A Time to Dance – Lavish, Unrestrained Worship, Warfare and Praise

It’s time to dance!  The bible affirms dance, both individually and corporately, as a significant and powerful expression of worship, celebrating God’s presence. Many Christians around the world freely worship God through dance. North America perhaps lags a little behind, however.

Clinical studies have shown the positive effects of dance for both physical and mental health. One study using MRI scans showed that even people watching dance “activated the same neurons that would fire if they themselves were dancing.” Is that why dance mobilizes the Body of Christ to deeper levels of worship?

Even today, worship leaders echo Solomon’s words, “Everyone should dance!”

“There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
…a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance…”
Ecclesiastes 3:1,4

Over twenty five years ago, I stood awestruck as I watched worship dance for the first time. I had danced before God in the privacy of my own basement many times, but to see it as a public form of worship stirred something deep within me to pursue worship in every dimension.

It’s Time

The first bible reference to corporate dance in worship involved over a million people. It was led by a woman over 85 years old!

“Then Miriam the prophet, Aaron’s sister,
took a timbrel in her hand, and all the women followed her,
with timbrels and dancing. Miriam sang to them:
‘Sing to the LORD; for he is highly exalted.
Both horse and driver
he has hurled into the sea.’ ”
Exodus 15:20,21

This brother-sister dual of Moses and Miriam led the greatest worship service ever conducted. On the banks of the Red Sea, they watched their mortal enemy floating dead on the waves. Four hundred and thirty years of oppression broken! (Ex 12:40)

From slavery to freedom,
oppression to deliverance,
poverty to abundance,
captives no more!

When I remember what God has done in my life, separating my past from my present, I can’t help but break into worship. He released me from a inescapable pit, shattering the chains of addictions too strong for me to break. He softened my hardened heart. This mind clouded with depression, He renewed. He filled me with a passion to live sold-out for Him.

For me, it is time to dance!

Everyone Together

David was also lifted “out of the depths.”

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

Israel knew how to dance through oppression. Dancing as joyous praise weaves throughout the psalms.

“Then young women will dance and be glad,
young men and old as well.
I will turn their mourning into gladness;
I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow.”
Jeremiah 31:13

Sometimes dance expresses joyous gratitude toward God. At other times, God himself inspires and motivates believers to dance. Either way, it is time to dance!

God of Movement

The very first verse in the bible describes the Holy Spirit actively moving over the void establishing rhythm.

“In the beginning God created
the heavens and the earth.
Now 
the earth was formless and empty,
darkness was over the surface of the deep
and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.”
Genesis 1:1-2

Hovering describes an eagle fluttering over her young, shaking and trembling, vibrating and moving. By divine strategy and in preparation for creation, Holy Spirit actively moved, fluttered and shook. Then God spoke the elements into existence.

In preparation to creative release, Holy Spirit knew it was time to dance!

Bringing in the Presence

Perhaps, David best illustrates another purpose for dance. He longed for the Ark of God’s Presence to return to Jerusalem. His first attempt failed with Uzzah losing his life, but David didn’t give up.

“Wearing a linen ephod,
David was dancing before the LORD
with all his might,
while he and all Israel
were bringing up the ark of the LORD
with shouts and the sound of trumpets.”
2 Samuel 6:14-15

David danced “before the LORD with all his might.” He poured himself out in lavish praise with dance as an offering unto God. Dressed as a priest, the king led. All Israel followed.

Extravagant, vulnerable worship is risky. Some, like David’s wife, will misunderstand such devotion, rejecting what God calls pure and beautiful.

David remained unwavering,

“…I will celebrate before the LORD.
I will become even more undignified than this,
and I will be humiliated in my own eyes.”
2 Samuel 6:21-22

For those desiring to usher in the Presence of God, the time to dance can be costly.

Collaborative Dance

Zephaniah reveals God in collaborative dance with His Bride, Israel. First, “Daughter Zion” celebrates in her God.

Sing, Daughter Zion;
shout aloud, Israel!
Be glad and rejoice with all your heart,
Daughter Jerusalem!”
Zephaniah 3:14

Shouting aloud and other whole-hearted expressions of adoration and worship becomes contagious.  Expressions of utter joy radiate from faces turned God-ward. The word “rejoice” means jumping for joy, triumphant leaping forth.”

