Devotionals · God's Word · Pondering

Testing

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!  According to His great mercy, He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.  In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him.  Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls. 1 Peter 1:3-9

δοκίμιον

dokimion

a testing; by implication, trustworthiness:—trial, trying; a crucible

Other versions of 1 Peter 1:7 ~

These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. NIV

…that the proof of your faithbeing more precious than gold which perishes though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; NASB20

…so that the proven character of your faith ​— ​more valuable than gold which, though perishable, is refined by fire ​— ​may result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. CSB

*the proving, your proved faith; that by which something is tried or proved, a test*

I love that word, “proving,” as though there is something to prove. Indeed, the test, the proof is in our willingness to obey and stand upright as we wait upon the Lord. He will bring us through whatever test, whatever proving ground we are to face. Counting whatever we go through all joy, or rejoice in the midst of these trials, can seem so opposite of what we are walking or running through, yet God calls us to these things and also calls us to rejoice, to be joyful in the midst.

Can you imagine being a Ukrainian today and being able to rejoice, to count all that they are experiencing or witnessing in this horrendous war all around them, and still be able to recount it with joy? Watching around 100 Ukrainian women and children evacuate from the ruined Azovstal steelworks in the city of Mariupol on Sunday, May 1, 2022, after two-plus months hiding under the plant would bring a sense of joy in the release, yet there was the threat of Russia bombing, leaving family and friends behind…could they count it joy? I know I would have rough time yet that is exactly the way we are to face the trials each and every day. Oh, God, please give me the strength of Jesus to face my trials. He went to that horrible cross for me, down the Via Delorosa, and counted and considered it all joy!

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:2-4

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written,
“‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and “‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’” Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’” Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.
Matthew 4:1-11

Jesus withstood such temptations, showing me that I can lean on Him for He desires to carry my burdens, to walk besides me, to dwell within me.

from Matthew Henry’s Commentary of 1 Peter:
The apostle grants they were in great affliction, and propounds several things in mitigation of their sorrows. 

1. Every sound Christian has always something wherein he may greatly rejoice. Great rejoicing contains more than an inward placid serenity of mind or sensation of comfort; it will show itself in the countenance and conduct, but especially in praise and gratitude.

2. The chief joy of a good Christian arises from things spiritual and heavenly, from his relation to God and to heaven. In these every sound Christian greatly rejoices; his joy arises from his treasure, which consists of matters of great value, and the title to them is sure.

3. The best Christians, those who have reason greatly to rejoice, may yet be in great heaviness through manifold temptations. All sorts of adversities are temptations, or trials of faith, patience, and constancy. These seldom go singly, but are manifold, and come from different quarters, the effect of all which is great heaviness. As men, we are subject to sorrows, personal and domestic. As Christians, our duty to God obliges us to frequent sorrow: and our compassion towards the miserable, the dishonour done to God, the calamities of his church, and the destruction of mankind, from their own folly and from divine vengeance, raise, in a generous and pious mind, almost continual sorrow. 

4. The afflictions and sorrows of good people are but for a little while, they are but for a season; though they may be smart, they are but short. Life itself is but for a little while, and the sorrows of it cannot survive it; the shortness of any affliction does much abate the heaviness of it.

5. Great heaviness is often necessary to a Christian’s good: If need be, you are in heaviness. God does not afflict his people willingly, but acts with judgment, in proportion to our needs. There is a conveniency and fitness, nay, an absolute necessity in the case, for so the expression signifies: it must be;therefore no man should be moved by these afflictions. These troubles, that lie heavy, never come upon us but when we have need, and never stay any longer than needs must.

Mr. Henry goes on regarding the praise, the honor, and the glory:

“The trial of faith will be found to praise, and honour, and glory. Honour is properly that esteem and value which one has with another, and so God and man will honour the saints. Praise is the expression or declaration of that esteem; so Christ will commend his people in the great day, Come, you blessed of my Father, etc. Glory is that lustre wherewith a person, so honoured and praised, shines in heaven.  …. Jesus Christ will appear again in glory, and, when he does so, the saints will appear with him, and their graces will appear illustrious; and the more they have been tried the more bright they will then appear. The trial will soon be over, but the glory, honour, and praise will last to eternity. This should reconcile you to your present afflictions: they work for you a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.”

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. James 1:12

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through Him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 5:1-5

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Romans 12:12

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. 1 Corinthians 10:13

“I have said these things to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

And the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will Himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 1 Peter 5:10

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

Cast your cares on the LORD and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous be shaken. Psalm 55:22

Father God, there are so many reasons to rejoice even when I do not feel like rejoicing. And there could also be many reasons why I should feel overwhelmed and filled with sorrow. Yet, You lift me up when I am down. You fill me up when I am empty. You stand with me always and care for me, about me. You have given me life through Your Son, Jesus the Christ, Who died that terrible death for me, taking my sins to the cross. You shower grace and mercy upon me again and again. You sustain me and never let me down. I trust You and know I can. I know You are my God forever and ever. I will be spending Eternity with You. Oh, Lord, how glorious that will be. I thank You for holding me near through any and all trials I may be currently going through as well as those in my future. I thank You from the depths of my heart.

Devotionals · God's Word · Pondering

O LORD, I Want to Know Joy, to Feel Hope, AGAIN!

Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. John 16:20

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

I believe Your Word, LORD because You speak to my heart. I doubt because I am human.

Sorrow

Sadness

Overwhelm

Be gracious to me, O LORD, for I am in distress;
my eye is wasted from grief;
my soul and my body also.
Psalm 31:9

The United States of America has been home for my entire 74 years on this earth.

I love this country. It has been a place where I hold memories filled with love and joy, loss, and struggles. The USA has been my home, such a wonderful home to and for me.

Yet, there is so much now…on this very day…for a number of years…that I no longer recognize as ‘part and parcel’ of the United States (‘with part meaning “a portion” and parcel “something integral with a whole’ *).  There are parts of this country that no longer fit with the whole of the country I have always known as home.

I recognize most of the natural landscape although even some of that is filled with burned forests, lakes so low that one can no longer swim or sail in them. Waterfalls have less flowing down the sides of mountains, and more animals are becoming extinct.

Yet, I can see God’s changeless beauty in His handiwork in the likes of the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, the Oregon coastline, and many other places such as these.

