence, because he hath borne it upon him. Lamentations 3:25-28

 

My one word for 2014 is Intentional. My life had gotten to the point where I felt like I was just sort of sailing through, re-acting to things rather than being pro-active about what filled my days. Some things are out of our control, of course, but I felt God calling me to be more intentional about my time.

Part of that had to do with my blogging. I felt God calling me to quantity and consistency in blogging. I’ve worked hard this year to write what He inspires me to write. Who reads it is ultimately up to Him. But a big part of inspired writing is spending time with the One who inspires you! I’ve done better, but I’m no where near where I want to be when it comes to intentional time with God.

 

Any soul who has no solitary place alone with God is in supreme peril spiritually.

 

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After reading that quote from Oswald Chambers you may be thinking that “supreme peril” seems a bit dramatic. If we were having this conversation over coffee, I might get a little demonstrative at this point. I would probably clasp your arm and say, “Trust me friend, you don’t want to be startled into the realization that the breath you feel on the back of your neck is that of a lion! Don’t be so confident as to think you’ll see him coming.”

 

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. 1 Peter 5:8

 

Okay, so maybe now you’re thinking I’m being a bit too dramatic. Better drama than apathy.

 

I know what you have done; I know that you are neither cold nor hot.

How I wish you were either one or the other!
But because you are lukewarm,

neither hot nor cold, I am going to spit you out of my mouth! Rev 3:15-16

 

You don’t need a blog post from me explaining why time alone with God is important. We all know that it is, and why it is. Personally, I want it to be a habit that turns into a natural occurrence, like breathing. Some of you have this – don’t take it for granted – guard it as if it were your greatest treasure! The JOY of the Lord is our strength!

 

Jesus Christ refers to Himself as “the first and the last.”

It is in the middle that human choices are made;

the beginning and the end remain with God.

The decrees of God are birth and death,

and in between those limits man makes his own distress or JOY.

 

One of those choices is whether or not we put God first. If you’re like me,  not quite there yet, this might be a good prayer:

 

God grant we may learn more and more of the profound JOY of getting

alone with God in the dark of the night and toward the early dawn.

 

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And this might be a good question:

 

Do I begin every day by asking God what I should do

and end it by asking how I did?

 

Oh, my, this one resonates, friend. What a perfect way

to {re}align our minds at the beginning and end

of each day!

 

With JOY,

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Quotations taken from He Shall Glorify Me and Still Higher for His Highest, © Discovery House Publishers

 

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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Inspired by . . . Day 29: the realm of faith

 

This post is part of a 31 day series on JOY

You may access all the past days by clicking here.

 

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But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light,

we have fellowship one with another,

and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin. 1John 1:7

 

This is one of my favorite scriptures. I love the idea of walking in the light. Even more, walking in the light with Him. There is much JOY and comfort to be had when we walk with our Lord and Savior.

If you’ve been a Christian for very long you know that our walk is not all sunshine and flowers, JOY and comfort. There are times when a strange dull grey seems to fall over our spiritual life.

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I’ve been there. It’s a difficult, lonely, even frightening, place to be.

Chambers suggests that God is working during these times when we seem to lose the lightheartedness and JOY of our first love. He says that, “God is taking the soul out of the realm of religious feeling and emotion into the realm of faith.”

I agree. I have always come out of these valleys with a deeper love for the things of God, and with less of a desire for the things of this world.  The artificial light of earthly blessings can’t compare to the Divine light cast by JOY in the realm of faith.

 

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If your world is a little grey right now, or a lot grey right now, I encourage you to stay in the Word.

It’s hard. And most days you won’t feel like it.

Read it anyway. Even if it’s just a verse.

His word is your anchor. It is your rock.

His word will see you through the darkness,

back to the JOY,

back to the Light!

 

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With JOY,

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Quotation taken from God’s Workmanship, © Discovery House Publishers

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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Inspired by . . . Day 28: laughter and JOY

 

This post is part of a 31 day series on JOY

You may access all the past days by clicking here.

 

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And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great JOY, which shall be to all people.

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. Luke 2:10-14

 

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I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels a spirit of JOY and laughter among us, in a more corporate sense, during the Christmas season. I’ve often wondered about it. I mean, it makes sense. Christmas is about celebrating God’s gift to us: Jesus Christ. So it is not surprising that His spirit would walk among us during the season.

But Jesus is always among us! So why do we only feel this corporate sense of JOY and merriment during the holidays?

I’ve struggled with the answer to this question for years. Today, after reading Oswald Chambers devotion, I think I may have a clue.

 

Whenever the angels come to this earth they come bursting with a JOY which instantly has to be stayed (cf. Luke 2:13) .

This earth is like a sick chamber, and when God sends His angels here He has to say—

“Now be quiet; they are so sick with sin that they cannot understand your hilarity.”

Whenever the veil is lifted there is laughter and JOY.

These are the characteristics that belong to God and God’s order of things;

sombreness and oppression and depression are the characteristics

of all that does not belong to God.

