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Friday, May 31, 2013

Never Give Up on Hope and JOY

          Have you had your JOY JUICE today?  I pray you’re drinking it faithfully!

            This week I’ve shared some “jewels of joy” regarding our walk with the Lord. While each of them is imperative to living a genuine Christian life, the one we’ll discuss today should be a priority!

            Today’s “jewel”: GOD HEARS AND ANSWERS OUR PRAYERS…in His time and His way…so never give up!  We see this prayerful diligence demonstrated by Hannah in the book of 1 Samuel.  Hannah desired to have a child more than anything.  But she had been unable to bear children.  HOWEVER, instead of giving up hope, Hannah kept praying!

            Here is a portion of her prayer from 1 Samuel 1:10 – 11:
 In her deep anguish Hannah prayed to the Lord, weeping bitterly.  And she made a vow, saying, “Lord Almighty, if you will only look on your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life…”

            Hannah never gave up hope and continued to pray. In his perfect time, He gave her a son, Samuel.  This child grew up to be a great man of God.  What can we learn from Hannah’s example?

  • She was fervent in worship and prayer.
  • She was faithful to God
  • She was true to her word; she kept her vow.
  • She was willing to follow through on even a costly commitment.

       May we all "pray without ceasing" and never give up! God has a plan that’s JOYfully better than anything you can imagine!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

A "Salty" Jewel of JOY

          Have you had your JOY JUICE today?  Even though it’s most often sweet to the taste, a little salt can be really good!

            Colossians 4:6 instructs: “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”  This is another “jewel of joy” that we should apply to our lives.  When our words are seasoned with “salt”, they are edifying and encouraging.  They build people up and set a great example!

            Out of our mouths at every opportunity should come God’s truth, words from scripture, application of Biblical principles and references to God’s presence and sovereign power. That’s what we call “spiritual salt”.  In Deuteronomy 6:6-7, we read, “These words which I command you today shall be in your heart; you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down and when you rise up.”

            The way I understand those verses is this: First, we adults should fill our own hearts with God’s Word; and then we must deliberately and diligently teach them to our children…every minute of every day! We must live what we teach.  If our words don’t match our actions, then we can’t expect our children to believe that they’re true.
            Be authentic..a genuine “salty” Christian that truly “walks the walk”. That’s when you will see an impact on those who look to you for an example. 

           May our words be seasoned with salt and JOY in the Lord!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Love God; Love Your Neighbor; Find JOY!

            Have you had your JOY JUICE today?  Check to see if your neighbors need to borrow some of yours!  Odds are…they do!
            In Matthew 22:37-39 Jesus tells us to “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’  This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

            What does it mean to "love your neighbor as yourself"?  That’s one of those “jewels of joy” that I like to talk about!  We are to treat others the way we want to be treated!  Regardless of whether they are rich or poor, educated or uneducated, whether they have the same skin color or different ethnicity…God loves us all, and WE should follow His example!  That’s not always easy to do, is it?  Especially when:

  • They don’t believe the same way we do about things
  • When they hurt our children or family members
  • When they criticize us or make ungodly decisions that affect us and our family
 Friends, the fact is, we can’t always love our neighbor as ourselves if we try to do it in our own strength!  While some people are easy to love, others are a true challenge. That’s when we must allow Jesus to love through us.  Let’s stay steeped in the Word of God and pray continually so that we will know His will in every situation.  We can’t change people, but God can change our hearts. 

     Share this “jewel of joy”.  Let the JOY of Jesus shine on you, in you and through you… you allow Him to love others through you!


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Faith In God = JOY in the Lord

            Have you had your JOY JUICE today?  Please remember to share the JOY of Jesus with your children!

            Parents, do your children hear you reading from the Bible?  Do they see you studying it, as if you value that book above all others?  Do you teach them that every word is TRUTH and that if we will apply that truth to our lives, we will be blessed?  Now, we have no promise that we’ll never have troubles; trials and difficulties come to each of us.  But the blessings come regardless of our circumstances when we have a close, personal relationship with God.

