Tag Archives: joy

Stumbling in the Darkness

Have you ever tried to walk around in the darkness? It’s not easy! Without some source of light, you are bound to stumble and fall. That’s exactly how scripture describes our lives without God. I know it’s how I felt before I came to know him. I felt lost and empty. Nothing made sense. I knew that God had created the world and me, but I had no idea why. It was only after his light shone into my darkness that life began to make sense. And while I still stumbled from time to time, his light was ever with me. I could depend on him. I had been rescued!


The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned. Isaiah 9:2

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 1 Pet. 2:9


I came across both of these passages this morning, and they reminded me of how wonderful it was to step into his light all those years ago. God did not leave us on the earth to stumble blindly through life. He revealed himself to us! The Prophet Isaiah spoke foretold of how God would reveal himself to those “walking in darkness.” In another passage, he proclaimed that a virgin would conceive and bear a child whose name would be Immanuel (which means God with us! -Is. 7:14).  Isaiah 9:6 predicted that a child would be born who would be called “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Over 700 years before Jesus came to earth, his birth was promised. God promised not to leave us in the darkness, and in him, there has always been hope.

Scripture says that Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness (Gen. 15:6, Rom. 4:3). The promise Abraham believed was that through his Seed all the nations of the earth would be blessed. Around 2000 years later, that promise was fulfilled in Jesus. The Light came into the world, but many did not recognize it.

The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. John 1:9-13

When I first became a Believer I remember my pastor telling my mom, it seemed like I had swallowed a light bulb. I also remember reading Colossians 1:12-14 and thinking that’s exactly how I felt. I had been rescued from the dominion of darkness.

“and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” Col. 1:12-14

Since, I stepped out of darkness into the light, I have longed to share the freedom and joy of walking with him with others, but I’ve found that many prefer the darkness.


 

This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.  Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God. John 3:19-21


I know what it’s like to prefer the darkness. I had resisted Christianity, because the people who claimed his name were too flawed for my liking, but picking up a New Testament and reading about Jesus for myself changed all of that. I saw that he was nothing like the religious hypocrites I had seen all of my life, and I chose HIM. We all have a choice. Reaching God is not about following a bunch of rules, but rather about stepping out of darkness into his light. When the light replaces the darkness in your soul, your life will change automatically. You will not have to clean up your act, but suddenly you will shine. My prayer for you today is that you will see his light, and make the choice to receive it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Choosing Joy, Refusing Fear

I sought the LORD, and He answered me and delivered me from all my fears.Those who look to Him are radiant with joy; their faces will never be ashamed. (Ps. 34:4-5)

 Oh how true this has been in my life! When I sought answers and relief from my troubles, my fears only increased, but when it became clear that all my solutions had failed, there was nothing left to do but seek him. As I found comfort in his love and care, my fears diminished. His perfect love truly does eliminate fear (1 Jn. 4:18). In time, I learned to refuse fear and seek him instead. Now fear no longer controls me, nor does it urge me to try to control everything around me. When I lived in fear, I lived with shame. Everything was hidden. I did not want people to know the truth about our lives, so we kept secrets. I was ashamed that our family was so damaged, and I could not fix it. But when the light came shining in to expose the dead bones behind the façade, the shame was exposed to the world. My response was to seek God. Everything else, and I mean everything, had failed. I always say it was a terrible and wonderful place to be. It was terrible, because all my secrets were exposed, and because I was being betrayed by the person who had become my idol. It was wonderful, because the idol toppled, and there was nothing left but God. He was and ever shall be enough! His love brought me through, and used the trauma for good. Knowing his amazing love does eliminate fear, because we know he’s got us and that he will redeem whatever we experience. Hallelujah! That is cause for great joy!

Lord, remind me daily that I never need to fear as long as I am looking to you. There is nothing on earth that should cause me to live in fear, because you have it all in your loving hands. I bless your name, and trust you. What a joy it is to be your child. I pray I will radiate your great love to others. Amen

 

Laughing with God

Abraham fell facedown; he laughed and said to himself, “Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old? Will Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?” And Abraham said to God, “If only Ishmael might live under your blessing!” Then God said, “Yes, but your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will call him Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him. (Gen. 17:17-19)

 Abraham and Sarah were already very old, and Sarah was past the age of childbearing. So Sarah laughed to herself as she thought, “After I am worn out and my lord is old, will I now have this pleasure?” (18:11-12)

Is anything too hard for God? (18:14).

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Sometimes God just makes me laugh. I have walked with him long enough to know that he rarely does things the way I expect, but beyond that, his ways often seem downright crazy from a human perspective. Years ago, when I met my husband, I started to get the idea that God had put him in my path, in spite of my protests. I had lived through abuse, and really wasn’t open for a new relationship, especially not with somebody who was so…well, so flawed and human. Yet, the more I objected, the more God seemed to change my heart and convict me of my judgmental attitudes. I continued to voice my complaints in the form of prayers to God. Oddly enough after each prayer my soon-to-be husband would, without any provocation from me, volunteer the answer to my prayer concern. This happened 3 specific times to the point I was just dumbfounded. If I hadn’t been praying silently, I would’ve thought the man had my house bugged. I struggled for a few weeks in prayer, and the answers kept coming in ways that blew my mind. Finally, when it became undeniable that God was in it, I said, “Lord, this is not what I expected!” In my spirit I could almost hear him laughing and asking me, “When have I ever worked in the way you expected?” Good question! Because as long as I have known him, his ways have surely been higher than mine, and have never gone according to my preconceived notions. I couldn’t help but join God and laugh at myself for forgetting that wonderful truth.

