Wednesday, October 29, 2008

J is for Joy

I have had the privilege of praying for a long-time friend. She asked me, recently, to pray for her for the next 20 days. Her desire was to draw near to God, spend some serious time in prayer and reading His Word. We are in day 11 or 12, depending on what side of the world you are on, and God has used her to work in me. I made a commitment to pray for her daily and I wanted to send her some encouragement via e-mail. The greatest challenge is that I have no other info other than what you have read. So without specifics I really have to rely on God to use me. Imagine that! I pray everyday for her and God has revealed some fun and some not-so-fun stuff to me - today was one of those days.

I had e-mailed her one day to say this journey was like riding in a car with her without knowing our destination and I have no idea where we have been. I wouldn't say that I usually travel this way so it really has been a journey of faith and it's been a blast. God has connected us through her 20 day journey and grown me through it!!!

Today's encouraging e-mail was a little different and I feel led to share it with you. Below is the e-mail I sent her with the devotion, at the bottom, that I received today. The devotion really touched me and God used it to remind me of several things. Please note that the specific scenerio in the devotion doesn't apply to my friend - it's the message that touched me the most. I think we could all use this reminder as we live life out here on earth.

E-mail I sent:

Dear Friend - I am having an interesting week. I say interesting because it's hard to describe. Nothing really major or life-changing has happened, just what I call the dippy-dailies. The normal stuff that happens on a daily basis that can drive a girl in sane. I could narrow it down to dealing with difficult people and living on Okinawa. I normally love to hang out with people, and I still do, but some people can really irritate me. And living on Okinawa magnifies my emotions, thoughts and frustrations. I love it here, it just presents some challenges. This is the kind of week that I am exhausted by the end of. Then I had a thought and prayed to God that I would love His people as He does and I would be content where He has placed me. Then I read this scripture and it changed my focus.

'Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.' Psalm 139:23 & 24 (NIV)

I attended a Beth Moore conference back in April and she spoke on Psalm 139 so this was a great refresher. This ties into the chapter in Blackaby's study 'Hearing God's Voice' that I just read. The chapter covers how God speaks to us through our circumstances and then I read the devotion below and I was convicted.

My two favorite verses from this devotion remind me where my strength and help comes from. Then I ask myself, Am I relying on Him and giving thanks despite my circumstances? My answer today is NO!!!! I'm allowing Satan to steal my joy. The good news is 'my joy is not defined by my circumstances but based on my relationship to God.'

'The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song' (Ps 28:7).

Nehemiah 8:10b, 'Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength' (NIV)

I am praying for you as you draw near to your Heavenly Father, that you too are reminded who is your strength and your shield. I pray your heart leaps for joy and that you will give thanks to him in song today!!! I love you tons, Sis!!!! Larissa

October 29, 2008

Keeping Our Joy

Micca Monda Campbell

'The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.' John 10:10 (NIV)

Devotion:

She waited until I had spoken to every woman in line. Once the room was empty, the woman timidly made her way toward me. Before she spoke a word, I could see and sense her grief. Her face was marked with depression and her shoulders hung low from the burden that she carried. With quivering lips and tear-filled eyes, she spoke words no mother wants to hear coming from her own lips.

'Please pray for my fifteen-year-old daughter. She's pregnant.'

This godly woman has loved and served God in her home, church, and community for years. Now, she does nothing. Ashamed, she blames herself for her child's choices, and because of them, considers herself unworthy to serve. Not only has this woman allowed her situation to steal her peace and joy, but her service too.

Many Christians fall into this same trap. They allow the enemy to rob them of their peace, steal their joy, and kill their witness over situations beyond their control.

It's true. Satan has always been a tempter, but where he catches us off guard is by thinking he tempts us to do bad things. Our flesh mostly takes care of that job. The fact is Satan tempts us in order to lose what God has given us.

If Satan can rob our joy and steal our witness, then he makes us useless in the kingdom of God. Just like this mother, we become unproductive when our faith is stripped by unexpected heartbreak. Nevertheless, you and I must not let Satan use our circumstances to steal our joy.
That sounds good, but how do we find true joy in midst of heartache?

We find it by depending on the Lord. David reminds us, 'The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song' (Ps 28:7).

First, David believed God heard his cries. Second, he relied on God's provision and strength. Third, David trusted in God's help with all of his heart. This kept him from growing weak, losing heart, and giving up. Finally, because David believed God was for him, in him, with him, and behind him one hundred percent, David was able to give thanks with a joyful heart.

Like David and this mother I spoke with, we will experience situations that can steal our joy and leave us feeling unworthy to serve. To think this way is to see ourselves outside of God's grace. You and I don't serve God because we are good enough. We serve God because He's good enough. It's His perfection working through our imperfections.

By the same token, our joy is not defined by our circumstances. It's based on our relationship with God who, in due time, will bring us out of our present situation.

Exercising faith in God - not circumstances - aids the discouraged heart so that Satan cannot steal our joy or our purpose.

