Joy or Junk-Filled Focus? {Part 2}

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  (photo credit) liljorochtulpaner.blogspot.com

Matthew 3:17 God and Jesus receive great joy in their relationship!

And a voice from heaven said, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy.” God and Jesus delight in each other and value their relationship so much!

Do we truly value our relationship with the Trinity?

Romans 15:13 “I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Col. 1:11 “We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy!”

Do any of you ever worry? Do you remember what you worried about last year at this time?! What about today? Think about your current worries. Did you know ONLY 8% of what we worry about comes true? That leaves 92% of what we worry about, thankfully NEVER comes to fruition!! Praise God! “What IF…we decided that we would wait to worry!” Fred Smith the mentor to the wonderful late Zig Ziglar said, “I decided that I’d wait until I actually had a reason to worry—something that was happening, not just something that might happen—before I worried.”

The great theologian, Charles Spurgeon said it best. “Anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, but only empties today of its strength.” Anxiety is a joy stealer!

That Friday (after the Boston Marathon and the Texas Fertilizer Plant explosions) I was having such a hard time, and my joy was gone because I was looking at the world and not my Savior! He gave me a dose of His JOY when I read about Zacchaeus  in my quiet time, reading through the bible in a Year program:

  Zacchaeus story in Luke 19:1-7:

19 Jesus entered Jericho and made his way through the town. 2 There was a man there named Zacchaeus. He was the chief tax collector in the region, and he had become very rich. 3 He tried to get a look at Jesus, but he was too short to see over the crowd.

4 So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree beside the road, for Jesus was going to pass that way.5 When Jesus came by, he looked up at Zacchaeus and called him by name. “Zacchaeus!” he said. “Quick, come down! I must be a guest in your home today.” What was it about Jesus that made Zacchaeus respond right away!  I think it was that Jesus noticed Zacchaeus and He knew His name! Do you realize God notices you, loves you, even adores and delights in you?! He calls you by your name!

 6 Scriptures says, Zacchaeus quickly climbed down and took Jesus to his house in great excitement and joy. 

Do we invite Jesus into our house ( which is our heart) with great excitement and joy, desiring to spend quiet time with Him, first thing in the morning or evening? Are you delighting in Him, eager to feast on His Word? Are you journaling what He shares with you as you study His life? Are you loving the Lord Your God, with all of your heart, mind and spirit? Have you fully devoted yourself to Him!

The joy stealers abounded in Zacchaeus day just like in our day!

In Vs. 7  we see, “the people were displeased. “He has gone to be the guest of a notorious sinner,” they grumbled.

They were not happy for Zacchaeus! They did not see the benefit of Zacchaeus coming to Jesus and receiving Salvation! Maybe in your household, in your family, in your friends, people do not see the reason for your relationship in Jesus! That’s okay, because God is the God who sees YOU. He will help you in your love relationship in Him, and He will be the JOY of your strength!

He will Restore your Joy! Lamentations 5:21 “Restore us, O Lord, and bring us back to you again! Give us back the joys we once had!”  Remember this J.O.Y. acronym: Joy happens because Jesus is Omnipresent in You!

I love Psalm 119:143! It says, “As pressure and stress bear down on me, I find joy in your commands.” Do you have any pressure or stress today?

Find hope and joy in His Word. Let the timeless treasures help you!

  Are you passionate and thankful for all Jesus is doing in your life? If not, ask Jesus to renew your hope and joy in Him! Ask Him for a fresh touch, a fresh revelation! Do you agree with me, that there is NOTHING like the fresh fire of the Holy Spirit falling freshly upon you! What I mean by this is, He gives you a special word, a thought, a promise in the Bible, that is divinely apportioned for you, TO YOU! And you know in your heart it is JUST FOR YOU! It’s like a divine HUG of joy and love!  Because at that moment, you are experiencing “fullness of Joy in His presence!”

I have found a sense of peace and blessedness is ours, when we realize God’s supernatural work is creating fruit in my life. Knowing I belong to my Maker and my identity is rooted in His love for me, gives me this deep peace and a deep sense of joy. That joy is the joy of Jesus Himself, residing deep within us, through the Holy Spirit. His joy, because Jesus, is the Man of Joy, within your spirit, is one of the most amazing results of being at peace with God!  Joy and peace are a result of spending time with Him and abiding deeply and regularly! In my Thursday morning bible study, we have been studying John and Jesus’ time with the disciples at the Last Supper. We have discovered, Intimacy with God is like the closeness a husband and wife experience in truly “knowing” each other. Being joyful is a state of our soul and spirit intermingled with Christ’s.

Joy comes from a secret intimacy with our Savior, through the Holy Spirit living within.

