Joy

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Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.”  James 1:2-4

Bible passages to know: Psalm 32:7-9; 34:1-8; Proverbs 15:13; John 15:11; 17:13; 2 Corinthians 12:9; Galatians 5:22-23; 1 Thess. 5:18; 1 Peter 4:13- 19; Hebrews 10:34; 12:2; James 1:2-12

This keyword, Joy, is not meant to be a statement of happiness or being cheerful; rather, it is so much more. It is a beacon for us to be in our thoughts and composure, how we are. This happens when we are a transformed Christian who is growing in Christ in our faith and maturity. It is an often-misunderstood word and even misused too. It has nothing to do with pleasure or how we may feel, or when we get what we want, it is how we are to set our thinking and temperament.

The basic definition is, contentment, and that contentment is not to be based on one’s situation, or what we have; rather, it is all laid upon who we are in Christ. Hence the call in James is to consider, that means to count on it and even to declare it so.

Joy is also a “Fruit of the Spirit.” It is a prime way to let our focus be on Christ as Lord. This allows us to enjoy our relationship with Him, His creation, and others, regardless of our circumstances, with an expression of delight and real, authentic happiness that comes from and with harmony with God and others. Joy is declaring our life condition as happy and fulfilling, even when it is not. It is to change our mindset and focus. Because we realize the sovereignty of God and that He is in control, even when life seems to be turned upside down and inside out! Thus, Joy helps us understand God’s perspective and gives us the confidence and patience to endure anything. Joy is not about pleasure, because we may not be gratified and pleased with it; rather, joy is hope. The unshakable confidence of our future in Christ. Our pleasure comes from knowing He is in charge and caring for us!

As we surrender and serve our Lord, we will gain more joy. We gain a greater reality, purpose, and contentment that surpasses our desires and wants.

Joy helps us understand God’s perspective and gives us the confidence and patience to endure anything. Our true pleasure comes from knowing He is in charge and cares for us! Christ will meet us in our deepest need and we are complete in Him. Our response is to put Jesus first and let Him work in our lives. Joy will allow us to enjoy our relationship with Christ, His creation, and others, regardless of our circumstances, with an expression of delight and real, authentic happiness that comes from and with harmony with God and others (John 3:29; 16:20-22, 21:17; 24; Rom. 12:1-2; 1 Thess. 5:18; 2 Pet. 1:5-7; 3:9; 3 John).

Joy is also an aspect of our worship.  Psalm 100

Worship is a covenant and call from our Lord to come before Him and meet with Him with reverence, gladness, and joy. It is a call to know Christ intimately and express appreciation to Him with praise and thanksgiving, doing so with passion, sincerity, conviction, and in reverent fear and trembling. Worship is the aptitude, attitude, and practice of expressing the desire to know our Lord and Savior further, and being grateful for Who He Is and what He has done for us. Our Joy is expressed in worship, as we give Him our best. And, we do this because of our gratitude, we are His; we give Him our heart that is already His. He has given His best to us already; in addition, we are enveloped into His eternal love and care for pure and useful purposes.

Joy is not always an emotional response, although it can be it done with the Truth of our Lord not emotional drama. Because, it is more of a commitment to follow Him with all of our heart, soul, and mind. Our response is our duty from a heart He made in us. It is also a responsibility and a delight; we do it even when we do not feel like it because we do it to please Him and we find joy in that. Joy becomes worship when we are giving our respect to Christ and expressing our joy for Who He is. We are the people whom He has made and redeemed so that as individuals, we can worship and honor Him in our hearts and attitudes, then come together collectively to praise and honor Him as Lord of our lives.

Take a closer look at James 1:2, consider or count it joy refers to declaring our situation as happy and fulfilling. And if we get this, we get the secret of contentment and being a productive and happy Christian. Everything in our life will improve, relationships, even our work. Just because we changed our outlook and approach to life. Even if our situation does not change, our attitude and response will be making the journey of our life easier and fulfilling as we learn and grow in it.

Joy will be the critical character that inspires and leads us. Joy empowers our enthusiasm and recognizes that Christ will lift us up in His time.

It sees the hope to come and takes delight in the moment, even in times of harshness. Joy will allow us to enjoy our relationship with Christ, His creation, others, and our circumstances with an expression of delight and real, authentic happiness from and in harmony with God and others. However, there is a catch to this! Joy, as James put it, must be declared and evident even when it is not visible (James 1:2-4). Like planting a flag and claiming a new land, this in the name of our Lord. The joy we are to have is His love filling us so it spills out. Joy must carry us through all of our experiences and situations. It must rule our character and response, not our expectations and desires. Joy must set the tone of how we engage God and then respond to others, whether it is prosperity or adversity, whether we are in the oval office or living in the streets.

