Tag Archive | joy

Inside Out

  

Hi Sisters..we apologize for the late post. It’s been a bit crazy lately. 😊

Recently I watched the movie “Inside Out” with my boys. It was truly entertaining to see how the writers/producers depicted what was happening in the mind of this little girl in the movie. It was really quite accurate! Sometimes our hearts and minds can be tied up in knots. Emotions of anger, fear and sadness swirl in us like a whirlwind, intermingling with each other and seeming to battle for dominance as joy tries to hold the fort. Good old Joy! I must say she definitely is my favourite character and I really do try to let her rule the roost every day. However for us humans living in this fallen world, sometimes people’s actions, circumstances, loss, life changes, sin and other challenges can really offset that joyful balance. None of us are immune to sadness, anger and fear.  

Yet while each feeling does have its place and can propel us to a place of action. We must ask God to direct our emotions and actions so that we avoid the sinful and negative outcomes of acting sinfully on our emotions.

Take for example – Eph 4:26 which says “Be angry and sin not”. Phil 4:6 – 7 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation by prayer and petition with thanksgiving present your requests to God and the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. 

James 4:1-3 Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.

The bible is clear that emotions are real. David the psalmist struggled with loneliness and depression as he fled for his life and Job seemed to wrestle with all of them as he endured severe loss. Even Christ was described as a man of sorrows Is 53:3.

However these men came to a place where their eyes were lifted beyond their present circumstances..as they considered the faithfulness and sovereignity of God and they obeyed.
Many people use their feelings as an excuse for their actions. Anger, bitterness and hurt propel us towards unforgiveness which is the root of broken relationships and more severely, crime.

In the midst of Christ’s betrayal and rejection from men, He saw the will of God and was able to say “Father, forgive them.” None of us, regardless of who we are can be above this.  

So, I don’t know what emotion is struggling for dominance in you today, in this season of your life, what wrongs you have endured and how you may be handling the challenges you face. However, I do know that the Lord will guide you if you ask Him. 

He promises: 

Is 61:3 “ To console those who mourn in Zion, To give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; That they may be called trees of righteousness, The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.”

2 Tim 1:7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind

Nehemiah 8:10 Then he said to them, “Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

Ask Him to come on the inside of your heart, to give you His light and joy to be reflected outside.

By Carol-angel Jackson

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Lead me to the Rock

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Ps 61:2 From the end of the earth will I cry unto Thee when my heart is overwhelmed; lead me to the rock that is higher than I.

This week was tough, in fact it’s been a rough season. Sometimes it seems as if there is no end to bad news and you have to be determined to find the good. Then there are those days where everything collides, the physical, mental and emotional and it almost seems too much to bear.

My heart goes out to all the families and the whole nation of St. Vincent, rocked by the terrible bus tragedy this past week, in which 7 children died. My heart aches for a longtime school friend whose family was also struck by tragedy around the same time in St. Lucia..very few things compare in magnitude to losing loved ones and as a parent of two children who are my heart, I couldn’t imagine what it would feel like to lose both of my boys at the same time..as has happened to parents in both of these situations.

Jesus said in John 16:33 (NKJV) – These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

I love this verse because of the truth it expounds…a truth that sets us free. Having tribulation doesn’t in any way negate the truth that we can have peace and that we can be of good cheer..because Jesus HAS overcome!!! They are all in the same promise. So the same way we can expect that there will be tribulation, we can expect peace and cheerfulness.

These do not come easily. The human nature is prone to worry, despair and our hearts can faint under the weight of tribulation, loss, sad news, dissapointments and world crises. We MUST go to the ROCK that is higher. His perspective is elevated, His ways are higher, He is over this world and has overcome it!!

As Matthew Henry’s Commentary states..”To the rock on the top of which I shall be set further out of the reach of my troubles, and nearer the serene and quiet region, than I can be by any power or wisdom of my own.” God’s power and promise are a rock that is higher than we. This rock is Christ; those are safe that are in him. We cannot get upon this rock unless God by his power lead us. I will put thee in the cleft of the rock, Exod. 33:22. We should therefore by faith and prayer put ourselves under the divine management, that we may be taken under the divine protection.”

