August 18, 2017

Joy To The World

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Joy to the World , the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven, and Heaven, and nature sing.

Joy to the World, the Savior reigns!
Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, repeat, the sounding joy.

He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders, wonders, of His love

Pentatonix
Written by Isaac Watts ~ Music composed by Handel

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He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.”
Luke 19:40 ESV

Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad;
Let the sea roar, and all its fullness;
Let the field be joyful, and all that is in it.
Then all the trees of the woods will rejoice before the Lord.
Psalms 96:11-13 NJKV

Joy

Defined by Merriam-Webster as:
1a) the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires : delight
b) the expression or exhibition of such emotion : gaiety
2- a state of happiness or felicity : bliss
3- a source or cause of delight

Based on these definitions, joy is something to be achieved, and is fleeting or short-lived.  But is that how the Bible defines joy?

Let’s start with where our joy come from. Psalm 16:11 NASB says

In Your presence is fullness of joy;

Jesus is our joy!  His birth makes it possible to have constant permanent joy in our lives though the Holy Spirit.  Look at these Scriptures:

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe in Him
Romans 15:13 HCSB

But the fruit of the Spirit [the result of His presence within us] is…joy
Galatians 5:22 AMP

…the joy supplied by the Holy Spirit;
1 Thessalonians 1:6 AMP

And the disciples were continually filled with joy
Acts 13:52 NASB

When we believed in Jesus…when our ‘hearts prepared room’ for Him…the Holy Spirit entered our hearts and joy is one of the many fruits He provided.

 Joy is within us – continual joy.

Jesus’ birth is the beginning of constant, permanent joy in our lives. Our joy is not tied to our emotions or our circumstances. Our joy is tied directly to our Savior, Jesus Christ, and our relationship with Him.  Joy lives within us.

God brought joy to the world in the form of an infant named Jesus. That joy is still with us today. As Luke 19:40 says, even if we remain silent, the stones will cry out.  Psalm 96:11 reminds us that even heaven and earth sing.

Shouldn’t we, too, then ‘repeat the sounding joy’
as we celebrate ‘the wonders of His love’?

Born Is The King

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Born unto us this day the Savior
Gifted from Heaven to a manger
Hope of the world tonight for all mankind
All of the earth rejoice
It’s Christmastime

So lift up your voice and sing out His praise
It’s Christmas
Born is the King, rejoice in the day
It’s Christmas
Make a joyful sound
It’s Christmas
Let His praise resound
It’s Christmas

Goodwill to all the earth
And peace divine
All of the earth rejoice
It’s Christmastime
It’s Christmastime

It’s Christmastime

Phillips, Craig and Dean
Writers: Scott Ligertwood and Matt Crocker

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Don’t be afraid!” he said.
“I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people.”
Luke 2:10 NLT

When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.
Matthew 2:10 NASB

“Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!
John 1:29 NJK

“Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”
Luke 2:14 NKJV

I think I may have found a new favorite Christmas song.  Heard this song for the first time and I could not wait to hear it again.  To me, this song reflects exactly what Matthew 2:10 NASB is talking about: “they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.”

We have so much to rejoice about yet we get so caught up in the worldly ideas of Christmas; we forget to stop and celebrate the great
Gift we have been given. There is a line in an Alabama Christmas song that says:

The gift is just what’s in your heart and not what’s in your hand

I need to remind myself of that quite frequently.  Christmas joy should come from what is in our hearts.  Our voices should be lifted in praise for what this one birth means to the entire world.  As Romans 15:10 states:

Again it says,
“Rejoice and celebrate, O Gentiles, along with His people.”
And again,“Praise the Lord all you Gentiles,
And let all the peoples praise Him!”

This song is that happy celebration of the glorious Christmas event. There is such joy in this song!  You can’t help but sing along in a loud, unrestrained voice. “Born is the King” is a great reminder to celebrate the birth of Jesus with unrestrained joy.

After all, isn’t that what Christmas is supposed to be about?