To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David.
The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above proclaims His handiwork
. Psalm 19:1

And there are kindhearted people around me, too. Some are strangers to me but they hold a door open while I walk through, smiling behind a masked face. Some are people I do know who call to check on me, just to say ‘hi.’ Some are family who calls for a weekly conversation. New friends in my new city have invited me to go with them to an outdoor art show, and then again to a “Chocolate Walk.” Joy, kindness, peace, love flowed around and through us.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23

Yet, there is so much anger, animosity, hatred, and fear in our country and the world today.

My joy is gone; grief is upon me;
my heart is sick within me
. Jeremiah 8:18

Desires to commit violence against others for reasons I cannot comprehend: the amount of the pigment melanin in one’s skin, one’s religious beliefs, political bent or absolute, even a look someone gives another. So many cruel reasons for hatred and violence. Trials are being held all around the country as I type. Three men with very little melanin in their skin shot an unharmed jogger who happened to have a lot of melanin because they suspected him of being a thief. A white boy went to a Bible study with a gun and shot nine parishioners who all were Black after studying and praying with them.

How can this be?

We all have a degree of melanin in our skin, hair, eyes: “a dark brown to black pigment occurring in the hair, skin, and iris of the eye in people and animals. It is responsible for tanning of skin exposed to sunlight.”**

Violence against one another with American flags on January 6, 2020, killing and maiming. Threatening many with death and harm. A continuing threat of hatred and anger is perpetuating in so many arenas.

Why is there so much hatred fueling these fires?

The USA is a Democracy. The people have a say in the way the country is governed. When the United States became an independent nation, the Continental Congress set up the Constitution and the way of governance. It still stands today. Yet, voting integrity is threatened because many did not like the outcome of recent elections so they have decided to rig the elections so that they will win. Our democracy is being threatened by those who fear loss. They threaten those who are in positions to secure the elections…threats at their home’s doorsteps, at their cars after work, on the walkways as they do their jobs. One political party against the other party, higher-ranking members of government stripping other members of their committee assignments, people calling one another liars and traitors, using vitriolic language…and the list goes on and on. Some are attempting to do their jobs. Others do not! Divisiveness is overbearing to me!

What is happening?

We may not have a Democracy for long, I fear myself.

How long must I take counsel in my soul
and have sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?
Psalm 13:2

I grieve these losses to my precious country. I watch in plain sight things being taken, stolen, threatened, stabbed again and again. It is not only lives being lost but the underlying whole of the United States of America…on the verge of being lost.

Grief overpowers me at times.

This nation has been built by the hands and on the backs of immigrants. I come from people who immigrated from Scotland, Ireland, England, Italy, Germany, Holland, and maybe even other countries. They worked hard to make this nation what it has been. Some of each batch of immigrants did indeed harm the next nation of immigrants by belittling their culture, making fun of their lack of language to communicate, maybe even their skin color, making assimilation hard for each new incoming group. But we are a nation of immigrants. How can we turn people away with violence and family separation when our very own relatives came here for a better life. Some of my relatives came because of religious persecution in their home country. Others came because of famine in their home country. Others immigrated for work, for masonry/bricklaying jobs in the big cities being built…all for a better life.

Bricklayers Building Wrigley Field Bleachers/Chicago History/Horsch Gallery

We come from these people. We could not call America home if they had not come before us.

I weep.

Yet, I hold onto God for He is hope.  He is joy.

Is not your fear of God your confidence,
and the integrity of your ways your hope?
Job 4:6

Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise Him,
my salvation and my God.
Psalm 42:11

For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence,
for my hope is from Him.
Psalm 62:5

My soul clings to the dust;
give me life according to your word!

When I told of my ways, you answered me;
teach me your statutes!

Make me understand the way of your precepts,
and I will meditate on your wondrous works.

My soul melts away for sorrow;
strengthen me according to your word!

Put false ways far from me
and graciously teach me your law!

I have chosen the way of faithfulness;
I set your rules before me.

I cling to your testimonies, O LORD;
let me not be put to shame!

I will run in the way of your commandments
when you enlarge my heart!
Psalm 119:25-32

“Great thoughts of your sin alone will drive you to despair; but great thoughts of Christ will pilot you into the haven of peace.” – Charles Spurgeon

“If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end; if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin, and in the end, despair.” – C.S. Lewis

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:8-9

“…when You enlarge my heart!” (Psalm 119:2) Yes, Lord, please enlarge my heart. Calm my soul. Fill me with love. May Your love overflow to others as we pass it on to the next. I want to shine Your light in this dark and ever-darkening world. I desire Your joy to spread across the path that You have laid before me. Your hope and joy are two things I lose myself. Fill me up to overflowing because we all need hope in these torrential times. Let me not be angry nor fueled by hatred. Take any frustration from me with those I do not understand. There is so very much I do not understand, LORD. Draw me in and teach me Your ways that I will know You so well that even when I misunderstand or just don’t get another’s ways, Your ways will penetrate so deeply that I can shine Your beautiful light into this country I call home, into this world upon which I live. Grant to me Your peace and Your grace and Your mercy, Your hope and Your joy, O LORD. In the Name of Jesus, Your Son, I pray. Amen.

 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35

But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. 2 Corinthians 4:7-10

“Sorrow turned to Joy” photo @ St James – LCMS

 * ‘part and parcel’ – The American Heritage Dictionary

Charles Spurgeon quote @ AZQuotes

Rose – Love @ Public Domain

Marigold – Despair and grief over the loss of love @ FlowerMeaning.org

** melanin: The Oxford Lexico

Photo of immigrants coming into New York City harbor/Statue of Liberty @ Lessons from History/UCLA

Bricklayers in Chicago/Wrigley Field @ Horsch Gallery. (My Grandpa was a bricklayer in Chicago and loved the Cubs. Grandpa was born in 1891 so he could very well have been a part of this. The man in the dark overalls with his back to the photographer looks a lot like him!?? His father immigrated from Italy in the mid-1800s and was a bricklayer.)

