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

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

Advent Brings Greetings for All of Us!

I love today’s glimpse into the relationship between Mary and Elizabeth and their unborn children. Luke 1:39-45 tells us about the first meeting of these two relatives after the angel had appeared to them both and how the power of God was revealed.

39 In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah, 40 and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. 41 And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, 42 and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! 43 And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45 And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”

Scripture had told us in Luke 1:15 that John, the baby of Elizabeth and Zechariah, would be filled with the Holy Spirit from birth. In the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit would come upon someone for a specific period of time so that they could accomplish the work God had for them to do. After the coming of the Holy Spirit recorded in Acts 2, the Spirit came to dwell within the believer when they believed in Jesus. So John who had the Spirit already and Elizabeth who was filled for this exact moment of greeting saw Mary and the Spirit within them reacted to the presence of preborn Jesus! John in the womb leapt and Elizabeth was given foresight to know that Mary was to be the mother of the Messiah. Elizabeth walked with the Lord and knew of the coming Messiah who would save the people of Israel. She was in awe that the Lord had allowed her to be alive and present when the Redeemer of Israel came. Her prophesy of blessing to Mary, who would give birth to the Savior, has been fulfilled year after year as Christians learn about love and obedience of faith as they read her story.

How does this meet and greet have meaning for us? Do you listen to the Spirit that lives within you as a believer and look for opportunities to exclaim the goodness of the Lord in your life? Mary could tell by Elizabeth’s words and actions that she knew the Lord. Can others tell that you know Jesus by the things you say and do? This is the perfect season to reexamine your words and deeds and prayerfully ask God to help you align them so that what you say and do reflects Jesus. Christmas time is a time for ‘good will towards all men’. Let us spread this good will from Jesus wherever we are- in person, online, in texts, in emails, on the phone…. Let God use you to show the love of Jesus, then you too will experience joy that only Jesus can bring.

Linda

The Process of Transformation -a blessed journey!

Oh! what a promise we have in our Stream of Water reading from the Word this week. 1 Corinthians 2:6-16 holds many truths and encouragements aimed at the believer and assurance of the promise of the mind of Christ.

Paul wanted to encourage the believers in Corinth that godly wisdom comes through knowing Christ and that His Holy Spirit would indwell and teach us the important things we need to know. He was not talking about worldly wisdom but those things that are the deep things of God.

What does this mean for you and me? We can read and study the Bible with confidence knowing the Holy Spirit will teach and reveal to us things we need to know to live godly lives before God. 10 “these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God.” When we were unbelievers, Paul explains the words of God seemed foolish or not understandable. 14 “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.” Now that we are believers the Holy Spirit reveals to us things of God, 16 “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.” We can think about God, understand Him more clearly and make decisions based on godly wisdom and behaviors. Will we know everything about God? No, that is not possible as we have finite minds and cannot totally grasp the infinite. But we can be assured that through the power of the Holy Spirit within us we can live, love, work, study, and thrive growing in the knowledge of who God is and that He is real. We can align our hearts and minds with Christ and walk in His power each day. We can learn to emulate Christ and think biblically as we delve into His Word. What a privilege! Thank you Jesus for giving us a mind that can be focused and that can understand and learn about you. We are truly blessed.

Linda

Entire 1 Corinthian passage: 2:6-16

Wisdom from the Spirit

Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But, as it is written,

“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
    nor the heart of man imagined,
what God has prepared for those who love him”—

10 these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. 11 For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. 13 And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.

14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. 15 The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. 16 “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

Let it be Good News around your Table

This week’s Stream of Water from the Word is from 1 Corinthians 2:1-4 and these verses have a timely message for us. In this passage, Paul is reminding the Corinthians that he did not come to them with flowery words and great speeches, but with God’s truth, love and the gospel of Christ. “When I first came to you, dear brothers and sisters,  I didn’t use lofty words and impressive wisdom to tell you God’s secret plan. For I decided that while I was with you I would forget everything except Jesus Christ, the one who was crucified. I came to you in weakness—timid and trembling. And my message and my preaching were very plain. Rather than using clever and persuasive speeches, I relied only on the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Paul’s words are a reminder that God is the one who speaks through us when we talk about Jesus. God’s message of redemption for the world and the solution to our sin problem is Jesus. Just like Paul, we need to rely upon the Holy Spirit to give us the right words when He presents us with opportunities to witness about Jesus. Paul spoke plainly and boldly so as to tell others about His amazing Savior. What about you? Are you afraid to speak about Jesus for fear of rejection, misunderstanding, or apathy? The truth of Acts 1:8 is true today just as it was in Paul’s day. “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” He has appointed us as His witnesses and will give us words and opportunities to tell about Him. How can we tell others if we do not speak of Him? Paul also knew the truth of Romans 10:17 and was putting his faith into action. “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”

May you speak boldly of your Savior, Jesus Christ, as you gather around your table this Thanksgiving. Be it virtual or in person our words of witness need to be heard so others will know our Christ. Let your words be given with gentleness as you seek to witness for Him.