So, we can look at whatever situation we face and say this is good, this will better me, or this will help me. I may not understand it, but I can trust God; He is there and He will carry me through it! We are called to declare our situation, whatever it may be, as joy! Because, it is not a question of if we have problems, but when, as we all will face them. We will face problems; they are inevitable, unavoidable, and unpredictable, and no one is immune! How we deal with them is crucial for our contentment and faith. There is no escape living in our corporeal bodies and in a sinful world (Gal. 3:26; Col. 3:1-4)!!

If we are not joyful, the rotten fruits will come in and take us captive. We will bow to anger, despair and bitterness. Despair limits us like a ball and chain from our potential and growth and the enjoyment of life. It cuts us off from relationships, and our learning experiences from and God. It leads to depression that cuts us off from seeing hope and purpose in what life and eternity are all about! We must always be mindful to place joy in all aspects of our life and expectations. If you are having problems, take a serious look at despair and where it will get you, because there can be no delight without joy. You can have no true confidence without joy. What we suffer through, what we go through, what we give up is of no comparison to what we gain! Christianity and suffering are the ultimate delayed gratification.

How do I do this? 

Surrender your life, all of it to Christ’s Lordship. He loves you and is in control. Realize you can have God-given tranquility, which comes from the yielding of ourselves to our Lord. When Christ is in control, we have peace because He is the source of ultimate peace! This will be achieved when we allow tranquility from our harmonious relationship with Christ be our attitude, control, and composure. The closer we are to Christ, the closer we are to contentment and what is really important in life. Because peace allows for wisdom and amity, it promotes enthusiasm, virtue and love and forgiveness. Peace is also a Fruit of the Spirit that comes from the tree of love that is fruited with wisdom, pruned with virtue, watered with forgiveness, and produces the sweet fruits of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience which all synergistically work together (Isa. 26:3; Matt. 5:9; Luke 19:42; John 14:27; 16:33; Rom. 5:1; 12:18; Gal. 5:19-23; Col. 3:15-17; Phil. 4:7). John 16:16-33

Questions to ponder:

  1. What kind of commitment did you think the Christian life is about before becoming a Christian? What about now?

 

  1. Are you devoted to Christ or a slave to your misguided desires, will and to the manipulation of others?

 

  1. How does joy impact your personality? What about your ministry and church? How does this help you trust and obey Christ and remain fruitful?

 

  1. Why do so few of us actually have this real joy working in us it? What can you do about this?

 

© 1987, 2017, Rev. R. J. Krejcir, Ph.D. Discipleship Tools, www.discipleshiptools.org

 

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Relationships

healthy relationship b

Bible passages to know: Psalm 23:6; Romans 12:9-10; Ephesians 5:15-21; Colossians 1:9-14

 

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.” Romans 12:9-10

 

Life is all about relationships, to the people around us, family, friends, acquaintances, strangers, career, to those we will meet, and of course to Christ as Lord. From the time of our birth, we are in them deep, totally dependent on our Mother unable to do anything, let alone feed ourselves or wipe our rear without an interpersonal relationship. Our need for relationships will span all of our lives and then into eternity with our Lord God. So, we should do all we can, to make them happen well to our best ability.

The problem is, most of us are not very good at them. We have been hurt, so we hurt others. We then become fearful, so we push people away. We can be too needy or not discerning and take on the wrong people who hurt us. And so forth. Nevertheless, God desires us to have fantastic, fulfilling relationships, ones that benefit one another filled with love and joy. Though, in our brokenness, we will either to embrace others with eagerness, or become fearful and alone. One path may make us content; the other, bitter. These trepidations are a natural defense mechanism warning us away from dangerous situations. But, we get stuck in them. Added to that, is our personality and uniqueness. Further on, is our background and fears are all the various attitudes of our culture and the desires of our will, all diverging and converging with one another, causing chaos and conflicts. Meanwhile, Christ is seeking us, beckoning us to follow Him onto a path of solid, lasting relationships. Where there is love and Fruit so we can develop close friendships, understand and give real authentic love. In so doing, build great friendships that last, find the right spouse, and even develop a healthy marriage, family, and legacy.

