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

4 comments:

Blake and Hollie said...

The joy of the Lord is my strength. I hate Satan, he is evil. Thanks for the daily devotion. Sometimes I have to sing songs to remind myself of the words that Jesus has spoken or versus in the Bible. It helps me remember that the Lord is more powerful and mighty than anyone and through him we can do all things, even make our hearts leap for joy.

I like your new picture of you and your hubby.

Pen to Paper; Spirit to Soul said...

Okay, so I needed that today!
Thanks for sharing!!!

Pamela in TX

Dian said...

Great Blog. Thanks for you encouragement!

Dian

Cindi said...

Your blog occasionally makes me cringe with the reality that I so need to be a better Christian. Thank you for sharing, it really speaks loudly.