Friday, December 30, 2016

The Source of Joy


I think we could probably all answer this question without studying, but I wanted to study it anyway.  Joy comes from God.  But how do we access that joy?

In John 16:17-24 and 33, Jesus is trying to tell His disciples that He is leaving (referring to His death).  But He promised them that their sorrow would be turned to joy, and fullness of joy.  They would see Him again after His resurrection, and then they would receive His indwelling Holy Spirit.

Joy is this passage is a comfort.  But because the disciples were trying to conform His words to their expectations of a physical kingdom set up on earth, their disappointment blinded them to truth.  Jesus told them that “in that day” (when they would see Him again) they would ask Him nothing.  Why?  Because they would understand what He had meant. 

But then He instructed them to ask of the Father in His name, and they would receive it.  Jesus even went on to explain that the asking and receiving through prayer would lead to fullness of joy.  We are directed to ask for all that we need and all that He has promised.  And we are assured to receive it.  The blessed effect of the prayer of faith is that it fills us with joy.

“Would we have our joy full, as full as it is capable of being in this world, we must be much in prayer.  When we are told to rejoice evermore, it follows immediately, pray without ceasing” – Matthew Henry (referencing 1 Thess. 5:16 ff)

God’s gifts, through Christ, fill the treasures of the soul, they fill its joy.  So what is the source of joy?  The presence of the Savior, and God’s spiritual blessings accessed in prayer.  Nothing physical, for the disciples were sorrowful and the world would be trying to steal joy away from them.  But Jesus promised that their joy would remain full as they remained connected to the Father in prayer.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

What is Joy?

Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary defines it this way:

joy noun \ˈjȯi\ -

  1. a :  the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires : delight
    :  the expression or exhibition of such emotion : gaiety

  2. a state of happiness or felicity : bliss

  3. a source or cause of delight

joy verb -

  1. :  to experience great pleasure or delight : rejoice

  2. archaic : gladden

  3. archaic : enjoy

The Bible speaks of both joy and happiness.  Many times we are told to rejoice, and Jesus teaches on having fullness of joy.  Yet Jesus also taught in the sermon on the mount many ways to be blessed, or happy.  Joy is usually described as something which cannot be taken away when circumstances change, while happiness is based on circumstances entirely.  One site describes it this way: 

Happiness is an emotion in which one experiences feelings ranging from contentment and satisfaction to bliss and intense pleasure. Joy is a stronger, less common feeling than happiness{source – not necessarily recommended}

I think the difference between the two will be more clearly seen as we continue to study where joy comes from, and how and when God instructs us to have joy.

“Our joys on earth we are liable to be robbed of by a thousand accidents, but heavenly joys are everlasting.” 
--Matthew Henry

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

A Study on Joy

Recently the Lord has led me to do a topical study on joy in my quiet time. I want to document some of that journey here, as I have time to express in writing what God is teaching me.

It has been wonderful to be home from deputation and on a mostly “normal” wake-up schedule.  We implemented an “okay to get up” signal for the kids to ensure that we could get a measure of time with the Lord before the kids converge on the day.  This has been amazing to my devotions, which suffered greatly over the last couple of years while we traveled!

My study is utilizing an inductive Bible Study method which I am learning through the Busy Mama Bible Studies several times a year from Doorposts.  These have radically changed my quiet time, and allowed me to go deep even in just a few minutes while I walk through the Little Years with my kiddos.  I am enjoying using these Moleskine Cahier notebooks for each study, and my Prismacolor pencils are never far away.  (I even got Ben hooked on using them in his quiet time!)

The reason I began this study is because my pastor preached through several of the words we typically see around at Christmastime – words that the world uses, but doesn’t really understand (like love, joy, peace).  I realized that I have been struggling to have joy in my walk with God, because I have been disappointed at His choices for my path, and frustrated that His timing is not my timing.  I want to show joy and contentment to my kids and my husband, not selfishness and frustration.

To kick off my study, I created a pretty reminder to help me choose joy each day.

Phil 4 4 jpg

You can download it here, in JPG or PDF format.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

The Lord is my Rock

Psalm 18 2 jpg

Photo from Moab, UT

Sometimes life overwhelms me and I feel like I’m sinking.  Sometimes I’m sinking in laundry and dishes; other times it is in self-pity or guilt.  I can never pull myself out of that desperate place on my own.  I have to remember that the Lord is my rock.  He is a firm foundation, even when I feel like life is ever-shifting around me.  He never changes, even my kids’ schedules and my emotions are on a roller coaster.  He is my defense from those darts of guilt and shame and condemnation that the enemy flings my way. 

When I was in Moab, UT and I saw this rock, Psalm 18:2 came to my mind. Psalm 28:7  came to mind also.  It says, “The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in Him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise Him.”  When I go back to the fortress, my heart is helped.  When I put my trust back where it belongs, I find rejoicing and my song returns.

