Experiencing God’s Joy

As January draws to a close I look back and see the planning and goals I’ve set for 2021, the Word I’ve chosen as my focus, Joy, and the opposition we face in our troubled times. Living by faith takes courage and focus on Jesus, and it is what we are called do each day during 2021. I have written how we can have soulful joy, eternal joy and complete joy in Christ. Scripture speaks of another joy, which I’ve called God’s Joy. God has put things here on earth for our pleasure that speak of His joy. At creation God looked at what He had made and called it good, Genesis 1:10,12, 18, 21,25, and upon finishing the creation of man He said it was very good in verse 31. God created His creation for our good and His glory. In Acts14:17, Paul explains, “Yet he did not leave himself without witness, for he did good by giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness.” All creations speaks of God’s glory, majesty and provision for us. Here are a few verses that speak of God’s majesty and the joy of His creation:

1 Chronicles 16: 26-27 “For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols,
    but the Lord made the heavens.
27 Splendor and majesty are before him;
    strength and joy are in his place.

Consider Psalm 8 and David’s insights into Creator God, His majesty, power and the joy of His creation.

O Lord, our Lord,
    how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory above the heavens.
    Out of the mouth of babies and infants,
you have established strength because of your foes,
    to still the enemy and the avenger.
When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
    the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him,
    and the son of man that you care for him?
5 5 Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings
    and crowned him with glory and honor.
You have given him dominion over the works of your hands;
    you have put all things under his feet,
all sheep and oxen,
    and also the beasts of the field,
the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea,
    whatever passes along the paths of the seas.
O Lord, our Lord,
    how majestic is your name in all the earth!

As we look at creation we can be filled with God’s joy. He created all the heavens and the earth to reflect His glory. Today as you meditate on Psalm 8, lift your voice to God and give Him praise. He will turn you praises to joy within your heart and soul.

Linda

The Effects of Eternal Joy on our Lives

Another aspect of Joy that scripture highlights is the eternal joy which we have through Christ for our future with Him. It is not a temporal joy only experienced in a day but one that transcends each day and year of our lives beginning when we accepted Christ and continuing on into eternity. The eternal joy we will totally experience in heaven will emanate from God and being in His presence. While here on earth, we can experience part of that eternal joy as we have His Holy Spirit indwelling us and drawing us unto Him. In heaven it will be magnified 100%. Here are a few glimpses I found in scripture to describe this joy:

Isaiah 51:11 describes what heavenly joy will be like when we are with him: “And the ransomed of the Lord shall return
    and come to Zion with singing;
everlasting joy shall be upon their heads;
    they shall obtain gladness and joy,
    and sorrow and sighing shall flee away”.

Psalm 84:1-3 gives David’s anticipation of being in God’s presence and the joy he will find there: How lovely is your dwelling place,
    O Lord of hosts!
My soul longs, yes, faints
    for the courts of the Lord;
my heart and flesh sing for joy

    to the living God. Even the sparrow finds a home,
    and the swallow a nest for herself,
    where she may lay her young,
at your altars, O Lord of hosts,
    my King and my God.

Revelation 21:3-4 gives us a glimpse of the joys we will experience in heaven: “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.[c] He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

How can the anticipation or realization of the eternal joy awaiting us in heaven help us? Doesn’t the hope of a future vacation motivate you to save, get prepared with supplies, read some books or research where you are going, and talk about it with expectation with your friends? The same is true of our heavenly home where we will live in God’s presence and experience His eternal joy. As we look to that time in our life, we need to be prepared with salvation in our hearts, by studying about God and His character, fellowshipping with other believers and endeavoring to walk with Him daily. Jesus said in Matthew 6:19-20 our focus needs to be on Him and doing His work in preparation for our heavenly home. “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also“. As we live each day, we can look to the eternal joy we will experience in heaven with hope bringing joy into our everyday life.

Thank you Jesus, for the hope and joy we have in You!

Linda

Soulful Joy

What is so special about the Joy we find in the Lord? First of all we know that joy is brought to us through the Holy Spirit. Galatians 5:22-23 gives a list of the ‘fruits’ of the Spirit, those things that come to us as a believer when we accept Jesus as Savior and His Holy Spirit comes to dwell within us. As we grow as a believer, His Spirit manifests Himself within us in these ways. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” How do others or even you yourself know you are a believer? These fruits should be evident in your life along with growth in godly character which I like to call growing more and more like Jesus. Theologically it is a process known as sanctification. This is the Holy Spirit’s work within us, growing us in holiness to be like Jesus. A good question to ask yourself is, what ‘fruits’ am I seeing in my life? Is my character changing as I seek to walk closer to the Savior? Am I more kind, loving, understanding, or do I hunger after God’s Word, seek other believers in fellowship, spend time in prayer, enjoy Christian music, or seek to be a peacemaker? All of these would be signs of growth in the sanctification process and the work of the Holy Spirit within you.

