WANT MORE JOY?

As I said in the previous post, JOY is my word this year. God promises us joy and I want it! So I thought I’d take a look at other devotions I wrote on the topic of joy. This one was written in 2014.

WANT MORE JOY?

Matthew 22

Jesus replied: ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.

This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

 

Life is not nearly as complicated as most of us make it. Here’s a quick and easy to remember formula that will bring more joy in your life. If you want more JOY in your life, then focus first on Jesus, then on Others, and finally on Yourself.  The first above says exactly the same thing. Love God; love your neighbor as yourself.

Focus on Jesus. Jesus said the first and most important commandment is to love God with all your heart and mind. It’s not enough to say that you do, you must show that love to God. One of the ways to do that is to spend time praising and worshiping God and I don’t just mean in church on Sunday. From the beginning, Jesus was meant to bring joy to those of us on earth.

Luke 2:10

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.

Focus on others. Jesus talked of love again and again. He wanted His followers to show God’s love to others. Loving others is not a suggestion, but a commandment. Again, loving others doesn’t have to be complicated. Smile at people; be friendly, when  you can help someone in need, help them. Talking about loving others includes loving your spouse and your family. Sometimes we spend all our energy helping people outside of our house. That’s wonderful but save enough energy to be sweet and kind with those you live with.

John 13:34

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.

Focus on yourself. Yes, we are to focus on first on Jesus, then on others but don’t think that we are not to focus on ourselves. God doesn’t want us to be selfish or self-centered but He does want us to enjoy our life. He does want us to take care of ourselves in a healthy and balanced way.

We shouldn’t put ourselves first all the time but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t put ourselves first sometimes. We need to take care of our own emotional, physical, and spiritual needs as well as others.

So there you have it. Want more joy in your life? Then follow God’s greatest commandment and the second as well, and you’ll suddenly have more joy than you can imagine.

 

This is me in 2017 again. I’ve been focusing on the J and the Y–the O not so much. Having long-term chronic illness can make us very self-centered. I know this to be true because I can see it in myself. In a way it’s understandable but that doesn’t mean it’s good for us spiritually. So as I search for more joy in my life, I’m going to make an effort to get my mind off myself and do something nice for other people at least 3 times this week.

I already did one this morning! I vacuumed my bedroom without asking my husband for help. Now to find two more things to do. What’s something you plan to do nice for someone else this week?

Until next time…GOD BLESS & GOOD READING!

WHAT’S YOUR WORD?

1st Thessalonians 5: 16

Rejoice always.

Lots of Christian writers will have a word they focus on for the year. This word might be for them or for their writing or both. There’s even a book somewhere in my office that is all about picking and living a word.

I don’t have a word. I always wanted a word but one word for a whole year? I’m rather fickle when it comes to some things. I change my mind a lot so one word for me didn’t seem possible.

Now you may or may not remember that I’ve had some serious health issues for quite some time–approaching the five year mark soon. In spite of them, God has been so good to me! Two specific things come to mind–well three if you count my amazing husband.

One is that God has kept me in his supernatural peace in spite of lots of things going on. That’s not to say I don’t have a pity party or two but when I draw near to God, He is there waiting to put His arms around me once again.

Two, I can still write! It’s amazing how God has blessed me this part of my life.

But…something’s been missing. Not every day but lots of days.

JOY.

It’s really hard to be joyful when you don’t feel good. It’s just that simple. It makes sense to me and yet I’ve missed having JOY. It’s not that I never feel happy or don’t have a good time. I have and I do but I want to feel God’s joy most of the time–not once in a while. So when I read two different devotions this morning with the theme of joy, it jumped out at me.

I have a WORD for 2017–JOY!

What’s your word for the year?

GOD BLESS & GOOD READING!

Let’s Celebrate Christmas All Year Long!

Zepheniah 3: 17

The Lord your God is with you. He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you.

He will quiet you with his love, He will rejoice over you with singing.

 

I wrote this a few years ago but it still holds true!

