enJOY – JOY – JOYful

JOY – a simple three letter word with big potential. Add a couple of letters
and we have ENJOY or JOYFUL. How about REJOICE?

Let’s play around with JOY today. We will also do a little language study.

JOY
To begin, we must know what JOY is.
the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, . . .
Galatians 5:22
Joy is one of the nine attributes of the fruit of the Spirit. This fruit is the result of the
Holy Spirit’s presence in our lives. It is not something we can conjure up by ourselves.
The prospect of the righteous is joy
Proverbs 10:28
Joy is the reward of living in right relationship with the Lord.
the joy of the LORD is your strength
Nehemiah 8:10
Joy is more than a feeling when it is the Lord’s joy. It imparts
spiritual strength to our internal muscles.

ENJOY = in joy
En” is a prefix that transforms a noun into a verb. Enjoy means to cause
a person or thing to be “in joy.”
In Your presence is fullness of joy
Psalm 16:11 NKJV
When we are in the presence of Jesus, we are in joy. Through praise,
we enter the Lord’s presence and enjoy Him.
I will heal my people and will let them enjoy abundant peace and security.
Jeremiah 33:6
When we trust the Lord, we will enjoy His promises. If we enjoy something, we are in joy.

JOYFUL = joy full – full of joy
The suffixful” is defined as “full of” or “plenty.” We become “joyful” when we are full of joy.
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.
Romans 15:13
God fills us with His joy. The Holy Spirit gives us more than a little bit of joy.
When we are “full of joy,” joy bubbles up inside and flows out of us.
This joy overflows to others. It even extends into the atmosphere.
That is what I call being “joyful!”
Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth;
break forth into joyous song and sing praises!
Psalm 98:4 ESV
When we are full of joy, we desire to joyfully praise the Lord. We let our joy overflow to Him.

REJOICE = re-joys
Re-joys” is my play on words for “rejoice.” The prefix “re” means “again.”
Joys” is more than one joy. We can experience joy in multiple ways at numerous times.
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!
Philippians 4:4
Paul encourages us to “rejoice” twice in one verse. The New Living Translation says,
Always be full of joy in the Lord.”
This is the day the LORD has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.
I say it again—rejoice!”
Psalm 118:24 NKJV
We have the choice of whether or not to rejoice. First of all, we must know and receive God’s joy. Then we can enjoy Him – be in joy. When we are filled of God’s joy, we are joyful.
We experience joy, and then more joy. This fullness of joy multiples into “joys.”
Because of these “re-joys,” we rejoice.

JOY – ENJOY – JOYFUL – REJOICE
Let us summarize our study of joy with a few final scriptures.
Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.
Psalm 30:5 NKJV
We will not always feel joyful or have joyous experiences, but we do have God’s
assurance of forthcoming joy.
I (Jesus) will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.
John 16:22
Jesus spoke these words to His disciples before His arrest and crucifixion. He speaks the same words to us in our challenging times. His joy is everlasting and cannot be taken away.
Shout to God with joyful praise!
Psalm 47:1 NLT
Let us praise God for His promise of joy. Let us rejoice together because we are full of joy.

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Inhabit or Inhibit?

Inhabit” and “Inhibit.” Two words. Only one different letter in spelling – a tremendous difference in definition. Inhabit means to live in or occupy a space. Inhibit means to hinder, restrain, or prevent an action or process. We have the choice of whether to allow the Lord’s presence to inhabit us or to inhibit His work in our lives. This is a very sobering thought.

INHABIT

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own.” – I Corinthians 6:19
If each of us is a temple of the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit inhabits or lives within us. When the Holy Spirit inhabits us, He helps us live a holy lifestyle.

Ezekiel 37:27 NLT promises, “And I will put my Spirit in you so that you will follow my decrees and be careful to obey my regulations.” How can we be confident that the Holy Spirit inhabits us, when we cannot see Him? Psalm 22:3 KJV says, “The Lord inhabits the praises of His people.” While praising the Lord, we gain a deeper understanding of His character and nature.

The way to not inhibit, or hinder, the plans and purposes of God is to allow Him to inhabit and live in us.

INHIBIT

When the Holy Spirit inhabits us, we grow spiritually. We choose whether or not to accept the Holy Spirit’s help. Pastor Bob Reeves of Calvary Assembly of God has said, “Only God can create growth, but we can inhibit growth.”

