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Choose Joy

December 21st, 2017

Joy is both a gift and a choice. Choose joy.

“You believe in Him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy.” 1 Peter 1:8 NIV.

My thoughts and comments today urge you to,

“Choose Joy.”

“Merry Christmas!” Such is the all too familiar greeting, but “merry,” seems an underwhelming emotion when referring to the Eternal God coming into our world. “Joyous Christmas,” seems more appropriate to the Advent season. Open your heart and home to be overwhelmed this Advent season by a sublime joy that Peter described this way, “Though you have not seen Him, you love Him; and even though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy.” 1 Peter 1:8 NIV.

Inexpressible and glorious joy is the proper response to the Savior. The experience and expression of the Savior’s birth, life, and unequaled sacrifice deserve no less. As the angel announced to the shepherds that first Christmas, “I bring you good news of great joy which shall be for all people.” Luke 2:10 NAS. The good news is the same now as then, as is the promise.

However, Heaven’s joy did not originate on that first Christmas. The Incarnation simply dramatized the eternal purpose of the Father for all His creation to know inexpressible, glorious joy. Creation is described as the time when, “the morning stars sang together and all the Angels shouted for joy.” Job 38:7 NIV. That same eternal joy will fill your heart as you stand before God, “Who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory, with exceeding joy.” Read Jude 24-25 NKJV. Joyfully celebrating Christmas provides your opportunity to experience His inexpressible and glorious joy every day.

“In Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Psalm 16:11 NKJV. Great joy is yours but never automatic. Joy is a gift God gives; joy is a choice you must make. Advent invites you to choose joy. Nurture joy; mature joy until the emotion becomes a disposition abounding from spiritual resources. Jesus promised, “If you abide in Me . . My joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.” John 15:7/11 NIV. You have His joy, completely.

Choose joy. Share the joy. If you are silent or unclear about your joy at Christmas, why would, or should, the world be drawn at other times to the truth you tell. Consider this. Christmas isn’t really Christmas until you share its joy with others. But a joy-filled message is not credible when coming from a joyless messenger. You can’t share something you don’t have, and you can’t keep something that you won’t share, and others will not believe something they do not see. When you give joy, you gain joy. That states a spiritual principle that also applies to inexpressible and glorious joy, “One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty.” Proverbs 11:24-25 NIV.

Share the joy of Christmas every day, to every person, and in every imaginable way. Celebrate with abandon and without apology. Invite, include, involve, converse, welcome, laugh, love, express life, and always be real. Celebrate joyously and without apology. Incarnate the joy of His incarnation, and the timeless message an unbelieving world cannot resist. The message of Christmas remains forever unchanged, “The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14 NKJV. Christmas offers every reason and opportunity to choose joy.

Today, I pray for you to discover the inexpressible, enduring joy found only in the Savior.

Christian Communications 2017

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The Power of Praise

January 8th, 2016

“The High and Lofty One Who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy.” Isaiah 57:15 NKJV.

When your faith struggles, bolster it with truth.

My thoughts and comments today are about “the power of praise.”

Feelings of distance need not suggest God’s disinterest. There are times when you feel God is distant, somehow apart from you. That is painful to the soul. You may or may not always feel Him near but He will always be there. When God seems distant, it is more likely that you have moved away from Him than that He has moved further from you. Where can you find God when you do not feel Him near? The answer is simple; “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” James 4:8 NKJV.

Difficult situations are rarely as unsettling as the emotions they produce. Emotions such as pain, fear, or anxiety can suggest God is not near. Even worse, painful emotions produce a false belief that God does not care. If God cared, we inaccurately reason, He would be there. Our fear is that God is purposefully distant from us. There will be times and circumstances when such thoughts conflict with truth, when such feelings seem to negate faith. When your faith struggles, bolster it with truth.

In the Old Testament, God revealed Himself by compound names. Among those is, “Jehovah Shammah, the Lord Who is there.” Ezekiel 48:35. Where you are, God is there. God reminded a nation in captivity because of their disobedience, that He would always be, “The Lord who is there.” Even the Lord’s loving reproof is never abandonment.

Again, let me ask; where will you find God when you do not feel Him near? Isaiah described God as, “The High and Lofty One Who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy.” Isaiah 57:15 NKJV. We live in the confines of time; God fills expansive eternity. That could seem intimidating even foreboding, making God seem unapproachable.

The Bible also tells of another place where the eternal God will always be found. “You are holy, You inhabit the praises of [your people].” Psalm 22:3 KJV. Inhabit describes, “a place of permanence, a place to abide continually.” When you do not feel Him near, praise will bring you into His presence – from where you are to where He always is.

God chooses to dwell amid the joyful praises of those who know and love Him. Praise exalts God and welcomes His presence, redirects your thoughts from self-centeredness, releases your emotions from negative expressions, and reorients your focus on all that is good. See Philippians 4:4-9 NIV. Praise glorifies God as is appropriate in all situations. God seeks the company of grateful hearts.

Praise is the simple act of expressing thanksgiving and gratitude, telling God and others what He has done for you. “You are holy. You are enthroned upon the praises of Israel.” Psalm 22:3 NASV. Sincere praise establishes His authority and invites rulership in every circumstance. “Make His praise glorious . . Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise . . I will praise You with my whole heart.” Psalm 66:2/100:4/138:1 NKJV. Read Hebrews 10:22-23 NIV.

Today, I pray for you to know your God is always gracious and ever present.

EDL pix praise keyboard

Christian Communications 2016

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