Category Archives: joy

Just for the Joy of It!

While there are numerous verses in the Bible for which folks can cling to and call their own for such a time as this in their lives; I may have found a new life verse for me. Insert smile here for the cupcake, but the verse does speak more to my heart than just that sweet treat! It speaks to my soul on a level that God knew I needed today.

I always say I have issues, but I really believe that I have my share and someone else’s too. I love to live life, I love to give joy, I always mean well even when it doesn’t end well, and I have the hardest time of receiving anything with joy. I’ll receive it with gratitude, and the consciousness that I am beyond unworthy, but joy doesn’t come easy.

So Nehemiah 8:10 pricked my heart this morning.

A friend had sent a message today that they were going to contribute to my ministry and I didn’t have words  (other than thank you) to tell them how I felt. It doesn’t come natural for me to receive things without guilt.

Why that is, I don’t know, because that’s never been the intent of the givers. They give with joy… so why can I not receive it with joy? Follow along with me in verse 10 and I think you and I will both discover why…

Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the Lord is your strength.

Accept My Goodness

I don’t know why God is so good to me. I don’t say that in humility, I’m really clueless. I know my heart. I don’t deserve any of it. And yet, He pours His goodness down upon me and says, “Here it is Shari. Just take it and enjoy.

Share My Goodness

I don’t always have things to share. Not like people share with me. But when I do it does bring such great joy to me. It’s why I love sharing the art that I do and why I give so much of it away. Because it does bring great joy into my life. It’s also why selfish people are miserable. Because they don’t experience the joy God intended us to have.

Celebrate my Goodness

For this day is holy! That part of the verse got me. God intended this day to be used for His glory. That’s why He puts His blessing upon it and says, “I did this for you. I did this so you and I could celebrate the day together.”

Isn’t that a great thought? That God creates a party for no particular reason, just because He loves you. 

Now stop feeling guilty about it. You’re ruining His fun. That’s what I heard. God said I was a party pooper.

Draw Strength from my Goodness

Life is full of enough bad days. When we get a good one, we need to store up that goodness and remember it.

Much like me, the children of Israel were not always obedient. They were more often than not a rebellious nation. So there was plenty of guilt to go around and they were justifiable in the feeling. But God tells them to “stop living in defeat because of past mistakes.” It won’t fix them and it will mess up what He had planned next.

Glorrrrraaaaay! That’s a good word, right? Let’s celebrate with cake! Just for the joy of it!

Spring 2018: And God laughed

Funny thing about the Lord. He is God.

This morning as I prepared to blog, the Lord was dealing with my heart over the issue of guilty pleasure. And before your mind goes too far into the nether regions, my guilty pleasure is Netflix. My husband and I are polar opposites when it comes to watching most television shows. He’s a cop, fireman, cowboy kind of guy. I’m a lift my spirit and make me laugh kind of gal. So in the evening when he comes home after a long day at work I “try” to say nothing about his choice of TV, I simply retire to another room with my iPad in hand and watch something on Netflix that makes me laugh.

The problem with Netflix is it really appeals to my Attention Deficit Disorder nature. With no commercials and an endless supply of full seasons of shows, one show can run mindlessly into another until the evening is gone.

I’m Guilty

Last night was one of those nights, into this morning! I finally went to bed at 1:30 a.m. after the 5th episode of “Drop Dead Diva.” Please don’t judge, she cracks me up. Not the healthiest of shows to watch. I would claim humanity, but that doesn’t cut it with God. Anyway… this morning I got up with that on my mind. How I had mindlessly watched this show and was now complaining about being tired and needing to write.

Needless to say, God didn’t offer me a pity party.

I had another verse in mind for blogging this morning and then… just like that God reminded me, “I only think I’m in control.”

Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is. For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.

Jeremiah 17:7-8

The image above was taken as I went to take the trash to the curb. The snow is still pouring down and it’s not apt to let up all day. All day the first day of spring.  Should it not be sunny on the first day of spring? And God laughs. He too likes a good chuckle.

When I went to copy my verse from the Bible Gateway site, Jeremiah 17 was the verses for the day. The verse reminded me that…

I’m just a Guest

Plants come and go and so does human life.  The tree gives no thought to the weather, it simply stands it’s ground and continues until God is done, or man cut’s it down. Isn’t that the way with human life?  It goes on, until it doesn’t. But unlike the tree humans are painfully aware of our surroundings. We expect all of our days to align to our plans but then it snows on the first day of spring and plans have to be changed. The tree stands in the cold with its buds poking through the wet snow and waits for the sun to shine again. The tree understands that come what may, God is in control. The tree understands it’s a guest on this earth. We usually believe there is all the time in the world. Even time to waste. But like the tree, we too are just guests on this earth waiting for God to take us home. My real home. The one without Netflix.