In God Is Good, Bill Johnson says “God is a sovereign God. He reigns over all and everything belongs to Him. Nothing is outside of His reach or concern. He is all-knowing and all-powerful. But is He in control? This is not a question of His ability or His power and authority.” Johnson believes it is more accurate to say God is in charge than that He is in control. For example, although we are in charge of our homes, not everything that happens under our roof is necessarily our idea or is approved by us.

But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear.” – Isaiah 59:2 NAS
God gave us a free will and our choices affect His work in our lives. We can inhibit the Lord. He has given us abilities and it is our choice as to how we use these abilities and gifts.

INHABIT NOT INHIBIT

Do not quench the Spirit.” – I Thessalonians 5:19
It is possible to inhibit, or stifle, the Holy Spirit who inhabits us. So, I search the scriptures to find out how to avoid inhibiting the Spirit.
Proverbs 3:5-7 instructs, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil.”
James 1:6 says, “But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.”
We must not rely upon our limited understanding nor doubt God’s ability.
The Lord spoke to Zerubbabel in Zechariah 4:6, “Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit.”

Inhabit or inhibit – one little letter makes a big difference. Think about the letter “A” in inhabit as focusing upon the Almighty God. In contrast, think about how the “I” of inhibit as indicating what I can do.

It is our choice. We can lift up our hands in praise and yield to God’s plans. Or, we can take things into our own hands and leave God out of the equation. Jesus says in Matthew 19:26, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

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Find the Beauty in a Bruise

BLACK and BLUE

 Beauty in a Bruise

There was a bruise on my arm. A black and blue spot. I had no idea why it appeared. However, it made me think about bruises.

But he was wounded for our transgressions,
h
e was bruised for our iniquities:
the chastisement of our peace was upon him;
and with his stripes we are healed.
Isaiah 53:5 NKJV

Isaiah prophesied that a suffering servant would be bruised. Almost 500 years later, Jesus was bruised.

A bruise is caused by an act that ruptures blood vessels underneath the skin. Jesus was bruised for our iniquities. Iniquity refers to our sinful nature. Jesus experienced internal injury for our internal sinfulness. Welts appeared as blood collected under His skin because of blows to His body. Bruises caused Jesus inward crushing and outward suffering.

Jesus was bruised for our iniquities – our sinful nature. We deserved the bruises – Jesus did not. Jesus suffered so we do not have to suffer. The blows inflicted upon Jesus did not puncture His skin, but the actions of those inflicting the blows penetrated His heart with sorrow. Jesus hurt – physically, emotionally, spiritually.

And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly,
and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.
Luke 22:44 NIV

Before Jesus was arrested and beaten, He prayed. Jesus prayed earnestly! I have heard it said that Jesus was suffering such grief and agony that internally His blood vessels may have burst while He was praying. Internal bleeding causes bruising. Could some of Jesus’ bruises occurred while He was intently praying?

A bruised reed he will not break,
and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.
In faithfulness he will bring forth justice;
Isaiah 42:3 NIV

Isaiah foretold another prophetic word about bruises. Again, there was reference to Jesus. This time Jesus was not bruised. Instead, He was the one who would not harm a bruised reed. We are the bruised reeds. Because Jesus was bruised, He understands the pain of our bruises.

Reeds” refer to the canes that grow in marshes. A reed denotes what is fragile or weak. Symbolically, a bruised reed is someone who has been hurt by sin. Reeds in marshland sway with gusts of wind. Wind storms cause reeds to wave while spiritual storms can cause our faith to waver.

A bruised reed alludes to what is broken or crushed, but not entirely broken off. Our sinful nature causes most of our bruises. Doubts and fears weaken our faith. Calamities and afflictions result in our being banged up with bruises. We become fragile and feeble.

Jesus knows our sins and sorrows, but He will not break us. He never lays His hand harshly upon us. His gentle touch extends healing and peace. Psalm 51:17 says that God does not despise a broken and contrite heart. According to Psalm 34:18, the Lord is close to the brokenhearted and rescues those whose spirits are crushed. Jesus is like a soothing balm that heals the brokenhearted. We are anointed with the oil of the Holy Spirit. The spiritual, There is a Balm in Gilead, comes to my mind. The refrain begins, “There is a balm in Gilead to make the wounded whole, there is a balm in Gilead to heal the sin-sick soul.” The first verse declares, “Sometimes I feel discouraged and think my work’s in vain, but then the Holy Spirit revives my soul again.”

There are times when we as believers may feel like wavering reeds being tossed to and fro with every wind of doctrine. We may be shaken by Satan’s temptations. Doubts and fears may cause our faith to sway. We may feel like a bruised reed almost broken in pieces. Our hearts may feel hopeless. We may feel worthless because of our wounded spirits.

