40 Days Of Joy – Day 29 – 1 Peter 1:7-9


February 25, 2021


“40 Days of JOY”


Joy Unspeakable


1 Peter 1:7-9


“These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”

How do you think the Apostle Peter – the author of this book and writing to believers who were exiles scattered throughout a wide geographic area – was able to write these words?

Because he KNEW where Jesus was… and so did these Believers.  He is seated at the right hand of the Father.

AFTER the resurrection, Thomas said he would not believe UNLESS he could put his fingers into the nail scars.  After he did he exclaimed, “‘My Lord and my God!’  Then Jesus told him, ‘You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.’” (John 20:28-29)

Blessed can be a synonym for “happy” or “joyful.”  And it seems here that Peter was telling these scattered Christians that their belief proves the genuineness of their faith and a reminder that – in time – Christ will be revealed (again)!

He goes on to say: You believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy (which comes from heaven), for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”

How about YOU?  Are you looking forward to Jesus’ coming again?  That can be a source of HOPE and JOY!

Prayer: LORD, please come again soon.  We all need you.  Maranatha.  Amen.

 



40 Days Of Joy – Day 28 – James 1:2-4


February 24, 2021


“40 Days of JOY”


The JOY of Trials


James 1:2-4


“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

Have you ever considered how you get better at something?  Whether it’s playing a sport, learning the piano, learning how to speak in public – or anything else?  How do you get better at the task?

By trying.  And trying is difficult.  But, it is how we get better, stronger, and more skilled.

Here, the LORD says through James – Jesus’ brother – that we can be JOYFUL about various trials that come our way because each one can be used – by God – to build us up.  Trials can help our faith to GROW and develop “stick-to-it-ness” (aka perseverance)… which is an amazingly positive quality to develop.

Then, verse 4 promises us that if we let “perseverance” finish its work, we’ll be mature and complete.

Another translation says it this way: “And then as your endurance grows even stronger, it will release perfection into every part of your being until nothing is missing and nothing lacking.”

Being complete and lacking nothing sounds pretty good!  But alas, the PATH to get there usually requires some challenges and difficult “testing” or trials.

Much like when we work with weights, our muscles become fatigued… it’s all part of the strengthening process. And if we don’t lift at least slightly heavier weights, we will cease to grow and stagnate where we are.

Going through life, are many things about which we need to get better and stronger.  Trials are a primary way that happens, thus, why we can be JOYFUL despite it all.

Prayer: LORD, please provide me wisdom to see the VALUE in the challenges, difficulties, and trials you allow to come my way.  Amen.

 



40 Days Of Joy – Day 26 – Romans 14:17


February 23, 2021


“40 Days of JOY”


The Important Thing


Romans 14:17


For, after all, the important thing for us as Christians is not what we eat or drink but stirring up goodness and peace and joy from the Holy Spirit.”  (LB)

Can you remember the last party you went to (back when we could actually GO to parties?)  What do you remember about it?

I remember the people who were there… my friends – some old friends, some new ones – and then perhaps the REASON for the party.  I seldom remember the food or the decorations, but the people? Yes!

In the NIV – and some other translations –the first part of this verse reads this way: “For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking…”

Remember that Jesus told his followers to Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” (Matt 6:33 NLT)

The problem most of us living in America have is that we have SO much stuff and think most of it is “vital” to our JOY.

I wonder how much of the “stuff” you have you don’t really need?  Not that there’s anything wrong with what you have… but is it essential?

In the days of the ancient Olympics (begun in 776 BC), the competitors – all men at the time – competed naked. The idea was to shun any hindrance to the contestant doing his very best.

I can hear the Apostle Paul thinking along the same lines as he encourages the church at Rome – and by extension, us – not to get bogged down in incidentals such as food and drink… but instead to focus on what matters: “goodness and peace and joy from the Holy Spirit.”

Prayer: LORD, I admit many things in my life distract me from the essential things.  Please help me to focus more on your Kingdom and to enjoy the gifts. You offer from Your Spirit. Amen.

 



40 Days Of Joy – Day 26 – Jeremiah 15:16


February 22, 2021


“40 Days of JOY”


God’s WORDS and JOY


Jeremiah 15:16 cut this


Your words are what sustain me; they are food to my hungry soul. They bring joy to my sorrowing heart and delight me. How proud I am to bear your name, O Lord.”  (LB)

Did you eat yesterday? I’ll guess you did.  Why? Didn’t you eat the day before?  And of course… you did then too.

The point is that we people do typically eat EVERY day to stay healthy and sustained.  Our bodies take the food we eat and convert it into energy which keeps us going.  Stop eating, and eventually, we stop living.  Of course, we enjoy and delight in eating (sometimes too much so)!

The prophet Jeremiah was paralleling the experience of eating food physically, with the “food” that God’s words provided for him.

“Your words are what sustain me; they are food for my hungry soul.”  But then he also adds that God’s words bring JOY and DELIGHT to him.

You may never have considered God’s Word in those terms, but JOY through the Word of God is available to YOU and me too!

