Joy Full or Joy Less?

Pastor Joy Full walked through her living room thinking about the paradox of her name.  She had married John Full just before he left to go to Iraq.  He was only there for two months when she got the official visit.  He had been killed by a sniper in the line of duty.  The ‘line of duty’ made it sound okay, but it wasn’t okay.  In point of fact, nothing was okay.

She fell on the big leather chair that John had picked out before he deployed.  She shook her head.  Jesus was supposed to be enough, but right now, today, He was as distant as John’s memory. Once again, she spoke her name.  Joy Full.   Her name did not suggest who she had become.  She should have been married John Less or John Empty, then things would have lined up with who she is today.

Her husband had been so full of life; so like his name.  He loved the Lord with all His heart and he loved her passionately.  It was some comfort to know that He was enjoying life with the Heavenly Father.  It should have pulled her toward Father, but she hadn’t wanted to visit Him in the Throne Room lately.  She held him responsible.  How could He let this happen?

Joy knew that Father God didn’t cause John to die, but the Truth was not setting her free tonight.  She was due at the church in an hour for the Tuesday night prayer meeting.  The group spent more time talking about people than praying.  She chided herself for not being a better leader.  She knew the faithful would show up but she just could not face it.  Sue Ellen had a key.  She wouldn’t be missed.

She rubbed the arm of the brown leather chair.  “I miss you, John.”  She burst into tears!  She picked up her jacket, threw a few things in a suitcase, stopped by the bank and took out $1000 leaving a small balance.  After she had filled the car with gas she started driving.  She didn’t know where she was going, but she was fleeing her home, the church, and the pain.  She turned on the CD  player.  An old friend of the family, a pastor from her hometown, was teaching.  She had always found his voice soothing.  His Scripture was Proverbs 3:5, 6.  It was her life verse.

5Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.  6In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

As she drove, tears rolled down her cheeks.  The ache in her heart, that she had ignored for these last two years, spread until she was sobbing uncontrollably.  She pulled off at a rest area and parked a good distance from the other cars.  She put the seat back and gave in.  She screamed at God.  “How could you?  I have lived my life for you!  How could you let this happen?”  Joy gasped for air, “John loved you and he loved me.  We served you!”  The rant went on for some time.  When she stopped, she listened but Father God was silent.

From complete exhaustion laid her head back and slept fitfully for thirty minutes.  She resumed driving.  Once she crossed the state line, she began to look for a place to spend the night and checked into a small roadside inn, paid in cash, and went straight to bed.

In the quiet of the morning, she saw the Gideon Bible on the night stand and she opened it.  It fell to Proverbs 3.  She smiled and breathed a sigh.  Her heavenly Father was letting her know that He hadn’t forgotten her.   “I know you heard me, Father,” she said.

She knelt on the floor by the bed and asked for permission to enter His Presence in the name of her big Brother, Jesus.  She crawled upon her Heavenly Father’s lap and poured out her heart.  She surrendered it all.  She gave Him the pain, the rejection, the loneliness, the emptiness, and her broken heart.  She told Him that she was sorry and that she knew that she would not heal until she gave up her right to this pain and the feeling that she was justified in holding on to it.

As she waited in His Presence, a sense of relief and joy began to fill her heart.  She recognized the grace and mercy of the Father’s love flooding her very being.  How foolish it had been to resist Him.  She knew that she would always miss John but the miracle of God’s love and mercy had pulled the stinger out of the pain.  She could release her hold on John and give him to the One who loves Him even more than she.

Pastor Joy Full felt God’s joy and for the first time in a long time, she was glad that John had blessed her with such a wonderful name.

Today’s Lesson:  In real life, the issues sometimes take longer to resolve, but when we fully release that which holds us to our Abba Father, (Daddy), then He takes the pieces and puts them together and we find ourselves even more complete and whole.  Joy is not the absence of suffering but the Presence of the Lord.