            The greatest thing that we can ever teach our children is FAITH in God!  Romans 10:17 says: “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”

When we take the time to read the Bible to and with our children; when we allow them to hear the truth of scripture consistently; when we allow time for them to ask questions and spend time talking about the principles laid out in the Word of God---then we are instilling in them a gift that will never leave them.  That gift is called FAITH.  I like to call it a “Jewel of JOY”.

              We can never say it enough! “The JOY of the Lord is our strength!” Nehemiah 8:10.  And that JOY comes from a strong, unwavering faith in our Heavenly Father!  When we love him with all our heart, soul and mind, then the joy overflows onto others…especially those under our influence!

           “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”  Share that “jewel of joy” with your family and loved ones today!

Monday, May 27, 2013

A Jewel of JOY: Love GOD Supremely!

             Have you had your JOY JUICE today?  Drink up… quickly!  We never know how much time we have!

            Papa Pat and I often laugh about how much we’ve learned since our grandchildren have arrived.  We had never heard of a “Boppie” or “Pack-n-Play”.  And when our children were babies, we would have never dreamed of having a video monitor in their bedroom to watch their every move!  Many other things have changed, but one thing remains the same: Children are children!  And they all need lots of love, attention and direction!

            Being a parent is one of the hardest, most demanding, most challenging jobs in the world!  BUT it is also the most rewarding, fulfilling and joyful privileges that I’ve ever had!  We recently celebrated Mother’s Day; and I as I pondered what that meant to me personally as a mother and as a daughter of a WONDERFUL mom, several “Jewels of JOY” came to mind.

            One of those “jewels” is this: Jesus said in Matthew 22:37 to  “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.”   If we don’t love God supremely and have a passion for the things of God…we can’t expect our children to.  Truly….what we do speaks a lot louder than what we say!

            May we love God with all our being and share this “jewel of joy” with our children...and all those who look to us for an example!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Cry Without Shame; Then Laugh with JOY!

          Have you had your JOY JUICE today?  If you feel like crying, it may help you to find unexpected joy!

            This week we’ve been reflecting on the powerful lessons we can learn from little children. Lessons like:

·        JOYfully anticipate each new day!
·        Smile…even if no one is looking!
·        Don’t be so concerned about what you look like on the outside.  It’s the inside that counts!
·        Take God’s hand and let him guide your every step of your path!

The lesson that we’ll discuss today is one that comes easily for children, but we adults seem to have a real challenge with it. It’s a two-part-er:  FIRST:

  • If you are hurting, cry without shame. Notice how children aren’t ashamed to express their disappointment or hurt by letting the tears flow! But many adults think they have to hold theirs in! One four year old wisely surmised: “God gave us tears to wash the sadness in our hearts away.”  So use those tears whenever necessary and don’t be ashamed to do so….but, then, after a while, we must move on!  God will give us the courage and strength to do so.
 And that leads us to the second part of our lesson:
  • Laugh often!  That’s scriptural! Psalm 126:2 says: “Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; then they said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.”

            Indeed, the Lord has done great things for us! So let’s laugh often and JOYfully shout His praises!

            Use your tears when you need to…and then move on, laugh and shout for JOY!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

God Will Uphold You....JOYfully! Take His Hand!

          Have you had your JOY JUICE today?  As you hold your special serving in one hand, use the other one to share some JOY with someone else!

            The older I get, the more I realize that children get a lot of things RIGHT!  Age and peer pressures haven’t thwarted their enthusiasm for life & the JOY that each new day can bring.

            Our “grandjoys”  remind me of the simple ways of expressing sincere trust.  When we’re going someplace that is unfamiliar, they instinctively put their hand in mine.  It’s as if they are saying: “I trust you, Gigi; I love you; I feel safe with you.”

