A Willing Spirit

Today’s Bible Journaling comes from Psalm 51:12, “Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.” (KJV) As I read this I looked at other translations and found kind of a revelation to me. The Living Bible says, “make me willing to obey You.” That jumped out at me. God’s free Spirit makes us willing to obey Him!

Joy comes from God! When we receive His joy, it makes us willing to be obedient to Him. We are then walking in the pathway He has laid out before us. That pathway may have a few twists and turns, potholes and otherwise, not so comfortable situations, but we know that His way is always the best for us.

To give a little background on this Scripture, Psalm 51 is David’s heartfelt prayer of repentance after his sin with Bathsheba. When you read the entire chapter, you can just feel the despair and broken heartedness of David. Nathan has confronted David with his sin, and now David knows he must ask for forgiveness to be right with God and continue to be a “man after God’s own heart.”

The devotion today points out that it is ok to ask for your joy to be restored. John 16:24 says, “Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.” (NIV) It’s God’s desire that we have joy in our hearts despite the circumstances or station we find ourselves in life. He is more than willing to restore joy into our hearts when we ask Him.

Another thing that popped out at me was that when we are obedient, we have joy! We die to our own desires and wants and change our desires for what God wants in our lives. Everything in life traces back to obedience to God’s will. When we are on the right track we have joy, peace, and contentment. We are in a good place with Him at our side.

Do we get ourselves off track and sin? Sure we do! We’re not perfect! We will make mistakes and sometimes become down right rebellious. But the great thing is, God is always there to offer forgiveness, set us on the right track, and gives us a second chance.

We must have a spirit that is willing to ask for forgiveness and endeavor to be obedient to His plan and will for our lives. Sometimes obedience doesn’t come easy, especially if we are stubborn in wanting our own way. Yep, that’s me! Stubborn could be my middle name! The hard part is getting rid of the stubbornness and being pliable in God’s Hands to be molded to what it is He wants us to become.

Another thing I began to think about is that becoming pliable requires us to make an active determination to be obedient and willing to follow God and His ways by getting rid of those things in our lives that is a hindrance to our growth and witness. Words and actions must line up, as well as attitudes. The key for me is, have I allowed Jesus to shine in me so that others see Him, or do they see me in all my sin and stubbornness and disobedience? Does my behavior and attitude show Christ in everything I do and say? When we can say yes to that last question, then we can have the joy and peace that is rightfully ours as children of God.

The more we seek God’s will for our lives and search out His joy, we can know we are walking in obedience and following His pathway for our lives. His plan is always good, and He has a plan for each one of us. (Jeremiah 29:11) Following His plan brings us joy!

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Producing Fruit

Today’s Bible Journaling comes from Psalm 1:3, “He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water; which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers.” (NASB) As I was considering this passage, the phrases “firmly planted” and “yields its fruit” seemed to pop out at me.

The Fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance. (Galatians 5:22 KJV) The New American Standard Bible says, “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” These are the fruits that we, as Christians, are to exhibit. So, how do we go about incorporating these into our lives? Well, Psalm 1:3 tells us. We are to be firmly planted in God’s Word! Once we have these fruits imbedded into our lives, we find that joy is a result.

For some, like me, it is very difficult, to get these things deep into my heart. Love, joy, peace, goodness, faithfulness…for me, these are easy. The hard ones are patience, kindness, gentleness, and self-control. I’ve been thinking about last month’s devotion series I studied on “Being Content”, and that goes right along with having a joyful heart. If I’m not content, there is no joy. On top of these devotions, my Pastor has been preaching on “What Were You Thinking?” All these combined have given me a lot to digest, and let me tell you, the struggle is real! Have I conquered my anger issues? No, but I’m working on it. Have I overcome my impatience? No, but I’m working on it.

I am most definitely a work in progress. These are things that have plagued me my entire life. It took a life-time for me to develop these behaviors and it will take a life-time for me to overcome them, unless God delivers a miracle!

The first key that I see in today’s Scripture is that as Believers, we are to be “firmly planted” in God’s Word. If I don’t take the time every day to read and study His Word, I have no clue what I am to do, how I am to act, and worse, I have no relationship with Jesus! If I don’t spend that time with Him, I’m out here on my own trying to do my own thing, and when that happens, it always ends up a disaster. The Psalmist gives us the picture of a tree planted by the water. Trees need lots of water! Their source of nourishment comes from the water and the soil for their roots. The tap root of a tree seeks out that good source of water to keep it alive and bearing fruit.