I’m Glad

I regret that I wasted much of my evening with Jane, the drop dead diva. But I will not lie to you and say that I probably won’t fall into a Netflix trap again. What I will say is, regardless of how I think I’m in control, I know I’m not.

The premise behind the Drop Dead Diva show is that a skinny model dies and through a comedy of errors returns to earth in the body of plus size attorney. It’s hysterical. And sometimes thought provoking. It also may be why it appeals to this plus size gal. But between my guilt for watching the show and the snow falling to ground outside, it makes me realize that God likes to laugh to.

And so the picture of the first day of spring 2018 will serve as reminder that it’s God who controls the weather, not the calendar nor man. And although man has control of behavior, it’s God who controls life.

And God laughed.

4 reason we don’t have joy

Why is it that absolute joy always seems to be just out of reach? There is often in my life temporal joy, but the pure, unencumbered joy is always looming in the distance. I can see it… but I never quite reach it.

As I continued my reading in the book of 2nd Kings this morning I happened upon the history of King Jehu and perhaps the answer to that question.

2 Kings 10

28 Thus Jehu destroyed Baal out of Israel. 29 Howbeit from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin, Jehu departed not from after them, to wit, the golden calves that were in Bethel, and that were in Dan. 30 And the Lord said unto Jehu, Because thou hast done well in executing that which is right in mine eyes, and hast done unto the house of Ahab according to all that was in mine heart, thy children of the fourth generation shall sit on the throne of Israel. 31 But Jehu took no heed to walk in the law of the Lord God of Israel with all his heart: for he departed not from the sins of Jeroboam, which made Israel to sin. 32 In those days the Lord began to cut Israel short: and Hazael smote them in all the coasts of Israel;

Israel came up short. They missed out on the full blessing of God because Jehu, although he got rid of Baal worship, continued on with some prettier sins.

It’s the little things in life that prevent the big joy. The things on the lower shelves of life that are readily available and a distraction from our walk with Christ, but we never remove them. I’ll start with the easiest thing to prevent us from having pure joy:

The Law

The Jews created 613 laws out of the 10 commandments. It was proven in the first generation of God’s people that we couldn’t keep one rule, (not to eat of the tree of life) and to add 612 more to the equation gave many more reasons to feel like a failure. So the wonderful Savior we have devised a plan to replace the law with grace. But we (or I) keep law on the shelf as a reminder that I’m a failure. I discard grace pretty often by reminding myself of past failures, as if the blood of Jesus Christ wasn’t enough. That thought just made my stomach roll over.

The Attitude

“Life is 10% of what happens to you and 90% of how you handle it!”

What a great truth. I don’t’ know who said it but they were spot on. How is that Paul said from prison in Philippians 1:4 “Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy.” He could pray for those who were “living the life” with joy, even though he was in the worst of circumstances and he could do so because he had the right attitude. Much of my joyless days are created by the attitude that began them with.

The Appetite

Oh… I could preach to myself on this one.  Both spiritually and physically. Many, many, many of my issues arise because of my appetite. Those things that I desire that are not necessarily wrong, but are wrong for me. That delightfully pink cupcake on my counter is oh so tasty, but the waistline it creates is less than lovely, and yet I let my appetite rule. Let me put this one on for size… rather than reading the word of God when I get up in the morning, I press the home button on my iPhone to read the gospel according to social media, and then wonder why I’m not feeling all spiritual inside. It’s because I just digested somebody else’s heartache, anger, disgust, or perhaps it was a cute puppy pic, but it still took my mind away from the pure joy of the word of God.

The Belief

You’ll note that lie is italicized in the center. I more often than not believe the lie of Satan that joy is unobtainable. I’ll never be good enough. (the law) I’ll never be in the 10%, (the attitude), I need what I see (the appetite) I’m an what Satan says I am (the belief)

Although I went from the bottom shelf up, our problem in life is from the top down. BAAL. Jehu got rid of the big sin, but he kept the little sins in his life. And caused Israel to fall short. Wow, is there some truth in that for my life. What about you?


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How to Lose Your Religion on Sunday

psalm-134

A friend of my husband messaged him last night and said that I needed to sing him a song on Facebook because “between the people he had to deal with and the WVU ballgame his religion was at risk.” Needless to say that was a nice compliment and a worthy chuckle. So this morning it put the word “religion” on my heart, why we should lose it, and why Sunday is the perfect day to set out on that mission!

Religion reminds me of those folks who sing “Standing on the Promises” while sitting on the premises with their hands across their chest. Religion causes me to have frown lines and I don’t need any more lines on my brow. It reminds me of a previous me who felt very uncomfortable when the Holy Spirit moved in a service. It felt odd, out of place and very unwelcome. Heaven forbid people should raise their hand or go to an altar with a repentant heart, or a burden of prayer. Let’s just carry those burdens around until we die and in err believe that people buy our pious religious demeanor and mistaken it for spirituality. Wow! Where did that come from? I guess as my ol’ friend D.L. Kerby used to say, “If God laid it on your heart, you must have needed to say it!” Well, sometimes D.L. was right and sometimes not, but perhaps we all need to hear a reminder before church this morning that now is not the time to get complacent in our faith. Religion should have no part of church, you should lose it before you enter the building.