            That’s how God wants us to feel toward Him.  Listen to His words in Isaiah 41:10:  So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

            God want us to reach up and take His “righteous right hand”.  As His children, we should trust in His guidance at all times.  When we can’t seem to find our way, when we have doubts about our future, when we are weak and confused …we can reach up and take His hand.  And He desires to hold our hand in the good times, too.  Just as a child lovingly slips his hand in yours to express his love….so should we do that same with God.  Take His hand as He intertwines His fingers of love around you.

            Sing with me:  “He’s got the whole world in His hands!”  That means you and me, friend!  Hold on to His hand…JOYully!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

What's in Your Heart? The JOY of JESUS???

          Have you had your JOY JUICE today?  Each container looks different, but every one has a delicious JOYful taste!

            Children are pretty good judges of character.  They can tell whether someone truly likes to be with them or not.  As I have worked with children through the years, I’ve seen a lesson modeled by them that I wish more adults would learn:   


When our grandchildren come for a visit, I don’t have time to primp too much!  And do you know what I’ve discovered?  They don’t care if my hair is combed or not!  They certainly don’t care if I have on make up or if  I’m wearing my old comfy blue jeans that are faded and NOT flattering a bit!  All they care about is Gigi spending time with them, playing, holding them when they need a hug, and sharing lots of love and laughter! 

So often we get caught up in our outward appearance and forget that it’s what’s inside that truly counts.  1 Samuel 16:7 reminds us: “Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart."

What’s in your heart? An obsession with your appearance? Your social status? Love for material possessions?   Or do you delight in the Lord?  If so, you’ll be spending time with Him on a consistent basis…regardless of whether you’ve combed your hair or what you’re wearing! All He wants from you is a heart sold out to Him…one of love & JOY. 

            Let’s all be aware that God looks at the heart! May we each show Him a heart filled with love and JOY!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

There is Always Time for JOY JUICE!

     Have you had your JOY JUICE today?  It brings a smile to your face…no matter what your age!

            This ole grandma is learning a lot from observing my grandchildren.  They inspire me with their fresh enthusiasm for each new day.  

            A lesson of JOY that they model is that they often smile even when they are not aware that anyone is watching!  They might be thinking JOYful thoughts… or engrossed in a favorite toy or activity…the smile spreads easily across their face!  They enjoy the moment and time is not a factor.  How often have we missed something really special because we were so intent on staying on schedule?

 When our grandchildren are with us, an outdoor walk that would usually take five minutes turns into a 20 – 30 minute adventure.   We notice pretty wildflowers…and have to stop to pick them.  We see special rocks that look like treasures, so of course, we must collect those!  Many times we hear birds singing, so that calls for us to explore and find out which tree they are perched in or if they are flying overhead.  And then there are the ants, the roly-polys, the frogs and butterflies that all bring such delight!!!!!!

            Now, I know that as adults we do have time constraints; we must be punctual for our jobs and scheduled appointments.  But we can still determine to find the JOY in the little things along our busy way.  Take the time to thank God for at least one “simple pleasure” today. 

            Smile and enJOY your day regardless of how busy you are!  There’s always time for JOY JUICE!


Monday, May 20, 2013

"REJOICE and Be Glad...!"

Have you had your JOY JUICE today?  I’ve discovered that children really love it!  And they so easily share it with others.

Papa Pat and I had the privilege of keeping 4 of our grandjoys for a few days recently.  As we played and thoroughly enjoyed them, it became very clear that though we are many years older than they are, they can teach us soooo much!

One of the lessons that it seems the Lord has already written upon their tender  hearts can be found in Psalm 118:24. “This is the day the Lord has made!  Let us REJOICE and be glad in it!”   What a blessing to be greeted in the early mornings with their joyful exuberance! The smiles on their faces and the sparkle in their eyes indicate that the new day presents a myriad of opportunities and exciting possibilities!

 Think about the youngsters you are blessed to have in your life!  Don’t they challenge you to look forward to what the day will bring— instead of dreading it?  Maybe it’s that children have not learned how to focus on the negatives.  If only we would strive to be more like them! What’s sobering is that they will learn from our example too, and that example is not always positive.