Gardenia – Hope @ FlowerMeaning.org

Iris – Joy @ Espoused to Him

Lavender – Peace @ FlowerMeaning.org

Fruit of the Spirit photo/graphic: @ Bibles Verses to Go

Snapdragons – Strength @ WallpaperFlare

 

 

 

Devotionals · God's Word · Pondering

Sisters in Christ Jesus

I spend one morning each week with 5-8 women. We all attend the same church as we worship the Lord. We have been meeting weekly for about 9 months now. We are women of all ages, from 30s to 70s. Some have young families. Some are grandparents. Some live near family. Some live far apart from their parents, children, grandchildren. We live in East Texas. Some are from here. Some are from places far away, such as California, Montana, New Mexico, Louisiana. Our backgrounds are so different. Our arrival to Christianity is unique to each. Some came to Jesus as children, others as adults. Our walk with the Lord is also so different.

Yet, we are the body of Christ…all Christians, all sisters in the Lord.

…so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Romans 12:5

I am amazed at the beauty that God is in our midst. He is faithful to draw us near to Him, the One Who created us, Who loves us so.

Each week, we gather around a table where we sip coffee, tea, juice. We eat muffins, fruit, nuts, other tasty treats which our hostess graciously lays out for us.

Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. Romans 12:13

One by one, we begin sharing our pray needs, concerns, praises. We each have a journal where we write down what each of our sisters need so as to jar the memory as we pray throughout the week. When the first one wraps up her words, one of us steps up to pray for her in this moment. Outloud. In sweet surrender to the Lord. Laying her at the foot of the Cross.

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Romans 12:12

We continue around the table, sharing, praying. Sometimes guidance is given. All is in love.

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Romans 12:10

Recently, I shared my heart through God’s prompting. I did not plan this as I am often rather quiet, sharing just things of the surface. But not this particular Monday. No, the women got to know me quite a bit more through words that dug deeply, to the very core of my being. Words that opened up long-ago wounds…wounds that I thought had been healed years ago. As one woman shared in a word-picture: it is healed over, but there is scar tissue all around. By that, there is still pain at times. I cried and cried for it was like it was all right at the top. These precious sisters did not know this history about me. They wept with me and loved me. They prayed for me, loving me through their words to our God, the Listener of our humble and humbling prayers.

Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Romans 12:15

Each week brings different and similar prayer requests. Each week, there may be all 8 of us, or maybe only 2, 3 or 4 of us. It does not matter for we desire to pray for one another. We have grown to know one another over these months as we barely did when we began. One of the ladies drew us together for the purpose of prayer and fellowship. She chose people of various ages, various stages of life and spiritual walks. I believe God picked us each and let her know just who He desired to have around this table.

Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in the Spirit, serve the Lord. Romans 12:11

We open our homes, our hearts, our minds, and souls. Some of us may be more open one week, and others at other times, but we share each week, as best we can.

We want to grow in the Lord as we pray.

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:1-2

When hard things are going on in a life of a sister, we want to be shoulder-to-shoulder with her. We want to wrap her in the Word, in our love which comes from God, our Source. We want to be attentive to her needs.

For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Romans 12:3-5

We want to share with one another what God is teaching us, whether it be through exhortation, a Scripture, arms wrapped around, a prayer lifted up.

Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness. Romans 12:6-8

All of God’s people are ordinary people who have been made extraordinary by the purpose He has given them. Oswald Chambers

As we seek to honor the Lord, we watch the words of our mouth, that they be without gossip or slander so as to not revile His Word. As we desire to glorify His Name, we show one another the love that is His.

Praise You, LORD. You are Mighty God, the Holy One of Israel. You are the Creator of all to Whom I humbly bow. You have given me life in Christ. You have brought me by Your side and into Your Kingdom. You, O God, are my God. You have dealt with me graciously. You have given me these precious sisters of whom I love and respect. They have come alongside of me to be honest, open, sweet and prayerful. They allow me to be this one whom You wove in my mother’s womb, this one whom I am still learning about at this age for I became a new creature only 27 years ago. I am young in You, my LORD. Whatever time I have remaining in this life on earth, teach me, O LORD, teach me. Through these women, I learn. Through Your Word, I learn. Through life, I learn. Teach me for I want to know You, LORD. In the precious Name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.

Photo/Graphic: Sisters in Christ, Forever – https://simplysharingandserving.weebly.com

Heart Graphic: http://www.fbcvan.org/womens-ministry/

Graphics: Romans 12:5 – https://www.amazingfacts.org/bible-study/scripture-pictures/the-book-of-romans

Graphic: Romans 12:13 – https://whateveryoudodowell.wordpress.com

Graphic: Romans 12:12 – https://abbashousetexas.com/2018/04/03/romans-12-prayer-for-refugees/

Graphic: Romans 12:10 – https://www.heartlight.org/gallery/book/romans/2/

Graphic: Romans 12:15 – https://www.heartlight.org/gallery/book/romans/2/

Graphic: Romans 12:11 – https://brightandclean.tumblr.com/post/48796377488/romans-1211

Photo/graphic: Romans 12:1-2 – https://www.heartlight.org/cgi-shl/praying_paul/pwp.pl?047

Photo/graphic: Romans 12:4-5 – http://www.triciagoyer.com/one-body-romans/

Graphic: Dove/Holy Spirit/Gifts – https://the-end-time.blogspot.com/2012/10/are-miraculous-spiritual-gifts-for.html

Photo/Graphic: Flowers in Jar/”Like flowers…” – sanibelsoaps.com

Devotionals · God's Word · Pondering

Pure Joy

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,
for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.
And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.
But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. James 1:2-6

How in the world can I count these trials as joyful? How?

God also says in Romans 5:

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through Him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit Who has been given to us. Romans 5:1-5

So now I can have peace with God too? These trials seem like they couldn’t possibly produce joy nor peace?…or perfection or hope?

YET…God’s Word gives me Truth. So I know that these things are possible. I have not written in this space for quite some time, but God is using the circumstances of Kenneth’s death to show me His love, His people, His little children, His body of Christ, His kindness, His glory. He is showing me that although my heart may hurt from this deep loss, it can also overflow with so much more because He is my joy. He is my love. He is my kindness. He is my all. Dependence upon the One Who is Omnipotent, Omniscient, and Omnipresent gives me all. I lack for nothing.