Thankful Representatives

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And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts.
For as members of one body you are called to live in peace.
And always be thankful.
Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives.
Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom He gives.
Sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts.
And whatever you do or say,
do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus,

giving thanks through Him to God the Father.
Colossians 3:15-17 NLT

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According to Google.com, a representative is “a person chosen or appointed to act or speak for another or others.”  And at Dictionary.com it is also defined as “a typical example or specimen of a group, quality, or kind.”

This passage of Scripture gives us a lot to consider.  As one chosen by God, we, as Christians, are to represent Christ Jesus to those around us.  We are to be a “typical example of His quality.”  And how do we do that?  “Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives” (verse 16).

What is “the message about Christ?”  It is the message that God loves us so much that “He gave His Son, His one and only Son.  And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in Him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life” (John 3:16 MSG).  Does that good news fill your heart with thankfulness and joy to the point of singing?  It does mine!

“If thankfulness becomes a way of life, it will make it much easier to maintain a state of peace.  It helps us look on the bright side instead of focusing upon the events which can disturb our calm [our inner peace.]”

quote taken from The Complete Biblical Library,
The New Testament Study Bible Galatians through Philemon

God’s quality and quantity of love is beyond measure.  God is not asking us to “be Him” [which we know is impossible], but He is asking us to live and love “like Him.” When we choose to be the representative He wants us to be and in the place He wants us to be, we will have His peace.

In Philippians 4:1-9, Paul told Euodia and Syntyche to settle their disagreements, and he told the church to help them.  Paul wanted them to experience the joy and peace that God desires for His people, and to be the representatives God wanted them to be. When we live in peace, joy, thankfulness, and God’s wisdom, we will be representatives that show the world around us our God of love. With thankful hearts, we can sing, speak, and do that which draws others to Christ, and that also strengthens our sisters (and brothers) in Christ.

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding,
will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:7

A life that is full of Christ’s peace and His Word
is a life that is thankful, and rich and wise.
It will enrich everyone around you. Thank You, Lord.

(Many years ago I wrote this note in the margin of my Bible; I still believe it today.)

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Dear Lord Jesus, we come to You with thankful hearts.  Your Word—Your Good News—fills our lives with wisdom, peace, and joy.  Those are qualities people around us are looking for in their lives.  Lord, please help us to be Your representatives so that others will be drawn to You.  May our thanksgiving during this season of the year (and everyday) make people curious enough to ask why so we can share You with them.  In Jesus’ Name we pray, Amen.

A Cord Of Three Strands

“God does not intend that you experience mediocre relationships. He created you for far greater things. Building lasting relationships requires compassion, wisdom, empathy, kindness, courtesy, perseverance, and forgiveness. If it sounds like a lot of work, it is – which is perfectly fine with God. Why? Because He knows you are capable of doing that work and because He knows that the fruits of your labours will enrich the lives of your loved ones and the lives of generations unborn.”

 “30 Essential Lessons from Women of the Bible
Freeman-Smith Publishing

It’s Friday morning…the coffee is brewing, and the front door is open, and women gather together in my home.  We do life together and it truly is so much better.  I have to pinch myself sometimes because of how blessed I am to lead this community group. All of us have different stories and we all come from different places BUT we all have met Jesus and we have been changed.  And what better way to help each other than to share our stories of forgiveness and redemption.  Stories of hope that may lift another up from the pit of hopelessness. Taking someone else’s hand and walking them through the same things you have walked through.  Reminds me of the story of Ruth and Naomi. Here’s part of their story. I encourage you to read their whole story in your Bible.

But Ruth replied: Do not persuade me
to leave you or go back and not follow you.

For wherever you go, I will go,
and wherever you live, I will live;
your people will be my people,
and your God will be my God.
Where you die, I will die,
and there I will be buried.
May Yahweh punish me, and do so severely,
if anything but death separates you and me.
When Naomi saw that Ruth was determined to go with her,
she stopped trying to persuade her.
Ruth 1:16-18

Have you ever been in such a deep pit that you really didn’t want anyone to save you?  Maybe you are so tired of the way your life is going and it seems like everyone else’s lives are moving forward…But not yours.  You are so down that all you want to do it sit alone and cry.  Well, my friend, that is exactly where the enemy wants you. He can speak so loudly to you there and you might start believing his lies. But God wants so much more for you.

