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Joy in Death?

God’s Word…Life and Truth

A Merry Christmas

A Christmas card from a long-ago neighbor arrived with sad news.

Her beloved husband of fifty-seven years went home to be with Jesus.

Our family lived next to Bud and Iris for ten years.

Bud was kind and friendly to everyone, including our rambunctious children.

I think it appropriate, learning of Bud’s passing through a Christmas card.

He and his sweet wife know Jesus as their personal Savior.

There is joy in death, when we know our loved one is in the loving arms of Jesus.

May the Psalms draw you near to God.

“You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand” (Psalm 16:11).

 

 
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Posted by on December 17, 2015 2: 46 pm - in Christmas, Eternal Life, Joy in Jesus, Psalms, Salvation

 

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Who is the King of Glory?

12919-Jesus_Hands_Resurrected_400w_tn“1 The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it. The world and all its people belong to him. For he laid the earth’s foundation on the seas and built it on the ocean depths.

Who may climb the mountain of the Lord?  Who may stand in his holy place? Only those whose hands and hearts are pure, who do not worship idols and never tell lies. They will receive the Lord’s blessing and have a right relationship with God their savior. Such people may seek you and worship in your presence, O God of Jacob.

Open up, ancient gates! Open up, ancient doors, and let the King of glory enter. Who is the King of glory? The Lord, strong and mighty; the Lord, invincible in battle. Open up, ancient gates! Open up, ancient doors, and let the King of glory enter. 10 Who is the King of glory? The Lord of Heaven’s Armies—he is the King of glory” (Psalm 24 – NLT).

As I shop for just the right gifts for our family, as I lay awake pondering on all the activities of the season, as I decorate our home, as I recall loved ones who have passed,…there’s a longing in my heart to simply be with Jesus. Do I give the King of glory full entrance into the innermost and uppermost place in my soul? In all the “pomp of external ceremonies,” is there room for Jesus?

Matthew Henry Commentary

This psalm is concerning the kingdom of Jesus Christ, I. His providential kingdom, by which he rules the world (v. 1, v. 2). II. The kingdom of his grace, by which he rules in his church. 1. Concerning the subjects of that kingdom; their character (v. 4, v. 6), their charter (v. 5). Concerning the King of that kingdom; and a summons to all to give him admission (v. 7-10). It is supposed that the psalm was penned upon occasion of David’s bringing up the ark to the place prepared for it, and that the intention of it was to lead the people above the pomp of external ceremonies to a holy life and faith in Christ, of whom the ark was a type. A psalm of David.

Who is the King of glory? (Matthew Henry Commentary)

He is Jehovah, and will be Jehovah our righteousness, an all-sufficient Saviour to us, if we give him entrance and entertainment. He is strong and mighty, and the Lord of hosts; and therefore it is at our peril if we deny him entrance; for he is able to avenge the affront; he can force his way, and can break those in pieces with his iron rod that will not submit to his golden sceptre. In singing this let our hearts cheerfully answer to this call, as it is in the first words of the next psalm, Unto thee, O Lord! do I lift up my soul.

May we simply be with the King of glory this Christmas season.

 

 

 
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Posted by on December 4, 2015 11: 32 am - in Christmas, God's Word, Joy in Jesus, Psalms

 

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God’s Word…Life and Truth

“Holy Splendor”

rose

 “Worship the Lord in all his holy splendor” (Psalm 96:9).

Splendor: great and impressive beauty (Merriam-Webster)

My husband recently surprised me with a dozen red roses.

One of the twelve survived the shock of over-fertilizing.

Underserved, I’m now delighting in its beauty.

 Analogy of Christ’s amazing grace:

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

My Jesus is due all my honor and praise.

His holy splendor is displayed in all the nations.

16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16 NIV).

Facebook friends: May the Psalms draw you near to God.

Sing a new song to the Lord! Let the whole earth sing to the Lord! Sing to the Lord; praise his name. Each day proclaim the good news that he saves. Publish his glorious deeds among the nations. Tell everyone about the amazing things he does. Great is the Lord! He is most worthy of praise! He is to be feared above all gods. The gods of other nations are mere idols, but the Lord made the heavens! Honor and majesty surround him; strength and beauty fill his sanctuary.