Consequently, relationships are very important. Yet, there are other activities and goals that preoccupy us in life, such as our careers, cars, hobbies, education, money, pets, and having fun. And there is the artificial relationship building of social media. Consider this thought: when you are at the end of your sojourn on this earth, what will you have received from it? What will you take with you? Will it be that successful career? What about that hobby that took all of your time? Would it be the wealth that you accumulated? I am not saying these things are not important to pursue; rather, they are just a few of the various means to do what really is important, and that is, building relationships! The reason for, and meaning of life is, and God’s Will is, relationships—with God and then with each other!

Therefore, we need to reformat the hard drive of our mind and will, by seeking what Christ has for us, and less focus on our hurts and fears. More on Him, less of me. And we do this in prayer and being in His most precious Word. Then, we will have the right way to proceed into developing our friendships and significant others. So, we can be prepared to come through life, not only with the right decisions, but with the tools, character, listening skills, and ability to make godly, Christ-centered relationships work, filled with God’s blessings and purpose! Even if you have done it all wrong, so to speak, God can, and will turn it around when your attention becomes focused upon Christ, His precepts, from His Word (John 3:30; Eph. 1:8; 4:13; 5:1; Col. 3:2).

I urge you to seek God’s Will by recognizing God’s love for you first. That you are special and deeply loved by Christ, He lived and died for you. In that way, you will be able to apply Biblical principles to help you with a proper perspective, we are to have is a desire for what God wants, not just what we want. Our focus is to be with Him, because He has the best plan for us! Our plans will only lead us to make the wrong decisions and miss out on the best opportunities and situations He has for us (Prov. 8:17; Rom. 5:8; Gal. 2:20; 1 John 3:1).

Additionally, if you are married, you can use the principles of His Word to spruce up your marriage with a romantic makeover through self-discovery and character with love and respect in action. You can take a look at what you may have done wrong, and then correct it by removing your false thinking and bad behaviors (1 Cor. 7:1-11; 39-40).

The goal—from finding friendships to finding and keeping the “love of your life”—is to live in undivided surrender and devotion to the Lord Jesus Christ. He is Lord, meaning that He is in charge of all areas of our lives. He is our first and primary love! That means your life must reflect the supremacy and glory of God, and serve as an example in a world of temptation and evil. Since He represented us in life and death, and imparts to us His grace, this is our driving force, our number one reason in life and in eternity to come. Because of what He has done for us, we should have the desire to assemble our lives to glorify Him. That means to also strive toward our best in the fullness of relationships. We have to be willing to take this to heart: His Will supersedes ours; His Way is the best, whereas our will and desires are limited in our understanding and knowledge. By surrendering our Will to His Will, we can build a foundation of trust, reliance, and obedience. These actions become the foundation upon which to build the rest of the house of character, values, and fortitude, of all of who we are to be, and where a Christ-centered relationship can live and grow (Phil. 3:1-14).

You will then be able to make healthy and wise decisions because of the Lord, through His Word and the Holy Spirit, is your Guide. As opposed to what the media, friends, your passions, emotions, and a smartphone may dictate. Because you are seeking His truth, you will be able to discern how to go about your life, your direction and plan, even who is right for you. Following these timeless Biblical precepts will help you make the right decisions, and avoid making the wrong ones. If for some reason, you decide God’s ways are not for you, be forewarned; as you lose yourself into the jungle realm of wrong decisions, you may never receive what He has and what is best for you. Thus, you may face the unpleasant prospect of venturing into a life of misery and strife. So, why do that?

If you are thinking, wait, I might get hurt, or, I have been rejected after I spent so much of my time and energy on, or I am not good at making friends, and so on. Well, take to heart this valuable point; you did not waste your time. And yes, we will be hurt, because we live in a sin-filled world. So, instead of repeating our previous patterns, or turning into an old grump, or throwing the proverbial pity-party, we can move forward. Receiving God’s healing, getting professional help if needed. Giving love and time to others, even when we do not get anything back or even if we get hate thrown back at us, is never a waste of time. Emulating and fostering real love is never a waste, because we follow Christ and His example! Love is not about our conditions or sensations; it is about Christ working in us. Remember, God has born your hurt, too! And your witness is at hand, seen by people you may never know about!

Take heed of this: When actual love is well practiced, our relationships are certain to succeed. When we practice real authentic love, we are both trusting and obeying our Lord, doing His prime will. God’s love must be our model for life!

So, how do I do this?

