Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Abundant Joy Pages!

The first layout is for pages on "Bits & Pieces"~
The second one is for "A Look Inside Me"~

Monday, October 19, 2009

Abundant Joy: A Look Inside Me

"For you formed my inward parts, you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made." Psalm 139:13-14

Here again we see God's sovereignty displayed, only not in the vast comprehension of creating the universe and holding all things in His hand. No, this is an intimate picture of the God of the universe, "knitting me together in my mother's womb."

Read Luke 12:7, Psalm 39:4-5 and Isaiah 64:8
~ these verses portray so beautifully how intimately God knows each of us. They also show insight to the fact that before I even had the opportunity to know God intimately He knew me. I was under His care and watchful eye. this picture of God's sovereignty is so precious because it reveals the heart of love that God has for each of His treasured creations. Now, we are undeserving of this kind of love, and as we will read in Isaiah 43:1-7, God's love and protection has nothing to do with our merit. Answer the following questions based on the text:

What is God doing here for the Israelites? Why? Who is verse seven speaking of specifically? How do we outwardly mark ourselves as "authentic believers" or those called by His name? Do you think in the world today you can have an effect on others because of how you "set yourself apart?"

I once heard RC Sproul, Jr. says that so many of us make a point to align our doctrinal beliefs and views clearly by what God says in His word. We make sure to align ourselves by His steady plumb line on the heavy theological issues of today. But then we tend to rely on our own guiding compass when it comes to music, friends, clothing, activities and our home life. How can we honestly say we have "set apart" ourselves for the purposes of God if we are not living in such a way that shows the world, "I belong to a Holy God!"?

Read Psalm 139:16-18.
How many thoughts does God have about the details of my life? How much value do you personally place on God's opinion of your daily life?

How is God able to love us and see us as precious when we do not merit this kind of affection? One simple word: GRACE. J.I Packer defines grace in his book Knowing God as, "God's love in action towards men who merited the opposite of love."

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound. That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now am found; was blind but now I see.

It is not popular to look at oneself as "wretched" of "in need." But that is certainly what I am without Christ. On days when I have relied on my own guiding compass, I often display this kind of attitude or judgment on the things of my life. An honest "look inside me" should reveal a heart that is knit together by a Master not an amateur. God can fully be trusted with all of me, after all I am His original idea. I am created with a unique skill set, spiritual gift, heart and mind that when given freely to Him has potential I will never be able to realize on my own.

Have you fully surrendered all to God?
What does this personally look like to you?
Where do you need to make some adjustments so that God can be developing in you a heart that longs to solely please Him?
What does your heart long for that can only come from the hand of God?

Monday, October 12, 2009

Abundant Joy: Bits & Pieces

Bits and pieces is really what makes up each of our lives. A collection of the experiences we’ve had, trials we have overcome, relationships, daily routine and lifelong goals. Recently, I read a book (The Rag Quilt) with my boys set in the period of the Civil War. The story centers around a woman who lost her husband and has a daughter who longs to go to school in town. The small town does not have enough money to buy books for all the children, so she decides to make a quilt to be raffled, in order to raise money for the books.

She did not go to the country store and buy new calico, instead she used scraps from her rag basket. She stitched and cut and stitched until it was finished. What lay before her? Not a worn-out scrap quilt, but a beautiful quilt of many colors and design. A quilt that earned enough money at the raffle to buy books for all the students.

As I thought about this idea of having bits and pieces making up our lives, I thought of how often we look around at our life and see scraps. It may be an old couch, out of style clothes, the same trials we have been facing for years, the list goes on and on. Our heart attitude begins to sour and then begins to flow into all we do. The joy is gone or barely hanging on and we are busy wishfully thinking of ways it could all be better. But, I wonder if we stepped back for just a moment to look at all these bits and pieces through the eyes of God, if we wouldn’t see something just a bit different.

