Tag Results For :: "joy"




Real Wealth, Rich Simplicity

August 21st, 2012 | Tags: • , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Be good to your servant, God;
    be as good as your Word.
Train me in good common sense;
    I’m thoroughly committed to living your way.
Before I learned to answer you, I wandered all over the place,
    but now I’m in step with your Word.
You are good, and the source of good;
    train me in your goodness.
The godless spread lies about me,
    but I focus my attention on what you are saying;
They’re bland as a bucket of lard,
    while I dance to the tune of your revelation.
My troubles turned out all for the best—
    they forced me to learn from your textbook.
Truth from your mouth means more to me
    than striking it rich in a gold mine.
— Psalm 119:65-72, The Message
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A devout life does bring wealth, but it’s the rich simplicity of being yourself before God. — 1 Timothy 6:7a, The Message

What current activity or opportunity might be distracting you from enjoying this kind of simplicity in your life? When you see unmet needs for leadership and/or service around you—in your job or community, at home, school, or church, among your friends, family, and co-workers—do you want to respond and try to meet the need according to a list of “shoulds” instead of focusing on what God has specifically called you to do?

What goes? What stays? What needs adding?

Our natural inclination when we’re under pressure is to turn away from God’s peace. Notice the symptoms: Anxiety, upset, worry, irritability, comparisons, anger, and resentment. “Lord, don’t you care?” Choosing to wait upon the Lord and trust Him with our concerns isn’t easy or automatic. We can choose to turn toward Life as we seek Christ’s help and direction, wherever we find ourselves.

What comes to mind as you ask God for discernment about distractions in your life today?



Not Taking Any of This Day for Granted

August 21st, 2012 | Tags: • , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Grace is love that cares and stoops and rescues.

— John R. W. Stott

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We pondered your love-in-action, God,
waiting in your temple:
Your name, God, evokes a train
of Hallelujahs wherever
It is spoken, near and far;
your arms are heaped with goodness-in-action.

Be glad, Zion Mountain;
Dance, Judah’s daughters!
He does what he said he’d do!

Circle Zion, take her measure,
count her fortress peaks,
Gaze long at her sloping bulwark,
climb her citadel heights—
Then you can tell the next generation
detail by detail the story of God,
Our God forever,
who guides us till the end of time.

— Psalm 48:9-14, The Message

Doves cooing outside our bedroom window is a commonplace occurrence this time of year. Still, I can go for hours at a time without hearing them, simply because I’m not listening.

It’s only when I stop focusing on other things and turn my attention in the birds’ direction that I realize their sweet songs have been there all along.

Lord, how easy it is to tune out Your love and grace as my attention turns away from You toward my thoughts, concerns, and surroundings. I want to look and listen more often for You; I’m not taking any of this day for granted. Open my ears to your music and fill my heart with Your songs — in Christ, I pray.



A Prayer for Abigail

August 21st, 2012 | Tags: • , , , , , , , , , , , ,

“Wherever you are, be all there. Live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God.”

— Jim Elliot

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God, teach me lessons for living
so I can stay the course.
Give me insight so I can do what you tell me—
my whole life one long, obedient response.
Guide me down the road of your commandments;
I love traveling this freeway!
Give me a bent for your words of wisdom,
and not for piling up loot.
Divert my eyes from toys and trinkets,
invigorate me on the pilgrim way.
Affirm your promises to me—
promises made to all who fear you.
Deflect the harsh words of my critics—
but what you say is always so good.
See how hungry I am for your counsel;
preserve my life through your righteous ways!

— Psalm 119:33-40, The Message

Abigail had an amazing moment last night when she was the first graduate to enter the auditorium, both hands waving. As she wheeled across the stage at the Frank Erwin Center in downtown Austin, the highlights of her life’s journey filled my heart. Through it all, God has strengthened and sustained this remarkable young woman. Her life portrays a shining picture of His beauty and grace.

Lord, bless all of us who rely on Your strength in our weakness. Smooth the path ahead as we travel the road You lead us on. Thank you for the life, the hope, and the peace you alone give. May Your joy be ours—in Christ, we pray.   