What holds you today?  What is it that you feel justified in nursing and rehearsing over and over again.  What is your private obsession?

Confirming Scriptures:

 

Psalm 77:1 – 6

1I cried unto God with my voice, even unto God with my voice; and he gave ear unto me.

2In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord: my sore ran in the night, and ceased not: my soul refused to be comforted.

3I remembered God, and was troubled: I complained, and my spirit was overwhelmed. Selah.

4Thou holdest mine eyes waking: I am so troubled that I cannot speak.

5I have considered the days of old, the years of ancient times.

6I call to remembrance my song in the night: I commune with mine own heart: and my spirit made diligent search.

 

 

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A Future and a Hope

Annabelle was so caught in the pain of her divorce that it colored every decision that she made.  It had come as a shock when her husband of eight years had decided she wasn’t what he wanted.  He wanted the pretty blonde neighbor.  She knew that he had been leaving in the night and coming back before morning, but she told herself he was troubled by work and was out walking to work it through.  The lie she told herself had been hard for her to believe but she didn’t want to face the truth. When he packed up and left, she had never felt so alone.

Since that day, Annabelle had been afraid to trust anyone.   She didn’t want anyone to get close.  She had been going to church and liked the idea that God loved her, but really didn’t feel the love.  People were nice, but she didn’t let anyone get close and if anyone tried, she would push them away. A woman named Ruth, kept coming to greet her and talk with her.  She would sit with her in church.  Annabelle tried to ignore her, but Ruth didn’t seem to mind her aloof attitude.  She just kept coming back.

One Sunday, Ruth took Annabelle by the hand and said that they were going to go out to lunch together.  Annabelle was so shocked by the touch of her hand, she just mumbled, “Okay.”  At lunch, she asked Annabelle, “Are you tired of living in the past?”  Surprised that Ruth knew what was going on, a tear slipped down Annabelle’s cheek and she looked at this woman who was making her face things. 

Ruth helped her understand that the God who loved her had provided her a future and a hope. “ Lay aside the fear and quit the past,” she said.  That day, Annabelle prayed with Ruth and she felt her heart melt.  Ruth explained that she was made brand new.  Her old life wasn’t who she was anymore.

Ruth explained, ” The future that God has provided you means that your old life has passed away.”  It would take Annabelle some time before she really began to understand in her heart what she knew in her mind.

As believers, we often don’t realize that  we don’t have a past anymore.  “Old things have passed away, behold, all things have become new.”  We may still had some of the actions and feelings that we had before we were made new.  In I Corinthians 6:9, there is a long list of identities we had before our new lives in Christ.   The list includes idolater, adulterer, thief and drunk – but then it says, “And such WERE some of you.”  We may still act wrong (we might even think wrong ), but inside we have been made righteous and God will take the inside and bring it to the outside if we will just cooperate with Him.  When His Holy Spirit is in our hearts, He is not mad at us for who we were, and He has a future and a hope for each of us.  He wants us to have all the benefits of our new life.

Annabelle is no longer a rejected divorcée’; she is a child of the living God.  She is royalty.  She is a citizen of heaven.  When she realizes that the past is not her prison anymore and she begins to live the present based on the future, she will find that she is changed from glory to glory.  The past has no hold on her that she  doesn’t give it.

Today’s Lesson:  Begin to lay aside your past.  It’s over!  Romans 12:1 asks us ‘be transformed by the renewing of our mind.’  We have a role to play in finding out that the past is dead.  You may have some things to deal with because of it, but it is no longer your identity.  Father God will help you deal with the results of the old life while he teaches you about the benefits he has in store for you in the new life. 

He tells us in Jer. 29:11, “I know the plans I have for you, plans for a future and a hope and not to bring you sorrow.”  It goes on to say, ‘”Then you will call on me and go and pray to Me and I will listen to you.  And you will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.  I will be found by you, says the Lord, and I will bring you back from your captivity.”