If we looked at the big picture, might we see something beautiful? The bare threads that make up our lives are, when joined together, a tapestry ~ a beautiful quilt. And, as I think back to the story I think of how the quilt was done completely by hand. Hard laborious work on the mother’s part, but done with the heart attitude of love and joy for the purpose of bringing joy to other’s lives.

Colossians 3:23 says that in “whatever we do,” it should be unto the Lord. Have you every really thought about what this means? It means that on my part it cannot be surface devotion or half-hearted work of my hands.

It must flow out of a deep heart devotion to living in God’s love, joy and peace. It flows out of me abiding with my great God whom I love so very deeply. The fifth load of laundry, the term paper, the boss that is hard to work for, the physical challenge, the difficult relationship~ all of it must be done unto to the Lord. He has not left us where we are and we must remember He alone is Sovereign over all things. He is walking beside us each step of the way and I know for me, He has carried me many times when I was much too weak to take the steps on my own.

Step back and look at the tapestry of your life, it will be beautiful when you are letting God take the lead. When you are abiding in Him, He will guide the threads in the way they need to be put together. Up close there will be tattered and bare places, but those add to the beauty of one’s life.

Do not waste time looking just at the individual bits and pieces, but look at it as a whole, the journey to completeness in Christ, as you and God stitch together piece by piece.

Colossians 3:23 “Whatever you do, do your work heartily; as for the Lord
and not for men.”

· “whatever”: everything, anything; no matter what
· “heartily”: with zest or gusto; with all sincerity

Colossians 3:17 Why do we do it?
Colossians 3:23 is the practical application of the above verse, reminding us once again that Christ is to be at the forefront of all we do.

Last week we talked about walking with the Spirit and abiding with God, so that we may live in His love, joy and peace; therefore living out the fruit of the Spirit. To walk with the Spirit means to live in His word. Is this where you begin each day? What does your quiet time with the Lord look like right now?

Those around us in whom we invest our time and efforts need to be seeing a heart that is doing what we do for the right reasons. There are many things in life that we often work very hard for in order to achieve~ perhaps our attitude should be to work for all things in this same manner.

Ephesians 5:18-20

What kind of communication does v. 19 encourage us to take part in?
What is significant in v. 20? Yes, the fact that it says "always" and "all". Do you know that this verse is one that truly defines you as a child of God? Why do you think that is?

Proverbs 31:10-31 This description is of a woman’s lifetime of hard work and focused attitude. What do you see in these verses that speaks to you as an encouragement and/or challenge?

Remember that “whatever we do” we are to do “heartily.” Life often presents many challenges that makes this concept difficult to actually live out everyday, but I do believe that it matters most in our heart. Think back to the Bits & Pieces Devotion from this week~ why did the mother work so hard and laborious? Because she had a hearts desire to bring joy to others.

Is this honestly your attitude when you are working? What kind of work fills your day? Does your heart need an attitude adjustment? Write down some areas where you can use a re-focusing of your heart based on what God’s word has to say about what we do with our hands.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Just a note.....

Ok, I opened up my blog in Internet Explorer and it had all these weird symbols and stuff in the text that are not there when I open it in Mozilla~ so I'm not sure what you are seeing, but hopefully I will get it straightened out next time! sorry :)

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Abundant Joy Devotion

Ecclesiastes 3:1-13

· God is sovereign and He uses all things to refine us

· The key is our nattitude

· Why do we lose sight?

· We must be content with God’s sovereignty

In Francis Chan’s book, Crazy Love, he talks about anxiousness and how this is a form of arrogance on our part. It expresses that we think what we are facing is so important it warrants us stepping out of sync with God to find a solution on our own. But, what do we find in God’s word about staying in step with Him?

Galatians 5:16-17, 22-25

· The Spirit and the flesh are set against one another

· v24 “have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires

· Walking in the Spirit is not emotioinal

· v25 “If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit

The fruit of the Spirit is a crop of fruit, therefore they cannot be separated. To live in love is to produce more love, joy produces more joy and so on. The flesh cannot produce fruit because it is ultimately rooted in pride, but the Spirit alone produces fruit because it then brings glory to God. The Greek word for love here is agape (a divine love), a gift from God. When we live in His love, then we experience joy. How do you define joy?

