Posts Tagged joy

Dry Those Eyes

Jeremiah 31: 16 – 17

Thus says the Lord, “Restrain your voice from weeping, and your eyes from tears; for your work shall be rewarded,” declares the Lord, . . . “and there is hope for your future,” declares the Lord.

God is speaking to us today. He is speaking from His heart. Let’s listen to His words of encouragement and faith. You did know that God is a person of faith, didn’t you? He began everything by calling those things which be not into being, but that is a message for another day. This day, He wants to tell you to dry your eyes. He has promised you a hope and a future.

For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope,” (Jeremiah 29: 11). He didn’t change His mind from chapter 29 to chapter 31. In fact, He reinforced His statement by repeating it so that we would be sure to understand that He has good plans for our futures. Now you can listen to the world or you can listen to God. Personally, I am more interested in what God has to say. The world will try to convince you that tomorrow holds calamity and that the world is falling apart. Well, we are not of this world. Isn’t that what the Bible says? So who are you going to believe?

Your Father, your real Father, the one who conceived you before the dawn of time saw this day and you in it. He saw your hopes, dreams, victories and disappointments. He saw the tears you cry today before the earth was every formed and He speaks into that very moment telling you, “Fear not. Have no worries. I, the Lord, am your guard and refuge and I will turn your sorrow to shouts of joy, your mourning to laughter.” He has a plan for tomorrow and it is a good plan.

Hear the good news of the Lord. Your work will be rewarded. Have you toiled but have yet to reap the harvest? Don’t give up; don’t give in. Take this promise of the Lord. Take it and hold on to it. Paint it on your bathroom mirror. Put a sticker on your cell phone. You are sure to see it there. Remind yourself; remind your Father. You have a promise from El Shaddai, a promise from the Holy One of Israel. Hold onto that and believe.

Hope and Trust

Romans 15: 13             NIV

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Most of us are attracted to this prayer and the idea that we may be filled with joy and peace. There are a couple of interesting nuances, though, that we should look at.

First, Paul calls God the God of hope. Then at the end of the verse his prayer is for us to overflow with hope. Third, this overflowing hope comes to us by the power of the Holy Spirit. So, let’s just think about hope for a moment.

Hope is the precursor of faith. Faith is believing that what you once hoped for is a spiritual reality and will manifest physically. Faith is knowing that what you hoped for and then prayed for is yours in Christ Jesus. Many of our prayers begin with that simple hope though. So, hope is the beginning point and our Father is the God of hope. He is the source of hope. Without Him, there is no hope and that is so true. Hope, joy and peace are in Him and the Holy Spirit brings all three to us through his power. He is the actuator, Father is the supply.

Lastly, there is a key element in this prayer. Paul indicates that we have a role too. We are initiators. This is a grand machine with you, your father and the Holy Spirit all as parts. The initiator must begin the process and as the initiator you do that through trust. Paul understood, and thus teaches, that God is able to fill you with all joy and peace but only as you trust Him. I wonder, too, if we are filled to the depth of our trust, almost as if our level of trust establishes the size of our tank. God will give us all we can hold, all we want but it is in relationship to our ability, or willingness perhaps, to put our trust in Him. Whatever your trust God for, whatever you believe Him for, that is the requisition form which is filled by the Holy Spirit. You place the order. Tell the Divine Trinity what you want, what you are believing for by placing your trust in God to bring it to you. Trust plus the God of Hope and the power of the Holy Spirit equals the blessing of God flowing through you and on you in abundance. Be blessed!

No More Pain

Psalm 30: 1, 5               God’s Word

Verses 7 – 8, 10 – 11    Passion Translation

I will honor you highly, O Lord, because you have pulled me out of the pit. Weeping may last for the night, but there is a song of joy in the morning. I was panic-stricken and became depressed. Still I cried out to you, Lord God. I shouted out for mercy. So hear me now, Lord; show me your famous mercy. O God, be my Savior and rescue me! Then he broke through and transformed all my wailing into a whirling dance of ecstatic praise! He has torn the veil and lifted from me the sad heaviness of mourning. He wrapped me in the glory garments of gladness.

This psalm is full of praise, but it also reveals the intense mourning and emotional torment that David endured. One side of the coin may be praise but often the other side is tumultuous challenge and seemingly insurmountable problems. Reading it immediately made me think of all the hurting people in the world, people who are depressed and even suicidal and my heart, like yours, grieves for these people. I want to say, “Fear not, joy comes in the morning.” The NASB version of verse 5 says that a shout of joy comes in the morning. That’s big. Though the night may be spent in tears, there is hope, there is salvation and the situation will improve.