O nations of the world, recognize the Lord; recognize that the Lord is glorious and strong. Give to the Lord the glory he deserves! Bring your offering and come into his courts. Worship the Lord in all his holy splendor. Let all the earth tremble before him. 10 Tell all the nations, “The Lord reigns!” The world stands firm and cannot be shaken. He will judge all peoples fairly.

11 Let the heavens be glad, and the earth rejoice! Let the sea and everything in it shout his praise! 12 Let the fields and their crops burst out with joy! Let the trees of the forest sing for joy 13 before the Lord, for he is coming! He is coming to judge the earth. He will judge the world with justice, and the nations with his truth” (Psalm 96 NLT).

 

 
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Posted by on October 29, 2015 12: 04 pm - in Eternal Life, Joy in Jesus, Psalms, Salvation

 

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God’s Word…Life and Truth

 Joy in the Journey

“You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever. (Psalm 16:11)”

joy in the journey

Anticipating beautiful fall foliage in Minnesota – JOY!

A professor once told me, “Don’t miss the joy in the journey.”

He was right!

Awaiting Jeff’s graduation from Bible College, we explored the

Colorado Mountains…cheered at volleyball games & homecoming courts…made new friendships…and experienced God’s presence.

By the saving grace of Jesus, I anticipate my eternal home with gladness, and thank God for granting me joy in the journey of life.

Facebook Friends, May the Psalms draw you close to God.

“Keep me safe, O God, for I have come to you for refuge.

I said to the Lord, “You are my Master! Every good thing I have comes from you.” The godly people in the land are my true heroes! I take pleasure in them! Troubles multiply for those who chase after other gods. I will not take part in their sacrifices of blood or even speak the names of their gods.

Lord, you alone are my inheritance, my cup of blessing. You guard all that is mine. The land you have given me is a pleasant land. What a wonderful inheritance!

I will bless the Lord who guides me; even at night my heart instructs me. I know the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me.No wonder my heart is glad, and I rejoice. My body rests in safety. 10 For you will not leave my soul among the dead or allow your holy one to rot in the grave. 11 You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever” (Psalm 16, NLT).

Faith at Home Moment:

Living for Jesus brings great joy into our lives. Yes, at times we have sad and lonely days during our days on earth, but praise be to God, His presence is with us, filling us with hope, peace, and eternal joy in the journey of life. Our children need to see the joy we experience by living for Jesus. The Gospel is Good News! Take a few minutes each day reading through the Gospel of John with your children. Pray that God will fill you with His joy even in the midst of struggles. An oldie but goodie song to sing along with children: Joy, Joy Down In My Heart – http://www.psalty.com/track/687853/joy-joy-down-in-my-heart?feature_id=140418

 

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People Who Enjoy Life…Praise Jesus

 

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“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4).
Praise and gratitude lead to joy.

I originally wrote and shared this devotional/study while working at Focus on the Family (about 20 years ago now).  I think it may be useful in teaching our children/grandchildren to depend fully upon Jesus in all circumstances.

For the Apostle Paul, rejoicing was not a periodic exercise but a perpetual attitude of the heart. His penned words recorded in Philippians 3:1 and 4:4 call Christians to “keep on rejoicing in the Lord.”
Q. Who wants to prevent us from rejoicing in the Lord?
A. Satan, who “prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” 1 Peter 5: 8.
But praise be to God, Jesus said “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” John 10:10.
Q. How does Satan try to accomplish his plan, to rob us from joy and abundant life?
A. By creating unhappy circumstances to occur in our lives.
Note: Sometimes we are responsible for our own unhappy circumstances, other times we are not. Either way, it is our choice on how we will respond to these circumstances.
I love the true story of Joni Earekson Tada. Joni was paralyzed from the shoulders down at the tender age of 17, resulting from a diving accident while swimming with some friends. After a lengthy journey of rehabilitation, which included overcoming thoughts of suicide, Joni chose to trust God to fill her and use her fully for His glory, in spite of her disability.
See Joni’s website: http://www.joniearecksontadastory.com/ for inspiration and help for those who suffer from paralyzation. Not just physical paralysis, but emotional and mental. For you see, Satan also attempts to paralyze people through fear.
Definition: Paralyze
1. To affect with paralysis; cause to be paralytic.
2. To make unable to move or act: paralyzed by fear.
3. To impair the progress or functioning of; make inoperative or powerless: strict regulations that paralyze economic activity

