Joy and Contentment

How can I experience joy and contentment during these grueling times? How do I write about joy and contentment in the middle of uncertainty? I don’t know how, but I must. It is part of our work for Christ and His kingdom. It is during these times that He proves His joy in us.

He teaches, and by working His will in us by the power of His Holy Spirit we live, not according to our circumstances, but by our focus upon Him and His calling on our lives. There would never be true joy or contentment if we did not know Him, but Christ in us is the reason for our joy and contentment, no matter how difficult our days.

It has been this Year of Contentment (2017) that He chose to prove an even greater working than before with more trials. Without them we would never know how precious and powerful is His presence with us. His Word is not only powerful and active but also filling and fruitful in the worst of times. From these thoughts we venture to share what His Word says about joy. Please take time to read and meditate on these truths and let them settle in your heart. They will mean more to us than our comments. His Word is truly a lamp to our feet and a light to our path of joy through this wilderness. It is His joy that keeps us content even through the worst of times.

We started this series on contentment stating that all contentment is a gift from God and His Spirit working in us. Joy begins with Him, as with all that describes His kingdom and our relationship with Him, He rejoices over us with joy.

“The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.”
Zephaniah 3:17

Even as He initiates joy, there is no true joy apart from Him. Our joy is in Him.

“neither be ye grieved; for the joy of the Lord is your strength. Nehemiah 8:10

The meek also shall increase their joy in the Lord, and the poor among men shall rejoice in the Holy One of Israel.Isaiah 29:19

Jesus speaks of the “good and faithful servant: who will enter into the joy of thy lord.” Matthew 25:21

“Then will I go unto the altar of God, unto God my exceeding joy.” Psalm 43:4

“for the Lord had made them joyful
(Ezra 6:22).

“Let Israel rejoice in him that made him: let the children of Zion be joyful in their King.” Psalm 149:2

Joy in Our Salvation

“I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.” Isaiah 61:10

We have joy in God “through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.” Romans 5:11

“Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.” Habakkuk 3:18

“And my soul shall be joyful in the Lord: it shall rejoice in his salvation.” Psalm 35:9

 Joy of the Holy Ghost
Joy is fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22).

“And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost.”
1 Thessalonians 1:6

“For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.” Romans 14:17

The God of hope fills with all joy and peace through the power of the Holy Ghost (Romans 15:13).

The Joy of Christ is a Full Joy

“These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.” John 15:11

“And ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you.”
John 16:22

“And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves.” John 17:13

“Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2

Joy Through God’s Word

Thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: Jeremiah 15:16

Paul’s joy would not be abated during his last days of persecution, but it would carry him through the remainder of His ministry for the gospel.

 “But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.” Acts 20:24

Suffering and Temptation

“To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.”
Isaiah 61:3

Paul spoke of exceeding joy in tribulation.
2 Corinthians 7:4

He prayed for the Colossian church that they may be “Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness;” Colossians 1:11

Simon Peter wrote, “But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.” 1 Peter 4:13

James wrote about “joy through various trials (James 1:2).

Our Joy Is an Unspeakable, Everlasting, and Exceeding Joy

“Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:” 1 Peter 1:8

Therefore the redeemed of the Lord shall return, and come with singing unto Zion; and everlasting joy shall be upon their head: they shall obtain gladness and joy; and sorrow and mourning shall flee away.” Isaiah 51:11

“Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy,” Jude 1:24

Dear Heavenly Father, we thank you and praise you for your joy that is ours through your Son, Jesus Christ, Fill us more and more with your Spirit of joy that cannot be taken from us, no matter the circumstances of this life. Enable us to meditate on your Word, to hide your Word and your joy in our hearts and to live content within your Word, your promises and the great salvation that is ours for eternity. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

Where Is My Joy?
Lucy Anne Adams
based on Psalm 42

Where is my joy when all around is sorrow?
Where is my light when night is all I see?
Why is my soul in agony despairing,
Where is my hope, my song of victory?

