THIS WEEK – JOY



Joy – A declaration or assurance by which a person undertakes a commitment to do or refrain from doing a specific act. A divine assurance of future benefit or blessing.

(Oxford Dictionary)



Joy, what a word! Unfortunately, we all too often restrict the word joy to Christmas. The Christmas season is the time that we say ,”joy to the world,” but there are many other times that we should be overflowing with joy. A feeling of joy overtakes us when we see a child walk for the first time, a person experience healing after being ill, or even when we succeed at a difficult task. I believe joy has a supernatural quality about it. The feeling of pure joy cannot be easily explained but must be experienced.

Paul said to the Philippian church,” Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say rejoice!” Joy is not an option for a Christian but should be a state of being. It is with a profound joy that I can say that I am a creation of God and saved sinner by the grace that Jesus attained for us. There are so many things to be joyous about that we really can’t be sad. but we are sometimes.

Our sadness comes because we have neglected the gift of the spirit that we received at our baptism. That Holy Spirit is “God with us,” and he never leaves. Our challenge is to believe that fact from the bottom of our beings. We must not allow ourselves to be dragged into the pit by the evil and negativity of the world. That evil, that mistrust, that negativity is the devil’s way of winning, and we must not allow him to win. The scripture also reminds us,” For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” The devil is a “joy thief” and God is an extravagant giver of peace and joy.

This week go out and experience joy to the fullest because you are a child of God who bears the presence of the spirit within you. That is a most unbeatable combination.



Quotes BannerThere are those who give with joy, and that joy is their reward.

—Khalil Gibran

Grief can take care of itself, but to get the full value of a joy you must have somebody to divide it with.

—Mark Twain

Joy is the holy fire that keeps our purpose warm and our intelligence aglow.

—Helen Keller

Joy lies in the fight, in the attempt, in the suffering involved, not in the victory itself.

—Mahatma Gandhi

We cannot cure the world of sorrows, but we can choose to live in joy.

—Joseph Campbell

If you carry joy in your heart, you can heal any moment.

—Carlos Santana

Let your joy be in your journey—not in some distant goal.

—Tim Cook

Find a place inside where there’s joy, and the joy will burn out the pain.

– Joseph Campbell

When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.

– Buddha

Joy is a net of love by which you can catch souls.

– Mother Teresa



Scripture BannerIf you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. ‘This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.

~~~John 15:10–12

For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols, but the Lord made the heavens. Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and joy are in his place.

~~~1 Chronicles 16:26–27

And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.

~~~Matthew 2:9–10

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



And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.

~~~Luke 1:43–44

May he grant you your heart’s desire and fulfill all your plans! May we shout for joy over your salvation, and in the name of our God set up our banners! May the Lord fulfill all your petitions!”

~~~Psalm 20:4–5

And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”

~~~Luke 2:10–11

Sing praises to the Lord, O you his saints, and give thanks to his holy name. For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.”

~~~Psalm 30:4–5



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

For you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy. My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.”

~~~Psalm 63:6–7

Prayer Banner

Lord, I praise you for the gift of inner joy. That is the gift You bestow upon me by the presence of Your spirit within me. You are never far from me, because You are always present in me. Let me tap into that source of joy each day and never neglect or doubt Your presence, because You are a faithful God who never abandons His creation.

Amen

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Worship October 25, 2020

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Worship – October 11

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October 18, 2020 · 1:07 pm

Edifying Words

It was said of Abba Ammoes that when he went to church, he did not allow his disciple to walk beside him but only at a certain distance; and if the latter came to ask him about his thoughts, he would move away from him as soon as he had replied, saying to him, ‘It is for fear that, after edifying words, irrelevant conversation should slip in, that I do not keep you with me.’

