We sat at the river’s edge…celebrating and savoring the last autumn day of gentle weather before the snow would begin to fall…and it seemed that all of nature sensed how special the day was, too. The remaining leaves literally glowed as they fluttered in the soft wind…the minnows made quite a display, jumping up out of the water just in front of us…and the gulls swooped and soared overhead…no-doubt trying to nab some minnow sushi for dinner .
And as the sun dipped to the horizon, it was beautiful–just BEAUTIFUL!–this picture is authentically what we saw. The golden hues reflected in the passing waters fashioned a gorgeous scene…created as only the Master Artist himself could do!!
As breath-taking as we may find beauty here and now, there’s just no way that it can ever hold a candle to the delight, beauty and breath-taking splendor of being in the presence of the wonderful God in heaven one day…where the streets are paved in gold, and the tree of life stands, where a rainbow surrounds the throne of God Himself….
….and He is there!
That amazing place is prepared for those who will seek the LORD…love Him…and obey Him, walking closely to Him!
Is that you?
That presence of God is something we can prepare for…long for, and look forward to…someday…if we choose…
But in great contrast, right now, we get really tired and weary at times, living here on this earth: with its demands, stresses, griefs, betrayals, disappointments, sickness, death….you know what I mean…you experience it all too often, right?
So…where is JOY? How does one manage all of that? Truly manage? Wading through all the challenges and messes of everyday life? In victory and celebration? Is that even possible?
Of ourselves…it is NOT!
But we don’t need to do it alone!
Here is Jesus’ invitation to you and me:
Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
Until a time when heaven can be our home, we can enjoy rest and relief in the presence, and beside, the LORD! He wants to be right there with us! Through it all! Did you notice it?
He invites: “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me…” Could there be a kinder Master or dearer Teacher? Delve into His word, the Bible, and be instructed, nourished, refreshed and rested!
He promises, “My yoke is easy and My burden is light…” Jesus is offering to help us actually bear the load of life…easing the burden…pulling the weight with us! Right there–beside us! All the way! Helping us deal with it all–if we’ll let Him! Turn to Him in prayer–pouring your heart and concerns to Him! He is able!
Talk about JOY! FULLNESS of joy! Not just a little! Real . Joy . Now!
I’ve realized we can’t wait for perfect circumstances before JOY can exist–it CAN exist in any “weather”–at any time–because of Who gives and creates that joy! Joy is not a destination—it’s what we experience along the troubled journey of life–because of the LORD!–when He is beside us–because we are in His presence–with Him!
True fullness of JOY cannot be found anywhere else…than in His presence!
You will show me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy ;
At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
1 Chronicles 16:8-12
Oh, give thanks to the LORD!
Call upon His name;
Make known His deeds among the peoples!
Sing to Him, sing psalms to Him;
Talk of all His wondrous works!
Glory in His holy name;
Let the hearts of those rejoice who seek the LORD!
Seek the LORD and His strength;
Seek His face evermore!
Remember His marvelous works which He has done,
His wonders, and the judgments of His mouth…
I LOVE this powerful, action-packed passage that emanates JOY!
No doubt in your school days you learned about VERBS–those words that indicate the action in a sentence…the activity being accomplished. And WOW! Did you notice them all…did you see all of the verbs in this text? They jump off the page! It is teeming with action….indicating the activity and involvement we are called to in this whole joy-filled process!
Let’s look together, shall we, at the actions we are called to…
Oh, GIVE THANKS to the LORD!
CALL upon His name; MAKE KNOWN His deeds among the peoples!
SING TO HIM, SING psalms to Him; TALK of all His wondrous works!
GLORY IN HIS HOLY NAME; LET the hearts of those REJOICE who SEEK the LORD!
SEEK the LORD and His strength; SEEK His face evermore!
REMEMBER His marvelous works which He has done, His wonders, and the judgments of His mouth…
What do you think? Thanking…calling on or praying….sharing…singing / praising / glorifying…seeking…remembering!
There’s extreme power in actively engaging our hearts and minds to FOCUS ON THE LORD in this journey toward joy…and when we choose to be giving thanks to the LORD; calling upon Him; making known His deeds to others; singing to Him; talking of and glorying in His holy name; choosing to let ourselves truly rejoice in the LORD; seeking Him; and remembering His marvelous works…
…those thoughts and actions create a type of auto-correct in the soul, shifting and centering our hearts away from our challenges and helping us to focus on the beautiful, mighty One Who loves us so deeply…Who cares more than any other possibly can…truly!
And when our thoughts are centred on Him…that’s when it happens…that’s when we are filled up with unspeakable joy!
And did you notice that from this text, the joy-filled journey begins with THANKSGIVING to the LORD…and concludes with REMEMBERING His marvelous works which He has done, His wonders, and the judgments of His mouth. We can do that!