When we run to Him and embrace His life, His perspective, His strength and comfort..our hearts are truly lifted.

I pray today for those families, I pray for my own family and I pray for yours that in these difficult times, we will have true peace and joy that comes from knowing Christ and meditating on the truth of His word. As we meditate..may it change our minds, our hearts and our language.

As my good friend said to me today..we must speak life into situations…though they may be bad..it is not the end, it’s NEVER hopeless.

Be encouraged my sisters!!
Listen to “Still” by Hillsong

By Carol-angel Jackson

My Song

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Today’s devotional is by Gwen Smith (GiG ministries)

For the Lord God is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation” (Isaiah 12:2b, ESV).

Friend to Friend
Just try to keep my daughter from singing. Go ahead and try. You will fail. She must sing. It’s just her thing. Some days when I’m writing, or simply trying to piece together a coherent thought, I dream that she could travel to a land far, far away from me and hang out in a sound proof room. Shhhhhhh! Embrace “quiet” already, girl.

I know. When it comes to 24/7 musical expressions, mother-of-the-year I am not. And I’m okay with that.

The irony, of course, is that I, too, love to sing—just not all day every day like my daughter, and certainly not when I’m writing.

Oh, but I do love music. It’s central to who I am as a person. I love writing songs, singing songs, learning songs, and playing songs. If my iTunes library were in book form, it would fill the Library of Congress. In many ways my life is processed through melody and verse. And I can scarcely pick up my Bible and spend time in God’s presence without having to run to the piano in responsive worship. When His deep calls out to my deep, I just have to chase it musically!

Why? What is the big deal about songs?

I could never hope to understand the full scope of the answer, but I know this: music is powerful. It heightens our emotions and allows us to feel our way through a thought.

Think back to the first time you heard Judy Garland sing “Over the Rainbow”…or Darlene Zschech singing “Shout to the Lord”…or Ray Charles singing “Georgia on My Mind”…or Gloria and Bill Gaither singing “Because He Lives”…or Aretha Franklin singing “Respect”…or Celine Dion singing “My Heart Will Go On”…or Chris Tomlin singing “How Great Is Our God.” Pure melodic magic.

Notes and words strung together in excellence can raise us to our feet or push us to our knees.

Because music touches something at the core of our being, it should come as no surprise that one of the names of God found in Scripture is My Song. First seen in Exodus 15:2, My Song is a name that Moses used to describe God as he celebrated the miraculous deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt.

Can you imagine how his heart swelled as he watched God turn a massive body of water into a walking trail for millions of Israelites? So Moses and his people threw down a big ol’ God-party on the victory side of the Red Sea!

Then Moses and the people of Israel sang this song to the Lord, saying,

“I will sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider he has thrown into the sea. The Lord is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation; this is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him.

Moses had to sing because is heart couldn’t contain the gratitude and awe he felt for God. He called the Lord My Song. He felt compelled to worship. I totally get that. God had freed His people through a medley of miracle after miracle. How could they not respond in grateful worship? How could He not be their Song?

How could He not be ours, as well?

The greatest commandment of God to His people is not vague. It is crystal clear. Both the Old and New Testaments tell us that the most vital calling in life—your greatest purpose—is to “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’This is the first and greatest commandment” (Matthew 22:37-38).

Bam! That’s it. What better way for us to express love to God than by living out a life that sings His praise and features Him as the ultimate object of our desire?

I will be the first to admit that my feeble attempts to live out the greatest commandment fall short every single day. I want to love Him perfectly, but I’m just not able to. I want to love Him with all of my heart, soul, and mind. Sincerely. But the reality is I can’t because I am a distracted worshiper.