I have not hidden away from the world. I have not walked away from His will for my life in Christ. I have not been too disobedient (not much that I am aware of!). I am walking with the One Who saved me from the pit. I am holding close to my Savior because He is. He is alive and risen. He has given me His Holy Spirit to dwell within me. And I am His, walking in the Spirit. I am filled with a joy that is incredibly remarkable.

Is that not amazing?

He fills me with pure joy in the midst of sorrow and struggle. Do you know what else He does? He builds me up. He grows me in His character. He molds me to look more and more like Him. Is that not beautiful? How grateful I am for His love for me. Oh, my sweet Lord. You are changing me day-by-day, moment-by-moment. Thank You, Sweet Jesus.

when you meet trials of various kinds,… James 1:2b

Trials come. Trials can be of all types…physical, emotional, mental, financial, marital, death, and everything else under the sun.

And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:4

I am not perfect and will not be until I pass over the Jordan River into Heaven, but each step of obedience here on earth brings me another step closer to both perfection and Heaven. Christ is molding me to be more and more like Him while I sojourn here. I am the clay and want to be. I desire that molding more and more now too. That is what boggles my mind…that I, willingly, want Him to mold me which takes trials. No vessel is perfect, needing parts redone again and again. The Potter has much work to do on me. I choose to allow Him to form me and make me. I also choose to stay close to Him so that I may endure the current trials and those on ahead.

ὑπομονή

hypomonē

steadfastness, constancy, endurance

in the NT the characteristic of a man who is not swerved from his deliberate purpose and his loyalty to faith and piety by even the greatest trials and sufferings

patiently, and steadfastly

a patient, steadfast waiting for

a patient enduring, sustaining, perseverance

NKJV: But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

NIV: Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

NASB: And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

Other Scripture with the same Greek word: ὑπομονή

As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the Word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience. Luke 8:15

For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. Romans 15:4

Therefore we ourselves boast about you in the churches of God for your steadfastness and faith in all your persecutions and in the afflictions that you are enduring. 2 Thessalonians 1:4

Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful. James 5:11

Matthew Henry wrote: “The graces and duties of a state of trial and affliction are here pointed out to us. Could we attend to these things, and grow in them as we should do, how good would it be for us to be afflicted! One Christian grace to be exercised is joy: ‘Count it all joy.’ We must not sink into a sad and disconsolate frame of mind, which would make us faint under our trials; but must endeavour to keep our spirits dilated and enlarged, the better to take in a true sense of our case, and with greater advantage to set ourselves to make the best of it. Philosophy may instruct men to be calm under their troubles; but Christianity teaches them to be joyful, because such exercises proceed from love and not fury in God. In them we are conformable to Christ our head, and they become marks of our adoption. By suffering in the ways of righteousness, we are serving the interests of our Lord’s kingdom among men, and edifying the body of Christ; and our trials will brighten our graces now and our crown at last. Therefore there is reason to count it all joy when trials and difficulties become our lot in the way of our duty.

Faith is a grace that one expression supposes and another expressly requires: ‘Knowing this, that the trial of your faith,…’ verse 3; and then in verse 6, ‘Let him ask in faith.’ There must be a sound believing of the great truths of Christianity, and a resolute cleaving to them, in times of trial. That faith which is spoken of here as tried by afflictions consists in a belief of the power, and word, and promise of God, and in fidelity and constancy to the Lord Jesus.

There must be patience: ‘The trial of faith worketh patience.’  The trying of one grace produces another; and the more the suffering graces of a Christian are exercised the stronger they grow.”  *

Jesus, my Lord, I come to You, seeking Your face. I want to be near to You, to know You more and more with each passing moment. Is that possible, Lord? How can it be when I am in physical pain, emotional loss, sorrow, spiritual vacuums, and other trials? How can I focus upon You when these trials distract me so? Yet, Lord, You rain grace over me in joy, love, hope, faith, patience and far more than I could even ask. Thank You, sweet Jesus. You reign in my heart. That is what has changed me as I experience trials, Lord. You!…Your Spirit indwelling this earthly vessel. Your graciousness abounds. Thank You for keeping me close to You. You are the One Who generously gives. You are merciful and faithful, Lord God Almighty, overflowing with love for me. I want to grow in the Truth, in the knowledge of You. I want to grow in grace, too. I want to reflect You to the world in which I sojourn. May I be strong through the trials and tribulations so that I may be more like You. Give me wisdom that I would know how to walk through these times. In Your Holy Name, I pray. Amen.

But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen. 2 Peter 3:18

Graphic: Knowing-Jesus.com

Graphic: Daily RCL Bible Reading Devotional @ http://dustoffthebible.com/Blog-archive/2016/05/22/daily-rcl-bible-reading-devotional-may-22nd-2016/

Graphic: http://access-jesus.com

Graphic: Knowing-Jesus.com

* Matthew Henry Commentary on James 1

Graphic: https://www.heartlight.org/gallery

Devotionals · God's Word · Pondering

Joy Abounds? Seriously?

Oil of Joy by Stacy Lee Christian Art

To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that He might be glorified.  Isaiah 61:3

On my recent visit with my sisters, the one I spent the most time with noticed something about me that surprised her, I believe.  She was amazed and delighted to see me with “joy” exuding from my very being.  She used the word “joy” with a sweet happiness on her face. She mentioned it again on the phone this past weekend.

The question is: how can I be exuding joy when I am in the midst of mourning my precious husband?  How can this be? My heart hurts.  It is heavy, filled with sorrow.  The tears come and they go, but they are always right there, ready to leak out.

I have been pondering all of this and believe I know what Annette is seeing, sensing, feeling in and about me.  It is the joy of the Lord It is the Holy Spirit dwelling in me.  It is the joy of the Lord as my strength.  This is the only answer.  Truly, it is!

