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Are you Full of Joy Today?

“The joy of the Lord is your strength”, wrote the prophet Nehemiah (Neh 8:10; KJV). In Isaiah (Isa 61:3) we read that God gives us: “the oil of joy for mourning”. Nothing can take our joy from us (John 16:22) and we can have joy even in trials (James 1:2). In the world people have joy when circumstances dictate but for us, we can always have joy as it is a fruit of the Spirit in us (Gal 5:22).

How do we get and grow our joy? Well, just like everything else in our Christian walk. As we study his word the Holy Spirit brings revelation or understanding of God’s joy (John 15:11). This revelation allows our faith to grow (Rom 10:17) so that we can cooperate with the Holy Spirit and allow him to develop the fruit of Joy in our lives.

In the Bible we see that joy comes to the good man (Eccl 2:26), to the person of humility (Isa 29:19) and as we seek intimacy with God; “Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for ever more” (Ps 16:11). Satan will try to steal our joy but he can’t if we cooperate with God (John 16:22). We may get down for a while but if we keep focused on God joy will well up in our spirits (Ps 30:5).

The joy of the Lord is my strength; sounds good to me.

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Does a Casual Relationship with God Cut It?

We all get excited about Mark 11:24, where we are told that if we believe when we pray, we will receive. In other words, faith is believing you have something when you pray, not just when you actually physically receive it.

However, the 15th chapter of John always catches my attention when we think of using our faith to receive from God. In verses 7 and 16 God puts some conditions on our getting our prayers answered. We need to abide in Christ and let his words abide in us and we need to bear fruit, then God can answer our prayers. Abide is to tarry or remain continuously. Fruit is the life changed by God and the godly works that result.  

In other words, a casual relationship with God doesn’t cut it, we need to have genuinely asked Christ into our lives as savior and Lord (Rom 10:9-10). We need to have a genuine desire to press in to him, to allow him to change us, grow us and use us. The life surrendered to God and sold out to his will and purpose will be blessed (Matt 6:33).  

How do we press in? Well, how do you grow any relationship? You spend time, you communicate and you get to know the other person. With God, you spend time in the bible, you pray, you praise him, worship him, and give him thanks, you just spend time in his presence; there are no short cuts. God’s greatest joy is to bless his children (Ps 115:13). Walk and talk with him today

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So often we can become offended with people. Offence is something that causes us to sin or to stumble; like unforgiveness it breaks fellowship and blocks communication. “A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city: and their contentions are like the bars of a castle” (Prov 18:19; KJV). we can’t afford offence.

The folks in the town where Jesus grew up could not accept him and his teaching; they were offended and stumbled over the word that brought life (Matt 13:53-58). They were clearly at fault and missed God’s moment of visitation. We must remain humble and teachable.

In another vein, the Bible also has much to say about us not giving offence or causing others to stumble. In the gospel of Matthew chapter 18 and verses 3- 6 Jesus taught about the humility of children and added that: “whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea” (v 6). In this passage the millstone treatment makes it very clear that God does not approve of us causing others to stumble. In verse 7 of Matthew chapter 18 Jesus further reinforces God’s disapproval of our causing offense: “woe to the man by whom offence cometh”.    

If we keep our eyes on Jesus and walk in love we will not be offended or give offence.

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Trust in the Lord with all your Heart

And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, Lord, hast not forsaken them that seek thee” (Ps 9:10; KJV). To paraphrase Psalm 9:10 it says that those people who know the NAME of the Lord will confidently put their trust in him and that God will not forsake them. So why should we put our trust in God? As this verse says, it is because we know his name. His name encompasses his character and his nature. So, when we understand that God is love and how much he cares for us and all he has done for us, then we can trust him.

In John 6:29 Jesus himself tells us that the work God requires of us is to believe in Jesus. If we do that then we will experience happiness (Prov 16:20). There are many other places in the Bible where it talks about the benefits of trusting him. As we trust in God, we receive his direction (Prov 3:5-6), peace (Isa 26:3), the desires of our hearts (Ps 37:4-6) and will not be moved by evil news (Ps 112:7).

The following verses from the prophet Jeremiah really summarize it all: “Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is. For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit” (Jer 17: 7-8).   

The more we get to know God and his character the easier it will become for us to trust him.

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The Guaranteed Cure for Discouragement.

“To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified” (Isa 61:3; KJV).

Isaiah refers to the ministry of Jesus in this passage. He knows our struggles, he will restore, lift us up with his joy and break our discouragement and depression with our praises. Christ has made us the righteousness of God through his death and resurrection and we have become children of God (John 1:12). God commands us to: Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise” (Ps 100:4). We can come into his very presence as we praise him. If you need a good example of people praising God with heart and soul, consider the singers and musicians praising God as one when King Solomon brought the ark into the temple of God (2 Chron 5:13).

What stands out to me here is that we need to guard our joy and how important our praise of God is. In the Bible we read that: “the joy of the Lord is your strength” (Neh 8:10). If we wear praise as a garment, in other words if we are constantly enveloped by it, that praise will drive away discouragement and lift us up into the God kind of life. Read Psalm 150, verse 6 reads: “Let every thing that hath breath praise the Lord. Praise ye the Lord”

Have a hilarious, joy filled day, praising God.

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