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Joining In

May 17th, 2012 | Tags: • , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

O Lord, save us; 
O Lord, grant us success.
 Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
 From the house of the Lord we bless you. 


The Lord is God, 
and he has made his light shine upon us.
 With boughs in hand, join in the festal procession
 up to the horns of the altar.

You are my God, and I will give you thanks;
 you are my God, and I will exalt you.

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
 his love endures forever.

—   Psalm 118:25-29, NIV

 

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“You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand,” declared David (Ps. 16:11, NIV). But we must take time to pray, to wait, to listen. 

How much we need to hear and heed Jesus’ promise that He will strengthen us for the journey ahead and light our way with His unfailing love, grace, and protection. With our hearts focused on God’s kingdom and our minds set on Christ, our hungry souls are strengthened, sustained, and shielded from harm.

Day by day we can lift our souls to the Lord of life, asking Him to lead us, feed us, fortify us, and make us more fruitful: “Fill my cup, Lord—I lift it up, Lord! Come and quench the thirsting of my soul; Bread of Heaven, feed me till I want no more—Fill my cup, fill it up and make me whole!”

 

Almighty God, we give Thee thanks for the mighty yearning of the human heart, for the coming of a Savior, and the constant promise of Thy Word that He was to come. In our own souls we repeat the humble sighs and panting aspirations of ancient men and ages, and own that our souls are in darkness and infirmity without faith in Him who comes to bring God to man and man to God. We bless Thee for the tribute we can pay to Him from our very sense of need and dependence, and that our own hearts can so answer, from their wilderness, the cry, “Prepare ye the way of the Lord.” In us the rough places are to be made smooth, the crooked straight, the mountains of pride brought low, and the valleys of despondency lifted up. O God, prepare Thou the way in us now, and may we welcome anew Thy Holy Child. Hosanna! blessed be He who cometh in the name of the Lord — Amen.

— Samuel Osgood 



Bouyant

April 25th, 2012 | Tags: • , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Seek to cultivate a buoyant, joyous sense of the crowded kindnesses of God in your daily life. 

—Alexander MacLaren (1826-1910)

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“Joy, not grit, is the hallmark of holy obedience. We need to be light-hearted in what we do to avoid taking ourselves too seriously. It is a cheerful revolt against self and pride. Our work is jubilant, carefree, merry. Utter abandonment to God is done freely and with celebration. And so I urge you to enjoy this ministry of self-surrender. Don’t push too hard. Hold this work lightly, joyfully.”

—Richard J. Foster

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Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 

—1 Thessalonians 5:16, NIV



What Do We Lack?

April 20th, 2012 | Tags: • , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

How priceless is your unfailing love!
Both high and low among men
find refuge in the shadow of your wings.
They feast on the abundance of your house;
you give them drink from your river of delights.
For with you is the fountain of life;
in your light we see light.

— Psalm 36:7-9

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In the seventeenth century Francis Quarles wrote, “In having all things but Thee, what have I? Not having Thee, what have my labors got? Let me enjoy but Thee, what further crave I? And having Thee alone, what have I not?”

Indeed, if we belong to Jesus and His Spirit has found a home in our hearts, what do we lack? As we take time out to taste Christ’s eternal bounty, what further do we crave except more of Him? Still, it’s amazingly easy to dismiss this vital truth if our schedules begin to overflow with stressful activity, drain our inner reserves, and cause us to grow weary with life’s complex demands.

“Taste and see that the Lord is good,” David’s psalm invites us. “Oh, the joys of those who trust in him!” (Ps. 34:8, NLT). We don’t have to wait until tomorrow to seek and find the source of our soul’s satisfaction.

 

Jesus, Thou Joy of loving hearts,

Thou Fount of life, Thou Light of men,

From the best bliss that earth imparts,

We turn unfilled to Thee again.

 

Thy truth unchanged has ever stood,

Thou savest those that on Thee call;

To them that seek Thee, Thou are good,

To them that find Thee, all in all.

