joy

Renewal and Restoration Bring Joy

“Nehemiah said, ‘Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.’ ” – Nehemiah 8:10 Today I want to share the story of joy experienced in a season of restoration. The Book of Nehemiah, Chapter 8, tells the story of the Jewish people chosen by God to be a force of renewal, restoration, covenant life, joy, and love in a world swallowed up by evil. Unfortunately, during this time, society was experiencing child sacrifice, human violations, and slavery. God’s people were meant to bring freedom and exemplify God’s character. But because the influence of the world seduced them, they were punished by God and exiled to Babylon.  After being exiled for 50-plus years, they returned to the Promised Land. Once the temple was

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True Christian Joy

“I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them.” – John 17:13 Have you ever thought of Jesus as having a sense of humor and being joyful? Yesterday, we shared the parable describing the invitations that were extended to a great feast, but many were too busy to attend. In the Book of Luke Chapter 14, Jesus humorously shares their excuses: “…The first said, ‘I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.’ Another said, ‘I have just bought five yokes of oxen, and I’m on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.’ Still, another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.’ “ In their culture, these types of excuses were unheard of so you can imagine

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Make Time for Joyous Occasions

“Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come.” – Matthew 22:1-3 Jesus’ sermons are full of life with teachings about the Kingdom of God, and in them, He used two types of parables to describe believers’ lives. The first concerns judgment, like the parables in the book of Matthew dividing the sheep and the goats, or the story of the separation of the wheat and the weeds. As believers, the good news is you don’t have to worry about judgment because Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection have brought us salvation. We are loved, called, and forgiven and can now experience God’s joy in our lives. Speaking of joy, Jesus talks about

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God’s Promise of Joy

“I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them.” – John 17:13 In the next several Positive Minutes, we will explore how to weave the important threads of experiencing God’s joy, into the fabric of our lives. Did you know that joy is a part of God’s promise to us? It’s in the Bible. It’s a part of the promise of our new life in Christ, and it’s not just something we get when we go to Heaven. It’s actually something that you get when Heaven goes into you. This means that joy is there when the Holy Spirit dwells inside our hearts and bodies, even if we’re going through personal turmoil and trials.  When we experience God’s joy but fall into adversity there is something inside us

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The Cost of Non-Discipleship

“Then he said to them all: ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.’ ” – Luke 9:23 Another term that was coined by Dallas Willard is non-discipleship. There is a trend in our society toward not taking responsibility for choices and actions. Even sadder is the fact that this appears to be happening in the Church as well. In many congregations today, you can be a Christian without walking the narrow road, paying the price, sacrificing for your neighbor, and serving people. What is often taught is that as long as you pray and ask Jesus into your heart, everything’s fine and you never have to sacrifice again. Although the prayer of salvation is very important, there is also a call to be responsible and moral. This is much more costly in the long run. Becoming a Christian doesn’t

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Enjoying God’s Presence

“Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.’ ” – Psalm 91:1,2 Did you know that you can live in the presence of God today? Heaven, while it is certainly a physical location, can also be defined as a place where the Lord dwells. Since He lives within you, it’s safe to say that many elements of that eternal place can be enjoyed here and now, especially with the undying love of Jesus. In His presence, there is complete fulfillment: total joy, total peace and total life. Psalm 91 is one of the most famous affirmations of God’s presence and protection (I encourage you to read the whole thing when you have a minute), and interestingly, it was not original to David

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Don’t Forget to Bless the Lord

“I will extol the Lord at all times; his praise will always be on my lips.” – Psalm 34:1 Some of you may be confused by the title of this devotional. Did you know we can bless the Lord?  I was in prayer with a good friend and I said, “Lord, we bless you.” He said, “You know, you don’t bless the Lord; the Lord blesses you.” And I said, “No, it’s a two-way street; the Lord blesses you, and you bless the Lord.” He continued to debate me on this, but I know from a biblical perspective that he was incorrect, so I finally looked at him, and in a loud, strong voice I said, “Bless the Lord, Oh my soul and all that is within me.” There are hundreds of scriptures that say, “Worship the Lord, praise the Lord, and thank the Lord,” but there are also many

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Character Produces Hope

“Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” – Romans 5:3-5 Did you know that perseverance builds character, and character produces hope? The word “hope” in the Bible is translated from the Greek word “elpis.” It is defined as “joyful and confident expectation of eternal salvation.” For some individuals, their suffering, pressures, and tough situations have actually transformed them into positive and hopeful people. Despite everything, they’ve learned to walk through life with an inner strength and joy that’s evidenced to everyone.  Some of the believers I know who have gone through the worst situations are amongst the most positive people I know. Because of their experiences, they

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Let’s be Filled with the Holy Spirit

“Jesus answered, ‘Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.’ ” – John 4:13,14 In a world filled with so many distractions, let’s be filled with the Holy Spirit instead. Let’s stop wondering what’s the next big thing that will make us feel happy or satisfy our personal desires. When my life isn’t going so well, there’s only one thing that’s certain to bring me joy and a smile on my face, and that is my relationship with God. Being filled with the spirit of God means he is living in my bones! He’s breathing in my lungs; working in my hands and feet; and seeing through my eyes. And maybe most importantly, speaking through my mouth.  If you

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Get Your Garden On

“But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.” – Matthew 13:23 Jesus tells us in simplistic terms that our life is a garden. In life, we’re always planting seeds around us that in their season will bear fruit. We tend to think of “you reap what you sow,” in a negative way, but in the Bible, there’s a positive aspect as well. When you sow by planting seeds in the ground and no one sees them, that’s building up a real harvest. When you do positive things, you’re growing yourself a better garden, a life that’s improving for you and others over time. I just started gardening with my kids and I’m terrible at it. I have a brown thumb; everything I touch

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