Spirituality

Experience the Joy!


Jesus

“I am the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25)

Praise be to the Lord, for he has heard my cry for mercy. The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song. (Psalm 28: 6-8)

Have you ever experienced the joy? I don’t mean momentary joy. I mean true joy that never ends no matter what circumstances arise. Take a few minutes and think about the times in your life when you have been joyful, filled with happiness and overflowing with excitement. What comes to mind?

Some things that come to mind for me are my wedding day, the births of our children, the day we finalized the purchase of our first home, confirmations, graduations, family weddings and on and on. There are many. But how long did those moments last before becoming overshadowed with the disappointments of life and become only distant memories?

My husband and I were blessed with almost 45 years of marriage, but that joy we experienced on our wedding day is now overshadowed for me by a funeral – his funeral. He was called to his eternal home not so long ago. There were times during his illness when we both wished we could go back to happier days – when our children were small and life was fun and exciting. I am comforted by the fact that through faith in Jesus, he is with the Lord and I will see him again, but I still miss him. Every beginning here on earth also has an ending.

So, where can we find true joy – a joy that will never fade or end in disappointment? There is only one place to look for pure, never-ending joy in this life, and that is in our Savior, Jesus. Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy, he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade – kept in heaven for you, who are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Peter 1: 3-5)

The joy we find through faith in Jesus is never-ending. In Jesus, we have peace for this life because we know He has paid our debt of sin. We are recipients of God’s wonderful grace which will never fail us no matter what we have done or not done. In Jesus, we have hope for eternity. We are covered in His holiness and He has reserved a place in heaven for us. We need not fear death. For those who love God, death is not the end, but the beginning. At our death, we will step over the threshold into a new life forever with the Lord.

As Christians, we walk with the Lord daily. His Spirit lives in us. We belong to Him. God is our loving Father. He will never forget us. He knows our needs before we do and He gives us what we need when we need it.  He doesn’t only meet our spiritual needs, but also our physical needs. He even cares about the small things in life – things which we would consider to be unimportant to an Almighty God and the Creator of our universe.

I recall one day losing my car keys. I was all ready to leave for an important appointment and my keys were nowhere to be found. In desperation, I prayed; “Lord help me remember where I put my keys.” After I prayed, I thought for a minute and remembered I had been searching through a little basket in my hutch for something. I bent over and pulled out the basket and there they were. I had dropped them there without thinking.

Often we are so busy trying to figure things out for ourselves that we miss God’s loving and divine intervention. But as we grow in faith and become more in tune with His Spirit, we will slowly become more aware of His presence in our lives.

I encourage you in the days to come, to ask God each morning before you begin your day, to make you aware of His presence and touch you with His Spirit. You will be amazed when you look back at the end of the day. I can pretty much guarantee that at some point; you will realize His divine providence. It will draw you closer to Him in your daily walk.

God is good. He lives in you. He loves you as if you were His only child. He, along with His holy angels, walks by your side daily, waking and sleeping. He will touch you with His power and with His Spirit when you least expect it. If you are not tuned in, you may miss it, but when you do see it, you will be filled with joy. Your heart will soar with amazement.

Seeing the Lord at work in our lives fills us with joy and confidence. That doesn’t mean there will never be sorrow, sadness or disappointments. It doesn’t mean that each day will go without trouble and irritation. But knowing that your God who is much stronger and bigger than you are is by your side, will give you confidence. It will lift a huge weight from your shoulders.

Remember, He has your back, and no matter what happens in life, you are a winner. He even cares about the little things, like misplaced car keys. He is a “Good Good Father”. Take a minute to listen to the recording below by Chris Tomlin.

Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. (Romans 12:11,12)

I can do everything through him who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:13)

My son, Robert, who has terminal brain cancer, inspired me to write this blog post. As we were driving home from a Dr. appointment one day he began sobbing. I asked him; “What is wrong?”, thinking he was in pain. He replied; “I am so blessed to see the Lord’s hand working in my life. It is amazing that He loves me so much.  His tears were tears of joy!

This is true, incomparable Joy! Gloria Dei! Amen.

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Categories: Eternity, Faith, Happiness, Prayer, Spirituality | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“OMG”


OM…Who?

God is Holy

God is Holy

You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name (Exodus 20:7).

The three letters in quotes above are letters we see in email, on facebook in “texts” and all over the internet. They are letters/words we hear in conversation. What do they stand for? They could stand for the words Oh my goodness, or Oh my gosh, but seriously, we all know what they stand for don’t we? When people use those letters on facebook they are saying; Oh my God!

People use God’s holy name in all sorts of “unholy” ways. It is used as an exclamation in response to many situations, both good and bad, and sometimes very bad. How can we truly love God and throw His holy name around so freely and matter-of-factually in our conversations?