See, He didn’t create us to be alone. He intended for us to walk this life together sharing each other’s burdens.  The reason that we go through some of the hard things is so we can give someone else hope that it will be okay and they will get though it…just like you did.  It’s time for us to step out of ourselves and start being available to others.  Pray earnestly for God to bring you a woman who you can guide and mentor. Someone who needs to hear what you have to share.  For there is freedom is sharing your story and the enemy loses his grip when we are open and honest.  Walls come down and we become a force for Jesus. This world can’t hold us back from sharing His good news!

So which one are you today? Are you the one sitting at home alone, isolating from the rest of the world? I encourage you to pray right now that God will guide you to a group of women or even one special one to share with you. Or are you a woman who has been a Jesus follower for some time and you have so much to share. You have really seen Jesus’s hand in your life and you need to share it with someone else. I join you today in prayer that God will bring you someone to mentor. Friends, let’s do this together!

A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated,
but two can stand back-to-back and conquer.
Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.
Ecclesiastes 4:12

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Let us pray: Dear Lord, You are so amazing and so full of love for us.  You are worthy to be praised.  We love You so much and we want to share the hope that You have given us so freely.  Lord, thank You that You have given each one of us a story to share and You have never left us in one place for too long. Give us the courage to step out and help another one of Your daughters who is hurting.  Give those who are hurting today the strength to keep putting one foot in front of the other and the courage to share their burdens. Bring us together, Lord.  In Jesus’ name, amen.

Joy

psalmshymnsspiritualsongskjv

You’ve turned it all around
Where I was hurting, now I’m rejoicing
In Your love I’m found and I have joy

You took away my pain
You turned my mourning into dancing
I can smile again ‘cause I have joy

Let the celebration begin
Make a joyful noise unto Him
Come on everybody
Let’s give Him praise for He is good

You have given me a joy that won’t stop
And will never leave
So I will praise You with gladness
For You are good

You’ve turned my sadness into gladness
You’ve turned my sorrow into joy
Now I’m singing and I’m dancing
And I will shout for joy

Songwriter: Joth Hunt  ~ Performed by PlanetShakers

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Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!
Serve the Lord with gladness!  Come into His Presence with singing!
Know that the Lord, He is God!  It is He who made us, and we are His;
we are His people, and the sheep of His pasture.
Enter His gates with thanksgiving, and His courts with praise!
Give thanks to Him; bless His name!
For the Lord is good; His steadfast love endures forever,
and His faithfulness to all generations.
Psalm 100

‘Make a joyful noise!’  Oh, you don’t have to tell me twice!  (And sometimes it is just that—a joyful noise.)  Do we not just love to sing our praises to the Lord God?!?  We have so many, many reasons to praise Him, to thank Him, to bless His Holy Name.

Here in Psalm 100, verse 5 offers three extremely compelling reasons to praise Him:

He is good

The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble.
He cares for  those who trust in Him.
Nahum 1:7

This we know…in fact, isn’t there a praise chorus that we love to sing: ‘God is good ALL the time!  And ALL the time, God is good!’

His love endures forever

Give thanks to the God of Heaven for His steadfast love endures forever.
Psalms 136:26

Twenty-six (yes, 26!) times in Psalm 136, this praise is exclaimed!  (Here’s a link to read the whole psalm.)  Throughout the entire history of mankind—from Adam & Eve and all the way along through the Scriptures—we read of the myriad of ways that our Great God has manifested His steadfast love.  AND He has made promise after promise to His children (us! you and me!) that His love will endure for eternity!

He is faithful to all generations

Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; He is the faithful God, keeping His covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love Him and keep His commandments.
Deuteronomy 7:9

What a promise of hope He has made—His covenant of love to those who love Him and obey!  Our God always brings His promises to pass!  What a faithful God!

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Dear Lord,
We love to make a joyful noise, Lord, singing Your praises!  You are the Almighty God Who deserves all the praise there is to give!  Thank You for Your faithfulness, Your goodness, and Your love!  HalleluJAH!  Amen.