But back to Joy, scripture describes several kinds of joy that I will delve into in coming blogs. The first kind I want to talk about I call soulful joy. Joy that emanates from within your soul because you are loved and cared for by God. Here are some passages that describe this kind of joy:

Psalm 5:11 “But let all who take refuge in you rejoice;
    let them ever sing for joy,

and spread your protection over them,
    that those who love your name may exult in you.

Psalm 63:5-8 “My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food,
    and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips,
when I remember you upon my bed,
    and meditate on you in the watches of the night;
for you have been my help,
    and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.
My soul clings to you;
    your right hand upholds me.

Isaiah 49:13 “Sing for joy, O heavens, and exult, O earth;
    break forth, O mountains, into singing!
For the Lord has comforted his people
    and will have compassion on his afflicted.

Jude 1:24-25 “Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy25 to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

May you recognize soulful joy in your life and bask in the light of His love for you. May thoughts of God’s love, protection and comfort bring joy to your soul and peace from within from His Holy Spirit today.

Linda

Got a Word, Now look for the Why!

When choosing a Word to guide or focus your year, you need to remember that the word is just a tool of remembrance. The real power is in the Word of God upon which your word is based. For example, I have chosen Joy as my focus word for the year. I will be looking for the joy of the Lord in all things- not just the fun, productive or happy times. How do I know this is true? It is because the Joy I am seeking is based on scripture. As I have looked at my verses more closely, I see different aspects of God’s joy that I can look forward to this year.

Joy in that is based on my salvation and will provide me with sustaining strength to lift me up, even when things don’t look so good! Habakkuk 3:17-19 “Though the fig tree should not blossom,
    nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold  and there be no herd in the stalls, 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.”

Joy that is based on the Sovereignty of God as He knows the pathways He has made for my life and I can find His joy as I walk trusting Him. Psalm 16:11 “You make known to me the path of life;
    in your presence there is fullness of joy;  at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

Joy that will cause me to rejoice in both body and spirit. It will fill me up from the inside out and is based in the graciousness of God for those He has redeemed. Psalm 71:23 “My lips will shout for joy,  when I sing praises to you;  my soul also, which you have redeemed.”

Joy that provides me with eternal strength to face each day. Nehemiah 8:10b “And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

Joy that takes everything in stride and produces character within me. James 1:2-4 “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.”

Take the word you have chosen for the year and search scripture for places it is used. Pray and seek God’s guidance in which verses really speak to you that He would have you apply to your life this year. It is not your word that guides you but the Word of God that uses, applies and motivates your year.

God’s Word has the power to lead, guide, uplift, motivate, give strength, and produce salvation within you as you believe in Him. God’s Word is eternal, sharp, penetrating, breathed by Him so it can produce within our character what God desires for our lives. Let His Word guide you this year as you seek Him.

Linda

Word for the Year, What’s Yours?

Each year I pray and ask God for a word to guide me. Last year, as we began a new decade I was given the word Hope. I wrote these words on January 1,2020 which turned out to be very prophetic. “HOPE.  That is my answer to, How will I survive in 2020?  I will cling to Him in HOPE knowing with absolute faith that God is faithful, loving and merciful.  He will be gracious to me as I place my HOPE in Him.” Wow! No truer words did I need and live through during 2020. It was a year that I needed extreme Hope to survive!

This year I have been asking God about a new word for 2021. The word that has come to me over and over is JOY. God knows there is a need within me after all that has happened in 2020 to focus on His joy in my life. His joy is not dependent upon the world events, personal relationships or my own drama of life but in Him alone. As I wrote in my new book, Strategic Living, His joy brings benefits to our souls, is eternal and complete. His joy is a byproduct of the Holy Spirit’s work within us, the fruits of the Spirit are listed in Galatians 5:22-23.

The verses I’ve chosen to claim this year are: Psalm 16:11 “You make known to me the path of life;  in your presence there is fullness of joy;  at your right hand are  pleasures forevermore.” Jesus is at God’s right hand in heaven and He will guide me and give me complete joy that is eternal. Psalm 71:23 “My lips will shout for joy, when I sing praises to you;  my soul also, which you have redeemed.” I am confident God will give me opportunities to proclaim to others His goodness in my life. James 1:2-4 “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.” Learning to live in joy, praising God and thanking Him for the growth He is bringing to my character in and through the trials of life takes a new attitude and mindset that is filled with His Joy!