Today, let’s challenge each other to sing that Psalm of joy continually until it becomes a part of our thinking, our actions and our example to others: “This IS the day the Lord has made! Let us REJOICE and be glad in it!” 

I’m anticipating wonderful, JOYful opportunities to share the JOY JUICE of Jesus with others! How ‘bout you?

Friday, May 17, 2013

Bring the Holy Spirit JOY...Not Grief!

          Have you had your Joy Juice today?  Drink it faithfully so that you won’t grieve the Holy Spirit.

            This week we’ve been talking about a difficult subject…GRIEF!  We don’t like to have to deal with it…personally or through a friend.   It’s hard to deal with our emotions; it’s hard to know what to say; it’s hard to know the right things to do. 

            Consider this: GOD KNOWS EXACTLY HOW WE FEEL!  Remember that He watched His ONLY Son die for you and me!   The Father experienced the grief of His Son’s agonizing death, because He knew it was necessary for the salvation of all us sinners!  Now, that’s love! 

            There is a verse in Ephesians 4:30 that speaks of grief….but in a little different context: “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”  Does that mean that you and I can cause the Holy Spirit to grieve?

        That’s exactly what it means! The fourth chapter of Ephesians tells us that we grieve the Spirit by living like the pagans (4:17-19), by lying (4:25), by being angry (4:26-27), by stealing (4:28), by cursing (4:29), by being bitter (4:31), by being unforgiving (4:32). To grieve the Holy Spirit is to act out in a sinful manner, whether it is in our thoughts or actions.

            May we refrain from doing anything that would grieve our Heavenly Father.  Instead, let’s always aim toward bringing Him JOY!


Thursday, May 16, 2013

He Will Turn Our Mourning Into Gladness and JOY

          Have you had your JOY JUICE today?  It will help you through the grieving process.  And all of us experience that at some point.

            Grief is a part of life.  Many times we find it difficult to know what to say to someone when they lose a loved one. Pastor Rick Warren and his wife Kay recently experienced the death of their son, Matthew.  Wise words from this hurting father were:
In the first shock of an unspeakable tragedy, don’t speak. Hug them! Weep with them! Just be there. Use touch, not words.
            According to The American Cancer Society, here are few other suggestions about how to help friends after the initial grief.

  • Acknowledge the situation & express your concern. Example: "I'm so sorry to hear that this happened to you."
  • Be genuine in your communication and don't hide your feelings. Example: "I’m not sure what to say, but I want you to know I care."
  • Offer your support.
  • Don't assume you know how the bereaved person feels on any given day.
        When we find ourselves grieving, one of the best things we can do is turn to the scriptures and focus on God.  He promises in Jeremiah 31:13 “I will turn their mourning into gladness. I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow.”   

      We can always find hope in Jesus.  He will give us comfort and strength…and turn our mourning into gladness.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

JOY in Grief???

          Have you had your Joy Juice today?   It helps to heal a hurting heart!

             My first experiences with death were when I lost my grandparents.  I loved them and was brokenhearted when each of them died; but I was blessed to have loving parents who were there to fill that void for me, answering my questions and cradling me in their arms.  At that tender age, I thought I’d always have my parents to shelter me from hurts and soothe my aching heart.

            But then came the day, as an adult, when I had to say goodbye to my own precious daddy.  Oh, what a painful time! But God was faithful. Even through the tears, my family and I experienced such peace…and JOY.  Yes, JOY….in knowing that Daddy was truly “at home” with His Savior.  JOY in knowing that he was no longer sick; JOY in knowing that we will see him again one day.  That’s the kind of JOY you experience when you have a personal relationship with the Lord.

            So today, I feel compelled to ask YOU… you have a personal relationship with God?  If not, please ask Him into your heart right now!  Don’t put it off!  It’s that JOY found in Him that fills you with strength during the difficult times.

            Joy…even amist the tears.  Psalm 30:5 encourages us by saying:  weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.”

