Journey From Bondage to Freedom

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I’m in bondage. Fear has taken ahold of me. I’ll be honest with you readers it has been quite awhile since I have been able to go to church, mostly for health reasons but that doesn’t mean that I couldn’t be listening to the tape of the service and even longer since I’ve read my Bible. Some Christian Right? I known overwhelming fear and while watching “The Fighting Temptations” twice yesterday with two different friends, (I thought the movie would be a blessing to them, but I think it blessed me the most).  I needed what it shared, my church and being in the choir was the first blessing it gave me, remembering the joy for it. But then when my friends were gone came the real blessing facing hard ugly truths about myself, and this to share with you, also terrifies me, but I know honesty and transparency is what is required. So as my stomach churns, I progress.

Phillipians 4:6-7  “In nothing be anxious, but in everything by prayer and thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus.” 

The Bible makes it very clear that we are not to fear! That we are to put our trust in the Lord. It is that simple. He promises peace if we just trust, pray and thank Him, easier said than done.

I did say that I’m in bondage and yes that as I sit here I realize I have been most of my life. Fear has been the main underlying storyline of my life that, and a general feeling of unworthiness. This last week I’ve been drowning in fear.

Letting myself fear is a sin of not putting my trust in God the creator of the universe. How can I be so arrogant? Could it be that I feel unworthy of His love? His grace? His care? How can I say I put my faith, my salvation in His hands, yet I don’t trust Him with my health issues, with my families issues, with my friends? Do I really believe God to be the God of gods and the Lord of Lords? The Holy Father of the Son of God Jesus Christ who died for my sins? If I do how is it that this magnificent God is not worthy of my trust?

Matthew 6:25-26 “This is why I tell you: Don’t worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the sky: They don’t so or reap or gather into barns, yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you worth more than they?”

You would think that these two verses, especially the last sentence would calm me and put my mind at ease; to know that the God of the universe thinks I’m of more worth than the birds of the air. I wish I could honestly tell you that the nerves in my stomach the overwhelming fear of the unknown has been comforted, it has not.

Matthew 6:27 “Can any of you add a single cubit to his height by worrying?”

Makes worrying seem rather futile doesn’t it? I know it does to me logically as well, but that doesn’t change the truth of what I’m really feeling, anxiety/fear/worry still.

Matthew 6:28-30 “And why do you worry about clothes? Learn how the wildflowers of the field grow: they don’t labor or spin thread. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was not adorned like one of these! If that’s how God cloths the grass of the field, which is here today and thrown into the furnace tomorrow, won’t He do much more for you – you of little faith?”

There it is again He will take care of us with not just adequate care, or good care, but adorned by God. He clearly tells us all over His word how much He loves and adores us. Yet my sin, my shinning folly is staring back at me from the words I’ve just typed, ” – you of little faith”. I’ve been out of a Bible study and of my own studying of the Word, away from church, and only talking with God for a very long time. I know our relationship needs more than that my faith has lessoned. I’ve fallen. My God help @me! Save me from the fear, the worry that permeates my being. Help me put my heath issues in your hand!

Matthew 6:31-34 “So don’t worry, saying, ‘What will we eat? or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For the idolaters eagerly seek all these things, and your Heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be provided for you. Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

There is the answer on how to actively stop worrying! First we must make the decision to obey God by letting Him know what’s our my heart. Phillipians 4:6 “in everything by prayer and thanksgiving, let your requests be made know to God. ” We need communicate with our Lord, pour out whatever it is that is weighing us down, He wants to know it all. After all He already knows it – He’s waiting for us to let Him in. As I type this I realize I haven’t really been letting my Lord in. Father forgive me. Even better when we take everything by prayer and thanksgiving, making them known to God it will eliminate the worry!

Now before you call me crazy let me try to explain if it isn’t clear. When we give  our worries to God and thank Him for answering our answering our prayers (in advance) we have no need to take them back, thus causing us to worry that day. If we are tempted to take the item back we are commanded to pray in everything by prayer and thanksgiving, to let our requests be made know to God, it doesn’t say that there is any time limit. That we can only come to Him once a day, no! Our Father knows our frailties and loves us. He never slumbers or sleeps, available 24/7, 365, praise Him!

Better yet, that promise goes on to, Phillipians 4:7 “And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus.” Not only will God eliminate worry He will replace it with a peace that surpasses all understanding! How does that sound for a promise? All we have to do is come to God in prayer and thanksgiving. He is such a gracious Father. There is no way that we can comprehend His peace but to experience it is a blessing of being a child of the King.