Worship includes quiet, solitary encounters with God. Instrumental, vocal and dance movement also create beautiful expressions of adoration to the Lord as a demonstrating of worship.

How does God respond to such extravagant worship?

“The LORD your God is with you,
the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you;
in his love he will no longer rebuke you,
but will rejoice over you with singing.”
Zephaniah 3:17

God, the Mighty Warrior, rises with great delight and absolute joy. He breaks into twirling and spinning “over you with singing.” Am I exaggerating? Not at all! “Rejoice” here means to be “bright, cheerful, having great joy, twirling and spinning.”

When God rises in collaboration to our frail but expressive worship, dancing breaks forth on earth and in heaven!

Warfare Dance

Dance also fights spiritual battles.

“Praise and worship is the highest form of warfare
that is possible against the enemy of our soul.
Worshiping God…is the best form of warfare —
refusing to give the enemy our time or attention!”
Called to Flag

The united activation of people in extravagant praise and adoration to God, ushers in God’s presence in powerful ways. Although biblical flags and banners were not used in the same context that dancers use them today, dancers often symbolically use flags and banners as instruments of worship movement.

When dancing and flagging is used as an expression of worship to God, it is a powerful, non-verbal declaration of love and adoration to the King of kings and Lord of lords.

David’s wife Michal misunderstood David’s worship and criticized him. As a result she remained barren all her life. (2 Sam. 6:23) God takes worship seriously. He honors and protects those who without reservation give Him all their worship.

“…Love the Lord your God with all your heart
and with all your soul and with all your strength
and with all your mind.”
Luke 10:27

The dance of worship truly includes all these aspects. Perhaps for all of us, it is time to dance.

**********

(Special thanks to RAC Worship Dance Team for their inspiring movements through dance and breathing life into my worship. Photo credits Amanda Chernesky)

Birthing the New: Change, Transition, Beginning

As a mother of five sons, I have had some practice in “birthing the new.” Birthing can happen in many different ways, however. Have you birthed a business venture, a ministry, published a work or started a career? Each of these also contains processes similar to birthing.

I have had a new book, or should I say, a series of books, almost ready to reach full term. Pregnancy can present challenges, but pregnancy isn’t an end in itself. The goal or the new thing about to be released is the ultimate purpose. Every pregnancy is unique to itself, yet contains similarities to others. Each birth both predictable and unpredictable.

I will lead the blind by ways they have not known,
along unfamiliar paths I will guide them;
I will turn the darkness into light before them and
make the rough places smooth.
These are the things I will do;
I will not forsake them.”
Isaiah 42:16

Count them! Five times God says “I will!” I am the blind one; He is the “I will”. Are you pregnant with a new ministry, industry or purpose? Or are you in the birthing process right now?

Unfamiliar Paths

Sometimes pregnancy can be unexpected and unplanned. I remember well, my mother coming home from town crying a torrent of tears. She was pregnant “again!” This was not her plan, desire or longing. Her present children were all in school and she was enjoying some independence. But this child to come would be the cream of the crop. He would become the adoration of her heart and fulfillment of voids she didn’t realize she possessed.

What unfamiliar paths does God have you walking down?

It seems every year God drags me into unfamiliar terrain. I both love it and dread it! It can be intimidating and daunting, to say the least. “Just own it” has become my new motto. One of my present “paths” is attempting to write and publish my next book. It is giant leap from anything I have ever done.

Talk about “unfamiliar paths”; every one of the processes involved contains new, even fearful elements of a journey I never asked to take or ever anticipated travelling.

Mine, it turns out, is an adventure of joy!  But like most unfamiliar places, this pathway

exposed deep insecurities,
revealed hidden fears,
demanded new levels of submission to God,
required more time than anticipated,
and has been a refiners fire of cleansing and healing
that I didn’t even know I needed.

Giving Birth

Five times God said “I will.” Five times in the natural I gave birth as I co-operated with His desire to bring forth something new in my life. Each birth embodied a promise fulfilled and a promise to be revealed.