The holidays are over for another year and it’s time to get back real life, right?  For some people that’s a good thing and for others maybe not so much. As  we get caught back up in the daily drudgery of life, we soon forget about all the peace, joy, and love we celebrate during the Christmas season.

We were cleaning off our Christmas porch today and as I saw each of my fourteen trees along with my snowmen and Santas go back in the box a thought occurred to me. Couldn’t I keep up at least one tree all year, just as a reminder?

I didn’t actually mention the idea to my husband. It was quite obvious he was a man on a mission to not only clear the porch but to do it as quickly as possible. But you must admit, it’s a good idea! A year-long Christmas tree to remind us of God and his love.

It’s so easy for us to forget God is with us–all the time.

It’s so easy for us to forget God loves us–all the time.

So, as we pack up our Christmas trees and decorations, find another way to keep remembering God and His amazing love all year long.  Perhaps, it’s a Bible on a coffee table? Or a favorite verse on the refrigerator? Or tune your radio to a Christian music station?

Whatever way you choose, I can guarantee that as you remember God each day, it will bring more joy, peace, and love to your life each day. And that’s a wonderful thing!

 

A Baby Changes Everything!

I’ve decided to go back through some of my old posts that pertain to the Christmas season and re-share them with you.  This is one of my favorites. I hope you like it.

 

A BABY CHANGES EVERYTHING

 

Luke 2: 10-12

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.

A baby changes everything, there is no arguing that point. Ask any parent, new or experienced, young or old, tired or rested. A baby changes everything for their family.  And that’s even more true for the baby we celebrate during this Christmas season.  Let’s take a look at the reason for the season.

JESUS–his birth, his life, and his death changed the world!

Atheists–agnostics–and some who just aren’t sure often give Jesus his “due.”  Oh, he was a great teacher, they say, but He wasn’t GOD.

Let’s take a practical look at that for a moment, shall we?

What’s the year? Oh–it’s 2013 A.D   A.D. does not mean “after death,” as a lot of people believe, but it stands  for a Latin phrase: anno domini, meaning “in the year of the Lord”—the year Jesus was born.  B.C stands for Before Christ, though now people have changed it in an attempt to downplay the religious aspect.

Wow!  Time is measured by Jesus’s birth and death. I’m impressed!

JESUS–his birth, his life, and his death changed the world!

Let’s take a look at Jesus’s life for a moment and those who knew him best–his disciples.

Without going into the gory details, ten of the original twelve apostles chose death rather than renounce Jesus’s divinity. Why? Because they experienced life with the Messiah. Some were with him the day he was baptised and they heard God’s voice come down from the heavens saying,  “this is my beloved son with whom I am well pleased.”  They experienced the darkness the day he died.

They knew beyond a shadow of doubt that he was the Son of God and they were willing to die rather than renounce His divinity.  Because of that certainty, they spread the good news of the gospel throughout the world.

JESUS–his birth, his life, and his death changed the world!

But even better, Jesus changed my world. Christianity isn’t about rules and religion. It’s about a relationship with God through His only begotten son, Jesus. And that has made all the difference in my world!

Indeed, a  baby changes everything!

The Message of Mary and Joseph

Here’s a past Christmas message that’s good no matter what time of the year it is. Many people love Christmas and think of it as the best season of the year. But for some, it can be a difficult time depending on your own life circumstances. If that’s the case this message is for you.

THE MESSAGE OF MARY AND JOSEPH

Luke 1: 29-33

Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

With Christmas just around the corner, Mary and Joseph have been on my mind. I think there are some valuable lessons to be learned from them.

The first two that come to mind are faith and obedience. Both Mary and Joseph proved their faith in God when they were obedient.  They chose to follow God’s will for them in spite of the difficult circumstances. Being pregnant before marriage was not just frowned upon then, it was a sin punishable by death.

That’s a lot faith and obedience.

But the real lesson I want to focus on is that in spite of their faith and obedience, God did not make their chosen path easy for them. As so many of us face adversity, whether physical, emotion, or our circumstances, we may question whether God is punishing us. Whether we are doing what God wants us to do. Whether we are living a life of obedience and faith. Whether God still loves us.