Prayerfully consider in this New Year what word God would give you to focus and guide your thoughts this year. As the year progresses, you can look for your word in the events of your life, in relationships and in your thoughts. It is amazing the ways God shows you your word throughout the year. I am so thankful for the word Hope and how it reminded and sustained me in 2020. I am looking forward to clinging to the Joy that is before me in Christ. Nehemiah summed it up in Nehemiah 8:10 “And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

Since I’ve chosen Joy as my word, I will be blogging in January on various verses that focus on the joy we have in Christ. God is leading me to be uplifted and to uplift others in His joy. I am looking forward to it!

Linda

Hello 2021!

The scripture I have chosen to begin a New Year is Habakkuk 3:17-19. It is one I have turned to for hope and inspiration during hard times. I think 2020 would qualify as a hard year, so I wanted to begin this New Year of 2021 with a look back and a look forward with hope and joy in my heart because of who God is and what He has done in my life.

Though the fig tree does not bud
    and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
    and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
    and no cattle in the stalls,
(This sure sounds like all the calamity of a year in 2020!)
18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
    I will be joyful in God my Savior.
(This is my resolve for 2021!) 19 The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
    he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
    he enables me to tread on the heights.
(This is what a know by faith.)

What is your resolve for this New Year? What do you know about God through your faith? Where is your hope and joy in this New Year? Is it in Jesus where it can never fail no matter what comes into your life? The prophet Habakkuk really nailed it when he looked around him and saw his world falling apart. And yet, he looked to the Lord as the ever present, never ending source of His joy. He had hope and joy because he knew that God had the situation under His control, He is Sovereign. He knew that his own strength would fail but God could and would lift him up and restore, renew, protect and keep him in His everlasting arms.

Do you have that kind of faith? If not, look to Jesus the founder and perfecter of our faith. He is the only one who can restore and keep you safe in Him. As Martin Luther proclaimed starting the Reformation, “In Christ Alone”.

May this be a year of restoration for you, me and the world. May many turn to Jesus for their restoration and hope. Happy New Year as we begin 2021 together.

Linda

Total Hope, where do you find it?

These first few weeks of 2020 I have been looking into HOPE as it is my chosen word for the year.  I saw survival hope in Psalm 71:14 “But I will hope continually and will praise you yet more and more.”, Hope in God’s Word, Psalm 119:114 “You are my hiding place and my shield;  I hope in your word.”,  Hope in God’s steadfast Love, Psalm 33:18 “Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love,”, Hope in the future, Jeremiah 29:11 “ For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” and daily Hope for living, Lamentations 3:21-23 ” But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end;  they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”  

Today’s verse helps me to see that God is my Total HopePsalm 62:5-7                            psalm 62 5For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence,
for my hope is from him.
He only is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress; I shall not be shaken.
On God rests my salvation and my glory;
my mighty rock, my refuge is God.”     

I love the truth of these words written by the psalmist David so long ago.  They are truths confirmed throughout scripture.  My hope comes from God aloneHe is the one who stands by me and holds me in times of distress and trouble  Psalm 107:13 “they cried to the Lord in their trouble,   and he delivered them from their distress.”   God is so strong and mighty, so sure and complete that He cannot be shaken, Hebrews 12:28 “Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe.    He gave me salvation through faith in Jesus, Acts 4:12 “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”.   God alone is working in my life to mold and shape me into the person He desires me to be and shares His glorious attributes with me,  Romans 5:3-5 “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.”   He is the holder of my salvation and sent the Holy Spirit as my guarantee, 2 Corinthians 1:22 “and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.”

Do these truths about God alone give you Hope for surviving, loving, learning and leaning on the truth of His Word, for looking into the future and for daily living?  God is my total Hope and that Hope is in Him alone.  He is and has all the hope I need.  in christ alone“Thank you Jesus for bringing God’s Hope to me.”  

May you grab hold of His Hope today and be uplifted and strengthened.

Linda

Faithful God inspires HOPE for Living

A portion of scripture I always visit in the New Year is Lamentations 3:21-26 as it is filled with hope for life, living and reminds me of the importance of dependence upon God.