BUT, Jesus will not break us. He was bruised for our bruises. There is beauty in knowing this.

Recycle Your Mistakes

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Even your mistakes can be recycled into something good through My transforming grace.”
(quote by Sarah Young in Jesus Lives.)

Is Jesus actually saying He will transform my goof-ups into good stuff? Will He convert my failings into something favorable if I give Him the chance? Romans 8:28 NLT says, “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.” Yes, “everything” includes my mistakes!

God convicts me of sin, but He does not condemn me. I may feel like I have committed an unforgivable sin. It may appear to me that my whole life should be thrown into a trash can. However, God sees my shortcomings differently. He desires for me to throw away my sin in the trash can by confessing it. But. He wants me to place my life in the recycling bin. 

To confess means to admit that I have done wrong. I John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

In addition to confessing my sin, I am to repent of my sins. To repent means to turn away from what I have confessed as sin. Acts 3:19 says, “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.”

Recycling is repurposing. Revelation 21:5 says, “Behold, I make all things new.” When I dispose of my sinful habits, the Holy Spirit transforms my former life into a new life that glorifies Him. He recycles my habits.

When throwing something away, I have the choice of putting it in the trash can or in the recycling bin. There is no further use for what I throw in the trash can. If I place items in the recycling bin, they can potentially be used differently.

For example, did you know that recycled plastic bottles can be made into t-shirts, sweaters, fleece jackets, sleeping bags – even carpeting? Ten bottles make enough plastic fiber for a t-shirt and it only takes 63 bottles to make a sweater. I wonder how God will repurpose what I place in His recycling bin.

When a potter molds clay into a vessel, he reworks it numerous times. If it does not turn out exactly as he wants, he scrapes the clay off the potter’s wheel and begins again. Notice what he does with the clay. Rather than throwing it in the trash can, the potter repeatedly refashions it until it is exactly what he wants. He may trim off a few rough clay edges and throw them in the recycling bin.  Those he will reuse later. He never throws away a valuable piece of clay. He recycles.

This is a wonderful picture of what God does with our lives. Job 33:6 NLT says, “I was formed from clay.” Then Isaiah 64:8 declares, “Yet You, LORD, are our Father. We are the clay, You are the potter; we are all the work of Your hand.” The Lord never throws us into a trash can. He always recycles us! He kneads our strengths and weaknesses, shaping the vessel He needs. II Corinthians 4:7 says, “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.”

 Relying on God’s grace, we can be recycled from imperfection to perfection – from trash to treasure. “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” according to II Corinthians 12:9.

 Philippians 1:6 says,being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Christ is in the recycling business! 

My Reader, do you realize that God can use your imperfections in His kingdom? Learn from your mistakes and let the Lord recycle them. Do not throw your life in trash can. The recycling bin offers a better purpose.

 

 

HELP!

the Lord worked with them
Mark 16:20

Do you feel overwhelmed with what you are facing today? May these five words encourage you. But first, let’s take a look at the rest of the story.

While Matthew and Mark both end with “The Great Commission,” in Mark 16 Jesus chastised the disciples because of their unbelief and hardness of heart. Despite everything they had seen, everything they themselves had done, they still struggled with unbelief. Amazing. And then Jesus commanded them to, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” He even stated, “They will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” Wow!

Although their faith was lacking Jesus had a job for them to do, and He would equip them to do it. “Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed His word by the signs that accompanied it.” Mark 16:20.

Matthew 28:19-20 records Jesus instructing them, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Jesus promised to always be with the disciples and to help with whatever He asked them to do. But He was leaving; how could He promise that?

Jesus told the disciples: “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you,” John 14:16-17.

Luke 24:48-49 says, “You are witnesses of these things. And behold, I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.” Jesus was speaking of the indwelling Holy Spirit, the one who would always be with the disciples and be their helper. All of these accounts substantiate the fact that the Lord will help us do what He wants done.

Jesus still calls us to go into all the world with the message of the gospel, just as He commissioned the first disciples. And He still promises to work with us. We are assured of His help because of Hebrews 13:8, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” This is why Paul could say in Philippians 4:13 (and we can say), “I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” Christ empowering us with His strength is how He works with us. Philippians 2:13 NLT declares, “For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases Him.”

