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

 

 

In the Moment

 

Today’s post was written by Stacey Tuley, a wonderful lady with a huge heart. May we always remember that we are blessed to be a blessing.

Everyday is a great day to be a blessing right where you are at.

So this happened around lunch time.

I was at the Walgreens at Rodd Field Road and SPID. I arrived ahead of a lady that I was to meet to buy a purse from. She texted she’d be a few minutes late. While waiting on her I was listening to Lauren Daigle. “…In your eyes there’s only grace now…You plead my cause, you right my wrong, you break my chains, you overcome, you gave your life, to give me mine. You say that I am free, how can it be…Yeah ah…”

I watched a man walk slowly and lethargically up to the trash can in broad day light where he retrieved a 1/2 full Dr. Pepper bottle and a bag of some kind of chips. My eyes began to pour as I watched him devour the treasure he’d found. He walked over to sit on a concrete parking marker to finish eating. I realized in that moment that I had to do something. I wanted to immediately go buy him something to eat, but I saw the lady arrive that I was there to meet.

After I picked up the purse, she got back in her car and I walked into the store, trying to hurry before he left the area. I told the store manager what I witnessed outside and that it broke my heart. He said, “Yeh,” as he shook his head, “He hangs around here a lot. We try to help him as we can, and he scares a lot of the customers. I’ll go ask him to leave.” I told the manager, “Wait, No, he didn’t scare me, but he’s obviously hungry. I would like to buy him some food.”  The manager said, “Ok, I’ll go tell him.”

I wasn’t sure what to get the homeless man. I knew he needed some protein and a protein carb combo is good for sustained energy so I got him a big bag of beef jerky, potato chips, a large smart water, and a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. It wasn’t the ideal place to purchase a meal, but my heart just broke in two for him. How hungry and how desperate must one be to eat from a public trash can at a pharmacy in broad day light with people all around!

The song I had been listening to earlier reminded me of something in that moment. I had watched many people in closer proximity to the homeless man see what I saw and keep on walking. Many others were totally oblivious.  I believe that when we intersect a time and a place there is often a bigger purpose than we may realize and where we have opportunity to be a blessing. I thought I was just going to buy a purse from an online garage sale site, but God had a bigger reason for me to arrive there at 12:57 PM today.

Jesus said when someone is hungry to give them food. When they are thirsty to give them a drink. Whenever we do so we are in effect doing it unto God. I’m so thankful that I had $10 to spend to bless this hungry man. I didn’t need to know why he was hungry, what he did or didn’t do to find himself in this place, or perhaps what mental illness he may have. All I knew in that moment was that he was hungry, and it was my job to get food and water into his hands.

The store manager walked out with me while carrying the bag for the man and said, “I’ll see you to your car.” As the store manager handed the bag to the hungry man, the man reached out his hand to shake my hand. I might as well have shaken the hand of God. The man didn’t say much, but he looked me straight in the eyes and said a very humbled and sincere “Thank you.” I told him, “You’re very welcome, God bless you, and I hope this helps a little.” His heart was full of gratitude for the gift, and my heart was full of gratitude that I had been at the right place at the right time as was able to help. I know it won’t change his situation, whatever that is, but sometimes just knowing that someone cares in a tangible way in the midst of your struggle is enough for that moment.

Our Movies

 

My computer/tablet has been having major issues. The other day it wouldn’t let me open any of my word programs and today it appears to be speaking in tongues. THisbm is whadt it lyoyoks like when I tp]e yon the kebmyoadrad.

Even though my keyboard is speaking its own language, I attempted to use it anyway. After each sentence I had to go back and delete the extra letters that had been inserted into each word. The process was frustrating. It didn’t take long for me to realize that using my keyboard was stealing both my peace and my time. It was time to disconnect the keyboard. Thankfully, I can still type on the touch screen.

A couple of months ago I wrote a post about a vision God had given me about the restoration of heart’s desires. Shortly afterwards, the Lord told me that I was to work on a couple of books I had started writing quite a few years ago. One of them is about the lies that kept me in abuse and the truths that set me free.

Writing about my past can be similar to this morning’s experience with my malfunctioning keyboard. In just a few sentences a slew of memories can quickly surface, causing me frustration and stealing my peace. There were times when I was writing a few of the stories in my first two books that I was crying so hard from painful memories that I could barely see what I was typing.

Whenever painful memories used to surface I would either ignore them, agonize over them, or try to analyze them. Now, when hurtful memories kick up, instead of looking in, I look up. It’s not about introspection as much as it is about gaining a new perspective.