 

So here is my theory: I think that during the holidays, whether you are a Christian celebrating the birth of Christ or not, people, in general are more focused on OTHERS. So whether or not they are focused on God, they are at least focused on the things of God. His ways and His teachings, even though they may not realize it or even acknowledge it.

Whenever we do business with God the veil is lifted. “Whenever the veil is lifted there is laughter and JOY.”

And who knows, with all the Christmas music being played, maybe God releases an angel or two now and then.

I’ve heard some Hallelujah choruses that were simply divine.

 

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So what about you? do you sense anything different during the holidays?

Or are these just my own fanciful feelings generated by holiday cheer – and wishful thinking?

 

Blessings,

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Can  you find the angels in the cloud pictures I’ve shared with you today?

Quotations taken from Not Knowing Where, © Discovery House Publishers

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Monday, October 27, 2014

Inspired by . . . Day 27: Unspeakable JOY

 

This post is part of a 31 day series on JOY

You may access all the past days by clicking here.

 

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The LORD does not easily become angry,

but He is powerful and never lets the guilty go unpunished.

Where the LORD walks, storms arise;

the clouds are the dust raised by His feet!  Nahum 1:3

 

Don’t you just love uncovering the little gems of scripture? This was one for me this morning.

I’ll never look at clouds the same way again.

 

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Oh, the unspeakable JOY of knowing that God reigns,

that He is our Father, and that the clouds are but “the dust of His feet”!

 

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Lord, how little nourishment I have been giving to the indwelling Christ in me;

O Lord, forgive me.

Fill me with the ample sense of Your forgiveness

that I may not only JOY in Your salvation,

but be filled with Your Spirit for the work here.

 

Shalom,

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Quotations taken from Christian Discipline and Knocking at God’s Door, © Discovery House Publishers

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Sunday, October 26, 2014

Inspired by . . . Day 26: the JOY of salvation

 

 

This post is part of a 31 day series on JOY

You may access all the past days by clicking here.

 

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Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him,

One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast,

and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven:

and come, take up the cross, and follow me. Mark 10:21

 

The JOY of our salvation: Jesus Christ our Savior!

Chances are, if you are a believer, this is how you view Jesus, as Savior, Redeemer, and Friend.

He is certainly all of those things. But He is so much more.

If we are truly going to achieve JOY in the face of sacrifice, sorrow, obedience, brokenness, and surrender - - all these things we have talked about, then a correct and complete view of Jesus is necessary.

We talk about the JOYs and comforts of salvation;

Jesus Christ talks about taking up the cross and following Him.

 

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Yes, Jesus is our Savior, Redeemer and Friend. And we praise Him and need Him to be all these things to us.

But He is first and foremost our LORD and KING.

He demands and expects our loyalty and obedience.

Ouch. That doesn’t sit well on our 21st century free-American ears very well, does it?

We like to think of His grace and mercy. We like the idea of Him as a comrade, standing along side of us {maybe a little out in front} in this battle we call LIFE.

We like to think of Him as one of us.

But He is not.

Yes, He is our brother. We are co-heirs. But the balance in our thinking of Jesus as man, and Jesus as God needs some fine tuning.

JESUS IS GOD.

And we are not.

There are times when we need to climb up in His lap and lean lovingly against His chest. There are times when He carries us. Defends us. Disciplines us.

But there should be times when we fall on our face in front of Him. When we remove our shoes, because He speaks and we are in the presence of a HOLY AND RIGHTEOUS GOD.

I confess that I do not do this often enough.

I confess I am more focused on enJOYing God’s kingdom, than sacrificing to further the kingdom.

And, yes, for these failings there is grace.

But fullness of JOY comes only when we receive and accept the fullness of Christ’s deity.

May we be compelled, yet terrified to enter His presence.

 

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Then Hwin, though shaking all over, gave a strange little neigh, and trotted across to the Lion.

   “Please,” she said, “you’re so beautiful. You may eat me if you like. I’d sooner be eaten by you than fed by anyone else.”

    “Dearest daughter,” said Aslan, planting a lion’s kiss on her twitching, velvet nose, “I knew you would not be long in coming to me. JOY shall be yours.”

 

~C.S. Lewis, The Horse and His Boy

 

Enter His presence, beloved,

and JOY shall be yours.

 

Blessings,

 

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Quotation taken from He Shall Glorify Me, © Discovery House Publishers

 

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Saturday, October 25, 2014

Inspired by . . . Day 25: a JOY overflowing

 

This post is part of a 31 day series on JOY

You may access all the past days by clicking here.

 

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And He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee:

for My strength is made perfect in weakness.

Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities,

that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches,

in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake:

for when I am weak, then am I strong.  2 Corinthians 12:9-10

 

Is your smile counterfeit? or is it the real deal?

When people ask you, “How are you?” and you reply, “Well” or “Fine” or “Good,” do you really mean it?

It’s hard for us to imagine taking pleasure in our infirmities and distresses. We view Paul as some kind of super-apostle, or super-saint to be able to do so.

Beloved, the same Power living in Paul is living in you if you have accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

What Paul had was the proper perspective.

He didn’t view his circumstances as compared to others. He didn’t think about what he had lost, instead he focused on what he had gained.

