“Sticks, Stones and Words”; Dealing with Hurt!

The Right Defenses

DEALING WITH THE HURTS

INYOUR LIFE HURT–WHAT IS HURT? It’s a part of life and not just the Christian life.  Remember what the apostle Paul went through? “We are hedged in (pressed) on every side–troubled and oppressed in every way; but not cramped or crushed; we suffer embarrassments and are perplexed and unable to find a way out, but not driven to despair;  We are (persecuted and hard driven,) pursued, but not deserted–to stand alone; we are struck down to the ground, but never struck out and destroyed;  Always carrying about in the body the liability and exposure to the same putting death the Lord Jesus suffered, so that the [resurrection] life of Jesus also may be shown forth by and in our bodies.  For we who live are constantly [experiencing] being handed over to death for Jesus’ sake, that the [resurrection] life of Jesus also may be evidenced through our flesh which is liable to death.  Thus death is actively at work in us, but [it is in order that our] life [may be actively at work] in you”  (2 Corinthians 4:8-12–Amplified Bible). “But we commend ourselves in every way as  [true] servants of God; through great endurance, in tribulation and suffering, in hardships and privations, in sore straits and calamities,  In beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless watching, hunger;  By innocence and purity, knowledge and spiritual insight, long-suffering and patience, kindness, in the Holy Spirit, in unfeigned love”  (2 Corinthians 6:4-6). HURT IS A PART OF LIFE My wife told me about a fellow employee where she worked, that when “things” were not going as they expected would say,  “It is what it is–deal with it“.  Hurt is a part of life and I am going to “deal with it” scripturally.  Maybe, it will help you deal with hurts in your life.   I ran across this quote this morning in my investigative study:  “I’m fighting to get you out of my head but I’m holding onto every word that you said”.  Are you holding and meditating onto some words that were spoken to you once?  That saying of old, “Sticks and stones will break your bones but names (words) will never HURT you” is nonsense; words can hurt! I remember a story that my youngest daughter told me about her first singing experience in grammar school.  She said that they were all singing in class, as they were instructed to do so when her teacher said, in front of her peers, ‘you have a bad voice Kristin’.  She then told me that she sings in the shower or in her car, but not in public.  I tried to comfort her in saying, “Your teacher was WRONG! You don’t have a bad voice at all”.  WORDS are THINGS and they can hurt and effect you for a lifetime if you don’t let go. It hurts when any parent wants the best from their child but doesn’t see it manifested.  Does that mean they should stop parenting?  No, it means we must function past the hurt. DON’T BUILD A FOUNDATION OF “HURT” “There are those who speak rashly, like the piercing of a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing”  (Prov.12:18). “The strong spirit of a man sustains him in bodily pain or trouble, but a weak and broken spirit who can raise up or bear?  (Prov. 18:14). Building a foundation of hurt will stop you from moving forward; it will lead to anger and turned inward, depression!  LESSONS TO BE LEARNED IN THE ‘SOMETIMES’ Sometimes, we would never acknowledge them if we had not gone through the hurts.  We learn what is right and what is wrong while we are in the midst of the circumstance; the hurt.  Sometimes, we are blind and deaf until hurt knocks on our door and we wake up! HURT is an “alarm clock”; it brings us back to reality.  We learn how to begin functioning again.  The last time you were hurt by someone or some thing, your feeling at the time was, “it will never end”.  But it did. HURT is one of the killers of our effectiveness.  It controls the correct function of our emotions; it perverts ones thinking process.  We think about all the wrong things when we hurt: we say things we shouldn’t say, do things we shouldn’t do; react in ways we regret later.  Our emotions have been affected and infected by our thinking. WRONG WAYS TO MOVE AWAY FROM HURT 1.  Hurt someone else first. 2.  Harden my heart. 3.  Pretend it really didn’t happen. 4.  Decide not to trust anybody. Making decisions while hurt will move you in the wrong direction; away from God.  Decisions that we will spend the rest of our lives trying to correct.  Yes, hurt is real and it’s real in the church. SOMETIMES, GOD EVEN ALLOWS THE HURTS TO COME IN OUR LIVES “No, really?  Yeah, He does; to see where our commitment lies.  He doesn’t cause the hurt, He allows it!   If God calls you to a particular church in your area, and because you get hurt there, you leave.  I can give a personal testimony to those words; got hurt by someone or some thing and left!  My Pastor said last Sunday that if you are looking for a perfect church, you will never find it! Not a perfect Pastor, or perfect sanctuary, a perfect choir or perfect people.  Did God change His mind about the “call“?  NO. “FREEDOM” FOREVER FROM HURT Everyone gets over hurt, if they continue to move on.  So what hinders that ‘moving on’?  It’s simple; we stop in the hurt and meditate; “we nurse it and rehearse it” over and over again until the hurt becomes a part of who we are.  That’s why the Word tells us what to meditate on: “Whatever is true, whatever is worthy of reverence and is honorable and seemly, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely and lovable, whatever is kind and winsome and gracious, if there is any virtue and excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think on and weigh and take account of these things [fix your minds on them]”  (Philippians 4:8–Amplified Bible). Dr. Creflo Dollar says, “When you read that verse in Philippians and see the word ‘whatever’, substitute ‘THE WORD’ instead”.  So you might read verse 8, “THE WORD is true, THE WORD is worthy…”; I think you get his idea. CLAIMING YOUR FREEDOM Turn next to the Gospel of Luke see how to claim your freedom from hurt forever: “Behold!  I have given you authority and power to trample upon serpents and scorpions, and [physical and mental strength and ability] over all the power that the enemy [possesses]; and NOTHING SHALL IN ANY WAY HARM [“hurt”] YOU”  (Luke 10:19–Amplified Bible). When I read that verse, I make it personal by substituting my name ‘Mel’ {put your first name in},every time the word “You” appears.  “Nothing shall in any way harm Mel”. In Ephesians 6, the apostle Paul tell us when “all the flaming missiles” are headed in our direction [hurting words], to “Lift up over all the [covering] shield of saving faith, upon which you can quench” the attack (Ephesians 6:16).  An interesting side note on the verses in Ephesians 6:  verses 11 and 13 say to “put on God’s whole armor“, and verse 16 says to “lift up over”, over the armor that you already have on. If we put others opinions above what God says, we are lowering our shield of faith.  Forgiving those who accuse us, abuse us through hurt; intentionally or not becomes an act of faith.  Once you forgive, stop reliving it.  When you ask God for forgiveness, He forgets it; doesn’t keep bringing it back up to you. MEDITATE ON THE WORD UNTIL THE WORD SPEAKS TO YOU!  I encourage you to grab a Complete Concordance of the Word of God and the next time hurt comes your way, and it will come, write them down and place the verses regarding “hurt” in your Bible.  Here are but a few examples I found from my concordance:  “PRAISE THE Lord!  For it is good to sing praises to our God, for He is gracious and lovely; praise becoming and appropriate.  The Lord is building up Jerusalem; He is gathering together the exiles of Israel.  He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds [curing their pains and their sorrows]”  (Psalm 147:1-3). “The Lord is close to those who are of a broken heart and saves such as are crushed with sorrow”  (Psalm 34:18). “He has sent me to bind up and heal the brokenhearted to proclaim liberty to the [physical and spiritual] captives”  (Isaiah 61:1; Luke 4:18). God has set you free from any hurt that is occuring or might occur in your life.  Accept the freedom and move forward.  “PRAISE THE Lord!” 