When I take the pain of my past to the Lord, He reveals His presence and gives me purpose. He exposes the lies I believed, helps me to forgive, and writes His truth on the tablet of my heart. As the Holy Spirit reveals the plans of the enemy and the bondages and wounds of those who hurt me, the movie script in my mind of is rewritten, and I see Jesus in every scene. Sometimes He is shielding me. Sometimes He is holding me. Sometimes He is crying. Sometimes He is fiercely protecting me. Sometimes He is speaking truth to me—even when I am not listening. At all times, Jesus is loving me and revealing His heart to me.

Rewriting my life movie writes my purpose. When I See Jesus in every scene of my past, I can clearly see Him in every scene in my future. My story becomes His story as He takes the good, the bad, and the ugly and uses it all for His glory and to bring freedom to others. I might need to process some things and even shed some tears when Jesus shows up in my past memories, but the new outlook He gives me always turn my tears of sorrow into incredible joy.

When you and I give God our pasts, He inserts His presence, His truth, and His promises to bless our futures. Have you given God your movie?

May you be abundantly blessed!

Jeannie

11 You turned my wailing into dancing;
you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
12 that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent.
Lord my God, I will praise you forever. Psalm 30:11-12(NIV)

 

My Father’s Eyes

Instead of writing a blog post today, the Lord told me to share one of the stories from my first book. He told me that someone needed it today. I love God’s heart! He is soooo good!

My Father’s Eyes

Once when I was praying for a battered woman to have a revelation of God’s love, I saw a picture of small drab squares of material in her head. As I continued to pray for her, the Lord told me that the pieces of material were quilt squares that represented bits of head knowledge that needed to be transformed through revelation and sewed in her heart. Although, at the time, I had some understanding of what God was showing me, the message really hit home one afternoon when I was babysitting my good friend’s daughter.

The little darling was a strong-willed, wide-eyed, brunette who was at the height of her terrible twos. Needless to say she was a bit of a challenge. After one particular trying morning of continuous temper tantrums, she fell asleep in my arms. Not only had she exhausted herself, but me as well. I remember thinking, as I held the toddler, “Thank God she is asleep!” About that time her father arrived.

After coming in the house and taking a few steps into the room, He threw his hands up in the air and sighed. Then he came over to the couch where I was holding his child. I watched in stunned silence as he knelt and reached over and touched his daughter’s face. With an expression of awe and adoration he whispered, “Isn’t she beautiful?! Isn’t she just beautiful?!”

“Beautiful? I thought to myself. “What is he talking about? She’s a little terror!” I watched his fingers gently caress his daughter’s cheek. Then I raised my eyes and studied his face. His tender expression of adoration both confused and captivated me. I felt a stirring in the depths of my soul. Then I saw a glimpse of his heart for his daughter. When I looked back down at his daughter’s face, I saw her through her daddy’s eyes. She was absolutely beautiful! I was still trying to take it all in, when my Father God tenderly spoke to my spirit, “That’s how I see you.”

In that instant a significant part of my childhood was re-written. Images of the disappointment on my father’s face and the frustration in his words to me were shattered. I was no longer the little girl who couldn’t “do enough” or “be good enough.” I was now “the adored one,” God’s beautiful child. It was as if God went into my head and found the little drab piece of cloth that I had stored away—the one labeled “Loving Father,” pierced it with the needle of truth and transformed it into a piece of the finest silk. Then He moved it from my head and gently sewed it to a quilt of love that was being pieced together in my heart. “Head knowledge” had become “heart knowledge,” and my Father God had become Daddy the afternoon I saw both a little child and myself through my “Father’s Eyes.”

I grew up believing that God was distant and disconnected. Although I was aware He saved me from my sins, I really didn’t believe that He knew me or even liked me— much less adored me. It took many years and many revelations, like the one I just shared, for Him to convince me otherwise. But His loving persistence paid off, and I can now honestly say that I am not only known, but loved and adored by my Heavenly Daddy!

♥Heart Encounter ♥

  • How about you? Do you believe that God adores you and sees you as beautiful? Why or why not?
  • It wasn’t just the words my friend spoke to his daughter that touched my heart. It was also his expression. He looked at her as if she were a work of art. She was, and so are you! Do you believe you are God’s masterpiece?
  • Although my father loved his family, since he was rather controlling and critical, I saw God as being the same. I didn’t understand my value because I didn’t “feel” I could ever “measure up” to my earthly father’s nor my Heavenly Father’s expectations. What was or is your father like? How do you view your Heavenly Father?
  • I often talk to people about the father wound. But this past year I have met many people with mother wounds. I’m beginning to realize both wounds, not only affect the way we view ourselves and God, but they also affect our relationships. Have your relationships been affected by father or mother wounds? If so, how?
  • In Romans 8:15, Paul uses the term “Abba Father” to describe our relationship with God. The Strong’s Concordance tells us that Abba is also used as the term of tender endearment by a beloved child. It describes an affectionate, dependent relationship with the child’s father, daddy or papa. In the story, I mentioned that Father God became Daddy. To me the word father denotes authority or relational position, but Daddy speaks of passion. Do you believe that God is passionate about you? In your heart has He become your Abba Daddy?