So, it’s up to you.  Live in the past and struggle with the pain; continue to live in fear of having feelings for someone and giving them the power to hurt you, and nuture your unforgiveness because it hurt so much, OR renew your mind and live out of the future promises while watching the present come in line.  In truth, if you call on the name of the Lord, He will answer and show you things you know not!

Life in the Spirit is a blast!  Will you give up your rights to the pain, bitterness and un-forgiveness of your life before Christ and determine to no longer identify with the pain of the past and choose victory in Jesus?  If you need help, please feel free to contact us by e-mail.

Related Sites:

Deep Calls to Deep

Confirming Scriptures:

1 Corinthians 6:9-11  Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, 10Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. 11And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.

Jeremiah 29:11-14a    11For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.  12Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you.  13And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.  14And I will be found of you, saith the LORD: and I will turn away your captivity . . .

Romans 12:1-2   1I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.  2And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

2 Corinthians 5:17  Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

2 Corinthians 3:18
But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.

Jeremiah 33:3
Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.

Secret Place

When my Daddy was a boy in the 1920’s, he found what he thought was an excellent place to hide.  The old roll top desk in the parlor had a deep dark cavity where he could conceal himself from his parents.  With stealth, he secluded himself under the desk and pulled the large chair in behind securing the secret place.  He was safe from being discovered.

Soon, his parents realized they didn’t know where he was.  They began to holler for him.  “Lee-ee, Lee-ee,” they called.  No answer.  Again they called, “Lee!  Lee!”  No answer.  His Mom rang the dinner bell alarming the others on the farm.  Still no one had seen him.  She went to the old wooden wall phone and did the general ring to let the neighbors know they couldn’t find their son.  The neighbors began to show up as the concern for his welfare grew by the minute.

The young lad, Lee, was under the desk, safe and secure in his hiding place.  He was very pleased with himself.  Finally, having enjoyed his prank fully and chuckling at his own joke, he pushed the chair out and revealed himself.  His Mom grabbed him and hugged him with tears flowing down her face.  After the reunion, she realized that he had tricked her and after a severe scolding, he got a spanking that I think he never forgot the rest of his life!

As a born-from-above child of God, we have a Secret Place available to us because we belong to the One who shelters us there.   He is our refuge and our fortress and we can fully trust Him.  It is a place where we are invited to live and abide.

But when we decide that we can face the world on our own and step out from under the protection of the Most High, we face consequences that make my Daddy’s spanking seem like a wonderful reward.  It is at our own peril that we confront the enemy in our own strength.

When we are lured into temptation by doubting in God’s great love, we are greeted for a brief moment with what seems like a good deal.  Our enemy always starts with a pleasant temptation – like the fruit in the Garden of Eden.  Our enemy doesn’t show us beyond the pleasure.

For instance, the enemy may start us out with a pretty green, very tasty alcoholic drink called a Grasshopper;  there are few concoctions that can match it for taste and style.  There is a social aspect to having a drink along with a desire to fit in.  This simple beverage may lead to addiction and a devastating end.

I understand that it doesn’t happen all at once.  It is a slow and steady process that lures us in deeper and deeper until we have lost everyone and everything we held dear.  It feels like there is no way to return.  The user is hooked!

Today’s Lesson:  Regardless of the temptation, run to the Secret Place where you find safety, peace, joy, welcome, comfort, ease, guidance, and love.  It is home.  It is the biggest perk that we have as children of the Most High.

As we abide in His Presence, we trust in His timing.  When He chooses to lead us to confront the enemy, it is on His terms and we rest in His provision.  We delight in His Presence and as we participate with Him, He takes care of the problems as they arise.  What privilege we have when we dwell with Him.  No evil can befall us.  His angel guards take our part.  Thousands are no issue for Him.

Why do we doubt Him?  Why do we get too busy to settle in and find Him in the Secret Place?  Are we playing church and trying to impress others with our abilities?  Our ability is inability when we face of our enemy alone.  We are lots of noise with no victory in our life, while we are deceived into thinking we are really special.