Sometimes the Old Testament is puzzling for Christians.  But I like teaching that although the Old Testament was not written TO us, it was written FOR us.

Similarly, Paul said: “The whole Bible was given to us by inspiration from God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives; it straightens us out and helps us do what is right.” (2 Timothy 3:16, LB)

Our God wants us – His children – to be healthy and have enough to eat, and spiritual food – that is, His Word – is a part of that plan!

Prayer: LORD, help me to remember daily how important your Word is to my JOY, my health, and my soul.  Amen.   

 



40 Days Of Joy – Day 25 – Galatians 5:22-23


February 19, 2021


“40 Days of JOY”


Fruity


Galatians 5:22-23


“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, against which there is no law.”

Imagine for a moment if EVERYONE in the country lived and demonstrated the “fruit of the Spirit” listed here: “love, joy, peace, patience (aka forbearance), kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”  Wow! Then to quote that old song, “What a wonderful world, this would be!”

But alas, without the Holy Spirit’s help, it’s just not possible for any person to live like that.   Unfortunately, there are even many “Christians” who don’t demonstrate these FRUITS.

But focusing on JOY for a moment… if one is truly “born again,” he or she should naturally show, feel, and demonstrate JOY, as well as the other fruit of the Spirit. That person – the Believer – has a natural connection to the ONE who can supply us with these fruits.  They don’t have to be asked for… they are provided along with the new birth.  And thus, they should be visible to others as we go about our lives in the world.

Are they?  Are you showing JOY in the world in which you live?  If not, whose fault is it?  (Hint: NOT God’s.)

Understand that the LORD wants you and me – His children – to be joyful and happy and blessed, just as we all want this for our own children.

So again… what’s keeping YOU from experiencing and showing JOY as you live your life?

Are you “plugged-in” to the Power Source (the Holy Spirit)?  Or have you inadvertently kicked the plug out of the wall and so don’t have the power to let your light shine?

Here’s what you do to reconnect: Ask forgiveness for any wrongs.  Ask Him to fill you with His joy. Then, go about in the knowledge and power that by being JOYFUL, you are being obedient to the LORD.

Prayer: LORD, forgive me for letting my joy diminish.  Forgive me for any wrongs and, as David said in the Psalms, “Restore unto me the JOY of Thy salvation!”  Amen.

 



40 Days Of Joy – Day 24 – Romans 15:13


February 18, 2021


“40 Days of JOY”


Songs of JOY


Romans 15:13


“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.”


Sometimes, it’s fun to pick out the KEY words in a verse of Scripture.  

In this verse, there are many KEY words: God, hope, joy, peace, trust, overflow, and Holy Spirit.

Paul is sharing what we might call a “benediction.” A benediction is words of blessing and uplift to a people at the end of a service – or in this case – near the end of his letter to the Christians in Rome.

And back in those days, just a few years after the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Christians (aka Followers of Jesus or Followers of The Way) were not well regarded within the Roman government and thus were persecuted by the Romans for their faith in Christ.

So, Paul’s “benediction” or blessing was probably very much appreciated by the church there.

“May the God of HOPE FILL YOU WITH ALL JOY and peace.”  When we experience tough times, the things Paul mentioned here are all things we need.

I guess that YOU TOO could use a dose of HOPE and JOY and PEACE.  So much is going on in our world, in our country. So much is unknown. So many people are looking DOWN on religion in general and Christianity in particular.  Our nation’s history is being attacked.  Our founders being denigrated and are not here to defend themselves.

Thus, WE NEED a hefty dose of HOPE and JOY and PEACE.  How do we get that?  “… as you trust in HIM.”   Then we shall OVERFLOW with HOPE by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Prayer: LORD, you know how much I need HOPE today.  And JOY and PEACE.  I do trust in You.  Help me where I’m weak in my trust and help me to be strong so that I may overflow with Your hope by the Holy Spirit.  Amen .

 



40 Days Of Joy – Day 23 – Psalm 126:5-6


February 17, 2021


“40 Days of JOY”


Songs of JOY


Psalm 126:5-6


“Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy. Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them.”


Have you ever argued with someone dear to you?  Maybe a brother or sister or spouse?  And just maybe… you were wrong?

What fixed it? What healed the relationship?

It usually starts with admitting you were wrong—an apology, asking for forgiveness, sincerely, from the heart.

If the other person cares at all, he or she will offer forgiveness and then the relationship can begin complete healing.

It’s like that with our heavenly Father.

When we are wrong, when we “miss the mark,” when we sin, there is a chasm between Him and us.

These verses from Psalm 126 were likely written after the Babylonian captivity and expressed – in tears – their remorse, apology, and asking forgiveness from God.

God is faithful and WILL forgive all trespasses “If we confess our sins, He is just and able to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from ALL unrighteousness.”  (1 John 1:9)

When we demonstrate to the LORD the acknowledgment of our sin and our sincere desire for forgiveness, HE will forgive us and restore our relationship with HIM so that we can “reap songs of joy!” 

