Sunday, May 27, 2012
Psalm 118:24 This is the day the LORD has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it.
Good Morning, Sparkers! This is a new day! Yesterday is gone and today is before us. It is a beautiful day because it is the day the LORD has made! It is our choice as to how we live it. I choose to worship the Lord and rejoice in the day He has given me!
I'm so thankful that God has awakened me this morning to be able to get up, see a beautiful sunrise and know that He created this day with His children in mind. He gives us a description of the heavens and all their radiance in Psalm 19:1-6
NLT: The heavens tell of the glory of God. The skies display His marvelous craftsmanship. Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make Him known. They speak without a sound or a word; their voice is silent in the skies; yet their message has gone out to all the earth, and their words to all the world. The sun lives in the heavens where God placed it. It bursts forth like a radiant bridegroom after his wedding. It rejoices like a great athlete eager to run the race. The sun rises at one end of the heavens and follows its course to the other end. Nothing can hide from its heat.
The heavens speak without a word! They don't have to say anything and yet they speak volumes. Everyone hears their voice. Isn't that magnificent. God speaks to us through His creation! There is nothing that escapes the sun's voice. The heaven's declare God's glory to all the earth! It can't do anything but what it has been created to do.
Now, think about man. God created man in His image and likeness! God gave man the breath of life and placed him in a beautiful garden where everything was at his disposal. He gave him dominion and authority over all His creation. And he gave man a free will that he might make choices about his life. God gave man the freedom to choice to live for him or to live selfishly for himself. God loved His man so much that He didn't want him to feel forced like a robot to live the way God wanted him to live. We have a choice today. We can rejoice in the day that God has made and live it to the fullest, or we can live it selfishly for our own fleshly desires.
Rejoice – Webster's 1828 dictionary gives this definition: To make joyful; to gladden; to animate with lively pleasurable sensations; to exhilarate.
To rejoice—to animate with lively pleasurable sensations! That's Webster's take on the word.
Now, let's look at God's description of rejoicing. He tells us in Zephaniah 3:17 that He rejoices over the man that He created.
Zephaniah 3:17 The LORD your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.
Two times in this verse it says that God will rejoice over you! There are two Hebrew words for rejoice in this verse:
Sus – the first word describing rejoice means to rejoice, be glad, be greatly happy. This word describes a rejoicing that is the complete antithesis of mourning; it is a pervasive, irresistible joy.
Gil – The second word describing rejoice means to joy, rejoice, be glad, be joyful, “to spin around with intense motion”. This word contains the suggestion of “dancing for joy”, or “leaping for joy”.
The first time God says that He rejoices over you it is with a pervasive, irresistible joy. He can't help but be joyful about His people. The second time He says He rejoices over you it is with uncontainable joy, singing, jumping, leaping and spinning around with joy! What a display of excitement and happiness He has for the ones He has created! He loves us, He saves us and He rejoices over us with uncontainable happiness!
Now, which Hebrew word for “rejoice” do you think it is that describes our joy over the day that the Lord has made in Psalm 118:24?
It is “Gil” the second word used for rejoice in Zephaniah that describes how God rejoices over us! It is with uncontainable joy, singing, dancing, leaping and spinning around with joy! When we see the heavens declaring the glory of the Lord the Psalmist says it should cause us to leap and dance and spin around with joy at being able to experience a new day created by God just for his people! Doesn't that give you a new perspective on this day?
Today, I choose to leap for joy that I have another day to worship my God! Today I will be joyful, singing and excitedly expecting to see the glory, the renown and visible splendor of my God displayed in the day ahead of me. This is not just another day! This is the day the LORD has made!