….do you want to embrace true joy?!
It’s ours for the taking…and the simple truth is that we just need to choose to activate those verbs, toward the LORD, in our lives…which will change or enhance our view points, attitudes and centre of focus…and then we need to be prepared…to gather the joy in!
Because when we SEEK THE LORD…and He’s in the centre of our hearts…JOY is guaranteed!
P.S. Much THANKS for this photo of the grand Niagara River and gorge, from guest-photographer Joel Hains!
But let all those rejoice who put their trust in You;
Let them ever shout for joy, because You defend them;
Let those also who love Your name
Be joyful in You.
For You, O LORD, will bless the righteous;
With favor You will surround him as with a shield.
Would you say that you’d like more JOY in your life?…in fact, that you’d LOVE! more JOY?!
We look to a lot of things to fill us up with joy.
As you think of your life…what are some of the things that bring you joy? That you are really thankful for? Pure…true pleasures: like the laughter of a child…the sparkle of the sun on the water…a walk in the fallen leaves…a true and faithful friend…someone to love…I’m guessing your list would be surprisingly full, if given some time to think about it!
And we should never, ever take any of these good things for granted!
But joy can be so much more than a happy response to something temporary or physical.
Please consider the Bible text above.
What did you see listed there that brings real JOY!?
Did you notice? There are two things noted:
Firstly, “let all those rejoice who put their trust in You”.
To rejoice, in this text, means to brighten up; be blithe or gleesome. Don’t you love that?! You can almost feel that definition! And who is this blithesome blessing for? For those who put their trust in the LORD! That’s when the JOY arrives! Have you considered that? And tried that?
But why would that be?
To understand this principle better, let’s consider the word trust in this text—it’s fascinating: it means to flee for protection; and figuratively, to confide in. Oh—how we need to do that—and not only need to—but are invited to trust in the LORD in this way…running to Him for safety, security, protection and council because…He is the only One Who can provide what is needed…at all times…in every dark and difficult circumstance of life! Everything around us may be threatened or slipping! But God wants to defend us!
We . can . TRUST . Him! Completely!
And that truth—more solid than the greatest of mountains…is what gives us much reason for rejoicing! God’s got it—if we obey Him, and let Him be in control of our lives!
The psalmist says to the LORD, “Let them ever shout for joy, because You defend them”
Do you rejoice in that!?
Did you find the second reason in the above Bible text for real JOY? Here it is:
Let those also who love Your name
Be joyful in You.
For You, O LORD, will bless the righteous;
With favor You will surround him as with a shield.
Real and powerful, exulting and living JOY comes to those who LOVE the LORD!…and in that place, He blesses and surrounds and shields the righteous…with favor! Oh, so amazing!
True reasons for exulting joy! And real reasons to search our hearts…do we love the LORD?…truly, obediently LOVE Him? There are so many reasons to do so!…
Your joy is just waiting! It’s yours to receive…if you will!
May I ask you a personal question?
If you were to think back in your memory to the one experience…the one moment…when you felt the very most cherished…
…what would it be?
If you consider that moment, it’s of such extreme significance because you were made to feel cherished…because someone enveloped you in such love or kindness or goodness…making you know that without a doubt…YOU were extremely important and special to them!
Remembering that moment, you can feel the warmth of it again, can’t you? It’s a precious memory, whether springing from a simple kindness, or something more complex. And it’s a REAL and BEAUTIFUL and MEANINGFUL memory that brings you MUCH JOY upon reflection. JOY! And more JOY!
Because you were cherished by someone!
Now, when you contemplate the following words from Psalm 40, treasuring the truths found there….understanding that to the Lord, His children are so cherished…He lavishes wonderful—and innumerable—thoughts upon them…and unfailing love…all because to Him, they are precious!! Cherished and precious!!
Imagine…the God in heaven cherishing us, even though we’ve sinned against Him…disappointed Him, maybe even rebelling against His tender love. Yet when we turn our hearts to Him and seek Him in obedience, truly…His love is ever-present…and waiting …just….for…us!!
Could there ever be a greater cause for deep, soul-filling, radiating, and lasting JOY?! JOY and more JOY!! NO–never!
YOU are invited to embrace and experience that JOY deep in your spirit!
PLEASE…seek Him…determine to follow and obey Him…and enjoy your life….holding that JOY in your heart…assured that to the awesome Creator—YOU are cherished!!
We PRAISE HIM!!!
Many, O LORD my God, are Your wonderful works
Which You have done;
And Your thoughts toward us
Cannot be recounted to You in order;
If I would declare and speak of them,
They are more than can be numbered.
P.S. Do you seek this hungry-soul-quenching real and lasting JOY? If you’d like to communicate about this, or delve into the Bible further, please feel welcome to contact me, using the “CONTACT” button at the top of this page. The Lord’s word is where this joy-filled journey all begins!