The message of Mary and Joseph clearly shows that we can be obedient to God and doing exactly what he wants us to do, but life can still be difficult for us. Surely, if anyone had a right to believe God would make their path easier it would be Mary and Joseph, but clearly the circumstances Jesus was born under show that didn’t happen.

They had to face all sorts of trials and tribulations even as they brought God’s son into this world. They had to face the shame and humiliation of Mary’s pregnancy with their family and friends. They had to make a journey that was difficult under normal circumstance, but it was made even more difficult by Mary’s pregnancy. Then they had no place to stay, Jesus was born in a structure of some sort with the animals.  Talk about a tough situation. Then as they were getting settled in a new life, they had to flee for their lives.

No, God did not make their path easy in spite of their faith and obedience.

Most of us will face adversity in one form or another in the coming year, remember the message of Mary and Joseph and know that you are still loved by your heavenly father.

Christmas is Coming!

Here’s one of my older Christmas posts that still carries a message that all of us need to be reminded of from time to time.

CHRISTMAS IS COMING!

Exodus 20: 1-3

And God spoke all these words  “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. “You shall have no other gods before me.”

Christmas is right around the corner and we know what that means. Shopping! Shopping and more shopping! It’s all fun until the bills start rolling in. And then the worry starts along with arguments between you and your spouse (or between you and the credit card companies). Suddenly all that peace and joy of the Christmas season has vanished!

Most Americans (and that includes me) have bought into what the advertisers tell us–WE NEED MORE THINGS! If we just had more things, we’d be happier. If we had more things, we could finally get skinnier, prettier, and richer, then we’d be happy!

Right? WRONG!

If we believe what the advertisers want us to believe then we have no freedom or peace or joy. Because we’re too busy buying all the THINGS we supposedly need. And then after we have the THING, then we have to worry about paying for them. Before we know it, we realize we bought the wrong  THING, and then we need the new THING.

And so the cycle continues.

The above verse tells us all we need to know to find freedom. Let’s look at it again. I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me.  Do you see it now?

If you want out of the land of slavery, then have no other gods but the one, true God. What are your other gods? Nice clothes? Cars? Gadgets and more gadgets? A lifestyle you can’t afford?

Instead, keep your focus on God, follow His principles for a godly life, and then you will find the peace and joy that Christmas promises us.

One of the things my husband and I love to do during the Christmas season is to visit neighboring churches for their Christmas plays, programs, and concerts. It’s fun and festive and free!  It’s a great way to focus on the real reason for the season. And it doesn’t cost a penny.

Have a great Christmas season!

But He Was A Good Person…

Rocko Smith III was born a fortunate man.

One could even say born with a silver spoon in his hand.

 

But he was a good person.

He didn’t squander or waste.

Instead he did his best posthaste.

 

Unlike others in his class.

He didn’t party hard and fast.

 

He worked hard and did good deeds.

He truly was a good person but…

 

One bad choice he made.

Or should I say one good choice he didn’t make.

 

But he was a good person…

 

 

The car circled the public square for the third time. The Christmas lights sparkled and blinked merrily but Rocko wasn’t there for the decorations. His gaze went past the bright lights and peered into the shadows.

He tapped the driver’s shoulder. “Pull over, Jives.”

“My name’s not Jives, Rocko.”

“I know that but can’t you humor me just once, Martin? I always wanted a driver named Jives.”

“If it makes you happy, I suppose you can. Just tonight since it’s Christmas Eve.”

“That’s a deal, Jives.” He opened his door and picked up the package off the seat.

“Be back in a few.”

“Take as long as you need, Boss.”

“My name’s not boss.”

I know but I always wanted to say that.”

“Fair enough…Jives.”

Rocko chuckled as he made his way toward the alley. With his back turned to the merry lights, the night turned dark. And cold. He shivered glad to have his warm coat and gloves.

He walked into the alley. He saw his target. “Hi.”

“I’m not doing nothing wrong.”

“I know that.  I just wanted to give you a Christmas gift.”

