Category Archives: joy

Patience

Joy to Peace

For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

Romans 14:17

 Have you noticed as we have reflected on joy for the last forty days that the “joy”  that manifests itself as a fruit of the spirit is a kind of joy that differs from the world’s version of joy?

One interesting thing about scripture is that it always sets our expectations for what a word means in the world’s vernacular to the side and invites us to experience a newer and deeper meaning.

Just as many in the world derive great pleasure from eating and drinking, we see that this variety of “joy” in the world is really just self-indulgence and produces no real benefit to our lives or to the lives of others.  It’s taking pleasure where it can be found, acknowledging that tomorrow we may pay a price.

But when we pursue the fruits of the spirit and re-define what our lives should be focused on, we find ourselves making different choices and walking down paths that might not make sense to other people.  We may go against the grain and we might not always even know the reason why.  We may opt for the more difficult choice-one littered with obstacles-because we feel God’s leading.

Have you ever had a time when you KNEW for sure you were at the center of God’s will?  What joy did you possess at that moment?  Imagine having that joy daily.  It’s possible when we set aside the world’s definitions of success and happiness and inviite God into our daily choices.

“For a day in your courts is better than a thousand.”

Psalm 84:10

All the Best in 2013!

Julie

peace

Joy In Experiencing Today

And my soul shall be joyful in the Lord it shall rejoice in His salvation.  Psalm 35:9

 Have you smiled yet today?

Or are you a bit overwhelmed by everything you haven’t done yet?

Have you procrastinated away the day?

Or maybe it’s early in the morning when you are reading this.  Do you look forward to the rest of today with hopeful anticipation of both receiving and passing along God’s blessings?

Maybe it’s late at night when you are reading this and you are still awake because you are consumed with worry and anxiety.

Can you take a moment to rejoice in the now of your existence?

Can you appreciate the reality of your salvation this minute and consciously ask God to show you all the blessing you have?

Think of a “slide show” with pictures of everything that represents your blessings.  Run through the slide show in your mind.  Maybe you can reflect back on a time when He drew you out of a deep pit or elevated you beyond where you thought you “deserved” to be.

Focusing on current blessings and maximizing the “now” of what we can do to fully praise and serve Him will add to your spiritual joy!

All the Best in 2013!

Julie

Peace Fruit

What’s Real Joy?

The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.

Isaiah 9:2

This blog has shied away from my personal stories.  I have shared some minor details here and there, but I did not want this blog to become about “me” because I want it to be about “Him.”

However, yesterday was my birthday and I found myself writing this instead of my “usual” blog post here.

It reminds me of the transitory nature of human or experience-based joy.

The deeper we go with God, the nature of our joy changes.

So, here’s what I wrote yesterday!

About  fourteen-years ago tonight I turned thirty.

In Paris.

Mais oui.

This was the restaurant.  

Amazing time.

I have the little nosegay bouquet I got that night from the waiter in a vase on my fireplace along with other meaningful dried bouquets.

The vase they are in is one I got from my dad.

It’s one of the few gifts he ever actually shopped for himself so it’s meaningful.

Understanding the never-ending needs of daughters, no matter how old they get, he usually just gave me money or Ann Taylor gift certificates.  I was always appreciative.

Then one day, a few years after Paris, he helped me move as a newly single girl into the first house I ever owned by myself.  His job was to transport my CLOTHES from point A to point B.  He had a Ford Expedition at the time that was packed with nary an inch to spare with many a garment purchased with said gift certificates and at that time he said he was NEVER giving me another one.

The vase followed soon after as a sort of house warming gift.

More years passed and at one point the vase contained my dried bouquet from my second marriage, with the Paris nosegay added.

More years passed after Paris.

In 2010, I spent my birthday in Arcadia, Florida at a hospice house.

My dad was there after a long fight with cancer.

The sweet nurses had heard me say I liked red velvet cake a few days before and one of them baked one from scratch.  My dad had said he liked German Chocolate, so another nurse baked one from scratch. They brought them in with candles and sang to me.  So we ate homemade cake and watched videos he’d had made of slide photographs from the 1960’s and 1970’s.  Just he and I and some cake and videos of him as young man with the world on a string.

And then I got a flower bouquet my husband had sent.

He’d remained at home to take care of my daughter.

I left the bouquet in my dad’s hospice room.

It was an amazingly hearty bouquet.

It was by his bed, still lovely,  when he passed away ten days later-March 31, 2010-Good Friday.

I took a flower from it when I left the hospice house for the last time with his things.

Today, my 30th in Paris seems like a lifetime ago.

A long way from Paris, but closer to home and wealthier in spiritual joy.

All the Best in 2013!

Julie

Patience

Diminished Joy: Your Life And People In It

…no one will take away your joy…

John 16:22 

No one can take your joy.

No circumstance can take your joy.

Through the Holy Spirit, we have a permanent source of joy rooted in our souls.