We sometimes limit Jesus’ scope of salvation to deliverance from sin and hell. Salvation means so much more to Jesus than simply eternal life with him. He is our savior in every single situation in this life. When you comprehend the richness of salvation and eternal life you understand that you are living your eternal life now. It isn’t that we will die and be reborn to eternal life. You are there now, we all are. So, this salvation of which David writes is the deliverance from grief, the release from mourning. It is the hope of a new day, a day which is full of promise and even resurrection. Each day is so new that it truly is a beginning and one thing we know about life, things constantly change. Life is not static. Therefore, though there are huge problems now, ultimately things will alter. For every problem, there is a solution. For every grief there is joy. That seems impossible when one is overwhelmed by grief, but it really is true. David could tell you it’s true and many other people as well.

Why did Jesus tell us to go and share the good news of the gospel? I believe the core of that answer is so that he could save people from the hopelessness of their present situations. We know that God gave his only son so that none should perish but rather that all should pertain to eternal life in paradise with Him (John 3: 16). God took care of eternal life. He has already done what needed doing in order to save us all from eternal damnation. God did that. It was His job. Now, we have a job to do. Jesus told us to go into all the world and share the good news of the gospel. To me that means sharing a lot more than one verse. Sure, tell all people about John 3: 16 and how the Father sacrificed His son and sent him to hell so that we would be spared. Just don’t stop there. Jesus said of himself that he came into the earth to give us life and that more abundantly (John 10: 10). He came to give us a full life, to save us from the train wreck that many of us have made of our lives here on earth. What I am trying to get you to see is that salvation and the good news of the gospel is so much bigger than a singular event, extraordinary though it is.

Jesus wants to save us in our frustrations, from our anger, he wants to heal the emotional scars we carry around, save us from our deepest depression and restore us to joy. Jesus is the joy of the earth. You cannot be in him and with him and depressed. He is glory itself. He is the lifter of our heads. That is good news. He is the lover of our souls. He lifts us even when it feels like the sun won’t rise in the morning. There is no problem which he cannot overcome.

I think our job is to go out and tell people the good news about God and Jesus and how much they love us so that they will not face hopelessness and so they will know they are never alone. Everyone needs to be loved by a love that is so sublime that it is breath to our lungs and health to all our bodies. Jesus is life, there is no life without him (John 14: 6). He has given a piece of himself to every human being so that they might have love, life, and hope. If we will go into the world and simply tell them the good news about a benevolent being who loves them and is powerful enough to save them from whatever torment they encounter, then I pray and believe there will be no suicide in the earth. We have the antidote for depression. God loves us, each and every one. He gave His only son as a sacrificial lamb. That has to stand for something. He didn’t do that because He is ambivalent towards us. Furthermore, He did that for a people who did not know Him, who did not love Him.

Please, send this to anyone you know who needs to hear the good news about being devoutly loved. Share the love and joy of the Holy One, not just so you can get them into heaven, but so they can have some relief right here and right now. There is no reason people have to suffer. Jesus is their saving grace for today, for tonight, for the dark times and the dark places. He is the light, the light of hope. And, say a prayer for everyone who is hurting. Ask the Lord of grace to shine his light more brightly through each one of us so that all, and I do mean all, may know there is a God and that He loves them immensely.

Radiant Joy

Psalm 19: 7 – 8                    (God’s Word)

The teachings of the Lord are perfect. They renew the soul. The testimony of the Lord is dependable. It makes gullible people wise. The instructions of the Lord are correct. They make the heart rejoice. The command of the Lord is radiant. It makes the eyes shine.

Well, who said we had to proceed to the next psalm today? This is our journey, we can go as we please and there is just too much in Psalm 19 to choose only one verse to share.

I wish for you to do me a favor, though. Re-read the verses, slowly. What do they speak to you? This is really about following our Father’s leading in your day to day life. The first thing I think of when reading that His teachings are perfect is the Bible. His Word gives us life lessons that are so good, so perfect that they restore our beaten down souls. They give us new life. His teachings are renewal to our souls. That is good news. Pick up your Bible, read your Word of the Day and you are ingesting soul reviving wisdom. Are you ever worn out or weary? Here is the boost you need.

What about “The testimony of the Lord is dependable?” The NASB says it is “sure.” God’s recitation of the facts is sure, stable, reliable and dependable. It is something you can stand on. The Passion Translation reads, “His laws lead us to truth.” You can count on His testimony for it will always lead you to absolute truth. I would define His testimony as everything He has ever said whether that is something recorded in the Bible or something He spoke personally to you.