I waited patiently for the LORD;
And He inclined to me,
And heard my cry.
Can you just picture this?
Here you see the awesome LORD—hearing the pitiful plea of His faithful child crying out to Him—and inclining toward, reaches down to him!
And the picture continues to unfold in a most beautiful way!
He also brought me up out of a horrible pit,
Out of the miry clay,
And set my feet upon a rock,
And established my steps.
He has put a new song in my mouth —
Praise to our God;
Many will see it and fear,
And will trust in the LORD.
DO YOU YOU FIND that this passage really resonates with you?
At one time, have you ever found yourself in a “horrible pit”—where you’ve just exhausted all of your own possibilities for solutions…and had no way out—no rescue—no help—no solution—no comfort–just hopelessness…..if not for the almighty and wonderful LORD?!!
If you haven’t already experienced this—you likely will! A “horrible pit”: whether it be financial, or relationship strains, or maybe a health or job crisis—where the whole situation is completely….totally…. out-of-your-hands! Where there’s just nothing else you can personally do to achieve what you need. And then—then—you turn to the LORD—pleading for His intervention—leaning on Him in expectation and faith—and in His amazing graciousness—He CARES! HE ANSWERS! And HE PROVIDES what is BEST!
And we are overwhelmed—completely blown away by His LOVE!
This amazing gift of deliverance is for His children!
Notice Galatians 3:26-27; 29: “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”
This brings overwhelming JOY!!
As the text above reads, “He has put a new song in my mouth”!
If you’ve experienced this, you’ll likely have a hard time not smiling and feeling warmth spreading in your heart as you meditate, remembering God’s gracious goodness and kindness…to you!
It’s no wonder such loving kindness puts a new song in our mouths!
Please remember that such JOY comes after the hardship!
After we cry out to God, after the faithful expectation.
Such intense JOY doesn’t result from cloudless and carefree days…no….but comes on the other side of fierce storms, when shaken, shivering, wretched, drenched, and narrowly escaping, we’ve been RESCUED—RESCUED!—by the awesome God! And we can’t help but PRAISE HIM!
And our TRUE, DEEP JOY in response to His goodness gives others cause to fear and trust this wonderful God, Who longs to adopt and protect each desperate, storm-tossed, and penitent soul!
Will you cry out to Him?
Allow Him to be your rescuer…and place your feet upon the rock!—standing in victory!—confident in the Saviour!–a new song in your mouth!
p.s. Do you have a memory of God’s gift of joy in your own life? What caused it? I’d love to hear! Please just click on “comment” below to share your thoughts!
What a description for the truly awesome God: the GOD OF HOPE!
That He is! And far, far more than we can ever imagine!
Among all the vast kindnesses that He offers to the children of men, we find that God also wants to lavish us–FILLING our hearts–with JOY and PEACE!…gifts offered to those who BELIEVE–to those who TRUST in HIM!
Amazing! And thought-provoking!
Because we have to ask…if we may be lacking in JOY and PEACE….does that mean we may be forgetting to TRUST IN HIM?!
TRUST produces HOPE…and JOY…and PEACE!!
We all long for those, as nourishment to our souls! TRUST in the awesome God of HOPE is where it all begins!
If you are interested in taking a look, here is a simple break-down of this passage–with some significant definitions from the original language–to help us better grasp and appreciate the depth of its meaning! (Defined in Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance)
Romans 15: 13-14
“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
“Now may the God of…
…HOPE:—to anticipate, usually with pleasure; expectation or confidence
…FILL:—to make replete, i.e. literally to cram (a net), level up (a hollow), or figuratively to furnish or imbue, diffuse, influence, satisfy, finish (a period or task), verify, etc.
…ALL: all, any, every, the whole
…JOY: cheerfulness, i.e. calm delight
…and PEACE: peace, quietness, rest
…in BELIEVING: to have faith in, upon, or with respect to, a person or thing, i.e. credit; by implication, to entrust (especially one’s spiritual well-being to Christ)
…that you may ABOUND: to superabound (in quantity or quality), be in excess, be superfluous
…in HOPE: to anticipate, usually with pleasure; expectation or confidence
…by the POWER: force (literally or figuratively); specially, miraculous power
…of the Holy Spirit.
WOW! There’s so much in this text–such reason for REJOICING and HOPE–built on the foundation of TRUST in the awesome God of HOPE!
Will . you . TRUST . HIM . and . discover . HOPE . and . JOY?
p.s. After an extended illness, it’s good to be back and well enough to be writing again…thank you for your patience while the blog was quiet…and thank you for your prayers!
God is Love!
