The Joy of the Lord

The past few days the Lord has been speaking to me about joy. One of the scriptures that came to mind is Nehemiah 8:10. After Nehemiah tells the people to celebrate, he tells them why: “For the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

When I was raising my children I often begged God for strength to make it through each day. I knew how to rely on God, but I didn’t know how to enjoy Him. I interpreted scriptures about joy to mean that I needed to be thankful and praise God, even when I did not feel like it. While I do believe in offering God sacrifices of praise, Nehemiah 8:10 speaks to me more about relationship than duty.

The defining word for me was the little word “of”

The passage says the joy of the Lord, not joy in the Lord. That means it’s His joy that gives me strength. It’s one thing to know that the Lord fights our battles, but it is quite another to know that He delights in us and rejoices over us. Zephaniah 3:17 tells us that God rejoices over us with gladness, quiets us with His love, and even sings over us. That’s not just visitation; that’s intimacy!

Hebrews says that Jesus endured the cross for the joy that was before Him. That joy is us. Jesus suffered and died, not because He had to, but because He loved us.

It’s the Lord’s joy for me that strengthens me and gives me joy-joy found only in relationship with Him.

Verse 9 of the eighth chapter of Nehemiah says that the people wept when the words of the law were read to them. The people’s hearts were broken over their sins, but Nehemiah told them to rejoice. God had restored His people to Himself. It was time for joy, not mourning.

Jesus restored us to the Father when He died on Calvary’s cross. His precious blood was poured out like wine for the joy that was set before Him-you and me!

May the joy of the Lord be your strength!

Be abundantly blessed!

Jeannie

photo from Pixabay

 

 

I’m Still Here

This morning I was reflecting on God’s goodness. As I thought about all of the trials He has brought me through the following song was birthed in my heart. I seldom share songs God gives me, but I felt to share this one.

I’m Still Here

It seems I’ve fought a thousand wars in distant lands of old.

Some battles that almost took my life have now been turned to stories of gold.

The enemy that stole and crushed is now underneath my feet.

Your amazing grace that covered me has shown me his deceit.

Because of your love,

Your perfect love,

I’m still here.

 

I tried to walk on water without looking in your eyes.

When I was going under, you raised me up again to life.

The storms that raged against me are now the wind behind my sails.

You turned beauty into ashes when it seemed that all had failed.

Because of your love,

Your perfect love,

I’m still here.

 

Chorus

I’m still here because you’re still here with me,

Leading me and guiding me, setting my heart free.

I’m still here because you’re still here with me.

Living in your presence is where I want to be.

Because of your love,

Your perfect love,

I’m still here because you’re still here with me.

 

You’ve raised me up with wings of eagles; now I can truly soar.

I’ll never get enough of you; I’m always wanting more.

The truths that you have shared with me are now mighty tools in my hand.

The life that you have given me is far greater than I’d planned.

Because of your love,

Your perfect love,

I’m still here.

 

You’ve set my soul on fire with a love that’s not my own.

You’ve captivated my heart, and now my Spirit groans.

Lord, take my life and use me so all can know the true joy that you bring.

Set the captives free so they can join with me and sing.

Because of your love,

Your perfect love,

I’m still here.

Chorus

I’m still here because you’re still here with me.

Leading me and guiding me, setting my heart free.

I’m still here because you’re still here with me.

Living in your presence is where I want to be.

Because of your love,

Your perfect love,

I’m still here because you’re still here with me.

You never have forsaken me.

Because your love has awakened me

I know why I’m still here.

by Jeannie Boatright

May you know why you are still here. Be abundantly blessed!

Jeannie

 

Stuck

There have been seasons in my life when I have felt stuck. A few years ago, while I was praying, (begging would be a more accurate description) for God to end my then current season and let me “get on with my life,” I saw a vision of a clock. Its hands were rapidly spinning, signifying the passing of not only days, but years.

Even though the hands of the clock seemed to be spinning out of control, I felt a sense of God being in control—not just in control of the clock, but of time itself, particularly the seasons of my life. God spoke to my spirit that things were getting ready to accelerate, due in part, to the people with which He had surrounded me. At that moment, I realized that I hadn’t been stuck; I had been placed.

