Christian Devotions

Archive for the ‘Joy’ Category

Hallelujah!

And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven.

And they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy:

And were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God. Amen.  ~~  Luke 24:51-53  (KJV)

After the agony of Good Friday…

After the silence and sorrow of Saturday…

After the amazement and confusion of the empty tomb…

We have the joy and gratitude and wonder of complete and eternal victory!

Father, God,

Help us to be continually in the temple, praising You.

In Jesus’ most precious name.

Amen.

Love

Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour. ~~ Ephesians 5:1-2 KJV

Following God, we walk in love. Aha!  Twice in the Old Testament we are told of men who walked with God, first Enoch and then Noah.  But how do we walk with God?  We walk in love.

Now the love I’m talking about here is not a warm, fuzzy feeling. It is the concentrated dedication to the well being of another. It is not particular, either. It meets the stranger with the same dedication and purpose that it extends to friends and family.

In order to walk in this love, we need to see the other person with God’s eyes, eyes that see the other person as a beloved child of the Father.  Seeking the good and potential in others, we can overlook their foibles and shortcomings, especially as we recognize some of the same foibles and shortcomings in ourselves.

This kind of love will serve to keep us walking with God, in His purpose, and becoming a person after God’s own heart. How can we extend God’s love to those we meet today?

Father, God,

Help us to see with Your eyes and love with Your open heart. Grant us the patience to work toward this end. Thank you for loving us and teaching us to love one another.

In Jesus’ most precious name.

Amen.

Giving Thanks

2 Samuel 22:50 (NKJV)
Therefore I will give thanks to You, O Lord, among the Gentiles, And sing praises to Your name.

Psalm 18:49 (NKJV)
Therefore I will give thanks to You, O Lord, among the Gentiles, And sing praises to Your name.

Living in central Kansas, I am accustomed to seeing the hand of the Lord in things of nature. Spectacular sunrises and sunsets begin and end our days. The single petal of a rose exhibits wondrous veining and subtlety as well as exuding exotic fragrance. Myriad shades of green, gold, amber and russet clothe the trees of autumn.

Within 24 hours this week we have had blizzards, tornadoes and earthquakes.  Things are never dull.

Our headlines scream of terror and tragedy perpetrated by an enemy who wishes to subjugate the entire world to a religious extremism.

And yet, we are enjoined:

Rejoice always,  pray without ceasing,  in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. – First Thessalonians 5:16 -18 (NKJV)

Rejoice? When we have an enemy who can strike, serpent-like, from any place at any time. Yes! We rejoice that nothing surprises our God. He is before us, behind us, and around us. This world is not all there is.

Pray? Pray constantly. Brother Lawrence practiced the presence of God, communing with Him constantly no matter what chore occupied his hands. If we are aware of the presence of God with us at all times, there is no terror. God is in control, and we can trust Him with our lives and the lives of those we love.

Give thanks? Yes! We are thankful that nothing surprises our God. He knew our last breath before we took the first one. He is with us, around us, within us in the person of the Holy Spirit. He is our security, our source, our present and our future. We have much for which to be thankful.

Father, God,

Help us to take our eyes off the temporal and put them on the eternal. Grant us the grace to see through seeming tragedy to eternal joy. Fill our hearts and mouths with praise and thanksgiving for You.

In Jesus’ most precious name.

Amen.

Ripened Fruit

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

Galatians 5:22-23 (KJV)

These fruits seem to me to fall into three categories as they relate to our relationships.  For example, love, joy and peace are truly interior to us. They are part of who we are. Despite any circumstance, we can choose to be loving, joyful and peaceable. These attitudes determine our outward actions at all times.

The next three, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, seem to be our actions toward others. Being patient, gentle and good to others are the mark of the mature Christian. There is no room here for loud voices, argument, and violence.

The last three, faith, meekness, temperance, seem to stem from our relationship with God. Faith is a gift of God’s grace. Meekness, also known as humility, stems from our understanding of our worth in the eyes of God.  Temperance is the result of our knowing that God is in control of circumstances and that we are not in control, therefore excessive responses are not only unnecessary, but also counter productive.

With this picture as our goal, we can only grow in faith and grace.

Father, God,

Help us to grow in these areas. Grant that we may always be loving, joyful and peaceable. Help us to be longsuffering, gentle and good.  Give us a measure of faith, meekness and temperance.