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Holy In His Sight

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Holiness refers to divineness, or distinctiveness and the realm of the divine. John 17:11,  tells us

 “Now I am departing from the world; they are staying in this world, but I am coming to you. Holy Father, you have given me your name; now protect them by the power of your name so that they will be united just as we are.”

This verse captures beautifully God’s and Jesus’ holiness and intimacy  of their relationship as well as Jesus’ teaching about His Holy Father. Jesus also asks His Holy Father to protect His followers and help them to stay united just as He and the Father are. 

 We are called be holy, just as He is HOLY! Sanctified means to be made holy, purified, consecrated.  Joshua 3:5 “Then Joshua said to the people, “Sanctify yourselves; for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you.”

God wants to do great wonders in our lives, but our part is to cooperate with God purifying ourselves by asking for forgiveness, walking in His love and obeying His Word.

Deut. 33:3, says:  “Indeed, He loves His people; all His holy ones are in his hands. They follow in His steps and accept his teaching.” How do we be holy in His sight? By following in His steps and accepting His teachings!We also walk by faith in Him and His grace for us.

 Joshua continued on with the subject of sanctification: in Johua 7:13: “There are devoted things among you, O Israel; you will be unable to stand before your enemies until you take away the devoted things from among you.” Ohhh! We want to stand strong and yet! There are things, hobbies, addictions, people, pleasures that we are MORE devoted to, then being HOLY and right before God. Do you have any “devoted things” today, He is asking you to give UP entirely over to Him?!

If we are of God and are to become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ  that they may have the full measure of my joy within Then, we need to learn to strengthen the walls and gates of our lives!  Nehemiah’s story of rebuilding the Wall Of Jerusalem in the Old Testament, is a story of persistent faith because he faced a lot of opposition! His is a story of new beginnings and like the disciple’s story in John 17,  it’s also a story of protection, perseverance and faith.

If we could look through our time lapsed telescope and go back to about 445 BC, we’d see Nehemiah singing: “Staying on the Wall, staying on the Wall!” Ahh, ahh, ahh, staying on the wall, staying on the wall!! And he did until it was successfully completed!  🙂

He saw what needed to be done in the land of Judah. It had been nearly 100 years since the exiles had returned to Judah after being held in captivity by the Babylonians. The Babylonians had devastated the wall and yet, no one saw fit to start the repairs. But, Nehemiah did! Nehemiah had great faith, commitment, and persistence and was laser focused. He prayed consistently and daily for God’s guidance, seeing the need for change! He also asked God for divine protection.  Then, he went to work!

Like Nehemiah, do you see a need for change in your life, in your heart!?

Neh.’s vision, led by God, did more than rebuild a wall. This book is also the story of the restoring of a people from ruin and despair to a new walk with God. Can we see this with the disciples? They had a new chapter in their lives to live, one without the physical Jesus. One where they had to rely on His teachings and His love through the Holy Spirit.

For persevering, rebuilding and repairing the broken pieces of our lives, many of us try to do it on our own and there is no recognition of God and moving in faith as a necessary part of the process!

What are you doing right now that requires faith? And, are you and I praying fervently, asking Jesus for help and protection in His name? I have a  F.A.I.T.H. acronym:

F-favored A- assurance I-In T-the H-Holy of Holies! So IF we have a FULL and “favored assurance in the Holy of holies” why wouldn’t we step out in faith, since He has already given the VICTORY to us? Because, if He is calling you to do something, change something, you will succeed in Jesus!  God calls us to “Be holy as I am holy.”
 Heb. 10:23 “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful.” Jesus had been faithful throughout His ministry and teachings to the disciples, and He will continue to do so with us! So, I started our teaching today, with the question, “In what ways would you like to glorify God more?” How is He calling you to be more holy? I encourage you to dedicate yourself wholeheartedly to Him! Give back to Him what He has already given you, your gifts, talents, time and resources. And, in His precious love for YOU,

Jesus will help you in that one area that you just cannot seem to get past! Ask Him! He will help you, to create the desired change as you seek Him!

 

 

 

Flowers of Joy! (excerpt from my Flowers of Grace book)

Do you  wake up joyful, thankful for a good’s night rest, (because I sure am, when I sleep the entire night! Because…it seems to happen less and less at my age!) or do you wake up, dreading the day?  We know don’t we, it doesn’t take much to steal our joy away! Just turn on the news, right?! Or, a diagnosis from out of nowhere, you receive a call from your child’s principle, you or someone dear to you, receives a layoff notice. There are just a 1,000 different things that can happen daily, that can dampen our mood and take our good/positive God attitude down several notches!