New Creatures

2 Cor 5 17 jpg

Photo Credit: Me, Moab UT – Butterfly on a Mimosa Tree

Today I am thankful that I am a new creature in Christ!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Apples of Gold

“A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.”
Proverbs 25:11


It can be hard to speak the right thing at the right time!  It’s even harder to teach your children how to discern what to say and when to say it.  A friend shared this acrostic at a baby shower recently to help us determine if our words will be “fitly spoken”.

A – appropriate

P – pleasant

P – pure

L – lovely

E – encouraging

S – soft

Let’s have “apples” of gold words today!

Friday, May 6, 2016

Philippians 4–Contentment

I have been struggling recently – with the waiting for the next step in ministry, with the exhaustion from the current stage of life, with the inconsistency of deputation life, and more.  I know that at the root of many of my up and down feelings is a discontent with where God has me right now.  I want to be content, but I still hear the lies of the enemy in my ears and often my emotions follow. 

As I did a brief word search on the word content I came to Philippians 4, and Paul’s classic declaration on the subject – “I have learned in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.”  I decided to read the entire passage and look at some cross-references too. 

This is what God brought to me. I love how He drops us to the place in His Word which is exactly what we need for the moment.  He is the Master of bringing just the right word, email, verse, encouraging text, reminder, and more to encourage my weary heart!

-- Stand fast in the Lord, Phil. 4:1  Don’t give up yet!

-- Rejoice in the Lord, alway…, v.4  There is always something to be thankful for.  Rejoice in Who God is, and what He has already done.

-- Don’t worry about anything, v.6 – the future, the rest of the day, the “what if’s” which are piling up in your mind.

-- In everything, by prayer and suppication, let your requests be made known unto God, v.6 – take it to God.  Not Hubby.  Not Mom.  Not BFF.  Take it to God.  Tell it to Him.

-- Pray with thanksgiving, v.6 – There is always something to be thankful for!  Even this house, the waiting, the seemingly slow responses to prayer, the difficult kids, the tiredness.

-- God’s peace will wrap itself around your heart and mind, v.7 – He will bring peace, even in the midst of the storm.

-- Whatsoever things are true…think on these things, v.8 – Feed yourself truth.  Don’t believe the lies.  Don’t sit there and sulk in the lies of the Enemy.  Tell your hear the truth, and think on it!

-- Be content, no matter where you are, v.11 – No matter what!

-- I can do all things through Christ, 13 – But only in Christ.  Not in self.  Not in mostly Christ and some of self.  Only in Christ.

-- God shall supply all your needs, v.19 – A house.  The energy.  Emotional strength.  Patience.  Finances.  ALL YOUR NEEDS.

-- Unto God be the glory, v.20.

It was interesting to me to search on the word content in v.11.  Did you know that the root of this Greek word is the same word which appears as “sufficient” in the verse below?

“And He said unto me, My grace is SUFFICIENT for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.  Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”  2 Cor. 12:9

Be content, because His grace is enough.  It is sufficient for whatever I need, in whatever situation, at whatever time.  And because I have His grace, I can be content with whatever situation, at whatever time.

grateful for day

Monday, April 18, 2016

All Kindreds

As I finish up my study of Psalm 22, I looked at verses 22-31 and how many times it is mentioned that the LORD will be praised and worshipped.  The circle starts with Jesus, and adds another band of worshippers throughout the verses as the circle expands.  Look at the list of people who will praise the Lord!

1. “I” v.22
2. Ye that fear the Lord v.23
3. All the seed of Jacob v.23
4. All the seed of Israel v.23
5. The afflicted v.24
6. I (“my praise”)
7. Meek v.26
8. Those that seek Him v.26
9. All the ends of the world v.27
10. All the kindred of the nations v.27
11. All the fat upon the earth v.29
12. All they that go down to the dust
13. Seed v.30
14. “They” (the seed) v.31
15. A people that shall be born

The culmination is that even the unborn generation will be counted among those who praise the Lord!  However, it is verse 27 that struck a chord with me.  Around the throne in heaven we know that there will be redeemed people from every kindred, tongue, people, and nation (Rev. 5:9).  This verse tells us the same thing – people from all kindreds of nations will praise the Lord!  And its exciting to me that there are people from all nations right here in New York City where we are planting a church.  We have the opportunity to see God fulfill His Word as we will people of all nationalities!

All Kindreds jpg

Saturday, March 26, 2016

The Scarlet Worm

As I came to verse 6 in my study of Psalm 22, I was very excited to find a parallel to Christ and the cross.  It seemed especially poignant to me as I studied tonight, on this eve of Resurrection Day. 

Psalm 22:6, “But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people.”

We know that much of Psalm 22 is prophetic to Christ and His suffering on the cross.  Some scholars say He was meditating on Psalm 22 as He suffered for our sin, and that is why He quotes from it on the cross.  I think this is certainly a possibility! 