What can happen, however (and it often does) is something happens that interferes with our plans, expectations or desires.  And we respond to that by reaching down within our souls and pulling our joy fruit out of our souls by the roots and handing it to the person who has upset us.

So if you blast your horn and wave in a special way to the driver who cuts you off in traffic, you’ve given your joy to them.

If you seek to retaliate against the person at the office who is undermining your job security, you’ve given your joy to them.

If you yell and scream at your child, you’ve given your joy to them.

And the thing that makes this even more wasteful is that the people upsetting you have not asked for your joy.  They don’t really want it.  They are just behaving badly.

Likewise, if the pipe bursts and you have to pay the plumber weekend rates to fix it, neither the pipe nor the plumber have conspired to steal your joy.  Why would you hand it over?

Of course after any “melt-down” you may have, your supply of joy-fruit may be restored as you repent of the behavior, pray for more wisdom the next time and seek to repair any damage your lack of joy has caused to others.  But how much better to just retain your joy in the first place.

One thing that separates Christ’s people from others in how they respond to certain situations.  Whereas someone without Christ might respond with anger, hostility, or a “why me” Christians have the power to produce better responses that make difficulties more manageable.  If you demonstrate what spiritual joy looks like to the world, your life will be set apart and attractive to others.

You probably have many circumstances right now that you consider “problems.”  If you spend too long dwelling on them, your joy may diminish.  But recognize that for most people, your problems do not disappear overnight  Your life circumstances will never be perfect and you may find that as one problem is solved, another arises.

There will not be life-altering circumstances that will immediately fix all of our problems.

If we wait for perfect life circumstances to cultivate joy in our lives, we will most likely never find it.

 

peace

Joy in the Fortress

But let all those who take refuge and put their trust in You rejoice; let them ever sing and shout for joy, because You make a covering over them and defend them; let those also who love Your name be joyful in You and be in high spirits.

Psalm 5:11

The source of our joy is the Holy Spirit.

Le’s not fall into the trap of thinking that joy comes from any THING or any PERSON.

Things and people are CREATED!  Our joy comes from the creator!

When you feel as if things are closing in around you, or people are working against you, take active refuge in God.

By active refuge I mean imagining yourself as living behind a fortress where nothing can reach you.    Arrows and ammunition bounce off of the thick walls protecting you.

Within the fortress walls, you are safe and protected and joyful, even in the midst of attack.  You are conscious of the dangerous conditions outside of your fortress, but you are grateful to be safe inside.

Perhaps others are inside the fortress with you and are also safe and protected.  You can imagine celebrating with them inside, knowing you are impervious to harm.

Does this mean we hide from the reality of trouble in our own lives and imagine away our fears?

No.

But it does mean that we know that when we are attacked we have somewhere to go, and that inside our place of refuge is joy, no matter what happens!

All the Best in 2013!

Julie

Fruit of the Spirit

Stay Plugged In to the Source of Joy

One thing that happened during Tropical Storm Sandy was widespread power-outages.  We’ve become so dependent on our smart devices to communicate that people were desperately searching for functioning outlets so that they could plug in their phones and let their friends and family know that they were safe and sound.

Imagine the frustration of knowing that people were anxious to hear from you and worried about you and you are unable to contact them. Your communication channel was dead.

There were many examples of good Samaritans with power who stretched long extension cords out of their homes so that people could charge their phones and communicate.  But the batteries have limited life and whatever power they have is drained pretty rapidly.  There is always a need to charge them back up;

The same is true with our spiritual joy.

If we are spending time in God’s word and praying each day, our battery can stay charged.  Even if we miss a day or two, we have enough of a power reserve to keep going.  However, if we allow ourselves to become too depleted, when testing times come, we find ourselves running out of power and unable to tap into the source of joy.  This lack of joy actually makes us weaker during trials.

We are told in Nehemiah that “the joy of the Lord is your strength and stronghold.” (Neh. 8:10).  Have you ever thought of you joy in the Lord as a source of strength?  Perhaps you though the joy of the Lord produced contentment and patience, but did you ever think of it as something that strengthens us?

So consistently maintaining a live wire to God enables us to develop a deep sense of spiritual joy which strengthens us when we encounter problems and difficulties.

Stay plugged in!

All the Best in 2013!

Julie

 

 

 

 

 

 

Patience

Joy of Cleansing

Help us O God of our salvation, for the glory of thy name: and deliver us, and purge away our sins, for thy name’s sake.

Psalm 79:9

Are you routinely grateful for being clean?

And I’m not even talking here at the moment about the state of our souls…I’m talking about our physical bodies.

You are probably reading this somewhere with hot and cold running water.

If you get dirty or sweaty doing something, you can usually take a bath or shower and get clean almost immediately.

In building a list of recurring “gratitudes” you can muster even on difficult days, this may be one you can include.

All the more reason to thank God if you can get yourself into a bath or shower without assistance.  Sometimes older people lose the ability to do this independently, and it’s when we see this happen to a loved-one, we experience new-found gratitude for this seemingly simple routine act.