—-Sayings of the Desert

Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes on those who are disobedient.

~~~Ephesians 5:6



One of the more important aspects of being a follower of Christ is focus. It is so easy to lose our focus or way when we are on the journey. All direction toward God is given by edifying words or experiences. More than once in my years as a pastor have I felt truly blessed by a worship experience only to have it ruined by the words of someone that I spoke with after the service. I know that we cannot always take the advice of the monk to keep our distance, but distance is something to consider.

Perhaps we should consider the possibility of departing more reverently from worship. It is the irrelevant conversation that occurs after worship that takes away from the blessings that God has given us. Sunday morning after worship is not a good time for calendar planning or financial decisions of the church. We must take time to absorb the words that God has given us through a worship experience. Worship is a time to get things “straight” with God and not with each other.

I know that the advice of the old monk from another time and another place may seem useless to you, but the whole idea of dwelling on edifying words is something that no one can oppose. Let us hold on to those edifying words and not spoil them with idle chatter. Paul calls on us to not be deceived by empty words, because they can harm your soul.

The call from the ancient desert monk is to take time to savor and digest the words of edification we are given each day. We need room for this to occur. We need time for this to occur. We need discipline for this to occur. Let us give each other room and time to allow God’s words and revelation to take root in our lives.

Let us live in the shadow of “Edifying Words.”



Prayer

Lord, Words of edification are given to us from many sources. Let us take heed to the words we are given and not waste them with idle conversation, but allow these precious to seep into our souls. We are so tempted to pressured to be sociable that we miss the real revelation that you have in store for us. May I stop long enough for your word to become real, and refrain from polluting your words with my chatter.

Amen

Prayer Request

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This Week-Promise

Promise – A declaration or assurance by which a person undertakes a commitment to do or refrain from doing a specific act. A divine assurance of future benefit or blessing. 

(Oxford Dictionary)



Jesus made a promise to you and me when he said, “I myself will be with you every day until the end of this present age.” A promise is comforting in times of need. A promise is something we can rely on when times are bad. A promise is an assurance that we are never totally alone. A promise is a diamond in a pile of coal. A promise is our last best hope.

We take promises so lightly that they begin to become meaningless. Jesus did not. He carried his promise through the humiliation and suffering of the cross. He continues that promise by the presence of the Holy Spirit in each of us. I know that my Savior is with me -no matter what.

Today, I want you to look at the promises that you have made to God, yourself and others. Do we live in the presence of our promises? Are they the guides of our lives? As people of the promise, we must know how to make a promise and how to keep it.

That brings me to the uncomfortable part of my thoughts on the word promise. As sinners, saved by grace, we have and will break promises. God has told us he will be with us always, and that is good to know. He keeps his promises when we have broken our own, but we must not take his assurance lightly. When we break a promise to God or another person there must be a time of penance and reflection, because such a time allows us to own our sin. God forgives us only when we take responsibility.

This forgiveness is only the beginning of being a child of the promise. The promise is his presence and guidance in our lives. God’s guidance makes possible things that are impossible for us. When we have fallen, we need not feel alone but simply down for the moment. He is there and will reconcile us to him and to the world.

Try to take a promise inventory this week. Look at the promises of God and thank him for them. After you have done so, look at the promises you have made to him and what is required of you to be faithful and true. The next step is to look at the promises you have made to others and your consistency in keeping your promises.

A promise is a declaration of commitment to an action.

How are you doing with your promises today?



Quotes Banner

Don’t promise when you’re happy. Don’t reply when you’re angry and don’t decide when you’re sad.

~~~Anonymous

Wisdom is the abstract of the past, but beauty is the promise of the future.

~~~Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

It is a promise which eminently deserves our observation that all who are united to Christ and acknowledge Him to be Christ and Mediator will remain to the end safe from all danger, for what is said of the body of the Church belongs to each of its members since they are one in Christ.

~~~John Calvin

Promise yourself, no matter how hard it gets, you’ll never give up on your dreams

~~~Anonymous

The future is as bright as the promises of God.

~~~William Carey

I weep for the liberty of my country when I see at this early day of its successful experiment that corruption has been imputed to many members of the House of Representatives, and the rights of the people have been bartered for promises of office.

~~~Andrew Jackson

Grow in the root of all grace, which is faith. Believe God’s promises more firmly than ever. Allow your faith to increase in its fullness, firmness, and simplicity.

~~~Charles Spurgeon

The woods are lovely, dark and deep. But I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep.

~~~Robert Frost

Beauty is the promise of happiness.

~~~Edmund Burke

Success is full of promise till one gets it, and then it seems like a nest from which the bird has flown.

~~~Henry Ward Beecher

Faith, mighty faith, the promise sees, and looks to God alone; Laughs at impossibilities, and cries it shall be done.

~~~Charles Wesley

One of the greatest gifts we can give people is the hope that their death is nothing to fear – you know, not that it has no fear in it, but the promise of scripture is that God will lead us through the valley of the shadow of death.

~~~Max Lucado

Scripture Banner

See, the Lord God comes with might,

   and his arm rules for him;

his reward is with him,

   and his recompense before him.

~~~Isaiah 40:10

It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.’

~~~Deuteronomy 31 :8

I have said this to you, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world!’

~~~John 16 :33

I will instruct you and teach you the way you should go;

   I will counsel you with my eye upon you.

~~~Psalm 32:8

Our steps are made firm by the Lord,

   when he delights in our way;

though we stumble, we shall not fall headlong,

   for the Lord holds us by the hand.

~~~Psalm 37:23-24

‘Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

~~~ Matthew 11 :28-29

But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.’ So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong.

