Posts Tagged joy

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.

Beyond Expression

Psalm 112: 1, 7 – 8                Living Bible

Praise the Lord! For all who fear God and trust in him are blessed beyond expression. Yes, happy is the man who delights in doing his commands. He does not fear bad news, nor live in dread of what may happen. For he is settled in his mind that Jehovah will take care of him. That is why he is not afraid but can calmly face his foes.

Allow me to rephrase this, “All who revere or respect the Lord our God and trust in Him are blessed beyond words.” Surely, praise is in the house. Those who delight in following God’s words and His leading, and the title “God” here would include Father, Son and Spirit, are happy. They live in the joy that comes with unity with God.

There really is joy in following Jesus and delighting in his words. This verse goes on to say that these people do not fear bad news or live in dread of what may happen. Doesn’t that sound good? It is horrible and stressful living in fear. Jesus certainly wants you free of that. People who really trust God, believe He will take care of them. They even expect Him to look after them and to meet their needs.

These verses are joyous and they are not very complicated. To love God, to live according to His purposes, following His leading is to live a blessed life, a life free of worry and fear. We work ourselves into a deeper place of trust as we go. Each day you can enjoy more freedom than the day before. All of the keys are in today’s verses to help you go deeper. There is no reason for you to live in fear and dread when God has paved a way out for you. Delight yourself in His ways. Increasingly trust Him. Revere and honor Him. All of these lead to comfort and ease.

You may want to ponder these verses. There is great assurance in them and bold promises. Wrap your will, heart and mind around them and claim them, and their meaning, as your inheritance. Be blessed beyond words!

Joy for Today

Nehemiah 8: 10               NIV

Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.

My YMCA has a scripture bowl in the entrance. As I leave, I like to grab a slip of paper from the bowl for a bit of inspiration. Yesterday, I dipped my hand in and came out with Nehemiah 8: 10. As I read it, I threw my hands in the air because I was really tired from my workout and I needed some strength. It blessed me.

Like all scripture, the initial impact was wonderful, but it kept ministering to me all day and all night. That is when I realized there are times when I have been bone weary right down in my Spirit and this verse is just what the doctor ordered for those times. You have had those times too. There are times when the smiles seem far away or superficial. Inside your gut you only find stress and anxiety. That is when you need the joy of the Lord.

As you get older it is easy to grow weary. You get tired of fighting the same old battles and the new shape of the world is wearisome. Some people don’t want to live a long time because they are just tired, sick and tired. That is when we absolutely need the joy of the Lord to give us strength and life. It must flow out from our spirits. How do you minister to yourself in those times? Where do you find the joy of the Lord?

Simply being thankful is a beginning. Remind yourself of all the good things the Lord has done for you but don’t stop there. That is yesterday’s oil. Truth be told. You need God right now, here in the present. In these times I have to put on praise music and let the joy build from within. The music reminds me of scriptures that bless my heart and puts Jesus’ face back in front of my eyes. My other keys are my daily devotions and reading my Bible but the biggest booster shot for me is praying in tongues. There is nothing quite as energizing for me as praying in the Spirit. Now if you are one of those really cool people, maybe you can sing in the Spirit. Talk about filling up the tank. That is a great way to go.

Usually when I find myself worn down, it is in part because my gaze has wandered from his face to the situation in the world around me. It doesn’t take long for the world to get you down. Just an instant, in fact. However, as we remain in the Father’s presence on a more continual basis, we build up joy and that joy resists the troubles of the world. It prevents us from being so impacted by those things. I need Jesus in my life daily. If I don’t spend time with him, the strength within me begins to wane. I need his anointing speaking into my life daily.

It is easy to get run down and overwhelmed. It is our responsibility to keep our tanks full and it only takes me a day or two of neglect to start running on fumes. How about you? The joy of the Lord will strengthen you, but you have to make deposits of his presence. It’s not thoughts of the Lord or even promises of the Lord which will give you strength in the day of need. It is his joy deep within you which comes from having spent time with him. Fill up your tank today for you are sure to need it tomorrow.

Comfort and Joy

Philemon 1: 7

For I have come to have much joy and comfort in your love.

Tidings of comfort and joy I bring to you this day in the name of Jesus. “Remember Christ our savior was born on Christmas Day.” He came offering us comfort. He is the gift of joy to each person. Joy is a choice, however and is the comfort he brings. His presents are offerings from God the Father but not all choose to receive.

As I listen to this Christmas carol, I hear in it Jesus’ evangelical message. It is different from many of the evangelical messages I have heard in the past. This one holds no condemnation. It does not scream that we are destined for hell unless we repent. This message from the savior king says very simply, “I have come to offer you comfort and joy.” Hallelujah!

Sometimes I think we misunderstand the word “savior.” Somehow we even confuse it with task master or condemner but Jesus, by his own admission, came to give us abundant life (John 10: 10). When all the world was lost and spiraling down to eternal torment, God, in his love, devised a plan to comfort us and to give us great joy. That was His big plan, to soothe and save us from ourselves. He sent a baby, probably the most non-threatening image in this world, to be our savior.

I hope you will sing about comfort and joy all day today and as you do may God’s love and comfort fill you. I pray that His presence within you will fill you with peace, the peace of Jesus, that peace which is incomprehensible unless you experience yourself. Love, joy, peace and comfort are His gifts to you today. Enjoy!