“Walking with a Purpose”; Spiritual Maturity Revealed (Part 2)

Recognizing the "SIGNS"

THE SIGN OF MATURITY

The “sign of spiritual maturity” is the ability to love in a godly way.  How do we know this?  It’s a pretty simple answer; to be spiritually mature is to be like God.  We’ve been told this by the apostle Paul, to imitate God.

“THEREFORE BE imitators of God [copy Him and follow His example], as well-beloved children [imitate their father].  And walk in love as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us, a slain offering and sacrifice to God [for you, so that it became] a sweet fragrance”  (Ephesians 5:1, 2).

The apostle and Jesus’ closest friend on earth, John wrote this,

“He who does not love has not become acquainted with God [does not and never did know Him], for God is love”        (1 John 4:8–Amplified Bible translation).

So with those two verses in mind, ‘to know and be like God’, we need to develop a capacity for godly life and Holy Spirit influences us to love.  The more we’re filled with God’s Spirit, the greater the capacity and the indication to love.  Paul writes,  “Such hope never disappoints or deludes or shames us, for God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy spirit Who has been given to us”  (Romans 5:5).

Those who ridicule the notion  Christians should express love in an emotional way; especially men who hug each other in church or in the church parking lot, have missed the spiritual maturity signs of LOVE.

WHAT SPIRITUAL MATURITY IS NOT; THE WRONG SIGN POSTS

— Being a church member for years.

— Intimate knowledge of your church’s doctrine.

— Going to service every week.

— Being old.

— Being a great preacher.

— Being an elder or “ordained”.

—  Know a lot about the bible.

—  Being financially well-off or owning a business.

WHAT IS, “ARRESTED SPIRITUAL DEVELOPMENT”

The apostle Paul was concerned for the spiritual maturity of the churches under his care.  And what he mentions to the Corinthian Church, reflected on his own spiritual development.

“When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; now that I have become a man, I am done with childish ways and have put them aside”  (1 Corinthians 13:11).

What was Paul saying in that verse?  Was he talking to just the men in the church?  Of course not; he was saying that unless you mature in LOVE (1 Corinthians 12:1-31), you’re just a male [or female] and not a man or woman.

I remember my envy of others when I was a kid growing up. “When can I do this and when can I do that?”  The answer always came back to me from my folks, “When you grow up” or “When you become a man” or “When you become mature”, whenever that was to be.

IN THE ‘NATURAL’ PROCESS

Consider the nature of a child for a moment; the smaller the child, the more self-centered he/she is.  A small baby thinks only of their own needs; comforts and wants.  As the children grow, their awareness of things, people and needs outside of ‘self’ is heightened.  Instead of seeing all his own toys, he learns that the same toys might just belong to other children.  Gradually, ‘step by step’, the child’s world opens up.  As the child matures, the boy or girl moves progressively outside of ‘self’; into the world of others and over time, becoming “socialized”.  I am not a child psychologist by any means; I am just an observer of my own three children growing up and my own “growing up”.