Dear Lord, Today I refuse to let Satan steal my joy. I long for the fullness of life that You have given me. As I trust You in my present situation, I also trust You to restore my peace and joy. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Do You Know Him?
Hidden Joy in a Dark Corner by Wendy Blight, pre-order yours today!
Hope in the Midst of Depression by Mary Southerland
Visit Micca Campbell's blog

Application Steps:
Using David as an example, follow his steps found in Psalm 28:7 ...
1. Cry out to God.
2. Rely on His provision and strength.
3. Believe in and wait on His help.
4. Praise Him with a joyful heart.

Reflections:
Has Satan stolen your joy?
How has this affected your witness; your life; and your service to the kingdom?
Power Verses:
Nehemiah 8:10b, 'Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength' (NIV)
Ps 27:6, 'Then my head will be exalted above the enemies who surround me; at his tabernacle will I sacrifice with shouts of joy; I will sing and make music to the Lord' (NIV)

© 2008 by Micca Campbell. All rights reserved.

Proverbs 31 Ministries
616-G, Matthews-Mint Hill Road
Matthews, NC 28105
www.proverbs31.org

Monday, October 27, 2008

Lessons From God: Don't Panic

Today I was reminded how much God loves me and the precious people in my life. He also reminded me how much the same precious people love me. I had a meltdown this morning after reading a prayer request that came in via e-mail. My sweet friend, Jill, had fallen down her stairs and was taken to the local ER. No other info in the e-mail so I started filling in the blanks. I also wasn’t able to reach anyone in the know so I continued to fill in the blanks on my own and started to panic. After about 30 minutes I was able to reach her mom and found out that she had sprained her shoulder and was already on her way home. As I sat praising God for her minimal injury, that won’t feel so minimal tomorrow, the phone rings. It’s Jill’s husband, Mike and three of their four children, calling me from their car. It’s amazing how quickly my attitude changed when I heard from the little people in my life who mean the world to me. Anna, their only daughter, wanted to know when I was coming to see her. I asked when would be a good time and she responded “tomorrow”. I asked what was so significant about tomorrow and she said “nothing, just going to school and coming home”. I try to divert the conversation because it breaks my heart to reveal the truth – I can’t come over tomorrow or the next day or even the next day. We share other fragmented conversations and she is off into her own world and I’m off the hook. Mike goes on to tell me that their 3rd child, Josh, was just asking why we don’t come around anymore. I’m ready to lose it again. This is after I think his wife has fallen down an entire set of stairs and is lying unconscious in the hospital. Mike tried to explain to Josh that we live really far away and the explanation seems to be lost on my #1 fan. This is what makes these little guys so special. They just love me and want to see me and they can’t comprehend why a little thing called the ocean keeps me from showing up periodically for breakfast, lunch or dinner. This is why I love God – He is faithful to me even while I’m “freaking out” and He even blesses me with a sweet phone call. Jill even called while I was typing this. Now it's 16 hrs. later and she is running on the morning adrenaline and some good drugs - she seems normal right now.

I do ask that you pray for her as she will have her shoulder in a sling for a while and won’t be able to carry that stupid Kirby up or down the stairs for a few weeks. I have always hated that vacuum cleaner and now, since it is a suspect in her accident, I really have contempt for it!!! I also have to thank my friend, Laura, who got to experience my “freaking out”. She was the first person to answer the phone and she was so calm and a great influence on me during those stressful moments!!! Note to self: Don’t panic, God is in control. Don’t carry a Kirby up or down the stairs – it could cause injury!!! God loves me and so do my “faraway” friends.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Because Everyone Deserves A Lifetime!

Today’s blog hits close to home and requires something of my readers!!!!


This is a picture of two of my friends in Virginia and a lady I have never met. What I know about Julie (pictured far right) is that she is a survivor and the reason my two friends, Deb and Lacey, are walking 60 miles this weekend in D.C.


Deb, Lacey and another friend of mine, Liza, along with thousands of other women, will be walking in D.C., over 3 days and 60+miles to show their support of a cure for breast cancer. My three friends, along with their teammates, have each raised a minimum of $2,200. for breast cancer research and have spent months training – in the rain, the heat, in the wee hours of the morning, on vacation and even when they didn’t want to. This is the same goal I accomplished in 2006 with a lot of you as supporters. With your help I raised way beyond my $2,200. goal and made an impact as I walked, along with Liza, in San Diego. It was a great experience and though I have not done it again, I still support the cause, both financially and through prayer.

Most of you know that my mother, Judy, is a 2x breast cancer survivor and she was my inspiration - the reason I walked. It was the biggest goal I had ever set for myself as I’m sure it’s the biggest goal most of the walkers will have ever set in their lives. I ask that you pray for my three friends, Lacey, Deb and Liza and all the walkers who will start their journey early this Friday morning, October 3rd and complete their 60 mile trek on Sunday afternoon, October 5th. Pray for strength, energy, great fellowship, rest at night and motivation to get back on “the road again” the next morning. Pray for their safety, along with all the walkers and staff who make this event possible. And pray for those they walk for – many are still alive, surviving and thriving due to funds raised by these committed women!!!



I had to include this fun picture as it was taken after Julie picked a name from a raffle that Lacey held to raise some of her $2,200. Lacey had made a beautiful quilt, sold raffle tickets and raised over $700., of her total, for the cause!!! I love how this picture shows the celebration of life and how much fun it can be to give of yourself beyond anything you can imagine!!!