My joy is in the God of my salvation.
His Word will light the shadows of my heart.
So I will hope in God who is my comfort,
Who gives a song of joy when sorrows start.

When I get permission I will post the other four verses of this beautiful song.

Google images

Followers of Christ Have CGCD

We live in an abbreviated society with many associations. We are described and labeled by our distinctions and dialect, our degrees, doctrines, diseases and disorders.

The description of the life of a follower of Christ is a wonderful thing, definitely not a disease or disorder, but a distinction. Let me explain according to the initials CGCD, the abbreviation for Conviction, Guidance, Commitment and Discipline.

Conviction
One becomes a follower of Christ by the Holy Spirit’s conviction. Jesus taught His disciples that when He left them to return to His Father He would send the Holy Spirit ~ the Spirit of truth. He would supernaturally birth them into His kingdom (John 3:3-8; 1 Peter 1:3-4).

Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. 
And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment:  concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.” John 16:7-11

A follower of Christ is convicted. As the Spirit woos and wins us, we receive the guidance of the Spirit of Christ for new and eternal life.

Guidance
Jesus, who is “the way, the truth, and the life” (john 14:6), promised that the Spirit of truth would guide them into all the truth. This is how He becomes our Shepherd.

“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.
When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.” John 16:12-13

Commitment
The Spirit of truth is the “Spirit of the Lord”
(2 Corinthians 3:17-18).
He leads us by His hand of mercy to follow Christ, to offer ourselves as “living sacrifices” to serve Him (Romans 12:1-2).
He leads us to full commitment and obedience to Him, to the truth, and to actively seek His kingdom and righteousness.

“But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed,” Romans 6:17

“Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act.” Psalm 37:5

“Commit thy works unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established.” Proverbs 16:3

Discipline
With commitment comes discipline as He establishes us as His own. We learn to discipline ourselves as we live under the discipline of the Holy Spirit and His Word.

“Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.”
Proverbs 12:1

“Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.” Revelation 3:19

“For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.”
It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline?
If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.”
Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live?
For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness.” Hebrews 12:6-9
“For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” Hebrews 12:11The apostle Paul in his letter to Titus encourages him to be “hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined (Titus 1:8).

He says of his own life, “But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.” 1 Corinthians 9:27

“If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” Luke 9:23

“See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.
Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.
And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.” 1 John 3:1-3

As followers of Christ we are His special people who gladly accept the description and label as He, by His Grace and His Word, makes us peculiar to the world. No others but those of His family have the life of Christ in them. What a joy it is for people to ask what makes us different, so that we can share Christ with them.

Gracious Father, you have made us precious in your sight. Let us wear the label for your glory. Make your Spirit within us contagious with joy and an excitement that overflows, to your glory and praise. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Fran, DDC (Devoted Disciple of Christ)

images: Google

The Lens of Contentment

Most people see contentment in good health, relationships, possessions, fashions, the cars we drive and the homes in which we live, many of these indicating the measure of our personal success.

God’s people are given a means of seeing what is different from the world. The new heart and new spirit (Ezekiel 36:26; John 3:3) given by God our Father, come with a lens that changes our focus from the world and our dependency on what we can achieve. Our view is upward, brought to see Him as the giver and supplier of all that we need. We see beyond the world’s offerings to the special blessings that are ours through His Son, Jesus Christ.

The writer of the book of Hebrews leaves an exhortation to God’s people in the last chapter:
“Keep your life free from the love of money.

The world trains our children to seek contentment through what our money can buy.
The followers of Christ are trained to “be content with what you have.”

Why can we be content with less than what the world offers?
~ “for He has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’” (13:5)

The giver of all things is more precious than all the money we could accrue in this world.
His presence is greater that any relationship, entertainment or possession offered in this generation.
His love and grace is of more value that anything money could buy.
His blessings are infinite and eternally ours, while the temporal things of this world will either be lost or fade away.
Nothing of this world can compare to what we experience in His supply of all things .