“A woman giving birth to a child has pain
because her time has come;
but when her baby is born
she forgets the anguish because of her joy
that a child is born into the world.”
John 16:21

Birthing brings unavoidable pain; a pain that seems impossibly more than one can endure.  Unfortunately, there is no birthing without first going through the process of labor. “Labor” defines it well! In the final moments before delivery, a woman goes through what is called transition — where she expends every once of energy, endures beyond what she thought possible and draws from a deep well of fortitude she never knew existed.

There is no shrinking back, tagging out or throwing in the towel. Pain marks this life giving struggle. Selfless love propels her through the temporary transition phase to ultimate joy. With that indescribable joy, she finally sees what has been hidden, carried, nurtured and labored for.

Birthing the new cannot be fully explained, only experienced!

God Births

Just in case you male readers are getting a little squeamish with all this feminine birthing stuff, relax. God is into birthing too! He is birthing forth amazing things in the lives of all of us — corporate and individual.

A multitude of people have been pregnant and holding on to God dreams for many years. They have surrendered to the process of humility, struggled through training and development, fostered destinies and withstood the season of transition. Like a baby’s first cry, freedom shouts, “The new has arrived! Make way!” The umbilical cord has been cut; a new independent life begins to grow outside the protection of the “womb.”

In the previous stage, everything was provided. Not now! At least not in the same way. The Source always is and always will be God — never of our own efforts, ingenuity or skill.

I see God birthing in this season like never before. He is releasing spiritual gifts in unprecedented proportions. New ministries are springing up with maturity and vitality. Communities and cities are being changed.  Spiritual landscapes redefined!

“So Christ himself gave the apostles,
the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers,
to equip his people for works of service, 

so that the body of Christ may be built up.”
Ephesians 4:11-12

Birthing the New

Pride has no claim to either the gift or the work being birthed in this season. We receive God’s gifts as evidence of His unmerited blessing and favor. The Giver asks only that we use His gifts wisely for the encouragement and benefit of others.

Like any true gift, it is ours — freely given and freely received.  If we choose to misuse or neglect it, it is still ours! Luke 19 makes it clear that gifts come with responsibility, however.

“For I am about to do something new.
See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?
I will make a pathway through the wilderness.
I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.”
  Isaiah 43:19

Babies arrive without instruction manuals. As much as we plan and prepare, unexpected surprises accompany birthing the new. The “I Will” makes a way, providing all that is needed.

“Take courage,” Jesus told his disciples who were losing the stormy battle. (Matthew 14:27) Remember God is always the I WILL. He never leaves you nor forsakes you.

He says, “I WILL be
on the ground beside you while you crawl,
the hand lifting you up when you stumble,
the ONE at the finish line cheering you on,
the gentle arm of encouragement,
the whatever you need in the moment
…I WILL

You aren’t alone! God accompanies you every step of the way. No matter what the processes you are in or the pathways ahead, you are guaranteed to experience Him in ways you would never have known otherwise.

In birthing the new, with a sense of peace and joy, we both look back and gaze ahead. We are confident not in ourselves but in God alone. He is leading, empowering, directing and holding us fast.

Many more pains and joys of birthing the new are ahead for each of us. Hold to His sovereign hand.

 

Laughter is Good Like a Medicine! It is Time to Laugh!

Solomon, the wisest man who lived, said laughter is good. Just as good as medicine! Tell that to the 1150 billion dollar pharmaceutical industry! Perhaps with a little more chuckling, those figures might drop!

Let’s face it, the cares of this world easily rob us of joy.

“A time to cry and a time to laugh.
A time to grieve and a time to dance.”
Ecclesiastes 3:4

Laughter is contagious! Few can hold back a smile when deep, belly laughter erupts. I’m not talking about the kind that is serrated with sarcasm, barbed with ridicule, or is a satirical stab. Just that free unrestrained joy in the present.

It is Good!

Let’s look at the “good” hidden in this joyful behaviour.

“A cheerful heart is good medicine,
but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength.”
Proverbs 17:22

Laughter is like medicine

“Medicine” means “a healing and cure“. Several studies declare a cheerful attitude can improve the outcome of even the most serious illness.