Religion is repetitious

In Christ every day is a new day. We don’t go church “just because it’s Sunday.” We go to church because that’s the day God’s people come together to encourage one another and to hear what God has to say.

Religion is like raisins

Only not nearly as sweet. It’s a shriveled up version of what God intended. Yes, God wants you in church, but not just to sit there for your one hour due diligence. He wants you fresh and lively like the grapes on the vine. Jesus said in John 15:5 “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.  Raisins are dried up fruit, a very good analogy I think to a religious Christian. Oh… you were good fruit once upon a time, but now, you’re ready for the box.

Religion is rebellion

Yep. I said it. And if you’re religious you’re likely upset. But God did not die on the cross for religion. He died on the cross for a relationship with those He died for. Sitting lifeless and unaffected by a sermon is not having a relationship. It’s like a rebellious child who will sit in your presence and listen to you speak, but your words are doing nothing more than tickling their ears as they go in one and out the other.

When Saul failed to take heed to the word of God and kept some of the “good spoil” for himself and the people in the battle against the Amalekites, Samuel said this to him in 1 Samuel 15:23, “For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of   Lord, he hath also rejected thee from being king.”

 We call children rebellious when they won’t listen to their parents… Hello… God is our Father. If we’re not listening to Him, we’re rebelling. It’s that simple.

And I’m as guilty as the next.

I’m not saying every Christian has to be loud and hands in the air, else their not saved. That could be chaos. But if it was done in the Spirit of God, it would not be, even if the whole church was loud and hands in the air! What I’m saying is… When you get to go to church this morning, go in… sit down… and wait for instruction on the edge of your seat. And if you do… something exciting might just happen. And you too can lose your religion on Sunday and God will be well pleased!

Is the Gate in View?

the-gate

I wonder if the man at the gate of Beautiful ever stopped being lovely for the Lord?  I hope the excitement that he felt that day never dulled. His lame lifestyle had vanished, and he was living victoriously! But if life did to him what it does to most of us, I’m sure he had days when his step was not high and the gate was far in the distance.

Acts 3:8-10

And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God. And all the people saw him walking and praising God:  And they knew that it was he which sat for alms at the Beautiful gate of the temple: and they were filled with wonder and amazement at that which had happened unto him.

Is the gate still in view for you? Do you remember the feeling of fresh salvation? I sometimes have to work to remember and you no doubt do as well if it’s been very long. For me it’s been 20 years, but if I get my mind in that “Beautiful” place my praise is once more restored. Life has a way of causing us to suppress that beautiful memory into the recesses of our mind while the problems, guilt and frustrations of life over shadow how wonderful salvation is. Four things can happen when we the gate is too far in the distance.

  1. We lose our joy

David said in Psalm 51:12 Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation… Life had gotten on him. Sin and the guilt it creates has a way of sucking the joy out of your life quicker than anything else. But it’s not exclusive. Debt, health issues, heartache… oh the list is long that can cause us to lose our joy.

  1. We rely on others to provide our joy

The man at the gate had once relied on people for his life’s provision. But no more! The Lord had now provided a way for him to take care of himself. I was once in a conversation with someone who ask how I kept my soul nourished. They were frustrated because spiritually, life wasn’t going the way they desired and they were depending on one person (the preacher) to nourish their soul. Well, it’s true that that is the preacher’s job; but again not exclusively. If we rely on the preacher to keep our heart happy Monday through Saturday with what he stirs up within us on Sunday, we’re going to be let down. Life is too harsh for that. The same is true when we expect friends and family to keep us encouraged and never let us down… it just won’t happen that way.

  1. People can’t see our joy

When the people saw that the lame man was lame no more, and that he leaped for joy and praised God, they were amazed! Why are our friends not amazed at what Jesus has done… could it be because our praise was left at the gate?

God doesn’t get to joy in us

Psalm 21:1 says The king shall joy in thy strength, O Lord; and in thy salvation how greatly shall he rejoice.

This broke my heart above all when I realized that God loses joy because I lose mine. Yes He understands… but that still doesn’t justify it. And it especially doesn’t justify it when we get so far from the gate of Beautiful that we might as well be lame again because our joy has been gone for a long time. I know Christians that (if I didn’t really know them) I’d never guess that they had ever been at the gate of salvation. Likely you do too!

So what are we to do?

  1. Revisit the gate
  2. Recall the day of salvation
  3. Rejoice, and again I say Rejoice!

You, your people and your Savior need it.