My life is busy with ordinary. The laundry never ends, the family activities never cease, dust dominates, and dishes fill my kitchen sink, even when I’ve just cleared it out. To sprinkle special on our ordinary days, we add music. We sing. We dance. We worship.

So, as much as my daughter’s constant melodious outbursts may wear me out, maybe she is on to something after all. If God is our song, then how can we not sing? How can we not find a song—our Song, God—in both the mundane and the miraculous of our lives? If He is our song, then let’s raise our voices with His praise!

Let’s Pray

Dear Lord, You are my Song. Thank You for giving us music! Thank You for inviting me to honor You in praise with instruments, voices, verses, and melodies. Help me to love You with my heart, mind and soul…more today than yesterday…and more the next day than tomorrow.

In Jesus’ name,

Amen.

To love God is to obey God

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1John 5:3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.

I love dogs! They make wonderful loyal pets and are my favorite. My dog Tiger never fails to show his excitement and undying affection and is always eager to come when called. Dogs know their master and will lovingly follow them around. They can be trained to obey commands to come, sit, stay, lie down and perform specific tasks such as bringing objects and opening doors, acting as assistance dogs. They are happy to serve and be given instructions to follow.

Are we like this with our Master? Are we eager and ready to obey God’s commands, waiting for His instructions to follow? Do we pray like David in Ps 119:33-35? Teach me, O Lord, the way of Your statutes, and I shall keep it to the end. Give me understanding, and I shall keep Your law; Indeed, I shall observe it with my whole heart. Make me walk in the path of Your commandments, for I delight in it.

The most common Greek word for worship is proskuneo – meaning to kiss, like a dog licking his master’s hand; to fawn or crouch to, i.e. (literally or figuratively) prostrate oneself in homage (do reverence to, adore):–worship. (Strong’s #4352)

The best way we can show our love and worship for God is to submit to Him, prostrating our hearts and minds to His commands and obeying. The bible says that the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. We should fear God because He is righteous, holy, all-powerful and all-knowing. Through our Lord Jesus, we also understand that it is God’s love for us that caused Him to give the great sacrifice of His son and the son’s love caused Him to submit to His Father’s commands. Therefore we serve Him out of a heart of love and gratitude that says..”Whatever you say, this I will do! When you ask me to forgive, I will. When you ask me to sacrifice, I will. When you say don’t complain, I won’t. When you tell me to give up sinful habits, I will.”

The commands of God are not to be seen as burdensome or a source of grief to our souls, as though we have to do them..or there will be some horrible punishment. While there is certainly punishment for disobedience and blessings for obedience as promised in Deuteronomy 28, we ought to love God’s commands because we love God himself and trust him and want to do what he says because we know it’s His best for us. Like a dog who worships his master, licks his hand and is ready to do his bidding, this is the way we are to view ourselves before our God.

His commandments are a source of life to us, leading us into the truth and giving us wise counsel and direction for life and godliness. We all need to come to this place of submitting joyfully and lovingly to the commands of our Father. Let us pray daily for the filling of His Holy Spirit and a love for Him and His commands.

During the week, let’s meditate prayerfully on these:

Ps 119: 1-176 (prayers for desiring God’s commands and obeying them)

Ps 111:10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endureth for ever.

Joshua 22:5 But take diligent heed to do the commandment and the law, which Moses the servant of the Lord charged you, to love the Lord your God, and to walk in all his ways, and to keep his commandments, and to cleave unto him, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul.

Ecclesiastes 12:13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.

John 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.

Proverbs 7:2 Keep my commandments, and live; and my law as the apple of thine eye.

By Carol-Angel Jackson

The Secret to Contentment

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Phil 4:12-13 (NIV)
12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength
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Paul talks here about “learning the SECRET”. What is this secret? Wouldn’t you love to learn it as well?

One of the things that happens to us when we are discontent is that we get anxious. Right?! So let’s go back to see what he says about that:

Phil 4:4 (NIV)
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

He says to rejoice in every situation and by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. When we do this, an exchange takes place where anxiety about a situation is replaced with peace. So according to this, the secret to contentment is PRAYER.

