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Friday, May 30, 2014

Face the Future Boldly and Joyfully



           Have you had your JOY JUICE today?  Let’s face the future boldly and joyfully!

            There is one thing that we all have in common…our future is uncertain.  And though we don’t know what the days ahead may hold, we can be assured that God is willing to walk with us each step of the way, to strengthen us when we grow weary, to give us comfort when we are sad, and to fill us with JOY in His presence.  Do we trust Him with our future?

            Often we miss the mark of our purpose here on earth because we listen to too many sources other than God.  Our purpose is to glorify God, to share His love and joy and to prepare for eternity! Is that your focus?  Those who have made the greatest impact on our world are those who were most focused. The apostle Paul is a great example of that. He single-handedly spread Christianity throughout the Roman Empire.  His secret….a focused life! (Rick Warren’s The Purpose-Driven Life) As he tells us in Philippians 3:13-14 “I am focusing all my energies on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.”

            Whether you are a recent graduate with an uncertain future looming ahead of you or whether you are at a stage of life in which you are striving to “finish the race well”, each of us should stay focused on God’s purpose for our lives.  That is the key to building an eternal legacy….a Legacy of Joy!

             Let’s pray for our friends and loved ones as we all seek God’s joyful purpose.




Thursday, May 29, 2014

"In the Presence of His Glory with Exceeding Joy"



           Have you had your JOY JUICE today?  God has a purpose for us drinking it faithfully, so that we can be ready to share it with others!

            This time of year, high school and college graduates are faced with important decisions.  They hear advice from many sources and though, it is important to seek Godly counsel from those who love them, they must make their own decisions.   Listening to too many people and trying to please them all is a sure way to frustration.  That is why a personal relationship with the Lord is so important.  HE should be our supreme source of wisdom; HE will never lead us astray; HE always has our best interest at heart; HE knows His purpose for each of us.

            Jude 1:24-25 reminds us of why we can trust Him:
“Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling,
And to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy,
To God our Savior, Who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power,
Both now and forever. Amen.”

            The bottom line is---life without God has no purpose!  And without purpose, life has no meaning. That’s not very “joyful”, is it?  I have come to realize as I grow older, that "the greatest tragedy is not death, but life without purpose". (Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Life)  When we are in the center of God’s will, achieving His purpose, we will experience a joy-filled life.  

            May we seek the wise counsel of God “in the presence of His glory with exceeding joy.”
           

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Enjoy the Journey!



           Have you had your JOY JUICE today?  It was God’s plan from the beginning of time that we “taste and see” that the Lord is good!

            Psalm 138:8 (ESV) says: “The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever.”  Many graduation ceremonies have taken place over the past few weeks and others are to come.  The graduates are pondering their future and making some very important decisions that will affect their lives.  We need to be in prayer for them to “hear” God’s leading and to have the desire to be in God’s will for their lives.

            What an awesome truth that God has a plan for every single person!  Rick Warren writes that “God’s purpose takes into account human error and even sin.”  And  “long before we were conceived by our parents, we were conceived in the mind of God.” 

            With that truth tucked into our heart, we should experience a deeper knowledge of God’s love.   You see, He didn’t NEED to create us. He WANTED to make us in order to express His love. Never feel that you were an accident….God is all powerful and it is only because He chose to create you that you are here.  Not only did He create you, He made you for a purpose.

            As the poem by Russell Kelfer says:

You are who you are for a reason,
You’ve been formed by the Master’s rod.
You are who you are, beloved,
Because there is a God.

            Let's accept His love; seek His plan…and enjoy the journey along the way.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

A Joyful Future is Ours with Christ



             Have you had your JOY JUICE today?  God has a purpose for us drinking in the JOY of the Lord.

            During graduation season, young people everywhere are wondering about their future.  Though they can’t see what’s ahead, many of them are hopeful and optimistic that great things are to come.  Some are apprehensive and question what their purpose is and what career path they should choose.  Still others are content to just drift along with no goals or plans.