            I empathize with those of you who are grieving.  Let’s remind each other that we can always drink the Joy Juice of Jesus...when we have a personal relationship with Christ.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Draw Close to God and Pray...FIRST!

Have you had your JOY JUICE today?  Don’t think it’s only for happy days!

            If we never had heartache or trials, we’d become self-sufficient, and we’d forget to call upon the name of the Lord.  Have you noticed that we often wait until that time of crisis before we think to pray? 

            Praying should be our FIRST resort…not our last!  Before the pain of death, before the devastation of a fatal accident or the diagnosis of cancer, before the crushing blow of a spouse walking out….BEFORE these things happen, we need to be praying and drawing close to God.  James 4:10 gives wise instruction: "Come close to God, and he will come close to you. Clean up your lives, you sinners, and clear your minds, you doubters."   GOD’S WORD Translation (Copyright 1995).

            When our hearts are aching with pain, anguish and sadness, if we have already learned how to come close to God….then it will be much easier to call upon Him and feel His presence during our grief.  We “come close” to Him by believing and accepting Him as Lord of our lives.  We draw close by reading the scriptures and praying faithfully; by surrounding ourselves with Godly friends who help us to be accountable for our words and our actions.  And when we “come close to God…..he will come close to us”.  That’s a promise!

            As the remainder of that verse commands, we need to “clean up our lives”… allowing the dirt to be put through the cleansing agent called the blood of Jesus.  Clear your mind of any doubts that may cloud and dilute your faith. 

            Draw close to God! Drink and serve the JOY JUICE of Jesus….even in the midst of grief.


Monday, May 13, 2013

"My Heart Leaps for Joy....."

          Have you had your JOY JUICE today?  It’s something we can choose to drink even when we’re grieving.

            It seems that our country has experienced such heartbreaking circumstances lately: the bombing at the Boston Marathon; the explosion in West, Texas; a deadly avalanche in Colorado.  Sorrow is never a welcome visitor, is it?

            Can we still have JOY amidst the tears?  Oh, yes!  We find JOY by depending on the Lord. David reminds us in Psalm 28:7, “The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song”.

             Writer, Micca Campbell explains: "David believed God heard his cries. He relied on God’s provision and strength.  David trusted in God’s help with all of his heart. This kept him from growing weak, losing heart, and giving up. Because David believed God was for him, in him, with him, and behind him one hundred percent, he was able to give thanks with a joyful heart."

            When you find yourself in a period of grief, do you do as David did and call upon the Lord as your strength and your shield?  If we will trust in God, He WILL help us to get through the dark times.  Let’s look toward the rainbow after the storm, knowing that God’s treasure will be sweet peace and JOY.

            Even when we experience grief, we can find JOY and strength in the Lord.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Share the Harvest of God's JOY

          Have you had your JOY JUICE today?  Harvest some from your own personal JOY garden.

            This week we’ve focused on planting our JOY gardens by allowing the Master Gardener to show us what to do to assure that the right kinds of things will grow in our hearts. Your garden will flourish if you follow His instructions:

  • Clean your garden plot by accepting Him as your personal Savior…and allowing him to remove the trash of unforgiveness from your heart.  When we realize that God has forgiven us of all our sins…then it gives us a tenderness and new perspective toward those who need our forgiveness.  We are reminded in Ephesians 4:32 to “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as Christ forgave you.”
  • Plant the right seeds by reading the Bible and listening to good Bible teaching; attend church faithfully, study on your own and surround yourself by good, Godly examples.
  • Once those seeds are planted, they need a constant watering.  You can’t ignore them or they will wither and die.  Be faithful in applying the “Living Water” to each area of your garden.
  • Soon “harvest time” will come and you’ll be delighted to see how much JOY you’ll have in your heart when you share with others the fruit of your personal garden.  They’ll begin to ask how they can have a JOY garden like yours…….and you will be able to boldly share the JOY of the Lord with them.

