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Joy
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I went for a run this morning, but God gave me a walk.
It seems that after 40 one has many more muscle problems than before and they can come from nowhere (but that is a whole other post). It came at a frustrating time. There were many other things going wrong and I am in a major transition year in my life, wondering what God is doing with me and why. So on this run I had decided to listen to a worship mix and started out great, feeling good with great inspiration. Then at about 1.5mi I got a major calf cramp, I tried to stretch it out and run through it. But then it cramped up so bad I wasn’t sure I was going to be able walk. So I sat, stretched, waited and talked with God.

The playlist I was listening to was put together by my daughter and the songs which played spoke of God’s strong love, no matter what happens, he loves us fiercely. Then I began hearing songs about joy, that He is our joy, that no matter what we can have joy. But I have really been struggling with this recently. It seems that my joy is very circumstantial, that if I am showing joy, I need to have some reason when people ask, “what are you so joyful about?” That’s what always happens when I express joy, people ask why (maybe this means I don’t express joy often?).

Then God convicted me that I have a mentality of earning my joy, that I wrongly think that I have to achieve something that gives me the right to be joyful. And that if things aren’t going well, I can’t express joy because I need to be sorrowful or disappointed. (by this point I had been able to stretch out my calf enough that I could begin limping the 1.5 miles home and continue this conversation with God)

2014-08-22 12.05.29Then I wrestled with God about showing joy when my circumstances are contrary to that which should bring joy and that this is only manufactured joy or fake joy. You know, we often “put on” a face of joy when its not there as a bit of protection from others seeing what’s going on inside (or maybe that’s just me). I really don’t like manufacturing something which is not really there so I was resisting God telling me to be joyful when I haven’t earned it or my circumstances don’t warrant joy. But He came in stronger with his message that HE IS MY JOY. Honestly I answered back that this was still manufactured because when someone asks me why are you so joyful, I don’t have a circumstance or situation to answer why, besides, a bunch of other things aren’t going well or remain unanswered, how can I be joyful. Even stronger God reinforced that HE IS MY JOY. That HE doesn’t change, that my circumstances are only temporary, that HIS love runs deep and is eternal, that no matter what HE continues to care for, make a way for, and lead me. Then the convincing message was given…if anything else is the SOURCE for my joy, it is only circumstantial and manufactured…it is ONLY authentic joy if GOD is the SOURCE and SUBSTANCE of my joy. God has given me the right to be joyful at all times no matter what. God has given me the hope of the future which allows me to be joyful now!

Today, is your JOY circumstantial?
is your JOY manufactured?
is your JOY rooted in the SOURCE of GOD?

“You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Psalm 16:11

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” Romans 15:13

Journal Thoughts – Vine & Branches
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Well, I am seeking to re-start regular blogging for ministry, personal musings, family life, and more. So to get back started I am thinking that I will share a page from the journal…in fact as I read over my journal, I think I will take selections on a regular basis and share what is appropriate and helpful here.  So here is a thought from just the other day.

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes,that it may bear more fruit.” (John 15.1)

I was reading this passage (read the whole passage now) and meditating on the imagery and pondering the abiding concept…when something really jumped out at me, and this is what I wrote down:

2/26/2009

Love – Abide – Fruit – Joy – Obey – Ask

Vine + Branches = Fruit – Pruining = More Fruit + Asking Receiving
or
Vine – Branches = no Fruit = Throw Away – Withers – Burned Up

My focus must be on abiding in Christ, living in Him, dwelling in Him, trusting in Him, existing in Him, clinging in Him, falling in Him, placing all of who I am in Him… Living with the reality that without him I can do nothing; Not giving in to the facade or mirage of our world that calls on human power, thought, and effort to accomplish. 

I must also allow and recognize His pruning…ouch…wait I liked that relationship…ouch…I needed that ministry…ouch…why did you cut that off, it was so fruitful…Oh, you are going to bring MORE fruit??…Right there where you cut??…I don’t see how God, you just cut it off!

I’m scared God, but I ask in your name Jesus for greater fruit, for deeper love in you and deeper love of others, for stronger support in abiding…to produce fruit that will not be mistaken for anything else than from you to bring others to worship you fully, to experience complete love, to enter into the fullness of total freedom through Christ alone.

You are most glorified by the greatest amount of fruit that is possible to come from my life, and I have maximum joy with abounding fruit.

But my single focus and pursuit is abiding in you Christ!

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