“His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.” 2 Peter 1:3-4

There are those who are suffering physically and financially from attempting to keep up with greater expectations than they are able. When they learn of life in Christ, they can let go of the world’s offerings and enjoy Him and what He gives.

But, as it is written,
“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
nor the heart of man imagined,
what God has prepared for those who love him”—
 these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit.
Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. 1 Corinthians 2:9-12

It was the apostle Paul who said, “I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content” (Philippians 4:11). He rolled with the pushes, at the same time rejoicing and praising the Lord because He had experienced the presence and power of God. In His calling, devotion and service he was given “visions and revelations” of the Lord (2 Corinthians 12:1). As an evangelist/tentmaker he knew the God “who supplies all our needs” (Philippians 4:19). He lived with a “thorn in the flesh” ~ the buffeting of Satan through the religious and government leaders, living the last part of his life in prison because he was content with the Lord’s calling and promises of the gospel. Oh, that we might all say as he did, “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (Philippians 3:8).

Gracious heavenly Father, creator and supplier of all things, open our eyes, turn them upward to see heaven opened as you pour out all that you have prepared for us in and through Jesus our Lord. Let the world see our contentment with you and all that you desire for us. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.
Related Post: A Year for Contentment ~ Continued
image: Google

Holding On and Letting Go

Since August 29, 1992, the Lord has led me in a different path than the former years ~ with a new heart, new spirit and new life.

We have together chronicled this path, leaving traces, patterns, and clues on the way. We have filled notebooks and file boxes, written letters, emails, blog posts and books with what He has been teaching me.

Celebrating these last twenty-five years has been a joyful experience as we continue through this wilderness in the power of His promises; in faith and the strength of His will to reach that eternal destiny to which He has called us.

At the age of seventy-eight I am near the riverside, having seen and tasted the glory of the Lord through His gift of grace. Through this pilgrimage, we come to a point where we no longer look back but toward the horizon to where He waits for us.

The Lord has these years in His service, been holding me and teaching me to hold to Him and all that He has given. He has shown me His plans for me, and with it the direction and wisdom in which to go, with the assurance to be with me all the way.

These last six months it seems that we have not gone forward but waiting for His instructions. During this time, we have been able to write sparingly through these blog posts. We have enjoyed being a part of the WordPress Christian Community, caught up with reading and commenting on other blog posts.

As Jerry’s appointments have lessened, though his foot is still not healed, we are now formatting and getting PRAYERS That Brought the House Down ready for publication. Thriving Under Oppression is the next project to finish ~ a continual work for the last three years. Our major work is not to promote and sell but to write and publish what we have already written, and finish others that we have started.

All are witness to God’s grace and His Glory in proclamation of the legacy of His kingdom. Under the name of Father and Family Books, these are the testimony of “laying hold of eternal life” to which He calls us. To continue on we must let go some of the things we have been doing these last six months. We cannot keep up the pace of reading and responding to other blog posts if we are to hold on and continue the work God has for us. I have read more blogs than I have written. We will visit as often as we can, but not on a daily basis as we have been this year.

Holding on means with both hands, eyes and face forward to the upward call. Letting go means not spending as much time where we have been.

We will still post occasionally and we are committed to finish our series on Contentment as the Lord leads.

My main role is as Jerry’s full-time caregiver. The Lord provides the time between our duties for writing and publishing. Please pray for the Lord’s leading and His holy will for all that we do in the service of His kingdom. Our books are Christian non-fiction, except for one book of short stories. They are for encouragement for Christian living and spiritual growth as we look to the hope that is set before us. We will post updates as often as possible.

If you are interested in any of our books on Amazon (one is free), remember that profits are designated for missions and charity. The Lord has provided for all our needs so that all our work is for His kingdom and glory.

Gracious Father, thank you for the precious friends you have given us here. I pray for your guidance for us all to continue holding to what you have given us; to let go the things of this world that would hinder our growth and continued progress in the way of your kingdom and eternal life. Show us your ways , O Lord, teach us your paths. Lead us in your truth and teach us. For you are the God of our salvation. On you do we wait all the day. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.  