            Regardless of our age or stage of life, we need to realize that God does have a plan and a purpose for each of our lives.  He is our source of wisdom. To discover our purpose, it is imperative that we look to God’s Word rather than the world’s way to wisdom.

            Ephesians 1:11-12 in the Message Bible says it plainly: “It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone.”

            Do you know your purpose?  Seek God’s wisdom by studying His word, by listening as you pray and striving to build your life on eternal truths. Trust that

  • Through relationship with Jesus you can discover your identity and purpose.
  • Before you even existed, He had your purpose planned.
  • Your individual purpose is a part of a much larger plan…God’s plan that He has designed for eternity!

            What JOY is ours when we accept those truths and face each day, expectantly!

             Look forward to a joyful future with Christ as your guide!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Graduate from the School of JOY!



            Have you had your JOY JUICE today?  It’s a great way to celebrate Graduation!

            Many of us probably have been invited to a graduation ceremony recently.  Maybe your child or grandchild, niece or nephew, friend or family member  completed high school, college or even pre-K or Kindergarten. Whatever the accomplishment, we are proud of our loved ones!   

               Any of you remember the song sung by the Beach Boys years ago called, “Graduation Day”?  One verse goes like this:
           
There’s a time for joy,
A time for tears;
A time we’ll treasure through the years.
We’ll remember always…
Graduation Day.

            Indeed, when one reaches the milestone of graduation, it is a time for joy! That  long-awaited day has finally come. It is a bittersweet time for tears because of the precious memories shared and the parting of friends.  Those wonderful memories are truly a “treasure” for a lifetime.  Graduation day is a definite “change-point” in our lives.

            If you were asked to give some advice to a graduate, what words of wisdom would you share?  I know what I’d have to say: Drink the JOY JUICE of JESUS faithfully.  After all, the most important relationship we can ever have is with JESUS. When we put Him first, all the other things fall into place.  That’s not to say our lives will be perfect….all of us face challenges.  But if we depend on Jesus to guide us, comfort us and fill us with His wisdom, then our life’s journey will be much more joyful!

            May we each pursue to a deeper level of relationship with Jesus and graduate with “honors” from the School of JOY.

             

Friday, May 23, 2014

Choose Godly, Wise and JOYful Friends!



            Have you had your JOY JUICE today?  May I suggest that you go to a Godly friend and borrow some of theirs when you find yourself running short!

            It is essential to have good friends! Especially those who build us up, tell us what we need to hear and draw us closer to God.  We need accountability; we need wise counsel; we need each other! That’s the way God planned it.  He didn’t intend for us to walk through life alone.  Of course, we are never truly alone because GOD is always there for us.  But He created relationships and wants us to have friends along this journey.  It’s through our friends that He often speaks.

            Do you have Godly friends who believe in Jesus, who are continually studying the Word of God to become more like Jesus and who are praying faithfully as they follow Jesus?  That’s the kind of friend we all need. We can trust their counsel as God uses them to speak to us.

            Charles Stanley writes: “Good counseling always includes a balance of admonition, reproof, discipline, approval, and encouragement.  If a counselor only addresses the negative all the time, run from that person.  If a counselor only agrees with you or applauds you at all times, run from that person as well.  Neither person is going to help you consistently over time because progress toward health and wholeness requires that we make changes, turning from bad habits and embracing good habits in our thinking and behaving.”

              Proverbs 12:15 says: “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man is he who listens to counsel.” (NAS)

            May we seek the counsel of the Godly people in our lives and listen for God’s voice as He speaks through them.



Thursday, May 22, 2014

Wisdom That Leads to JOY



           Have you had your JOY JUICE today?  Be diligent in working toward becoming all that God created you to be and not only will you find joy, but also wisdom!