…yet I will rejoice in the LORD;
I will take joy in the God of my salvation.  GOD, the Lord, is my strength;
He makes my feet like the deer’s;
He makes me tread on my high places.  Habakkuk 3:18-19

שָׂשׂוֹן

sasown

cheerfulness; specifically, welcome:—gladness, joy, mirth, rejoicing

Matthew Henry, in his Commentary writes about Isaiah 61:3

  • Beauty for ashes. Whereas they lay in ashes, as was usual in times of great mourning, they shall not only be raised out of their dust, but made to look pleasant. Note, The holy cheerfulness of Christians is their beauty and a great ornament to their profession.
    • (Me: As God changes the ashes to beauty, He turns sorrow into joy quickly for He speaks, and it is done.  Kenneth has been gone almost 3 months now [amazing for it seems like yesterday].  Annette not only saw this joy in me a few weeks ago, but she heard it over the phone within the first month after Kenneth died.)

isaiah_61_3 1

  • (Matthew Henry):The oil of joy, which make the face to shine, instead of mourning, which disfigures the countenance and makes it unlovely. This oil of joy the saints have from that oil of gladness with which Christ himself was anointed above his fellows,

“You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness;
therefore God, your God, has anointed you
with the oil of gladness beyond your companions.”  Hebrews 1:9

oil-of-joy-title

  • (Matthew Henry):  The garments of praise, such beautiful garments as were worn on thanksgiving-days, instead of the spirit of heaviness, dimness, or contraction-open joys for secret mournings. The spirit of heaviness they keep to themselves (Zion’s mourners weep in secret); but the joy they are recompensed with they are clothed with as with a garment in the eye of others. Observe, Where God gives the oil of joy he gives the garment of praise. Those comforts which come from God dispose the heart to, and enlarge the heart in, thanksgivings to God. Whatever we have the joy of God must have the praise and glory of.

garment-of-praise

…looking to Jesus, the Founder and Perfecter of our faith, Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.   Hebrews 12:2 

“As the Father has loved Me, so have I loved you. Abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.”  John 15:9-11

“…may be full” … filled with Him.  What greater joy can there be but the joy of the LORD, the One Who went to the cross for us, to save us, to suffer for us.  He was the joy that was set before Him as He endured the cross.  We ask how?  How did He have joy as He died on the cross, the torturous death which it was?  How?  He is joy.  He endured the cross because He loved us each and all so very much.  The cross was horrible, but the purpose for which He endured that cross outweighed the horribleness of it.  It was the reason He came to earth as a human.  He came to take our sin to that cross and gave us eternal life. Joy is beautiful.  Joy is full.

As I was reading a devotional this morning in Psalm 34, I read verse 5.  It said it all:

Those who look to Him are radiant,
and their faces shall never be ashamed.  ESV

Those who look to Him for help will be radiant with joy;
no shadow of shame will darken their faces.  NLT

Those who look to Him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.  NIV

They looked expectingly unto Him, And they became bright, And their faces are not ashamed.  YLT

psalm_34_4-5_3x5So I ask how can I look like joy on the outside when my heart is broken and so filled with sorrow?  Jesus.  I have Jesus.  He is my joy.  I can live each day because I have Jesus.  I am mourning, and I am comforted.  I am mourning and am filled with the love of God.  I am mourning and am filled to overflowing with the joy of the Lord.

joy of the Lord

…And do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.”  Nehemiah 8:10b

beauty-for-ashes1

Lord, I am truly in awe of Your beauty.  You have so much love for me, Your sheep.  I fail You again and again, yet You never cease to love me.  Thank You, Lord; thank You.  You hold me near as I can feel You right here.  You fill me with unimaginable joy and love in the very midst of grief.  How wonderful You are.  Great is Your faithfulness.  You comfort me with Your touch, Your nearness, Your gentleness.  You change my ashes of sorrow to beauty.  You clothe me in garments of praise, taking the spirit of heaviness away.  And You drench me in the oil of joy while I mourn.  Joy, praise, and beauty that are each and all You projecting from me out into this world.  Thank You for such wonderful gifts, Lord.  I am on my knees before You, loving You.  I pray and I praise in the Name of all names, Christ Jesus.  Amen. 

 

beblacksig

 

 

Credits:

Isaiah 61:3/Joy:  http://stacyleeart.blogspot.com/2009/04/christian-contemporary-art-series-on.html

Beauty for Ashes: https://brandinicolejm.wordpress.com/

Oil of Joy: http://belovedlove.org/

Garments of Praise: https://becomingtheoilandwine.com/2016/06/11/the-garment-of-praise/

Psalm 34:5: http://www.psalmsquotes.com/

Joy of the Lord: https://beingwoven27.files.wordpress.com/2018/09/2adff-joy2bof2bthe2blord.jpg

You Give Me Beauty:  https://mariekalake.com/2014/09/22/beauty-for-ashes/

Devotionals · God's Word · Pondering

God’s Peace is More

Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.  Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as My Father hath sent Me, even so send I you.  John 20:19-20

εἰρήνη

eirēnē (Greek)

ā-rā’-nā

  • a state of national tranquillity
  • exemption from the rage and havoc of war
  • peace between individuals, i.e. harmony, concord
  • security, safety, prosperity, felicity, (because peace and harmony make and keep things safe and prosperous)
  • of the Messiah’s peace
  • the way that leads to peace (salvation)
  • of Christianity, the tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and content with its earthly lot, of whatsoever sort that is
  • the blessed state of devout and upright men after death

Peace” in nearly every dialect of Aramaic is “Shlamah”.

In Jewish Aramaic,

   שלמה

Northwest Semitic: Ancient Aramaic:

ܫܠܡ

 

Hebrew:

שָׁלוֹם

shalowm

  • safe, i.e. (figuratively) well, happy, friendly
  • also (abstractly) welfare, i.e. health, prosperity, peace:—× do, familiar, × fare, favour, friend, × great, (good) health, (× perfect, such as be at) peace(-able, -ably), prosper(-ity, -ous), rest, safe(-ty), salute, welfare, (× all is, be) well, × wholly
  • completeness (in number)
  • safety, soundness (in body)
  • welfare, health, prosperity
  • peace, quiet, tranquillity, contentment
  • peace, friendship
  • of human relationships
  • with God especially in covenant relationship
  • peace (from war)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

When we think of peace, we usually limit the meaning to calm, tranquil, quiet, stillness of one’s soul.  Yet, in looking through the myriad of meanings, I am gaining a whole new perspective on what Jesus blesses us with when He says, “Peace be unto you.”  He wishes health and prosperity, happiness and harmony, rest and reconciliation, welfare and well-being, kindness, wholeness, friendliness, safety, just every type of good.  Every blessing which is of Christ is for us through Him.

Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.  John 14:27

“When our LORD speaks peace, He creates peace, because the words that He speaks are always ‘spirit, and they are life’ (John 6:63).  Have I ever received what Jesus speaks? “…My peace I give to you…”—a peace that comes from looking into His face and fully understanding and receiving His quiet contentment.'”  Oswald Chambers *

…looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith, Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Hebrew 12:2

Jesus walked in obedience to His Father.  He endured the worst possible path, yet rests duly by His Father, knowing the Peace, the Love, the Grace that can only come from the Father.

I reflect.  I see more clearly that obedience to my Father is my way to His Peace.  I may endure harsh realities or uncomfortable situations, but when walking with Jesus as He wills me to do, I am united with my LORD.  His gifts of simplicity, clarity, unity are born through the Holy Spirit and not through my desires.

 You gave a wide place for my steps under me,
and my feet did not slip.  Psalm 18:36

I have peace in my steps for I have confidence in the life I have with Christ.

The eternal God is your refuge,
And underneath are the everlasting arms;
He will thrust out the enemy from before you,
And will say, ‘Destroy!’

Then Israel shall dwell in safety,
The fountain of Jacob alone,
In a land of grain and new wine;
His heavens shall also drop dew.  Deuteronomy 33:27-28

His arms hold me.  His support, comfort, strength, and provision are pieces of this peace that I am searching for.  My LORD is this peace in all ways.

When I saw Him, I fell at His feet as though dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the First and the Last, and the Living One. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.  Revelation 1:17-18

He touches me.  He tells me to not be afraid.  I can rest in Him for He is my Salvation, my assurance, and the tenderness that I seek.

Until the Spirit is poured upon us from on high,
And the wilderness becomes a fruitful field,
And the fruitful field is counted as a forest.

Then justice will dwell in the wilderness,
And righteousness remain in the fruitful field.

The work of righteousness will be peace,
And the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance forever.

My people will dwell in a peaceful habitation,
In secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places,….
Isaiah 32:15-18

 

Oh, that I could live and walk in Your ways, O LORD.  But I am me.  I fail and fall.  I crumble under stress at times.  I belittle myself.  I am not perfect here upon this earth.  Yet my desire is to be obedient.  Holy Spirit, continually guide me in the ways that I should go.  Be near.  I want to know this peace that is You.

I pray peace for this world, for this country, Father.  We are so in need of Your peace now.  People are torn asunder by storms, war, fear, drugs, divorce, so many other reasons.  May we each and all walk in obedience to You, only You.  This seems like an impossible request, but nothing is impossible for You.  I ask You to turn all hearts to You.  One day soon, before it is too late, may Your peace rain upon us and reign in our hearts, my Father.  In the Name of the Prince of Peace, I pray.  Amen. 

 

*from 8/26 devotional “My Utmost for His Highest” by Oswald Chambers

Devotionals · God's Word · Pondering

Shamayim

image_548611_2

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.  Genesis 1:1

שָׁמַיִם

shamayim

  • heaven, heavens, sky
    • visible heavens, sky
      • as abode of the stars
      • as the visible universe, the sky, atmosphere, etc
    • Heaven: the abode of God, the dwelling place of God

On my last post, My Citizenship is in Heaven, I wrote of the assurance of having my home in Heaven and not here on the earth.  During these times, that promise is such a calming assurance.  Heaven is a beautiful word in Hebrew, shamayim.  A Hebrew word ending in im is plural…sense the vastness of the heavens.  Go outside on a clear night; lie down on the grass.  Look up and see the wide heavens filled with stars and planets aglow far away yet right before your very eyes.  The vast heavens draw us nearer to the God of Creation.

Behold, the heaven and the heaven of heavens is the LORD’S thy God, the earth also, with all that therein is.  Deuteronomy 10:14

“There is none like the God of Jeshurun (Israel),
Who rides the heavens to your help,
And through the skies in His majesty.”  Deuteronomy 33:26

“But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain You; how much less this house that I have built!”  1 Kings 8:27

Not only did God create such beauty with such depth, width, height, and length, but, ultimately, God sacrificed His One and Only Son.  He loved us so much that He gave His All.

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”  John 3:16

I am blessed beyond measure.   

And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.  Hebrews 10:10

ONCE AND FOR ALL!   Hallelujah!

Sun Rays Through the Clouds Over the Ocean at Beach

God is mighty.  He is great.  He is above all.

The Mighty One, God the LORD,
speaks and summons the earth
from the rising of the sun to its setting.  Psalm 50:1

Praise the LORD!
Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise Him in His mighty heavens!  Psalm 150:1

He is holy.

“Consecrate yourselves, therefore, and be holy, for I am the LORD your God.”  Leviticus 20:7

Our Redeemer—the LORD of hosts is His name—
is the Holy One of Israel.  Isaiah 47:4

As a child of God, a child who loves her Father and Creator, I desire to be holy as He is holy.  I am continuously learning to be humble, to bow, to kneel before Him.  I am always learning what this call means…to be holy.  Oh, but the delight that comes to me in this learning to be holy is that I “shall obtain fresh joy” … FRESH JOY!  Oh, is this not a beautiful gift?

The meek shall obtain fresh joy in the LORD,
and the poor among mankind shall exult in the Holy One of Israel.  Isaiah 29:19

FRESH JOY!!

Only through God’s holiness, His strength, His peace, His love can I live in this world with my eyes focused heavenward…on Eternity.  Ability to hold my tongue from speaking that which is ungodly is a gift of my God for He is holy.  I can speak words of encouragement, and take my thoughts captive, for He is holy.  Forgive me, Father, when I fail.

I am only able to be holy, as He is Holy, when I spend time in His Presence and in His Word.  As I am obedient to Him, He conforms me, molds me into His image.   

As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as He Who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”  1 Peter 1:14-16

Looking up, I begin to count the stars, knowing every single one is His.  I go barefoot in the sand, feeling zillions of grains between my toes, under my feet, knowing that they are each His as well.  I stand at the ocean’s edge, feeling the waves pulsing or crashing at the shore.  I am overwhelmed at the immensity of all that is God’s.