His instructions make our hearts glad. If there was ever a better testimony, a better reason to follow His instructions, I don’t know what it is. Following the Father’s instructions, His directions, pleases our soul making our hearts light, joyful and happy. There is a way out of stress filled lives. There apparently is a way to live with a joyful heart. That way is to inquire of the Lord and follow His instructions. People sometimes think of God as bossy or as a task master, but can’t you see that it is just the opposite. His instruction exists to make your heart light, even care free for He has said to give Him all our cares.

This is the part I really wanted to get to though, “The command of the Lord is radiant. It makes the eyes shine.” Doesn’t that sound great, but what does it mean? Radiance is usually associated with light. That sounds like, God’s command is light. It shines upon us lighting our way and rescuing us from darkness. Have you ever had a challenge and said, “I am in the dark about this?” Well, no longer do you need to walk in darkness, confusion or ignorance. His way, His command is light unto your feet lighting your path. His commands lead you in the way you should go. They are radiant sonshine. They make your eyes twinkle with gladness and comfort. The Passion Translation rephrases this better than I can. About His commands it says, “they challenge us to keep close to His heart.” Wow! That is an entire sermon unto itself. Listen, though, what it says about the radiance of His instruction: “The revelation-light of his word makes my spirit shine radiant.”

There is the secret of life right there. Can you take that in? It is so massive that it is elusive. Here is Christianity and Judaism boiled down into a simply stated but intricate and complex idea. Walking in Him, with Him; living our lives intertwined within as we daily seek His wisdom, His ideas and His solutions, is the very essence of a healthy, glowing spirit. You know about health for your body. You may know something about health for you mind. This is spiritual health. His revelation, that revelation we glean by reading His word and by talking with Him is spiritual tonic. It is life and well-being. Your spirit will radiate His love, joy and glory when you intertwine your life with His. And, your light will be seen by others because this kind of radiance cannot be hidden.

Blessed Refuge

Psalm 5: 11 – 12

Let all who take refuge in you rejoice. Let them sing with joy forever. Protect them, and let those who love your name triumph in you. You bless righteous people, O Lord. Like a large shield, you surround them with your favor.

I hope you are enjoying this sojourn through the psalms. David reminds us, today, that there is blessing, success, victory, protection, joy and favor for those who take refuge in the Lord.

David found his respite in the Lord.  He had a way of intertwining his existence with that of God and that was an uncommon space for the Old Testament believer. I love reading David for this reason. He had an enviable relationship with the Lord. We get to peer into this relationship through the songs written by David. Can’t you almost hear his heart soar as he sings, “Let them sing with joy forever.” As he wrote these words, I believe he was basking in the presence of the Lord. You can hear the praise and reverence in David’s lyrics but you also sense the deep intimacy he had with Yahweh.

As you read this psalm, you hear about the favor of God surrounding you. You may even rejoice at the simple acceptance that God blesses us, His righteousness. Most of all, though, today I hope that you will not only hear the substance of David’s song but even more so the tone of his conversation with the Lord. I hope that through these words, you will glimpse the heart and passion of David seeing the inspiration of his affection for the Lord. I think if we will take our time with these words, we will find our own hearts stirred. Maybe we will raise our voices or pen a beautiful lyric of our own. Maybe you can write a love song to the Lord. If you do, I hope you will share it with the rest of us.

Have a blessed day in the Lord. Rejoice in Him.

Renewed Strength

Isaiah 57: 10

You were tired out by the length of your road, yet you did not say, ‘It is hopeless.’ You found renewed strength, therefore you did not faint.”

Tuesday I sent you Galatians 6: 9 which reads, “Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.” Today there is good news for your tired body and mind. God will provide the strength you need to carry on. There is a reward for you if you do not faint and there is a way to maintain your faith and your strength to continue. The joy of the Lord is your strength (Nehemiah 8: 10). You do not have to be wearied with your many labors. You needn’t feel weighed down or trod upon God is your righteous right hand. He is your strength.

The thing we need to understand about this idea is that the found new strength, that which prevents us from fainting even under a heavy load, is not a passive joy. Notice above that it says, “You found renewed strength.” Why did the hearer find the new strength? Because she looked for it. She sought it. Now we understand that God is our strength so in these times of weariness, we must seek the Lord, our God. You see, just because you are a Christian does not mean you will experience this renewed strength. That strength is found in communion with the Lord. Again, this is not a passive trait. We must actively pursue God. However, don’t let this resound in your head like another to do when you are already tired. The best way to find the Lord is to relax. “Be still and know I am God,” (Psalm 46: 10). It is in the exhalation that you find God. You’ve been holding your breath. Now breathe. Exhale and let go. Breathe in God, exhale out stress and worry.