Father, thank You for this day! You know exactly what will transpire today even before it happens. You laid out this day before me with a full understanding of what would take place today. I choose to rejoice in this day, Father, because even though I don't know all of it's happenings I trust that You have created it for my enjoyment! Thank You, Father, for such a beautiful display of Your love for me. I pray for my Spark Friends today that they will see Your glory in this day; that they will enjoy it, be joyful in it and embrace it as the gift that You have given them to show them the splendor of Your great love for them. Thank You, Father, for loving us so much that You spin around with joy as You sing over us today! To You, Father, be all the glory for this wonderful day! Thank You, Lord! In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
Saturday, May 26, 2012
“And in that day you will ask Me nothing. Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you. “Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.”
Jesus was giving his disciples some instructions about how to pray after He would be resurrected and ascend back to the Father. He told them that previously they had asked Him for things because He was in their presence; He was right there with them, but there was coming a time when He would no longer be there and then they would make requests of the Father in His name and the Father would answer them.
I really like the ending part of that verse where Jesus says, “Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” Why do you think He added the phrase, “that your joy may be full”? The Lord Jesus knew that that His disciples and those who would follow after them would need strength to overcome the difficulties of life. In Nehemiah 8:10 the word says that “the joy of the Lord is your strength”. Joy in the heart of a believer gives strength that overcomes obstacles and works like medicine to a sick body.
Proverbs 17:22 A merry heart does good, like medicine, But a broken spirit dries the bones.
Proverbs 12:25 Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression, But a good word makes it glad.
Proverbs 15:13 A merry heart makes a cheerful countenance, But by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken.
Joy and laughter in our daily lives brings a refreshing within us that paves the way for healing and wholeness in our lives. Scientists have learned that laughing releases endorphins into our bodies that naturally combat stress. Laughter is good medicine!
Jesus said that when we come to the Father in His name the Father would answer our requests so that we could have fullness of joy in our lives. Psalm 16:11 says “You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” You see, there's more involved here than just getting our prayers answered. When we come to the Father in the name of Jesus to present our requests to Him we are coming into His presence. We enter into the Presence of the Lord where there is fullness of joy! This is a key to successful, healthy living. We need to come into the Presence of the Lord, to bask in His love! Our spirit man needs the fullness of joy that we receive in His presence. When things are right with us spiritually, things go much better with us in the natural! Our ability to be strong in the times of trouble is strengthened. We become prepared for the battles ahead of us.
Jesus said in John 16:32, 33 “Indeed the hour is coming, yes, has now come, that you will be scattered, each to his own, and will leave Me alone. And yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me. “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
When we are “in Him”, meaning we've come to the place where we receive Jesus as Savior and Lord, we have a strength that the world doesn't have. We have His presence within us, through His Spirit who indwells us, to take us through the battles of life; a joy and peace that passes all understanding, that we can draw from to carry us through the difficult times. Jesus said in verse 33 that as we live in the world we will have difficulties, tribulation, but that we could be happy, cheerful even in those times because He has overcome the world. When we are “in Him' we can be joyful even in difficulties because He has already won the battles for us. He has made His power available to us. He has given us joy through His presence that carries us through the difficulties! Those difficulties that Jesus was referring to are things in life that would pressure us, oppress us, bring stress and anxiety, and squeeze us with distress. Living daily in a fallen world can be stressful to say the least! But Jesus said that when we are “in Him”, living in His presence, that we could pray and ask the Father for what we have need of, in His name, and the Father would answer so that we would have fullness of joy! Hallelujah! Jesus paid the price that we could be free from oppression, depression, stress and anxiety! The answer to life's difficulties is in His presence! We are never alone because the Spirit of Christ Jesus lives within us! When His Spirit came to live within us He brought His fruit, or His character and nature, with Him. One of the fruit of the Spirit is joy! His joy resides within us! We have access to all that we need through the Spirit of Christ within us. When we pray; when we worship the Lord, we are able to draw from the Spirit to receive His joy for the journey!
