True Joy.

If we cannot suffer with joy, then there is no glory given to God.  His purpose in our suffering is to bring about perseverance and His righteous character in ourselves, and to bring glory to Him through our obedience, trust, faith, and JOY in suffering.  But, if there is no joy, there is only pity, and any attention to ourselves, is glory stolen from God, even if unintended.

My mind wanders again to my sweet, late mentor, Linda Dunlap.  She suffered much pain as her body battled cancer for years, 3 bouts with it, and then she lost her arm to it, and finally her life.  I never remember anything coming from her mouth, except pure JOY, THANKSGIVING and TRUST in everything God was doing in her life.  She talked a little bit about what she was going through, but there was no attention stolen from God…no glory given except to HIM.  I am so blessed to have known such saints of His.  To have these memories of our conversations together, still so vivid in my mind.  To have this example to follow.

God’s standard is so far beyond me.  We know not when our suffering will end.  Where do we set our hope?  On the end of our suffering?  Shall I say to myself, just 8 more weeks?  Is that where my hope lies?  My hope is in HIM.  My strong tower, deliverer, healer, and lover of my soul.  My hope, as so many devotions have led me, is in heaven.  The promise of eternal life with NO pain, basking in His overwhelming love.

I am CERTAIN of His love for me, and learning this JOY, that transcends all pain.

This day, He tells me, let Thanksgiving be your guide and the wings that carry your prayers into my heavenly throne.  Let me take charge of your day and walk purposefully with me.

To Him be the glory, forever and ever, Amen.

 

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JOY!

The Lord has impressed upon my heart His JOY and perseverance.  He tells me to receive JOY from fellowship with Him, obedience to Him, and to draw strength from HIS JOY  (The JOY of the Lord shall be your strength). He draws my attention away from my circumstances–away from the first trimester symptoms, away from the sadness of leaving friends, away from all the things that need to be done in the next few days before we fly to Virginia, away from all the changes that we will all go through–especially the children (they are so excited and have not slept very much at all in the past 2 weeks.  They are waiting, wondering, will I miss the boat to Virginia and Kansas???)…away from tough memories that happened here, away from any fears of what may lie ahead—and HE GIVES ME JOY!!!  He draws me close to Him, shows me to trust Him, to have even GREATER FAITH, to persevere for the JOY that is set before me….

I know unbelievable JOY lies before me and is available to me right now.  I know that God will bring forth blessing from my obedience to have GREAT FAITH.  I am fixing my eyes on Him and my expectation is with Him and Him alone.  Praise the Lord, O My Soul!!!

 

 

Never-ending Joy

One of the ways joy comes to me always is in obedience.  Obedience, wherever I am, to what God wants me to do in that moment.  It isn’t any pre-set idea of how I am supposed to behave or how things are supposed to go…it is simply seeking His will for me in each and every moment.  Sometimes, I can give a lot because I am trusting God a lot.  Sometimes, I can give a little, because it has been a rough day.  But, no matter where I am, God meets me there and tells me what I need to do in that moment.  He brings forth His Word in my mind, His Word that has been planted in my heart over time, and speaks truth into my situation and heart.  And then, I know what I need to do.  Obey.  Sometimes, it is really tough to do that.  But, I know, that obedience always brings joy.  And that is the Joy I am seeking after!  HIS JOY.  Sometimes, it is a brimming full of smiles kind of joy…othertimes, it is a joy deep within that settles and uplifts my soul.

Today has been joyful.  Things haven’t gone perfectly…we’ve had disasters and setbacks…and sleepy heads (including myself!)….we’ve been late to things…but God’s presence has been deeply felt…His love has overwhelmed us…His grace has prompted us to obey…His faithfulness has amazed us.

Lewis has been talking about the Lord all day today (one of the ways I know God’s presence is with us!).  He said today that his sweet bulldozer, who he’s named Katy, is safe within a cross that he made for her, and that she is going to snowplow all the clouds in heaven with Jesus because she believes in Jesus and she is going to heaven 🙂

Praising the Lord

I have often wondered how it is possible for me to ” Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus”.  -1 Thessalonians 5:16

Here is some insight on how it can happen from God’s Word:

“I will extol the Lord at all times; his praise will always be on my lips.  My soul will boast in the Lord; let the afflicted hear and rejoice.  Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt his name together.” -Psalm 34: 1-3

If I am praising the Lord all the time, to Him, to others (the afflicted), and with others, these things will happen.  Through praise, I am praying, through thinking of Him, His joy will come, through thanking Him in praise, more joy will come!  It’s a circle that reaps unending blessings.  As I share the Lord with others–His character, His blessings to us, they will in turn rejoice and wouldn’t it be lovely to hear them rejoice as well?  And then to rejoice together.  This is how I can lift others up.  This is how I am lifted up.  The elders in the Bible that surround the Lord in heaven praise Him all day long.  The angels sing of His glory all day long.