~~~ 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.

 ~~~Jeremiah 29 :11

Prayer Banner

Lord, I know that you keep the promises that you have made to me. Give me the strength and insight to follow through on the promises I have made to you. Let me become a person of promise who keeps the promises I have made to others. I pray for the wisdom to be able to follow your example as I journey through life. I look forward to the day when I will receive the ultimate promise – when I dwell with you. Thy Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.

Amen

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Promise

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A Gratitude Attitude

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An Elusive Lesson

Abba Marcarius the Great said to the brothers at Scetis, when he dismissed the assembly, ‘Flee my brothers.’ One of the old men asked him, ’Where could we flee beyond the desert?’ He put his finger on his lips and said, ‘Flee that,” and he went into his cell, shut the door and sat down.

— sayings of the desert

There is a quite popular saying in the advertising business – location, location, location. When the monk questioned Marcarius, he was saying we desert monks are in the perfect location. Surely in this desert we have retreated from everything, and are in danger from nothing. Not so, says the great master. The greatest temptation of all still plagued them, and they had overlooked it. Their greatest opponent was the corrupt communication that would come out of their mouths.

The sin of gossip, slander and others originate from the word@ijboudreaux s that come out of our mouths. Silence and introspection are our greatest friends. We must all think before we speak, and remain silent instead of having an opinion on everything. In the plethora of words that spew out of our mouths, much harm is done. The brother had just been dismissed from assembly (worship/prayer) , and Marcarius urged them to go back to their cells and reflect on the revelation that had received rather than to speak idle words to each other. This is a hard but worthy lesson for us.

Prayer Thought – Lord let us see the value of times of silence and reflection.
 

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THIS WEEK – BLESSING



‌Blessing – The bestowal, declaration, or invocation of divine favor and prospering influence; consecration hallowing ; a favor, a present.

(Oxford Dictionary)



I recently came across some writings of John Green who is a social activist in Chicago. His primary mission is to fight human trafficking. In his book, Street Walking with Jesus, he says, “The degree to which I am blessed staggers me… the degree to which I take that for granted shames me.” Green works with some desperately down and out people on the streets, and it struck him how nonchalant he was about the many blessings he had been given in life. Most of us are lot like Green about the blessings we have received. I often wonder why?

We do not see or realize our blessing because we just expect to be blessed. Many of us have had no real deep-seated difficulties to work out in our lives. For many of us, our greatest problems were self-inflicted perhaps because of our ego or selfish pride, still others by our greed. Amid living in that mode we seldom see what has been given to us.

We have been blessed by being given a place to live, a roof over our head. We have been blessed by having family and friends. We have been blessed by having a church where we can worship God and enjoy the company of like-minded people. We have presumed that these things are just natural.

The challenge for today is to reexamine our lives and become people who are searching for the blessings that surround us. It is quite common in the South to have a cashier at any store says these words, “Have a blessed day.” I know for them may be just a habit, but to me it has become an inspirational reminder. The amount I am blessed everyday is proportional, not only to my actions, but to my awareness.

Awareness of blessing is a task for most of us, because we were trained to be problem solvers. We only look for the problems of the day and completely overlook the blessings. It is quite American to just fix things. Sometimes fixing things begins with the awareness of blessing.

Take the time to watch the sunrise and sunset, see the beauty of the flowers that surround you and feel the breeze that crosses your face. These are all natural blessings that God has sent our way. Count your friends , family, church community or any support group that has come your way and thank God for the blessings that you have received through them.

We are surrounded by the blessing of God. Let us relish it!



Quotes BannerReflect upon your present blessings — of which every man has many — not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.

― Charles Dickens

When we lose one blessing, another is often most unexpectedly given in its place.

― C.S. Lewis

Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom, must, like men, undergo the fatigues of supporting it.

― Thomas Paine

The unthankful heart discovers no mercies; but the thankful heart will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings.

― Henry Ward Beecher

When you wish someone joy, you wish them peace, love, prosperity, happiness… all the good things.

― Maya Angelou

Those blessings are sweetest that are won with prayer and worn with thanks.

― Thomas Goodwin

Some people come in our life as blessings. Some come in your life as lessons.

― Mother Teresa

God bless us, every one!

― Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

The degree to which I am blessed staggers me… the degree to which I take that for granted shames me.

― John Green- Street Walking with Jesus

If [God] send me no husband, for the which blessing I am at him upon my knees every morning and evening .

― William Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing



Scripture BannerBlessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, just as he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love.

~~ Ephesians 1:3-4

all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, if you obey the Lord your God:

~~Deuteronomy 28:2

The Lord will make you the head, and not the tail; you shall be only at the top, and not at the bottom—if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God, which I am commanding you today, by diligently observing them,

~~Deuteronomy 28:13

By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things.

~~Galatians 5:22-23

For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.

~~Jeremiah 29:11

Those who are attentive to a matter will prosper,

   and happy are those who trust in the Lord.

~~Proverbs 16:20

His divine power has given us everything needed for life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.

~~2 Peter 1:3

Happy are those whose way is blameless,

   who walk in the law of the Lord.

Happy are those who keep his decrees,

   who seek him with their whole heart,

who also do no wrong,

   but walk in his ways

~~Psalm 119:1-3

May those who sow in tears

   reap with shouts of joy.

Those who go out weeping,

   bearing the seed for sowing,

shall come home with shouts of joy,

   carrying their sheaves.

~~Psalm 126:5-6

And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that by always having enough of everything, you may share abundantly in every good work.

~~2 Corinthians 9:8

Prayer BannerLord, Give me the insight to recognize the blessings that you have given to me this day. Allow me to see that you have so much more in store for me than I can ever imagine. Guide me to ask for the blessings that you want to give to me. Grant me the courage to believe that you are truly a God of love and grace.

Amen

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Blessing

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