Today when I observe family challenges, situations in our country and struggles throughout the world, I definitely see the need for that empowering presence, God’s Holy Spirit working in us. While we may not know what the Lord will ask of us, we have the assurance of His help through the Holy Spirit.

M personal desire is to allow the Holy Spirit to think and love and live through me. And my prayer for all believers is the same as Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 3:16, “I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being.” As believers, we all need help doing God’s work. And, we have been given a helper, the Holy Spirit.

 

We Quit – God Doesn’t

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Earlier today, the Lord led me to several scriptures that may not necessarily be correlated. However, the Holy Spirit connected them for me. Please give me a few liberties with what I share today.

I began reading II Kings 4:1-7. This is the story of the widow who possessed only a little oil. Elijah instructed her to collect jars from her neighbors. Then she began pouring her oil into the containers. The oil never ran out until she ran out of empty jars.
Could the widow pouring oil into containers be symbolic of my pouring out prayers to the Lord?

 Next I read Psalm 56:8 NLT that tells about the Lord collecting tears in His bottle.
My prayers are often cried out to the Lord in tears.
Can I make the analogy of God keeping my prayers in a bottle? 

Finally, I read Revelation 5:8 that says golden bowls are full of incense – with prayers being the incense. Angels present these bowls to Jesus in the throne room of heaven.
I wonder if Jesus responds to my prayers by pouring out His answers to me from similar golden bowls.

Putting these three scriptures together, this is what I envision:
All my prayers are kept in God’s bottle with my name upon it. At the appropriate time, Jesus tips the bowls of prayers. He pours out His answers in my direction. The number of prayers answered depends upon the number of prayers I have prayed (how many bottles I have filled).

If this is true, why does it appear that not all of my prayers are answered?

It certainly is not because of God’s inability. Luke 1:37 NKJV says, “For with God nothing will be impossible.” It must be me. The Lord declares in Isaiah 55:8, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways.”

Sometimes I quit praying before God answers.

I am reminded of Zachariah and Elizabeth’s experience. They prayed and prayed for a child. No baby was conceived. Finally, they decided their prayers would not be answered as they desired. They were too old. They quit praying.

They gave up, but God did not.

Reading Luke 1:5-25, I find out what happened.
While Zachariah was serving in the temple, the angel Gabriel announced that Elizabeth would bear a son named John. Zachariah couldn’t believe it! How? Why at this time?

Scripture says that Zachariah and Elizabeth were “upright in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commandments and regulations blamelessly.” (see Luke 1:6) I believe God wanted to entrust them with a particular infant who would grow to be a man with a message.

God foreknew that He would send His Son, Jesus, to live as a human on earth. Part of His strategy included another man, John the Baptist, who would prepare the way for His Son. Two baby boys had to be born during the same historical time period. God did not answer Zachariah and Elizabeth’s prayer earlier because they were to be the parents of John the Baptist.

Although Zachariah and Elizabeth may not have been faithful to continue to pray their petitions, God was still faithful to answer their previous prayers. God had the answer in His hands, ready to be released at the appropriate time.

I love this concept! God answers prayers we no longer pray.

God collects our prayers in a bottle. They are as sweet as incense to Him. God has no limit to the number of bottles He will fill. Our part is to keep pouring out our prayers to Him. At the appropriate time, He will pour out His answers – answers that will glorify God and be for our good.

Everything!

“Everything” is all-inclusive! When I was a little girl, my mother helped me learn me how to pray by giving me a simple prayer outline. She suggested that I pray, “God, thank You for ______ and ______.” I was to fill in the blanks with two things for which I was thankful that day. Sometimes it would be easy for me to fill in the blanks. Other times, I might just pray, “Thank You, God for everything!” This could have been my prayer because my heart was so full of gratitude that I could not choose two specific things. Or, it might have been an easy way out because I was too tired to think. Today, when I think about thanking God for everything, it involves a greater risk than I perceived as a child. Can someone be thankful for a diagnosis of cancer? Can another person be thankful for losing their job? At this point in my life, I do not always find it easy to thank God for everything. However, I do still pray about everything. I have discovered some all-inclusive scriptures I want us to think about today.

Jesus looked at them intently and said,
“Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But not with God.
Everything is possible with God.”
Mark 10:27 NLT

Nothing” can be replaced with “everything” when we allow God to work on our behalf! This verse from the gospel of Mark is Jesus’ response to the rich young ruler who asked what he must do to inherit eternal life. Humanly speaking, neither this man nor any of us can do anything to inherit the kingdom of God. Admitting that we can do nothing opens the door for Jesus to do everything for us. Jesus did it all! He died on the cross to pay the price we cannot pay.

