A Gift of Joy

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

It is in our worship of Him that we find our joy is complete.

Scripture of the Day:

John 15:11

“These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.”

Christmas is almost here and parents all over are wondering if what they have done, what they have given, is enough. While it is easy to get caught up in the busyness of preparations, in the stillness of the night we can still hear a baby’s cry if we listen.

The cry of our Savior pierced the night as He entered this world to give all that He had. A cry that spoke volumes to the reality of our dire need and His extravagant gift. God in the flesh, the only answer for our bankrupt souls, came to bring us the gift of salvation for all of eternity – a gift that never fades – and He came to give us JOY.

Our culture can distract us from this original message of Christmas, but deep within if we will pause and consider the point of all our purchases and planning, it is ultimately to remember our God’s sacrificial gift with great joy.

This contemplation is medicine for my soul today. I confess to a meltdown yesterday. The combination of the busyness of the season, demands of my schedule, shepherding my precious ones through their college finals and school sometimes is more than I can bear.

As a parent, you want to give everything to your children, but you realize that is not what they need. They need us – and sometimes what they need is not what we want to give – instruction that is not well received.

It is in these moments that I think on what my Savior gave. His people did not understand their need, nor realize the gravity of such a gift. Still God came and He gave. He did not look to see if we were appreciative of the gift, but it is in our worship of Him that we find our joy is complete.

Come and worship our Savior with me. No matter what is stressing you out, grieving or burdening your soul, He is enough and we find our joy when we do what we were made to do – worship and know our Savior.

Oh God! Forgive me when I get caught up in all that is around me and forget to look to You in all things. You are enough and You are my joy, no matter what – at all times!

Scriptural Saturday: Inner Strength

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Inner strength is not built ~ it comes from within.

Scripture of the Day:

1 Sam 30:5-6

5 David’s two wives had been taken captive–Ahinoam the Jezreelite and Abigail the Carmelite, Nabal’s widow. 6 David was very upset, for the men were thinking of stoning him; each man grieved bitterly over his sons and daughters. But David drew strength from the LORD his God.”

2 Timothy 1:7

“For God did not give us a Spirit of fear but of power and love and self-control.”

Philippians 4:13

“I am able to do all things through the one who strengthens me.”


 

The pressures of this life can leave us flat out worn out. I can just imagine David being surrounded by a bunch of tough guys ready to stone him. Talk about stress. But He simply drew strength from God. How?

Scripture says he asked for the ephod and sought the face of God for direction and guidance. Back then, the Urim and Thummim (gemstones) were carried by the high priest of Israel on the ephod/priestly garments, which was used by the high priest to determine God’s will in some situations.

David knew his strength came only from God. Anyone who would sling a stone at a giant obviously relies on God instead of his own strength.

Many years later Paul, Timothy and the disciples followed suit. Nothing was deemed impossible if one relied on the Holy Spirit, given to us for strength and insight.

Feeling weak, discouraged, unable to do the task before you? Jesus understands and He walked the most difficult path of all with joy set before Him. Wow.

Just because a task or situation is difficult does not mean it has to steal our joy.

His strength is enough. Enough for day-to-day drama, illness, court, accidents, any trouble. We don’t use an ephod, but today we have the living Word of God we can run to for grace, wisdom and strength. Run to Him, friend. He is enough and His strength is all we will ever need.

Lord, thank You for your amazing grace and strength. Grant us a willing heart to cry out to you and to never give up.

 

Thoughtful Thursday: Full Fool

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Get stuffed with living water

Scripture of the Day:

Proverbs 1:29-31

“Because they hated moral knowledge, and did not choose to fear the LORD, 30 they did not comply with my advice, they spurned all my rebuke. 31 Therefore they will eat from the fruit of their way, and they will be stuffed full of their own counsel.” 


 

Thirsty? We are all born consumers. We crave food, drink, love, respect, acceptance, knowledge, and the list goes on and on. We are humbled by the fact that we are always needing to be refilled. Like the woman at the well who longed for water that would forever quench her thirst, we long to be satisfied. And Christ invites us all to drink – deeply.

While we have practical needs that make us look to God our Provider, there are other things we need that we often overlook. God wants us to hunger and thirst after righteousness, wisdom, His Word and after Himself.

It is a choice we have to make to crave after God, though. He invites us, but He will not make us come into His presence. He is all we need, but we can spin our wheels chasing after temporary “water” instead of living water found in Christ.

Sometimes it can be hard to discern our own fleshly thoughts from the wisdom of God – especially when we are full of self and our own worldview. There is very little space in a vessel that is stuffed with our own opinion instead of God’s truth.

Asking questions about motivation and filtering our perspective through God’s Word helps us to cleanse ourselves of a lot of excess “stuff” that we do not need in our thoughts or heart.

We can never empty ourselves completely of self, but we can pursue God and His wisdom and store His truth in our mind. Ultimately, the more we feast on God’s word instead of worldly wisdom, the more we are strengthened to walk in His ways.

Instead of full of stress or worry, we can be full of joy. Instead of being full of self, we can be saturated with Jesus. Instead of being filled with despair, we can be filled with hope. When we drink deeply of the love of God and His word we will never be the same and those around us won’t be, either.

Lord, thank You for filling us with Your Holy Spirit. Fill us to overflowing and satisfy us with your presence so we never hunger after counterfeits.

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Pressure’s On

© Denise Pass 6/2/14

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2 Corinthians 1:8-11

8 We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. 9 Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. 10 He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, 11 as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.”

Squeezed like a lemon in life’s juicer of trials, one can often not find the comfort one hopes to receive, though well intended, from well-meaning Christian friends. “God will not give you more than you can handle”. Hmmm. Paul had a different point-of-view on this. Pressed on every side, he confessed that his trials were, in fact, more than he could bear. Sometimes we can be hyper spiritual and think that we need to put on a facade of faith, while inwardly we are broken. But honestly confessing our anxiety and inability is where victory lies. The faith comes as we set our hope on the promises and truths God gives us. Paul admitted he was enduring more than he could handle, but in the same breath he proclaimed God’s faithfulness and exhibited genuine faith that God would deliver him. His hope was set on God’s ability and promises to deliver him, but he also knew he needed the prayers of the saints around him. If we are not in the valley at this present time, may we notice those around us who are, and not try to offer “Christianese” advice to the weary and wounded. May we instead lift them up and cry out to God on their behalf, that God will indeed deliver them in due time. If you are one who is bearing a burden so heavy that you cannot even contemplate it, there is hope for you in that place of desperation. God is with the brokenhearted and He counts your every tear.

Lord, please help us to know that even though we seem incapable of handling life’s demands or struggles, you are completely sufficient to bear our burdens and strengthen us.