Warren Wiersbe defines joy as “inward peace and sufficiency that is not affected by outward circumstances.” Love and joy together then produce peace, which passes all understanding. Now, with a proper understanding of from where the fruit of the Spirit flows, we can practice the outward flow of the remaining fruit.

We are not given this crop of fruit to display, but rather to invest into the lives of those around us. We have the freedom in Christ to act as an ambassador for Him in every circumstance we find ourselves.

How do we live in the “peace and sufficiency” provided for us?

John 15:4-5

· v5 “apart from Me you can do nothing

· Living in God’s abundant joy does not equate a life of striving

· Galatians 5:16 “walk by the Spirit”

We cannot get ahead of the Spirit (seen in us trying to figure it all out) or lag behind (seen in us remaining in disappointment or fear). We must keep in step with the Spirit, because this is where we experience the joy needed to produce the fruit God will be pleased with.

Will you yield to the Spirit and walk with Him? What do you need to confess in order that you may have a clean slate to start fresh walking in His peace and sufficiency?

Monday, October 5, 2009

Abundant Joy study

I love the journey. I appreciate the security I feel in Christ, even when the world I’m living in feels a bit shaky. The challenges, the pressures, the roles I have as a woman, the commitments…the list goes on and on. “Where exactly does the idea of joy fit into all of this?” Well, I say, right in the middle.

Not because it is always evident in our circumstances. Not because our lives are easy and blissful all the time. No, not because of us or anything in the world, but because of our amazing God! A loving and merciful God who saved us and made available to us, His everlasting joy. It is accessible, so you and I must choose to live it out each day, amidst our daily lives.

Abundant Joy was written to encourage us all to take time out and really look at what makes up our life. We will spend time evaluating what it is around us that influences us, where we find our priorities leading us and where we find that our life holds the most joy. My personal prayer is that joy is found in your personal relationship with Jesus Christ. I pray that the benefits of abiding in Him flow over into all aspects of your life and influence you in a profound way~ A joyful way!

God placed the idea for this book on my heart in November 2007, right before we went on a family vacation for eight days. I can tell you that I definitely battled with Satan on “feeling” joy during parts of the trip. We were tired, out of our routine and even sick with the stomach bug, but of course, God was faithful!

As I write this, we are traveling home in the car for eight hours and my two year old is singing in the back with Miss Pattycake, “When-o, when-o I pwaise God! Haweywujah.” My heart smiles at this precious sound. This is joy to me~ yes, I am tired and longing for my own home. I am also making sure my three year old throws up in the bucket and not all over the car. The journey. I have to choose joy over frustration. God’s way over my own. I am a natural optimist, but with Christ living in us, we can all make the choice to live in God’s abundant joy in whatever circumstances we face. In His joy, I have an inner peace and contentment knowing there is nothing I would rather do today or any other day!

I think about Galatians 5:22-23. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” God’s gift to us when we have a personal relationship with Him, is the Holy Spirit, which means the fruit of the Spirit is available to us at all times. Our relationship with God, gives us the ability to live a life based on love. Following love is the inward focus of joy and when it is in its proper place, the others are produced in us. We often long for the “outward” actions of the fruit of the Spirit, but without love and joy, we are incapable of actually using this gift we have received.

I pray for us all to open our hearts to our awesome God and what He wants to teach us about His everlasting joy! Purpose to grab hold of His joy today and really live! Enjoy this process and continue walking steadfast in His Truth, abiding in Him each step of the way.

Each week our group meets on Fridays for the study and then creative fun of putting together our scrapbooks! I will post the study on Mondays here and a picture of my pages! I hope you will be able to join us in the journey and post a comment if you post your pages on your blog! Enjoy :)

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