            God’s Word says in Proverbs 6:6, “Go to the ant, you sluggard!  Consider her ways and be wise.”  What does this mean? Let’s pull out our investigative tools and look closely at that simply little verse.  Go to the ant---we can observe one of God’s tiniest creations and learn much. From the ant’s example we can see:

  • Cooperation
  • Perseverance
  • Diligence in working
  • Sacrifice
  • Strength in working together
  • Unity in purpose
(taken from The Essesials for Walking in Wisdom by Charles Stanley)

The term “sluggard” is used in this verse….A sluggard is a lazy person. The ant is just the opposite: an example of diligence & planning and serves as a rebuke to a sluggard (the lazy person who lacks self control).
God does not like for us to be lazy. The ant teaches great lessons on the subject of work.
·        The ant works without another ant over him and, yet, gets his work done and done well.
·         The ant prepares ahead and is never short of food. Indeed, we should “consider her ways and be wise”.   
·        We should not have to be driven to work, but should do our work…simply because it needs to be done. As Colossians 3:23 teaches:  Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.”
            When we are committed to living out each day for the Lord, then we will experience His genuine joy…in our work AND in our play!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Seek The Truth and Find His JOY



           Have you had your JOY JUICE today?  A great big serving is waiting for you! Open your love letter!

             “WHAT LOVE LETTER?” you ask.  The beautiful, passionate, lengthy letter that you will find written by God especially for you!  It’s called the Holy Bible.  If you have not read it from Genesis to Revelation, may I suggest that you start today?

            When we read and aggressively listen to what God speaks to our heart, we will be filled with awe over His love for us.  We’ll be washed in the JOY JUICE of Jesus! Let’s be reminded that the Bible is not just a collection of stories penned through the years by religious men whose hobby was writing.  God inspired these men to write His words of love and instruction.  He had a purpose….that we comprehend the TRUTH: the truth about Himself, the truth about ourselves and the truth about other people.  We must practice our aggressive listening skills as we read His Word in order to soak in that truth.

            But what good does it do us to know Truth if we don’t apply it in our lives?  “As we are confronted with the truth, we can do one of two things: we can refuse to be pushed into God’s mold; or we can yield to Him and be fashioned into His likeness.”  Charles Stanley

            Let’s be saturated in the truth found in John 16:13:
"But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.” 

           May we seek the truth and find His JOY!


           

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

God Will JOYfully Speak...If Only We Will Listen!



            Have you had your JOY JUICE today?  Do you know the truth about the kind of JOY that comes from hearing God? 

            If you are in the habit to listening to God, you know that there is nothing that takes the place of that personal communication.  The way I see it, the joy of hearing God speak to your heart is in knowing that He has something to say---specifically to you!  Isn’t that awesome to know that out of all the billions of people He could choose to speak to, He singles you out and whispers His love and direction!

            When God speaks, He doesn’t hem-haw around.  He speaks succinctly and precisely what we need to hear. He speaks through His Word, through the Holy Spirit, through other people and through circumstances.  Are we listening?

            There are two kinds of listeners (according to Charles Stanley): passive and aggressive.  A passive listener does not come to God to hear a decision from Him.  The aggressive listener (on the other hand) comes seeking  diligently what God has to say.  If he is in church, his Bible is open and his pen is ready.  If he participates in a Bible Study, he is all ears and his mind is inquisitive. If he is involved in personal devotion, his notebook is replete with insight into God’s ways.”

            According to that description…are you passive or aggressive in your listening to God?  Let’s strive to be like Isaiah when he said in Isaiah 50:4, “He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being instructed.”

            Join me as we tune our ears toward the voice of God Who will joyfully lead us.  

Monday, May 19, 2014

His Sheep (Joyfully) Hear His Voice!



            Have you had your JOY JUICE today?  Actively pursue the JOY of the Lord by listening to what He has to say to you!

            Does God still speak today like He did in Bible times?  In the Old and New Testament days we read that He spoke in a variety of ways:

  • Through direct revelation
  • Through dreams
  • Through His written Words
  • Through His prophets
  • Through angels
  • Through the Holy Spirit.

But what about today?  Does God still speak?  Charles Stanley reassures us “that God is still in the communication business! He employs four principal methods of revealing Himself to the contemporary believer.”  He speaks

1.      Through the pages of His Word….which we must read, study and meditate on in order to hear Him speak.
2.      Through the Holy Spirit.  Do you recognize God’s voice as He speaks to your spirit through His Holy Spirit?
3.      Through other people…Remember that God puts others into your life for a reason.  Those who love you and consistently pray for you---are often His instruments through which He speaks.
4.      And God speaks today through circumstances.  It could be a success or a failure; a tragedy or an unexpected blessing.  God is not limited…He can use any circumstance to speak to us. But we must be listening!