Children freezing their emotional and intellectual progress at certain levels are said to become victims.  The child physiologist in the natural world call them victims of “arrested development“.  We’ve all known adult men and women who appear to be “emotional adolescents“.  Such people can even be called “emotional vampires“; sucking the energy of those who come in contact with them.  Like children, they use emotions as a weapon.  They might even throw a temper tantrum to manipulate their host or shed tears when things don’t seem to fit in with their own self-interest.  The problem with the term “arrested development” is that it occurs at both the natural level and the spiritual level.

WHAT ARE THE TESTS FOR “ARRESTED SPIRITUAL DEVELOPMENT”?

When you are getting your driving permit for the first time, you must take and pass a written test before your actual driving road test.  In this test, there are usually pictures of road signs for you to identify; “stop signs”, “yield the right of way signs; “do not pass signs” and etc. and they are but shapes; you have to designate what they mean.  Miss the sign recognitions; fail the test! 

So what can the tests for “arrested spiritual development” reveal?

Picture of the face of God from

Michelangelo’s Creation of Adam

painted on the Sistine chapel (1510 AD)

Gray hair is generally thought of as a sign of maturity and wisdom.  The Bible teaches that not only do those with grey hair deserve respect; but it is also a “crown of glory” to those who are spiritually mature.

“You shall rise up before the grayheaded, and honor the aged, and you shall revere your God”  (Lev. 19:32 NAS}.

“A gray head is a crown of glory; it is found in the way of righteousness”  (Prov. 16:31 NAS).

Finding Christians who have been “believers” for decades, yet behaving like “baby Christians” isn’t the exception always.  This is  probably the case of looking at arrested spiritual development in the face; fighting the same old problems we fought when we were “born again”.

RECOGNIZING THE SIGNS: THE TESTING BEGINS…NOW!

1.  Do you still have just as big a problem with your temper as when you were first saved? [mine has improved but still not what it should be].

2.  Do you feel spiritually powerless?

3.  Do you have long dry spells in which nothing seems to be going on between you and God?

4.  Are you unable to generate love, care, and concern for others?

5.  Do you still manipulate and control others with spiritual tantrums and other negative techniques?

6.  Does anger, hatred, jealousy play an inordinately large role in the way you express yourself?

7.  Do you put others down to make yourself look better?

8.  Does your life reflect more of works of the flesh than fruit of the Spirit?  (Galatians 5)

These questions and their answers are revealing and helpful in taking stock of where you are [me too!], regarding our spiritual maturity.

WHERE DO WE GET THE “POWER” TO BECOME MATURE?

It definitely involves sensitivity, powerful leading of the Holy Spirit.  He gives us the capacity to love as God loves (Romans 5:5).

The influence of the Spirit of God in a spiritually immature person, at best, a “flickering ember“; in the spiritually mature, a “roaring flame“.  The more we “walk with a purpose”, moving deeper and stepping into the obedience of God, the Holy Spirit’s influence grows greater in our lives.

As the apostle Peter said in The Book of Acts, OBEDIENCE is the key:

“And we are witnesses of these things, and the Holy Spirit is also, Whom God bestowed on those who obey Him”  (Acts 5:32).

At the same time, the Spirit not only strengthens our faith, He enables us more fully to understand and be filled with God’s LOVE; God not only loves us, He is LOVE!  (1 John 4:8)

Paul prayed for the church this way,

“May He grant you out of the rich treasury of His Glory to be strengthened and reinforced with mighty POWER in the inner man by the [Holy] Spirit [Himself indwelling your innermost being and personality].    May Christ through your faith [actually] dwell (settle down, abide, make His permanent home) in your hearts!  May you be rooted deep in LOVE and founded securely in LOVE,    That you may have THE POWER and be strong to apprehend and grasp with ALL the saints [God’s devoted people, the experience of that LOVE] what is the breadth and length and height and depth [of it];    [That you may really come] to know [practically, through experience for yourselves] the LOVE of Christ, which far surpasses mere knowledge [without experience]; that you may be filled [through all your being] unto the fullness of God [may have the richest measure of the divine Presence, and become a body wholly filled and flooded with God Himself]”    (Ephesians 3:16-19–Amplified Bible translation).

I capitalized the words POWER and LOVE and ALL for emphasis; in what we have available as believers living in ourselves.  The Greek word for power in these four verses is, dynamis; it’s where we get the English word from, dynamite. God’s Word says we have T.N.T. available through the Holy Spirit living on the inside (soul and spirit), making God’s LOVE apparent to those around us.

THE HOLY SPIRIT IMPARTS THE POWER

You can NOT be powerful by yourself.  Trust me, I have tried and failed.  Only the Holy spirit can enable us to transcend our natural human capacities; our limitations.

Jesus tells His disciples in Acts 1, that after they are “baptized with (placed in, introduced into) the Holy Spirit“, something will occur;  “But you shall receive POWER (ability, efficiency, and might) when the Holy Spirit has come upon you”  (Acts 1:5, 8).  And the more of God’s Spirit we have, the quicker we’ll attain “spiritual maturity“.