God had placed me exactly where He wanted me. He had placed me where I would prosper the most. My stuck season hadn’t been stagnant. It had been a season of equipping, growth, and connections that would cause much to come about quickly in the upcoming season.

The vision of the clock reminded me of Joseph. In the 37th chapter of Genesis, Joseph dreams about his destiny, but in Chapter 39, he ends up on jail duty. His purpose leads him to prison-for a very long season.

I am sure there were times when Joseph felt stuck. The Bible tells us that Joseph was faithful in all that was put before him. He also had favor. While he was stuck in prison, God was setting up his acceleration. As Joseph managed the books, God was writing Joseph’s book—a story that would instantly take him from the prison to the palace to the position of second ruler in the land. His prison time, his “stuck season” prepared him for the destiny for which he had been created—a destiny that would save many lives!

It’s easy to get discouraged when we feel stuck between our vision and our destiny. But feeling stuck is not a bad thing. It is an indicator of change. Feeling stuck encourages us to rise up and to take hold of our promises. Complacency kills destiny, but feeling stuck in invites it, as we are continuously reminded that there is something greater ahead.

Are you are feeling stuck? Has God has given you visions you haven’t seen come to pass? Are you trying to hold onto your sanity while holding on to your dreams? If so, be encouraged. God is going before you and setting things in order. Continue to be faithful with all that is before you. The hands on the clock are turning and will soon begin spinning. Get ready! God is going to accelerate time as He moves you into a new season-a season of changed positions and answered promises!

Lord, you are so faithful! Thank you for all of the seasons in my life, including when I feel stuck. Thank you for your equipping and favor, even when I don’t recognize it. I am confident that where you have placed me now will accelerate where you are taking me. Help me to be faithful and learn all you have for me to learn. Help me to trust you as you lead me toward my destiny. In Jesus’ Name…Amen!

Be abundantly blessed!

Jeannie

Photo by khfalk- pixabay

Tears of Joy

 

“…I woke up this morning realizing that I can not go on in my life any longer without inviting God along for the journey…”

After reading these words in an email I received the other day, I was so overwhelmed by the love of God that I cried tears of joy. I was literally laughing as I was crying. I wanted to shout! I wanted to share with the whole world what God was doing in the life of this person! I was so overjoyed by God’s goodness, that praise and worship automatically flowed from my lips. Thank you Jesus!

Nothing brings me more joy than to hear that someone has realized their need for the Lord and has chosen to invite Him into their journey. A journey given to God becomes God’s adventure given to us-An adventure of discovery, mystery, and destiny.

Taking hold of Jesus’ hand and letting Him take us down a new path, means discovering more of God’s heart and His ways. Isaiah 55:9 says, “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts” (NIV).

When I was younger I used to think these verses meant that God could boss me around because He was bigger than me. Now I realize that God’s ways are higher (better) because He knows what is best for me.

Some of the definitions for higher from the online Free Dictionary by Farlex are as follows:

  1. Having a relatively great elevation; extending far upward
  2. Advanced in development or complexity
  3. Far removed in time; remote: high antiquity.
  4. Of great importance
  5. Characterized by lofty or stirring events or themes
  6. Lofty or exalted in quality or character
  7. Greater than usual or expected, as in quantity, magnitude, cost, or degree
  8. Favorable
  9. Luxurious; extravagant
  10. advanced in complexity or elaboration (Copyright © 2003-2017 Farlex, Inc )

In my journey with the Lord, I have learned that His thoughts and His ways are far above anything I could ever think or imagine—He sees what I can’t see, and He knows what I don’t know. His ways are merciful, loving, understanding, powerful, extravagant, gracious, kind, and right. His ways for me are better than what I can imagine, and His loving thoughts toward me are more extravagant than I can fathom.

I tried to respond to the e-mail, but since the e-mail address was connected to a website that is no longer available, I am hoping this person reads this post and stays in contact.

If you read this, my friend, Congratulations on your new beginning! Welcome to the journey! Welcome to the adventure!

