Oh, rejoice O’daughter of Jerusalem, O’daughter of Zion! Rejoice! We shall eat together in beauty for the redeemer of the Lord has come to redeem us! We shall eat of the land without waste. We shall eat and be joyful. We shall dance for our sorrow has melted away. Flee, Oh sons and daughters of iniquity, sons and daughters of hatred and bitterness. Cast away your nets and be no more! The fruits shall be sweet from the bitter taste of mourning and sorrow. It will be sweet, indeed! Let us come together. Yes! Let us come to the table with thanksgiving for the glory of the Lord has risen upon us.
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.
Sing, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel; be glad and rejoice with all the heart, O daughter of Jerusalem.
15 The Lord hath taken away thy judgments, he hath cast out thine enemy: the king of Israel, even the Lord, is in the midst of thee: thou shalt not see evil any more.
16 In that day it shall be said to Jerusalem, Fear thou not: and to Zion, Let not thine hands be slack.
17 The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.
18 I will gather them that are sorrowful for the solemn assembly, who are of thee, to whom the reproach of it was a burden.
19 Behold, at that time I will undo all that afflict thee: and I will save her that halteth, and gather her that was driven out; and I will get them praise and fame in every land where they have been put to shame.
20 At that time will I bring you again, even in the time that I gather you: for I will make you a name and a praise among all people of the earth, when I turn back your captivity before your eyes, saith the Lord.
And the word of the Lord came unto me, saying,
22 Son of man, what is that proverb that ye have in the land of Israel, saying, The days are prolonged, and every vision faileth?
23 Tell them therefore, Thus saith the Lord God; I will make this proverb to cease, and they shall no more use it as a proverb in Israel; but say unto them, The days are at hand, and the effect of every vision.
24 For there shall be no more any vain vision nor flattering divination within the house of Israel.
25 For I am the Lord: I will speak, and the word that I shall speak shall come to pass; it shall be no more prolonged: for in your days, O rebellious house, will I say the word, and will perform it, saith the Lord God.
26 Again the word of the Lord came to me, saying.
27 Son of man, behold, they of the house of Israel say, The vision that he seeth is for many days to come, and he prophesieth of the times that are far off.
28 Therefore say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God; There shall none of my words be prolonged any more, but the word which I have spoken shall be done, saith the Lord God.
But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.
For the Lord will have mercy on Jacob, and will yet choose Israel, and set them in their own land: and the strangers shall be joined with them, and they shall cleave to the house of Jacob.
2 And the people shall take them, and bring them to their place: and the house of Israel shall possess them in the land of the Lord for servants and handmaids: and they shall take them captives, whose captives they were; and they shall rule over their oppressors.
3 And it shall come to pass in the day that the Lord shall give thee rest from thy sorrow, and from thy fear, and from the hard bondage wherein thou wast made to serve,
4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.
8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told. Luke 2:4-21
We can count it all joy when we fall into divers temptations; knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. James 1:2-4
Life as a Believer
Living your life as a believer in Christ is never easy. We are supposed to resemble a Christ-like nature which consists of walking in the fruits of the spirit. However, living a life of self-control, long-suffering, gentleness, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity and faithfulness (Gal 5:22) takes discipline and your character can be challenged in a selfish, chaotic world.
Without the power of the Holy Spirit, we can never accomplish and fulfill these characteristics and traits of Christ without the guidance and strength of Christ working within us.
As a believer, you may be constantly scrutinized or criticized by the world because you claim to live a so-called “Perfect” life. They may also expect you to be judgmental and point out the faults of others. Far too many believers have a “hypocritical nature.”
Unfortunately, some believers receive a bad rap because of misrepresentation due to other believers who are not walking as a true representative of Christ but walking in a religious spirit rooted in legalism.
With so many denominations and backgrounds, it’s a melting pot or hodgepodge of multiple belief systems which makes it even more confusing for a non-believer to justify why they should even change their life or go to church.
Little do non-believers understand, there is no such thing as a “Perfect Christian.” That’s the reason why Christ paid the penalty of sin on the cross. We are redeemed by faith through Christ. We are called to love each other despite our character flaws, mindsets, beliefs or lifestyles.
You may not feel worthy or you may feel like an outcast when surrounded by a congregation of believers. However, the Lord desires and chooses you. Every one of us is broken or flawed in some way. No one is perfect. Jesus loves you!
People may watch and wait for you to fail, fall or mess up. There is no doubt a lot of pressure to live as a believer in the flesh. In fact, there is no way possible to achieve a life as a believer while living in the flesh. It’s a spiritual journey.
As a believer, once you realize that you’re delivered from people and their opinions, you will no longer appease others but have a stronger desire to please the Lord. You will no longer be controlled or manipulated by peers, teams, groups or audiences because you don’t have an appetite to blend in or be accepted by your associates, friends or even family members.
Come as You Are
Jesus welcomes the broken-hearted, the sick, the addicted, the poor, and the widowed. Jesus does not discriminate. There is no condemnation in Christ Jesus.