          Diligently and faithfully open the garden of your heart to God.  He will JOYfully tend it and teach you how to cultivate and share His JOY with others.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Is Your JOY "Organic"....Real and Genuine?

          Have you had your JOY JUICE today? It’s chocked full of nutrients because it comes from a totally organic JOY garden.

            We’ve heard a lot about organics in recent years. There are “organic” sections in our grocery stores for those who are striving to eat healthier.  Organic gardening means doing things the “natural” way…. not using synthetic products, including pesticides and fertilizers. Ideally, organic gardening replenishes the resources as it makes use of them.  

            Think about your spiritual garden.  We know we must prepare our gardens by clearing away the weeds and trash; then comes the planting and watering the good seeds. We should be sure that we are working in cooperation with God…the Creator, who  In the beginning(God) created the heavens and the earth.…” Genesis 1:1.
          We are not to use any “products” on our garden that would interfere with God’s best plan.   Often we take charge and try to fix things when our garden isn’t producing like we think it should.  We try to find ways to make it flourish; but often, we mess up the plan and get in the way of God’s abundant crop.

 The Bible, God’s instruction manual, gives us “tried and true” tools which will help the seeds of faith to grow in our hearts.  Sometimes the Master Gardener throws compost onto our garden that we don’t like! It stinks!  But after a while, we realize that it has helped those seeds to sprout and blossom into creations of beauty….JOYful outgrowths of something that at first was ugly and unwanted.

Allow God to plant your garden….then get ready to share the delicious fruit of JOY with others!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Water Your JOY Garden Faithfully

          Have you had your JOY JUICE today?  You’re gonna need a healthy serving so that we can work in our garden again today!

            The past two days we’ve prepared the soil of our garden by removing the rocks, weeds and debris. In the spiritual garden of JOY that means getting rid of unforgiveness, anger, bitterness, unclean thoughts.  When all this is cleared away, the seeds can be planted….seeds such as faith, love, peace and JOY.

            Next we need to water the newly planted seeds thoroughly to settle the soil and remove any air pockets.  What happens if they don’t get water? They’ll get mighty thirsty and soon dry up and die.  We must be diligent in tending to our spiritual garden by daily filling our watering can with fresh truth from God’s well.

            Do you remember the story of the Samaritan woman at the well?  This poor woman had quite a reputation. She had been married five times and was living in sin with a man who wasn't her husband. Her story shows that a well of grace is ready and available to refresh the soul parched by sin and suffering. The woman at the well had her sins "washed away". Jesus offers divine mercy in the living water of grace.

            John 7:38 says, "Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him."  Let’s use that “living water” generously in our spiritual gardens and watch the seeds that have been planted begin to grow and develop into beautiful specimens of His love and JOY!

            Be diligent in watering your JOY garden faithfully with JOY JUICE made from the Living Water!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Whistle While You Work in Your JOY Garden!

Have you had your Joy Juice today?  It’s just what you need if you’re going to be working hard today!

            Come join me as we work in our JOY garden! First, we must till the soil and remove all the rocks, weeds and debris. We want to make sure that our hearts are cleared of all those obstacles that would keep JOY from growing….that means getting rid of anger and bitterness, grudges and unforgiveness.  Only with God’s help can we turn loose of the memories and hurts from the past.   And it is a process…one of continual relinquishment to the Master Gardener.

            Now that the soil is prepared, the next step is to plant the seeds! One expert says that you should always plant the foundational flowers first. As we plant our spiritual JOY garden, we must start with the foundational principles.  That means that we are to first plant the seeds of faith…believing in the truth that the Bible is God’s inerrant “word”.  2 Timothy 3:16 tells us: “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.”  

           Another foundational seed is the belief that God, the Father is perfect in holiness, infinite in wisdom, and measureless in power. When we get the foundational things planted in our JOY garden, it’s easier to see where the other seeds can be planted….the seeds of kindness, compassion, peace and….of course, lots and lots of JOY!