In Jesus’ most precious name.

Amen.

 

Responsibility

A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

John 13:34-35  (KJV)

As children of God, we have a single responsibility to this world – that we love one another.  Having been recipients of God’s love,  we become channels of His love to a world that doesn’t know Him.

Perhaps we need to define love before we go much further. Love is NOT a warm, fuzzy feeling.  It may include that feeling, but it doesn’t necessarily have to. Love is a commitment to the welfare of another. It is a decision. And grammatically, it is a verb.

Short, simple grammar lesson – those of you who already are aware of this may skip this paragraph. “I love you” is a sentence composed of a subject pronoun “I”, a verb of action “love”, and the object pronoun  “you”. This is a very simple sentence, the first basic sentence form we learn to read and write.

When we decide to love someone, we take on the responsibilities enumerated in I Corinthians 13.

 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up;  does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil;  does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth;  bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never fails.

1 Corinthians 13: 4-8a (NKJV)

As children of God, this becomes our to-do list, our responsibility. If this list sounds familiar, we might take a short look at the fruit of the spirit as enumerated in Galatians 5:22-23:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. (KJV)

The action is followed by a result. The actions of love help to ripen the fruit of the spirit.

Father, God,

As Your children, we have taken on a new identity and a new responsibility. Make us a channel of Your love to this hurting world. Help us to remain faithful to Your calling on our lives. Give us Your grace and peace as we walk through these days.

In Jesus’ most precious name.

Amen.

Attention

The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. Psalm 19:1,2

Friend-husband loves asking me “Notice anything different?” He may have trimmed the roses or gotten a hair cut. But he loves this guessing game.

On the other hand, I am so result focused, that I don’t look around me with a discerning eye for the peripherals. When I’m on my way home, I don’t study the yard to see if the pampas grass is newly trimmed. I’m focused on opening the garage door and not forgetting any of the things I need to take out of the car.

In our world today, this tunnel vision on the task is generally approved as a means of getting things done. “Stay on task” is the watchword.

How much do we miss with this tunnel vision?

Around our Sunday School table last Sunday, our instructor stopped in the middle of the lesson and asked if anyone noticed anything different.  I was seated at the perfect angle to see the glass cardinal she had added.

She and a companion regularly walk a local walking path for conversation, contemplation, exercise and prayer. And invariably they are accompanied by a cardinal.  The other day, she was disturbed and went to the walking path alone. She was occupied with her thoughts and made the circuit in record time. On telling her companion about this walk, the companion asked “Did you see our cardinal.”

Sheepishly she answered “I wasn’t looking.”

How much do we miss by not looking?

Is it possible to stay on task and still pay attention to the things around us?

Father, God,

Help us to see the details in which You reveal Yourself. Keep us from being so earthly minded we are no heavenly good.  And keep us from being so heavenly minded we are no earthly good. Grant that we may be well balanced at all times.

In Jesus’ most precious name.

Amen.

 

Joy Fruit

The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions  and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.  (Galatians 5: 19-23 – NIV)

Those of us who were raised in a church environment remember the acronym for JOY:  Jesus first, Others second, Yourself last. That’s pretty good, as far as it goes.

You see, joy is a precious commodity. It is more than happiness.  The old English teacher in me ( and my grandmother’s discipline ) send me to the dictionary for understanding.

1 – a :  the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires :  delight

b :  the expression or exhibition of such emotion :  gaiety

2 :  a state of happiness or felicity :  bliss

3 :  a source or cause of delight

Aha!  Joy is an emotion and a state of being. But where does it come from?  It comes from the knowledge of who God is, and who He says we are.
The children of Israel had been in captivity and exile. But the books of Ezra and Nehemiah tell of the return of the Israelites to their homeland, the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem and the rebuilding of the temple. Then Nehemiah read the books of the law to the assembled congregation. The congregation was moved to tears.
Nehemiah 8:10 Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the Lord is your strength.
The joy of the Lord – the joy that comes from knowing who the Lord is and who He says you are. That foundation is the basis of our joy. We can have joy in the midst of sorrow. We can have joy in the midst of hum-drum. We can have joy at all times as we remember who God is and who He says we are.
Joy is the fruit of keeping our eyes on Him.
Father, God,
Thank you for showing us who we are in You. Thank you for loving us. Help us to love you so much that it spills over onto others.
In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.