Since the capacity to LOVE in a godly way is the product of the Holy Spirit, then spiritual maturity revealed is the “Fruit”.  I’ll leave that thought with you and give you a few lyrics of a spiritual song by Peter Scholtes, based on John 13:35:

We will walk with each other, we will walk hand in hand,

We will walk with each other, we will walk hand in hand,

And together we’ll spread the news that God is in our land:

And they’ll know we are Christians by our LOVE, by our LOVE,

Yes, they’ll know we are Christians by our LOVE.

That’s “walking with a purpose” with our “spiritual maturity revealed” to others and only by the POWER of the Spirit living within us!

 

 

“Walking with a Purpose”; A Christian Priority!

Being Bottle- Fed!

“But I say, WALK and LIVE [habitually] in the [Holy] Spirit [responsive to and controlled and guided by the spirit]”  (Galatians 5:16)

“If we LIVE by the [Holy] Spirit, let us also WALK by the Spirit [If by the Holy Spirit we have our life in God, let us go forward WALKING in line, our conduct controlled by the Spirit]”  (Galatians 5:25–Amplified Bible; bracketed words by Adam Clarke, The Holy Bible: A Commentary).

The word “walk” [capitalized for emphasis] in Galatians 5:16, in the Greek language is “peripateo” meaning, “to walk with a purpose in view”.

The word “walk” in Galatians 5:25, in the Greek, is a different word; “stoicheo” meaning, “step by step, one step at a time”.  It becomes a learning process under construction of another person; that person is the Holy Spirit.

IN THE CITIES

Have you ever visited a large thriving city for the first time and noticed all the new construction going on?  You will see the construction in different phases of construction most likely; a ‘parking garage’ an office building, a hotel.  Maybe just the foundation is in view, or the steel framing going up, or maybe a crane on the top of the framed building placing steel girders in place by heavy cables and ‘ant-like’ steeple jacks busy working at dizzying heights above the streets.

When re-birth of your spirit-man happened; your “born-again” experience, the Holy Spirit dwelt in you as a new believer and the construction process began.  When the foundation of Jesus Christ was laid, the Holy Spirit became the ‘construction foreman’ so-to-speak, while you begin walking under His control, His guidance, His leading. 

LEARNING HOW TO WALK IN CONTROL

#1.  Study God’s WORD!

Paul is speaking to Timothy, trying to encourage and strengthen him for the great task ahead:

“Study and be eager and do your utmost to present yourself to God approved (tested by trial), a workman who has no cause to be ashamed, correctly analyzing and accurately dividing the Word of Truth”  (2 Timothy 2:15).

Paul continues the thought:

“Every Scripture is God-breathed (given by His inspiration) and profitable for instruction, for reproof and conviction of sin, for correction of error and discipline in obedience, [and] for training in righteousness (in holy living, in conformity to God’s will in thought, purpose, and action),    So that the man of God may be complete and proficient, well fitted and throughly equipped for every good work”  (2 Timothy 3:16, 17).

That’s good practical instruction given, on how to become “spiritually mature” believer.  Maturity is NOT done by osmosis; it’s applying God’s Word to everyday circumstances.  It’s “walking” with a purpose, “step by step in WORD application, to grow spirituality.

SHOULD “SPIRITUAL MATURITY” BE A PRIORITY TO A CHRISTIAN?

“Solid Food” versus “Milk-Fed”

“For everyone who continues to feed on milk is obviously inexperienced and unskilled in the doctrine of righteousness (of conformity to the divine will in purpose, thought, and action), for he is a mere infant [not able to talk yet]!    But solid food is for full-grown men [and women], for those whose senses and mental faculties are trained by practice to discriminate and distinguish between what is morally good and noble and what is evil and contrary either to divine or human law”  (Hebrews 5:13, 14–Amplified Bible translation).

The writer of Hebrews is saying, as a believer in Jesus, your are not to be “milk-fed”, but to chew on the “meat” of God’s Word.  Then, to apply the sustenance to your life by walking in the Holy Spirit.  That’s GOOD STUFF to chew on!

UNDERSTANDING THE WALK-LIVING IN CHRIST

Growth comes by God’s Grace alone; He is your resource.  The apostle Peter gives you a reminder:

For His divine power has bestowed upon us all things that [are requisite and suited] to life and godliness, through the [full, personal] knowledge of Him Who called us by and to His own glory and excellence (virtue). By means of these He has bestowed on us His precious and exceedingly great promises, so that through them you may escape [by flight] from moral decay (rottenness and corruption) that is in the world because of covetousness (lust and greed), and become sharers of the divine nature. For this very reason, adding your diligence, imply every effort in exercising your faith to develop virtue (excellence, resolution, Christian energy), and in [exercising-in ‘walking’]virtue [develop] knowledge (intelligence),  And in [exercising-in ‘walking’] knowledge [develop] self-control [develop] steadfastness (patience, endurance), and in [exercising-in ‘walking’] steadfastness [develop godliness,  And in [exercising-in ‘walking’] godliness (piety) [develop] brotherly affection [develop] Christian love.  For as these qualities are yours and increasingly abound in you, they will keep [you] from being idle or unfruitful unto the [full personal] knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One).  For whoever lacks these qualities [immaturity–my add; not the Amplified Bible] is blind, [spiritually] short-sighted, seeing only what is near to him, and has become oblivious [to the fact] that he was cleansed from his old sins”  (2 Peter 1:3-9–Amplified Bible translation).