He loves each and every one of us as if we were his only child. He gave his Son as a sin offering to die a horrible and painful death in our place. We are all sinners and don’t deserve anything from God, but our God is a loving and compassionate God. He couldn’t bear to see his people perish. Out of love for all people he sent Jesus to die in our place. Jesus suffered hell when he was forsaken by his father, but he conquered sin and Satan when he rose from death three days later. He promises that all who have faith in him will pass through this life and into a new life in heaven when we die.

This promise is a gift – a gift of God’s never ending grace. Do we thank him by taking his name in vain? I don’t think so. The next time you are tempted to use those letters on facebook or in person, stop and think about what you are saying. Our love for God should prompt us to use his name in ways that show our love for him and reflect his love for us. God is holy and we are sinners. How dare we use his

Luther's Catechism

Luther’s Catechism

name as an expletive. Let’s use his name with the respect and love he deserves. Lets honor him with our lives and with our mouths.

We should fear and love God that we do not use his name to curse, swear, lie, or deceive, or use witchcraft, but call upon God’s name in every trouble, pray, praise, and give thanks. (Luther’s Catechism pg. 59)

Gloria Dei!

by Christine

Categories: Spirituality | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Good Versus Evil – Our Daily Struggle


 Who Controls Your Mind?
Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith… (1 Peter 5:8,9)
“Sing to the Lord a new song”
Are you in control of your mind? That is a question I had never considered until recently. I honestly think that deep down inside I have always felt that controlling ones mind is an impossible task. How can I control the thoughts that enter my head? Some of the thoughts I have are great. They make me happy. They make me want to do fun things. They make me thankful for the life I have. They make me want to reach out to those around me and spread the joy. Some mornings I wake up with a smile on my face.
On the other hand, some days the thoughts that enter my mind make me want to cringe. Rather than waking up with a smile, I feel grouchy and untouchable. I don’t want to be bothered with the daily routine of life and I don’t feel like interacting with the people around me. I sometimes feel sad and fearful. I feel like giving up on life and wonder if it is really worth the struggle.  I think to myself; Why…why do I get up and do the same old thing day in and day out? What is it all for?
“Sing to the Lord all the whole earth”
And what about dreams -Do you ever have dreams that are sinful – dreams that you wouldn’t want to repeat to anyone? How can we possible control what we dream? I have not studied dreams and I don’t know much about how the brain processes thoughts and how they relate to surrounding circumstances, but there are times when I can connect my dream/dreams to certain situations which have occurred in my life. They are most often just silly, but sometimes I wake up wondering to myself; where did that one come from?
Have you ever had a day when things are going along just fine and out of nowhere an evil thought creeps into your consciousness? Do you ever question God’s love for you or wonder how, out of all the billions of people in the world He can know and love each and every one of us personally?  
Where do sinful thoughts and dreams come from? They come from Satan. Where do those mood swings of going from complete happiness and contentment one moment, to anger and criticism of those around me the next, come from? They come from Satan.  Where do those questions regarding God’s love for me, which creep into my mind unexpectedly at times, come from? They come from Satan. Where does the drudgery of my daily walk come from? It comes from Satan.
“Sing to the Lord and bless His name”
I am at the time of this writing, part of a book study with several friends from my church. The title of the book we are studying together is; The Power of a Praying Woman, written by Stormie Omartian. I am learning a lot from this book. Surprisingly, I am able to relate to many of the situations of the mind which she writes about. Her writing has  helped make me aware of just how often the devil tries to take hold of my consciousness and lead me into sin. Her book has also made me realize that the forces of evil (Satan) and the forces of good (God) are at work in our world and in our lives daily and keep us in a constant state of struggle.
I praise God for my Christian heritage! It has given me a firm foundation on which to base my beliefs. It has helped me to battle the forces of evil which I face daily. I can’t control the dreams I have, but I can keep the devil at bay by not listening to music which doesn’t honor God. I can keep the devil at bay by not watching shows on TV and movies which promote and reveal the forces of evil which exist in our world.
Although I daily face the battle of good versus evil, as we all do, Stormie’s book has opened my eyes to the fact that through the foundation of beliefs I have grown up with, God has helped me to cope. He has helped me, without my even being aware of it, to build my own wall of resistance against Satan.
Tell the good news of His Salvation
I detest TV shows or movies that depict death and murder. I hate to see the graphic scenes on the NCIS shows for example, which show the gruesomeness of murder victims.  I truly can’t stand to look at it. I have lost loved ones to death. Death is ugly and sad. Why would I want to watch it on TV? It may be just a story, but it looks real. It may be opening the door for the devil to enter the mind of a person who isn’t stable – who hasn’t known the love of God and doesn’t know how to resist evil.