 As John 10:27 reminds us: “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” May we listen with JOY and hear His voice!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Do Not Grieve the Holy Spirit...Bring Him JOY!



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

            We have discussed this week a difficult subject…GRIEF!  We don’t like to have to deal with it…personally or through a friend….because it’s hard!  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 watched His ONLY Son die for you and me!  And what an agonizing, awful death it was.  The Father experienced the grief of seeing that happen to Jesus, yet He allowed it because He knew it was necessary for the salvation of all us sinners!  Now, that’s love!  And it should bring much gratitude and joy to our hearts.

            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 thought only or in both thought and deed.

            May each of us refrain from doing anything that would grieve our Heavenly Father.  Instead, let’s always aim toward bringing Him JOY and sharing His joy with others. !

           

Thursday, May 15, 2014

A Personal Serving of JOY and Strength



          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.  If you are not going through it yourself right now, I’m sure you know someone who is.  Many times we find it difficult to know what to say to someone when they lose a loved one.  Especially in the early stages when emotions are so tender and fresh.  Sometimes we don’t need to say anything…just be there!  If they want to talk, let them talk.  If not, then just put your arms around them and cry with them.

            Through my experiences of late, I have a few suggestions in helping those who are grieving:

  • Express your concern…sincerely. Empathize with the one who is hurting.
  • Don’t be afraid to talk about the situation when they are ready. Their loved one may be gone, but they are still a very important part of their heart.
  • Don’t say: “I know exactly how you feel.” Because NO ONE knows exactly how anyone feels, except God!
  • Instead of asking, “What can I do for you?” just do what you think is helpful.  They can’t think straight when they are hurting deeply.
If we find ourselves grieving, one of the best things we can do is turn to the scriptures and focus on God.  That is where we will find hope…as in  Jeremiah 31:13 “ I will turn their  mourning into gladness. I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow.”  

      Let's remember that we have hope in Jesus.  He will give us comfort and a personal serving of joy and strength.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Joy Comes in the Morning



           Have you had your Joy Juice today?   You can drink in the JOY of the Lord no matter what the circumstances!

             My first experience with death was as a young girl when I lost my grandparents.  I loved them and was brokenhearted when they died, but I had wonderful parents who were there to hold me, answer my questions and help me to remember the good times. 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, through the tears, my family and I experienced peace--that peace that truly does pass all understanding--and JOY.  Yes, JOY in knowing that Daddy was truly “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.

            Since that time, I’ve lost other loved ones.  Just recently, one of my dearest friends, Janice Carlisle; but I know I will see her again, because of her personal relationship with God.  Do you know Jesus as your Savior and Friend?  If not, please ask Him into your heart… right now!  Don’t put it off!  Be sure that you will spend eternity with Christ.  That is how to experience joy…now and forevermore!
         
            Joy…even through the tears.  Yes, it IS possible.  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 bask in the love and joy of Jesus!
           

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Drink In His JOY....Even in Grief!



            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 might not remember to call upon the name of Jesus.  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

            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”…..by allowing the dirt to be put through the cleansing agent called the blood of Jesus.  Let’s clear our minds of any doubts that may cloud and dilute our faith. 

            Draw close to God; you’ll find yourself drinking and serving the JOY JUICE of Jesus….even in the midst of grief.

           

Monday, May 12, 2014

JOY...in Grief!



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

            Many of us have been through heartbreaking circumstances lately: loss of loved ones, tragic accidents, maybe a terminal diagnosis.  There are those who have lost jobs and are having to relocate, therefore saying goodbye to family and friends. Personally, I recently lost one of my dearest friends to cancer (Janice Carlisle) and my heart continues to mourn. Odds are that each one of us is either going through a time of grief or we know someone who is.  Sorrow is never a welcome visitor.