My heart is for everyone to trust in God’s ways and let Him direct their paths (Proverbs 3:5-6). If you would like to invite Jesus into your life and give Him your journey, I would love to hear from you! Please contact me at truthrejoices@gmail.com.

May you be abundantly blessed!

Jeannie Boatright

 

 

Healing from Hatred

My heart broke as I watched the news clip about what had happened in Charlottesville. So many questions were  running through my mind. “How could people be so hateful?” “How could they be so deceived?”

As I stood in the kitchen pondering the motives of man, once again, God shined the searchlight of His love into my heart, and He began to ask me questions. Have you ever thought that you were better than someone else? Have you ever devalued another person, even the unborn? Have you ever hated?

Unfortunately, the answer to all three questions was “Yes.”

We cannot hate if we learn to separate. I, like many others, learned to hate at an early age. Instead of just hating someone’s actions, I judged the person as being the embodiment of evil. Hating them, gave me a false sense of power and protection. I now realize that my decision to hate only hurt me. It was part of the enemy’s plan to destroy me. (I John 4:20).

You and I need to love what God loves and hate what God hates. It is important to hate evil (Hebrews 1:9). I never liked being abused in my marriage, but I was determined to persevere in the midst of difficulties. I could not get free from the cycle of abuse until I hated abuse. God hates what hurts His children. God hates pride, abuse, prejudice, greed, lying, sexual immorality, and anything else that causes pain to us and to the people around us. But He dearly loves us! He loves us so much that Christ died for us while we were yet sinners (Romans 5:8).

We cannot hate unless we have first judged. When you and I judge someone else, we see them in the image of man instead of seeing them in the image of God. In the courtroom of our soul we become both the judge and the jury. Whether we are reacting out of fear, pain, or false belief systems, we justify our decisions and make agreement with the lies of the enemy. “Your sins are too much!” “You were created wrong,” “You have little or no value”. Seeing someone as less makes us appear as more—more righteous, more powerful, or more successful, and blinds us to the true condition of our souls.

Someone who judges is unaware that they are judging themselves. “Judge not, that you be not judged.  For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you (Luke 7:1-2).  When I used to look through the eyes of judgment, I assumed others were looking at me the same way. For instance I used to judge people who got divorced, until I was going through my divorce. I thought they had not prayed enough or tried hard enough, until I was picking up the pieces of a shattered life after fifteen years of praying and trying. In the same way, I believe that people who hate, often believe that others hate them, even when they don’t.

Judgment and Hatred brings death.  I would like to say that I don’t understand the mentality of someone who wishes another to die. But I would be lying. There was a time in my life when I prayed for my abusers to die. I now realize that my prayers were foolish. Deception, bitterness, and hatred will turn us into fools and kill our peace and joy. Loving God and walking in His ways, gives us His heart for others; being foolish causes us to trust our own hearts-hearts that are often wounded and full of ungodly beliefs. Whether these beliefs have been passed down generationally or learned in the classrooms of our lives, they produce death instead of life.

You might be reading this and saying, “I have never hated anyone” That’s wonderful! But if you, like I used to, have ever struggled with hating someone, I would encourage you to pray the following prayer with me:

Lord, thank you that you want me to be free. I confess that I have hated________. Forgive me for not seeing others as you see them. I realize that I can hate evil actions, but love people-no matter what they have done to me or to others. Forgive me for judging. I am not aware of other people’s wounds or the lies they believe. Show me how to have mercy as I fight for justice. Release me from the lies that I believe about you and your love for me and for others. Show me your heart and give me a heart for others, especially for the people I have viewed as being my enemies. Thank you for sending Jesus to die for my sins. I acknowledge that my sins are no greater or lesser than those of anyone else. All sins carry the same cost-Jesus’ sacrifice. But I am also aware that some sins bear more earthly consequences and bring more pain than others. Give me wisdom about how to handle sinful consequences in truth and love. You are a good and merciful Father. Help me to forgive those who have hurt me, as you have forgiven me. I give you my heart. Cleanse me and heal me from all bitterness and hatred and fill me with your perfect love—love that empowers me to walk in truth, heals my heart, and renews my mind. In Jesus’ name-Amen!