I hate to watch any show or movie which depicts gay and lesbian lifestyles as normal. I don’t like shows about spirits or ghosts, nor do I have any desire to read about such things. I hate foul language and inwardly cringe when I hear it. I truly love music. I love to sing and play the piano. Music is a gift from God and can be a blessing, but music that dishonors God with foul language, and which dishonors His gift of sex and marriage will not be heard in my car or my home. If you happen to be a passenger in my car you will hear hymns coming from my CD player or possibly country or soft rock. One of my favorite CD’s is Precious Memories by Allan Jackson which is a collection of old religious folk songs. To listen to it and sing along with it brings me closer to God. It strengthens my faith and uplifts my heart.
“He gathers the waters of the sea into jars
As a child and also as a teen, I was often accused of being “goody, goody two shoes”. I never understood it. I didn’t feel like I was different or better than any of my classmates and friends. I certainly was far from perfect, but I never had a desire to smoke or drink. It just plain didn’t interest me and I didn’t care to hang out with people who did these things. The few times I did try it (as all teens and young adults will do eventually) I felt so uncomfortable and guilty about it that I never did it again. Breaking the rules, no matter what it involves, does not honor God.
I have never made a conscious decision to avoid certain movies, music, or lifestyles, but I love God. My love for Him naturally leads me to enjoy entertainment which honors Him. When I praise Him with song the devil runs the other way because he can’t stand for anyone to praise God. He is a liar and the father of lies. (John 8:44)When I leave the room because the TV is showing murderous, gruesome and graphic pictures of death, he runs away from me.
“From his dwelling place he watches all who live on earth”
So are we able to control our mind? The answer is “yes” to a point. We are human and therefore sinners. No matter how hard we try we will never be able to be perfect. When we come to faith and believe in Jesus as our Savior from sin, we become holy in God’s eyes. We are washed clean of our sins in His blood. (Revelation 7:14)The devil will always look for our weak spots. He will try to enter our hearts and minds if we allow it, but with God’s help we can keep him out.
The devil loves TV shows like NCIS. He loves evil. He loves death. He will be present where these things are depicted. When we don’t expose our minds to these things it will be more difficult for him to get a hold on us. We will be less likely to dream sinful dreams if we don’t expose our minds to evil. We will be better able to resist evil thoughts when we read books and stories that are uplifting and that honor God.  
The devil hates it when we praise God. He can’t stand to hear us giving thanks and honor to God. He will run away from us like a yelping dog. When you begin thinking evil thoughts – when you start feeling that God can’t possibly love you – when you feel depressed and unhappy about life – STAND UP AND SING TO GOD! Sing out with the doxology:
“Praise Him all Creatures here below”
Praise God from whom all blessings flow!
Praise Him all creatures here below!
Praise Him above ye heavenly hosts!
Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost!
 If you are in a place where you aren’t able to sing or shout out loud, sing it in your mind. Sing from your heart and the devil will flee from you. It really does work. God is real. He hears you calling to Him. He wants you to come to Him. He loves you as if you are His only child. He loves each and every one of us that way.
Be always ready, be always alert, and recognize the devil’s tricks. He wants to lead you into sin and away from God. He is going down and he wants to drag down with him every person he can get to fall into his traps. Those evil thoughts that enter your mind – those sad and unwelcome feelings about the drudgery of life – the mean feelings we have toward others – those dreams you are ashamed to repeat to anyone – the feeling that God can’t possibly love you that much – those thoughts and feelings come from Satan.
When you start to feel these things, sing to the Lord. Memorize the words of Psalm 150 so you can recite it when you are feeling down or when temptation is before you. The devil will flee from you.
Praise the Lord.
Praise the Lord!
Praise God in his Sanctuary;
Praise him in his mighty heavens.
Praise him for his acts of power;
Praise him for his surpassing greatness.
Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet,
Praise him with the harp and lyre,
 Praise him with the tambourine and dancing,
Praise him with the strings and flute,
Praise him with the clash of cymbals,
Praise him with resounding cymbals.
Let everything that has breathe praise the Lord.
PRAISE THE LORD!  (Psalm 150)
Prayer;
Heavenly Father, you tell us in your word to resist the devil and he will flee from you. (James 4:7) We know that the only way for us to resist him and keep him away is by praising your holy name. Help us to recognize his evil presence in our lives. Lead us to praise you in all circumstances. Thank you for the joy and security of knowing that when you are present in our hearts and minds the devil will not come near. Amen
In His holy name – Gloria Dei!
By Christine
Categories: Satan, Spirituality | Leave a comment

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