As I read the story of Abraham and Sarah this morning, I recognized the all too familiar dynamics. In Genesis 15:6 Abraham believed God’s promise that he would be the father of many nations, and it was credited to him as righteousness. By chapter 16, Sarah and Abraham decided to help God out. Sarah was past her childbearing years, so even though they believed God, they figured he was going to work in a way that seemed possible on human terms. I’ve done this many times. “Sure I believe you God, but obviously, you must have meant you would bless me this way.” The problem is that when we decide to “help” God it often complicates the situation greatly, as in the case of Hagar. We think we are helping, but usually we are hurting ourselves by failing to wait on his best. When God came back and let Abraham and Sarah know they were wrong in their assumptions, they both laughed. God’s response was to tell them their future son’s name would be Isaac, which means, “he laughs.” Isn’t that great? For the rest of their lives, they would be reminded that they laughed at God’s promise. I can’t help but think that God was laughing back at them. They were limiting him to the realm of human possibility, and he was about to show them that mortal limitations are nothing to him. I’m sure he takes great pleasure in doing that. Like any good parent, he enjoys teaching his children. And what a lesson it was! By this this point both had lived long, full lives and knew how things work in this world. So when God showed up with something completely unexpectedly, the result was laughter. They were laughing at how preposterous it was, and yet I am sure they both felt a twinge of hope.

That is how it has been in my life. When God shows up unexpectedly I shake my head and laugh at how absurd it seems, but I also know that something wonderful just might happen. These things don’t happen every day. If they did we wouldn’t laugh, because they wouldn’t seem impossible. We live in a world bound by limitations, but every now and then God comes in and blows them to smithereens. It’s not something we can contrive or force, but for those who walk faithfully with him, it is bound to happen every once and a while. Sometimes the absurdity requires action on our behalf, so we could possibly end up looking pretty foolish too.

When my sister was young, she got caught up in a pretty harmful lifestyle. I had been praying diligently for her salvation and deliverance. One day she called to tell me she had been in a motorcycle accident, and was home from work unable to walk. After we got off the phone, I got the strongest impression to go pray for her healing, and as much as I tried to fight it, I couldn’t shake it. That night our church had an evangelist speaking, and this crazy thought kept nagging me that if I would go pray for her healing, and then get her to church, she would commit her life to God. Crazy!! I argued, “Lord, who do you think I am, Oral Roberts?” But as crazy as the whole idea seemed, I had enough concern for my sister and enough hope in God to act on it. I called my mom, who had faith to pray for anything, and she agreed to drive the hour with me to go and pray for healing. When we arrived, we briefly explained to Paula that we were going to pray for her healing. Being a captive audience, she had little choice but to agree, so we laid hands on her and prayed. Nothing happened! I began to wonder if I missed God. In fact, with all the pain meds she was on, she actually fell asleep. Mom and I looked at each other wondering if we should go or stay. We decided to stay and chatted for about 15 minutes. Suddenly, Paula woke up and ran to the bathroom! The knee that was swollen and unable to bend earlier was moving just fine! When she came out of the bathroom, we pointed out that her leg was better, and her eyes got as wide as saucers. I then suggested that since God healed her, she might want to come to church with us that night and thank him. She agreed, and sure enough, at church she committed her life to Jesus. She has never been the same since, and it all started with a laughable thought that I feel sure God planted in my mind.

True faith will inevitably bring you to moments that will seem absolutely absurd, foolish and even laughable. Like Abraham and Sarah you will find yourself asking, “Really God, are you kidding?” Surely the father of our faith and his wife had prayed for decades to have a child, but it was not until all hope seemed lost that God showed up. That’s just what he does. I don’t know about you, but I’d say that reveals a pretty good sense of humor on his part. Just when we think we have it all figured out, he comes in and completely turns all of our perceptions upside down. He does it to remind us that even though we are limited by time, space and brokenness, this world is not all there is. We have a God who lives outside the boundaries of the earth, and occasionally gives us a glimpse of life beyond it by miraculously suspending the rules of nature. Can you imagine the twinkle in his eye, the smile on his face, and even the chuckle in his voice as he gently reminds us that he is so much greater than anything here in the temporal realm? I love Jesus’ words in John 16:33, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” Cheer up! Maybe even stop and laugh for a moment. Take joy in the One who delights in you and invites you to share in his joy. A life of faith is one of laughter and surprises. What an awesome privilege we have to share it with our amazing God!

Oh Joy!