The Sun Is Shining

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Yesterday I found
That everything I knew was wrong
It was upside down
The life I thought I had was gone

But You came and whispered love to me
And You gave me strength to carry on

Oh, the sun is shining
There is hope for me again
A new day’s dawning
The sun is shining

Yesterday I lost
Everything I had and loved
Then I cried out for You, Lord
And You came and picked me up

And the sorrow lasted through the night
But the joy came with the morn

I will lift my voice
No, I won’t be silent
For You heard my cry
And You turned my mourning into dancing
And so forever I’ll sing

Singer/Songwriter: Mac Powell, along with Third Day

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It’s still the beginning of January…the beginning of a new year but sometimes we are stuck looking at the past.  All the things we were going to do in 2014 aren’t done.  The patience we were going to master towards our kids?…well, we are still impatient and saying some words we regret at the end of the day.  The wife we were going to be—the one who had dinner on the table and clothes clean and in their right places and an immaculate house?…well, we still have baskets of socks that don’t match and frozen lasagna still goes into the oven at the end of a long day.

But we are NOT failures in Jesus.
We ARE more than conquerors when we have God as our Father.

Maybe you’ve lost someone or something that meant the world to you and stepping into this year without them seems impossible.  But God does whisper in your ear today and says, “You are mine, and I am yours…and together we can do this.”

You are not alone, my friends.  His strength is your strength.  And always there is darkness before the dawn, and the sun always comes out…always.  Joy does come in the morning.  And doesn’t a new day bring some hope?

Some seasons are harder than others and some days seem to last forever.  There were days that I myself just had the strength to lift up my head and cry out to Jesus for the strength to make it through one more minute.

He always showed up and He still does.

And when you do see His face and the light of the new day starts peeping through, don’t be silent.  Use your voice to give hope to others who may be where you have been.  I leave you today with the verses that I clung to during a particularly hard, long season:

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
Romans 12:12

Lord, You know the hopes of the helpless.
Surely You will hear their cries and comfort them.
Psalm 10:17

Faith is the assurance of things you have hoped for,
the absolute conviction that there are realities you’ve never seen.
Hebrews 11:1

For His anger is but for a moment, and His favor is for a lifetime.
Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes in the morning.
Psalm 30:5 ESV

And my favorite:
But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you,
for the power is made perfect in weakness.”
Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses,
so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
2 Corinthians 12:9

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Let’s pray:
Dearest Lord, You are mighty and awesome.  You are our Strength in our struggles, the Light in the darkness, and our Peace that passes all understanding.  You love us so much and forgive our every debt.  Thank You for walking with us into this new year. Help us to make lists of all the good You do and not the failures that we see…for You see us so much better than we see ourselves.  You see us as precious children that You saved with Your only Son, Jesus.  We love You and praise You.  In Jesus’ name, amen.

 

Shout For Joy

gchSHadventjoygraphic

Pour out your fervent praise
There’s a song to raise
Like a banner high

Lift up your grateful heart
To the Morning Star
He’s alive and here with us

Shout for joy
For the Son of God
Is the Saving One
He’s the Saving One

Shout for joy
See what love has done
He has come for us
He’s the Saving One

All night in Bethlehem
Heaven came to man
Born the Son of God

Sing out the LORD has come
Oh Emmanuel
Now our God is here with us

There is no other God like You
We’ll sing the praises that You’re due
Jesus, You have saved us

There is no other God who reigns
You are the name above all names
Jesus, You have saved us

Joy In Song

gchSHadventjoygraphicJoy: a feeling of great pleasure and happiness; “tears of joy”

During this Christmas season, we are reminded of the reason for a commercial celebration. We get so caught up in buying things, baking things, making things and sending things.  But that is not what it is all about.
We all know that joy is a choice.  We can choose to be caught up in the hustle and bustle, or we can choose to be joyful.  Henry Van Dyke wrote a wonderful song that has been in my heart this season.  It is Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee.  It is the perfect way to express our love and gratitude for what God has done for us.  He has given us His Son. He knew Jesus was going to die on the Cross for us.  But God knew the only way to reach us was for His Son to become like us—to walk among us, to speak to us, to cry with us, and to die like us.   But we know how He rose again to bring hope to our dying world.
Joyful, joyful, we adore Thee
God of glory, Lord of love
Hearts unfold like flowers before Thee
Opening to the sun above
Melt the clouds of sin and sadness
Drive the dark of doubt away 
Giver of immortal gladness
Fill us with the light of day