I must learn to praise the Lord as I walk through my day–no matter what comes!  It is my joy 🙂

Joy Stealer….

There are so many things out there to steal our joy in Christ.  But, it is WE who allow it to be stolen.  He so graciously gives His joy to us….but we have to hold onto it.  We cannot let it be stolen.  The enemy has no power over us.  He has to work in cunning ways to TRICK us.  If we recognize him, he will never win.  It’s only in ways that we can be fooled, that he can win.  Like with beautiful apples….that look so good, pleasing to the eye and subtle twisting of Scripture and God’s Commands to us.

I want to recognize the ways in which the enemy tries to steal my joy…and makes it look like it is right or good.  It isn’t.  It simply is a joy stealer.

I want to hold on and guard the JOY He so graciously gives me each and every day.

Joy Bringer…!

I was thinking about what has brought me joy here…all the things God has taught me to turn to, to be joyful during this time of my life.  And I thought I’d compile a few here:

1. Feeling God’s Presence (Time with Him)

2. Hearing God’s Voice and Guidance (clarity in His Will-through His Word and Prayer)

3.  Obedience (Living a life that is pleasing to the Lord)

4. Unexpected Blessings from the Lord/Answered Prayers

5. Sharing in His Joy-Sharing the Gospel with Others: Spreading His Word, Serving Others, Loving Others (Teaching, Discipleship, Being Discipled, etc)

6. Eternal Blessings (Coming from Persecution, Suffering, Works done in Secret, Obedience, Bringing Others to the Lord, etc)

7. Victory over Sin-Freedom from Bondage

8. Thanking God for His Gifts–all of them

9. Prasing Him/Worshiping Him

10. Fellowship with like-minded believers

His Greatest Joy!

I have been praying lately for the Lord to show me His Joy throughout my readings and throughout my day so I can understand more fully what His Joy is all about.  He has shown me and I am most thankful.

As I have been reminiscing about my friend Linda, another friend also came to mind who reflects so well Christ’s joy in everything she does.  She seeks to have His joy with all her heart.  These two friends of mine have a lot in common!  They both radiate Jesus’ love and joy.  I thought about Christ and what He would have looked like going throughout His day doing His Father’s appointed work for Him to do.  I wondered what His face looked like.  His tone of voice.  His temperament.  I kept wondering and just started praying for me to envision what His Joy looked like.  To more fully radiate His Joy, I must understand more fully what it is all about.

God answered my prayer.  I know He will have to explain more and more to me about His Joy throughout my life, but I had an opportunity to share in Christ’s true Joy just the other day.

Lewis, Hannah and I have been doing some gardening lately since planting season starts a bit early here in the desert :-)….and I have been talking to them about how important it is to get all the dead parts of the plants/flowers out, so that new growth can appear and be healthy and not choked out by all the “bad” stuff around it…so that it doesn’t die….but also so that new growth can appear (some of it has to die for new growth to appear!).

We went to our favorite place to eat later that day…with a desert turtle refuge/park nearby.  There was a man there weeding the grass diligently…very friendly to us.  Lewis asked about what he was doing…I told him again about weeding and how it gets rid of all the dead stuff that takes away the nutrients from the healthy grass…and helps it grow better…and then I stopped.  Do I talk about the spiritual stuff to reinforce it in my little one’s mind in front of this man?  I knew I would do it if he wasn’t there.

This is where God pressed upon my heart…”MY Greatest JOY,” He said, “is in giving salvation to the blind…to those that don’t know me yet.”  “But,” I protested, “I have been faithful in sharing your gospel, your Word much lately, and it hasn’t gone very well for me…or at least like I imagined.”  I was beginning to doubt my methods…my timing…even His voice to me.  So very much this past year and a half…I have doubted.  I have obeyed.  But, then, I have doubted.  And doubt, for me, always leads to discouragement.

SO, I shared the spiritual part with Lewis, as I try to do at home with him, as best and often as I can 😉  Long story short, an opportunity arised for me to share the gospel with this man.  He was hurting.  He was trying all sorts of things to help himself get better.  The Lord gave me compassion and understanding for him and we were able to share in the Lord’s Joy of bringing His Word to those that don’t know Him.  I don’t know the impact of the conversation.  I don’t know if the seeds that were planted will grow or dissipate.  Not until heaven will I know!  BUT, I do know that HIS JOY became MY JOY and it filled me up once again.  This time, I let the outcome rest in HIS hands…not mine.  His Joy is TRUE JOY!!!  It never ends.  It cannot be stolen.  And it has endless returns…it just keeps on giving…it is contagious.