I love to garden! My Spring time just been beautiful so far!  Isa. 5:7 says, “We are the garden of His delight!” I love that! Gardens are walked in, looked at, admired, spent time in, refreshing, aromatic, soothing and delightful. That is how God views you. He likes you and loves to be with you! If you are sad, then He will turn “your tears into shouts of joy, praise and thanksgiving.” (Ps. 42:3-4) Your heart will rejoice and praise Him as He is your Rock, your Strength, your Deliver and your Joy! 

Gardens have such an enticing fragrance to them. The flowers beckon us to come to the garden, to enjoy, rest and stay awhile. I think God created flowers to have such lovely fragrances on purpose, so we would pause and remember Him. Our minds are linked to the sense of smell, as it is the most powerful sense we have. Memories are stirred when we smell certain flowers. Let the flowers in your garden be a physical reminder for you of God’s lavish love, joy and extravagant promises.

So, how do we draw a line in the proverbial garden soil, and allow God the reigns of our lives, so we can go back to our default position of Joy in ALL circumstances?

 

I have to admit, I am not ALWAYS joyful! Imagine that! I tend to keep myself really busy, so I can have delayed grief when something goes wrong. Are you like this? We can “numb out” to the pain! I am a volunteer lay Counselor at a non-profit Christian counseling center. We tell our clients, “if you can name your feelings, then you can help tame them!” But, you need to verbalize them and get them outside of your head!

At the end of a really hard day recently, in my prayers, I had to surrender the circumstances up to God, realizing there was nothing I  really do but RELY ON HIM and the LOVE He has for me! I think it’s knowing and believing Jesus is still on His Throne, He is in control and I can go right back to Him, knowing He, through the Holy Spirit is in me. He’s my Center and I can stay grounded in Him! There is a huge tug-o-war going on to steal your joy! The enemy’s biggest tool is fear, doubt and discouragement! If he can lead you down this path, then he can render you ineffective as a believer, with a tarnished witness, that is joyless, and jaded. God can DO anything! Certainly, He can get you out of a bad mood, out of despair and into His precious light where healing can begin!

 

Do not agree with the doubt, discouragement or fear! It is not of the Lord! It comes from the enemy of your soul.

Heb. 1:9 Jesus was anointed with the “oil of joy!” Jesus is a joyous Savior and He shares His joy with us through the Miracle within, the Holy Spirit! As a result, we have a claim to the consistent experience of HIS undiluted joy and passion for us!

“ And the peace of God, which transcends(surpasses) all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Phil. 4:7

God will delight you with His presence. Psalm 27:4

In Matthew 3:16-17, we see God and Jesus receive great joy in their relationship! These verses say: “  After His baptism, as Jesus came up out of the water, the heavens were opened and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and settling on him.  And a voice from heaven said, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy.” Isn’t this fantastic!? God let everyone know how much He loved His boy!

“I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Rom. 5:13) Joy and peace are friends! Isn’t it great, they walk side by side each other when we trust God?!

“Everywhere He leads us in triumphant processional, in the fragrance and knowledge of Him.” (2 Cor. 2:14) Breathe in His joy and smell the flowers blooming. This is a sign of God’s favor and love for you. This is His wellness in you. This is His blessedness to you!

Let your spirit of joy soar within you and outside of you, so you may touch others with Jesus’ magnificent and extravagant love. You are the best testament to our dying world of God’s grace and loving-kindness. Like the beautiful shades of pink, red, lavendar and peach roses in my garden, you will refresh and remind someone else of God’s lavish love because you have been filled and touched by Him. Image

“For-gift-ness: The Gift Everyone Needs Year Round!

“For-gift-ness: The Gift Everyone Needs Year Round!

(Published initially on http://www.Livingbetterat50.com  Nov. 2012)

by Holly LaChappell

The Holidays are almost upon us. What are your family dynamics? Emotions can run high and getting together with extended and immediate family can create stress, dreg up a lot of emotions and hard memories of holidays past.

What if we started our gift giving early? What if you gave the generous gift of “for-gift-ness” (forgiveness) before you got together for the festivities? Could there be a change in your attitude and also possibly in the attitude for who you are praying and forgiving? I believe so! Think about what has bothered you about a certain person’s behavior, their words and their facial expressions. Pray, asking God to help you forgive them. Pray, Lord help me to let go of the past hurts and embrace your love and acceptance for me and the person I am trying to forgive.