May you be abundantly blessed!

Jeannie

“So he answered and said, “ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbor as yourself’” Luke 10:27 NKJV).

Photo from Pixabay

Listen to Your Gut

Have you ever been in a situation that looks and sounds So Right, but the tight feeling in the pit of your stomach is telling you something might be wrong?

I used to ignore that something is not right feeling in my gut, until I realized that every time I ignored it, I was left cleaning up the consequences of bad decisions. Now I have learned that the knot in my gut is God telling me not to move forward, at least not at this time.

Whether the knot in your gut is telling you not to move forward in a relationship, not to sign a contract, or not to continue with your plans, that knot is usually an indication that you should stop and pray for wisdom and protection, or even change your course in direction.

The other day when I was thinking about trusting gut warnings, the belt of truth popped into my mind. When our hearts and souls are engaged in relationships or opportunities, it’s easy for us to get deceived or sidetracked. All lights can be flashing green so brightly that we don’t even pay attention to the stop or yield signs that are directly in our paths. The discomfort in our spiritual gut should alert us to examine our situations and ask God to reveal truth regarding His will and His timing.

Please don’t confuse the gut feeling that I am describing as being when your stomach feels as though it is tied in knots because of fear or anxiety. That is a completely different scenario. The knot I am referring to is not tied to emotions. It’s not butterflies. It’s not fear. It’s usually not even anything you can pin point. There seems to be no logical reason for it, and often we might not even be able to explain why we are feeling it.

So next time you feel that tug in your gut telling you that something is just not right. Listen to it! It very well could be God’s way of getting your attention, so He can protect you from a decision you would have regretted.

May the Lord abundantly bless you!

Jeannie

Liberty

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This past weekend I had the privilege of staying on a military base. Each time I heard Reveille and Retreat being broadcast over the speakers, I thought about the Liberty Bell.

In 1751, a 2, 080 lb. bell was ordered for the Statehouse of Pennsylvania from England. When it arrived, everyone was excited, but when the bell was rung for the first time, it cracked. A couple of Philadelphia foundry workers melted and recast the bell, however, the copper they added gave it an unpleasant tone.

But its lack of musical quality didn’t keep in from ringing out sounds of freedom.

The bell was rung for assemblies and for special announcements and events. Traditionally, it is believed that it even tolled for such American milestones as the First Continental Congress, and  for the Declaration of Independence.

In 1837, the bell became a symbol for abolitionists and was renamed the Liberty Bell. After the Civil War, the Liberty Bell became a symbol of unity for a fractured nation, and starting in the 1880s, it was taken throughout the land proclaiming liberty to all.

Historians tell us that the last time the Liberty Bell physically rang was for Washington’s Birthday in 1846. As it rang, it developed a large crack. Although, that day the bell might have lost its tone, its sound of freedom would continue to ring on through the centuries—as it would become a symbol of hope.

In 1915, a replica of the Liberty Bell, with its clapper chained to its side, traveled the country promoting the women’s suffrage movement. It was rung for the first time when women won the right to vote.

Along with the American Flag, the Liberty Bell continues to be a symbol of freedom today. Freedom that has been fought for…Freedom that has cost many their lives…Freedom that is costly but priceless.

Tomorrow, as you and I celebrate our Independence, I pray that we would thank God for our freedom. Our great country might have a few cracks, but the sound of freedom still continues to go forth throughout the world from her shores.

I am thankful for America and for the men and women in the military who are paying the cost to keep her ringing.

The scripture on the Liberty Bell says it all: Proclaim LIBERTY throughout all the Land unto all the Inhabitants thereof Lev. XXV X.”

Truly words of Freedom from the One who came to set all of us free!

May the Lord abundantly bless you!

Jeannie

“Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed” (John 8:36).

Historical Info from H http://www.ushistory.org/libertybell/

Forbidden Fruit

Obey is one of those words that we don’t like hearing. From the time we are toddlers, whenever we hear “Obey me”—or it’s shorter version “NO!”—we immediately think of what is being withheld from us. I can’t touch, taste, smell, or do what I want to. But the reality is obedience protects.