            Congratulations on a job well done!  Looks as if our garden is well on the way to producing some delicious JOY fruit!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Plant a Fruit Garden of JOY

Have you had your JOY JUICE today?  Step out to your garden and gather a fresh batch of JOY!

            Do you have a garden?  I’d like to invite you to join me as we plant our very own JOY garden!  In Genesis 2:8 we read about the “first ever” garden"Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed."

Admittedly, I am NOT a gardener.  I can’t even seem to keep a pot plant alive.  But I’m determined to plant a thriving JOY garden that is filled with beautiful fruit that can be shared with others!  The first thing gardening experts tell us to do is dig up the soil and remove the rocks, weeds and debris.

            Our JOY garden is a spiritual garden…but in much the same way, we need to prepare the soil before we can even begin to think about planting any seeds.  Let’s dig around in our hearts and find that trash and weeds such as anger, bitterness, resentment that will keep the good stuff from growing. We may be holding on tight to that big old rock of unforgiveness.  Nothing will grow in that spot until we clear it completely. 

            When the soil of our heart is cleaned up and all the unwanted debris is gone, then it’s time to test the soil to see if it’s ready for planting.  Whew!  This gardening can be difficult if we try to do it alone……let’s call the Master Gardener and depend on Him to show us how to have a beautiful, healthy Garden of JOY!

            Begin planting your garden today…but only with the help of The Master Gardener---Who is the expert of experts on  the fruit of JOY!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Develop the Habit of JOY

          Have you had your JOY JUICE today?  Form a good habit of drinking it daily! It’s a sure way to focus on a life of JOY!

          Developing good habits is not really that hard to do….we just have to determine in our minds to do it!  The Greek Philosopher, Aristotle, said: “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” 

            Think about the habits that you’ve developed over the years…good habits like brushing your teeth and bathing every day; bad habits like biting your fingernails or going to bed too late!  Our days are filled with habitual behaviors….some good and some bad.  But the fact is…We choose our habits! 

            Have you ever thought about praying about your habits?  Prayer, itself, is a good habit; one of the best I know!  We can rely on God to fill us with wisdom and JOY…if we will get into the habit of always going to Him first!  In Proverbs 4:11, God promises us:  “I will guide you in the way of wisdom and lead you along straight paths.”

            Our enemy is out to destroy those good, Godly habits by tempting us in our weak areas.  1 Peter 5: 8 – 9 warns: “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.  Resist him, standing firm in the faith…”

            Standing firm in our faith is an excellent habit! And it’s an imperative habit if we want to walk in His ways. With God’s help we can practice His wisdom and JOY until it becomes a natural part of our life.

            Let’s all develop a JOYful habit of drinking and sharing the JOY JUICE of JESUS!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Study To Show Yourself (JOYfully) Approved

          Have you had your JOY JUICE today?  It’s the best way I know to keep a JOYful outlook on life!

            Many times we have major decisions to make and we just don’t have a clue which WAY to go!  Maybe the decision is between two good things.  That makes it extra difficult to discern what’s best.  It could be that no matter what decision we make, someone is going to be hurt. 

            Many times we get unsolicited advice from well-meaning friends.  But that only seems to confuse us more.  How do we know who to listen to?  Well, there is One Someone Who we can always trust to guide us and help us make the best decisions.  Listen to the reassuring words of God in Psalm 32:8.

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and
watch over you.”

Our Heavenly Father desires to instruct us and teach us the right way…..And He has given us the best Instruction Manual and Guidebook ever written….the HOLY BIBLE!  Like a good student who has to discipline himself to study for exams, we should be diligent in studying the scriptures so that we will be able to “pass the test” when our time comes!  He promises to counsel us and watch over us, but we must be obedient to His leading. 

            Let’s determine to study the Instruction Manual so that when test time comes, we will pass with flying colors.  May our Master Teacher be JOYfully pleased with our obedience and faithfulness.

            “Study to show yourself approved” (2 Timothy 2:15) and you’ll develop an unquenchable thirst for the JOY JUICE of Jesus!