One commentary says laughter makes good recovery!”  I like that! Even when ailments inflict, a good recovery sounds promising! If a “good recovery” includes healthier hearts, relaxed bodies, and boosted immune systems, then laughter delivers.

Believe it or not, joy is a personal choice — a way of “recovering”. Choosing joy creates a perspective that can make a big difference.

A few years ago, a difficult swirl threatened to engulf me. Every morning God encouraged “Choose joy!” So each day before my feet hit the floor, I agreed with God’s view and aligned my thinking.

That decision prevented the dysfunctional atmosphere from drowning me emotionally.  Joy kept strength from being “sapped”!  To “sap” here means “to be ashamed, confused, disappointed, to dry up, and wither.” 

Was it easy? Certainly not!

Was it possible? By God’s grace, yes!

It is Godly

Do you know that God laughs? Discovering God’s response to situations will change our own view of things.

“The wicked plot against the righteous
and gnash their teeth at them;
but the Lord laughs at the wicked,
for he knows their day is coming.”
Psalm 37:12-13

We have an enemy intentionally stealing, killing and destroying everything he can. He specifically targets our joy!

Laugh! I am!

Recently, I was feeling the intensity of an onslaught.  Problems of all sorts were hitting hard: physically, financially, relationally and spiritually. The enemy’s thrusts worked overtime in the lives of those I love and are close to.

During prayer, I felt God prompt, “Why don’t you laugh? I am!”

So I did! First strained and loudly! Then authentic laughter rolled naturally from some deep recess.

First, it was an act of obedience. Then I remembered I have a lot to laugh about. The enemy is still “gnashing his teeth” at us, but he was

crushed at the cross,
defeated on resurrection morning,
rendered powerless by the blood,
and sentenced to destruction.

Laughter is good! It reminds me the enemy’s “day is coming” when God brings justice. It produces alignment with God’s attitude, in some way bringing heaven’s glory to earth.

A time to laugh!

Strength

In Nehemiah’s day, the exiles returned after a long banishment to reestablish their homes. Under Ezra’s instruction,

“They read from the Book of the Law of God,
making it clear and giving the meaning
so that the people understood
what was being read.”
Nehemiah 8:8

The grief stricken people realized that disobedience to God brought about their captivity.

Mourning sounds logical to me! Countless times, I’ve been on my face distressed over the contradiction between my attitudes, words or conduct and God’s holiness. Reading “the book” puts things into perspective!

Joy in the Lord is strength

Nehemiah says something surprising under the circumstances,

“…This day is holy to our Lord.
Do not grieve,
for the joy of the LORD
is your strength.”
Nehemiah 8:10b

Sometimes we need encouragement to move from grief to joy, sorrow to gladness, or wailing to laughing. When they felt like grieving, Nehemiah reminded them, “Laughter is good!”

This word “strength” means “a place of safety and protection.”  It pictures standing on a solid rock, protected within a fortress, or secure in a strong defense.

A sports motto states, “The strongest offense is a powerful defense.”

God affirms that laughter implements both offensive and defensive action against Satan’s attacks.

Laughter is good! It creates a synergy between heaven and earth. Laughing at the enemy, no matter what his ploy, reminds me that God remains in control.

Laughing at Myself

I don’t purposely do incredibly foolish things! They spontaneously occur naturally and often! Laughter seems only logical in this moments.

A solid sense of self-worth releases me to laugh at my blunders and make light of my forgetfulness. Whether I have a particularly good day or not, my value securely resides with God alone.

Second, I demonstrate grace in even my ungraceful moments. I’m not what I used to be, but I sure haven’t arrived. Allowing myself time to laugh at my shortcomings liberates me to get up and try again.

Third, deliberately create time to laugh. It takes less energy to smile than to frown, I’m told.

Laugh together

Fourth, laugh at life! My father taught me well how to laugh during times of stress and pressure. He possessed an incredible ability to find a pool of joy in an ocean of despair.

Fifth, laugh at the past! I’m “getting long in the tooth”! Or in other words, I have more life behind me than ahead. Many situations threatened to crush me forever. By God’s grace, they served to refine me instead and in many ways make me stronger. Now, I smile in remembrance of those once painful times.