All thy works with joy surround Thee 
Earth and heaven reflect Thy rays 
Stars and angels sing around Thee
Center of unbroken praise
Field and forest, vale and mountain 
Flowery meadow, flashing sea
Chanting bird and flowing fountain
Call us to rejoice in Thee

Thou art giving and forgiving
Ever blessing, ever blest
Well-spring of the joy of living,
Ocean depth of happy rest
Thou our Father, Christ our brother
All who live in love are Thine
Teach us how to love each other
Lift us to the joy divine

Mortals, join the mighty chorus
Which the morning stars began
Love Divine is reigning o'er us
binding all within its span
Ever singing, march we onward 
Victors in the midst of strife 
Joyful music leads us sunward 
In the triumph song of life

Henry Van Dyke ~ Ludwig van Beethoven ~ Arranged by Edward Hodges

What IS Joy?

gchSHadventjoygraphic

As I began to study JOY, one question kept coming to mind – what is joy?  The more I researched…the more frustrated I became.  Oh, there is LOTS of information out there about joy.  Most of the information is very vague and I wanted concrete.

Then I stumbled across Rick Warren’s definition of joy:

Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life,
the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be alright,
and the determined choice to praise God in every situation.”

I love that!  Joy is a ‘settled assurance…a quiet confidence’ in God.  Lexham’s Bible Dictionary defines joy as “a natural result of having received salvation.  Joy comes on account of what Christ has done, irrelevant of whatever circumstances are happening in one’s life”.

Psalm 92: 4 (NLT) puts it like this,

You thrill me, Lord, with all you have done for me!
I sing for joy because of what you have done.

When I recall all He has done for me, I can look forward to what He will do with assurance and confidence. I trust Him.  That is true joy.  According to Matthew Henry, “From a joyful remembrance of what God has done for us, we may raise a joyful prospect of what He will do.”

As I continued to think about what Christ has done for me, two things came to mind:

  1. He has given me a future
  2. He has given me hope

Jeremiah 29:11 (HCSB) states “I know the plans I have for you”—this is the Lord’s declaration—“plans for your welfare, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope….”

And Psalm 16:11 (HCSB) says “You reveal the path of life to me; in Your presence is abundant joy; in Your right hand are eternal pleasures.”

Happiness is often associated with joy.  Joy is so much more than being happy. Happiness is a temporary emotion while joy is an attitude, a state of being. Happiness often comes from external situations or material things. The joy of the Lord is found within and gives us strength no matter what we are experiencing.  Joy is the result of our choice to trust Him.

That’s where I find my joy – in Him alone.

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Father, thank You for being the source of my joy. You are my Strength and my Portion forever. Remind me when I struggle that joy and happiness are not the same thing. May I always look to You and recall all You have done, and will do, in my life. That is my true joy. In Jesus’ name I ask this – Amen, so be it!

JOY

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You know when you have a lack of joy in your life.  I would say right now is such a time for me.  I am desperately in need of some joy.  Joy gives you true motivation to sanely make it through each day.  It’s what makes it easier to get out of bed. It is closely related to hope and peace.  If you are not at peace then it is hard maintain joy and hope.

My pastor says you choose joy. I believe this is true. Which means that the lack of joy I am experiencing right now is my own doing.  However, I’m lacking the motivation to do anything about my current situation.  You could say that I am weary—I’m tired and I just want a break from life.

Romans 15:13 is my prayer.

“Maythe God of hope fill {me} with all joy and peace as {I} trust in Him,
so that {I} may overflow with hope by the power of His Holy Spirit.”

See how closely related joy, peace, and hope are?  Joy, hope and peace are all things that are only possible when we keep our eyes firmly focused on God.  And even though sometimes we may get weary of doing right and good, pushing forward through our feelings is the way to go.  The Bible clearly tells us…

“Let us not become weary in doing good,
for at the proper time we will reap a harvest
if we do not give up.”
Galatians 6:9

My pastor says, do what you do know to do when you don’t know what to do.  And above all honesty helps…honesty and friends.