There is no such thing as guilt or shame. Once you repent of your wrong thoughts, intentions, attitudes, wrong actions and behaviors, it is erased for eternity. The Lord remembers our sin no more. (Heb 8:12) However, that is not an excuse for us to live careless, reckless and carefree lives. When we mess up, we must continuously begin again and make an honest effort to change for the better.
Through the Fire
The world will pull you in many directions and you will fall into many problems or difficult circumstances. Just when you feel doubt, fear, insecurity, or discouragement creeping in, the Lord will step in and give you comfort, peace, strength, and reassurance whispering, “I got you!”
You can only achieve this experience and deeper revelation while resting in the secret place of the most high (Psalm 91:1) which starts by building a foundation on His word, persistent prayer, and continual praise and worship.
In the quiet hours, the Lord will reveal himself to you in unspeakable ways. Although you will be thrown into many trials, tribulations, and test, each test is preparing and positioning you for greatness. It strengthens and grows your faith in Him. He may not quickly rescue you from the fire but He is sure to walk with you through the flames just like he did with Shadrach, Meshasch, and Abednego. (Dan 3)
Spiritual warfare is an opportunity for God to demonstrate his power. The Lord will make the enemy your footstool. (Mark 12:36) Put on the full armor of God and He will fight every battle. (Eph 6:10-34)
For every test is perfectly designed by the master’s hands to shape and mold you into what He wants you to be. There is a specific purpose and assignment He created for you to complete.
No Matter What it Looks like You’re Not Coming Out Smelling Like Smoke
You may feel unqualified. You may feel like Moses who felt like he did not have the skills or abilities to defeat Pharaoh and lead the Israelites through the Red Sea. However, the Lord chose him for a specific purpose and for a specific season. Your insecurities, flaws, quirks, lack of education or experience is not a prerequisite for God’s work.
The Lord chose the most unqualified people to represent his Kingdom to preach the gospel, cast out demons or defeat giants. The one thing that has been the thorn in your side may just happen to be the one thing God uses in your life to promote you.
The Lord calls the weak to confound the wise. (I Corth 1:27) The same problems, situations, and circumstances that you’ve dealt with or may be dealing with is part of your test, part of your story and the bigger part of who you’ll become.
Despite what you go through, with Jesus, you will come through the fire untouched. You will come through in victory!
Through patience and faith, you will inherit the promises of God. It takes strength, endurance, and courage to walk with faith, hope, and trust. In the meantime, count it all joy!
Blessed is the man that endureth temptation for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.
For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember nomore.
29 And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord:
30 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.
31 And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.
5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. 6 But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. 7 For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. 8 A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways.
I Corth 1:27
But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confoundthewise; and God hath chosen theweak things of the world toconfoundthe things which are mighty;
I Chron 16:24
24 Declare his glory among the heathen; his marvellous works among all nations.
10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.
11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;
15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;
19 And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel,
20 For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.
21 But that ye also may know my affairs, and how I do, Tychicus, a beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord, shall make known to you all things:
22 Whom I have sent unto you for the same purpose, that ye might know our affairs, and that he might comfort your hearts.
23 Peace be to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
24 Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Amen.
Within the past two days, the topic of being happy in life came up in conversations with friends. I was inspired to write about the difference between being happy vs. having joy. I believe that happiness is influenced by external factors like a career, relationship, material possessions, etc. It can also be determined about how you view your life and the meaning of what you feel success means to you. So basically, you determine how you feel and how happy you want or choose to be. It’s a combination of the external and internal feelings and how you relate and interpret those feelings.
However, I believe joy is a feeling that responds regardless of your circumstances. When I consider my personal experiences, I have experienced joy in the worst situations and circumstances. May I also add without the use of medications, drugs or alcohol. I’ve endured very uncomfortable circumstances and was still able to smile, laugh and function in daily life despite my difficult situations. At the same time, I was not happy with my life or my circumstances. I do believe we all experience depression at one time or another, but as long as we don’t remain in a negative state of mind it is normal to experience periods of discouragement.
The key is to know how to respond and react to your circumstances. It is important to build on hope and encouragement which I touched on yesterday on my blog post. You must realize that life is constantly moving and nothing remains the same. Each trial that we face, is a learning experience and provides us lessons in life is we choose to listen. You must seek inspiration or something that brings you joy regardless of what you may be experiencing.
I also believe you can simply have joy from just being. You have to be in a mindset of not comparing yourself to others and not living in a material world in order to truly experience genuine joy. It’s being free to be who you are and accepting yourself and your faults. Most people have a hard time spending time with themselves because they are afraid of what they will find within themselves. To reach a healthy self image, you must deal with the good and the ugly by looking at yourself in the mirror and then make a change for the better.
The end result is that you are in control of your happiness or joy. You may not be able to control what people say or do, but you are in control of how you think and how you feel. Unfortunately, we live in a negative world and it will take every drop of energy to overcome challenges, obstacles and situations that we may feel consume us. Just keep this in mind….”Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” Psalm 30:5