When you are “walking with a purpose”, you are “exercising”!  And with your “exercising”, you develop!

MAKING CHOICES

When you became a ‘new-born’ believer, a child, you were given ALL you need “in Christ” to make you a ‘spiritually believing’ Christian.  But with that, there comes with it a “responsibility” to make a choice.  Will you choose to use and apply God’s principles to your life?

Something wonderful happens in the process; you will be changed!  He will conform you to the image of His Son, humbly surrendering to His Holy Spirit and learning His Word!

“Now may the God of peace [Who is the Author and the Giver of peace], Who brought again from among the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepard of the sheep, by the blood [that sealed, ratified] the everlasting agreement (covenant, testament),    Strengthen (complete, perfect) and make you what you ought to be and equip you with everything good that you may carry out His will; [while He Himself] works in you and accomplishes that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to Whom be the glory forever and ever (to the ages of ages).  AMEN”  (Hebrews 13:20, 21).

Many Christians today are believing that they are already ‘spiritually mature’ and they may be in some trouble.   None of us is mature in the faith as we ought to be; at least not measured by the standard of Jesus.

I like the Amplified Bible’s translation of a verse in the Letter to the Philippians; an open letter to the church:

“[For my determined purpose is] that I may know Him [that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly], and that I may in that same way come to know the power outflowing from His resurrection [which it exerts over believers], and that I may so share His sufferings as to be continually transformed [in spirit into His likeness even] to His death”  (Philippians 3:10).

Paul is calling his ‘maturity’; “progressive“–that ‘step by step’ process in building relationship.  Relationship was Paul’s number one priority as a believer. but for many Christians, ‘spiritual maturity’ is elusive.  Something they know they should aim for but have no idea how to get there–to achieve it.

PART TWO, I will continue with the “Signs of Maturity” in “Walking with a Purpose”.

 

 

 

Holy Spirit Speaks! But Are We Listening? (Part 2)

THE “RHEMA” WORD AND THE “LOGOS

Dictionary definition: “A word is a thought that has been given physical expression”

In the Greek translation of New Testament, there are two expressions for word;  the word “logos” and “rhema”.  Let me quote from my Expository Dictionary of Bible Words:

logos is a dynamic equivalent for the Hebrew term debar, signifying “word(s),” “saying,” “speech” in the majority of it’s over 300 occurrences.  The “words” of human beings are indicated in the context of preaching. In particular, the word of the kingdom signifies gospel preaching.  In Like 8:1 ff., the “word of God” is equated with the “seed” in the parable of the sower.”

rhema” is a synonym for “logos”. It occurs seventy times and means “word,” “utterance,” “saying,” “speech”.

I found with my detective investigation of the two greek words, furthering evidence in the Holy Spirit’s communication to believers.  But, are we listening!

THE NATURE AND ATTRIBUTES GIVEN IN THE “LOGOS”

The nature and attributes of God are given to us through His Word, or Logos.  The Logos is identified as the will of God; the ideas that are in the mind of God.  So if you are in a ‘situation’ or ‘circumstance’ where you are wondering what God’s will is for your life, you can find it in His “logos”; His Word, your Bible, the written word.  Jesus in the flesh is also understood as the incarnation of these divine attributes.

THE “RHEMA

The Bible is the divinely inspired, inherent Word (Logos) of God.  From here, however, it takes the Rhema of God to properly take that inspiration to:

1.  Inspire us.

2.  Appropriate.

3.  Understand.

The written Word; true insight.  The Apostle Peter writes this:

“[Yet] first [you must] understand this, that no prophecy of Scripture is [a matter] of any personal or private or special interpretation (loosening, solving).    For no prophecy ever originated because some man willed it [to do so–it never came by human impulse], but men who spoke from God who were born along (moved and impelled) by the Holy Spirit”  (2 Peter 1:20, 21—Amplified version).

Rhema is the Word meditated on by the spirit through the study of the written word (Joshua 1:8).  Its revelation given to us from God is to help us understand; it’s the ‘prophetic articulation’ of what that revelation is to others.  Therefore, my conclusion has come to this; that the Rhema is that which is or has been uttered by the living voice.  A spoken word or a word that has been taught to us in our spirit.

Instances of the Rhema from the greek in Scripture; I will italicize when rhema is used:

Your teaching begets eternal life”

“The word of faith which we are preaching”

“It is written that man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God”

“Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the Words of eternal life”

“So then faith comes from hearing and hearing by the Word of God”  [hearing from our “inner” ear].

“That He might sanctify and cleanse it by the washing of water by the Word

“The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart”

“And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God”

“And this is the Word by which the gospel is preached to you.  For God has put it into their hearts to fulfill His will, and to agree, and give their kingdom unto the beast, until the words of God shall be fulfilled”

[Luke, John, Romans 10:8, Ephesians, 1 Peter, 2 Peter 1:20, 21, Revelations]

EXPERIENCE PROMOTES OUR HEARING

We can hear the Holy Spirit through experiences.  God sometimes changes his methods with each one of us from year to year.  But most often, He works with us in similar ways.

Through experience we can see our prayers answered that led us in past situations.  This will help us recognize His “voice” when He speaks to us in the present. 

