Category Archives: Joy
I normally share devotionals by my friend and mentor, Patricia Knight, on Treasure Tuesdays because Pat is such a treasure in my life. But I am also extremely thankful for her presence in my life so I wanted to share one of her “thankful” devotionals with you today. This devotional is from her book, Pure Joy.
Give Credit Where Due
“Give credit where credit is due.” That maxim is as old as most of us and still good advice. It simply means thanking the person who has done something nice for you, congratulating a person for a job well done, or recognizing the ability of someone whom has made a discovery. There are many other instances to describe the adage. Not only should be understand the meaning, but also apply the principle we learn.
There is something troubling about the above phrase. Why are we so reticent to thank God and give Him credit and honor for all that He creates, maintains, and sustains? If a friend presented us with a painting of a beautiful sunset, we would give prolific gratitude. God creates a new sunrise and sunset each day. Their explosion of color in the sky is nothing short of miraculous. Surely each of us has seen an occasional display of God’s palette in the sky. In a sunset, sunrise or a rainbow we are reminded of the Master Artist. More importantly, we need to thank Him for the beauty, the peace and serenity the color display creates within us. God deserves credit for splashing His vibrant colors throughout the world. Let’s give Him credit by worshiping Him.
God is the Creator of every living and non-living item on earth. He spent a whole six days making the world and everything in it. We are His greatest creation because we were formed specifically to fellowship and communicate with Him. Then, He placed all His other creations under us, to use, enjoy and care for them. (Genesis 1:30).
Repeatedly in Genesis after God had completed creation for the day, we are told, “And God saw that it was good” (Genesis 1:31). If God was pleased with all He made ought we not to be the first to praise Him? We could choose an item a day for which to give thanks and we would never exhaust the supply!
An awareness of God is all we need. Think of His contribution in our lives and put Him first in our thoughts, our thanks and our worship. As we admire the intricacy yet simple pleasures of a rose, we need to stop to thank God for His creation. Who else but God could create the softness and delicate rose petals with perfume that further attracts us to the bush? But then we discover the thorns, which protect the plant. God creates contrasts of beauty and harshness, softness and prickliness. God sprinkles wild flowers throughout the woods, marshes, and pastures of the world. He has created natural flower gardens for our pleasure and surprise.
What is lovelier than a baby’s soft skin and sweet smell? Children are a direct gift to us from the Heavenly Father, who treasures them. He further instructs us to have the faith of a child (Mark 10:13-16). Contrast the lovable baby with a formidable raging thunderstorm that rattles our bones, confuses our senses and demands our attention. When the storm is past, the earth smells refreshed and renewed. God is the Creator of all things great and beautiful.
God created vegetables, fruits, and all green plants (Genesis 1:29). He showed great imagination when He formed a cluster of grapes. A vineyard with thousands of clusters of grapes is a wonder to behold. Compare the rough exterior of a cantaloupe with the inner succulence. God’s humor is evident when we examine an ear of corn. Ever wonder how God so perfectly lines up those straight rows of corn? Consider the many textures of a tomato or the luscious taste of wild blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, and strawberries occurring from God’s own nourishment and tender care.
God formed the tiniest one-cell animal and the hundred pounds of whale. The oceans are teeming with life for our use. Even the lowly seaweed has numerous uses in food manufacturing and processing. The lobster is a delicacy but quite an ugly-looking creature. It will never win a beauty contest even though it changes costumes mid-program!
The skies are the domain of the mighty eagle (Isaiah 40:32) and the midget hummingbird. It is a privilege to watch the flying abilities of each species. God has taught His creation to swim, hop, slither, fly, leap, and run. He matched all the stripes of a zebra and fashioned a carrying pouch for the mother kangaroo to cradle and transport her young. He provides sheep for wool, cows for milk, and the horse family as beasts of burden and for transportation for many cultures.
God is mighty and loving, creative, and protective. He fiercely loves and provides for His children. He is also a jealous God and craves our worship and admiration (Exodus 34:14). If we know a person who is an artist, a seamstress or a carpenter, we would not hesitate to compliment them for creative expression, original ideas, and work well done. It is time to sensitize our thoughts and words for the most excellent God, the only God in the universe. He has created the world and everything in it. Then, He does not abandon nor manipulate His creation for His benefit. He sacrifices His life and love for us, that we may live eternally. Let us “give credit where credit is due.” Keep God in your constant thoughts and thank Him at every opportunity for His love, greatness, and grace.
Thank you again, dear Pat! I know you’ll be as blessed as I am to have Pat’s book, Pure Joy. If you’re interested in purchasing a copy of Pure Joy, please let me know by commenting in the section below this post.
You Will Rejoice
Therefore you too have grief now;
but I will see you again, and your heart will rejoice,
and no one will take your joy away from you.
This year has had its ups and downs, but then when doesn’t it? That’s life here on earth!
Rick and I still love living here in northern Arizona and are thankful for our 14 years of marriage, which we just recently celebrated. Every year we see God at work in us, bringing us closer together as we mutually rejoice at His presence in our lives. No matter what is happening, we have grateful hearts for the One Who leads us in life and in our marriage.
Christmas is a time of great joy as we meditate on the birth of our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ, and what His humble birth means to us. We’re surrounded by sights and sounds of the season everywhere we look.
Are we able to feel and express that joy? Or are we despondent in spite of seeing Christmas trees bedecked with lights and ornaments, surrounded by holiday aromas of pine, vanilla and cinnamon?
We may happily look forward to being surrounded by family and friends, but that happiness may give way to discontentment because illness will not allow us to decorate as much as we used to, or bake Christmas cookies, or wrap gifts, or cook up a fabulous Christmas feast. Maybe this year has been filled with financial problems and there is very little to make a Christmas for our family.
Too many of us may be stuck dwelling on past Christmases when everything seemed perfect. We had enough money to buy gifts for family and friends. Our health was good. Perhaps we were whirlwinds of activity as we prepared that “perfect” Christmas for our families to treasure.
However, our true joy is not in the trappings of the Christmas season, but on what this season represents. We celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, who came to earth as a human being in order to experience everything we do so that He could completely understand what we go through. He knows our sorrows and burdens. He appreciates how difficult it is to live on this earth.
And He is with us every single step of the way.
Beloved, Jesus did not lead a trouble-free life. It cannot have been easy to know that He was born to die such a horrible death on the cross. But he willingly did so as the punishment for our sins so that we can have the chance to live with Him forever.
True joy is based on the fact that Jesus did indeed die on that cross for us. The blood He shed there paid the price for our sins. And three days later, His resurrection from the dead proved that death no longer has a hold on us… if we only believe on Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord.
Without Jesus in our lives, happiness comes from our circumstances. Any negative experience, however minor, can shatter that happiness as quickly as snapping our fingers.
On the other hand, we can possess true joy regardless of our trying or seemingly hopeless situations—as long as we keep focused on the Reason for this season. Life may be difficult now, but take heart! Someday God will turn our “mourning into joy and will comfort [us] and give [us] joy for [our] sorrow” (Jeremiah 31:13).
Look up, Beloved! Trust in the only Way to a truly joyful heart: Jesus!
Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Much love and blessings from Anna & Rick
As I wrote recently, today is the first of several Treasure Tuesday devotionals by my long-distance friend and mentor, Pat Knight. Today’s devotional is taken from her book, REJOICE!
Like the tantalizing, sizzling colors winding downward from the primary discharge of the fireworks display, in our thoughts we can supplant joy for the flashes of brilliantly colored light. As each burst produces unique colors and patterns, the major hues trailing through the sky divide and convert into brilliant colors until the fizzle of the initial burst recedes as the point of light remains.
Joy functions in much the same manner. A person with an effervescent spirit engages another in conversation or simply flashes a smile as a friendly gesture. There are burst and sparks of light, like an inner energy that is communicated from one source of joy. From the first burst of enthusiasm, joy divides into cheerful jubilation until, with just a spark of joy remaining, the fire is rekindled in the recipient’s heart, leaving the opportunity for the qualities of joy to increase until another vivacious spirit carries joy along to split and grow. “Rejoice always” [Philippians 4:4] is a direct command. Rejoice is the action verb of the noun joy.
Joy is a gift from God, like fireworks in a night sky with all manner of sparkling light piercing into our lives and awakening us to God’s inner workings. Joy is jubilation made evident as we worship God in the splendor of His majesty. Joy never loses its energy, emerging to consistently provide gratefulness during hardships and trials. “Rejoice always.” Joy is a command. Joy is active and reactive. When we radiate joy, we multiply its benefits and affect others by our delight and good cheer.