You are Holy, LORD, and are due my full respect and adoration.  I am so filled with gratitude for Your sacrifice of Your Son for me, for saving me from myself, my sins.  You poured out Your Love for me, for others such as me from time immemorial.  You painted the heavens and the earth so that I would have homes in which to be sheltered now and for Eternity.  Your grace and Your mercy cover me, Abba Father, so that I may know Your Fatherly Love.  In the vastness of You, my Father, I pray.   In the Saving Name of Jesus.  Amen. 

“Shout, and sing for joy, O inhabitant of Zion,
for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.”  Isaiah 12:6

Amen.

BW sig dark blue

 

 

Stars over Sand Beach by Kent Miller (National Park Service/Acadia National Park-Night Sky Festival each year in September) – https://www.nps.gov/acad/learn/news/acadia-night-sky-festival-offers-shuttle-to-the-stars.htm

Sun Rays Through the Clouds Over the Ocean at Beach by Captain Kimo – https://captainkimo.com/hdr-photography-gallery/

Devotionals · God's Word · Pondering

The Holy Spirit in Me

06798da585100dd496568bb2288747d9

When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place.  And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting.  And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them.  And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.  Acts 2:1-4 ESV

Oh, LORD, Your Holy Spirit rained on me in Your mighty rushing wind the day I told You I was a sinner…I asked for forgiveness…I wanted Jesus to be my LORD and Savior.  The language I am learning is Your language, LORD,  Your Words.   I know that I hear Your still, small voice.  I have ears to hear the beauty of Your words.  I have eyes to see the words in Your Word and I am able to understand them, little by little.  Your Spirit teaches me.  My heart pounds with thrill at this moment.  You fill me.  I am that house, Your body temple.  You came to live in me.  Thank You.   

I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh. Acts 2:17

4113466

Oh, Holy Spirit, You are the living rain pouring out upon me.  You drench me in Your wisdom and knowledge.  You give me what I need at the moment of that need, IF I am ready, willing, and asking for it.  May I seek Your forgiveness, Your comfort, Your love…in all times.

And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the Name of the Lord shall be saved. Acts 2:21

Amen.  Everyone.  I pray they call upon You as I have.  

(For David says concerning him,…) “You have made known to me the paths of life; You will make me full of gladness with Your Presence.” Acts 2:28 

Years before Jesus, David was a man after God’s own heart.  He wanted to be in step with his Father God.  He loved His Father.  He sought forgiveness when he sinned.  He knew he had done wrong in the sight of His God.  He listened.  He delighted in the LORD.  Pentecost is about rejoicing and dancing under the beauty of the Holy Spirit in our lives.  Pentecost opens us to newness and community.  Pentecost is change and repentance.  

May my heart be open and ready every day.  

“Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus Whom you crucified.”

Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”  Acts 2:36-37

LORD, my heart is repelled from these thoughts.  I am one of them.  I feel their agony and know their wrong.  I refused to accept Jesus as my LORD for many years.  I asked, “What shall I do?”

 “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the Name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.  For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to Himself.”  …“Save yourselves from this crooked generation.”   Acts 2:38-40

Yes, Yes…to repent and be baptized in Your Name, O Christ, for I seek forgiveness of my sins.  I seek You.  I live in a crooked generation.  I am thankful that You saved me, LORD.  I praise You.  The Holy Spirit has led me away and is teaching me and showing me the way.

 Then he said to me, “This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the LORD of hosts.   Zechariah 4:6

1a39a61325529a4c5017dcff1538127b
“…but by My Spirit.”  Yes!  May I trust in You always, LORD.  You guide and love and plan and know the ways in which I should go.  My delight is not in the way I say or I run ahead, nor is it by my strength and power.  I want to trust.  Your Spirit will take me through the wilderness of life, the troubles and trials, the joys and the beauty of Your creation.  May I know Your Spirit deeply. 

And
 they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to 
the breaking of bread and the prayers.  And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles.  Acts:2:42-43

...with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people.  Acts 2:46-47

 a102c9963ece2b6e0a7cdc7d2e6624fb


LORD, the words that are being ingrained into my heart from these verses are
“devoted” in community.  It is the fellowship of believers that You call us to.  Guide me.  Instruct me.  “Awe” – reverence in looking at Who You are and what You have done.  May no act of mine be none other than the Yours, the Glory of my LORD.  A “glad” heart, a “generous” heart “praising”
God that His Spirit reigns within us–what a beautiful and full array of outcomes of Pentecost.  We serve a Mighty God. 

To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.  1 Corinthians 12:7

May my every day be to seek You and know You.  May my every day be a day of Pentecost…the mighty rushing wind fills me to overflowing with the peace of Your Kingdom.  May I know the words to speak in each circumstance as You set before me one who needs You,  one who needs forgiveness, one who needs love, a refuge, peace.  Father, guide me and equip me.  In Your Name, I pray.  Amen.

bwturq sig 

 

Rushing wind:  https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/06/79/8d/06798da585100dd496568bb2288747d9.jpg

Fire:   https://simonmarsh.org/tag/pentecost

Water:  http://naomirice.weebly.com/uploads/6/9/7/9/69791709/4113466.png

Dove:  http://lovepeaceandharmony.org/

Devotionals · God's Word · Pondering

O Holy Night

oholynight

But the people of God will sing a song of joy,
like the songs at the holy festivals.
You will be filled with joy,
as when a flutist leads a group of pilgrims
to Jerusalem, the mountain of the LORD
to the Rock of Israel.  Isaiah 30:29

16769930716_a8a8f9b45f_m

Elizabeth gave a glad cry and exclaimed to Mary, “God has blessed you above all women, and your child is blessed.   Why am I so honored, that the mother of my Lord should visit me?  When I heard your greeting, the baby in my womb jumped for joy.  You are blessed because you believed that the Lord would do what He said.”

