Tag Archives: joy

Exodus 33-34; Looking The Part

Often when reading this portion of Scripture I am struck by the change in Moses’ appearance after spending time with God. I was today as well. But God has me thinking about another aspect of this truth.

When God introduced Himself to Moses He said He is, “The Lord.” Then He said it again, “The Lord.” I AM. I AM. He went on to tell Moses He is compassionate, gracious, slow to anger, loving, faithful, forgiving, and just. I’m thinking, who wouldn’t want to hang out with someone like this?

And why wouldn’t spending time with God cause us to shine, too? At least put a genuine smile on our faces.

Here is what spoke to me today. Moses continued to talk to the people, continued to share what God was saying to him, continued to lead them. Oh, he toned it down a little because the people were a bit uncomfortable in his presence. But there could be no denying that Moses had spent time with God Himself, and that spending time with God had changed him.

I think we can learn from Moses that we shouldn’t keep our encounter with God to ourselves. My prayer is that people may recognize I’ve been in His Presence by the words I say, the love I show, the joy in my heart, and the smile on my face.

I don’t want to be obnoxious about it, but may people see Jesus in me.

Advertisements

December 12 – A Clear Conscience

Acts 20:4-23:35

Paul said something to the Council in Jerusalem that got my attention. Paul, as Saul, had persecuted the church. He was responsible for the imprisonment of hundreds of men and women who were guilty of nothing more than believing in Jesus. He was present when Stephen was stoned to death, even approving of the murder.

But in 23:1 he said, “Brethern, I have lived my life with a perfectly good conscience before God up to this day.

Seriously? Paul could say he wasn’t overcome with guilt about his past? Shouldn’t what he’d done give him sleepless nights over feelings of regret?

This week I have struggled with memories of how I treated my parents, both of whom now live with Jesus. Did mom know how much I appreciated the white suit she had made for me for homecoming? Did she forgive me for unkind words I’d said to her in my youth? Why did I choose to go to that jewelry party at my coworker’s house instead of welcoming Dad the night he drove 60 miles to surprise me? Mom had died. He was alone and lonely. And I didn’t stay. Why didn’t I hug my nephew the last time I saw him? Our eyes connected, but we didn’t hug. And he died a few days later. Did he know how much I loved him?

Friends, I have a guilty conscience. I see the faces of friends I betrayed, the looks of people who received the biting words I said, the hurt I caused. And I am sitting here weeping with regret.

I didn’t commit the sins Paul did. Yet he could say he had a perfectly good conscience before God. HOW?

I am reminded that I am forgiven. Jesus took the guilt upon Himself. I can stand before Him with a good conscience because when God looks at me He sees Jesus’ perfection. He’s forgiven me of all those things I did and didn’t do, and He’s forgotten them. I am guilt-free as far as He’s concerned.

So when I struggle with guilt, like I have these past days, I need to recognize that it’s not coming from my Savior. It’s Satan’s attempt to make me a slave to my past.

God, forgive me for falling for that. Thank you for forgiving me. I am a sinner. I am guilty of unspeakable sins. And I can feel pretty bad about them. Help me to remember that Jesus died so that those sins can be washed away, never to be remembered by You ever again. Help me to rejoice in my salvation, to never live another minute regretting what I can’t change. And give me the power to not repeat the sins I’ve committed. I don’t want to miss the joy of living with a perfectly good conscience before the God who gave it to me.

October 14 – Calming The Sea

Matthew 13; Luke 8

Jesus calmed the sea. In the middle of a violent storm, Jesus spoke a word and calm came over the water. A boat full of frightened people, tossed by waves and in danger of dying were saved.

I can’t help but think of Hurricane Matthew as I read these verses, and I certainly reminded God of them when I was praying during that storm. But God seems to be asking me to look beyond calming waters.

The real miracle is when Jesus calms individuals in the midst of the storms of life. When the death of a loved one doesn’t steal our joy. When a devastating medical prognosis doesn’t shake our faith. When the loss of a job or a relationship doesn’t shatter our hope. When a hurricane is pounding your house, and you can still trust God with the outcome. When “worry” isn’t part of your vocabulary.

The real miracle is the peace that is beyond understanding even in the darkest moments, in the roughest waters of our lives.

October 12 – Burdens

Matthew 11

How can some people go through trials and hardships with joy while the same experience destroy others? I think of Corrie Ten Boome, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Joni Erickson Tada, Steve Saint. You many know people like my friend Sherry at the end of a long battle with cancer, yet singing God’s praises with joy in her heart. You probably know other people losing the cancer fight angry and bitter.

We all have burdens. Why don’t we all carry them the same way? I believe the difference is Jesus who says:

Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. (vs 28)

God doesn’t promise to take away the burden, only to lighten it, only to give us rest in the carrying. Joy isn’t something we have to manufacture when we are going through trials. It’s something He gives out of His great love for us, for our good, and His glory.

