Monday, February 11, 2013


“Why is the devil after your joy?” Pastor Mark asked Sunday morning. He answered it with, “He wants to steal your strength.”
Nehemiah 8:10 is a commonly quoted passage from the Bible and one Pastor used in his sermon. “The joy of the Lord is your strength…”
It stands to reason that if joy is where your strength is housed, then to steal your joy, one would steal with it, your strength. How much weaker are you when you’re depressed or just feeling lifeless, than you are when you stir up the joy that’s within you?
Joy is not happiness. Happiness can surely stir up your joy, but your joy is not dependent upon your happiness. To quote Pastor Mark again, “Joy is not dependent on your circumstances.”
Oftentimes we need our joy to be bold when circumstances are at their worst.
My friend, Robbie Iobst, writes a Joyvotion weekly. She recently published a book of them, called Joy Dance. You can be added to the list of many she emails weekly with her Joyvotions, by letting her know you’d like to receive them. (Click on her name for her email address or click on the book title for information on the book.)
Joy is too important to procrastinate about it. You need it now; and it’s only given by God. It’s there – in your heart, right now. Reach in and grab some. Bring it out and wear it like a garment. (Isaiah 61:3) Tear off that old spirit of heaviness and drape yourself with joy. It’s a choice.  
If you’re walking around carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders, you’re choosing to. Picture yourself before God’s throne and place your burdens at His feet. Let them go. He can do more with them than you can anyways. We cannot allow those burdens to drain us of our joy – because then we are drained of the strength we need to make it through the next minute or hour, or coming days. Without the strength found in our joy, we cut our lives short.
Choose joy. Choose it now.
“Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say Rejoice.” – Philippians 4:4 (KJV)

Monday, February 4, 2013


Apple Blossom photo courtesy of Darlene Folk.
Though I love plants, here in Colorado the only luck I seem to have with growing anything is with houseplants. But whether it’s a fruit tree, a rosebush in your yard or begonia in my window, pruning them makes them plush, bushier, more beautiful, and produce more blossoms, instead of spending their energy growing spindly and flowerless.
In the book of John, Jesus tells us that He is the vine and we are His branches, and that His Father is the gardener that keeps us pruned – for our own good and His glory. (John 25:1-8)
When our lives are not as productive as they should be, perhaps we’re resisting that pruning. So often we insist on doing things our way, without even considering that our way might not be the way God want us to go about it.
In our own reasoning, we will do things completely different than the way God chooses to. (There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death. Proverbs 14:12 KJV)
If I had to come up with a plan to redeem mankind, I don’t think my finite brain would have come up with a plan like His. Jesus leaving His throne in heaven to take my place on the cross seems like a harsh way to go – but Jesus Himself said to His Father, “Not my will, but Thine.”
That makes me stop and take a second look at what I’m doing during my day and with my life and ask, “God, is this what you’d have me do?”
Then comes the harder part; listening for His reply. Yes, we’ll recognize His voice if we’re seeking Him with all our heart. He’s the good Shepherd and we are the sheep of His pasture. We’ll follow Him closely if we’re paying attention, but sheep can be dumb and wander off wherever the grass looks greener.
Take the time to be intentional; about the things you do, about submitting yourself to God and about listening for His voice and direction. The pruning will begin and you’ll start producing beautiful (blossoms) fruit immediately.
“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—  just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep.” John 10:14-15 (NIV)
“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.” John 10:27-28 (NIV)