Linda

Thankfulness Day 14: Holy Spirit’s guidance

John 16:12-14 holds precious promises for us for which I am thankful. Jesus spoke to the disciples at the last supper prior to His crucifixion. 12 “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.”

These encouraging words show Jesus’ compassion for the disciples. He knew that they were not in the right place and time to hear about things that were to happen sooner and later too. He promised that the Spirit of Truth would come and guide them when the time was right. The Truth from Jesus would be given, revealed to us in time by His Holy Spirit. Acts 2 records the arrival of the Holy Spirit with power to indwell so that the words and truths of Jesus are available to all who believe. I love the promise of the Holy Spirit which will guide me, reveal things from God the Father and Son and declare to me the things of Jesus now and in the future.

Are these promises cause for rejoicing and thanksgiving? You Bet! The Holy Spirit brings Christ into me and makes me a part of Him. Though His Holy Spirit we can study His Word and know truths in our hearts about Jesus. We can be assured of the truth of His Words and promises. No doubt, No fear through the power of His Spirit that lives within. Romans 8:15-17 tells us how we can know for sure, “For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ,” His Spirit lives within each believer assuring them in heart, mind and soul that they belong to Him. Praise God!

Be thankful today that you belong to Him, His Spirit indwells you, His Spirit guides you and gives you insights into His truths. Rejoice in the richness of your inheritance as a child of God!

Linda

Rejoicing in the Lord is the BEST ever!

Paul has hit the rewind button in Philippians 3:1-7. He wants us to keep in mind the joy we have in the Lord! He wants us to rejoice and revel in the thoughts we have because of Christ and the state of being we have in Christ. Does that describe you and you thoughts today? Are you rejoicing in spite of opposition or hard circumstances? Paul wanted the Philippian Christians rejoicing in their faith and not putting obligations on each other or placing value/trust in their worldly achievements. Paul recalls his own worldly accomplishments and knows that he could boast but he reminds them that even all those things pale in comparison to what he has in Christ, that he says is cause for rejoicing in the Lord.

Whatever happens, my dear brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord. I never get tired of telling you these things, and I do it to safeguard your faith. Watch out for those dogs, those people who do evil, those mutilators who say you must be circumcised to be saved. For we who worship by the Spirit of God are the ones who are truly circumcised. We rely on what Christ Jesus has done for us. We put no confidence in human effort, though I could have confidence in my own effort if anyone could. Indeed, if others have reason for confidence in their own efforts, I have even more! I was circumcised when I was eight days old. I am a pure-blooded citizen of Israel and a member of the tribe of Benjamin—a real Hebrew if there ever was one! I was a member of the Pharisees, who demand the strictest obedience to the Jewish law. I was so zealous that I harshly persecuted the church. And as for righteousness, I obeyed the law without fault. I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done.

Paul concludes in verse 7 with his own realization that all our worldly ‘things’ and accomplishments are worthless when compared to what we have in Christ. Nothing compares to life with Him now and in the future, our heavenly home, our salvation, our redemption from eternal punishment for our sins, our growing and changing character that reflects God’s indwelling Holy Spirit….. These are priceless treasures we possess in Christ and are reasons to rejoice in the Lord!

Have a blessed day- rejoicing and giving thanks for what Christ has done and will do within you.

Linda

No need to worry- We are SECURE in Him!

Ephesians 1:13-14 holds wonderful truths for us to cling to that give us assurance of the hope and faith we have in Christ.  “And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.”

The truths of this passages are many.  I now have His Holy Spirit living within me through faith in Jesus affirming, testifying and guaranteeing my inheritance in Him.  These truths are confirmed other places in scripture as well.

romans 816Indwelling Holy Spirit testifying and affirming:  Romans 8:16 “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.”   Romans 5:5 “And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”  1 Thessalonians 4:8 “Therefore, anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God, the very God who gives you his Holy Spirit.”   We can be assured that His Spirit is real and lives within us.

Holy Spirit guaranteeing:  2 Corinthians 5:5  “Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing 2 corinthians 5 5what is to come.”  Hebrews 6:17 “Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath.”   God gives us His word that His indwelling Holy Spirit guarantees our belonging to Him and our future with Him -heirs of His promises.

1 peter 1 4A tangible inheritance in Jesus1 Peter 1:4 “and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you,”   Colossians 3:24 “since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”  Our inheritance is kept safe in heaven, a reward waiting for us for living a life of faith that brings glory to Jesus.