            Can we still have JOY when our heart is aching?  I think we can!  If we depend 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: “First, David believed God heard his cries. Second, he relied on God’s provision and strength. Third, David trusted in God’s help with all of his heart. This kept him from growing weak, losing heart, and giving up. Finally, because David believed God was for him, in him, with him, and behind him one hundred percent, David was able to give thanks with a joyful heart.”

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

            We will all experience grief along life’s path, but amidst the tears, we can also find JOY in the Lord.

Lovingly dedicated to my precious friend and “sister”….Janice Hudson Carlisle…whose life touched many with JOY in the LORD!


Friday, May 9, 2014

A Daily Walk in JOY



          Have you had your JOY JUICE today?  You don’t have to wait until a special occasion, you know!

             Our daily walk tells a lot about our faith.  Are we consistently striving toward growing in our walk with God….or are we sporadic and inconsistent with our Bible reading, prayer time and reaching out to others. Are our words kind and encouraging?  Do we stay out of places of temptation?  When others see you, do they see a joyful Christian who loves the Lord and praises Him, regardless of the circumstances?

            There are those who pin on their “I’m a Christian” corsage or carry a beautiful bouquet of spiritual clich├ęs to use when the time is right; but when temptation, trials or testing comes---they don’t have the genuine faith to make Godly choices.  They fall prey to Satan’s trap. It may be giving in to peer pressure; letting pride rule their decisions; or getting caught in the trap of materialism--- wanting more, more, more…

            Our Joy Juice devotionals this week have challenged us to grow into thriving JOYful Christians who bloom where-ever we are planted.  May we become beautiful specimens of His love that will attract others to our Creator.  Let’s live expectantly….looking for the many blossoms of JOY that God has planted along our path.  May each of us strive to live an authentic, genuine Christian “walk” that always matches the “talk” that comes from our lips and heart.

            2 Corinthians 2:14   “But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him.”

          Don’t wait for a special occasion to enjoy the sweet fragrance of His JOY.




Thursday, May 8, 2014

Strong Roots of Faith and JOY



          Have you had your JOY JUICE today?  If you desire to have a strong faith with deep roots, be determined to drink the JOY of Jesus faithfully!

            Have you heard about the valley oak trees of California?  I read about one of those trees that has a trunk NINE feet in diameter and is more than 600 years old!  Can you imagine the strength of its root system?

            Even a young oak tree has a tap root which can go 60 feet deep to search for groundwater.  As the tree matures, it develops a tiered root system with feeders that permeate different layers in the soil…thus easily finding the water needed for growth.  And listen to this bit of info: Mature Valley Oaks can produce up to a TON of acorns in a good year.

            What a challenge to us…as Christians…that we should be so productive-- spiritually speaking!  Our “roots” should reach so deep that we always find the Living Water for our thirsty soul. As John 7:38 says: “Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”

           May the roots of our faith grow deeper and stronger as we allow the Living Water to permeate every layer of our heart.  Let’s ask God for wisdom in how to be more productive for Him and allow His fruit of the Spirit to grow and thrive in our lives…especially the fruit of JOY!! J

            Won't you join me as we plant ourselves like a mighty oak beside the streams of Living Water?  Father, saturate us with Your love and joy!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The JOY of JESUS is the "Real Thing"!



Have you had your JOY JUICE today?  Make sure it’s the real stuff…not an artificial substitute!

            I attended a wedding a while back and was impressed by the beautiful flowers.  It was not until I got close enough to touch them, that I realized that they were not real…they were silk imposters!  From a distance I couldn’t tell the difference. Only close inspection exposed them for what they really were…imitations.

            I began to ponder how that same analogy can be true in the Christian faith.   From a distance we can appear to be the genuine thing! But when people get close enough to touch our lives through daily activities, will they see the real stuff…..or will they be disappointed with an artificial substitute?   