Related article: Laying Hold of Eternal Life

Contentment vs. Anxiety

Why has it taken so long for me to write this post?

It is not because I have been at my task of caring for Jerry. It is not because there are not enough hours in the day to witness of the Lord’s goodness ~ this is the reason I write.

Titles come so very easily, but the meat is not always simple to come by. We long to publish the truths of the Father’s kingdom, but it must come by experience. And so this is true of the subject matter of contentment and anxiety.

Growing up in an environment of anxiety stamps a person for life, until we encounter Christ and learn of Him.

Then, we are born and sealed with His Spirit of promise, sanctified, and set apart for His use.

But even as Jacob wrestled with the angel of the Lord, so we wrestle for the promises that are ours in Him. This wrestling is the work of the Holy Spirit within us, bringing us to know the promises through God’s Word, claiming them, and working through life with the two-edged sword to destroy the strongholds that have have been set up in our lives.

There is as much difference between contentment and anxiety as between day and night. The difference is as light and darkness; as good and evil. And each has its ownership and connotations.  Books have been written, messages spoken and songs sung, and we could say more, but we post very simply today of how the Lord brings us from the anxiety of this life to contentment in Him.

The Source and the Fruit
Anxiety is the abnormal attitude of human beings; the seed thought of every man; flowing from the spring of unbelief.

“O, ye of little faith.”

“Yes, Lord, I hear you. I recognize your voice. I acknowledge my lack of faith.”

“Why do you doubt?”

“I have no excuse. My thoughts carry me where I do not want to go. They seem to have a power of their own.”

“Have I not proven that I love you and am able to provide all that you need?”

“Yes, Lord, I am guilty of forgetting you and your goodness when my thoughts wonder away from you. When times are difficult I am carried away by the moment. I am still learning to be content in every circumstance. I confess my sin, and ask that your Spirit keep me in your Word, to always remember your promises. Let me not dwell on the things of the world, and the power of the enemy. But let your Word be the source of my thoughts, to do its work. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation and the contentment that is ours in you. Bear in and through me the fruit of your Spirit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, temperance; the fruit of holiness, righteousness, truth, grace, and humility. Fill me with your fullness, so there is no room for doubt or fear, but only thoughts of you, your grace and your glory.”
Fran

image: Google

Hidden Treasure

“As a child I had a recurring dream of walking a dirt path, and seeing the reflection of the sun on something in the dirt. Reaching down I discovered a penny. (When I was a child we picked up lost pennies.) As I picked it up, I found other pennies. Picking up the pennies, I found nickels underneath, and then dimes, and quarters and half-dollars in the dirt. The more I picked up the more I found buried in the dirt.

I could not understand this dream until,  as an adult, the Lord brought me into His Word. Then, I began to understand the treasures that are hidden there. The more we take, the more we see and desire and receive. As we continue to look to the path and take what He gives, more of the riches of God’s covenant and kingdom are revealed.

Jesus said, “It is the Father’s pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32). It is His pleasure to open these treasures through His Word, that we may know the heritage that is ours.

In 1993 a year after my new birth, I began writing what our heavenly Father was teaching me of our inheritance through Jesus Christ. (1Peter 1: 3-4) I began writing a little book called The Legacy. It speaks of a will written by an ancestor who wanted to bequeath His fortune to future descendants. The Legacy speaks of itself through me of how God was revealing His love and kingdom to His children who would be born of His Spirit.