Gardening gloves that have been left outside to the elements need the fingers turned inside out to examine for the presence of insects or the growth of mildew on the fabric before being pulled onto the hand. God resides in the Christian’s heart where He is in charge of the seat of our emotions. Just as the gloves were turned inside out to reveal any internal growth, if our hearts were examined from the inside, joy would be clinging to the sides and growing prolifically, yearning for an outward expression. “For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks” [Matthew 12:34b].
Joy is an inner smile seeking an outlet. When we rejoice, we are exposing gladness of the heart. God resides in our hearts, at the epicenter of our emotional activity, surrounded by our joy. He also commands that we share joy with others. Joy is self-perpetuating: The more we share, the more we generate. There is little danger of diminishing our supply. Our worship of God creates a flourishing joy, used to extend enthusiasm and exuberance, naturally emitting a vital emotional energy. Joy is powerful, with the capacity to reach an apathetic heart with love and goodwill. For the Christian, “rejoice always” is not an optional activity, but a command from our Father in heaven. Cast a glimmer of joy and observe the magnificent light show that ensues.
My dear Pat, thank you so much for blessing all of us through your writing.
Beloved, if you are interested in purchasing a copy of REJOICE! please let me know by commenting in the section below this post.
As part of my ongoing “Joy” theme, I’d like to share a story I wrote a few years ago. It is pure fiction except for one thing: millions of people live with physical pain—or emotional pain or financial difficulties or _______ (fill in the blank)—every single day…
JOY TO MY SOUL
When I said, “My foot is slipping,” Your love, O LORD, supported me. When anxiety was great within me, Your consolation brought joy to my soul. —Psalm 94:18-19
“Good morning!” Sherri smiled and waved, then hurried to help Macy up the ramp.
“What’s so good about it?” grumbled Macy. She stopped and leaned hard on her cane as she struggled with her shoulder bag.
“Here, let me.” Sherri slid Macy’s purse strap up higher, then gave her friend a hug. “Can I help you with your shopping?”
Macy’s eyes filled with tears. “I’d be so grateful. Today has been a pile of things gone wrong.”
Sherri helped Macy into the store’s motorized cart and then pulled a shopping cart out for herself. They moved from one aisle to the next as Sherri tried to keep the conversation light. Macy just responded with grumbles or shrugs.
At the checkout, Sherri unloaded Macy’s items onto the checkout counter before unloading her own cart. In the parking lot, she stashed Macy’s grocery bags in her trunk and then turned to help Macy out of the cart.
“There you go! Do you need any help getting this stuff put away at home?”
Macy’s eyes widened. “How can you be so nice when I’ve been so rotten to you?”
“I figured this wasn’t a great day for you when you couldn’t even appreciate the beautiful blue sky,” Sherri replied. She lightly touched Macy’s shoulder. The pain is pretty bad today, isn’t it?”
Macy nodded. “Yeah, but I had no choice. I needed so many things and I’ve been putting this off for days.” She struggled into the driver’s seat and looked at Sherri. “How do you do it?”
“You know. You look and sound so joyful when you must be feeling so bad yourself,” Macy said as she gestured to Sherri’s leg brace and the splint encasing her right wrist.
Sherri smiled. “I just picture God’s comforting arms around me, holding me close. Just the thought of that brings joy to my soul.”
Macy regarded Sherri for several moments. “You know, I should probably try that too.”
Beloved, life is not easy! But you already knew that, I’m sure. Please understand that I am not saying that thinking differently will change your circumstances. What I am saying is that changing our thinking can affect how we perceive our circumstances.
Trying to find joy in our circumstances is not easy, but I can attest to the fact that it can be done. I fail at this a lot but I’m thankful that most times I remember to reach out to the only One Who can bring true joy into my life: my Savior and Lord Jesus Christ.
May I pray for you about this? Please reply in the comment section below this post or shoot me an email: faithlhj777 at gmail dot com.
Reblogged from last year’s September 19th post which makes it 1 year old but always applicable…
JOY IN OUR CIRCUMSTANCES
“Genuine, authentic faith must be definite and free of doubt. Not simply general in character; not a mere belief in the being, goodness, and power of God, but a faith which believes that the things which “he saith, shall come to pass.”"
—Necessity of Prayer, E. M. Bounds
“Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips.”—Job 2:10b,c
Don’t you wonder how Job could say this after everything he went through? Doesn’t it make you shake your head and think, “yeah, right”? How could Job even think to say this after everything—and I do mean everything—was taken away from him?
Job had it all: a loving family, great wealth, a thriving business and good health. He was loved and respected by his family and the community because he was a very general and loving man. He indeed had it all… until suddenly it is all taken away and he is left helpless and hopeless.
Oh, did I say “hopeless”? Hardly.
“Faith is the art of holding on to things your reason has once accepted in spite of your changing moods.” —C. S. Lewis
I know it’s been quite a while since you’ve heard from me but rest assured that God has been very much at work in my life. I have been heard to say that I’d like to wipe the year 2010 from my calendar, but as I have reflected on this, I have to say now that’s not really true.
Like many of you, I live with daily chronic pain. Among the several illnesses I endure, my most persistent “thorn in the flesh” is daily migraines. Last year I tried yet another medication I hoped would help but the greatest side effect was to increase the intensity and duration of my migraines plus cause me to sleep for a good portion of the day as well as at night. It wasn’t unusual for me to get 12 hours of sleep during the night and then sleep again for 2-3 hours in the morning and again in the afternoon. I found myself unable to do the simplest tasks and the year went by in a blur of pain.
Without going into too much detail, it turned out that the new medication had caused a host of reactions, the least of which was the increased migraine activity. Once I was completely weaned off this medication, I started feeling almost human again. Living in a haze of pain medications is no picnic!
So many times last year I felt as if I was sliding through what I called wasted days–when all I was capable of doing was sleeping, eating and some light household chores. I spent lots of time talking to God, wondering why this was happening to me and if it would ever end. I thought my days were wasted because I wasn’t doing anything that I deemed valuable, but in reality God was doing a work in me that I finally understand.
Before this time of pain and frustration, I understood how to be joyful in spite of my circumstances. However, I can now see that God has shown me how to be thankful because of those same circumstances. In effect, God increased my faith by allowing me to travel through that tough time in order to bring me to the realization that not all bad things are… bad!
God allows circumstances and situations in our lives that are sometimes very difficult to navigate, and all He wants us to do is trust that He knows what is best for us. It is all about having faith in spite of not seeing or knowing the “why” of it. When we cannot understand the meaning behind our suffering, we immediately want to tell God how angry and frustrated we are. I know, because I’ve been there.
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” —Hebrews 11:1
Faith essentially does not make sense to our human way of thinking. I guess that’s why it’s called faith: “a belief that is not based on proof,” according to the dictionary definition.
When we pray in faith, we are saying in effect that we believe God knows what is best for us—in spite of what our circumstances appear to be. We are ultimately acknowledging what we know to be true: God knows all and we do not!
In spite of that, we want to breeze through life without experiencing any kind of pain or disappointment. We think that “if only” this or that wasn’t happening in our lives, everything would be so much easier or better. If only we had more money or more time or better health or a larger home or a different job… and the list goes on. What if the circumstances in our lives—good or bad—are there to make us stronger? What if—bear with me here—we try to change our outlook so that the “bad stuff” doesn’t seem so bad after all?
“Faith is believing in things when common sense tells you not to.” —George Seaton
Beloved, if life on earth was one big picnic would we ever yearn for heaven? Would we truly be able to appreciate Jesus’ sacrifice for us on the cross?
Oh, and our friend Job? In spite of all the horrible things that happened to him, “Job did not sin with his lips.” Obviously Job was not happy that he had lost so much and did not like what God was allowing in his life, but he trusted God even as he was going through that terrible time. Oh, that we could all be as Job and exhibit such trust in our Creator!
“All I have seen teaches me to trust the Creator for all I have not seen.”
—Ralph Waldo Emerson
I’m thinking that life here on earth is meant to grow our faith, to show us how to life joyfully and victoriously because of our circumstances, not merely in spite of them. “I will sing to the LORD as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have my being” (Psalm 104:33).
“My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast; I will sing, yes, I will sing praises!” —Psalm 57:7
Still singing those praises, Beloved, even through the pain. NO one can steal my Joy!