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Once we’ve poured our requests to Him, He commands us not to worry, Matthew 6:34 “…don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”  As the promise gives us peace, the command keeps us in the present. As Matthew 6:34 says, tomorrow (and as for that the next day and the next have/ [mine]) has enough worry for itself. The promise helps us stay in the present taking our requests to the Lord. The command protects us from living outside of the promise, which is what I was doing. Lord forgive my foolishness!

Joy – A Fellow SoJourner!

Don’t Let the Enemy Rob You From Your Design!

God created each of us with a very specific design in mind. Part of my design is to encourage. When you are doing your God created design you will not only be walking in the path God has created for you but because of that your life will be fulfilled, at least that has been my experience.

We are all important in the body of Christ. Yes we are all to evangelize but the one with the gift of evangelism may do it differently than the one with the gift of service, yet all work together for the glory 0f God. (1 Cor. 12:4-11, 27-31) For that reason all are important. (1 Cor. 12:12-26)

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It is so easy to find ourselves comparing our gifts to one another. “She has such a beautiful voice. I’m sure God rejoices when He hears it.” “I wish I had a voice like so and so.””He’s so handy with his hands. I wish I was able to do that.” “He/she has such a gift for teaching I wish I could do that.” Or perhaps your voices speak more like; “I don’t know why they haven’t asked me to teach? I can do that.” “Why doesn’t anyone come to me when they need help? I can do that.” “Why does he/she always get the solos? I’d like one for a change.”

The first half of comparing comments are dangerous in the respect that it ignores the qualities that the person doing the comparing actually does have. Perhaps that person can’t sing but has the gift of hospitality or servitude or encouragement or wisdom or healing, aren’t those some special things to be happy about and to vocus on? More importantly aren’t they also very important to the body of Christ? How would the body survive if we were all sining? Or all teaching? Who would listen to us?

Perhaps the man wishing he was a handyman and could not do things with his hands, was made to help people with his mind. Suppose God made him to be a CPA, Lawyer, teacher, leader, CEO, or pastor. Giving him the gifts of knowledge, guidance, wisdom, leadership and making him a different kind of man of action than the one he envisioned.

This type of comparing voice can cause you to become ineffective in the areas of giftedness that God has given you to do. That is what happened to me. Let me take you back so maybe you can tell the worning signs in your own area.

I stopped reading other material that spured my thoughts and gave me inspiration to write about.  1. I stopped doing my regular rejumine, don’t underestimate this.  I began watching more and more TV to take up the time I wasn’t reading or writing.  2. Exchange the valuable for a cheap nock off.  I started disecting the shows I was watching their writing and thinking that I would never be as good a writer as these people are so why bother.  3. You start believing the lies of the enemy.  

That’s where I’ve been for over a year believing the lies of the enemy.

I now stand firm in faith believing that God has given me a voice and I’m going to use it and I’m not going to allow the enemy to silence it.

I encourage you that if God is touching your heart as you are reading this that there is something that He has called you to do no matter what it is, big or small – don’t let the enemy talk you out of it. Check the Bible to make sure it doesn’t go against it. Seek godly counsel, many if it is a major life change, God will confirm if it is truly from Him. Then if it is confirmed step out of the boat and live the life God designed you to live.

 

Joy A Fellow So Journer In Active Faith!

 

 

 

What or Who is Truly Awesome?

Society uses the word awesome rather freely. “My day was awesome!”, “My boyfriend is awesome!”, “This burger is awesome!”, “Did you see that wave? It was awesome!”,  or the general “That’s awesome!”  We use it so nonchalant that it has lost all of it’s power and impact!

Joy what do you mean, “it has lost all it’s power and it’s impact!”?  I’m glad you asked. When this very issue was brought to my attention in church last Sunday I did not only some soul searching but I looked up the definition of the word awesome it means; extremely impressive or daunting; inspiring great admiration, apprehension, or fear. – extremely good, excellent. Now that we have the definition of the word let’s use it as a mirror agaisnt what we say it is.

Can my day really be extremely impressive or daunting (which means: seeming difficult to deal with in anticipation; intimidating), [if you look at part of the definition it might seem to apply but you have to look at the entire definition as a whole.] inspiring great admiration, apprehension or fear – extremely good, excellenet? When have you ever had a day that was all of these things? I can tell you from experience that I’ve never had a day that has been, extremely impressive or daunting; inspiring great admiration apprehension or fear – extremely good, excellent. I’ve had a gracious, selfless, chivalrous, and spiritual leader boyfriend but never one that fit the definition of the word awesome.