Life’s Journey

Pilgrims travelling to Jerusalem for the Jewish festivals sang the Songs of Ascent, Psalm 120-134. The priests also repeated them as they ascended the steps to the temple. One song declared at each step forward and upward.

Joy resonates throughout these psalms.

“I rejoiced with those who said to me,
Let us go to the house of the Lord.'”
Psalm 122:1

Songs triumphantly raised in praise to a God so faithful!

“We have escaped like a bird
from the fowler’s snare;
the snare has been broken,
and we have escaped.
Our help is in the name of the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth.”
Psalm 124:7-8

Laugh throughout life

Listen to this declaration of praise and rejoicing!

“When the LORD restored
the fortunes of Zion,
we were like those who dreamed.
Our mouths were filled with laughter,
our tongues with songs of joy.
P
salm 126:1,2

And hear the promise!

I will bless her with abundant provisions;
her poor I will satisfy with food.
I will clothe her priests with salvation,
and her faithful people will ever sing for joy.”
Psalm 132:15-16

If the pilgrims going to the temple praised God with rejoicing, perhaps I should take time to laugh as I journey through life’s course. If the priests sang praise while entering God’s presence, I’m thinking the same is important as I approach our Awesome God.

Laugh often!
https://www.facebook.com/glimpsesofgloryphotos

Have you captured the importance yet? Let’s all make today a time to laugh!

**********

Beauty Instead of Ashes! Out with the Old! In with the New!

Beauty for Ashes

“Instead of” are powerful words repeated throughout scripture. As we end one year and prepare to enter a new one, may the truth of these words resonate.

  “to bestow on them a crown of beauty
    instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
    instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
    instead of a spirit of despair…
Isaiah 61:3

As Jesus began his earthly ministry he read from the scroll previewing this portion. Then he sat down and declared these incredible words,

 “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
Luke 4:21

Today

From that day on everything changed! The waves may still roll, but Christ is present! He is with us!

God is willing and able to grant an excellent exchange for whatever burden we are carrying.

Shame, disgrace, humiliation
foolish mistakes, failures, or fear,
death of dreams, hopes
or a loved one….

Instead Of

His presence guarantees not only comfort and provision in the midst of struggle, but much more:

  “beauty instead of ashes,
joy instead of mourning,
praise instead of a spirit of despair…

Even a child recognizes a good trade when they see one! However, there is one condition! God is asking us to give Him our ashes, mourning and despair. Are we willing to let them go?

Beauty instead of ashes, joy instead of mourning, praise instead of a spirit of despair! Click To Tweet

Broken

When I yielded my life to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, I had only brokenness to offer Him. My track record had produced failure and disappointment in multiplied measure. Suicidal thoughts and depression had left me a broken shell, without hope.

But Christ came! Everything changed – some pieces radically and instantly, others slowly and progressively.

He continues to invite me to yield to Him things He never intends me to carry. His offer to replace them with something incredible still stands.

Wasteland to Beauty

Thorn bushes are rough and dangerous; their pointed barbs sink deep. Jesus bore such a painful crown pressed firmly in His brow.

Thorns

Applauded one hour and disdained the next, His beauty and deity were unrecognizable to most earthly eyes.

Instead of the thornbush will grow the juniper,
and instead of briers the myrtle will grow.
This will be for the LORD’s renown,
for an everlasting sign…
Isaiah 55:13

Junipers in the Middle East are tall willowy bushes growing in desert places. Travelers often find shelter under their bending boughs. The myrtle bares intensely aromatic white blossoms delicately edged in the colour of royalty, purple.

Myrtle

Jesus surrendered His true Kingship and bore the crown of thorns. In so doing, he now gives us ability to be overcomers in our thoughts. He grants us peace instead of the harsh reruns that plague our minds with

words cruelly spoken,
images that cut through innocence,
or paralyzing pain of loss.

Jesus traded an authentic crown for a mocking one. Today, he invites us to exchange every unnecessary weight for the authentic beauty He offers. It is a good trade!

Garbage Can

A few months ago, a friend was struggling to personally receive God’s “instead of.” All her short life, she had been juggled from house to house – unwanted and undervalued.

