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Joy

Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

I want to talk about the second fruit of the spirit…JOY.  So many times, we get this confused with happiness but the reference in this passage is much deeper than mere happiness.  It is rooted in God and He is the source, it not about our circumstances.

Because joy comes from God, it is more stable than worldly happiness, which is merely emotional and lasts only for a time. 

George Campbell Morgan wrote that “Joy is love’s consciousness.” Which makes sense that joy precedes love in the fruits of the Spirit in this passage.

One commentary states that on the spiritual level, joy refers to the extreme happiness with which the believer contemplates salvation and the bliss of the afterlife. Unexpected benefits from God are expressed in terms of common experiences. The psalms express the joyous mood of believers as they encounter God. 

  • Believers rejoice because God has surrounded them with His steadfast love (Psalm 32:11
  • and brought them to salvation (Psalm 40:16). 
  • David rejoices that God has delivered him from the hand of his enemies (Psalm 63:11). 
  • Joy is a response to God’s word (Psalm 119:14
  • and His reward to believers (Isaiah 65:14
  • and their strength (Nehemiah 8:10). 

Again, these passages reveal that joy is a response to God and not an emotion to our situation. Love is a choice, so is Joy.  We can choose Joy over our struggles.  

How is it possible to remain joyful all the time? Paul gives us the key: “Rejoice in the Lord always” (Philippians 4:4). 

The key to the Christian’s joy is its source, which is the Lord. If Christ is in me and I am in Him, that relationship is not a sometimes experience. The Christian is always in the Lord and the Lord is always in the Christian, and that is always a reason for joy. Even if the Christian cannot rejoice in his circumstances, if he finds himself passing through pain, sorrow, or grief, he still can rejoice in Christ. We rejoice in the Lord, and since He never leaves us or forsakes us, we can rejoice always.

So how are you choosing joy in your life?  What source are you looking to for joy?  Is it God, your circumstances, your status, a relationship?  It is a tough question to answer, but one worth asking daily and asking God to direct you to joy.

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Perseverance

per·se·ver·ance

  1. persistence in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.

2 Thessalonians 1:4-5 CSB “Therefore, we ourselves boast about you among God’s churches—about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and afflictions that you are enduring. It is clear evidence of God’s righteous judgment that you will be counted worthy of God’s kingdom, for which you also are suffering, ” 

The Thessalonian Christians and Christ-followers today can relate with one another rather poignantly. The Thessalonian believers were living out their faith in a time of growing violent opposition from pagan culture yet, they pressed on and leaned on the strength of our LORD. From that, they showed persistence in living out their upward calling in the face of mounting difficulty.

We today do well to remember and aspire to their example. 

The year 2020 and the opening days of 2021 have been demonstrative of the fact that the wider mainstream culture is becoming all the more openly hostile towards the principles that make our Christian faith so distinct. While we in the U.S. may not be getting slaughtered for our faith in contrast to other parts of the world, there is no denying that it is becoming more and more difficult to live your life for Christ in this decaying and pluralistic society we find ourselves in. 

However, this is exactly the time where we must remain steadfast. We must not abandon our post. History has shown us that the greater the opposition to God’s church, the more she thrives. 

I know when you hear the word perseverance, you may want to emit a sigh of exasperation or weariness… or both. However, a source that we can look to for confidence, reinvigoration and resolve for God’s Kingdom is upon Christ Himself. Believers know the story of Christ’s trial, crucifixion, and resurrection, and within that, there lies one of the most vividly-beautiful truths about our faith in Christ: There was great hardship before His world-altering triumph.

Jesus was and still is the ultimate example of perseverance. He knew what the Father had predestined for Him to carry out:

2 Corinthians 5:21 CSB “He made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

Despite knowing full well all that His divine mission entailed, Jesus saw it through to its violent and world-changing fulfillment. You and I must remember though we might live in a world that deems us intolerant and narrow-minded, Christ knows exactly what being accused of all those things feels like. 

Jesus warns us of this:

John 15:18 CSB “If the world hates you, understand that it hated me before it hated you.”

We must remain dogged in our dedication to living and preaching the Gospel in our communities and the world over. We are entering a day and age where it is abundantly clear where to live for Christ will garner no approval from the world. Yet, we know that this is exactly the time to have a sense of urgency to spread the Good News.