Some forgiveness tips: remember no one has lived a perfect childhood or life. Things have happened in our past to shape us into the person we are today. Many of us are responding out of a five year old’s body and mind, because when something traumatic happened to us, our bodies stored the memory. Your five year old self formed a defense mechanism (or survival mechanism) around the hurtful or traumatic experience.  When your Aunt gives you a disapproving look, remember you are not five years old anymore! Your adult self can shrug it off and say, “Really? What’s the matter here?” and they will probably back down and say, “Nothing”.  Or you can just choose to ignore the look that was probably not intended for you anyway! So much of how people respond is about them and how they are internalizing something. It’s not about you!

Tips for a more pleasurable Holiday experience: Pray, asking God for His outcome in the event. Try building rapport (again) with family members ahead of time by giving them a phone call or mailing them a postcard. Let them know the details of the day, mentioning a family walk, a game or they’ll have an opportunity during dinner to say what they are thankful for. I also have activities for the younger children such as coloring, simple crafts, books and games. Let them know you are looking forward to celebrating the Holidays with them.

Do let your family members have a say about what the menu will be and what they can bring to contribute to the meal. Everyone needs to feel a sense of control and a sense of security and belonging. Letting everyone know your expectations helps to minimize unfortunate surprises. Ask if they are bringing anyone else with them to dinner. Let your family members know what time they can come to help set up and what time dinner is served. I suggest keeping the dinner time as close as possible. If alcohol has been a past problem, I suggest opting for non-alcoholic drinks to help reduce quarreling and potential violence.

As the Hostess, you help set the tone of the Holiday. If you are uptight and anxious, you will put everyone else on edge. Remember the reason you are gathering together in the first place: to celebrate God’s provision and His 10,000+ blessings! At Christmas, we celebrate the most important gift we have ever received: Jesus! His love and forgiveness is the gift that keeps on giving! Knowing He is with us gives us peace and contentment. We are anchored in His love no matter how our families act! Ps. 16:11 “You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence.”  Let the “for-gift-ness” begin!  Merry Christmas!

Peace & Joy!

Peace: in Greek the word  is “shalom.” It means peace, completeness, welfare and health. That about covers it, our lives in full, I think! In the Old Testament, the word peace is used 237 times! It is a pretty important concept! It’s a state of being at ease,with harmony in your soul  and mind, so it’s externally and internally. We know don’t we, if our insides are calm or crazy, our outsides are going to reflect what is going on! It’s pretty hard to conceal our discomfort, pain or dissatisfaction. Isaiah prophesied our Prince of Peace~ Jesus in Isaiah 9:6. And in 9:7 he said, “His government and its peace will never end. He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David for all eternity. The passionate commitment of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies  will make this happen!”

Peace in Greek as a noun is: “eirene”

As a verb, peace is: “eireneuo”. It means to keep peace or be at peace.

As an adjective, “eirenikos” denotes peaceful and is used as the fruit of righteousness.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Looking at each of these pictures,  you can choose one that can help you feel relaxed and produce a sense of peace right now. See Jesus there with you, comforting you, holding your heart and casting away your fears. Thank Him for a peace that surpasses all understanding. Carry that visual, that picture with you today as you go through your day facing your fear or uncertainties.

Isn’t true also, when we are resenting something or somebody,  it causes us fear, unrest, discontent? So, we start to distant ourselves from the problem, the challenge, the bump in the road…instead of praying and going to Jesus first! It always seems to me, my peace is interrupted when  my comfort level is at stake, our kids are making wrong decisions, and someone in charge is doing something crazy! Holding a grudge, harboring bitterness and unforgiveness not only steals our peace but also our joy! And, it can sneak up on us and can happen oh so quickly!

What if our mindset the moment we wake up was: “Be my first thought, God!” Lord, help me to Seek first your Kingdom! This helps us  to set the tone of our day, so we can start out with a peaceful attitude!

Phil. 4: 4 “Be full of joy in the Lord always. I will say again, be full of joy.” Does anyone want more JOY in their lives? I know I sure do!  The Greek word for JOY is rendered “chairo”.

Have you ever stopped to think how God allows crazy, hard situations in your life, so you can still practice being joyful in the midst of the trial?! Hmmm…We have to come to a place in our lives where we can rejoice for  what is taking place. Rejoice in the Lord, and again I say, REJOICE! God has to become the point of our joy! This is the mark of spiritual maturity in us. “In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you”, Paul wrote to the Thessalonians. Learn that all that comes into your life, even those irritating comments,  is allowed by the Lord either to reveal something in your own heart that you haven’t seen or to give you an opportunity to manifest the “sweet reasonableness” (gentleness) of Jesus.