The other factor we need to remember is that when we are filled with the Holy Spirit and His power, we become capable of doing the impossible even though we are human. I recently heard Bill Johnson  encourage us to not run from the impossible. We are told in Acts 1:8, But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you.” The power of the Holy Spirit is the power of God for whom nothing is impossible and we can receive that same power. Bill Johnson pointed out that this power of the Holy Spirit in us is enough for us to do the impossible. We can do the impossible not because we are human, but because Christ through the Holy Spirit lives and works through us. This leads us to the next scripture.

For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.
Philippians 4:13 NLT

Everything” is “every thing.” From this verse, I gain the confidence that I can do everything that I encounter in life because Christ promises to give me the strength to do what I need to do through the power of the Holy Spirit. I should never say, “I can’t.” When faced with a regimen of chemo treatments for a cancer diagnosis, one may feel overwhelmed and be tempted to cry out, “I can’t do this!” However, Paul assures us that we can do the “everything” facing us because Christ will be with us and working for us during the duration of the treatment. Years ago, my uncle underwent numerous treatments for cancer and I remember my mother commenting that she did not know how he was able to keep going in spite of the side affects etc. However, less than a year later, she faced similar cancer treatments and I witnessed the grace of God sustain her during her time of trial. I need to have the mindset of “I can” rather than “I can’t.

If you remain in me and my words remain in you,
ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.
John 15:7

Everything: can be “whatever.” This verse can be dangerous if we do not focus upon the complete verse. We must not skip over the “if” qualification for receiving what we wish or ask for “ if you remain in Jesus and His word”. In I John 5:14-15 the “if”qualification phrase relates to God’s will, “This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that he hears us – whatever we ask – we know that we have what we asked of him.” God is able to do everything we ask when we become so attuned to Him that whatever we ask is always in accordance with His will. Although God may not answer in the way we expect, He is able to give us everything as He promises when we surrender everything to Him allowing all our thoughts and desires to be His thoughts and desires. Psalm 37:4 NASB says, “Delight yourself in the Lord; And He will give you the desire of your heart.” When we delight in Him, our desires are transformed into His desires.

Now there is another “if” scripture for us to consider.

“What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked.
“Anything is possible if a person believes.
Mark 9:23 NLT

Anything” is “everything!” In this scripture, Mark tells of a man who came to Jesus asking if He was willing and capable of releasing his son from the influence of an evil spirit. Because this man was thinking of Jesus’ capability from a human perspective, he was questioning Jesus’ ability to set his son free. Jesus responded by reassuring the man that through faith and trust anything and everything is possible. Like this man, we must be careful that we do not prevent the Lord from doing what He promises to do because of our lack of faith. We also need to remember that although anything is possible, God will only answer our prayers in His way according to His time.

And we know that God causes all things to work together
for good to those who love God, to those who are called
according to
His purpose. . . . predestined to
become
conformed to the image of His Son,
Romans 8:28-29

All things” is “everything!” The point to remember from this scripture is that while God is capable of causing everything to be used for His good, He does not cause everything that happens to us. Referring back to my simple prayer outline, I can pray “Thank You, God, for how You are going to use my current experience, whether it be positive or negative, for Your glory.” That is quite different from asking a recently unemployed person to pray, “Thank You, God, for my losing my job.” I like the thought that God gives us all kinds of situations so He can give us all things.

When we encounter all kinds of situations, God has the opportunity to reveal His faithfulness to us by showing us how He actually uses all the things we experience for good. God will use everything we encounter to make us more like Him. We may not like everything we experience but we still need to embrace everything and allow God to turn negative situations into positive life lessons. 

“Ah, Sovereign LORD, you have made the heavens and the earth
by your great power and outstretched arm.
Nothing is too hard for you.
Jeremiah 32:17

Everything” can meannothing.” Nothing is too hard for our Lord who created everything with His hands. Today, everything we experience passes through the hands of Him who created us and our surroundings. He continues to hold everything in His hands, so we do not need to fear anything we experience. If He could create this world we live in, then He can take care of it. There is no reason for us to doubt His ability. Truly, there is nothing too hard for God to do!

In Genesis 18:114, the Lord asked Abraham, “Is anything too Hard for the Lord?” My Reader, how do you answer this question? How does your response to this question affect how you feel about everything that happens in your life and how you handle every situation you encounter? May you remember the words of Colossians 2:10 in the Living Letters, “So you have everything when you have Christ.”

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