“I don’t need no charity.”

“I’m sure you don’t but still I’d like to give you this gift.” He reached the box toward the man.

“Why?”

“Because I’ve been so fortu—”

Blinding lights came toward them.

 

Rocko stood in a line—a very long line. It went as far as the eye could see and he was at the end of the line. In front of him stood a man in tattered clothes. Rocko still had on his warm coat and gloves. “Hey buddy, where are we? What’s going on? How did I get here?”

The man turned.

“You’re the man from the alley.”

“And you’re the man that was in my alley.”

“What happened? Why are we here?”

“Guess that runaway truck got both of us.”

“You mean I’m dead.”

“It seems to be so.”

“But I was just trying to do something nice for someone on Christmas Eve.”

“Hey don’t blame me. I didn’t ask you to come in my alley.”

“No. No. Of course not. That’s not what I meant at all. I’m just surprised. So then what’s this line?”

“My guess is that it’s the judging line.”

“What’s that?”

“You know it’s where God decides if you go to heaven or hell.”

“I don’t believe in God.”

“Believe or not, I think you’re about to meet your maker.”

“You really think God’s at the end of this line?”

“No, we’re at the end of the line. He is at the beginning of the line. Of course, He is the Alpha and the Omega.”

“You sound like you know what you’re talking about.”

He shrugged. “I used to go to church a long time ago. Of course, I started making bad choices that ended up with me being in that alley. First it was alcohol. Then it was drugs. Then I needed more money to get the drugs and ended up in prison. And then the alley.”

“So things aren’t looking good for you, huh?”

“I guess you could say that. But I made the choices so I gotta face the consequences. Got no one to blame but myself.”

“Sorry about that buddy.”

“It is what it is. How about you? How are you feeling about the whole thing?”

“It’s true I didn’t believe in God but I am…was a good person. For the most part I tried to do the right thing. I was kind to the people in my life, I donated lots of money to charities. And not just money but my time as well. I think I’ll be OK.”

“Sounds like it.”

And then it was their turn.

A man sat on a large golden throne. But not just any man, the Son of Man but also the Son of God. He wore a robe of white so bright it glowed. To his left was brightness and warmth that beckoned all. To his left darkness and death.

The man from the alley fell on his face.

“Stand up, Stanley.”

He lifted his head. “I can’t. I’m not worthy to approach you, Lord.”

“I know you Stanley and you know me. Please stand up. Fear not, you have been made righteous through my blood.”

As Stanley stood, his tattered clothes turned into a glowing white robe. “But I’m not worthy. I’ve done so many bad things. Made so many mistakes.”

“And yet I know you, Stanley.”

Rocko breathed a sigh of relief. It was going to be OK. If someone like Stanley got to go to heaven, surely he would. After all, he was a good person. A really good person.

“Please go to the left, Stanley. There are people waiting for you. People who love you.”

It was his turn. He walked up to the throne with a confident smile.

The man stared at his for several long moments. Then with a booming voice, “Who approaches my throne?”

Gone was the kind loving voice, in its place was a cold angry voice. Something was wrong. Stanley had knelt so Rocko knelt. “It’s me. Rocko Smith III, Lord.”

“You dare to call me Lord. I do not know you.”

“True but I was a really good person.”

“I do not know you and you do not know me.”

“But I want to know you. Now.”

“Did you not have chances when you were alive?”

“Well, sure I had chances but I didn’t think you were real. Everyone said you were a myth. Obviously, I was wrong about that and I’m sorry. But I was a really good person. I worked hard. I was nice to people. I gave money to…”

“Your good deeds are like filthy rags. They mean nothing to me. Please go to the right.”

He looked to his right and only saw darkness awaiting him. “That can’t be right. You let Stanley, the drug addict into heaven. That’s where I belong. In the light. In heaven.”

“I never knew you.” His voice was heavy with sorrow.

“It’s not fair.” Invisible hands pulled him toward the darkness. “But I was a really good pers…”

 

Matthew 3: 3

Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”

HAVE YOU MADE YOUR CHOICE?