Christian Devotions

Posts tagged ‘Joy’

The Christian Advantage

I said, Days should speak, and multitude of years should teach wisdom.

But there is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding.  ~~  Job 32:7-8 (KJV)

Older is not necessarily wiser unless the wisdom of God informs it. People have no choice but to grow older day by day. They don’t have to grow wiser. We’ve all seen the perpetual adolescents who are fifty years old and haven’t yet decided what to be when they grow up. Or even decided to grow up at all. Heedlessness, recklessness, and thoughtlessness mark their actions. And when the consequences of those actions are negative, they cry “why me” incessantly. They hurry to place the blame on someone else.

But the Christian has a distinct advantage here. Jesus sent the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, to teach us and to guide us. The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity. He is fully God, just as God the Father and Jesus Christ are fully God. Therefore he has the mind of God, all the knowledge and wisdom of our Triune God.

It is up to us to cultivate a teachable spirit, to listen carefully for the promptings of the Holy Spirit. In our busy, loud, hurried world, it isn’t always easy to hear him. He doesn’t shout. He nudges you with a fleeting thought “I ought to….” Sometimes we have these fleeting thoughts, and then we talk ourselves out of them. “That doesn’t make any sense.” or “What would people say?” or “I don’t have time and energy to take that on.” We have rationalizations for everything.

When in doubt, we can ask God for confirmation. If we are to pursue that action, he will confirm it. He may speak in your head again – or he may provide an external confirmation. Someone will say something to confirm what you’ve been hearing in your head. We cannot lean on what we know alone. The finite mind of man is not equal to wrapping itself around the infinite mind of God.

If we are to be part of his plans, we learn to step out in faith. We learn to hear him, to follow him, to obey him. That is the ultimate joy, to be in the will of God.

Father, God,

Help us to learn from you so that our days may be profitable to the kingdom. Keep our ears tuned to your voice and our hearts tuned to your will. Let us be ever faithful which is the ultimate wisdom.

In Jesus’ most precious name.

Amen

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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.

The Sacrifice of Praise

I will praise thee with my whole heart: before the gods will I sing praise unto thee.

I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name.

In the day when I cried thou answeredst me, and strengthenedst me with strength in my soul.   ~~  Psalm 138:1-3  (KJV)

If you have never experienced difficulty or tragedy in your life, you are among the very few. Most of us will go through turmoil and trouble at some point or at several points in our lives.

How you handle that trouble comes from who you are at heart. If your heart is set upon the Lord, you will spend as much time praising Him as asking for help.

Our lives may not be happy at all times, but we can still be joyous. As we look at God and Who He Is, there is every reason for a deep-seated, pervasive joy. That joy is multiplied when we praise Him in the midst of circumstances that are not in themselves joyous.

That is the definition of “sacrifice of praise“. We praise Him in spite of circumstances, not because of them. Who He Is and His power are the source of our joy.  He lives in the praises of His people.

But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.  ~~ Psalm 22:3  (KJV)

When the day is black and circumstances are dire, we can praise Him for Who He Is and all He has done for us. This sacrifice of praise brings us closer to Him, focuses our attention on Him rather than the momentary circumstances of our lives.

Nothing surprises God. He knows all that will happen before it occurs. He knows us – knew who we would be before he called us forth. We can trust Him with everything.

Father, God,

Help us to remember that You are our only security in this uncertain world. Grant us the faith to see You in all circumstances rather than focusing on the distracting machinations of the enemy. Let us praise You with a full heart of gratitude for all You have done for us.

In Jesus’ most precious name.

Amen.

Power!

And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the Lord appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect. ~~ Genesis 17:1

When God says something, we are wise to listen to Him. Here He is talking to Abram in his old age. At ninety-nine years, Abram is no longer a spring chicken. But this sentence is the preface to God’s promise that Abram will be the father of many nations – as yet Abram is still childless.

I find it interesting that God proclaims His power in a setting that has nothing to do with battle. When I think of almighty, I think of conflict, combat and warfare. God doesn’t.

Here He is proclaiming His power over everything – even the conception of children. He is telling Abram to obey Him so that he will be perfect.  The word used for “perfect” comes from a root meaning “entire” or “whole”.

So essentially God is saying “I am the One who is fully powerful in all situations. If you walk in obedience to Me, your life will be complete, full, satisfying.”

How simple!  And how difficult. We seem to be a stubborn and stiff-necked people, always wanting to do things our own way.

I remember Frank Sinatra’s song, I Did It My Way.

Does it ever occur to us that our way may not be the best way? Hardly ever. Do we ever think that God might have a better plan overall? Maybe once in a while.

Reality check here. We don’t know all the ramifications of the things we are about to do. We do not know the plans God has for the people with whom we might interact. We are, in fact, totally limited in knowledge and understanding.

That’s why Jesus sent us the Holy Spirit to help us hear Him. If we listen to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, we will avoid foot-in-mouth disease more often. We will be less hindrance to the plans God has for ourselves and others.

We are finite. He is infinite. We will never wrap our finite little minds around the knowledge, understanding and purposes of our Infinite God.

Once we understand this, we will cease striving to do it our own way and discover the freedom and joy of full obedience.

Father, God,

Help us rid ourselves of the arrogance that makes us think we can do it our way. Grant that we may hear Your Holy Spirit prompting us in obedience to You. Give us the grace to walk before you and be perfect.

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.

 

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.