Father, thank You for filling us with Your joy today! Thank You for making it possible for us through prayer and worship to come into Your presence and receive joy for our journey! You have made it possible for us to be cheerful in the midst of life's problems. You have given us everything that we have need of through Your Spirit who lives within us. Thank You for the victory! Thank You for enabling us to be strengthened through the joy of the Lord! I pray this morning for my Spark Friends who may need joy in their lives. They may be experiencing things today, Father, that are heart-breaking. I pray that they might be strengthened through time spent in Your Presence, Lord! Give them joy for their journey today, Father. Fill them to over-flowing with a new sense of Your presence with them. Give them calmness in their souls and peace in their spirits. Thank You, Father. I ask these things in the name of Jesus. Amen.
Friday, May 25, 2012
Psalm 18:29 For by You I can run against a troop, By my God I can leap over a wall.
When I got up yesterday morning I didn't feel very well. I immediately realized that to pull out of a slump I would have to change my mindset. I could think and talk about how bad I felt; how I didn't have any energy and how difficult it would be to make it through my exercise routine......or, I could make the choice to do what I could to re-focus my attention on the greater One who lives within me and His ability to strengthen me and enable me to do everything that needed to be done for my good health. Some time ago when confronted with a day like yesterday I would have said “I don't feel good, I think I'll skip the exercise for today”, and I would have starting eating things that would “comfort” my tired feelings. But yesterday was different. When I approached the Lord in prayer about the situation the first thing He spoke to me was about how David “strengthened himself in the Lord” when he had a really bad day. (1 Samuel 30:6)
So, I put on a praise and worship CD and began to sing along with it. I prayed and worshiped the Lord as I usually do each morning. Then I went about my daily routine as if there was no difference. I ate my green smoothie for breakfast, took all my vitamins, made my bed, got dressed for my exercise routine and started walking on the treadmill. As I was walking this scripture kept floating through my mind: For by You I can run against a troop, By my God I can leap over a wall. Well, I certainly didn't feel like running through a troop or leaping over a wall! I felt like quitting! I didn't have the energy I physically needed to really do a bang-up job of walking. I felt quite the opposite of what that scripture was saying! But I know my God well enough to know that if He speaks a “rhema” word from His word to me that I can apply it to my life for my situation right now. It will work to change my situation. So I kept walking and I started speaking, “For by You I can run against a troop, By my God I can leap over a wall”! It took about 40 minutes of pushing through the exhaustion I was feeling before I began to feel different. I began to feel energized and refreshed! I noticed that I wasn't feeling as tired as I had when I got up. I kept walking and talking.....out loud! “For by You I can run against a troop, By my God I can leap over a wall”! I did my usual 1 hour of treadmill and started on the calisthenics; did 15 minutes of those exercises and started on the stairs. I have a routine to my stairs where I walk up the flight to the second story of my house, then around the second story and back down the stairs, around the living room and start the cycle all over again. Well, I climbed 13 stories doing that routine before I was finished with my workout! And to cinch my renewed sense of energy when I came back downstairs to log my exercise I decided to drink a “Spark” energy drink to help revitalize myself for the rest of the day. I felt great! The exhaustion was gone; new energy had taken it's place!
The course that I am currently taking for my college degree is called “War In The Spirit” and it is about spiritual warfare. The first thing that we must do to fight any spiritual battle is go to God; ask Him for the scriptures to fight the battle; get His plan or strategy to win and then follow His plan to the “T”. I think yesterday's battle with fatigue was a lesson for me to learn in applying my course material. Of course, it re-iterated all that I am learning from my books, but it's different when you read something and then have to apply it to your life. A life-lesson, when put to practice, will confirm what you've learned! Yesterday God gave me a personal application that brought home the principles He was teaching me from my course. And it showed me the changes that I've made over the last few months. It showed me that I've grown in stamina, in tenacity, in being able to say “no” to fleshly desires in order to put into action the “right” thing. My determination to win yesterday was stronger than my fleshly desire to comfort myself when I didn't feel well. God helped me to win over my flesh by speaking to me the scripture to apply to my life for that particular battle!
