I woke up this morning thinking about ...
I then thought of our recent trip to Sierra Leone. Even though I have never seen such poverty physically, it seemed that joy was just waiting around every corner of our trip! I was stunned. People of all ages would gather, pull out instruments, and song, smiles and dance would erupt as people took great pleasure praising Jesus!
My mind then flew over the past years and I started to wonder if I am still a person of joy. Have I become a bit complacent in my everyday @ home zone? Do I live joy? Am I fun to be around? Do I make others smile? How often do I come to Jesus in my day and just worship Him with the passion inside of me? Oh, such good questions to ponder! These are healthy ones.
I know that I find joy when I am with God, when I allow everything else in my world to be still and I turn the eyes of my heart and mind toward Him... and worship. Oh, such love and joy in those moments.
Joy is found in something other than myself. Joy is in community and in knowing the pleasure shared in relationship. Bruce and I have moments of great joy and, in essence, have a joy-full life together. Joy is a heart full of love spilling out its immense warmth and pleasure toward someone else.
In fact, it occurred to me that this is all about others! For example, look at all the fruit of the Spirit an you'll see that community is required. What good is kindness without someone to be kind toward or patience if you never have to wait for anything from someone else? Think of it, gentleness, faithfulness, love, all rely on someone or something other than ourselves. What a gift from the Father, that He would give us resources and fruit from and for community!
That is why we need, I need, to come and be with God in the secret place for it is there that joy is fully experienced. The bonus is that we can come and never worry about offending God with our volume, style, repetitiveness, skill level, or lyrical ingenuity. We will find Him entertained by our heart. His joy will be known.
You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at His right hand are pleasures forevermore. Psalm 16:11
Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2
Since we have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven ... (see Colossians 3:1-4)
I don't know if it's age or just increasing desire. I may be getting tired of the faults in my human nature or I might just be wanting to see some of the people I love, who have gone before me, again ... I'm not sure. All I know, is that the reality of heaven is much stronger today in me. My hunger for it and to see Jesus, grows increasingly. I am so excited for the day that all sin is gone! My heart jumps when I imagine the first time I see God. My breathe is taken away with the thought. I don't know how I'll be able to utter a sound, but I know I will want to :) I'll want to sing something new; something that does not have an ending but simply changes direction as my eyes and my heart envelope the greatness and beauty that I am beholding.
Does this hunger render me useless here on earth? Absolutely NOT! Actually, I find that my heart is stirred so deeply that I am moved out of my self sufficiency and awakened from my sleep. I am compelled by what I hope for. Compelled to taste as much of His presence here and to lead others to Him, to show them the water of life, the fountain of eternity, the healer of souls.
The reality of heaven gives me purpose for earth.
Jesus said to ask God for His kingdom to come, for His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven. So be it, Lord! Until we get to come to you.
(see also 1 Corinthians 15:43-46)
A prayer after reading Romans 15:9, 2 Samuel 22 and Psalm 18:49.
Oh Lord, I honour You.
You are a firm place for my feet.
A safe place for me to dwell;
Refreshing and affirming to my spirit.
My flesh rests in You, my soul is at peace.
My heart is satisfied by Your goodness.
Your mercy overwhelms me.
Your love seeps into my deepest parts.
I am changed because of You.
I praise You, Lord Jesus; my redeemer, my life blood.
I worship You, oh God and sing to Your name.
I honour You with my life so that others may know and bless You.
One day, I will be with You forever.
One day, I will see You and look at Your beauty; Your majesty.
One day, I will see You looking at me....
When you choose a picture to represent yourself to the world (like in Facebook) what do you pick? My guess is that it would be one of the following:
Life is not like the picture. A picture remembers what we have chosen to.
That's why I love reading what David has to say in the Psalms. I can totally relate!! He wrote about the stuff in between the photo-shoots!
Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4
For many years I have asked God to heal me. Now you may be surprised at that, but when I was a young teenager we discovered that I had a twisted spine. The label the medical community puts on it is scoliosis... For the most part it never really hindered me from doing what I wanted. But, as time marches on, I have had to battle the effects of imbalanced muscles caused from the curve. I have been through seasons of migraines, muscle spasms and chronic pain and each time God has healed me ... but not when I wanted Him to.
I have examined this from many angles, but today I was listening to someone that I admire greatly and who has much to say about this subject of healing. Her name is Joni Eareckson Tada and she is a quadriplegic (she has a new audio-book that is being released and you can download the 1st hour of it free at https://christianaudio.com). Joni said something that surprised me, but that I can totally relate to. She quoted Psalm 37:4 and said that as much as she desires to be free from the wheelchair and the present pain, she has a greater desire to know God & to grow in Him. Joni is allowing God to work good in her despite (or is it, 'to spite') what the enemy has thrown her way.
My heart totally concurs. I started to recall all of the times that I went up for prayer, with absolute faith to be healed (and each time in response to God's prompting for me to do so, I might add). I have continually come away from each of those experiences with God answering a deeper need, a greater need every time. My back is still curved. He eventually healed me from the migraines & spasms. But again, my back is still curved.
My greatest quest in life is not to have a straight back, although I won't argue if it comes. My greatest quest is to know God's peace, to really trust Him, to have His mind, to be so intertwined with His presence that I am truly one with Him. My 2nd greatest desire would be to reflect & wear Him well to my family... and to you.
I'll stop here. If you are in a hard place, trust God to deliver you. If He does not alleviate your physical circumstances, trust Him. Do not let the enemy gain control of your mind & your spirit.
And I bowed down my head and worshiped the Lord and blessed the Lord, the God of my master Abraham, Who had led me in the right way... Genesis 24:48
I've just finished reading the story of Abraham's servant going to find a wife for Isaac (I'm glad times have changed!), and was so impressed by this man's reliance on God. He asked God for direction, was thoughtful in discerning it, and gave immediate credit and worship to Him when the answer came. No wonder Abraham could trust his servant with this huge task!
It's caused me to reflect on my own life and recall the several times that God has obviously directed me and our family over the years. A lot of these instances resulted in significant course changes for us. I remember the moment that Bruce & I knew we were meant for each other, the time when we knew we were to go to Israel, the way He led us to one of our homes, the purchase of a property for our church, etc., etc. I can also remember some instances that surprised us, but God has shown that He was closing a door (I think it was right on our foot!) only to open another one.
Do you remember such times? Why not take some time to write them down and worship God for His intervention in your life. Encourage someone else by posting a brief comment here to give testimony of God's faithfulness in your life.
Train me, God, to walk straight;
then I'll follow your true path.
Put me together, one heart and mind;
then, undivided, I'll worship in joyful fear.
From the bottom of my heart I thank you, dear Lord;
I've never kept secret what you're up to.
You've always been great toward me—what love!
You snatched me from the brink of disaster!
God, these bullies have reared their heads! A gang of thugs is after me—
and they don't care a thing about you. But you, O God, are both tender and kind,
not easily angered, immense in love, and you never, never quit.
So look me in the eye and show kindness, give your servant the strength to go on,
save your dear, dear child! Make a show of how much you love me
so the bullies who hate me will stand there slack-jawed,
As you, God, gently and powerfully put me back on my feet.
Psalm 86:11-17 MSG
Please inquire for the word of the LORD today. 1 Kings 22:5