Sunday, September 27, 2015

Week 1, Day 2: Manifest Joy

There are two things that really take my heart captive from today's homework.  On page 19 Margaret states that the quest for joy is something we are commanded to pursue.  Not only are we called to seek and obey God, but we are also called to enJOY God and partake in the most satisfying pleasure imaginable ~ a joy that can only be found in Him.  As I pondered that I was reminded of a question that had been asked of me by a dear friend years ago.  She is one of those friends who has the courage to ask brutally honest questions... you know... one of those friends who tells you what you NEED to hear, not what you want to hear.  If you do not have a friend like this, PLEASE ask the Lord to bring you one!  Had it not been for her there is no telling where I would be right now!  The question was, "Are you willing to be obedient to God whether it makes you happy or not?"  At the time I was on a very self~destructive path wrought with pride and selfish ambition.  You may find it interesting that, during that time, I had commented to my father that I felt the happiest I ever had in life... everything was going my way.  Oh sweet friends!  The ONLY power Satan has over us is his lies and getting us to believe them.  That was a lie straight from the mouth of Satan because I was so far off course and the farthest away from God I had ever been.  As I now sit and think about that question my friend asked, it makes sense to me that obedience to God, regardless of our emotions, will always fulfill our joy.  As children of God we have authority over Satan, therefore, we have what it takes within us to defeat the enemy's lies and obey God's commands (see Luke 10:19).  Obedience to God brings blessings.... the very pleasures that Margaret speaks of here.  Several months later whilst on that sordid journey, I found myself broken and at a dead end.  I was at the bottom and had no other place to look but up.  The Holy Spirit reminded me of that question... "Are you willing?  To be obedient?"  I then asked myself if I was willing to swallow my pride, my happiness, my SELF, and trust that the same God who spoke the universe into existence could restore me to live in joy under his blessing... and even be considered righteous.  The answer was an emphatic YES!  I did suffer consequences for my disobedience (and still do to this day), BUT, because I chose to confess and repent I am redeemed, and by the grace of God I have lived to tell the story.  It was not an easy journey by any means, but I was willing to do whatever it took ~ I was desperate, and God both honored and blessed my humility and obedience.  I have turned the utter wreck from my past ~ my mess ~ into my message.  I am living proof that anyone can be redeemed!

The second thing that really grabbed my attention was on page 21 when Margaret says we are to manifest Jesus.  WOW!  That is so incredibly profound!  The manifestation of Jesus is quite literally, "What Would Jesus Do?"  Mimicking Jesus is simply copying or imitating Him, but manifesting Jesus means to display or show others Jesus through our actions.  Whoa!  It reminds me of what James says in James 2... that faith without deeds is dead and useless.  Remember!  Jesus came to serve, not to be served (Matthew 20:28, Mark 10:45).  There is a song that was written for children out of John 15:11~12.  I used to sing it as a child... The lyrics: "This is my commandment that you love one another that your joy may be full."  Some of you may know it... what truth there is in that simple song!  Love one another, serve one another, do both out of obedience to His commands, and then your joy will be full.  So simple, yet so very esoteric for us Christians.  My prayer is that we all will strive to manifest Jesus, whose very character is comprised of joy.  As we endeavor to pursue and activate joy, may we manifest joy out of obedience to God's commands.

What stood out to you from today's lesson?

Philippians 3:1
Psalm 34:8, 40:4, 84:12
James 2:14~26

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