Years ago, when my daughter was eight years old, she asked me if I would go to camp with her and be her Camp counselor. I was super excited because I had never gone to “overnight camp” as she called it, before.  There was a rivalry building between the boys and girls. Rumor had it, it was pay back time because the girls had gotten the boys pretty good with water balloons at the last year’s camp. Well, from  the earliest moment possible, on the second day of camp,  the water balloon war was on! ! The girls in my cabin and I were  chased onto a tall wooden deck by the boys with water balloons. We of course, had already tossed our water balloons and a few broke  on the the boys! As we were running away from the boys and their triple stacked arm filled water balloons, the deck broke! My leg went through the decaying wooden deck! I could see a hole in the deck, just about 15 feet below me! I was pretty stunned and torpedo water balloons were splashing and landing all around us! All the girls helped me up as the camp officials came running to help! I am sure the Camp’s officials thought I was going to sue! But, Jesus’  “sweet reasonableness” abounded that day and over the next few days! Today, my wedding ring is not completely round, my middle finger is no longer straight and I have a nice scar that looks like the continent of Africa on my knee!

As I look at my somewhat misshaped  circular wedding ring, I am reminded Jesus’ unfailing love never stops. His love just continuously circles around my heart and it never runs out!

His unfailing peace is always mine as my mind stays rooted in Him.  His unending joy is mine when I stop to thank Him and have gratitude, knowing He is always near to me.

I also have peace and joy in my memories, spending that precious camp experience with my daughter!

Holy Smokes! (an excerpt from my Book “Reigning Fire: Discovering Holy Spirit Grace & Hope in Your Fiery Trials”

In the Israelites’ exile from Egypt into the wilderness, God showed Himself to Moses in the burning bush on Mt. Horeb. “The angel of the LORD appeared to him in a blazing fire from the midst of a bush; and he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, yet the bush was not consumed. So Moses said, ‘I must turn aside now and see this marvelous sight, why the bush is not burned up’” (Exod. 3:2, 3 nasb). I’m sure Moses must have mused to himself, “This is so weird, even absurd. What does it mean?” God sometimes shows us oddities to get our attention. What is God doing in our lives that we must turn aside to see? Does it take a dramatic fire to get your attention? A burning bush had never appeared to Moses before. This was a truly unexpected event, in which God was communicating directly with Moses. Moses stopped what he was doing and took a step toward God. God sometimes uses unexpected events, people, and experiences to guide us to do His will. Primarily though, He uses His Word, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit’s direction to lead us into the fullness He has for us.

Just as God called Moses by name, He will call your name and speak gently to you, in the quietness of your heart and spirit, and help you discern His will for you. We must be intentional, though, once we’ve prayed to be mindful of what He is doing and where He is working and leading in our lives. Once God shows you what He is up to, you will have to make a decision. Will you join Him in His work? Will you immediately obey? Will you surrender to His perfect love? God knew us before we were born. He knows you now, today. He knows your future path. We can rest in His absolute, perfect love for us. Once you have this fact firmly planted in your heart, you will trust Him and even get excited that He has a plan that includes you! God wants to partner with you in life and ministry! God is looking for obedient followers who love to do His will and serve others.

The hardest part for me is to relax once I have surrendered. I have to remember that if it is indeed God’s plan for me, then He is going to make it (the event, the activity, the work, or the ministry) happen. He will make a way, make the timing work, and create the relationships all in His perfect timetable. I do not have to perform. I have to pray, show up, and be prepared. I have to relax in the Holy Spirit, knowing He will make my paths straight, as I trust Him with all of my heart. He will do the same for you, too!

Have a great day, surrendered and relaxed in His joyous love!

I am now taking  Christmas pre-orders for my book “Reigning Fire: Discovering Holy Spirit Grace and Hope in Your Fiery Trials” (My book is due out in early December 2012 and on Kindle very soon!)

go on over to: http://www.HeartForTheCross.com to place a book order. Orders placed by October 30, 2012 receive the “12 Good Purposes Of Going Through Your Pain” email. It’s helpful and hopeful information and oh so relevant for today’s struggles! God bless you!Image

At the Crossroad of Decision

Jeremiah 6:16 “This is what the Lord says: Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.”

Look, Ask, Walk, Rest. Four words. These four small words boiled down, give us God’s thoughts in making a decision. Look to see where He has been working and already starting to lead.

Ask Him what He’d like you to do.
Walk in obedience in the direction He is asking you to go. Rest in Him, rest in your decision. Sometimes, it is a wrestling match and yet, I know He will win…and I want God to win in my life!

He whispers to me, in a matter of time, this decision will be settled and I will bring it to fruition. Just watch now and rest in me. Oh, how I am starting  to enjoy this part of the decision-making!

Rest, not worry and wait. Love me and enjoy me in the process, His heart whispers to mine.

Praise you, Lord!