Drawing wisdom from other Christian’s experiences will promote our hearing.  The Holy spirit doesn’t isolate us; He puts us in a church, into a community of other believers by distributing His gifts.  So then, we stay together, we work together, and we benefit from one another’s strengths (1 Cor. 12:7).  In the same way, we can help one another to hear the Holy Spirit; we each have different experiences on how God works in our lives.

HOLY SPIRIT SPEAKING TO PEOPLE FROM OTHER PEOPLE

I was driving into town the other day while listening to a song from a Bill Gaither CD.  The tune was so familiar to me by the playing of it, I couldn’t help but sing along.  But this time, the lyrics seem to penetrate my spirit and made me think, “Do you want me to really pay attention to the words for some reason?”  I’ve heard this song at least a hundred times before but this time…  In case you might be wondering what the song was, it was “The Rumor Mill”.  I’ll just leave that thought right there for now.

The Holy Spirit can speak to you from worship songs, in your car or at church on Sunday mornings.  In small groups discussions, a whispered word of encouragement, a picture or even a silent smile from someone.

One morning after church, an acquaintance of mind came up to me and touch my shoulder.  He told me the previous Sunday, he was in a real “funk”.  Almost in depression but not quite there yet.  He was coming down some steps to the sanctuary and I smile at him for some reason. It really picked up his spirit and he wanted to thank me.

Now I am not a big ‘smiler’ at all and I didn’t even remember seeing him at the time.  But God knew what he needed; just a smile and the Holy spirit took it from there.  He used my ‘smile’ to accomplish His will in another and without me taking His glory.

OUR RESPONSES

If we want to hear from Holy Spirit, we need to be listening.  If we want to hear in the biblical sense, then we need to respond.  If we hear His voice, if we believe that God is telling us to do something, we need to do it!  We need to do what He has gifted us to do and we are to submit to God.  If we do it, we bring Him honor and we bring ourselves blessings by doing His will.

It all begins with listening.  Can you hear the Holy Spirit’s voice?  It’s something worth thinking about.

Holy Spirit Speaks! But Are We Listening? (Part 1)

Are We Listening?

One of my favorite Christian vocalist and man of God is Donnie Mc clurkin. I want to begin this blog today with his “Speak to My Heart” Lyrics:

Speak to my heart, that’s what I want You to do.

Speak to my heart, ‘Cause I’m waiting to hear from You,

Speak to my heart, that’s what I want You to do.

When the church in Antioch gathered for worship, the Holy Spirit said to them“Separate now for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them”  (Acts 13:2).  Does the Holy Spirit speak to us today?  Can we hear what He says to us today like the believers in Antioch? 

I can remember when I was a young boy who could look out from the back of my house and see a wilderness that covered the vastness of my eight-year-old imagination.  There was a barrier preventing me from exploring the horizon however;  my mom and dad.  Then again, I was a young boy and boys do what boys do.  I would rebel with the ‘hardy boys’ or neighborhood fellows and disappear into the adventure, hopefully un-noticed.  I would enter into a far-reaching canyon when I would stop, cup my hand to my ear while the blood was draining from my face turning it white.  “What’s wrong,” someone would ask and I would respond; “I can hear my mom whistling”.  They would laugh at me and say, “You can hear your mom from this distance. That’s impossible!”  Nope, I could hear her while I turned, heading straight for home.  Sure enough, waiting at the edge of the canyon rim’s exit, there she was with a ‘switch’ in her hand, WAITING!  Could I have actually heard the recall signal of a ‘whistle’ from great distances?  Yep, I could because subconsciously, I was listening for the call all the time I was in rebellion.  I had been instructed what was permissible and what wasn’t and the consequences thereof.

The Apostle Paul tell us that those who are led by the Holy Spirit are the children of God (Romans 8:14).  We should expect the Holy spirit to lead us and we need to know how He does it.  Does He whistle for us?  Probably not but He does know how to get our attention.

IN DIFFERENT WAYS

God works in different ways with different people.  He spoke in different ways to Adam, Abraham, Moses, Deborah, Samuel, Elijah, Mary and Paul.  He can speak in different ways to us in the church today.

Just as the Holy spirit decides to give different abilities to different people (1 Corinthians 12:11), He works with us in different ways.  A person with the gift of miraculous words, is likely to hear the Spirit in a different way than a person with the gift of compassion.  The Spirit will lead a teacher in a different way than a server.   He has different jobs for each person.

Dianne and I had three children to raise up.  Each child responded very differently to our corrections and guidance.  Our oldest daughter would melt into a puddle of tears from a stern look; no words were spoken.  While our other daughter would storm off to her bedroom, close the door and pass a note from under the closed door that would read:  “I am sorry I disobeyed. I will stay in my room forever if that’s what you want me to do. I don’t need to eat either.”  She certainly had the flair for the dramatics.  Our son, that’s a whole another blog.  However, his teenage years turned into a spiritually led adult who applied the words of Solomon in Proverbs 22:17, 18:  “Listen (consent and submit) to the words of the wise, and apply your mind to my knowledge;    For it will be pleasant if you keep them in your mind [believing them; your lips will be accustomed to [confessing] them.”  He has confessed and appologized for his rebellion growing up.

For some people, Holy Spirit speaks subtly; in general principles.  For others (like me), He must speak with unmistakable details.  Each person must listen in the way that God made us.