            It’s easy to tell “paper or plastic” Christians. They may say they love Jesus, but their language, actions and everyday lifestyle speaks loudly and “tattletales” on them.  The “silk flower” Christians are more difficult to discern.  They look good on the outside; they attend church regularly and may even help with church activities. But when observed during the daily grind and in the routine of the busy week, Monday - Saturday, people may not find the same kind of “Christian” that they see at church on Sunday. 

            When people look at you and me….do they see the “real thing”?  A Christian who loves God with “all our heart, with all our soul, with all our strength and with all our mind”?  Would your friends, family and co-workers say that you  'Love your neighbor as yourself.'" (Luke 10:27)  May we each strive to be an authentic Christian!  One filled with JOY that blossoms and blooms and shares God’s genuine love and joy!

            May I encourage you to drink your JOY JUICE faithfully….always making sure that it’s the “real thing”!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Wildflowers of JOY



            Have you had your JOY JUICE today?  Look for the wildflowers of joy along your path.

            Just the mention of wildflowers turns on my faucet of memories of my precious grandmother. She was joyfully aware of God’s intricate detail in all of His Creation. I learned much from her about God’s love and how He gives us countless, simple, good things to enjoy.  Grandma wasn’t rich in material wealth, but she was one of the richest people I’ve ever known in the JOY of the Lord!

            She’d take me on nature walks and by the time we got home, our hands would be full of wildflowers. We would have some tucked behind our ears and in our hair. By her example, I learned to find pleasure in God’s creation.

            Like the wildflowers….God plants unexpected bits of JOY in each of our lives.  BUT we have to be watching for them along our walk of life.  If our eyes aren’t open, often we’ll miss them!  These blossoms of JOY can be found in the strangest places….in a hospital room, at a graveside, in the quiet, early morning hours.  We might find these colorful bursts of joy scattered throughout a busy day on the job or driving along with our car full of boisterous youngsters!  The key to finding these wildflowers of JOY is to have our hearts prepared to see them.

            In James 1:12 we read: Blessed is the man (or woman) who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love them.”   Who knows? Our crown might even be decorated with wildflowers as symbols of JOY in the Lord!

            I'm sipping my JOY JUICE as I look for beautiful wildflowers along my path today.  Won’t you join me? 

             

Monday, May 5, 2014

The Sweet Fragrance of JOY



            Have you had your JOY JUICE today?  Notice the sweet fragrance…is it the  smell of fresh Spring flowers?

            We’re all familiar with the saying “April showers bring May flowers”.  But did you know that this saying has been traced all the way back to 1557?  I’ve always thought it related only to the springtime rains of April bringing the beautiful flowers of May; but one interpretation is a proverb that expresses this meaning: “Good things come tomorrow from unpleasant circumstances today.”

            Immediately when I read this, my thoughts went to the passage in James that tells us to “Consider it pure JOY, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.  Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1: 2-4)

            You may feel as if life has showered you with more than your share of trials.  Discouragement and even depression may be sitting heavy on your heart right now….siphoning the JOY right out of you. You may find yourself saturated with  sorrow, wilting from the “what ifs”  and blown away with the winds of worry.
           
            But remember God’s faithfulness and put your trust in Him each step of the way--through the good times and through the trials. When we do this, blossoms of Godly character will begin to bloom; traits such as perseverance, spiritual maturity, and wisdom will add a depth and beauty to our lives.  Let’s see our struggles as the showers that will bring flowers of JOY.

            Count it all JOY and pick a bouquet of God’s love along your path today!
           



           

 



Friday, May 2, 2014

Develop the Habit of JOY



          Have you had your JOY JUICE today?  Forming a good habit of drinking it daily is a sure way to focus on a life of JOY!

          Developing good habits is not really that hard to do….it’s just making up 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 eating that unhealthy snack every afternoon and watching too much tv! Our days are filled with habitual behaviors….some good and some not.  But the fact is…We choose our habits! 

            Have you ever thought to pray 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. In   Proverbs 4:11, God promises:  I will guide you in the way of wisdom and lead you along straight paths.”

            That seems so simple, doesn’t it?  But we are in a battle because 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 a wonderful habit that is imperative for us to develop if we want to walk in His ways…joyfully!

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