Eternal Life.

When we view our circumstances with this eternal perspective we truly can have a countenance of JOY!

 

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The one thing that Jesus Christ does for a man is to make him radiant, not artificially radiant.

The JOY that Jesus gives is the result of our disposition being at one with His own disposition.

The Spirit of God will fill us to overflowing if we will be careful to keep in the light.

We have no business to be weak in God’s strength.

 

So how do we maintain an eternal perspective. One of the key ways is being careful to “keep in the light.”

 

But if we live in the light---just as He is in the light---

then we have fellowship with one another,

and the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from every sin.

 

This verse from 1 John 1 is packed with powerful truth, Beloved. It’s a good one to meditate on during your playdate with God today.

 

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If all of this is just overwhelming noise to you today, consider this:

 

We have no business to tell God we cannot stand any more;

God ought to be at liberty to do with us what He chooses,

as He did with His own Son.

Then whatever happens our life will be full of JOY.

 

And remember:

The JOY of the Lord is your strength.

 

Choose JOY.

 

Blessings,

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Quotations taken from The Place of Help, © Discovery House Publishers

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Friday, October 24, 2014

Inspired by . . . Day 24: JOY of sacrifice

 

This post is part of a 31 day series on JOY

You may access all the past days by clicking here.

 

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Then said Jesus unto His disciples, If any man will come after Me,

let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.

For whosoever will save his life shall lose it:

and whosoever will lose his life for My sake shall find it. Matthew 16:24-25

 

This business of Christianity really is all JOY, my friends. It is really quite simple. It is we who muck it up with our misconceptions about God.

Maybe next October I’ll do 31 Days of Correcting Our Misconceptions about God. Actually, my friend TC could ace a series like that, she’s a much better scholar than I. I’ll have to mention it to her {smile}.

 

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For today, I want to add a little JOY back into how we think about sacrifice. Because true sacrifice is not about us giving something up that we don’t want to give up, and therefore being miserable because of it.

Sacrifice is about giving our best to God.

Sharing it with Him, really. Because when we give sacrificially to God, He returns the blessing to us.

 

In the Bible the meaning of sacrifice is the

deliberate giving of the best I have to God

that He may make it His and mine for ever:

if I cling to it I lose it, and so does God.

 

The story of the pearls comes to mind, and I wonder what I may be holding back from God that He wants to replace with the real deal.

But really, I think what a lot of us struggle with most, is giving God . . .

Ourselves.

Above all, it is a relationship with us that He truly wants.

 

So then, my friends, because of God's great mercy to us I appeal to you:

Offer yourselves as a living sacrifice to God,

dedicated to His service and pleasing to Him.

This is the true worship that you should offer.  Romans 12:1

 

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Something else to consider about sacrifice:

 

God’s aim is that we have to take part in our own moral development,

and we do this through the sacrifice of the natural to the spiritual by obedience,

not denying the natural, but sacrificing it.

 

When we think about the natural in the proper context, that our natural, human will will always choose against the things of God {it will always choose self}, then it should bring us great JOY to sacrifice it to the spiritual. I’m so glad Chambers used the term “development.” Because this denying of self, and choosing God is a process. A daily laying down, and picking up.

But it is a JOYful JOurneY, my friend.

Don’t let misconceptions steal the JOY God has for you.

Read the Word. Ask God for wisdom.

He promises to give it. James 1:5

 

Blessings,

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Quotation taken from He Shall Glorify Me, © Discovery House Publishers

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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Inspired by . . . Day 23: Balancing JOY and sorrow

 

 

This post is part of a 31 day series on JOY

You may access all the past days by clicking here.

 

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O Lord, you know what I long for; you hear all my groans.
My heart is pounding, my strength is gone,

and my eyes have lost their brightness. Psalm 38:9-10

 

I’m so thankful for the ability our minds have to remember. Without it our world would be a very different place. On the one hand, we might be in a constant state of JOY of discovery. Other the other, we may know only sorrow and pain.

When darkness comes near, and all seems hopeless and lost, we have the ability to remember. We can bring to mind the JOY of past experiences; remind ourselves of God’s promises. We can remember that He is faithful and true. That He will never leave us or forsake us.

 

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Our memories are powerful messengers of JOY!

 

How much misery a human heart can stand, and how much JOY!

If we lose the power of turning from one to the other,

we upset the balance. God’s Spirit restores and keeps the balance right.

 

We are all going through something. Our situation and circumstances are as unique as we are. Assuming that destructive behavior is not an issue, we should all extend to one another the grace to deal with our circumstances in our own way, in our own time. There is not always a “bright side.” We all grieve, ponder and work through things differently.

 

Preaching the gospel of “cheer up,” when a person cannot cheer up.

Telling him to look on the bright side of things when there is no bright side

is as ridiculous as telling a jelly-fish to listen to one of Handel’s Oratorios.

 

Jellyfish

 

So friends, let us preach the gospel of the grace of God,

to others as well as ourselves.

Only the grace of God will alter us

and produce a

well-spring of JOY!

 

Blessings,

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Quotations taken from Biblical Psychology, © Discovery House Publishers

 

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