As I mentioned earlier, it took years and many revelations for me to understand God’s heart for me. Without his being aware, my earthy father ended up participating in some of those revelatory moments. A few years ago I had the privilege of sharing with my father, not just my childhood pain, but the revelation and restoration God has brought me. Now that God has brought more healing to both of us, praise God, I have an earthly Daddy as well as a Heavenly Daddy.

Let’s Pray:

Daddy God, thank you for the beautiful quilt you are sewing in my heart. Continue to renew my mind with the Word and with your words of healing, as you bring me revelation and change my “head knowledge” to “heart knowledge.” Show me how my relationships with my earthly father and mother have affected my relationship with you and others. Thank you for loving me. I know you are passionate about me. I want to be passionate about you! I love you, Lord! In Jesus’ Name…..Amen!

 

Reflections:

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

 

 

Preparing for the Storm

 

Weather forecasters are predicting that Hurricane Harvey will be wreaking havoc on the Gulf Coast by early morning. Many residents have evacuated. Those who are staying to weather the storm are battening down the hatches and preparing for the worst, while hoping and praying for the best.

I have been through three hurricanes. One I was too little to remember, the other two I will never forget. Before the hurricanes came into shore, my parents made sure that we had candles and flashlights, fresh water, and enough food to weather both the storm and its after effects. They also had us clear any clutter from the yard.

I have learned to do the same when preparing for the storms of life.

Light- When Hurricane Celia’s high winds pummeled Corpus Christi in 1970, we were without electricity for almost two weeks. Thankfully, my parents had plenty of candles and a couple of lanterns to illuminate the darkness. Spending time in the Lord’s presence and keeping His promises (candles) in our hearts will illuminate our way when the “lights go out.”

Psalms 199:105 “Thy word is a lamp into my feet, and a light unto my path” (KJV). When I was growing up we often went camping. I hated going to the pit toilet in the middle of the night. On the “seemingly” mile long trek, I would point my flashlight directly in front of my feet so I wouldn’t stumble when taking my next step.  I also intermittently raised my flashlight and scanned the distance to make sure I was safe—and that I was headed in the right direction. God’s Word not only illuminates our steps to keep us from stumbling in the dark, but lights our path to bring us understanding and revelation about the present and the future.

Water- Our bodies are composed of more than 60 % water. No wonder we can get dehydrated so easily!  Since we can be surrounded by water and still be dehydrated (Just ask anyone who has been lost at sea) we not only need water—we need drinkable water. In A Shepherd Looks at the 23rd Psalm, the author, Phillip Keller, who was a shepherd by trade, explains what it means to be led “beside the still waters.”  Keller mentions how shepherds go to great links to provide good water sources for the sheep—even digging deep wells if necessary. However, even with all their effort, invariably a few sheep will try to drink from polluted puddles.  If you and I drink from the polluted water sources of the world, we will not be able to survive when the storms of life “hit us”. Jesus tells us that He is the “Living Water.” We must rely on Him to be our strength and trust in Him.

Food- After Jesus had met with the Samaritan woman, his disciples urged Him to eat. Jesus told them He had food to eat that they didn’t know about: “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work” John 4:34 (NKJ). Jesus also says in Mathew 4:4 “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God”” (NKJ). You and I need to know how to “hear” God’s voice and walk in His will if we are going to survive the storms of life.

Clean up the clutter- Besides gathering supplies and boarding windows, my parents always made sure we removed anything in the yard that could potentially become a missile.  Before we head into life’s storms you and I need to do the same.  Unhealthy patterns and mindsets, including unforgiveness and judgment, can become missiles the enemy will launch at us when the winds start kicking up. It’s best to clean them up beforehand.

Thankfully, Hurricanes are preceded by warnings so there is time to prepare. That is not always the case when it comes to the storms of life. If we keep our hearts prepared by staying in God’s presence, reading His Word, listening to His voice, letting Him clear out the clutter in our lives, and resting in His love, we will be able to weather any storm—knowing that the One who created the wind and the waves, can also calm them. 

May you be abundantly blessed!

Jeannie

 

 

 

 

God is Faithful

 

God never leaves us nor forsakes us. I pray you will be blessed today with this encouraging word from Lisa Brooks Gerdes. She is a woman who’s life is a testimony to the faithfulness of God.

Tomorrow marks the 19th anniversary of my husband’s passing. WOW, 19 years! It was a suddenly that you don’t expect. Just two months prior to his passing we had adopted our 2 foster sons. God’s timing is perfect. If we had not finalized the adoption, it would have been a fight to keep them. My sons were 14, 11, 7, and 3 years old. We have walked closely with the Lord in those years, some brutal times, some really good times. People remark about my strength, I really am not strong on my own, but I know where my strength comes from.

