Joy’s brotherhood…

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In pondering joy, one thing comes repeatedly to mind. When I feel joy, I feel triumphant. When joy is working, my day looks brighter, my outlook more positive, and my energy to endure patiently increases dramatically. And when I don’t have joy, all the opposite things happen.

I drag through the day.
I see challenges everywhere.
I don’t want to endure.

When I am missing joy, I am missing victory.

Joy and victory are tied together through much of the Old Testament.

“As they were coming home, when David returned from striking down the Philistine, the women came out of all the cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet King Saul, with tambourines, with songs of joy, and with musical instruments.” –1 Samuel 18:6, ESV

Joy erupts from victory. I can’t help but think that one feeds the other, back and forth. When victory comes, soon after is joy. When you carry through life with joy, you do not doubt that victory will soon follow.

Missing joy? Maybe you’re missing victory.

But wait, there’s more…

Victory doesn’t come alone. Victory brings the party.

“…their relatives, from as far as Issachar and Zebulun and Naphtali, came bringing food on donkeys and on camels and on mules and on oxen, abundant provisions of flour, cakes of figs, clusters of raisins, and wine and oil, oxen and sheep, for there was joy in Israel.” –1 Chronicles 12:40, ESV

Victory doesn’t pack a sack lunch. Victory brings so much to the table, it needs a variegated heard to carry it all! After the victory, the feast is enjoyed.

Maybe you have victory, but it is so fleeting that you’re back to joyless int he blink of an eye. Take a cue from the Israelites. Through yourself a feast–literal or figurative–and embrace the victory. Take a few moments to savor the accomplishment. And relax a bit to honor the One who provides it all.

Do not rush from one accomplishment to the next. Embrace the joy, the victory, and the feasting. That feasting rest will keep your perspective strong, will allow the joy to endure, and will carry you to the next victory. Do you know where the next victory is?

“Splendor and majesty are before Him; strength and joy are in His place.” –1 Chronicles 16:27, ESV

“In His place” here does not mean that strength and joy replace God. It means that they are in the very presence of God. But look at their brothers in that house! Splendor. Majesty. Strength. Joy.

Joy is nothing to monkey around with. His brotherhood is mighty. His brotherhood cannot be ignored. And his brotherhood hangs out with the God of the universe. Joy is not wimpy looking on the bright side. Joy runs deep. And joy holds on through the tough times.

“…and do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” –Nehemiah 8:10, ESV

Do not be grieved. Why? Because the Lord’s joy is your strength. Not “will be” your strength. Not “can be” your strength. Not “on Tuesdays if you’re good, you might get a dose of strength.” The joy of the Lord *is* your strength. Present tense. All the time.

Missing joy? Check out his brotherhood of victory, splendor, majesty, and strength. Then seek them all from the One in Whose presence they exist.

On That Which is Courageous…

blog--2014-02--courageCourage. So many definitions. So many ways to play it out. Immediately coming to mind is this post about warrior women. Or the two friends today whose loved ones have passed on this week–the courage to put one foot in front of the other as plans are made and things need to be done; the courage to accept a hug, help, and condolences. The courage to allow oneself to hurt.

We honor those who sacrifice for their country, their community, their family, or others–we call them courageous.

And as the quote says, “Sometimes courage is the small voice at the end of the day that says, ‘I will try again tomorrow.'”

Life, all of it, requires courage. Standing up for what is right, though it may mean being on the “wrong” side of the popular thing or the thing that will get you a promotion or the thing that will earn you man’s praise. Pushing forward with that dream, though it requires so many extra hours beyond the normal job you have to keep in order to pay the bills. Trusting God in every.single.thing. that you might have peace despite circumstances providing anything but peace.

The bottom line is this: life requires courage. The fact that you are still breathing is a miracle. We each struggle. We each strive. And we each need the loving, gracious, merciful hand of the Almighty God, His Saving Son Jesus, and the constant Comforter Holy Spirit. In the life of faith, courage means admitting we can’t do it and need His holy hand.

Whatever your challenge, whatever you face, rely on His Word. Drain His strength, for He always has more. Draw from His deep well that the courage comes from Him and flows through us.