Brace yourselves, it is not hard! It is about, get in, then trust and obey. Get in His Word, know what it says, and apply it. It is that simple. To really work this: Do not merely get into God’s Word, allow His Word to get into you! Carefully read, know and seek to memorize these passages. Write them down on cards and keep them with you. Read them into your voice recorder and play over and over. Do this one passage at a time. This will be your template to reset your relational operating system:

Bible passages on building healthy relationships: Psalm 23:6; John 13:34-35; Romans 12:9-10; 1 Corinthians 13:4-8; Galatians 5:16-26; Ephesians 4:2-3; 5:15-21; Colossians 1:9-14; 3:12-14; 1 Peter 3:8; 5:6-7; 1 John 4:7-11

The first thing we must see is that God does care, and has a plan for you, even when you cannot see it. So, be willing to learn and develop your Fruit and character. Study the Word, seek wisdom, be prudent, and lean on the strength of the Lord! These things do not come to you by chance; they come from knowing and following Christ (Philp. 3:10-14)!

So, be challenged to search the Scriptures and see what Christ has for you. First look up the passages above. The focus is on timeless values that last, and that work. Remember this: without the right attitude and perspective on life, without glorifying God and following His Will to unfold in and through you, you will not find or build real, quality relationships in your life! You will only find misery and loneliness that leads to anger and bitterness. You will be taking a big gamble on what is priceless and precious.

For deeper insights and self-study, after you look up these passages and thoroughly digest them, ask yourself or in a small group: 1. What does this mean? 2. How can I be changed because of these precepts? And… then do it! 3. How will these precepts affect and effect my life? 4. What gets in the way of His Way? The Bible holds the truth for life today, including how and with whom you should be building a life with.

Questions to ponder:

  1. Read Galatians 5:16-26; notice there are two sets of Fruits. How has the first set, the rotten ones, affected your life? How has the second set, the ones from the Holy Spirit, affected you and others around you?

 

  1. Carefully read 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. Then, read it and replace the word “love” and “it’ with your name. How did it make you feel? Motivate you? To convict you? What would this mean to your close significant others if you did this more and better?

 

  1. What are some ways you can take the precepts from 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 and Galatians 5:22-23 to “affect” (impact) you to become a greater “effect” (result) to you and those around you?

 

  1. Keep reading the above passages, asking our Lord, what do I need to learn and apply from this?

 

May the Lord richly bless and keep you in His loving arms, and bless you in your relationship to God and others!

© 2004, 2017, Rev. R. J. Krejcir, Ph.D. Discipleship Tools, http://www.intothyword.org, http://www.churchleadership.org, http://www.discipleshiptools.org, http://www.heartafterchrist.org

 

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Keywords of the Christian Faith

New topical sermon, devotional and Bible study series.

keywordsWe will look at Relationships, Strength, Attitude, Trials, Hope, Suffering, Love, Joy, Anxiety, Grace, Anger, Fear, Faith, Justification, Prayer, Purity, Discernment, Forgive, Parenting, Sin, Satan, Temptation, Grief, Study, Death, Encouragement, Devotion, Worship, Courage, Loss, Witnessing, Renewal, Refuge, Prayer, Thanksgiving to name a few….

 

A biblical exposition of the topic, related passages, application and questions for personal and group interactions. There will include the main material for a 1 1/2-hour small group lesson or Bible study. Or a 20+minute expository sermon. Add the definitions of some of the keywords for an exegetical sermon, and if you add illustrations you are up to 25-30 minutes…. Just look them up at our Bible studies for the word definitions and additional exegetical information at http://www.intothyword.org.

 

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TEN WAYS TO IMPROVE Relational Skills

  “Faithful to my Lord’s commands, I still would choose the better part; Serve with careful Martha’s hands And loving Mary’s heart.” John Wesley

Romans 12:1-3; 1 Peter 5:6-7

Relationship rocks

1. SPEAK TO PEOPLE. There is nothing as nice as a cheerful word of greeting!

2. SMILE AT PEOPLE. It takes seventy-two muscles to frown, only fourteen to smile.

3. CALL PEOPLE BY NAME. The sweetest music to anyone’s ear is the sound of one’s own name!

4. BE FRIENDLY AND HELPFUL. If you would like to have friends, then, be friendly!

5. BE CORDIAL. Speak and act as if everything you do were a genuine pleasure! (If it is right and good, it really should be.)