My sons may have grown up without their earthly father, but The Father was here. It’s powerful when I go to the Lord in prayer and remind Him He is a Father to the Fatherless, and ask Him to deal with His sons. I continue in prayer that each one of them will walk in the fullness of all He has for them.

While our income dropped, through the grace of God (and tithing) our standard of living has increased. God’s new higher math. While my married friends quit inviting me to gatherings, I made friends with the single moms. We gathered together for meals, encouragement and helped each other paint and make repairs to our homes.

I truly believe everything we go through we have a choice, waller in self pity or use it for God’s glory. Have I always done it well? NO. but I strive to do better each day, and I really am not the wallering kind of girl.

The Lord showed me earlier this year that I have been hiding and it’s time to step into all that He has for me. Thank you to those who have encouraged me through this process and will continue to. It’s a process. It has some missteps, and some backsteps, but I am pressing forward.

I am grateful the Lord has surrounded me with people who love fiercely and unconditionally. (David Bendett, Amber Bendett, Tanya Simpson Land, Lauri Tumbleston Lamenca, Myra Oliver, Daniel Skip Long, Connie Bugg Simpson, Rosalinda Cavazos, Patti McBride, Marilyn Gloetzner, Susanne Mayeux, Kim Shepard Gutierrez, Michelle Galvan, Anne Garl, etc. I didn’t realize how many there are) I have a team that work together, cover each other and me. I could not do this work without each of you and together we have much to do.

Someone recently remarked I was like a modern-day Ruth taking care of my Mother-in-law. There is a difference, I pray MY God will become her God.

I write this today to say whatever you are facing today God is with you, call upon His name and you will be amazed at the things He does.

A Memory

Some people have a gift of capturing beauty in photographs. Others capture beauty through their words. My friend Shelly is gifted in both. In today’s post, Shelly paints a beautiful memory with her words.

A memory:

On our way home from Dallas today, we stopped at a Wendy’s. After we sat down, a middle-aged man entered with a tiny, elderly woman. He gently guided her to the line and showed her the menu board. He carried her small purse, handles frayed, to a table and went back to retrieve her and their trays.

He helped her unwrap her food and made several trips to gather the extras for their meal.

Her back was to me, but his merry eyes lit up each time she said something. I crossed near them to dispose of my trash and I saw him reach across the table and pat her cheek gently. “Mom, you’re such a beauty. I hope you know that, ” he told her.

She smiled and dabbed her mouth as she nodded her head slightly. He steadied her shaky hand when she pulled the fork upward for another bite.

I had to stop. “You two…it’s wonderful.”

He grinned. “Well, she’s still my best girl, aren’t you, Mom? Even though you’re 94, we still enjoy our dates, don’t we?”

She nodded and her eyes crinkled softly as she patted his hand.

I don’t know what their story was before, or where the road led them after, but in that moment, they were perfection. Pure, righteous, holy.

contributed by Shelly Smith Morales

 

Stories of Gold

One of the ways God speaks to us is by reminding us of a particular story or situation in the Bible.

A few days ago, I received a phone call from a man and his wife who were asking for prayer. This couple was obeying the Lord in a difficult situation, and they were hitting a lot of opposition from their family members. As the man shared about the concerning turn of events, Jehoshaphat came to my mind.

In II Chronicles 20:15-29 we read about an unusual battle. When a vast army came to fight the people of Judah, King Jehoshaphat called all the people to fast and seek the Lord. In answer, God spoke through a prophet. “He said: “Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the Lord says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s” 20:15 (NIV.) The prophet then gives specific instructions as to when and where they will find their enemy.

This is where it gets interesting. In verse 17, God promised that they would not have to fight: “You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you.”

Obviously Jehoshaphat believed the Lord, because instead of sending his strongest warriors into battle first, he sent (get this) the worshipers. They led the army singing, “Give thanks to the Lord, for his love endures forever.”

As they sang, God turned the attacking armies against each other. By the time Jehoshaphat and his praising army arrived, all of their enemies were dead.

After sharing the story about Jehoshaphat’s unusual battle plans, I encouraged this precious couple to give their battle to God and just thank Him and worship Him. Last night, I received a phone call from one of the people who had opposed them. This person said that he realized that God was directing the couple. Within two days, God had removed their opposition and they are proceeding with the plan God has given them.

Through the years, I have learned to pay attention to the Bible stories that come to my mind, especially when I am seeking the Lord about a particular situation. Often, those stories of old have been like pure gold to me, as the Lord has spoken volumes through them.

May the Lord abundantly bless you!

Jeannie