Prayer is our CONNECTION to our supreme, all- knowing and all- powerful God. Prayer activates the power and strength of the indwelling Spirit of Christ in us so that as Paul said..we can do all things (even be content in difficult situations) because of His strength in us. Many of us know how anxiety drains. Prayer strengthens us to move forward!

Then what are we to do after we’ve made our request to God?

Phil 4:8-9 (NIV)
8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. DESIRE THESE THINGS 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

Amen!
Here’s more encouragement on why we should be content:

1 Timothy 6:6-12 (NIV)
6 But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8 But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 9 Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

Final Charge to Timothy
11 But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

We can be ‘Godly’ without contentment! Also look at how the desire of those that want to get rich is described as “harmful desire”.

Let’s not misunderstand, we are not talking about not enjoying the blessings of wealth that God gives, but more so, that if it is not for you at this time, for whatever reason, that you must not covet it or covet what a friend has but rather be happy for them. Neither should you covet what you see in the glossy magazines. We are to FLEE from this and instead pursue righteousness. We didn’t bring anything into the world and we will not be taking anything when we leave.

So ladies, let’s pray, let’s give our requests to God so that we are not anxious, let’s be thankful, let’s fix our minds on what is good and praiseworthy and flee from the harmful desire of wanting more, let’s choose to be CONTENT.

By Lisa Marshall

Contentment

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Phil 4:11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.

The Greek word for contented is autárkēs (“sufficiency within”). It occurs only in Phil 4:11 where it refers to positive self-sufficiency (inward adequacy) – that comes through the indwelling power of Christ. This inward sufficiency is as valid in “low times” (suffering) as in “high times” (temporal prosperity).

My Dream

As “You’re Designed to Shine” stirred the creativity in me and we were encouraged to dream, I wrote in the sand that my dream was to “open a metal workshop”. Although I was excited about my “dream”, there was something in my mind that said “that’s all it could be, a dream.” I am restricted in the movement of my elbow due to injury and can no longer hammer steel as I used to and I also have a full time office job that keeps me very busy. I became discouraged and DISCONTENTED.

When we read about Eve in Genesis, we see that she lived in Eden, the perfect environment. She had the perfect husband, was ‘one with him’ and communed with God daily. Yet, something in her was not content. She had a DESIRE for more, the thing she was forbidden to have and yielded to temptation.

Think about it: Didn’t Eve have plenty? Yes, but she still wanted more which says that discontentment isn’t only for the poor, we ALWAYS want more!

Genesis 3 (NIV) The Fall

1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” 2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3 but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’” 4 “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5 “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.

So I asked my Pastor about it and his answer set me free. He said “work within your limitations.”  I thought, “OK, my limitations are: my shine room, a craft table, some beads and some wire.” You see, although I can no longer lift the heavy machinery and hammer the thick steel, I could still bend wire and add some beads. So I CREATED the prayer pendant for ‘Designed to shine’.

My dream was fulfilled, I was able to express my creativity AND share it with many others, but in a different way to my previous reference of what my metal workshop used to be. I was immediately contented and still am, while still believing that one day I will have an authentic blacksmith shop, but this will be in God’s perfect timing and for His purpose.

I think that’s the key! Let’s dream, because God does delight in giving us the desires of our hearts, as He has designed us with dreams. However, let’s not become discontented by putting them into a box of preconceived ideas, past experiences or deadlines. What it becomes then, is a constant chase, causing anxiety, frustration and discontentment. Let’s not be like Abraham and Sarah who took the promise of their dream of having a child and ran ahead of God. In doing so, we fall short of His dream for us. Rather, let’s do like the Apostle Paul teaches us in Philippians 4:6, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.” Let’s keep our dreams in prayer with God, being thankful for the good things He has given us and content to wait on Him for the dreams He’s placed in our hearts.

By Lisa Marshall

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