We set a garbage can in the middle of the room and began to toss crumpled bits of paper into it. Each piece represented an image, thought or message that had been embedded into her belief system shaping how she now saw herself.  When the mark was missed, we walked over and picked up the wad of paper and made sure it landed deep into the metal bucket.

Garbage

I had several wads of my own to toss!

Once the trade is made, no dumpster diving! Click To Tweet

Once tossed, we gave each painful wound into the hands of the only One who can fully erase their weight.

as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”
Psalm 103:12

Once the trade is made, no dumpster diving!

It is not just our stuff that God is perfectly able to trade. God wants to release us from everything anyone else has done against us. God’s “instead of” applies equally to both!

Eternal Glory

God is a master of transformation – a divine recycling! Out with the old and in with the new!

Though once my mind was racked with dark thoughts of death, now I help others find the light of hope. This is not unusual! God delights in taking what was once our greatest infliction and turning it into a powerful tool of redemption.

Those once bound by chains of chemical addiction now show others the way through the tangle to beautiful fulfilled lives. People once tormented in a variety of ways now lead others into places of health and wholeness. As a matter of fact, your place of greatest struggle is probably the very area God has destined to use you to bring freedom for others and glory to Him.

“For our light and momentary troubles
are achieving for us an eternal glory
that far outweighs them all.”
2 Corinthians 4:17

We cannot always fully see what God is working out. His “instead of” is always greater and better than the troubles we are are trading in.

Whatever we are going through is working! It is working for His glory! It is working the best in us and for us! God will receive the glory and renown He is worthy of, as we are willing to exchange what we are holding on to.

Before this year ends, trade it in! I am excited to see what new thing God has for each of us  through Christ!

Out with the old! In with the new! What a beautiful exchange! Click To Tweet

__________

Additional Resources!

Another read: Do it Again Lord! Renew! Restore! Revive!

__________

Sign up here to join the greatest followers ever!

 

 

Laughter – It’s Better Than Medicine! Choose Joy!

Laughter Better Than Medicine

Laughter is contagious! Laughter inspires us to let go of frets and worries engaging fully in the simplicity of life. Now that’s my kind of medicine!

“A cheerful heart is good medicine,
but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength.”
Proverbs 17:22

The word translated “medicine” [gehah] occurs nowhere else in the bible. Scholars believe it more accurately means “healing” or “relief.”

A Merry Heart

God Laughs

As nations conspire, people plot, and kings band together

“The kings of the earth rise up
and the rulers band together
against the LORD and against his anointed,
saying, “Let us break their chains
and throw off their shackles.”
The One enthroned in heaven laughs;
the Lord scoffs at them.”
Psalm 2: 2-4

God’s laughter gives us the assurance that Christ will ultimately triumph over evil. Three times Revelation 4 tells us  there is One who sits on the throne. Envisioning the King of all kings enthroned in majesty, I rest. He has not abdicated! All authority in heaven and on earth belongs to Him.

Laughter Exalts God

Each of us experiences, at one time or another, the barrenness of a desert place. Everyone knows the pain of difficult a season. Some more extreme than others! When we approach the other side, laugh!

“Our mouths were filled with laughter,
our tongues with songs of joy.
Then it was said among the nations, “The LORD has done great things for them.”
The LORD has done great things for us,
and we are filled with joy.”
Psalm 126: 2

Laughter

 

Joyous enthusiasm convicts nations, convincing them of God’s greatness and goodness to His people. Has God done something good for you? Remember and be filled with joy and laugh!

People around you will notice and ask the reason for your joy.  What a perfect opportunity to share what God has done.

Waiting for Laughter

Life doesn’t always throw us something to laugh at. What do we do then?

Nehemiah had been given permission to return to Jerusalem. Many years prior walls of protection crumbled, gates smouldered and the stones of refuge scattered. With the help of God and the leading of the Holy Spirit, Nehemiah rebuilt in fifty two days what was impossible for decades.

The people gathered together listening intently to the reading of the Law. The realization of their sinfulness erupted in mourning and intense weeping.

Ezra, the Levites and Nehemiah stopped the people from weeping and mourning.