Secondly, when I am trying to do things on my own, I am vulnerable to the attack of the enemy. He knows what my faults are, and he takes full advantage of that by putting me in situations where it is easy for me to fail. Additionally, if a tree doesn’t have a good source for nourishment, it will fall because its roots haven’t found a good source to sink into to keep it stable.

The second key I see is that we are to produce fruit. When we are deeply rooted in Jesus, it gives us the ability to produce the correct type of fruit…love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Left to our own devices, we can produce hatred, discontentment, turmoil, impatience, and other unhealthy attitudes. The latter group is just what the enemy wants to see in our lives because then we become ineffective in our witness for the Lord. Our actions and attitudes don’t match up with our words. You know the adage, “actions speak louder than words”. It’s true! When our lives don’t match what we say, others tend not to want to listen or become a follower of God.

I will be the first to tell you that it isn’t easy. It is a definite war going on inside of me. I try so hard, and I will do well for a while, but then, something will happen, and I fall back into my old ways and I completely erase any progress I have made and I’m back asking for forgiveness from God and asking for His help once again.

If I keep my mind fixed on Him, study His Word, listen to His voice, and put what I hear and learn into practice, I can move forward and bear the fruit that draws people to Jesus. I hope that this has been an encouragement to you and that you will find something in todays devotion time that will help you in your walk with the Lord.

A Joyful Heart

I’m beginning a devotional series on having a joyful heart. Yesterday’s Scripture was Psalm 16:11, “You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.” (NASB) Today’s Scripture is II Corinthians 6:10, “As sorrowful yet always rejoicing, as poor yet making many rich, as having nothing yet possessing all things.” (NASB) I combined both Scriptures today because the source of joy is from God, and yet, even though we are going through trials, we can still be joyful because that joy comes from Him.

As I was doing both pages, yesterday and today, I couldn’t help but think of situations where I needed God’s joy in my life. Once was when I miscarried the only time I became pregnant, and the other was when my first husband died. Both times I needed God’s joy even though I was in deep pain and sorrow. I could honestly say that God’s joy was in my heart despite the circumstances. To the average person that concept doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. How can you be joyful and be in sorrow at the same time? First, I think we need to look at what we are talking about. Joy is not happiness and happiness is not necessarily joy. Joy is deep in your heart and doesn’t depend on circumstances. Happiness is fleeting. We can be happy in one second and unhappy in the next. We can be joyful even though we are not happy.

Confusing? Yes, it can be. But when we understand that joy doesn’t come from our emotions but from deep inside, whereas happiness is emotion driven, then it isn’t so confusing. Joy comes from God and He places that joy deep inside of us.

When my first husband, Allen, died, I felt a multitude of emotions…grief, relief, joy, exhausted, lost, isolated, not whole…the list went on and on. All of those emotions were piled on me at the same time. I grieved because I was missing my life partner and best friend. Relief, because I was his primary caregiver and it hurt me to see him suffer. Joy, because I knew he was in Heaven with God and was no more in a debilitated condition and suffering. Exhausted, because there was nothing left in me after caring for him for seven years from strokes and epilepsy. Lost and not whole, because a part of me was missing. Isolated, because I felt all alone. Yet I still had a deep joy, knowing God was in control despite my circumstances. I knew He would never leave me, and He would walk with me through this. Was I happy? No, but I still had joy and my faith in God was not shaken.

II Corinthians 6:10 talks about being sorrowful, yet rejoicing, about being poor but making others rich, and having nothing but possessing everything. These things are happening simultaneously. Our circumstances don’t dictate our joyfulness, but they can dictate our happiness. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard people who have next to nothing in possessions talk about how contented they are with their lives in spite of the fact that they are poor. They scrimp and save and eke out an existence with little to show for it. Yet, they seem to be the happiest, most joyful people on the planet, and more often than not, they are the biggest givers. They may not have much, but what little they have, they are willing to share with others. Whereas the people with everything financially and materially seem to be the most unhappy people. Living lives of “I have to keep everything to myself” and not willing to really share from the bounty they possess. II Corinthians says that because of joy, even though we have nothing, we possess all things. Only God can do that! Only God can give us that joyful heart that leads to contentment and brings peace into our heart and life.