Joy

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Joy means to have a feeling of great pleasure and happiness.  Now we all know that feelings of pleasure and happiness are fleeting.  Those moments of joy are often interrupted by the life’s challenges. I like to describe joy as a feeling of happiness that radiates from the inside.  It is not dependent on circumstances or situations that arise in our lives.

Joy for those of us who trust and love God is not a superficial happiness.  I am not saying that Christians do not experience moments of unhappiness because we do. I know I do. What I am saying is that the joy that we experience is based on our hope in Christ Jesus.  Even when we are sad and in tears our hearts are joyful because we know our lives are secure in Him.

Nehemiah 8:10 says, “Do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.”  We have joy in our spirits and in our hearts. We can remain strong even in tough times because we have the joy of Jesus on the inside. When our hearts are grieved we can lift our heads and dry our eyes because the joy of the Lord is our strength.  The joy of the Lord is what springs up in our hearts because of the relationship we have with the Father.

John 15:11 says, “These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.” John reminds us that we can experience complete joy in Christ’s love.  “My joy may be in you.” He wants His joy to be in us, and we attain His joy by coming into relationship with Him.  Outside of His love our joy is incomplete.

Do you desire to have the Joy of the Lord?

 

Dr. Evelyn Johnson-Taylor

 

Scripture Source:   http://www.biblegateway.com  (NIV)

Love

 

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1 Cor. 4-8 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.”

 

Apostle Paul writes in 1 Corinthians chapter 13 describing the characteristics of one who loves.  He explains in great detail how love demonstrates itself.   Even when the love is not reciprocated we are admonished to continue to show love.  Our love is not based on how the other person behaves or what the other person does.

On a good day when everything lines up the way we want it to most of us can exhibit the traits the Apostle writes about.  But there are those days when you did not get much sleep, and you have not had your cup of coffee yet.  You are irritable because nothing is working out the way you planned it.  It is in those moments it becomes a little more challenging to show love.

Showing kindness is a demonstration of love.  People know when you love them by the way you treat them. Love does not dishonor another.  Love will cause us to put aside our own agenda to assist someone else.

Love is not self-seeking; love sees and acts on the needs of others first. Love is not easily angered.  Love does not delight in evil but celebrates with the truth. It always protects.

My challenging in this Scripture is Love keeps no record of wrongs.  It is so easy to focus on how other people treat us.  But Christ is our ultimate example in the giving of His life for our sins.  Since this is what Christ did for us, it would be unfair of us not to offer this love to others. So when I am tempted to keep score, I am reminded of what Christ did for me and that motivates me to love in spite of.

Question:  What challenges do you face in showing love?

 

Scripture Source:

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+cor+13%3A+4-8&version=NIV

Patience

Guest blogger Ebony Taylor

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“I waited patiently for the Lord; and he inclined unto me and heard my cry.”  Psalm 40:1

“But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31

I hate waiting. I have been told it’s because I am from the generation of instant gratification. I don’t like waiting for an iced coffee at Dunkin Donuts or for the bus to come to my apartment complex. I don’t want to wait with shampoo in my hair for the five minutes the directions instruct, and I don’t want to sit at a red light on the way to the grocery store. As far as I’m concerned every time I have to wait I am being tortured. So when my roommate is running late, and I have to sit around and wait for her, I’m angry. And when the bus takes too long to pick me up, I trek my way across campus on foot because it’s “good exercise.” Patience is not my strong suit.

For me, waiting is a series of breathing exercises channeled at keeping me from snapping. When it comes to God, my prayers are often accompanied by unspoken deadlines. A constant concern that He will be late floats in the back of my mind, souring the experience of speaking to the father. It causes me to doubt his promises and question his goodness. A lack of patience compromises my peace.

Biblical patience doesn’t look like my waiting. Patience is the act of enduring with an expectant spirit. It is placing hope in God when it seems he has yet to fulfill his promises. Patience is an act of true reliance on the sovereignty of God and the hope that is found in his son Jesus Christ. Oftentimes, patience is tied to suffering. In Isaiah 40, the Israelites are in Babylon waiting to see what God has in store for them. In this situation, the people are called to patience.

Many times our struggles will not be to a level where we feel the need to practice true biblical patience. After all, there is another Dunkin Donuts five minutes down the road. Other times, placing our hope in God and believing that he will deliver us might be the only thing that keeps us going. But practicing patience is beneficial regardless of what is at stake. Our patience has a bearing on our joy, our peace, and so much more.

Pray to trust God. When we rely on him it makes the enduring easier. Practice thankfulness. It makes a difference when you’re getting annoyed. Let this be a week of expectancy for what Christ has in store for us.

 

Sources:

[1] http://www.biblestudytools.com/dictionary/patience/

[2] http://www.crivoice.org/isa40.html

Faithful

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When I think of the word faithful the first thought is that of God.  He is always faithful.  God keeps His promises, He will do what He said He would do. He has never failed and never will fail.  Many of us have friends and family members that have let us down.  They told us they would come through for us, and that they would always be there.  But when things got tough some of them were nowhere to be found.  We call those fair weather friends.  Even friends will sometimes destroy each other, but there is a Friend who loves more faithfully than a brother.  (Proverbs 18:24)

While we enjoy and love our friends, there is only one that we can truly depend on. I have a friend who I can depend on. Come hell or high waters, He will be there.  He promised in His Word never to leave us nor forsake us. (Deuteronomy 31:8) I am thankful that God has blessed me with good friends and a loving family. But when the enemy comes in like a flood it great to know God.  The Word of God said that the Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard against him. (Isaiah 59:19)

It does not matter who the enemy is or which direction the enemy comes, the Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard against him.  The enemy can disguise himself as many different things.  He could come in the form of man, sickness, discouragement, poverty, lack or a number of other ways.  But God is faithful and He will always be there to carry us through.

“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”  1 Corinthians 10:13 NIV

Dr. Evelyn Johnson-Taylor