Additionally, some people are homeless and may not be able to have a shower as often as they’d like.  They have to depend on the kindness of other people to preserve this important aspect of personal dignity-personal cleanliness.

We also know that many people around the world lack clean water for bathing or drinking and that this can shorten the lifespan.

Another thing we know about keeping our bodies clean is that they get dirty again.  Even if you just got out of the shower an hour ago,  you’ll probably repeat the process again several times this week (or expect to lose some friends).

As we’ve considered our physical bodies and keeping them clean, we do now consider our souls and how they are cleansed.

They are cleansed by Christ’s blood.

And, unlike our personal hygiene  which needs to be frequently repeated, the cleansing of our souls through Christ’s blood lasts a lifetime, and into eternity. Let that truth be a source of spiritual joy for you today.

“The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses us from all sin.”

1 John 1:7

All the Best in 2013,

Julie

Patience

Destination Joy

When was the last time you had joy in a journey?

Get in the car, start driving and do not stop until you get to somewhere FUN!

Drive somewhere  you really want to go, but  somewhere you didn’t know you wanted to go until you arrive.

Have you ever stumbled upon a place like that?

Take an unanticipated detour or a different route and as a result you find yourself somewhere amazing?

Maybe you are not driving a car-maybe you are on a train through Europe and get off the train in a city that you have never heard of.  You step off the train, start exploring and as you sit in a restaurant having lunch, you feel that you are somewhere you were always meant to be.

This is how God often works.

This is why it’s important to frame our intentions and plans with God at the center of our picture.  He is the one who will draw the art of our lives on a blank canvas.

Ask God to help you find spiritual joy today in your path.  And stay open to God moving you to step outside where it is comfortable, warm and inviting.  He may want you to go a different way, or at least He may want you to make more frequent stops to check in with Him and perhaps help a fellow traveller.

The spiritual joy we get from God does not have to walled off from fun, laughter and satisfaction in our day-to-day lives.  Be open to the joy others can bring into your life and make time for the seemingly random people who cross your path daily.

And you ARE allowed to have fun.

And there was great joy in that city!

Acts 8:8

All the Best in 2013!

Julie

Peace Fruit

Joy Through A Disney Dream Deferred

I owe you two devotionals today.

I’d managed to bog daily for almost 2.5 months which isn’t too bad I guess.

See, my child is sick.

And we were supposed to be leaving for Disneyworld today for her first trip there.

To boot, we’d arranged to meet up with her best little friend and her parents in Fantasyland and they were going to be in their princess dresses and ride the teacups together and now, her friend and parents will be going alone while we take care of sick little girl.

We were smart, however.  We had not told my daughter what we had planned.  She knew she was going somewhere, but thought it might be the beach or somewhere else, but Disneyworld was hinted at.

She isn’t hospital sick, urgent-care sick or even doctor sick, just has a bad cold and trouble breathing and would not be at maximum enjoyment of the parks, so we put the trip off several months and will cover the time in  more prayer than I did this time.

It did make me think a bit about deferred joy and why what we wants sometimes doesn’t come around as quickly as we’d like.  Well, maybe God thinks we are not ready and that we will miss the true benefit of the experience in our current spiritual state.  He wants to move us a little farther down the road first, before giving us the huge blessing He knows He has in store for us.

I imagine some parents would have made the Disney trip anyway, sick or not, but a sick five-year old girl, although she’d be blessed to be there, would not maximize her joy.

If you have been praying incessantly for something you want a great deal, perhaps consider that God wants to set you in a place where you can best appreciate the blessing when you receive it.

God works through delay to deepen our spiritual joy!

….that your joy might be full!

John 15:11

All the Best in 2013!

Julie

 

peace

Are You Conscious of Joy?

 

For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Hebrews 12:2

Are you looking for joy?

If you’ve asked God to help you cultivate more spiritual joy in your life, be sure to be looking for the answer to the prayer.  Often, the answer does not manifest itself clearly, like a bolt of lightening or a box of gold being shipped to your house from a mysterious source.

Evidence of joy can be subtle.

Sometimes finding your answer to a prayer for a spiritual fruit requires you to take a few minutes, sit down, close your eyes and ask God to help you see joy in your current circumstances, for the current day. Then, ask Him to continue to point you to joy for the remainder of the day.  In each thing you are doing today, do it with an attitude of joy.

If you are asked to make a sacrifice of some kind, big or small, frame the sacrifice with joy and gratitude, that you have something to give.

Joy doesn’t come from more stuff.

People sometimes equate joy with “having” things or even with a general feeling of well-being.  But true spiritual joy is often built in large part out of sacrifice and difficulty.  Christ’s intense suffering resulted in our eternal joy.  We should therefore not expect lives devoid of difficulty or sacrifice of the most life-altering kind.  The joy comes from staying close to God in the midst of difficulty and finding joy in his presence by our side day-by-day.

Look for small manifestations of joy today, and as you recognize them, thank God for then.  This will have a multiplying effect on your joy fruit!

All the Best in 2013!

Julie