On Holy Moments…

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the hush comes,
after obedience,
after reading an article linked in twitter,
after copy/pasting song lyrics to a song i don’t know:
“son stop fighting a fight that’s already been won.”

a holy moment.
when faith fans the flame of hope,
when the whisper from heaven says,
“wait and see what I will do with this obedience.”

a task given weeks ago,
waiting for a particular day.
He even sped up the timeline,
undeniably from Him.

the task completed,
the prayer said.
and a peace for which I have sought
remains steady.

and faith fans the flame of hope.
and hope does not disappoint.

What is He asking you to do?
Maybe, just maybe, the holy moment will come after the obedience.

the hush of heaven, prior to exploding in worship of the Lamb that was slain.
a holy moment, a hush when loving God
with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength
carry you through
where once waves of upheaval would have been,
only peace amid the waters.

A heavenly voice whispers, “You did it. You were strong in your weakness. You did it.”

A holy moment extends…there are dishes to be done.

Chronological Bible: December 19, Digging for strength…

Read:

  • Titus 1:1-3:15
  • 2 Timothy 1:1-4:22

“You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus.” –2 Timothy 2:1, ESV

On days when you feel weak, search for grace.
In moments when your knees shake, grab onto grace.
When your voice trembles, draw from grace.
Feeling offended? Find grace to turn the cheek.
Feeling forgotten. Grace will never abandon.

Not just any grace will do. The grace found in Jesus Christ makes the wobbly aright and the paralyzed to walk.

Chronological Bible: October 7, The Good Shepherd…

Read:

  • Zechariah 11:1-13:9
  • Zechariah 14:1-21

“For behold, I am raising up in the land a shepherd who does not care for those being destroyed, or seek the young or heal the maimed or nourish the healthy,…” –Zechariah 11:16, ESV

This scripture in Zechariah exposes the deeds of a bad shepherd. The bad shepherd turns a blind eye to those being destroyed. The bad shepherd lets the young wander about without direction. The bad shepherd allows the maimed to remain so forever. Rather than setting the broken leg, the bad shepherd allows the lamb to limp the rest of its days. The bad shepherd lets the healthy starve. Where there may have been strength in health, that strength fades away as the healthy ones waste away.

We have a good Shepherd. Where the bad shepherd lets the fallen fall farther and the strength become weak, the Good Shepherd does the opposite.

The Good Shepherd cares for those being destroyed.

“For I will defend this city to save it, for my own sake and for the sake of my servant David.” –2 Kings 19:34, ESV

 

“May he defend the cause of the poor of the people, give deliverance to the children of the needy, and crush the oppressor!” –Psalm 72:4, ESV

 

“On that day the Lord will protect the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the feeblest among them on that day shall be like David, and the house of David shall be like God, like the angel of the Lord, going before them.” –Zechariah 12:8, ESV

The Good Shepherd seeks out the young.

“Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.” –1 Timothy 4:12, ESV

 

“As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions.” –Romans 14:1, ESV

 

“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” –Proverbs 22:6, ESV

The Good Shepherd heals the maimed.

“And when Jesus heard it, He said to them, ‘Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.'” –Mark 2:17, ESV

 

“O Lord my God, I cried to you for help, and you have healed me.” –Psalm 30:2, ESV

The Good Shepherd nourishes the healthy.

(God speaking) “But charge Joshua, and encourage and strengthen him, for he shall go over at the head of this people, and he shall put them in possession of the land that you shall see.” –Deuteronomy 3:28, ESV

 

“‘How can my lord’s servant talk with my lord? For now no strength remains in me, and no breath is left in me.’ Again one having the appearance of a man touched me and strengthened me. And he said, ‘O man greatly loved, fear not, peace be with you; be strong and of good courage.’ And as he spoke to me, I was strengthened and said, ‘Let my lord speak, for you have strengthened me.'” –Daniel 10:17-19, ESV

He has redeemed us, not so we go about our way alone, but so we can go the way with Him. His redemption is good, for He is the Good Shepherd.