This reality of protection in obedience hit home for me one day when I was babysitting a toddler who was determined to destroy both herself and my house. After rescuing her from everything from toilets to outlets, I put her in the playpen for a nap. To little Taylor “No!” obviously meant “Go for it!” How was I to teach her otherwise?

How could I get her to understand that toilets and outlets are dangerous when she couldn’t  comprehend the words drown or electrocute, or even death?

It wouldn’t have done any good to have sat her down and shown her electrical diagrams and explained currents and wiring.  Instead, I had to confine her within the boundaries of the playpen to keep her safe, until I finished a few tasks and could watch her like a hawk.

That evening, I was talking to a friend who was suffering a lot of consequences from making wrong choices. I shared with Him about little Taylor. When he was defying God’s “No’s” all he could think about was what God was withholding from him. Now He was learning the hard way that God’s “No’s” were for his protection.

Sound familiar? In Genesis, God places Adam and Eve in a Paradise of “Yes’s”. He only gives them one “no”. They are not to eat fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

If the serpent (devil) had told Eve to eat the fruit from the forbidden tree because it tasted better than the fruit from the other trees, she might not have fallen. But the enemy didn’t deceive her with the fruit, he deceived her through a lie—a lie about the goodness of God. If he could get her to doubt God’s heart for her, he could get her mistrust God and convince her to sin, bringing death, disease, fear, destruction and every other wicked thing that could harm her into her life. The more she believed the lie, the more appetizing the forbidden fruit looked.

The devil still uses the same tactics today. That is why we struggle with obeying God’s “No’s”.  When we choose to sin, we might not always be aware that we are doubting God’s goodness, but we are. Whenever we deliberately make a wrong choice, we are inwardly telling God that we doubt His heart for us. We see Him as withholding, instead of holding out His hands to bless us.

God wants to withhold evil from us; not to withhold what is good for us. But, unfortunately, you and I sometimes  have to get shocked a few times or nearly drown in tears from our decisions until we realize that God really knew what He was talking about when He told us “No!”.

God is a good father and He knows what will truly bless us (his children). The devil wants to steal from us and rob us of our peace. God wants to give us peace, and part of that peace comes through obeying Him and resting in His care for us. Trusting leads to obedience—and obedience leads to rest. May you and I purpose to trust Him, obey Him, and rest in His care!

May you be abundantly blessed!

Jeannie

Genesis 3:1-7

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning” (James 1:17 NKJV).

Testify

I used to think testimonies were about taking tests, now I see them more as testaments of God’s faithfulness.

One of the definitions of testament in the Merriam Webster’s On-line Dictionary is a tangible proof or tribute.  Since testimonies testify to the love, glory, and power of the Lord, they are given to us, not just to grow us, but to reveal who God is to others. This is why God told the Israelites to set up stones of remembrance when they crossed the Jordan.

“Then Joshua called the twelve men whom he had appointed from the children of Israel, one man from every tribe;  and Joshua said to them: “Cross over before the ark of the Lord your God into the midst of the Jordan, and each one of you take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the children of Israel, that this may be a sign among you when your children ask in time to come, saying, ‘What do these stones mean to you?’ Then you shall answer them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord; when it crossed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. And these stones shall be for a memorial to the children of Israel forever.” (Joshua 4:5-7 NKJV).

This is also why over the past 30 years I have written down testimonies of God’s faithfulness in my life.

I don’t know about you, but, many times, I have been mightily impacted through the testimonies of others. That is why I encourage people to share what God has done and is currently doing in their lives. Often, we are unaware of the treasures we are holding onto until we share them. You could be holding onto the very story that someone desperately needs.

If you have a testimony you would like to share, I would love to post it on this site! Your story will bring to God glory and often become a part of another person’s story, when one day, they too, will say, “I read a testimony that inspired me….”

If you feel the Lord stirring you to send your testimony, please email it to me at truthrejoices@gmail.com . Be sure to let me know whether or not you would like me to include your name when I post it.

Thank you!

May the Lord abundantly bless you!

Jeannie