Our circumstances are sometimes joyful and other times they are disappointing, discouraging, and sometimes extremely painful.
If we gauge our rejoicing on the ups and downs of our circumstances, we will never fulfill Paul’s command to rejoice continually.
Paul declares that in order to be joyful there is a prerequisite: being or having a thankful heart and attitude, toward God and for others. (Phil. 1:3, 4)
Thankfulness produces joyfulness and joyfulness produces thankfulness.
These two qualities are interdependent or interchangeable. They go hand in hand.
Q. Can we be joyful when our focus is on “grumbling” about our unfortunate circumstance(s)?
In the book, How to Be a Christian and Still Enjoy Life, the author, Fritz Ridenour states:
“We aren’t made happy by what we have but by what we are thankful for.”
Paul learned how to experience thankfulness and joy in all circumstances…and then was able to share this unexplainable joy to others. His letter to the Philippians was written while imprisoned in a Roman jail, with the threat of execution facing him.
Q. How can Paul’s letter to the Philippians encourage us today?
A. First and foremost, I believe:
1. We must all come to terms with the fact that we are all going to face many trials and sufferings throughout our lives.
2. If we enter the trap (of Satan or the world): that our joy is based on our circumstances, we will live sad defeated lives, with little or no hope.
3. But,…if we, like Paul, learn (through God’s Word) that our joy/thanksgiving is based on our relationship with the Lord and His purpose for our lives, and not by the ups and downs of life, then we will experience true and meaningful joy, and an everlasting hope that no one or any circumstance can rob us from.

 Acts 16:25-34

Passing on the joy of salvation to others even in the midst of our sufferings

Paul and Silas responded to their imprisonment with praise, rejoicing, and thankfulness.
Results: They drew attention from the other prisoners. A miracle took place:
1. An earthquake occurred…opening the cell door and unlocking the shackles.
2. The conversion of the jailer and his entire family.
3. Fellow prisoners became charter members of the Philippian Church.
Share personal testimonies of how you have allowed God to use your sufferings for the glory of God and the witness to others.
Pathway to Joy and Thankfulness
Q. How can we (as Christians) develop a pattern in our lives, which emulates Paul’s positive attitude in the midst of negative circumstances?
1. Stay close to other believers. (Phil. 1:4, 5) Paul was not a spiritual lone ranger. He relied on his involvement with other believers to help maintain his joy. He was in partnership with other believers. The Greek word Koinonia – means “to have in common”). I.E.: fellowship through Bible studies, small groups, corporate worship, mentorship
Joy results committing ourselves to others–even at a cost. (Outreach to others!)
2. Be confident in God’s faithfulness. (Phil. 1:6)
It’s easy to have joy when things are going well, but when the bottom falls out, we (the flesh) can feel that God has deserted us, thereby shutting off our joyful praise.
Paul reminds us that God always finishes what He starts. Circumstances are not a barometer to qualify our response to God. We rejoice in the Lord…because no matter what the circumstances look like, God has promised to complete a good work in and through us. (Phil. 1:3-6)
3. Practice forbearance. (Phil. 4:5) “Let your gentleness be evident to all.” “Love does not demand its own way!”
Gentleness means being more content to let another win than to selfishly fight for our own rights. (See Corinthians 6:1-7)
I won’t ask how many of us need growth in this area. Being first to raise my hand!
Paul was so full of praise and gratitude, his life was one big experience of reaching out to others.
4. Pray instead of worrying. (Phil. 4:6-7) A life Scripture for me.
When we learn to let go of our anxieties and thank God for what He will do, we reap the peace of God which transcends all understanding. Endless joy!
5. Think positively.
Q. How often do we miss out on inner joy because we direct all our focus on our problems?
Paul instructs believers to replace negative thoughts with positive thoughts. (Phil. 4:8)
6. Put your faith into practice. (Phil. 4:9)
Believers marked by rejoicing and thanksgiving are busy doing God things—growing, serving, and working out their faith in everyday life or circumstances.
The more involved we become with those around us and in God’s “program” (rather than our own program), the more we will enjoy life.

Conclusion: Pray for God’s help to remove any hindrances that prevent you from receiving His everlasting joy. Be mindful when praying this prayer that God may or may not choose to remove your unfortunate circumstance(s), but He will be faithful to complete your joy even in the midst of it.

Memory Verse:

  “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” Philippians 4:4. Read the rest of this entry »

 

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