God’s Word is such as a father would write in His own written will to pass on all the wealth that he has to his children. Those who read and study, meditate, and take to heart in faith what is written, will discover that this wealth is indeed meant for them individually and corporately with other members of the household of faith ~ those whom God births into His own family. He desires us and sires us according to His own will and His timing, in different generations. He brings us through His Word and Spirit to know Him, to be born of Him, to believe and repent, turning in faith to receive all the promises of His inheritance, and to live the abundant life that is ours through His Son, Jesus Christ. There is no life that can compare to this life. It fulfills God’s purpose for our creation and redemption and becomes a delight for us as His children.“Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4). As we come to this garden that He has prepared for His children we find all our delight in Him. This is His ultimate purpose. God is our goal. His purpose is to satisfy us to the fullest in Himself. His desires become our desires.” The Garden of GOD’S WORD ~ The Purpose and Delight of BIBLE STUDY

Dear Father in heaven, how can we know you, your promises of the life that is ours in Christ, your Son, without your calling, and giving us a new heart and spirit to hear and respond? We praise you for your power to give us physical life and spiritual life through your Holy Word, making us your own children. Thank you for the delight we have in you. Nothing compares to the treasure of your Word and the power of your Holy Spirit to activate your Word in us. In Jesus’ name we thank you and praise you. Amen.

Fran

image: Google

I AM a Perfectionist

I AM is a Perfectionist. Remember those italicized words in the King James Version, those smaller words that added clarity to the sentence from the Hebrew translation? I speak here as I have learned from the Great I AM.

I AM is a holy God, a perfect Father, Creator and Redeemer. The realm of His kingdom is perfect, nothing lacking, nothing out of order, no frustration, no oppression, no war, no anxiety, no fear, violence, sickness, death, disappointment or tears. In His kingdom there is no criticism, anger, jealousy, envy, dishonesty, or falsehood. He is surrounded by righteousness, humility, peace, harmony, joy, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and temperance.

The LORD has established his throne
in the heavens,
and his kingdom rules over all.
Psalm 103:19

Through His Son, Jesus Christ, He rules in power, truth, grace, mercy and glory. From His own mind, heart and Spirit He lives and lavishes His own Being throughout His heavens. As a Perfectionist, He created the heavens and the earth, with expectation of having a perfect family bearing His image.

Did He go wrong somewhere? Then He is not a Perfectionist, and He is not able to rule and govern what He created.

Or is all still going according to His plans? Is providence the working out of His holy will?

Human Perfection
If we were perfect, then we would understand His plans and agree that He is perfect.

If we could see the end of all things as He has planned, we would understand His perfection.
We cannot, so we must look to the Perfect One who makes all things perfect.

“The trying of your faith works patience.
But let patience have her perfect work,
that you may be perfect and entire,
wanting nothing.”
James 1:3-4

Special revelation comes by the power of His Spirit in the lives of those who are His children, born of His Spirit through His Word. Within us He enables us to see beyond this world and its imperfections  (the list is too long). We are brought beyond the power of sin to be occupied with God. The heavenly Father, Creator and Redeemer, whose perfect, heavenly love, humbles us, and begins the process of perfecting us by the power of HIs Son and His Holy Spirit, to share His eternal kingdom.

We give up our human perfectionism when we understand that only He can make things perfect, and His plan for perfection was not intended for this earth, but for eternity with Him. The only perfect thing here on this earth is His love. In the end, it will perfect all those who are in Christ, His Son. We are holy and acceptable in Him, now and forever  (Romans 12:1)

Gracious and blessed Father, Perfect in all things, with the plan to perfect the disciples of Christ, your Son: in the power of your Holy Spirit, birth and train us according to your perfect will through your Word. Through us, by transforming our minds and hearts, make known your love to a perishing world . Fill us with your light that pierces the darkness and brings your children to a perfect love, joy and peace, as we wait for our Lord. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
Fran
Related article: The Power of God’s Holy Will

Psalm 18:32
It is God that girdeth me with strength, and maketh my way perfect.

Psalm 19:7
The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: .

Psalm 138:8
The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me:

Proverbs 4:18
But the path of the just is as the shining light,
that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.

Luke 6:40
 but every one that is perfect shall be as his master.

2 Corinthians 12:9
 strength is made perfect in weakness.

James 1:17
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above,

1 Peter 5:10
But the God of all grace…make you perfect.

1 John 2:5
But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected.