Friday, August 31, 2012

God vs. the RNC

For those who know me well, you know I'm a FOX NEWS junky and love to watch the political process unfold. Well, that's not altogether accurate - I don't always love it, but I can't help but follow it. President George Bush Jr. is still my political hero, despite what most even conservatives now say and I'm still planning on having him over for dinner before either of us die...

This has been an interesting campaign season for believers, hasn't it?  Our choices are very difficult - who would have ever thought we'd be put in the box where our options are either Obama or a Mormon?  I know it's the talk of Christian circles and I trust that most are coming to the conclusion that we are not voting in a religious system but are voting on some very basic moral beliefs that we have in common with a candidate.  I mean, come on, truth be known - it is the rare candidate who is truly a follower of Jesus Christ - we don't reserve our votes for believers only or it could be decades before we vote again...

But I don't really want to blog on politics, per se.  I want to talk a little about the convention and why it drew my mind towards God.  As I watched the speakers, governors, videos, women, minorities and everyone else that was marched across that grand stage, it became very clear that the purpose of this convention was not only to present to America someone who had a different vision for the country and a track record to support it, but also to make the man more personal.  Pundits have criticized Mr. Romney for being too plastic - not real enough for the people to relate to and grab hold of.  From his wife to those who know him best, their job was to make Mr. Romney smaller, more tangible - more personable.  So they made videos and spoke of his childhood, his dating years, what he was like as a father, what kind of boss he was - they even had a family tell their story of having Mr. Romney sit with them in the hospital at the bed of their sick fourteen-year-old daughter.  All of this was to make him, not larger than life, but smaller, more real.

The thought was, the more you get to know Mitt, the smaller he will become.  If the public can hear his story and relate to him as a husband, a father, a businessman, he'll seem more normal.  And if he is smaller, he will be more loved, more understood and more respected because we can identify with him.

It is interesting to me how the opposite happens the more you get to know God.  He never gets smaller. He never gets easier to understand or grasp hold of - the closer you look at the Creator of the universe, the greater He becomes.

Whether through a telescope or a microscope, when you magnify His creation your mind is blown. As I look at my precious little granddaughters and watch as they develop and grow, I don't think less of God as a designer.  I don't say, "Wow, I could have done that - God's kind of like me."  Nope, instead I shake my head in awe and wonder at how amazing the human body is - how intricate the systems are, right down to those tiny little eyelashes and fingernails that are so important in life.

Then there's the God of the Old Testament - study the law, read the prophets, watch Him move nations and reorganize the world powers.  Nope, again, He's totally out of my league.  His power, His command, His control and His immutable character are devastatingly humble.  I don't know why we try to make God more understandable by trying to hold him up to our fallen humanistic standards and then get frustrated when we find He's outside of our understanding.

He's God and we're not.

We must never forget that.

Now step into the New Testament - this is the most personal record of God reaching through the heavens and identifying with man.  Yes, Jesus putting on flesh made Him more tangible and visible, but smaller and more understandable?  I don't think so - His incarnation, His sinless life, His substitutionary sacrifice, His resurrection and His ascension are mind-blowing, God-elevating, worship-inspiring, character-magnifications of an all-powerful, unchangeable, completely sovereign and awesome God.

In other words, the more you get to know God, the bigger He becomes.

And the crazy thing is that the bigger He becomes, the more personal your relationship with Him will be.

Totally upside down in comparison to what happens when you get to know humans better, don't you think...

Enough for today...have a great weekend, friends...

Thursday, August 30, 2012

The First Place Women's Conference

Just a reminder that this Sunday is the last day to register for the Women's Conference at the early bird price of $25. Then we'll have one more week, but the price goes up to $35.  Now, as much as I want all of your money, I'll bet you'd rather save ten click on the link below and get your registration done! 

Hope to see you all on Saturday, September 29th!

Click here

Monday, August 27, 2012

Get Out of Jail Free

If you've never played Monopoly, you probably don't recognize the value of this card.  As you are making your way around the board, buying properties, building hotels and forming monopolies, occasionally you get in trouble with the law and are sent to jail.  There you have to sit for three turns, as your competitors continue to buy and sell.  It puts a stop to your game and puts you in a difficult position.

That's what jail is for, right?  To put a stop to life, to get your attention and make you sober up about the choices you make.  Now, I know that making a comparison to hell and jail is not really comparing apples with apples, but I want you to hear me out.

Why do believers live like they have a "get out of jail free" card?  You see, when you have that card, there are no consequences to being arrested - you just plop the card down and move on with your turn. So Christians, knowing that the price for their sin has been paid for, can, in effect, plop down their "get out of hell free" card and move on with their life after they sin, right?  Isn't that what the freeing grace of salvation is all about?  And the cool thing is, when they play their card, they don't have to give it up - it has unending usage rights!  What a great gig!

Let's turn this back to a jail analogy, just in case you aren't hanging with me - what if a judge gave a murderer a lifetime "get out of jail free" card?  It didn't matter how often he killed someone, he would never have to be held accountable for that action.  He could just pull the laminated card from his wallet, flash it to the cops and walk away.  Would this be a deterrent to his criminal behavior or an encouragement?

Kind of a ridiculous analogy - doesn't everything in your soul cry out, "Foul!"?  It just doesn't seem right to give a murderer a card like that - especially if he's not repentant or changed at all by the mercy that has been offered to him.

And therein lies the truth - are we at all changed by the mercy that is offered to us? It is true that we have a "get out of hell" card, but it wasn't free.  Jesus paid for it.  That being said, if we never examine the punishment we deserved, then we will not be changed by the mercy extended to us.  And if we continue to sin freely, then we haven't truly died to sin and are alive to God.

  • the husband who cannot say a kind word to his wife, but continues to neglect her rather than love her as Christ loved the church
  • the wife who refuses to submit, but battles to usurp authority from her husband
  • the woman who allows anxiety and fear to grip her so tightly that it paralyzes her and restrains her from sharing the gospel with those around her
  • the father who disciplines out of anger and hates how he feels, but makes no change
  • the mother who is too tired to say no and sees her child heading down a path of destruction, but just can't seem to find the energy to change the tide in her house
  • the friend who can't stop sharing a juicy story that makes her look good and makes her friends look stupid
  • the congregant who finds fault in every service
  • the person who continues to steal from their employer, intending to repay but never able to make ends meet
  • the child of God who can't find the time to read the Father's Word, or pray, or memorize, or study because life is too busy, the Word is too hard to understand, their life is too difficult to navigate or they just don't know how to do it
Is being a follower of Jesus all about punishment avoidance or is it about restoring the relationship between the Creator and the created to its intended place?  Yes, Jesus paid for our punishment, but a life that is not evidenced by change - repentance, spiritual fruit and enduring faith - this is a life that is possibly just playing with religion and thinking that the card in its wallet will work at the pearly gates, when in fact it will pass away with every other earthly possession.  

Just in case you still aren't tracking with me, grab your Bible and read Romans 6:1-14.  It should clarify things for you.

Go ahead - go read it...

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Gospel-Powered LIfe, part 3

"I have been crucified with Christ;
and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me;
and the life which I now live in the flesh
I live by faith in the Son of God,
who loved me 
and gave Himself for me."
Galatians 2:20

Let me remind you where we began:

How has the gospel affected you this morning?  What about yesterday or the day before?  Is the gospel necessary only for salvation or does its purpose stretch beyond?  

Keeping these questions in mind, I want to dissect our verse above before you form your answer.

1.  I have been crucified with Christ
  • What exactly does this mean?  What has been crucified with Christ?  Here's an answer from my Ryrie study Bible - "Crucifixion with Christ means death to or separation from the reigning power of the old sinful life and freedom to experience the power of the resurrection life of Christ by faith."  Our sin has been crucified.  Our flesh has been crucified. Our own way of doing things has been crucified.  Our selfishness, our pride, our anger, our depression, our anxiety, our lust, our critical spirits, our complaining hearts, our doubt, our complete helplessness to save ourselves - everything about us was nailed on that cross and put to death.  The penalty was paid for and it was cast out of the court system into oblivion.  It's over.  Done with. Period.
2. And it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me
  • If everything I ever was - every aspect of my old self - is dead, then what am I now?  I'm not dead. I breathe, I walk, I talk, I eat.  What is alive and powering my body now?  Three simple words:  Christ in me.  That's it. I am dead, my old self was crucified on the cross, and now everything has changed.  I am alive because Jesus is alive IN ME.  IN ME.  It is not I who live now, but Christ.   Do you believe this? Do you live like this?  This is a part of the gospel, friends, and by now you should be able to answer the questions above, right?  
  • Salvation - Jesus in my place 
  • Day-to-day existence - Not I, but Christ
3.  And the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God
  • For the time being we're stuck with this flesh, but it no longer rules and reigns in us - Jesus does. So this new life that I have is powered by the presence of Christ in me (the Holy Spirit, to be exact) and by faith - believing the Word of God and acting on it - the faith I have in Jesus Christ, revealed to me through His Word, leads me through life and is my life.  It's not just What Would Jesus Do, but What DID Jesus Do - the truth of the gospel is alive and well within me.  How I respond to life is now different, how I talk to my children is different, how I love my husband is different, what I do with my free time is different - if my old self is crucified and dead, and Christ lives in me, then my whole life is now changed and heading in a different direction. Where is the anger, the selfishness, the lust, the sin?  It is dead and Jesus stepped in its place.  
  • Don't get me wrong - we're not perfect, but we now have the Holy Spirit guiding, comforting, convicting and leading us in a new manner of life.  We must know His Word, hide it in our hearts and meditate on it, so that we understand just exactly what "Not I, but Christ" looks like, but let me encourage you that it is not a "to-do" list - it is a "to-be" list.  Jesus makes us someone new. When He rules and reigns in us, we can't help but change
4.  Who loved me and gave Himself for me
  • The Gospel 101 - Jesus in my place - He gave Himself FOR ME - where I should have paid the price, He stepped in and took my guilt, my shame, my sin, my punishment.  Isn't this the motivation to live a different life?  We are no longer ruled by the sinful flesh, but have freedom from the bondage of sin and can live a life led by the Spirit, immersed in truth, overflowing with righteousness and submerged in grace.  
Does the gospel affect your daily walk?  It absolutely should.  

Does the purpose of the gospel stretch beyond salvation?  Again, absolutely yes!

If it doesn't, you need to go back to the basics - Jesus in my place, Not I, but Christ.  Those two simple truths are enough to change your life.  Start each day at the foot of the cross - look up at the suffering Savior and remember the cost, grace and love revealed on Calvary.  See the empty tomb and the power that comes from serving a living God. Gaze into the heavenlies where Jesus sits and advocates for you. Let the truth of the gospel be the power behind your choices, your attitudes, your actions and your goals.

Jesus in my place.

Not I, but Christ.  

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Gospel-Powered Life, part 2

"I have been crucified with Christ;
and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me;
and the life which I now live in the flesh
I live by faith in the Son of God,
who loved me 
and gave Himself for me."
Galatians 2:20

Gospel specifics this morning...

1.  The incarnation
  • What does the truth that Almighty Creator God put on flesh and became human mean to you?  If the image of Thor comes to mind, a Greek god who looks like a man but doesn't operate within human boundaries, then you've got it wrong.  Travel back in time to Bethlehem and take a look at what's lying in the manger - a bouncing, baby boy, fully human yet fully God.  God chose to become what He had created - He was hungry, He was rained on, He got tired, He travelled by foot, He accepted food from strangers, He even cried.  Does His humanity affect your daily routine?  Or in your mind, does God exist in a heavenly realm, unaware of the little battles you face because He is God and you are man?  That brings me to the second point...
2.  The sinless life
  • Jesus not only put on flesh but He was tempted and tried and limited just like we are.  He had to submit to government and He knew the Tempter's snares well.  He felt desperation and hunger and loneliness.  And yet through it all He never sinned.  He never chose to give into His flesh and respond in any matter other than through the will of His Father.  He set His eyes on eternity and lived His life without hypocrisy.  It's not that He was perfect so He can't relate to what we are going through.  He chose perfection and can perfectly relate.  Hebrews 4:15 says, "For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin."  Does His perfection offer us anything in our daily walk?  Is it possible that not only did He exchange His perfection for our imperfection, but He also lived a life so that we would have someone to imitate, to follow, to emulate?  Why do we choose Hollywood stars or athletes to imitate rather than God Himself?
3.  The death
  • The cross was miserable, friends, but many died on crosses throughout history. The good news of Jesus death was His substitutionary atonement. He traded identities with us on the cross. The judgment we deserved He took upon Himself and bore the wrath of God for our sin, all the while trading identities with us, giving us His righteousness.  Jesus chose to take our punishment.  There was a great spiritual suffering that took place on the cross, while humans stood and witnessed what they thought was a simple human death.  There was nothing simple about it.  There is a song that says, "I'll never know how much it cost to see my sin upon the cross..."  We won't know the cost because we don't have to pay it.  Jesus paid it.  He saw our sin on the cross, He took it upon Himself and then He humbled Himself before His Father and took the beating, no more than that - He took the spiritual death for us that comes with judgment.  I don't fully understand it, but that's another blessing of the gospel - He took my place so that I wouldn't have to pay.  Jesus in my place.  What does this truth do for you this morning? Anything?  Does it give you a different perspective on choices you make or how you spend your time or whether or not you crack open your Bible today?
4.  The resurrection
  • Our God is not dead.  Our God faced death and defeated death. Not just spiritually but physically.  Truth.  Plain and though not really simple, it is just that simple. The grave could not hold Jesus, spiritually or physically. Does that mean anything to you today?  As I write this, a woman in my church is having surgery. Do you think the resurrection of Jesus Christ could bring her comfort in her time of fear and despair?  What about you?  How does the resurrection of Jesus Christ - how does the fact that He is not buried somewhere in Israel affect how you live today?  Is this a power source in your life or do you live like your God is dead?
5.  The ascension
  • As I wrote earlier, Jesus now intercedes for us beside His Father.  He is our High Priest.  He knows what life in the flesh is like. He took our place. He loves us that much.  And now He sits at His Father's right hand and is an advocate for us - each and every one of His children.  This has a huge impact on us - is God uninvolved?  Is He unaware?  The Bible tells us He's not only involved, He's totally invested because of the high price He paid.  Doesn't that make sense?  Would you pay the highest price ever for something and then set it on a high shelf, never to use it, look at it or enjoy it again?  I think not.  What does the fact, the truth, that Jesus not only rose from the dead but ascended into heaven mean for you today?  
Herein lies that power source, friends.  Jesus said, "I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever, that is the Spirit of Truth..."  Jesus asked that the Father send the Holy Spirit after His ascension and the Father concurred.  Now, upon salvation, we have the Spirit of God living within us, leading us, guiding us, convicting and comforting us.  What a power source! 

And yet so many of us live as if we have no Spirit...

Munch on these truths for a while and we'll continue with this soon...

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

A Gospel-Powered Life

"I have been crucified with Christ;
and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me;
and the life which I now live in the flesh
I live by faith in the Son of God,
who loved me 
and gave Himself for me."
Galatians 2:20

How has the gospel affected you this morning?  What about yesterday or the day before?  Is the gospel necessary only for salvation or does its purpose stretch beyond?  

The gospel - the incarnation, sinless life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ - has a depth and complexity that goes beyond human understanding, and yet God has chosen to reveal Himself through His Son and the actions of His Son to sinful, degenerate, dead man.  Yes, the gospel is essential for salvation - seeing His perfection, understanding our helplessness, receiving His substitutionary sacrifice - my sin in exchange for His righteousness - the gospel brings men to their knees before a holy God and draws us into an eternal, familial relationship with the Creator Himself.

Jesus in my place.

But I contend that many of us stand and walk away from the foot of the cross, grateful and relieved that our record has been cleared, without any sense that the exchange that happened at the cross changes everything.


There is a power source that comes in our salvation gift bag that many leave sitting on the bottom, still wrapped and ignorant of its presence, let alone its purpose.  We yank out the eternal life coupon, wave it in the air and believe that since our fire insurance is in place, we now can live knowing the life after death is going to be so much better than now.

Then we try to be good, but we're still sinners by nature, so we do the best we can.  It's hard, but Jesus is forgiving and in the end, our destination is set.  Works don't save us anyway, right?  So the gospel has changed my eternal life but not necessarily my earthly life.

What a sad life.  

I'm not even sure it's a saved life.

So, what is that power source?  What is in the bottom of the bag?  What am I missing?

Well...not so fast.  I just want you to start thinking about the gospel and whether it affects you on a daily basis.  Just today - when you go to bed tonight, think through your day and make an assessment.  Did the gospel show up at all?  How has the incarnation, or the sinless life, or even the resurrection made your day look different?  Or maybe it hasn't had an affect on your day - that's a possibility, too.

I'll tell you what - next post, I'll discuss the specifics of the gospel and we'll see if it makes more sense to you...

Sunday, August 12, 2012

You Are Invited

Hi, ladies!'s time for registration!  We have been planning this for months now and the day has finally arrived that we can get out the good news!  On September 29th,  we are hosting our first Women's Fall Conference and we want YOU there!  This is not just for Harvest Spring Lake women, but for the women of our community to come together and worship the Lord, being encouraged and uplifted by the Word, led in worship by the Burlock family and challenged in our walk.

Here's my problem - registration starts today and ends September 9th (the 2nd through 9th is actually late registration and costs a bit more).  But ladies Bible study doesn't start until September 11th, so I need to get the word out to my study gals - I WANT YOU ALL THERE!

So, here's the link - you can register online.  Invite a friend or five friends and plan on a wonderful day designed just for you.

Enough said - check out the link and I'll see you there!


Click here for conference information.

Friday, August 10, 2012


"For after seven more days, I will send rain on the earth forty days and forty nights; and I will blot out from the face of the land every living thing that I have made."

"Then the Lord rained on Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven..."

"Moses stretched out his staff toward the sky, and the Lord sent thunder and hail, and fire ran down to the earth.  And the Lord rained hail on the land of Egypt."

"Then the Lord said to Moses, "Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a day's portion every day, that I may test them, whether or not they will walk in my instruction."

"Is it not the wheat harvest today? I will call to the Lord, that He may send thunder and rain.  Then you will know and see that your wickedness is great which you have done in the sight of the Lord..."

"He gives rain on the earth and sends water on the fields..."

"When he fills his belly, God will send His fierce anger on him and will rain it on him while he is eating..."

"The earth quaked; the heavens also dropped rain at the presence of God; Sinai itself quaked at the presence of God, the God of Israel."

"I will lay it waste; It will not be pruned or hoed, but briars and thorns will come up.  I will also charge the clouds to rain no rain on it."

"Are their any among the idols of the nations who give rain?  Or can the heavens grant showers? Is it not You, O Lord our God?  Therefore we hope in You, for You are the one who has done all these things."

"Furthermore, I withheld the rain from you while there were still three months until harvest.  Then I would send rain on one city and on another city I wold not send rain; one part would be rained on, while the part not rained on would dry up."

"...for He causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous..."

"Then he prayed again, and the sky poured rain and the earth produced its fruit."

Interesting word, huh?  It can be used as a verb or a noun and in the scriptures we find both.

Today we have rain.  A few months ago we were wondering where the rain was.  Maybe you live in a place where you didn't worry at all about rain, but around here in Western Michigan, we had quite the dry spell.

What do these verses teach us about rain?

  • God sends it
  • God withholds it
  • God chooses where to drop it

That's about it.  Hmmm...pretty clear.  So what do you think about the rain today?  Did it come as a natural flow of nature's cycle?  Or did God choose to drop it on us today?  Does He do the purposeful rain thing only when He has a plan and other than that He's on weather-auto-pilot?  Or do you think that every drop that falls from the sky was sent from the Lord?

I guess it comes down to your view of God - involved or complacent.  Did He create and set the world in motion, then grab His remote, put His feet up and is now waiting for the end to come?  Or is He working through the weather, as well as the lives of men?

Lots to think about - I think if you study scripture you will see God's purposeful hand in all things.  

Today, Father, I thank you for the rain.  We have taken it for granted but it is a gift from You.  You are all powerful and Your word reveals that You withhold and send rain at Your discretion.  May we look to the heavens and praise You for Your provision, and may we cry out to You when our need is great.  Forgive us for not looking at each drop and thinking of You.  You alone are God and we thank You for blessing us every day with Your sustaining grace.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Sin Confessed, Word Applied, Action taken

This is a Doghouse board.

You may know this game as "Aggravation" and it is named that for a good reason, but growing up, we always called it "Doghouse."

It's a simple marble/die game.  Four players - you are the color to your left.  You roll a one or six to come out - bottom left corner hole in front of you, where you see the painted hole.  Then you roll and make your way around the board until you come almost back to your starting place, turning and entering your "house." The goal is to get all your marbles home before your opponent.

There are some rules that need to be stated:

  • If you roll a six, you get to roll again
  • If you roll three sixes, you have to take your marble closest to getting in your home and put it back in the doghouse (starting position)
  • If you roll a number and your marble lands on a hole where an opponent is sitting, you "knock them off" and they go back to their "doghouse" - thus the application of the name "Aggravation"
  • If you land on an inside corner (there are four), on your next turn, you can hop the corners and race home - it's a short cut. Or you can hop a corner and try to knock of someone who is close to their home
  • Once in your home, you are completely safe
  • You cannot jump over your own color, but you can jump over anyone else's color
It's really not that complicated.  You want to get home and you want to knock others off.

Now, when Dave and I play, we play two colors - the goal is to get both colors home before your opponent.  We play fast and we play vicious.  If we have the choice of knocking someone off or going into our home, we almost always choose knocking the opponent off, just to aggravate them...sorry, but it's true.

It's a pretty even game - we usually play best out of three games to see who the champ for the night is.  And truth be known, I would think after a few decades of playing, I probably win 50% of the time. That's why we keep playing.

But every once in a while, one of us gets on a streak and every roll gets a corner or knocks the other off. It is extremely aggravating and when I am not the one on the streak, I can really get frustrated...and sometimes mad.

So, the other day, Dave and I were playing and he was on a streak.  He started by getting marbles out and going about 10 rolls before I could even get out of my home. Then he proceeded to camp his marbles out by my home and knock me off whenever I got out. In the meantime, his other marbles raced home and before I knew it, I was losing miserably, he was decimating my poor, weak marbles and my temper was boiling.  I tried to have a good attitude, but in my head, I was ticked...

Sin nature at its best.

And I knew where I was headed.  Here's the confession - I have, in the past, punched Dave in the arm when he knocks me off for the hundredth time - not playfully but angrily.  I have taken his die and thrown it across the room.  I have pounded the board with my fist and made the marbles fly - immediately ending the game.  Not proud of any of this, but I have told you all before, I am highly competitive and it's not pretty.

I could feel this was where I was headed.

Suddenly in my mind, all I could hear was the cry of the tax collector who beat he breast and cried out to the Lord, "God, be merciful to me, the sinner!" I knew in my heart where this was headed and all I could do was cry out to the Lord to stop me before I did something stupid.

I know. It's ridiculous.  It was just a stupid game.  But the flesh was winning and I was sinning.  

I hung in there a few more turns, trying to dig myself out of a hole, but Dave's streak continued and my blood was near the boiling point.  Then I heard in my head, "you can lose it or walk away before you do."  And that's what I chose to do.  I picked up my marbles, placed them back in their home, looked at Dave and said, "I concede. You win tonight." And walked away.

Now, Dave was confused and wanted to finish - he laughed because he thought I was teasing but it was my only way of escape before I lashed out.  My hope is someday I'll be able to laugh it off and just let him destroy me with a good attitude. When I am on a roll, he never walks away - he is a great example to me, but I still have some maturing to do when it comes to games.

So, I faced my sin, the Holy Spirit brought the Word to bear in my mind, and I acted. I'm not overly proud that I quit, but it's a step in the right direction and way better than a temper tantrum.

That's the Christian walk in a nutshell.  I don't have to do this on my own - I can choose to control my temper.  And my goal is to become the best loser that ever walked the earth.  I have a feeling that God will continue to let me lose until I learn this lesson.

So, back to the board and Dave, if you're reading this...sorry about quitting, don't let up on me - God's even using Doghouse to mold and shape me into His image.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

"But let all who take refuge in You be glad, let them ever sing for joy; and may You shelter them, that those who love Your name may exult in You."

"You will make known to me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; in Your right hand there are pleasures forever."

"For You make him most blessed forever;  You make him joyful with gladness in Your presence."

"Make me to hear joy and gladness, let the bones which You have broken rejoice."

"But as for me, I shall sing of Your strength; yes, I shall joyfully sing of Your lovingkindness in the morning, for You have been my stronghold and a refuge in the day of my distress."

"My lips will shout for joy when I sing praises to You; and my soul, which You have redeemed."

"My soul longed and even yearned for the courts of the Lord; My heart and my flesh sing for joy to the living God."

"For You, O lord, have made me glad by what You have done, I will sing for joy at the works of Your hands."

"I have inherited Your testimonies forever, for they are the joy of my heart."

"Let the godly ones exult in glory; let them sing for joy on their beds."

"A joyful heart makes a cheerful face, but when the heart is sad, the spirit is broken."

"They shall eagerly utter the memory of Your abundant goodness and will shout joyfully of Your righteousness."

What is your source of joy?  Is it your circumstances or is it the presence of the Lord?  Let's make a few observations just from the few verses above:

  • refuge in God brings joy
  • God's presence brings joy
  • brokenness brings joy
  • God's lovingkindness brings joy
  • God's redemption brings joy
  • God's justice brings joy
  • God's works bring joy
  • God's testimonies bring joy
  • God's goodness and righteousness bring joy
All of these attributes of our heavenly Father equate to joy in the life of the believer.  We do not find our joy in our own strength, because that is fleeting - we find it in the permanent, unmovable, unshakable character of God.  

Probably the verse that stood out to me this morning was the one that said we should sing for joy on our beds - did I wake up today singing and joyful?  

How about you?