The #JOY of #Hope

In continuing my search for Biblical references about the JOY of the Lord, today’s post is about how JOY ties in closely with hope.

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Recently I’ve been contemplating the phrase Quality of Life. Here are some of the definitions of Quality of Life, also referred to as QOL:

  • Wikipedia: is the general well-being of individuals and societies. QOL has a wide range of contexts, including the fields of international development, healthcare, politics and employment. Quality of life should not be confused with the concept of standard of living, which is based primarily on income. Instead, standard indicators of the quality of life include not only wealth and employment but also the built environment, physical and mental health, education, recreation and leisure time, and social belonging.
  • The Free Dictionary: Noun, quality of life- your personal satisfaction (or dissatisfaction) with the cultural or intellectual conditions under which you live (as distinct from material comfort); “the new art museum is expected to improve the quality of life” gratification, satisfaction – state of being gratified or satisfied; “dull repetitious work gives no gratification”; “to my immense gratification he arrived on time” [Based on WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. © 2003-2012 Princeton University, Farlex Inc.]
  • Medicinet.com: The patient’s ability to enjoy normal life activities. Quality of life is an important consideration in medical care. Some medical treatments can seriously impair quality of life without providing appreciable benefit, whereas others greatly enhance quality of life.
  • BusinessDictionary.com: Dailyliving enhanced by wholesome food and clean air and water, enjoyment of unfettered open spaces and bodies of water, conservation of wildlife and natural resources, security from crime, and protection from radiation and toxic substances. It may also be used as a measure of the energy and power a person is endowed with that enable him or her to enjoy life and prevail over life’s challenges irrespective of the handicaps he or she may have.

As you can see, there are differing opinions on what quality of life actually means. Some people use it as a measurement of how happy and fulfilled a person is. Others think of it as a way to gauge how someone can enjoy life in spite of physical handicaps or limitations. And many others consider it to be an indication of how much people have overcome in order to enjoy their life no matter what obstacles they face.

Where is God in all of this?

“The world is filled with people trying to adjust to the pain, trying to deal with life without total collapse, break down, burn out, hopelessness, fear, apathy or just giving up. And all of that really is a matter of learning how to endure. And that’s our key word this morning because the passage in front of us gives us the secrets to endurance…the secrets to endurance. How can we endure the pain of life? The profound difficulty of life? The great disappointments, broken dreams, broken bodies, broken homes, broken lives, broken relationships? How can we handle all of that? How can we face life like the Apostle Paul did who said back in verse 8 of this chapter, “We are afflicted in every way but not crushed, perplexed but not despairing, persecuted but not forsaken, struck down but not destroyed”? How can we live like that? How can we be so triumphant?” —John MacArthur, GraceToYou.org

So, how can we think more like Paul? Is it possible to be afflicted and still be triumphant? I have shared with you before that I live with several chronic pain illnesses. Fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome and chronic migraine plague me every single day. Some days are worse than others, but I can honestly count on one hand the number of pain-free days I have had in the last 5 or 6 years and still have fingers left over. And yet I still have more JOY than I ever thought possible.

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What is true JOY? Charles Spurgeon describes it this way:

 “The JOY OF HOPE—who shall measure it? Those who are strangers to it are certainly strangers to the SWEETEST MATTER in spiritual life. With the exception of present communion with Christ, the JOY of a believer in this present state must be mainly the JOY OF HOPE. “It does not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that when He appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him just as He is (OUR HOPE).” (1 John 3:2) We thank God that we shall be satisfied when we wake up (from the sleep of death) in the likeness of Jesus! This ANTICIPATION (HOPE) of Heaven makes (the hurt of) earth become endurable! And the sorrows of time lose their weight when we think of the “far more exceeding and eternal weight of Glory (Our future HOPE). (2 Corinthians 4:17)”

To me,

the hope of JOY = the JOY of hope.

I do not think we can have one without the other because each produces the other. For example, I can have the hope of JOY because . . .

I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth and after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes— I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!
—Job 19:25-27

And I can also have the JOY of hope because . . .

May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. May the God of hope fill you with all JOY and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
—Romans 15:5-6, 13

Beloved, don’t you see? It doesn’t matter what is happening in our lives as long as we continue to hang our hope on our Savior. That thought alone produces so much JOY that it is impossible to stay down or depressed about our circumstances for long.

Choose JOY!

Yes, JOY is a choice that we make every single day. If we have invited Jesus Christ into our hearts as our Savior and Lord, then we have the certain hope of everlasting life in heaven with Him. And if we have that certain hope, how can we be anything but JOYFUL no matter what our circumstances?

My Redeemer lives!

Please enjoy this video of Nicole C. Mullin singing one of my favorite and comforting songs, “My Redeemer Lives.” I know it will fill you with as much hope and JOY as it does me!

If for any reason you cannot view the video, read the lyrics here.


New International Version (NIV). Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Sunday Praise and Worship: More and More

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Happy Sunday, Beloved!

I have to confess that these Sunday Praise and Worship posts are my favorite ones to put together. Why? Because I get to spend so much time listening to some wonderful praise and worship songs, which lead me to search Scripture for passages that go well with those songs.

