The Joy of the LORD is Our Strength

courtesy pixabayby Sandy Kirby Quandt

How would you define joy? Is it a feeling? Is it a state of mind? Is it dependent on outward circumstances? Are joy and happiness the same thing? What about the joy of the Lord?

Webster’s dictionary defines joy as:

 a : the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires

b : a state of happiness or felicity

          c : a source or cause of delight

It defines happiness as:

a : a state of well-being and contentment joy

          b : a pleasurable or satisfying experience

In defining both words, joy and happiness were used in the definitions. Interesting.

courtesy pixabay

Years ago one of my ministers said joy and happiness are not the same thing. He said joy is dependent on our relationship with God. Happiness is dependent on our outward circumstances.

There are those I know who seem to have an overabundance of joy regardless of the things going on in their lives. They have a perpetual smile. It’s not that they are always happy, it just seems as if their happiness isn’t dependent on their circumstances.

There are those I know who seem to always be joyless. They rarely smile. Are their circumstances stealing their happiness along with their joy?

As much as I’d like to say I’m joyful and positive all the time. That’s not true. I’d have to say I’ve had my fair share of joyful/happy days, as well as my share of joyless/unhappy days. I’ve enjoyed times of joy amidst utter despair, and experienced joylessness amidst times of your basic run-of-the-mill annoyance.

In our times of joylessness, one thing to remember: God never changed in those times. What changed is what we allowed to bother us; steal our joy, and how far we allowed  our self to drift from praising God. No matter what.

The joy of our LORD is our strength, is it not?

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I will shout for joy as I play for you; with my whole being I will sing because you have saved me. Psalm 71:23 (GNT)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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The One Who Fights For Us

by Sandy Kirby Quandt

I certainly did not expect to have a meaningful theological discussion with a man who lived in the bushes near the pavilion on the Florida beach where we held Pilot’s brother’s memorial service.

But that’s exactly what happened as the mourners who filled the pavilion shuffled off after Tom’s paddle out this past June.

As Tom’s service unfolded with dinner beneath the pavilion following the paddle out, Steve and others with nowhere else to go waited respectfully nearby. I saw them watching us, and realized the pavilion we occupied must be where they spent their days. Probably even their nights. Each man carried his possessions in backpacks or strapped to their bicycles.

After most people left to go home, the back area of the pavilion opened up, and one by one the homeless men reclaimed their space.

While I picked up flowers from one table near the back, Steve approached pushing his bike beside him.

He paused, and asked why all the people were there. I explained about Tom. He offered his condolences, we shook hands and introduced ourselves.

It was then God opened the door for the two of us to have a conversation about the One who fights for us; Jesus Christ, God’s son.

Steve and I talked for awhile about his life and things he dealt with on a daily basis. I’m really not sure how we got around to talking about the Bible, but I do know it was a natural progression within our discussion. As Steve and I shared scripture back and forth, I found myself envious of his ability to quote massive sections of scripture from all over the Bible.

I do remember one verse I shared. I’m sharing it with you today. It’s the verse I started, Steve joined me in, and both completed together.

It’s the last verse we quoted before I shook his hand again, wished him the best, and promised to pray for him; which I have done.

But I should have prayed with him right there on the spot as well.

Because Jesus, the Sacrificial Lamb who was slain for all, tore the curtain which separated mankind from the throne of God, we can boldly approach God knowing he is there, and welcomes each and everyone of us who come through his Son.

There is now no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus, the One who fights for us, no matter who we are, or where we lay our heads at night.

Amen and amen and amen. Thank you Jesus.

Do you find it easy or difficult to share your faith with others?

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So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death. Romans 8:1-2 (NLT)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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We Can Learn From Others

by Sandy Kirby Quandt

Baxter attended his first group puppy obedience class earlier this month, and it reinforced to me the truth that we can learn from others if we listen. It also reinforced my initial thoughts this particular class may not be the best place for him to learn obedience.

The setting for Baxter’s obedience training is in a pet store with four other dogs and their owners. At this first session together, the trainer went around the room and asked each owner to describe the issues they were experiencing with their dog.

My puppy bites the kids. My puppy jumps up. My puppy is shy. My puppy is perfect.

Yep.

And for each of the descriptions of puppy behavior, except the perfect puppy, the rest of us nodded in sympathetic understanding as the trainer explained her method for dealing with each issue.

I mentioned earlier how I didn’t believe the Amish shunning way of dealing with Baby B’s jumping made sense, and in fact told the trainer my thoughts and showed her the scars on the back of my legs. To which she said she understood my frustration, but I would thank her in the years to come for the inconvenience now. Maybe not the right answer.

So, Pilot and I agreed to give shunning and rewarding with treats another try–treats seem to be the major motivator with this program.

If shunning continues not to work with our dog, we’ll explore other options.

Just as admitting our pets have problems, I believe when we willingly admit we have problems in a safe environment, free of ridicule and condemnation, honesty comes easier, and we find we learn from others; and others learn from us.

Each of us has problems we struggle with, and it isn’t all that unusual to find the person sitting next to us has the exact same problem, or a variation on the same theme.

But a word of caution.

Just because people, or pets, are gathered together with a common goal, that does not mean the person giving advice is the correct person to seek advice from. One key in resolving our problems in a Christ-honoring way is to seek help from someone who is a mature, scripturally sound Believer who will take us straight to Jesus, our Rescuer, where there is no need to fear admitting we aren’t perfect; Jesus already knows we aren’t, and loves us anyway.

Do you find it easy or difficult to admit your flaws to others?

Leave a comment below to share your thoughts on the subject.

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Discipline your children, and they will give you peace; they will bring you the delights you desire. Proverbs 29:17 (NIV)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Riding The Carousels of Life

courtesy pixabayby Sandy Kirby Quandt

Riding the carousels of life can be a lot like riding the carousels in a park. You go round and round and up and down, but don’t seem to get anywhere.

As a child there were times I rode carousels and got so dizzy I could barely make my way off the ride to reach my parents. I tried to keep my eyes on my parents, but as the carousel made its round and I reached the other side, my parents were out of sight. That is until I made my way back to where they stood watching for my return.

courtesy pixabayAs a parent if I wasn’t riding right alongside Pie, I watched from a close distance, kept my eyes on him, and was right there when he got off the ride. At times I saw him strain to look backwards to make sure I was still there. And I always was.

On our carousel rides of life we may get dizzy from the ups and downs of the whirl of activity going on around us. Our equilibrium may become off balanced by the things life throws at us. We may even turn our backs on God as we continue to go round and round and round.

courtesy pixabay

When we finally come back to where God’s waiting for us, relief fills our hearts, we get off the merry-go-round, and gratefully stumble into our Father’s protective arms.

Although we may not be able to see God with our physical eyes while we’re riding the carousels of life, like we can those who stand on the sidelines and watch us go round and round on the merry-go-round, we are told to fix our eyes on what is unseen.

God doesn’t leave, you know. He’s not the one who moved. We are. He’s always standing right where he’s always stood. Keeping his eyes on us, waiting for the carousel to stop so he can guide us safely to his open arms, and hold us until our dizziness goes away.

Do you have any carousel stories you’d like to share?

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So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:18 (NIV)

I wish you well,

Sandy

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