Finding Joy in the Midst of my Life (A Daily Bible Study)

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Day 3

“Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.” Psalm 100:2

There’s a movie scene, where a King comes out to fight, and he is glorious on his war horse as he shouts and gallops in victory toward the enemy. The glory of this moment is spine-tingling to see the king arrayed in his royal cloak and his face is radiant and fierce, friendly and ferocious, all at the same time. It makes you want to cry.

If we could see God, it would take our breath away—at least that’s my take on it. Seeing God face to face would be too much for the mind to comprehend, it would be too beautiful. So we worship by faith, a God we have not seen, but who has become such a part of our lives, our identity is wrapped in him.

We, who have been saved by grace, are freed from condemning thoughts, from accusations, from the power of sin, because our great God has won the victory. He has gone before us, and conquered the power of sin and death.

No matter what our social status, no matter what kind of clothes we wear or car we drive, house we live in, job we work—we share this common ground at the foot of the cross. We are actually princes and princesses, children of the King of Kings.

No matter what circumstance we are in. Whether in plenty or in want, whether rich or poor we are loved by this great God, cherished by our creator. The God who made us loves us.

Doesn’t that make you want to sing? That you are loved by this God, the King!? I know there are a lot of songs on the radio about Jesus. But I challenge you to just sing aloud a song of worship all your own. Tell God how much you love him in your own tune with your own words. Praise the Lord with gladness. Bring him a brand new song, all your own, that is a love gift to his heart from yours.

Prayer: God, how I needed this uplift. Just to sing and release my heart freely in worshipful song to you. How I need to take my eyes off my self-interest and lift them to you.

I live in a broken world. I am broken, and so are those around me. But You God are perfect. There is never any reason to doubt your honesty and integrity. You have never done anything wrong, nor have any reason for anyone to think unwholesome things about you. You are entirely and completely trustworthy.

So many times when I’m trying to get joy from the world, it breaks, someone takes it away, or it wears out, or simply fades. But you God are eternal, and you promise to fill me up as with streams of living waters.

How joyous is this water you provide! It quenches my thirst, time after time. Only you can do that Jesus. When we try to quench our thirst at any other well, we will end up thirsty as before, and disappointed. Even the best of human joys, treasures and trinkets, or even our dearest loved ones are finite and flawed in places. Only You God are worthy of our worship.

Help us remember this, we pray in Jesus’s name, Amen.

Finding Joy in the Midst of my Life (A Daily Bible Study)

Day 2- “Yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.” Habakkuk 3:18

Our one verse text for today is yanked and jerked out of its text. I wonder, can you relate?

What do we do when life doesn’t turn out the way we hoped?

The answer— we relocate where our hope is found.

We learn early in life to hope in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and then a little later in life, maybe we start hoping for grown up things. We may work very hard for something, only to be rewarded with failure, or we get just the opposite of that thing for which we thought we were entitled.

Somewhere, somehow in our Americanized life, it’s easy to begin to assume God understands our expectations and will come through for us. But when he doesn’t… When we don’t get the good we thought was coming to us, it’s very easy to think badly of God. It’s not unheard of to even have doubts about God’s existence.

The heart of this passage speaks to the challenge we feel in our hearts when we are disappointed with God.

Disappointment and hardship create a stunning stage on which joy can emerge. Focusing on God, our salvation, our Savior, strengthens our eternal perspective.

Eternal perspective makes bad circumstances fade. It zooms us in, so our life can focus on eternal, rather than temporary. We always have a choice where our thoughts end up. Jesus is the sweetest conclusion.

He causes all things to work together for our good. (Romans 8:28).

He is with us to lift our load (Matthew 11:28-32).

He is making us more like him through our trials (Romans 8:29, James 1:3-4).

He is making a home for us in heaven.

God can do miracles of changing our circumstance. He says faith in him can move mountains, but sometimes the biggest mountain moved is inside of us. For disappointments we thought would break us, in fact make us more like him.

Prayer: God, give me a tender heart to accept insight and wisdom you are trying to teach my heart through my disappointments. I need you to help me value what you value, so I can let go of my expectations, so I can hold the love you have for me close. I can’t do this on my own. I need you to show me the temporary nature of the material things I have learned to place value on.

I need to loosen my hold on relationships that have become more important to me than my relationship with you.

I need to stop depending upon and hoping in temporal things that will eventually wear out, or get thrown on a trash heap. I need you to redirect the focus of my life so I can be free to love you the way I want to.

Enable and empower this change in my heart. I am sorry for focusing my hopes and dreams on temporary things, instead of on your Kingdom. Help me seek your Kingdom and your righteousness, and help me trust you for the rest. Help me believe that you will indeed take care of my needs, in the way you deem best. In Jesus’s name. Amen.

Finding Joy in the midst of my Life (A Daily Bible Study)

Day 1- God’s will for my life is that I be joyful and that I cultivate a thankful spirit, always. Our first scripture text reads, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, NIV)

God wills I be full of joy, always, praying, giving thanks in all circumstances. The Bible is specific and practical. God wants us to be joyful. To be joy filled always is not easy. This passage clues us in on how to start making joy a regular habit. It’s kind of like brushing your teeth, exercise, or, eating healthy. Being joyful takes some mental effort. Reading the verses again we see joy is not something disconnected from reality. I see a two-step process here. If we want to be joyful we have to

#1 pray continually. Why do we have to pray continually? Because the cares of this world are like stick-tights. When I was a little girl, we loved to take walks in the woods, often we took our puppy dog. After we came back we had seemingly hundreds of these little brownish/green Velcro-like seeds attached to our pant legs and socks and of course the puppy was covered. When we got back to the house, we had to take off all those little stick-tights from our clothing and from our puppy. It took time, just like praying. The cares of this world tend to stick tight to us, but when we give to our All powerful God whatever we care about and let him care about them for us, these things don’t weigh us down. We can give him every concern, every happy hope, every outcome, every fear. We can pray about everything that is sticking-tight to our life and God helps us cope, he helps us manage, and helps us grow. Praying lifts our burdens into God’s hands, where he can work all things for our good, even the hard stuff.

#2 Give thanks in every circumstance. Right now, hold up your 10 fingers. For every finger, give thanks to God for one thing. Be creative and specific. Thank him for the things around you, the shelter overhead, water, the clothing on you, clean air to breathe, victories he has helped you achieve, problems which are causing you to depend upon him more. Count out ten more things. As we do this again and again, perspective changes. Our outlook becomes more joyful.

Developing the habits of giving thanks and praying, will get us on our way to having a more joyful life.

Prayer: God, help me to be truly joy filled. In Jesus name, help me give you every care, every happiness, every hope, every outcome, every fear. Help me trust them all to your care, because you are personally concerned about my life and the things that stick tight to me. And you want to remove their Velcro-like hold on my life and help me hold tight to you instead.

Help me to thank you for each blessing. Help me to find joy, even in hard times, because I know that hard times are creating character, they are creating stamina, and they are rich opportunities to develop faith, and opportunities to see you work in ways I’ve never seen before and change me into a more sympathetic, person.

I pray these things in Jesus’ name, Amen.