I cannot sing along with lyrics like these without feeling the overflowing love of God, the undeniable mercy and grace of my Savior Jesus. and the fire of the Holy Spirit that guides me through my days.

Now as the people were in expectation,
and all reasoned in their hearts about John,
whether he was the Christ or not,
John answered, saying to all,
“I indeed baptize you with water;
but One mightier than I is coming,
whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose.
He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
His winnowing fan is in His hand,
and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor,
and gather the wheat into His barn;
but the chaff He will burn with unquenchable fire.”
—Luke 3:15-16

…..
The words of “More and More” by Selah should echo our hearts’ desire. May we always yearn for more and more of God in our lives.

 

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If for whatever reason you cannot view this video, you can read the complete lyrics here.

Sunday Praise and Worship (on a Saturday): Great Are You Lord

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Once again the new week has started and today is Sunday Praise and Worship time on this blog. Today’s song is all about praising the One who created everything, including us. Yes, as this songs reminds us, it is His breath that is in our lungs.

And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground,
and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life;
and man became a living being. 
—Genesis 2:7

 

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.
Praise the Lord
—Psalm 150:6

…..
Close your eyes while you listen to this joyful praise song, “Great Are You Lord,” by All Sons and Daughters. Let the worship-filled lyrics wash over you as you ponder our Lord’s holiness, power, and amazing love for us.

 

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If for whatever reason you cannot view this video, you can read the complete lyrics here.

Cry to Jesus for Rest and #JOY

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Cry to Jesus for Rest and #JOY

Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened,
and I will give you rest.
—Matthew 11:28

Resting is not something that comes naturally to me. Back in the days filled with activities, rest came as an afterthought. How things have changed! In this season of my life I need to rest between tasks to not become overly fatigued. Sometimes I need a day or two for recuperation. Gone are the days when I could clean my entire house in one morning.

Awhile back a song kept playing itself over and over in my mind and made a great impact on me. The lyrics remind me of the immense comfort and JOY I can find in Jesus when I let myself completely rest in Him. He hears my cries and knows my pain, and I am calmed when I remember that He holds my life in His hands.

When we live with daily pain, so many hours are filled not only with pain, but toss in extreme fatigue, canceled plans and stress and you have the perfect formula for frustration.

Are you like me, thinking you can’t possibly make it through the day or maybe even just the next hour? Do you wonder if you will ever be able to lead some kind of normal life again?

Beloved, God reassures us that He is always available and waiting for us to lean on Him. He encourages us to turn to Him and let Him bear the brunt of our burdens. In return we will find rest and that peace that surpasses all understanding.

Be anxious for nothing,
but in everything by prayer and supplication,
with thanksgiving,
let your requests be made known to God;

and the peace of God,
which surpasses all understanding,
will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
—Philippians 4:6-7

This song is a great encouragement for me to keep on trusting that God wants the best for me because in the end we will never feel pain again as we revel in the glorious presence of Jesus Christ, our LORD and Savior.

Please watch and listen to this great video of “Untitled Hymn (Come to Jesus)” by Chris Rice. Let the words and melody wash over you. As a believer in Christ Jesus, allow these lyrics to increase your JOY and hope in Jesus and His ultimate plan for you, which is to live with Him forever.

 

If for any reason you cannot view this video, you can read the lyrics here.

What is the joy of the Lord?

My quest this year to find JOY in my life everyday has been probably the best thing I can do to keep my focus on God and off of me and my problems. As I’ve written before, true JOY originates from the Lord, but what does that really mean?

GotQuestions?, one of my favorite sites, answers that question very well in this question of the week. Although I like to capitalize the word JOY and it’s derivatives, the piece below will stand as it was written by the author.

What is the joy of the Lord?

Question: “What is the joy of the Lord?”

Answer: The joy of the Lord is the gladness of heart that comes from knowing God, abiding in Christ, and being filled with the Holy Spirit.

When Jesus was born, the angels announced “good tidings of great joy” (Luke 2:10). All who find Jesus know, with the shepherds of the nativity, the joy He brings. Even before His birth, Jesus had brought joy, as attested to in Mary’s song (Luke 1:47) and by John’s response to hearing Mary’s voice as he “leaped for joy” in his mother’s womb (Luke 1:44).

Jesus exemplified joy in His ministry. He was no glum ascetic; rather, His enemies accused Him of being too joyful on occasion (Luke 7:34). Jesus described Himself as bridegroom enjoying a wedding feast (Mark 2:18–20); He “rejoiced in the Holy Spirit” (Luke 10:21); He spoke of “my joy” (John 15:11) and promised to give His disciples a lifetime supply of it (John 16:24). Joy is reflected in many of Jesus’ parables, including the three stories in Luke 15, which mention “rejoicing in the presence of the angels” (Luke 15:10) and end with a joyful shepherd, a joyful woman, and a joyful father.

Read the rest here.