Remember that our Heavenly Father loves us and – like any good earthly father – wants to have a good, unfettered relationship with each of us… His children.   (Remember: He is “Our Father who art in heaven.” )  But remember… though our natural selves want JOY without any tears (whether real or just attitudinal), it doesn’t work that way with the LORD GOD of the universe.  Without forgiveness, there can be no real JOY.

Prayer: LORD, help me see when and where I miss YOUR holy mark, and help me be honest and bold enough to confess those sins and THEN to look to you for restored JOY.  Amen.

 

 



40 Days Of Joy – Day 22 – John 16:24


February 16, 2021


“40 Days of JOY”


Complete Joy


John 16:24


“Until now, you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask, and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.”


Did you ever write a wish list for “Santa Claus”?  Did it make you happy to think about getting stuff at Christmas? Were you excited to get up Christmas morning and see what – if anything – was there?

I can remember doing that.  I think at least once I wrote a letter and EVERY Christmas morning, my two sisters, Karen and Janet, and I were excited to “go see” what was under the tree!

When I got older, I could start to imagine the JOY our parents felt when they saw how excited and happy we were with whatever present was there.  We were their kids, and they wanted us to be happy!

Have you ever thought of your Heavenly Father in those terms?  Have you ever considered that HE loves us – His children – even more than our parents loved us and likewise wants HIS children to be happy too?  He wants us to be FULL of JOY – or as these words from Jesus said, “… ask, and you will receive, and your JOY will be complete!”

The Enemy of our faith – the liar of all liars – doesn’t want we who are following Jesus to think of the LORD in those terms.  He doesn’t want us to believe that God wants the BEST for His children. That the LORD wants His children to be full of JOY, happy and blessed!

Our Heavenly Father DOES want that for you… and me… and all the other Christians.  And one KEY is to ASK Him in prayer for what you need, desire and want.   He may say “NO” to some things – but only because our Father really knows best!

Prayer: LORD, help me always to remember how MUCH you love me and want me to be full of JOY!  You are good, all the time!  Amen.

 



40 Days Of Joy – Day 21- Psalm 71:1-3


February 15, 2021


“40 Days of JOY”


Who to Trust


Psalm 71:1-3


In You, O LORD, I put my trust; let me never be put to shame. Deliver me in Your righteousness, and cause me to escape; incline Your ear to me, and save me. Be my strong refuge, to which I may resort continually; You have given the commandment to save me, for You are my rock and my fortress.” 


One dictionary says: “Joy is an emotion that’s acquired by the anticipation, acquisition or even the expectation of something great or wonderful.”

The Psalmist here – maybe David, maybe not – makes it clear where he is putting his trust: “In YOU O LORD, I put my trust.”

And so, what is the result of doing that? What is the result of putting your trust in the LORD?  In looking to HIM to be your “strong refuge” and your “resort”?

The result, in a word, is JOY. The specifics include: never being put to shame, providing escape (from troubles), salvation, and the LORD being our rock and fortress.

The Message version puts it this way: “Put your ear to the ground and listen, give me space for salvation.   Be a guest room where I can retreat; you said your door was always open!”   That’s a fun version!

We all need an occasional getaway, a retreat, and a time to rest from the daily tasks, and that is a place of JOY!

Have you considered putting your TRUST in the LORD as being a way of providing this type of rest, escape, saving, and all?

It reminds me of what Jesus said, “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and ALL these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33)

Prayer: LORD, help me to get better at putting my trust in You.  I know I should, and sometimes I do, but if I’m honest, not always.  I was hoping you could help me to have the attitude of the Psalmist here.  Amen .

 

 



40 Days Of Joy – Day 20 – 1 Chronicles 16:26–28


February 12, 2021


“40 Days of JOY”


Finding JOY in Him


1 Chronicles 16:26 – 28


“For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the LORD made the heavens. Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and joy are in his dwelling place. Ascribe to the LORD, all you families of nations, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.”


If the last people who visited your home were asked if they saw your home as a JOYFUL place, what would they answer?

That’s a rather pointed question.  And yet, for the follower of Jesus, there would be nothing at all wrong with hoping and expecting visitors to see our homes as joy-full places.

So, the next question that may pop in your thinking might be, “Ok, so how does that happen? How can my home BE a joyful place?”

At least part of the answer to that question lies in these verses from this Old Testament passage.

We read that “strength and joy are in his dwelling place.”  The Amplified Bible says: Splendor and majesty are [found] in His presence; Strength and joy are [found] in His place (sanctuary).

The Message version reads:  “Splendor and majesty flow out of him, strength and joy fill his place.”

Thus, where we SPEND TIME, makes the difference.  Spend time in His sanctuary and you’ll find strength and joy.  Does that mean spending time in a church building?  Well, that might not be a bad thing… but it’s better to understand this as spending time in His presence.  In prayer.  In His Word.  Listening to His “still small voice” within. And that we can do seven days a week!

Prayer: LORD, thank You for offering me strength and joy by spending quality time with You.  Help me make that a daily priority and not just something I do if and when everything else is done.  Amen.