There is a battle plan in God's word for every battle that we, as believers, will encounter. God has a plan to defeat the enemy in our lives. He will give us the plan that will work if we will go to Him in prayer asking for help and then following through in carrying out what He tells us.
God says in Hebrews 4:1 “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” God's word is powerful! The Amplified Bible says it this way: “For the Word that God speaks is alive and full of power [making it active, operative, energizing, and effective];....” When God, the Holy Spirit, speaks His word to you that is needed to change your situation it is active, operative, energizing, and effective to change your situation right now! It is that word that we speak out as said in Ephesians 6:17 like a sword, that slices the enemy into pieces! God's word works when we speak it at His direction.
Thank You, Father, for the life lesson that you gave me yesterday. Thank You for the word that You gave me to change my energy level. Thank You for equipping me to win the battle! You are my God and I praise You for Your great power! Father, today I pray that my Spark Friends will hear Your voice clearly as You direct them to live an over-coming life! May they live the abundant life that You, Lord Jesus, died to give them. I thank You for leading us and guiding us by Your Spirit and Your word. To You be all the glory for the success that we have in our lives today! In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
Thursday, May 24, 2012
1 Samuel 30:6 Now David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and his daughters. But David strengthened himself in the LORD his God.
To whom do you run when the difficulties of life seem to be closing in on you? David was in a tight spot, so to speak, what we would call as being between a rock and a hard spot. His people were grieved over losing their families and they blamed David. They were turning against him. He had no place to run and hide.
But David strengthened himself in the LORD his God!
David knew His safe place was in the Lord. He knew if he could get into the presence of the Lord he would find strength; he would be safe.
The word for strengthened in this verse means “encouraged”. David encouraged himself in the Lord. He prayed and sought the Lord for direction. He was tired, weary from battle and it seemed that life had come to an end. But anytime we get down to nothing that's when God is up to something. When we get to the place where we can no longer handle life ourselves it is a perfect opportunity for God to step in and take over. Sometimes we have to get to the place where we see no way out in order for us to turn to the Lord and allow Him to work in our situations. David was at this place—the place of total surrender.
This morning as I got up I didn't feel the best. Some days I seem to have a lower energy level and it takes a while to get started. I know that for myself in times like this it helps if I encourage myself in the Lord. So, one way that I encourage myself in the Lord is by putting on a CD with praise and worship music and I sing along with it.....”How great is our God, sing with me how great is our God, and all will see how great, how great is our God!” I pray and worship the Lord and I am energized. It's amazing to me how different I feel when I actively participate in praising and worshiping the God of all creation! He is amazing; awesome; magnificent and mighty! He flows new strength into my body as I praise Him! I can feel a difference in my spirit as I rise up new and refreshed from His infusion of strength; new life flowing into my being! This is the day that the Lord has made and I will rejoice and be glad in it!
Now, I could sit here and complain about how bad I feel. Or I could focus on things that might not be going right in my life. I've tried that and found that when I focus on the negative things in life that I feel really bad. It has an effect on me that I don't like. I feel worse the more I muse on the negative! So, daily I have a choice to rejoice in the Lord and enjoy my day or focus on the negative and feel bad all day. It's kind of like when I exercise and eat right I feel good, but when I eat a lot of empty-calorie carbs and sit around all day I feel yucky! The more time I spend praising the Lord and recounting His goodness to me, the better I feel. I like feeling good so I will make the conscious choice to rejoice in the Lord every day!
How about you, my friend? Do you feel bad today; physically, mentally or emotionally? Have you allowed the difficulties or failures of life to overwhelm you? If so, you can turn that around by running to the Lord. There is a safe place in Him. Psalm 91 refers to it as the “secret place” of the Most High! It is under the shadow of His wings that you will find refuge! Pray and ask Him to refresh you; to heal the broken places in your life. Worship Him for Who He is! He wants to bring freedom from life's difficulties; healing to your body and soul. He is the answer to all life's questions and problems. He wants to be your best friend forever!