Let me relate an instance of five years ago that might give you an example “for others like me“.  I received a phone call from the pastor of the church I was attending at the time.  He wanted me to pray for and come up with a possible idea of writing something creative for Easter services.  I told him I had absolutely no experience in such creativity, but I would let him know God’s answer.  I began to pray as soon as the conversation had ended but, nothing came.  The next best thing I rationalized, maybe I could do it by myself; with God’s help, of course!  Still…NOTHING and time was running short. 

Then one night while I was asleep in bed, I felt a gentle touch on my shoulder.  I looked at the clock on the nightstand and it was 3 A.M.  I rolled over and went back to sleep.  I felt the touch again and this time a still small voice said, ‘Get up and grab a pen and notebook and write down everything I tell you to write.”  I went out to the kitchen table at 3:20 A.M. (I looked at the clock in the kitchen), and finished enough pages by 8 A.M., for a 3-Act play entitled “Mercy On Trial“; including hand sketched details of the stage design.  God had spoken to me with ‘unmistakable details’.

The important thing is, that we are listening; that we are ready and willing to hear what He says.  We should be looking for His leadership, His guidance; not ignoring it.  Even at 3 A.M. in the morning!

THERE ARE DANGERS

There are several dangers that can arise as we are listening for direction.  The first danger is when sorts of people have claimed to be directly hearing from Holy Spirit, when He didn’t really speak to them; false prophecies and foolish advice.  I have been directly exposed to this deception  and left a church fellowship because of the danger signs demonstrated.  If God did speak to them as they said, they badly misunderstood what He was saying.  How did I know this?  Because of the Holy Spirit’s gift of discernment my wife and I had received during this time.  Thank You Jesus.  So there is a danger of “hearing” things that God never said.  Being careful in your hearing is crucial, because you don’t want to use His name in vain; “God said” when He didn’t say!

The second danger, is when some people are afraid of hearing incorrectly and refuse to hear anything at all.  Joyce Meyer once said,  “Years ago, when I first started walking more intimately with God, I used to wait for a word from God for everything I wanted to do–until I learned that His spirit abides in me to do good works.  In the early years of walking with God, it was on my heart to give a woman in need ten dollars.  I carried that desire around for three weeks until I finally prayed, ‘God, is it really You telling me to give this person the money? I’ll do this if it’s really You!’  He answered so clearly, ‘Joyce, even if it isn’t really Me, I won’t get mad at you if you bless somebody!” (from Knowing God Intimately by Joyce Meyer).

“Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says: Today, if you will hear His voice,  Do not harden your hearts”  (Hebrews 3:7, 8a).

Holy Spirit speaks in the words of Scripture.  He does communicate to us today convicting us of what we should do; guiding us in how we should serve God.

A third danger is seeking the Holy Spirit for selfish reasons.  Some people want Holy Spirit to make their decisions for them.  Tell them what job to take, a person to marry, when to move and how to live.  They want the Holy Spirit to be like a Ouija board or horoscope; to save them the trouble of thinking or making decisions.

God wants us to grow in maturity in learning by experience what is right and wrong.

“For even though by this time you ought to be teaching others, you actually need someone to teach you over again the very first principles of God’s Word.  You have come to need milk, not solid food.    For everyone who continues to feed on milk is obviously inexperienced and unskilled in the doctrine of righteousness, for he is a mere infant [not able to talk yet]!    BUT solid food is for grown men, for those whose senses and mental faculties are trained by practice to discriminate and distinguish between what is morally good and noble and what is evil and contrary either to divine or human law”    (Hebrews 5:12-14).

Many of our decisions we face are not matters of sin and righteousness.  They are simple choices.  God can work with us no matter what we choose and He leaves the choice up to us.  So the Holy Spirit doesn’t speak on everything that we want Him to.

Some people would like Holy Spirit as a conversational companion; to keep them company; they want to chat.  The Holy Spirit isn’t involved in idle words.

“BUT the Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Advocate, Intercessor, Strengthener) comes Whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of Truth Who comes (proceeds) from the Father, He [Himself] will testify regarding Me”  (John 15:26).

Holy Spirit doesn’t want to call attention to Himself.  He is often silent at times because He has already given us enough information and advice.  He wants us to use what has already been given; He has been training our spirit to respond rightly to what is facing us.  Now that doesn’t mean we rely on ourselves, but to rely on God; what He has already done in our lives and what He has already taught us.

Part 2; “The Rhema Word and the Logos Word”

HALLOWEEN “Just Harmless Fun, Right?”

“Aren’t they CUTE?”

Many Christians believe participation in Halloween is a form of involvement in worthless deeds; “evil and darkness” as one source proclaimed.  However, many people today consider modern-day Halloween activities just harmless fun.  Something that they looked forward to as a kid and their children and grandchildren look forward to every October 31st.

I walked into a local large grocery chain store this past week and was overwhelmed by the sight and sounds of displays of Halloween decorations.  Masks, ghost sounds, Jack-o-lanterns, smoke blowing devices and on and on.  I have friends in the church who have said that they don’t participate in the actually trick or treating anymore but they love seeing their grandkids all dressed up as ‘bees and bee-keepers’ during Halloween.  Afterall, “they don’t dress up in ghost and goblin or evil costumes!”  All of these viewpoints, the worlds and some Christians traditional ideas, I thought would be worthy of a biblical investigations, including the traditions of Halloween; the ‘how and where’  these traditions came from.