It is like going to the doctor when you are sick. There is something you have to do and that is to call upon the one who can make you better. That is your part. God, then, restores you to full strength, but don’t lay in bed doing nothing and think you are going to miraculously be restored. You must seek the help you need, then He will provide. Be still but be vigilant. Quietly but determinedly seek God. Call upon Him for help. He is standing by.

The New Kingdom

Romans 14: 17

The kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

Jesus has already established his kingdom here in the earth. He called it the Kingdom of God and it is mentioned no less than 51 times in the gospels. It is said that Jesus came preaching the Kingdom of God (Luke 8: 1) but what are the characteristics of this kingdom? We get different segments of that answer in the New Testament, especially in the gospels but also in the letters. In today’s verse Paul writes about the values of the kingdom.

I have read many English versions of this verse and in so doing arrive at a much clearer understanding than in reading only this, the New American Standard Version. For example, the New Century Version reads, “In the kingdom of God, eating and drinking are not important. The important things are living right with God, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.” The picture begins to reveal itself. Paul is defining what has value in the Kingdom of God. The Passion Translation reads, “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of rules about food and drink, but is in the realm of the Holy Spirit, filled with righteousness, peace, and joy.” The Kingdom is not all about rules. In the Kingdom what is most important is that we follow God, follow His ways. The Kingdom is not about works of the flesh or self-stylized righteousness. In Jesus’ Kingdom, legalism falls at the feet of love and devotion to God and our fellow human beings; even in devotion and kindness to all of God’s creation including the animals and the earth itself. Further, the Kingdom of God is living in the realm of the Holy Spirit. That is what the kingdom is and in that place there is ever-abiding joy, peace and righteousness.

There is a difficult lesson in this. This verse flies in the face of the law. Sometimes we separate God made law from the man-made laws which has so imprisoned us. The problem here is that there were laws about food which were given by God. Food and drink choices were a major separation between Jews and all the other nations. Now Paul writes that the rules about food are not important in the Kingdom of God. Other laws fall as well because Paul is revealing that living in Christ is the key, not legal adherence to rules of law. Living right with God is righteousness, being in your right place with Him and that trumps law. This teaching would have been a major challenge for the first century church who stood upon the law. It challenges us as well but let us look at another translation.

The God Word Translation brings the image of the Kingdom of God into even greater clarity, “God’s kingdom does not consist of what a person eats or drinks. Rather, God’s kingdom consists of God’s approval and peace, as well as the joy that the Holy Spirit gives.” Do you see that the Kingdom of God is not a work-based realm? The right to live in it is not earned either. Our right standing in God, or living right with God, was purchased by Jesus. When we live in Him and the Spirit rather than in the work of our hands and minds, then we are in the kingdom and to live in the Kingdom means you automatically have God’s approval. You do not have to earn it. You do not have to measure yourself by a book of rules, and you do not need to worry. God is for you. He approves of you just as you are. Isn’t that a refreshing concept? You have favor with God.

Jesus established His kingdom in the Holy Spirit. He came preaching this kingdom which depends upon living in the Spirit and the Spirit living within you. Jesus’ message confounded and infuriated the preachers of his day because membership wasn’t earned and, equally important, because he consistently spoke about us in him and him in us, and his being one with the father, all of which was crazy talk to them. The same is true today, really. Revelation still tends to blow the top off our heads but that is Jesus’ way. As soon as you get a handle on one thing, he stretches you over to the next mountain top. But, truly, it is a fun way to live and we see from this verse that when we take the giant leap of faith to live in and by the Spirit of God, there is complete peace, shalom. Paul also lets us know that if we are not in joy, then we are not deep enough in the Spirit. Joy is in the Spirit of God. Remember that Jesus said he left his peace here for us to live in (John 14: 27). Then he gave us his Spirit. Therefore, it is an easy conclusion to reach that joy and peace are ours in him.

In Him, then is the Kingdom of God. And in the Kingdom there is complete approval, joy and peace. Is that good news? If you have ever felt left out or unaccepted it is time for your joy to come to full measure because in Jesus’ kingdom, the Kingdom of God, you are accepted. It is no longer about the rules but rather about seeking the Lord with all your heart, soul and mind and leaning into him daily.