I hope that you can see now that neither a can a burger or a wave be awesome. They just don’t fit the definition.

Then what or who does fit the defiition? It would have to be something that is very grand yet intimidating at the same time, while inspiring great admiration and at the same time fear and be extremely good – excellent. The only entity that fits that description is God. No boyfriend or day or anyother thing that you can think of can fulfill that description. When it comes to being extremely good – excellent, we know from scripture that there is only one who is good and that is God. It would be pride to call anything awesome other than God for He is the only one that is great enough to inspire great admiration and fear at the same time.

What I learned from last Sunday’s service from Chuck Swindoll is that; “If there is one thing the church needs to learn. is only God is awesome! This church must come to realize the only God is awesome! All the churches need to learn that only God is awesome! Your car isn’t awesome! Your dinner isn’t awesome! Your dog isn’t awesome and definitely not your cat!…There is only one thing that is worthy of being labeled awesome and that is God and God alone! So stop deluting the meaning of the word by using it for anything other than refering to God!” quote to the best of my recollection.

I stand with Chuck on this church let’s guard our tongue and minds and only refer to God as being awesome and expand our vocabulary for other things. Maybe we could try to be more precise in our compliments and thus make them even more sincere. Instead of saying my husband is awesome talk about all the attributes that you appreciate about him, if he’s a good listener, caring, respectful, compassionate, a spiritual leader, helps you, knows just when to say the right thing and just when to hold you, let him know these things that you love about him. It will build him up, reinforce these good attributes, and strengthen your marriage.

So what or who is awesome? Only God is awesome. He is holy. He is all powerful. He is omnipotent and omniscient. He is all love. He is full of mercy and grace. The only truly good being. Worthy to be the only one called awesome. So let’s be cautious about how we use our words.

Joy – A Fellow Sojourner and A Woman After God’s Own Heart!

God Can’t Love You Any More Than He Does Right Now!

God can’t love you any more than He does right now! Isn’t that good news! There  is nothing you can do to earn His love. There is nothing you can do to destroy His love. God is love. It is that simple.

He gave the greatest gift of all and that was His one and only Son who died on the cross and rose from the dead for yours and mine sins. All we have to do is believe that or have faith in that and ask Christ to do for us what He has already done on the cross which is pay the price for our sins. We do that by asking His forgiveness for our sins. No one is perfect but Christ alone that’s why He could pay the price we could not pay. See the price for unrighteousness or imperfection is death and only someone perfect like the unblemished sacrifices of the Old Testament would do. So Christ the only perfect man because He was also the Son of God could pay the price.

When we accept that gift which came at so great a cost we become heirs with Christ. Sons and daughters of the King. The blood of Christ has made us righteous and there is nothing we can do short of turning our back on Christ and what He did on the cross for us that could ever cause God to turn away from us.

Nothing, zilch, zip, nada, zero. God loves you! He will continue to love you. There is nothing big enough you can do to earn it and other than grieving the Holy Spirit by deciding that what Jesus did on the cross and how he rose from the dead for you was nothing and means nothing to you, there is nothing standing in the way of that love. God wants that all should come to Him and experience His amazing love. But love isn’t love without a choice and that is what God gave mankind a choice to love Him back.

It’s our choice to accept His love. If He had it His way none would perish but we chose whether or not we want the gift of His love. To accept His gift of love will be the best choice you’ve ever made in your life.

But let me be honest and upfront with you there is an enemy who had a choice once too and he wants you to perish with him. You see Satan was an angel that wanted to be like God and for his sin he and a third of the angels that followed him were casted out of heaven. Because of this there is a spiritual battle going on for your soul and the battle doesn’t stop once you become a Christian if anything it becomes stronger because you see now you have become a threat to the enemy and he will do anything in his power to try and stop that. But greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world. So although things will become difficult our God is greater and Satan knows that. Satan will never win because the battle goes to the Lord. So take heart when trials and temptations come they are merely tools with which to grow by. You have the Holy Spirit to guide you. Take heart!

A Time for Tough Decisions

Yes, God calls us to love one another but He is also a holy God and wants His Church to be holy as well.  Paul gives us an example of when we must make a tough decision for the health of the Body and for the ultimate well being of the believer.   And for those watching to see if we are truly different.