Woven together, the components of our lives are very much like this collage…separate and individual events, experiences, memories and traits all come together to make up who we are….
well, sometimes…our lives are really just a mess…
…and in that state, it can be more difficult to see value or truth or beauty or purpose…or promise…we just see the mess…
…and if we’re honest with ourselves, that mess can be disheartening at times!
So–I thought I’d show you my work table–before this collage all came together…
It’s not so pretty, is it?
The smeared mess of paints in my paintbox…the chipped handle of the paintbrush….seemingly disparate, disconnected strips of paper…spattered paint…
Yet, each of these had a very important–even vital role that they filled–well…that only they could fill…and a purpose in the whole project…even though they were a mess initially!
But all of these messy components have something in common…something that was revealed when the collage was finally assembled…
Can you guess what the common element is–tying all of these components together? You might want to scroll back up to the first picture to catch a clue….
Central to the collage is this theme from 1 John 4:7-16: GOD is LOVE!
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8 He who does not love does not know God, for God is love . 9 In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
12 No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us. 13 By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world. 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love , and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.
GOD IS LOVE!
It is so true!
“GOD is LOVE” is the bridge that pulls all the separate components–and all the painted strips of paper, together–in the collage…(did you find it?)…and much, much more importantly, in our lives!
His love spans the gaps…brings beauty where there was only chaos…and gives purpose, completely! His love leads us to trust and obey Him! It’s so safe to do so!
And the blessed result of trusting and obeying Him brings hope and peace! It’s beautiful!
Just like in the collage!
His love can completely overcome the messes in our lives. If we’ll submit our hearts to Him, He can make something beautiful with us! Truly!
Will you let Him?
Something to think about!
If you have comments or questions, I’d love to hear from you!
You can send me a message by clicking on “CONTACT” at the top of this page.
I’ve included some Bible passages for you, if you are interested in reading further about how God can make beauty in our lives:
John 15:13-14; Romans 5:8-11; Galatians 3:26-27
If you’d enjoy making a collage of your very own, it’s really quite simple to do!
Completely wet a piece of watercolour paper with water, and then randomly drop 2 or 3 colours of paint onto the page. When the paper is wet, the water encourages the colours to run together, creating a pretty effect! You can tilt the page to aid the process, if you like. (Below are a couple samples…on the second one, to add interest and texture, I pressed a circular object into the painting while the paint was still wet. You can enjoy experimenting.)
Once the paper is dry, simply cut it into strips …weave them together into a pleasing pattern, glue down onto card stock, and then choose some favourite Bible passages or phrases to set into your collage….then mat, frame and enjoy! Ta da!
Beauty from all of the mess and chaos! And that’s just what God’s love specializes in, in our lives…if we’ll let Him!
Our hearts are hungry for genuine love!
The most genuine love we’ll ever, ever discover is this:
“How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God.
Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Your wings.”
Could there be a more beautiful and endearing picture of love, than this one—as God Himself offers to the children of mankind, such tender comfort, and closeness to Himself!
Can you imagine? That the God of all creation–the Maker of all that is–longs to love, to care for, protect, draw close, and comfort you and me! He truly does!
How beautiful and precious is His love!
1 John4:19 affirms:
“We love Him because He first loved us”
Loving another because you’ve already received unlimited, unconditional, honest, authentic and sacrificial love from that one first…makes loving in return such a simple decision…so safe…so sure!
But that will never, never, ever be more the case than with the awesome God of heaven…Who loved us first…perfectly–and Who’s shown His love in such great abundance–at such a huge personal sacrificial cost–through Jesus’ gift–perfectly….not in a flawed way like humans!
Don’t you want to just thank Him with your life in response–giving your heart to seek and follow Him in return for such a precious love!?
That needs to be our hearts’ response…to His love! There is NO OTHER LOVE like His for His children!!
Sending hugs and warm wishes to you!
p.s. I made this heart sketch especially for you…in case you’d like to print off one for yourself…or to frame as a gift…or to create your own cards of love for others! Hope you’ll enjoy its vintage-style design! Below is the graphic to download…
These are precious commodities…and not very plentiful, or common, in our day, are they?
There are just so many things we can’t trust in or depend on!
But did you notice what they do for the one who TRUSTS in the LORD?…and for the one who’s HOPE is the LORD? That one is blessed…happy!!
He is like a tree whose roots reach all the way to a continual source of life-giving and refreshing water..always satisfied and nurtured by the GOODNESS of GOD!!
Can you imagine anything better in the heat or droughts that come our way–than to have access to the real Source of Life!!
GOD offers that to you and me!!
We just need to reach for Him–as a tree sends it thirsty roots in search of life-giving water….
truly TRUSTING the LORD….
We’ll never, never, ever be disappointed!
P.S. MUCH, MUCH THANKS to guest-photographer Ronnet Meeboer for sharing this stunning graphic with us! It’s just beautiful, Ronnet! MUCH appreciation!!