The escape is to get into the Secret Place and rest in Him.  When we advance under His directive and act on our God-given authority, we are an unstoppable force.  The Gates of Hell cannot prevail against us!!!

Related sites:

Abide

Deep Calls to Deep

Happily Ever After

Confirming Scripture:

Psalm 91

1He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.

2I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.

3Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence.

4He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.

5Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day;

6Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday.

7A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee.

8Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked.

9Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation;

10There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.

11For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.

12They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.

13Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet.

14Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name.

15He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him.

16With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation.

Abide

The lights in the house were on and the warmth exuded from that home with a welcoming glow.  Late at night, the young woman arrived home with her date.  Since the lights were bright, the young man didn’t linger in the car.  He graciously walked her to the front door and thanked her for their time together.

This young gentleman recognized that this young woman had one who watched over her and therefore he respected her and had a healthy fear of her protector.  In the light, there was no thought of taking advantage of her or making suggestions he would not have made in  the presence of her guardian.

The light beckoned the girl to come inside and abide in the safety it provided.  It seemed to say, “Come in.  You are safe.  You are loved.”  Her big brother opened the door to her and when she stepped across the threshold, she was at home in the presence of her Father’s love.  He greeted her with a hug and then sat down.  He was her own daddy.  She sat at his feet and told him of the young man and where they had gone that evening.

She rests her head on his knee.  She is at home and has no worries.  She knows that her champion will take care of her and she is totally secure.

When we have receive the finished work of our big brother, Jesus, we meet the Person of the Holy Spirit, who invites us into the family home in the Kingdom.  Our Father God dwells there in unapproachable light.  As His child,  we belong to Him and freely  step into the light with Him where He listens to us and talks with us.  He beckons us to come home through the door He has provided in His Son Jesus.  He is waiting.

This is what abiding is – it is being at home.  So, open the door and come in.

Today’s Lesson:  In the beginning, God said, “Let there be light and there was light.”   And God saw the light and it was good.  God divided the light from the darkness and he called the light ‘boker’ or day.  .  . (‘Boker’ means orderly and discernible – or order from disorder.) . . . and the darkness he called ‘erev’ which is translated eve or night. (‘Erev’ means chaotic.)

The Scripture also intimates that Adam and Eve were clothed with light when they were in the Garden and walked with Father in the cool of the day.  They weren’t just nude when they fell in the Garden of Eden.  The light went out and in their shame they scrambled to cover themselves.  This was the beginning of religion.  Religion is always man’s attempt to cover his actions to try to be acceptable to God, but the central message of the Bible is that God Himself will cover us (with light) – if we can but accept it.

Father never wanted to establish a religion when He sent Jesus to be our Redeemer.   He wants a family that comes to Him of their own free will and gets back into the light.  Choose to live and abide with Him – to be at home with Him.  When we do, He is our shelter, refuge and loving Papa.  We can rest in His light and love.

Many who have found the door in Jesus but have never stepped into the Light.  There is a fear of what He will say, but He is not mad.  He knew you couldn’t do it on your own.  He risked it all by giving you the choice of choosing Him or trying to work it all out through reasoning and religion.

Whether you are just inviting Jesus in today or you have had Him in your heart for years, here is the question, “Have you found your way to the Father?”

Related post:  https://swimlifelessons.wordpress.com/2012/02/02/diving-deeper/

http://joyousbells.wordpress.com/2012/02/10/love-story/

http://pliableheart.wordpress.com/2012/02/06/the-answer/#more-58

http://www.notafan.com/

Confirming Scripture:

Genesis 1, 2 and 3 

All of Psalm 91 which starts out: 

1 Those who live in the shelter of the Most High
will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
2 This I declare about the LORD:
He alone is my refuge, my place of safety;
he is my God, and I trust him.

John 15:5
I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.

John 15:7
If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.

John 15:9
Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love.