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Thought of the Lord God

“So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.” Isaiah‬ 55:11‬ NKJV‬‬‬‬‬‬

I’ve always loved this particular verse of scripture from the Prophet Isaiah, with The Lord God’s declaration of His spoken word completing the task which The Lord has purposed. This verse doesn’t just apply to the spoken Word but also the written Word. This verse speaks of The Lord’s sovereignty and control over all circumstances and situations. “His will be done” This is a proclamation of comfort and peace to the weary hearts and minds of those that have put their faith and trust in The Lord Jesus Christ. That all the promises of The Lord God are guaranteed for all time and eternity. We need not worry or fear the political, financial, cultural, and moral degradation that is happening in the world around us. No person or thing will ever hinder the plans of The Lord God and we can rest in His loving hands with full assurance of Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

May The Lord God Almighty bring peace and comfort to you and your loved ones this day and every day, through every trial and tribulation with the blessed assurance of Christ Jesus, our Savior and Lord, Amen.

1 Peter‬ 3:15‬‬ ESV‬‬‬ “but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,”

Beloved follower of The Lord, Christ Jesus, we must always be mindful of how you walk in this world, “not straying to the left or the right”, but honoring The Lord God, with your words, actions, and thoughts, regardless of your emotional or physical circumstances. Through the indwelling of The Holy Spirit, we must prepare each day to share the truth of Christ Jesus to a lost and broken world with the testimony of our words and our lives. Finally, let us fill ourselves with all that The Lord God is and let His love, His peace, and His gentleness flow through us like “streams of living water”.

Gracious Heavenly Father, in this new year, grant us the determination to be bold and courageous in how we honor You. That when this world looks at us, they only see You, Lord, in all your goodness and graciousness. We pray, Father, that your Holy Spirit will guide us to do Your will and to be ready to give a reason for the hope that is in us, in Jesus’ Name Amen.

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Worship

When I was a little girl, one of my favorite gifts my parents gave me was a record player.  Yes, I know that dates me, but I’m okay with that, so hear me out.   I was an only child for the first 6 years of my life, so I would love to go into my room and play records on that player.  I would be in there for hours at a time.  Never getting bored just totally in my zone listening to whatever current album my parents would let me listen to.  At times, my Mom would pop her head in my room, just to make sure I was okay and she would find me playing and singing to my heart’s content.  I remember literally wearing out the 45 rpm single record “Amen” by Larnelle Harris.  

You see I have always had a love for music and most of all worship music.  Worship music stirs my soul and it quickly will change my mood when I hear one of my many favorite songs.  There is just something about singing songs to God that fills my heart and draws me to Him like nothing else can.

I recently started reading a book on worship and it has challenged me.  It has challenged me to examine my heart.  I’ve asked myself the questions, 

“Is God pleased with my worship?  

“Is God my source of worship?”   

“Am I giving my absolute best, undivided heart and attention to God each time I worship?”

I am reminded of the song “The Heart of Worship” by Matt Redman.  To be honest, this particular song does not fall into the category as ‘’one of my favorites,” but the lyrics truly convey my understanding of how important it is that we examine our heart with regards to worship:

King of endless worth
No one could express
How much You deserve
Though I’m weak and poor
All I have is Yours
Every single breath

I’ll bring You more than a song
For a song in itself
Is not what You have required
You search much deeper within
Through the way things appear
You’re looking into my heart

I’m coming back to the heart of worship
And it’s all about You,
It’s all about You, Jesus
I’m sorry, Lord, for the thing I’ve made it
And it’s all about You,
It’s all about You, Jesus

There have been times that I didn’t feel like worshiping God.  I might not have liked the worship song we were singing.  I will even go so far as to say I’ve had moments where my heart was not in a good place to worship God, but I realize that has to stop.  

What I learned is that Matt Redman was right.  Worship should have never been about me or my moments but focusing on who God is in my moments. Jesus tells us that true worshipers will worship God in spirit and in truth (John 4:24). This means we both worship from the heart and also in truth the way God has designed it. 

Genuine worship is not about me or my preferences.  It’s about God and who He is over all creation.  Even in our moments, that is the unchanging truth and because of this truth, we have every reason to give God what is due Him.