Today dear Lord, I choose to rejoice in You. There are so many grievous things happening in this world, and even in our lives, but I am choosing to allow your joy to strengthen me. Joy is second fruit of the Spirit mentioned in Galatians 5, and yet far too often it is not a characteristic in my life. Nehemiah 8:10 says that the joy of the Lord is our strength. Lately, I have felt completely weak and powerless, and I’m beginning to see the connection. In your presence there is fullness of joy (Ps. 16:11). I will rejoice in the Lord always, and take joy in the God of my salvation in spite of circumstances (Phil. 4:4, Hab. 3:18). I will remember that I am blessed (which is a state of happiness) whenever I am poor in Spirit, hungering for righteousness, and even persecuted for the kingdom’s sake (Mt. 5:3-11). Lord forgive me for forgetting to walk in your provision of joy. No matter what I face, I have You and that is enough.You are my victorious warrior who rejoices over me (Zep. 3:17). I find that completely amazing! If you can rejoice over such weakness and imperfection, then I should rejoice constantly that the perfect One has entered death to bring me life to the fullest (Jn. 10:10). Thank You so much Father! I love You with all I am, and ask You to be the center of my life. Help me shine for You today, and to spread your love, hope and JOY to a lost and dying world. Amen

Psalm 63

O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly;

My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You,

In a dry and weary land where there is no water.

Thus I have seen You in the sanctuary,

To see Your power and Your glory.

Because Your lovingkindness is better than life,

My lips will praise You.

So I will bless You as long as I live;

I will lift up my hands in Your name.

My soul is satisfied as with marrow and fatness,

And my mouth offers praises with joyful lips.

When I remember You on my bed,

I meditate on You in the night watches,

For You have been my help,

And in the shadow of Your wings I sing for joy.

My soul clings to You;

Your right hand upholds me.

Your right hand upholds me.

But those who seek my life to destroy it,

Will go into the bdepths of the earth.

They will be adelivered over to the power of the sword;

They will be a bprey for foxes.

But the king will rejoice in God;

Everyone who swears by Him will glory,

For the mouths of those who speak lies will be stopped.

 

Getting Over Myself

Lord, I give You my day, and ask your forgiveness for all the days I’ve wasted on myself. Life is so much better when I take the time to seek You. You lead in amazing ways, and I get so much more accomplished. I start too many days seeking my own agenda first. Today Lord, I ask that You would stay in the forefront of my thoughts, and that I would see the world through your eyes. So many people are living in darkness and despair. Your love and grace are available to restore their lives, and yet too often I am silent. I am more worried about getting a negative response than I am about leaving them in their despair. How completely awful! Please forgive me. Help me love others the way You love me—enough to set aside my own agenda and become obedient to the point of sacrifice (Phil. 2:1-8). I know that when I lay down my life for You, I receive more abundant life. There is peace and joy that I do not experience when I seek after my own kingdom rather than yours. Give me wisdom to find the best use of my time daily.

Let my highest goals be to love You and others more than I love myself. It seems self-love comes naturally, loving You has become natural, but I still struggle with loving others. Yes, I know what 1 John 4:20 has to say about that! The thing is You have always given me far more grace and love than I deserve. It completely blows my mind. People do not do that. They are harsh and judgmental. (Yes, I know I am too sometimes). As I think about those people I struggle to love, I know I do not wish them anything except a complete surrender to You. However, sometimes in my position as judge and jury I determine how that should look. I think they need to suffer a little bit, and that is not my place to determine. Help me to flow in your abundant grace today and help me remember that it is your kindness that leads us to repentance. Remind me often that I am not the judge, and to leave justice in your competent hands. I want it here and now, but I know that the entirety of my life is but a speck in the whole of eternity. Somehow You have a beautiful plan that uses evil for good. I see glimpses of it so often on this side of eternity, but one day I will see it in full. How I long for that day dear Lord! I long to see You! I long to set aside the constraints of this life and enter into true life. Until that time, I know You have a plan and a purpose for me. I am so grateful to be your child! So unworthy, and yet You (the only perfect One) love and receive me in spite of my complete imperfection. How amazing and wonderful You are! Help me live in a way that is worthy of the goodness You have bestowed. I know my only hope for doing that is being completely dependent on You. That is the place I choose to start this day. Amen

I hear you little one. When you pray anything according to my will I hear you, and I will answer (Jn. 14;14, 1 Jn. 5:14). I stand ready to empower you to love others with the love I give you. It is something you can never muster up on your own, so look to Me. The more you see Me for who I truly am, the more you will love Me. The more you see yourself as you truly are, the more you will love others. That is because you will see that apart from my grace they are really no different from you. Listen for my voice as you go through this day. That will require quietness on your part. Do not rush to give an answer, but wait and listen. If you ask for wisdom, I have promised to give it to you (Jas. 1:5). However, you must ask expectantly with your mind grounded in my Word. Wisdom comes when you seek my glory over any human agenda. Although you will have trouble in this world, you do not need to despair, because I enable you to overcome (Jn. 16:33). I will cause you to triumph as you seek me (2 Cor. 2:14), and I will give you joy that the world cannot begin to understand. Rejoice in Me as I rejoice in you (Zeph. 3:17). Rest in my love and in my presence today. As you do, nothing will be able to stop my good and perfect plan for your life.