But this I call to mind,                          (I just need to remember to receive HOPE.)
    and therefore I have hope:

22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;           (God’s love and mercy are
    his mercies never come to an end;                               unending.)
23 they are new every morning;               (Each day I can begin anew with God.)
    great is your faithfulness.                      (I can depend upon His faithfulness.)
24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
    “therefore I will hope in him.”                     (My hope is in God alone.)

25 The Lord is good to those who wait for him,
    to the soul who seeks him.                          (The Lord blesses me as I seek Him.)

lamentation 3-21-22 NLTThese verses inspire, refresh, assure, and lead me to God.    He alone is the one I can depend upon because I know He is faithful, merciful, keeps His promises and delights when I seek Him.  He loves me with an eternal love that is steadfast and true and therefore I can place my hope in Him.

lamentation 3-21-NLTJoin me as we begin this New Year by placing your Hope in God and walk expecting good from God as He is good to those who wait upon Him and place their hope in Him.

Let these words of hope and encouragement guide you today. God is faithful and you can depend upon His love and mercy so you can begin each day with new hope.

Linda

Where are you placing your future? Is it done with Hope and Assurance?

Do you have verses that are yours?  One of my life verses is Jeremiah 29:11.  I first connected with this verse when I was asked to choose a verse for my grandson at his baby dedication. God led me to Jeremiah 29:11 and I began to cling to the promises it holds.   The connection for today and every day is the hope contained with God’s Words. romans 8-28“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”   This verse tells me God knows me and my future and He has good planned for me.  Those things He has planned are designed to give me hope and a positive future.  I am convinced that God loves me and wants the very best for me.  I am convinced that God is good,  desiring the best for me- for my good and His glory.  How can I not have hope?

Does this mean that everything will always be good, happy and fulfilling? No.  It means that whatever happens in my life, God can use it for my good.  Romans 8:28 confirms Jeremiah-29-11this, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”   Since I know and love Jesus, I am assured that He can and does use all things in my life for good.  In the hard times, it is difficult to be assured of this,  but looking back or looking at others suffering we can often get a glimpse of this truth.  This calls for our faith and trust in Him.

I cling to the truths of Jeremiah 29:11 when hard times come, when I see amazing things happen, when I look and plan for the future and seek to know what He would have me do.   I ask for His help and guidance as His will is perfect His direction is true.  Let Psalm 25:4-5 be your prayer as it is mine.                                                                                            psalm 25 5 “Show me your ways, Lord,
    teach me your paths.
Guide me in your truth and teach me,
    for you are God my Savior,
    and my hope is in you all day long.

Linda

2020 A New Year, A New Decade- How will you survive?

2020 Happy New YearYesterday I was in the look back mode,  but today January 1, 2020 I am looking forward.  Each year I have a habit of choosing a word to guide my year.  Last year God gave me the word Trust and Wow! did I see that word week after week.  I learned to lean upon God and trust Him in new, painful, scary and exciting situations.  It was amazing how Trust kept coming up again and again, reminding me of who I am and where my Trust needs to be placed.

This year God has given me the word Hope.  I have always loved writing and talking about the hope I have in Christ, but I feel His Hope will reach into all corners of my life.   So I thought it wise to spend a few weeks looking into HOPE and seeing how hope is described in God’s Word.  The verse I found to start with is Psalm 71:14 as it seemed to capture the hope I feel right now as I begin this new year.But I will hope continually
and will praise you yet more and more.”  Psalm 71 was written by King David in his old age.  He reflects upon God, his dependence upon Him and God’s continuing faithfulness.  David resolves to continue praising God just as he has done since his youth. For you, O Lord, are my hope, my trust, O Lord, from my youth.”  Psalm 71:5

May my accusers be put to shame and consumed;
    with scorn and disgrace may they be covered
    who seek my hurt.
14 But I will hope continually
    and will praise you yet more and more.
15 My mouth will tell of your righteous acts,
    of your deeds of salvation all the day,
    for their number is past my knowledge.  Psalm 71:13-15

David knows the ‘world’ will come against him, yet he knows God will deal with them.  He has his hope placed in God and will praise Him.  No matter what as he knows God is sovereign and in control of all things, people, and places.  He vows to continue to proclaim what God has done for him.

psalm-71-14-quote-lgThis is a challenge as we face a New Year.  We know for certain that things will come against us-as they always do.  What we know, like David, is that God is faithful and will stand with us.  We need to trust in His sovereignty and mercy and cling to Him in HOPE.  That is my answer to, How will I survive in 2020?  I will cling to Him in HOPE knowing with absolute faith that God is faithful, loving and merciful.  He will be gracious to me as I place my HOPE in Him.

Looking forward to 2020 with HOPE,

Linda