1It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that does not occur even among the pagans: A an has his father’s wife.  2And you are proud!  Shouldn’t you rather have filled with grief and have put out of your fellowship the man who did this?  3Even though I am not physically present, I am with you in spirit.  And I have already passed judgment on the one who did this, just as if I were present.  4When you are assembled in the name of our Lord Jesus and I am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present, 5hand this man over to Satan, so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord. –  1  Corinthians 5:1-5

Paul is clearly telling us here that there are times that we must judge for the sake of the Church Body and for the sake of the one caught in the sin.  Not to lord it over them but humbly in a hope to bring restoration in the end.

If we allow sin to run ramp hit in the Church than we are hypocrites and no different than the world.  This is why Paul writes on this subject because when one who is caught in a sin and is unrepentant, not willing to turn away from it, then the rest of the body must stand up for holiness and approach the one caught in the sin.

In 1 Corinthians 5:9-13 Paul gives us instruction on how to handle a brother caught in sin.

9I have written in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people-10not at all meaning people of this world who are immoral, or greedy and swindlers, or idolators.  In that case you would have to leave this world.  11But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolator or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler.  With such a man you must not even eat.

12What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church?  Are you not to judge those inside?  13God will judge those outside.  Expel the wicked from among you.

These are never fun decisions but they are vital to the health of the body of the Church.  When we do not make these difficult decisions and they are found out that is when the Church looks like a bunch of hypocrites.

We must be a pillar of light standing in the darkness.  But if we allow the darkness to live among us our light will go out and we are useless to anyone and victim to the wrath of God for not doing His will and protecting His church.

We must call ourselves to a calling more stringent than that of the world.  Yes God is a God of love and mercy and when someone comes back truly repentant then we can accept them back into the fold.  But if they are rebellious and don’t care that they are sinning it is time to cut ties.  This is how the Body of Christ stays away from hypocrisy.  Let’s be deligent in this difficult task for the good of the Body of Christ.

Joy – A Fellow Sojourner & A Woman After God’s Own Heart!

“God’s Not Dead And Neither Is Joy”

It’s been nearly eight months since my last blog, this is why I elude to the fact that I’m not dead.  As my readers may know I struggle with bi-polar disorder and the last year has been a difficult one.  When in the throws of depression my creative juices are nonexistent so blogging becomes nearly impossible.  I apologize for my long absence.   But on to what this blog is all about encouragement.

We’ve been having a number of earthquakes in Southern California recently and I must say us Southern Californians react differently.  That’s to say that not all of us react the same when faced with a strong earthquake.

The first guakes hit Brea, La Habra and Fullerton on Friday March 28th.  There was a 3.6 earlier but by 9 something at night while my dog Tessa and I were haviing a late dinner the 5.1 hit and shook hard.  Stoping Tessa from finishing her dinner and upseting her enough with all the very many after shocks that she didn’t go back to eating until 2:30 a.m.  The guakes had stopped for about two hours by then.

My friend was in bed when the earthqauke hit while my reaction was to keep eating dinner and my dogs was to stop, hers was to feel alone and shout out “Lord don’t forget me!  Don’t leave me here!”

The following day my friend Julie and I decided to go see “God’s Not Dead”.  [Now I must admit that all these earthquakes had me unnerved and feeling very compassionate towards my poor dog, what if one hit while I was gone how would she be?]  We went to the 1:00 showing got in our seats and snuggled down to enjoy the show.

The movie was fantastic!  I highly recommend it.  As we were enthralled by the movie the earth began to shake violently.  Julie and I immediately grabbed each others hand and held it until the quake was over.  Then the most amazing thing happened where the two of us a moment earlier were experiencing fear subsided by companionship, came joy at the shouting out in the theater “Praise You Jesus!”  Yes there in the middle of the theater was a time of rememberance of who was really in control.  As the movie was telling us and the earth was showing us God is not dead.  He is very alive.

We can take the opportunity when things are out of our control to be fearful or to rest in the hands of God.  Yes someone with skin on is comforting but they can let you down through no fault of their own.  But God will never let us down.  He is always on our side and always faithful.  It is His nature and He can’t go against His nature.

So next time life takes a turn in a direction unexpected or life shakes you up turn to the One who is steadfast and never changing.  That just may be God’s way of getting your attention so that you will turn to Him for the guidance and the solace you need.

Joy – A Fellow Sojourner & A Woman After God’s Own Heart!