6. BE GEUINEIY INTERESTED IN PEOPLE. Empathy means involvement!

7. BE GENEROUS WITH PRAISE and cautious with criticism!

8. BE CONSIDERATE WITH THE FEELINGS OF OTHERS. It will be appreciated.

9. BE THOUGHTFUL OF THE OPINIONS OF OTHERS. There are three sides to controversy, yours and the other fellows, and the right one!

10. BE ALERT TO GIVE SERVICE. What counts most in life is who we are in Christ and then what we do for others!

(c) 1980  www.intothyword.com

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What Happened to the Ark?

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The Ark of his Covenant represents the presence of God, His faithfulness, and atonement in keeping the covenant He made with His people even when they disobeyed Him.

 

 

The Ark refers to the main Jewish icon, the box chest, made of acacia wood, and overlaid with gold, which held the tablets of the Ten Commandments and was placed behind the sanctuary curtain in the inner sanctum where the presence of God dwelt. It was meant to display God’s dwelling and power and our reverence of Him. This image also represented the Ark going to war. It went missing after “Nebuzaradan” (meaning: “the captain of the guard” who invaded and Captured Jerusalem and destroyed the temple for Nebuchadnezzar (2 Kings 25:8-20; Jer. 39:11; 40:2-5).

A legend stated that Jeremiah hid it under the Temple Mount in a cave or gave it to an Ethiopian trader to hide it before Nebuchadnezzar could steal it, according to 2 Maccabees 2:1-4 and the Dead Sea Scrolls, “Copper Scroll” found in Qumran Cave 3, and testified by Rabbis Shlomo Goren and Yehuda Getz’s and hinted in Scripture, (2 Chronicles 35:3; and Jeremiah 3:16), which are the last 2 references in the Bible. Thus, the Levites, then nor today do not have it, nor is it in the Americas or in Hill of Tara in Ireland or in a secret government warehouse or any other legend for that matter.

Why did it leave? Because of disobedience!

God is committed to His people, to their betterment, spiritual formation, healthy relationships, healthy living, and wants us to excel in all things of faith and life, to know Him and continue to make Him known. Now was time for His judgment–a “time out”–for their unyielding disobedience. The discipline was to correct a wayward nation, to reboot them to be better and stronger for His glory. They were warned by God’s Word and Prophets to repent or face their consequences.

Here are the consequences. The Promised Land is left behind, and the majority of the peoples are taken into captivity for 70 years in Babylon. They left their Temple, the centrality of their religion and life, they left their homes, farms, business, synagogues, community–all they have known and felt secure and had confidence in. They must learn their lesson, then they will be brought back. Meanwhile, the land rests, and they discover how to better connect with God and others, because God was still at work and His plan was restoration, as God wants His people to continue.

For the Christian, the Ark is meant to remind us of a display of God’s dwelling and power and our reverence of Him.

Now, it is Christ, who paid for our sin, with whom we have our covenant (Ex. 25:10-22; Lev 26:11-13; Duet 10:1-2; 2 Kings 25:8-10; Matt. 27:51; Heb. 9:23; 10:19-20; Rev. 3: 10-13; 4:6-8).

So, it is either under the Temple Mount in a cave, or it is in Ethiopia, or it is in Heaven (Revelation 11:19).

 

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A Tutorial on Pastoral Ministry and Care

pastoral-care

A help for those in #church #leadership or ministry or serve as a #pastor or who serve as a #Chaplain……

“For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.” Matthew 25:35-36

#Helping people deal with #life’s #hurts, even our own. For visitations, hospital calls, crises care, Hospice and grief counseling.

“So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.” Hebrews 10: 35-36

A tutorial on #Pastoral#Ministry#Care …>

 

https://heartafterchrist.org/pastoral-ministry/

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“I remain confident of this…”

“I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” Psalm 27:13

Going through times of stress, hardships, health issues or confusion. I have written a lot on this subject here: http://www.intothyword.org/pages.asp?pageid=53502

Here is a take Mary and I found today, Laura Story and her song “Blessings,” based on an application of Psalm 27. Perhaps you will be blessed by this as we were….

psalm-27

Lyrics:

We pray for blessings
We pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering
All the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet love is way too much to give us lesser things

Cause what if your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

We pray for wisdom
Your voice to hear
We cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt your goodness, we doubt your love
As if every promise from Your Word is not enough

All the while, You hear each desperate plea
And long that we’d have faith to believe

When friends betray us
When darkness seems to win
We know that pain reminds this heart
That this is not our home

What if my greatest disappointments
Or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy
What if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are your mercies in disguise

Song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XQan9L3yXjc

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