Mary responded,

“Oh, how my soul praises the Lord.
How my spirit rejoices in God my Savior!
For He took notice of His lowly servant girl,
    and from now on all generations will call me blessed.
For the Mighty One is holy,
    and He has done great things for me.
He shows mercy from generation to generation
    to all who fear Him.
His mighty arm has done tremendous things!
    He has scattered the proud and haughty ones.
He has brought down princes from their thrones
    and exalted the humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things
    and sent the rich away with empty hands.
He has helped His servant Israel
    and remembered to be merciful.
For He made this promise to our ancestors,
    to Abraham and His children forever.”  Luke 1:42-55

16769930716_a8a8f9b45f_m

When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.”  And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger.  And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child.  And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them.  But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.  And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.  Luke 2:15-20

16769930716_a8a8f9b45f_m

Father God, such joyful news You have given me in the beauty of Your Son, Your One and Only.  You have brought glad tidings to us all.  May my ears be open to hear the words of the shepherds.  May my eyes be open to see this wonderful “thing” that You have done.  May my heart be open to hear Mary’s heart-words.  I thank You for blessing me with the saving grace of Christ Jesus.  I bow humbly, Father, in adoration and respect and honor.  I love You so.  In the Name of Jesus, I pray.  Amen.  

16769930716_a8a8f9b45f_m 

BW sig dark blue

Devotionals · God's Word · Pondering

Jesus is Our Joy

136721__christmas-joy_p

‘Tis hard to look at this world and see joy at times.  There is so much going on, near us and far away.  It just looks so terrible.  Yet, God sent Jesus to us and for us.  He sent Joy to live in our hearts.  He wants us to be joyful.  As empty vessels, He can fill us with the Presence of His Holy Spirit.  Hope, Joy, Peace, and Love want to fill us up to overflowing so that we can be the joy in this world…the peace in this world…the hope and the love in this world.   He wants us to spread the good tidings of great joy everywhere we go and are.  May this be our prayer.

Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.”  Luke 2:10

εὐαγγελίζω

euaggelizō

  • to bring good news, to announce glad tidings (used in the OT of any kind of good news)
  • of the joyful tidings of God’s kindness, in particular, of the Messianic blessings (in the NT used especially of the glad tidings of the coming kingdom of God, and of the salvation to be obtained in it through Christ, and of what relates to this salvation)
  • glad tidings are brought to one, one has glad tidings proclaimed to him
  • to proclaim glad tidings
  • instruct (men) concerning the things that pertain to Christian salvation

joy-to-the-world1

This world so needs the joy of the LORD…

The meek shall obtain fresh joy in the LORD,
and the poor among mankind shall exult in the Holy One of Israel.  Isaiah 29:18

They lift up their voices, they sing for joy;
over the majesty of the LORD they shout from the west.  Isaiah 24:14

…yet I will rejoice in the LORD;
I will take joy in the God of my salvationHabakkuk 3:18

“…And do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.”  Nehemiah 8:10b

136721__christmas-joy_p

He has come…

And she gave birth to her firstborn Son and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths and laid Him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.  And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear.  And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, Who is Christ the Lord.  And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and 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 among those with whom He is pleased!”

When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.”  Luke 2:7-15

136721__christmas-joy_p

from Matthew Henry’s Commentary on Luke 2: “He furnishes them with abundant matter for joy: “Behold, I evangelize to you great joy; I solemnly declare it, and you have reason to bid it welcome, for it shall bring joy to all people, and not to the people of the Jews only; that unto you is born this day, at this time, a Saviour, the Saviour that has been so long expected, which is Christ the Lord, in the city of David,’ …. Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah, the Anointed; He is the Lord, Lord of all; He is a sovereign prince; nay, He is God, for the Lord, in the Old Testament, answers to Jehovah. He is a Saviour, and He will be a Saviour to those only that accept Him for their Lord. “The Saviour is born, He is born this day; and, since it is matter of great joy to all people, it is not to be kept secret, you may proclaim it, may tell it to whom you please. …. This is matter of joy indeed to all people, great joy. Long-looked for is come at last. Let heaven and earth rejoice before this Lord, for He cometh.

“The angels’ doxology to God, and congratulations of men, upon this solemn occasion. The message was no sooner delivered by one angel than suddenly there was with that angel a multitude of the heavenly hosts; sufficient, we may be sure, to make a chorus, that were heard by the shepherds, praising God; and certainly their song was not like that which no man could learn, for it was designed that we should all learn it.  Let God have the honour of this work: Glory to God in the highest. God’s good-will to men, manifested in sending the Messiah, redounds very much to His praise; and angels in the highest heavens….  Other works of God are for His glory, but the redemption of the world is for His glory in the highest.

Let men have the joy of it: On earth peace, good-will toward men. God’s good-will in sending the Messiah introduced peace in this lower world, slew the enmity that sin had raised between God and man, and resettled a peaceable correspondence.  If God be at peace with us, all peace results from it: peace of conscience, peace with angels, peace between Jew and Gentile. Peace is here put for all good, all that good which flows to us from the incarnation of Christ.  All the good we have, or hope, is owing to God’s good-will; and, if we have the comfort of it, He must have the glory of it. Nor must any peace, and good, be expected in a way inconsistent with the glory of God; therefore not in any way of sin, nor in any way but by a Mediator. Here was the peace proclaimed with great solemnity; whoever will, let them come and take the benefit of it.” *

unto-us-a-child-is-born2

Father, I come to You this day and sense Your very Presence in my life.  You love me.  You have sent Your One and Only Son, Jesus, to save me from my sins, to draw me near and grow me to be more and more as Jesus, into the image of Your Son.  I can only imagine the blessing that I can be through the obedience to You in my daily walk.  I desire to bless You, Father.  I desire to love You from the very depth of this heart that You created as it fills up with Your Love. 

Thank You for bringing Your Joy to this Earth for our sake.  You give me smiles and hope and peace and love.  You have given me JOY deep in my heart.

I’ve got a joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart
Down in my heart, down in my heart…

I’ve got the love of JESUS down in my heart
Down in my heart, Down in my heart
I’ve got the love of JESUS down in my heart..
Down in my heart to stay….  **

Precious Heavenly Father, the joy I feel, as I sing these songs, takes the stress and strain away that this world carries.  You know all and have complete control.  Thank You for sending Your Son to bring us Hope, Peace, Joy, Love and much more.  As I spend time in Your Word, at the foot of the manger, I know that this Joy is real.  He cometh.  Praise You…Praise You.  Glory be to You, the Father, the Most High.  In the Name of Jesus, I pray with Joy…Amen. 

136721__christmas-joy_p

8213ba8b106f9c53124e7f45360e2f1f

 

* Matthew Henry’s Commentary on Luke 2

**  I’ve Got the Joy (also called: Down in My Heart), George W. Cooke, 1926