As you review these precious truths today.  Which ones resonate with your spirit and give you peace?  Claim God’s promises today!   He has an inheritance for us, He gives us His Holy Spirit when we believe in Jesus and His Holy Spirit affirms and testify with our spirits so we can be assured of His love, a future with Him and His saving grace.  Praise God for His wonderful provision for us.  He knows we,  as finite beings,  need assurances  and He graciously gives us all we need.  Thank you Lord Jesus.

Linda 

Questions … can you answer them about Pentecost??

Who was there?  Scripture tells us in Acts chapters 1 and 2 that the disciples and many other Jews from every nation were gathered together.

untitled (2)What?  The arrival of the promised power from heaven that would empower them to be witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.

When?  Pentecost was 50 days after the Passover.  It was called the Feast of Weeks in the Old Testament. It was 10 days after Jesus’ Ascension into heaven.

Where?  Jesus told them to go and wait for the helper that would come.  They returned to Jerusalem after Jesus’ Ascension just as He commanded.

41c6fe8801d24ef215fba3f9fc1c28b5Acts 2:2-4 describes to us vividly the arrival of the Holy Spirit.  “Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting.  They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.  All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.”    Peter stood and preached to the gathered crowd and told them that this outpouring from heaven was from God.  He quoted the Old Testament prophet Joel in Acts 2:17 “In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people.”   The arrival of the Holy Spirit was dramatic- tongues of fire- and noisy- as a strong wind and filled with many languages.  It was a surprise arrival yet it had been expected.  Jesus told them to go and wait, so they knew someone was coming.  In John 15:15-17, 25-26,  Jesus had promised them the Holy Spirit would come.  “If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever-the Spirit of truth.   And all this I have spoken while still with you.  But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”   Also in Luke 24:48-49 Jesus told them of the coming power and place,  “You are witnesses of these things.  I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” 

Why was this necessary?  When I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, His Holy Spirit came to dwell within me.  This Spirit that arrived on tongues of fire and with a great sound lives within me.  He empowers me to live a godly life and to speak to others about Jesus and His salvation.  1 John 4:4 puts it this way, “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is great than the one who is in the world.”      Romans 8:16 “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. ”     2 Corinthians 1:21-22  “Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ.  He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.”    

How do you answer your own 5 W’s about the Holy Spirit?  Who is the Holy Spirit to you?  What are you allowing God to do with this Holy Spirit that lives within you?  Where are you walking in obedience and listening to His Word?  When are you  stepping out in faith to tell others about Jesus?    Why is the Holy Spirit necessary in your life?  Jesus wanted the disciples, and us too, to use the power the Father sent to do the work of telling others and living for Him.  Will you begin today by allowing God’s Holy Spirit living within you to lead you to live for Him in a mighty way that will bring Him honor and glory?

Praising Him this Pentecost Sunday,

Linda

Are you a Doubter? Joint Thomas-seeing and believing anew!

The disciples had gathered on Resurrection Sunday evening and Jesus appeared to them coming in even though the doors were shut.  Thomas had not been with them that evening and they eagerly told him all that had happened.   This was his response from john-20-25-ampJohn 20:24-25.  Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.”  This is the passage that earned him the nickname of doubting Thomas.  He was emphatic that unless he saw the evidences of Jesus death marks himself he would not believe it to be Jesus. Do you know people that are doubters too?  Do they reject any evidence that Jesus is the Son of God in scripture purely because they can not see Him for themselves?  I’m sure the disciples were totally convinced as to what they had seen but saddened that Thomas would not share in the joy of Christ being alive.

A week passed and they were all gathered again in the upper room and Jesus appeared. ThomasJohn 20:26-29 continues the story,  Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side.  Do not disbelieve, but believe.” 28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!”  Jesus knew what Thomas needed and came right to him.  Thomas was amazed and proclaimed Jesus his God.  To him, seeing was john 20 29believing.  He needed a personal encounter with the living Jesus!   Jesus added this next verse for Thomas, the disciples and all of us.   29 Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”    

Faith is a gift from God and we who believe in Jesus are blessed with the knowledge of Him as our Savior.  However, each one of us who believes encountered the living Christ and came to know Him in a personal, vibrant and  living way.   Even though we do not physically see Him,  we can and do know within our being that Jesus is Alive!  The Holy Spirit indwells us when we believe in Jesus and testifies to us about Him.  Jesus had promised this in John 15:26 ““But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.”  Later Paul, explains in Ephesians ephesians 1 13-141:13-14 how the Holy Spirit works within us, In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.”

Praise God we too can know Him and experience Him in our lives.  We are blessed – Just as Jesus said we would be through our faith in Him!   Have a blessed day as you ponder the wonder of Jesus being alive in your life!

Linda