 

We taste Thee, O Thou Living Bread,

And long to feast upon Thee still;

We drink of Thee, the Fountainhead,

And thirst our souls from Thee to fill.

 

Our restless spirits long for Thee,

Where’er our changeful lot is cast;

Glad when Thy gracious smile we see,

Blest when our faith can hold Thee fast.

 

O Jesus, ever with us stay,

Make all our moments calm and bright;

Chase the dark night of sin away,

Shed o’er the world Thy holy light.

— Bernard of Clairvaux (1091-1153)



A Place Like This

April 19th, 2012 | Tags: • , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

What a beautiful home, God-of-the-Angel-Armies!

I’ve always longed to live in a place like this,
Always dreamed of a room in your house,
where I could sing for joy to God-alive!

— Psalm 84:1-2, The Message

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A few weeks ago while checking out a realtor’s open house in a nearby neighborhood, to my surprise I found myself entering a residence that seemed like a perfect fit. Though I had no intention whatsoever of making a move to a different address before walking in the door, once inside my imagination took over.

What a beautiful home….

Here’s the kind of place I’ve always longed to live in….

I’ve often dreamed of staying in a room much like this one, where I could….

It’s a given: As long as I’m camped out here on earth, there will be a part of me that will keep longing for my perfect home, no matter where I am, regardless of how plain or attractive my temporary tent is. Even so, until I reach heaven, I’ll continue praying for the grace to realize where I am now.

Lord, open my eyes to Your eternal reality, that I may see today where I am already abiding.

 

“For we know that if the earthly frame that houses us today should be demolished, we possess a building which God has provided—a house not made by human hands, eternal, and in heaven. In this present body we do indeed groan; we yearn to have our heavenly habitation put on over this one—in the hope that, being thus clothed, we shall not find ourselves naked. We groan indeed, we who are enclosed within this earthly frame; we are oppressed because we do not want to have the old body stripped off. Rather our desire is to have the new body put on over it, so that our mortal part may be absorbed into life immortal. God himself has shaped us for this very end; and as a pledge of it he has given us the Spirit.

Therefore we never cease to be confident. We know that so long as we are at home in the body we are exiles from the Lord; faith is our guide, we do not see him. We are confident, I repeat, and would rather leave our home in the body and go to live with the Lord. We therefore make it our ambition, wherever we are, here or there, to be acceptable to him.” — 2 Cor. 4:16-18; 5:1-9, New English Bible



Morning Colors

April 17th, 2012 | Tags: • , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

“If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied withgettingso you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.” — Matthew 6:30-33, The Message
 

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After visiting the Lady BIrd Johnson Wildflower Center for a photo shoot, I closed my eyes for a moment. Nothing in my closet or in any clothing store can compare with to the colors I saw this morning, lit by the sunlight under a cloudless blue sky.

Lord, You are my portion and my peace. Will you help me keep remembering where to find true beauty?

 

Everything we call a trial, a sorrow, a duty: believe me. That angel’s hand is there, the gift is there, and the wonder of an overshadowing Presence. Our joys too: be not content with them as joys. They too conceal diviner gifts. Life is so full of meaning and purpose, so full of beauty beneath its covering, that you will find earth but cloaks your heaven. Courage, then, to claim it, that is all! But courage you have, and the knowledge that we are pilgrims wending through unknown country on our way home.

—Fra Angelico (1387-1455)

 



Not As the World Gives

April 10th, 2012 | Tags: • , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.
— John 14:27, NASB

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Come unto Me, ye weary, and I will give you rest.
O Blessed voice of Jesus, which comes to hearts oppressed!
It tells of benediction, of pardon, grace, and peace,
Of joy that hath no ending, of love which cannot cease.

— William C. Dix (1837-1898), “Come Unto Me, Ye Weary”

 

For the thirsty, the hungry, and the distracted, the message of Christ is the same. Jesus speaks of pardon and forgiveness, of joy and peace, given freely to all who look to him to satisfy their innermost needs. Are you trusting the Lord with your heart today? Can you accept he is bringing you ever closer to being conformed to his own character and image? We can live in hopeful expectation believing he will complete the work he has begun.