“This day is holy to the LORD your God.
Do not mourn or weep.”
Nehemiah 8:5

Joy

Do overwhelming circumstances grip you today? Are you experiencing deep pain right now? The distance between today and your last good laugh may seem miles apart. Take hope!

“…Weeping may last through the night,
but joy comes with the morning.”
Psalm 30:5

Be encouraged! Morning always comes! In the presence of the Lord there is neither weeping, sorrow nor sadness. None! Just as He was present in the midst of the people of Nehemiah’s day, He is present with you today.

Joy Produces Strength

“…the joy of the LORD is your strength.”
Nehemiah 8:10

Nehemiah ties joy securely to strength. Strength here also means “fortified place, defence, fortress, or rock.” When we choose the position of joy we find strength that stands

  • against the assaults of the enemy
  • strong over condemnation from the Law
  • in the fullness of God’s promise toward us

Joy is Strength

Recently, I walked through a particularly difficult season that threatened to consume life, hope and peace. Every morning I was aware that God was granting me the option to choose joy. Daily joy was a deliberate decision, a purposeful intent. Joy became my personal fortress in the midst of intense struggle. The Rock of joy withstood!

Laughter isn’t just child’s play! Its good for us all! Let’s get serious about joy!

Laughter just might prove to the best medicine after all.

__________

If you want to be sure to never miss a blog, sign up here and be part of our growing list of subscribers.

__________

For further reading:

Great Trials Matched by Great Joy – James 1 Perspective

Great Trials Matched by Great Joy – James 1 Perspective

Great Joy James 1

Choosing joy in the midst of great adversity and difficult circumstances never comes “naturally”. Joy is a gift readily available! Great trials can be matched by equally great joy according to James 1:2-4.

“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.
Let perseverance finish its works
so that you may be mature and complete,
not lacking anything.”

Consider

That first word implies there is something to take into account. It has the sense of “commanding with official authority”.

There was a season of pressure I was facing when every morning before my feet hit the floor my declaration was, “Today, I choose joy!” The situation ahead was the exact opposite. My emotional survival demanding a choice of action; my choice was joy.

Joy

That choice made all the difference in my two-year trial.

Neither James, nor I, am making lite of trials. The intensity and duration is unpredictable and often severe. Trials are to be “faced“.

Years ago a fierce storm hit our farmyard with pounding rain and   hail accompanied by flashes of intense lightning. A small group of tame ducks were caught outside in the midst of it. I expected them to run for shelter or hide their heads beneath their wings. They stood together in a small cluster facing the wind and torrent with heads held high. The image spoke to me then and continues to speak now. They faced the storm.

 

Whenever

Trials do come…
unannounced – unwelcome…
usually in multiples…
fierce and overwhelming

Great Trials

There is something we need to “know” in the midst of trials and tests. “James jogs our memory just a little. Trials have purpose!

In school tests were inevitable. A test demonstrates both what we know and what we don’t know. Trials show the Anchor and Substance of our faith is Christ alone!

Perseverance

My Greek Lexicon defines this word as “cheerful (hopeful) endurance, constancy…” It reads:

“In the New Testament the characteristic of a man who is
unswerved from his deliberate purpose and
his loyalty to faith and
piety by even the greatest trials and sufferings.”

The only way for me to find joy in the midst of my greatest trials and sufferings is to hold on to an eternal biblical perspective. Here is found that cheerful, even hopeful, endurance and constancy that gives strength and fortitude to rise above. My trial my last a life time, but it won’t follow me to heaven!

We will all get knocked down.
Get back up!
Knocked down again? Get back up!
We’ll take jabs to the jaw! Get back up!
We’ll take a few in the back. Get back up!
When we hit the pavement hard? Get back up!

Perseverance

This is perseverance – living with deliberate purpose and loyal to the faith, in the greatest trials and sufferings.

Mature and Complete

James says “let perseverance finish its work.”

We always have choice. It is easier to give in than to get up and be knocked down again. Far easier!

I’ve talked before about finishing well; perseverance helps me to just that. If we “let” or allow the trials we face to finish what God is doing, the result will be maturity and completeness.

My grey hair doesn’t mean maturity. Age is a process I cannot stop. However, maturity is a strategy I can co-operate with. The Amplified Bible reads,

“But let endurance and steadfastness
and patience have full play and do a thorough work…”

One can trust a mature person. Their wisdom, strength and tenacity helps them to stay the course.