A Lovely Rose

Sweet yellow with pink roses

I will sing of your strength, 
in the morning I will sing of your love; 

for you are my fortress, 

my refuge in times of trouble.
—Psalm 59:16

 A Lovely Rose

 By Patricia Knight

Autumn in Maine is brilliant with the leaves of deciduous trees turning all shades of red, yellow, orange, and brown. Those hues combined with the deep greens of the softwoods create a fabulous scenic panorama.

 I had just noticed the leaves beginning to turn their pretty shades last week, anticipating more lustrous color developing each day. However, in the interim, our area sustained high winds and pounding rains. Many of the leaves that potentially could have turned dazzling colors have now been pummeled to the ground.

After assessing the damage, I discovered most of the remaining flower stalks in our garden were snapped off or bent over onto the ground. Single leaves, pine needles, and whole branches of trees created a disparate carpet on the land. I was bemoaning the devastated landscape when my eyes spotted the soft shades of a single Peace rose amidst the visual commotion. It was gently swaying in the soft morning breeze. Throughout the storm, that unprotected, delicate rose had stood stalwart, yet flexible, against the prevailing winds.

How resilient are we amid the storms of life? When we are battered by disappointments and despair, do we turn to God for strength? When illness disarms us, exposing physical restrictions, and emotional adversity intimidates our otherwise strong faith, are we able to remain vigorous and unflinching?

God commands that we depend upon His mighty strength when weakness threatens to conquer us. Imagine! We can access the power of the mightiest force of the entire universe. “God is our refuge and strength,an ever present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1).  With God as our stronghold, we emerge victorious. “I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble” (Psalm 59:16).

Elijah is one of the great heroes in God’s Word. He stood alone against hundreds of the prophets of the false god, Baal, while God displayed His mighty, awesome power.

Elijah alone was victorious for his Lord. But, then, just as fast as he rejoiced in the victory, Elijah was frightened and humiliated by the one most powerful, yet blatantly wicked woman of that era. Queen Jezebel had announced that Elijah would die. He ran for his life. When weakened, he slumped under a tree requesting that God take his life. He progressed from victory to defeat in a few short hours. Elijah could teach a basic course on sudden fright and ineffectual reactions to it.

How tenacious was Elijah’Ps55-22--AMPs faith when he was no longer in control? He was so subdued by a human threat that he forgot the Source of his power and strength. Elijah was admittedly exhausted and that is what God recognized. Rather than discipline him for his lack of faith, God ministered to him by sending an angel to feed him, allowing him some sound sleep, and introducing him to Elisha, a companion and future helper in his work.  God understands even when we falter. “Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous fall” (Psalm 55:22). What a promise!

Though Elijah could only focus on the threats to his life when he was fatigued, there came a time when he awakened to the sight of a lovely rose blooming in the desert. That flower was the Rose of Sharon, the Lord Himself. He spoke to Elijah personally and audibly, in a gentle whisper. Elijah was physically and emotionally restored as God empowered him to continue the important work He had assigned him.

Let us remain steadfast in our faith so that when threats assail us, we will recognize and call to the Source of our help.

“My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth” (Psalm 121:2).

A Father’s Day Message

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Fathers, dads, papas, pops, step-dads, foster dads… today is dedicated to you.

Dads do a lot for their children, don’t they? They take them to practices, games, meetings, play dates, school, doctor appointments. They teach their kids to tie knots, catch a ball, ride a bike, dive into a pool. They love getting us to laugh by doing silly things only kids can understand. Sometimes they build forts and then play inside them with us. Other times they take us camping, help us with homework, sing with us in the car, surprise us with an  ice cream cone.

Wow, dad is one busy guy! He loves his children so much that he works hard for us and with us to make sure we have everything we need and are happy too.

What if I told you that our heavenly Father provides so much more? He loves you more than words can describe. He is referred to several times in the Bible as our Abba Father:

For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.
For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear,
but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out,
“Abba, Father.”
 
The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,

and if children, then heirs—
heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ,
if indeed we suffer with Him,
that we may also be glorified together.
—Romans 8:14-17

“The word Abba is an untranslated Aramaic word. The translators of the first English Bibles, who had great reverence for the Word of God, who believed it was indeed the Word of God, would not translate it. Abba is a very personal word that could be translated “My Daddy.” We don’t use this word in reference to God because the danger of becoming overly familiar with Him. But it expresses a heart-cry, especially in times of trouble.”¹

Beloved, God loves us so much that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved” (John 3:16-17). That is an immense, all-encompassing love!

Earlier this year, the Lord called my Dad home. I will always be thankful for the way he took care of Mom and us girls. He worked very hard to make sure our needs were met, as well as some “wants.” There are memories of wonderful vacations on Cape Cod and Sunday picnics at the park. Dad even took me to buy my first prom gown because Mom was too sick to go with me.

This collage shows my favorite photos of Dad. I miss that smile.

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Remember, “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God” (Romans 8:16). I know you’ll enjoy this video of Third Day singing Children of God.

If for any reason you cannot view this video, you can read the lyrics here.


¹Copyright © 1983 by J. Vernon McGee. Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee, Thomas Nelson, Inc., Nashville, Tennessee.