While Jesus may be calling Himself a worm to signify the low point to which He had stooped, lower even than becoming a man, this worm has a definite picture for us!  The Hebrew word used here for worm is not the primary word for “worm” in the Old Testament.  In fact, it is usually translated scarlet, because this female worm was crushed to form a scarlet dye.   The reference to “worm” indicating specifically the female of a certain species of worm. This description from Henry Morris may help to explain why:

When the female of the scarlet worm species was ready to give birth to her young, she would attach her body to the trunk of a tree, fixing herself so firmly and permanently that she would never leave again. The eggs deposited beneath her body were thus protected until the larvae were hatched and able to enter their own life cycle. As the mother died, the crimson fluid stained her body and the surrounding wood. From the dead bodies of such female scarlet worms, the commercial scarlet dyes of antiquity were extracted. What a picture this gives of Christ, dying on the tree, shedding his precious blood that he might ‘bring many sons unto glory’ (Heb. 2:10)! He died for us, that we might live through him! Psalm 22:6 describes such a worm and gives us this picture of Christ. (cf. Isaiah 1:18)” (Henry Morris. Biblical Basis for Modern Science, Baker Book House, 1985, p.73)

Truly this is a great picture/parallel of Christ shedding His crimson blood to wash our sins away!

Isaiah 1:18 – Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.

Thursday, March 24, 2016


I’ve been doing the Doorposts Busy Mama Bible Study in Psalm 22 this month.  Once again, life with little kiddos (and a week of sickness) has put me farther behind than I like.  But today I studying the concept in verse 1 that Jesus was forsaken by God.  Can you imagine what it would be like to be God’s chosen Son, bearing the sin and guilt of the entire world, and on top of it to have your Father look away – to forsake you – as you paid the penalty for sin?  I cannot fathom it.

I read from Spurgeon’s Treasury of David on the idea of forsaking.  I was struck with this thought…

“This was the startling cry of Golgotha: Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani. The Jews mocked, but the angels adored when Jesus cried this exceeding bitter cry.

“First, our Lord's faith beams forth and deserves our reverent imitation; he keeps his hold upon his God with both hands and cries twice… He knows the Lord to be the all sufficient support and succour of his spirit, and therefore appeals to him in the agony of grief, but not in the misery of doubt.

[As if Jesus is thinking] I can understand why traitorous Judas and timid Peter should be gone, but thou, my God, my faithful friend, how canst thou leave me? This is worst of all, yea, worse than all put together.

“Hell itself has for its fiercest flame the separation of the soul from God.  Christ's desertion is preventive of your final desertion. Because he was forsaken for a time you shall not be forsaken for ever. For he was forsaken for you. It is every way as much for the dear Son of God, the darling delight of his soul, to be forsaken of God for a time, as if such a poor inconsiderable thing as thou art shouldest be cast off to eternity. Now, this being equivalent and borne in thy room, must needs give thee the highest security in the world that God will never finally withdraw from thee.”  (Emphasis mine)

Forsaken.  I am saved by grace, through faith, because Jesus paid the penalty for my sin on the cross.  I can be forgiven because of His sacrifice.  Because He was willing to be forsaken of the Father in order to bear my sin.  That is what we will celebrate in the glory of the resurrection on Sunday.

Forsaken for You jpg

(Download PDF)

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Trusting in Riches

In my current Bible study in Ps. 37 I completed a word study of the Hebrew word tssadiq, or righteous.  It was not terribly in depth as this is a multi-faceted word used repeatedly through Scripture.  However, one verse caught my attention. 

“He that trusteth in his riches shall fall: but the righteous shall flourish as a branch.”
Proverbs 11:28

Recently in our deputation journey we discovered that we would likely have to travel longer than anticipated.  I had my heart set on moving into our field in the Bronx, NYC and getting settled.  First it was to be March.  Then June.  Now the date is uncertain.  (Though we may still get to move we will not be able to really be there and settle in until late this year or early 2017).  I’ve never really been a “home body” but traveling for two years has given me the desire to just be in one place and have a home that is mine, and to settle into a “normal” life.  I know that’s not exactly riches…but sometimes it seems like it takes riches in order to survive in New York City!

Today I was reminded that trusting in riches – in material possessions and things of this life – will lead to instability.  Finances and possessions come and go.  But the righteous man will flourish as a branch.  This reminds me of John 15 where Jesus states He is the vine and we are the branches.  Only a branch firmly placed into the vine can bring forth the rich fruit of the vineyard. 

I am not trying to declare my own goodness, but the truth of Scripture is that everyone who has placed his trust in Christ for salvation has been declared “righteous” by God.  That salvation gives me new life in Christ and the ability to flourish as I draw my nourishment from Him. 

I still want to have that house in the Bronx.  I want to move in and settle down.  But I don’t want my trust to be in a moving date or a set of circumstances regarding possessions.  I want to be a rightous man, flourishing in life because my trust is in Christ.