Mature CompleteThink about what being complete and perfectly sound would look like. When Peter healed the lame beggar, the word used is the same as this one in James. Legs and feet once none responsive now jumped, leaped and walked to places forbidden just moments before.

Weakness replaced by strength
dependency vanished in ability
chains of confinement broke into freedom!
Walking and leaping and praising God!
Over forty years of painful trial
melted forever
encompassed by great joy….

Great Joy

Trials are God’s instrument…

“that you may be mature, complete,
not lacking anything”!

When we know, as James and the early church knew, in the midst of intense persecution we too can face trials with great joy – wholly joyfully!

God is working! He is producing in us a tenacious faith bearing fruit of maturity and bringing us in to a realm of neither lack or deficiency.

That very thought is enough for me!

 

 

Give Me Chocolate and Nobody Gets Hurt!

Give Me Chocolate

One recent morning my daughter-in-love called and innocently asked, “How are you doing?” Though it was early morning, I confessed I was eating chocolate. She completely understood! It was one of those “give me chocolate and nobody gets hurt” days!

What does your “one of those days” look like? You know what I’m talking about! The kind of day when one thing quickly piles atop another, over another, yet amass another. Maybe for you it isn’t a single day, but a string of unbroken difficult days that have marked an entire season.

crown-741478_640 - Pixabay - CCO Public Domain -cderosia - Crown Thorns Jesus Christian Christ

Then I noticed this image. It caused me to re-evaluate my heap-upon-heap day. All perspective changed in the light of THAT day over two thousand years ago!

On this day of His
family left Him for crazy
friends ran for their lives
one sold Him as a slave
another cursed the mention of His Name
religious leaders slandered Him
political powers washed their hands of Him
the populace shook their fists and turned their backs.

Yet He did not complain! Quite the contrary,

“For the joy set before Him He endured the cross.”
 Hebrews 12:2

Wait! Back this train up! “For the joy”…. How is that anywhere near possible?

Endurance

For the Joy…

With joy Jesus sweat drops of blood in the garden. Thus He made possible for our wills someday, in every way, to be surrendered to His.

In surrendered joy His beard pulled from a jaw, set firmly to the holy task, acquired grace for us to walk humbly with each other.

For you and me, through joy whips separated flesh from flesh; healing from all sickness and disease is now ours.

With joy Christ was wounded for our transgressions (sinful acts) and bruised for our iniquities (faulty attitudes). Now we, through Christ, are forever set free from the guilt and shame of our acts and attitudes.

With joy thorns pressed deep a head deserving a crown for our proud and evil thoughts to be brought into captivity.

For the joy set before Him nails pierced hands that reached the least of these, so we too may touch the lives of unreached ones.

With incomprehensible joy blood dripped from the nail locking feet to wood, that those who followed could journey with fearless faith the straight road.

With joy the spear thrust deep emptying heart and lung. Sanctified and purified we may now live through His shed blood.

Childbirth

Joy Wrapped in Love

With joy? Yes, with joy wrapped in love! With joy He looked beyond his darkest day

when the Father turned His head
the sun refused to shine
the earth tremored in disbelief
and the veil of separation torn for all time.

He looked beyond “this day” to the horizon of endless time. Here perhaps is the key to both overcoming and rising above “one of those days”.

This day of ours is but a single word
against an eternal scroll…
a golden thread among the weave and warp
of all time and place.
This day neither defines nor determines
God’s good purpose
and beautiful design for our lives.

God's Plans

…”No eye has seen, no ear has heard,
and no mind has imagined
what God has prepared for those who love him.”
I Corinthians 2:9 

With joy, great joy, Jesus gave his life so all who believed in Him would live!

__________

I Choose Joy!

Lord grant me the grace to see beyond “today”.
Give me courage and faith
to face each day with the joy set before me.
Forgive me Lord for grumbling about my little day –
I reach for joy!
For the joy set before me, I will move forward.
You, Lord, are with me always!

__________

Another article you might enjoy –

Great Trials Matched by Great Joy – James 1 Perspective