Are you carrying a burden? Go to Him. Let Him be to you exactly what you need at this time in your life. Confess your sins, lay your burden at His feet, and let Him give you rest.

_____________

I am actually sitting on my back porch this morning. The hurricane damage is evident on this island but it amazes me how many trees are down around houses instead of on them. In my own back yard a neighbor’s tree fell without touching his house, my house, or the house behind me. It’s like God directed that thing to fall in the only safe place it could have fallen. My windows are intact, my roof is undamaged, my house still stands. We prayed. God answered.

Praise God. I give Him all the glory.

 

 

September 24 – Purim

Esther 6-10

Not being a Jew, and unfamiliar with Jewish customs, I googled “Purim” this morning after reading these chapters in Esther. I found that this holiday “is the most fun-filled, action-packed day of the Jewish year.” (chabad.org)

Jews go to the synagogue two times in two days to hear every word of the book of Esther read publicly. Whenever Haman’s name is mentioned, they twirl noisemakers and stamp their feet to “eradicate his evil name.”

The Jews give money and food to at least two needy people during Purim. And they donate to whoever asks, without verifying the need.

Every Jew gives food gifts to at least one Jewish acquaintance. They enjoy a festive meal with family, complete with a beautifully decorated table, and dressed up in their finest clothes or in cheerful costumes.

They eat, and laugh, and sing, and pray. They enjoy remembering the day they, as a nation, were saved thousands of years ago.

Which got me thinking. My own salvation was only a few decades ago. And I can’t begin to tell you how many days, or weeks (or years) go by when I don’t even give that glorious day a thought. Oh, I’m aware of it, and thankful for it. But I don’t think I celebrate that day like it warrants.

As I sit here today, I remember. I remember where I was sitting in the sanctuary of Westwood Alliance Church that February evening. I was a teenager among others in our youth group. I remember the evangelist who played beautiful music by using his fingertips to rub the rims of crystal glasses filled with water to different levels. I remember sitting there, while the congregation sang an invitation hymn, and trying to tell God that my friends would think there was something wrong with me if I went forward. I didn’t want anyone to think I was a bad person. Besides, hadn’t I asked Jesus into my heart when I was in pre-school?

I remember watching my sister go to the altar that night, and knew I had no excuse. God was asking me to take that step, to make Him Lord of my life once and for all. And I did.

I feel like singing!

That day changed my life. I wonder why I don’t celebrate my second birth like I do my birthday. It wouldn’t hurt! I have reason to live generously, lovingly, joyfully because I was born again. Sounds like a party!

God, thank You for this lesson in Esther, and for the Jewish tradition of Purim that has me remembering the day I was saved from my enemy. Thank You for that evangelist, and the words he spoke that night that penetrated my heart. Thank You for forgiving me, for paying my sin debt, for living inside of me all these years later. And because of that day, I can have a fun-filled, action-packed life walking with You. I love You!!

May 28 – I Love the Lord

Psalms 111-118

Sometimes I read a psalm and am surprised at how it reflects my own thoughts as though I had written it myself. These psalms I read today have me praising God.

Psalm 112 says we who fear the Lord are blessed. We who love to obey Him are blessed. To the world, that seems backwards. Fear God? What’s to fear in our heavenly Santa Claus who wags his tail like a puppy when we call him, and wants only to please us? Obey Him? Doesn’t God want me to be happy and strong and follow my heart? It’s my life. What’s right for me doesn’t have to be right for you. Right?

I am reminded that what the world has to offer in its definition of happiness is shallow and an imitation of that which God gives through His Son. This Holy God and Judge is to be feared. He demands perfect obedience.

Yet this Holy God wants to and will bless us with heavenly blessings when we obey Him, by accepting His Son as our Savior. It’s a blessing and joy the world can’t understand or manufacture.

I am blessed by God Himself. Let it be known that I love the Lord!

May 23 – Joy in the Mourning

2 Samuel 24, I Chronicles 21-22, Psalm 30

Sing praise to the Lord, you His godly ones, and give thanks to His holy name. For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for a lifetime; weeping may last for the night, but a shout of joy comes in the morning. (Psalm 30:4-5)

I don’t know what losses you have had in your lifetime. I have buried loved ones and it hurts. The thing about death is, it’s irreversible. Our loved ones are gone from this world and they are not coming back.

I’ve wept more than one night over the deaths of my parents and nephew. Weeping for a night followed by joy in the morning doesn’t necessarily describe my experience. Yet the psalmist says it like it’s a given.

As I realize joy is a gift God wants to give me, I am convicted. David goes on to say God is his helper, God turned David’s mourning into dancing, and God removed David’s sackcloth, the outward expression of David’s sadness, and instead God clothed David with gladness.

God did that. David didn’t have to manufacture some positive thoughts or light a candle. David only had to let God do His thing.

And so do I.