Father, I thank You that in You I find refuge when I am tired and weary. Thank You for refreshing me and giving me the energy that I need to live this day to the fullest. You are great and mighty and I know that it's in You that I am strengthened! Thank You for giving me new energy for this day. I pray for my Spark Friends today that You will be their everything. That You will be their God! I thank You for bringing newness of life to them and refreshing them, giving them strength for the journey ahead. Thank You, Father, for being the God who saves us. You are worthy of all our praises! I welcome You here in this place in my life today, Lord Jesus! In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Sometimes I get a little frustrated with working on making lifestyle changes. I seem to do really well on some days with making healthy food choices and getting in all my exercise and then when I go to bed and get up the next morning I realize that it has to be done all over again! My Fitbit helps me to know whether or not I'm getting enough physical exercise and how many calories I need to eat to stay within “the zone” for focused weight loss, but the ultimate responsibility falls on me to carry it out. And that means a disciplined lifestyle every day. It seems somewhat like housework or laundry; it never stays done!
I can imagine the Israelietes' frustration when gathering the manna that God had provided for them to eat every day while traveling through the wilderness. It wouldn't last until the next day; they had to go out every morning and gather that day's supply. So it is with our relationship with the Lord. In order to have a living and vital relationship with Him we must seek Him for fresh “manna” every day! We need to hear the living Word of God on a regular basis to live our lives successfully!
John 6:27-29 “Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him.” Then they said to Him, “What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?” Jesus answered and said to them, “this is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.”
Jesus said the spiritual sustenance that we need on a daily basis is more important than our physical sustenance. We concentrate so hard on the food which perishes and often forget the spiritual part of man that needs to be fed on a regular basis also! And then when we think about our spiritual lives we get caught up thinking that we must “do” something to please God, when all He asks us to do is believe in Jesus, the One whom He sent to save mankind from their sins.
John 6:30-35 Therefore they said to Him, “What sign will You perform then, that we may see it and believe You? What work will You do? “Our fathers ate the manna in the desert; as it is written, 'He gave them bread from heaven to eat.'” Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven. “For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” Then they said to Him, “Lord, give us this bread always.” And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.”
Jesus came down from the Father in heaven to give life to mankind! When we have a living and vital relationship with Him we have the spiritual “manna” that our spirits need to flourish with life every day! When our spirits are rightly related to the Lord we have life that never ends; eternal life! Jesus said in John 17:3:
“And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.”
Do you KNOW Jesus today? Have you placed your trust in Him for eternity? He longs to live in you; to lead you and guide you through this worldly life that we live. He is the bread of life that, when we partake of a living relationship with Him, causes us to flourish spiritually. Getting daily “manna” from the living bread of life enables us to be spiritually whole! We need daily communion with the Father through Jesus Christ. We need the infilling of the Holy Spirit so we can fellowship with Him.
Jesus also referred to Himself as the living water. In John 7:37-39 He tells us that when we are thirsty if we will come to Him He will give us living water and when we partake of that water we will never thirst again.
John 7:37-39 On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.
When we drink of the living water that Jesus provides the Holy Spirit wells up within us and flows out like rivers of living water. He fills us to overflowing with His very own life. That life gives life not only to us but to everyone around us that comes into contact with us. We become spiritual wells that water the dry ground of our lives and those that we share Him with. But we need to be filled every day. We need living water and the bread of life every day. Yesterday's manna will not carry us through today!
Thank You, Father, for giving Jesus, the living water and the bread of life, that we might have the spiritual nourishment that we need to sustain our spirits. Thank You, Lord Jesus, for laying down Your life for us that we might have life! We need You in our lives for this day. We are thirsty and hungry for a living and vital relationship with You. Come and fill us anew and afresh today! Fill to overflowing those areas of our lives that are dry and barren. Come and wash over us, refresh us and make us spiritually fit to share You with those who are hungry and thirsty for new life! Thank You, Lord! In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
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