Real Life: Joy

Real Life: Joy

“ I have told you these things so that you will be filled with MY joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! John 15:11

  “And Nehemiah continued, “Go and celebrate with a feast of rich foods and sweet drinks and share gifts of food with people who have nothing prepared. This is a sacred day before our Lord. Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!”  Nehemiah 8:10 

In God’s realm, joy is not a feeling or a passing sentiment. Joy is the stronghold of the soul that sustains us through the most horrific circumstances.  It is heavenly in origin, the sweet fruit of the divine.  In Philippians 4:4, we are commanded: “Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice!”  Once we choose joy, the Holy Spirit releases it into our souls. He (the Holy Spirit) is the power Who creates and continually supplies that overflowing wellspring.  Psalm 23:5 says: “My cup overflows with blessings.”

How is this possible in a world full of trouble and pain?  Sounds like a dream that will quickly disappear when we wake up.  But God’s promises are not a dream.  Though my family is going through struggle, I can honestly say I am full of joy daily, when I choose to be.  That is the key:  choice.  We must surrender to the Spirit to taste His fruit (see it manifest in our lives).  Do I feel sadness and pain?  Am I disappointed at times? Angry?  Of course.  I am human.  But I have an unseen reservoir that is my source of comfort and joy, if I dip into it by faith. This is the only way I get through the days of uncertainty and trial.  What also gives me joy is knowing that God is with me and that He is working to conform me to the image of His Son.  In James 1:2-4 says: “when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.”  Growth will only happen if I yeild my will to the Father’s.

Jesus felt the agonies of the Cross long before He experienced it.  How did He endure?  After all, wasn’t He human, too?  God’s Word tells us: “Because of the joy awaiting Him, He endured the Cross, disregarding its shame. Now He is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne” Hebrews 12:2. Though God forsook Him to put away our sin, He looked forward to the joy of being with Him again for all eternity.  This, too, is the believer’s joy now and forevermore.

What are you waiting for?  Come to Jesus today.

Real Life: Peace

Real Life: Victorious Peace

“ Do not be anxious or worried about anything, but in everything [every circumstance and situation] by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, continue to make your specific requests known to God. And the peace of God, that peace which reassures the heart, that peace, which transcends all understanding, that peace which stands guard over your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus, is yours.” Philippians 4:6,7

Peace is a gift and like any gift, we must take it, open it, and put it to use.  Jesus promised this peace to all His disciples.  The cares and worries of life can bring our hearts and spirits down so that we accomplish nothing for God’s Kingdom.  Our purpose is hindered by anxiety and fear.  Peace begins at the Cross, the place where we are reconciled to God: “Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory”( Romans 5:1,2).  We are no longer enemies of God, but we share His glory. 

Even though this is our inherent right as His children, we must lay hold of it by faith and make it our own daily.  Jesus said in John 16:33 that “I have told you these things so that you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world.”  It is a plain fact that we will struggle, have pain, endure hardship, wrestle with sickness and loss.  It’s part of being a human being in a fallen world.  But God’s children have a secret weapon:  the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit releases His peace to sustain us in everything we go through, provided we obey His Word.  It isn’t automatic. The opening scripture gives us the simple path to peace:  prayer with thanksgiving, assured that He will take care of the trouble in our lives.  Peace will then stand guard at our hearts and our minds, keeping us focused on fulfilling God’s will.  We have the added blessing of God’s wisdom: “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.” (James 1:5)

I lived with anxiety and fear in the last few years.  I eased into a deep depression that colored my world in darkness. I had lost two well-paying jobs and our family’s finances were once again in jeopardy.  I was paralyzed.  But I wasn’t so far gone that He couldn’t reach me.  Today I am delivered from that debilitating depression and fear, even as we are still facing monetary shortfalls.  I claim the peace that already dwells in me through the Spirit.  Each time the darkness of fear tries to draw me in again, I go back to God, talk to Him about the situation, and worship.  I believe He is working on my behalf, though it seems like nothing has changed.  Something has changed:  My heart.  I trust Him.  I love Him and I know He loves me.  I can testify that He really will guard your mind and your heart in Jesus.  Hallelujah, what a Savior, what a Friend.  Amen.“Peace I leave with you; My perfect peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be afraid. Let My perfect peace calm you in every circumstance and give you courage and strength for every challenge.” John 14:27

Real Life: Love

Real Life:  Love

“Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.” 1Corinthians 13:13

Love’s origin is God, for God is love.  It’s not a sentiment or a feeling, but deliberate, intentional action.  In the Greek it is the word agape and agapao.  The Vine’s Bible dictionary states it this way: “Love can be known only from the action it prompts.  God’s love is seen in the gift of His Son, 1John 4:9,10. It was an exercise of the Divine will in deliberate choice.”  Love is action taken by deliberate choice of the will.  Love is drawn from His very essence.  God’s love is ours because of Who He is and what He’s done for us.  Our love to God is expressed in our obedience to His every command (John 14) and seeks to do good to all men, women, and children. From Him human beings can know true love and exercise it every day.   “It expresses the deep and constant love and interest of a perfect Being towards entirely unworthy objects, producing and fostering  a reverential love in them towards the Giver, and a practical love towards those who are partakers of the same, and a desire to help others to seek the Giver.”  What does all this mean?

 Love is action.  Love is a deliberate choice. Love is unconditional. Love reaches out to all.  Listen to the words of 1 Corinthians 13:  Love:

  • Is patient
  • Is kind
  • Is not jealous
  • Does not brag
  • Is not proud or arrogant
  • Is not rude (mannerly)
  • Is not self-seeking (unselfish)
  • Does not fail
  • Does not hold grudges
  • Does not delight in evil, but rejoices with truth prevails
  • Always protects, trusts, hopes, and perseveres

Is it possible to live like this?  Yes, with the power of the Spirit.  That’s why Jesus came to die, to free us from sin and give us His life, His power, His essence.  It’s not empty religious dogma.  It’s real life.  Come to Jesus and live.

“God is Love.” 1 John 4:8

Real Life: Introduction

Real Life:  Introduction

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!” Galatians 5:22-23

Jesus is real.  He is real on the inside of those who are saved by His grace.  My whole heart’s desire is to show God to those around me so that they can know the love I enjoy every day.  People are tired of lies, hypocrites, deception and double standards.  They want the right Way, the pure Truth, the real Life. That’s Jesus and Jesus lives in me through God’s Holy Spirit. In the next nine weeks I will explore the singular fruit that the Holy Spirit produces in those who believe.  Keep in mind that even though the word fruit is singular, it does not mean there is only one piece of fruit.  The fruit is in nine sections.  Think about an orange or a grapefruit.  It’s a whole, but it has delicious sections that make up the whole. I love this fact because it shows the unity of the Spirit. God loves this tasty fruit, so He has given us the power to live every single one.  After 42 years in Christ, I am finally learning what walking in the Spirit means in my dat to day life.  It is not trying to be good and moral and righteous; it is allowing Jesus to have His way and believing that He is working to develop this fruit in me.  I step out in faith every day with an open heart for God to work as I work His will. This is real life, not religion. 

Join me on the journey to discovering the real Christian life.

“ My old self has been crucified with Christ.[e] It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So, I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me”. Galatians 2:20