“For once you were in darkness, but now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of Light [lead the lives of those native-born to Light].  For the fruit (the effect, the product) of the Light or the Spirit [consists] in every form of kindly goodness, uprighteous of heart, and trueness of life.  And try to learn [in your experience] what is pleasing to the Lord [let your lives be constant proofs of what is most acceptable to Him].  Take no part in and have no fellowship with the fruitless deeds and enterprises of darkness, but instead [let your lives be so in contrast as to] expose and reprove and convict them.  For it is a shame even to speak of or mention the things that [such people] practice in secret”  (Ephesians 5:8-12~Amplified version).

THE HISTORY BEHIND THE HOLIDAY

The two Celtic words Hallowed Evening came from ALL HALLOWED’S EV’N, and now we call it “Halloween”.  This is now even more popular than Easter, and rivals Christmas in retail sales of merchandise.  The roots of the festival come to us from Druid demon worship.  Witches were said to fly brooms over the crops to “teach” them how to grow.  It was a fertility myth.

When the first Roman catholic missionaries encountered these Druids, they met stubborn resistance because the inhabitants of Angle Land, Sweden, Neder Land, northern Germany, Fin Land, and Eire Land were very nationalistic.  The ritual we embrace as Halloween was originally called the Feast of the Dead, SAMHAIN (pronounced Sa-ween), and was on November 1st.  These pre-Christian Druids had the barbarians doing ghastly things.  It was a dreaded occasion, since it was thought that time stood still, and the souls of the dead walked the land.  Gifts, especially food, were left outside for these roaming ghosts, with hope that no harm would come to the households.  The Druids chose certain children to be burned alive on “bone-fires”, as offerings to the sun.  Parents tied yellow ribbons around old oak trees as prayers to the sun to have their children spared.  Anything here sound familiar to you?

The fat left over from the child was fashioned into a candle, and placed in a carved-out pumpkin, or a hollowed out vegetable with a “round” (sunshaped) design.  The victim was called Jack-of-the-lantern.  Prisoners and unlike people were burned alive in wicker cages shaped in the form of animals, and hung from trees.  All of this was ultimately to pay homage to the sun, Woden, or Odin.  As you might know, this Druid deity gives us our name for the 4th day of the week: Woden’s Day.

FROM “SAMHAIN” TO “ALL SAINTS”

Without forcing the Pagans to drop their practices but accept Christianity, the RCC merely made allowances to accommodate the barbarians, and called it “acculturation“.  They “sanctified” the Pagan rituals by absorbing and camouflaging them.  In the 7th century, the Pantheon at Rome was extracted from the barbarians, and made into a “cathedral” (Greek, katthedra, meaning seat, or throne).  “Pan Theon” means all Gods.  They re-named it the Church of the blessed Virgin and ALL MARTYRS.  Thus it changed from the worship of “All Gods” (Pantheon) to the center for honoring “All Saints”.

The day chosen to honor all the “hallowed” saints was first observed on the evening of May 13, and was known as ALL HALLOWS FESTIVAL.  This festival was officially authorized in 835 CE by pope Gregory IV after it was moved to November 1st, to coincide with the festival Samhain.  It began on the evening of October 31st, which was called All Hallowed Eve.

You now have the history behind the holiday and should understand that HALLOWEEN isn’t just harmless fun!  Satan has people in our modern era mimicking witches and the Druids of old.

WHAT IS THE BIBLE TEACHING ON HALLOWEEN?

“The priests shall teach My people the difference between the holy and the common or profane, and cause them to distinguish between the unclean and the clean”  (Ezekiel 44:23).

Is the WORD Detective a priest? Are you a priest, to teach God’s people, fellow believers in Jesus about the subject of Halloween? 

“And formed us into a kingdom (a royal race), priests to His God and Father”  (Rev. 1:6)

“[Come] and, like living stones, be yourselves built [into] a spiritual house, for a holy (dedicated, consecrated) priesthood”  (1 Peter 2:5}.

As believers in Christ Jesus, God’s Word says that we are priests, and it is our duty to teach God’s people the difference between what is holy and clean and what is unclean.

LIVING IN THE TIMES OF “WITCHCRAFT”

I was attending a church picnic years ago, where there were two twelve-year-old girls, who were laying down on a blanket reading and discussing with excitement, the new “Harry Potter” novel.  I mentioned to one of the mothers, “It’s probably none of my business, but do you approve of your daughter reading the contents of that book?”  Her answer: “I see no harm in her reading “Harry Potter” books. She never has like to read novels before but now she has got her face in these books constantly.”  We are living in a time when witchcraft is being revised in the media.  “Charmed” on television is teaching people the elements of witchcraft and sorcery and yet we say things like “it’s not real; it’s really harmless fun”. 

Have you noticed in the stores of late, how costumes and masks are generally more bloody, gory, and depraved each year?  The gruesome and grotesque and the occult are increasingly glorified in American society.  Not just on Halloween, but throughout the year in horror movies.

In my detective work of uncovering the churches reactions to Halloween, I ran across an article from an unknown author, originally published in the Colorado Christian news, October 1996:

My family does not celebrate Halloween or participates in it.  We do not believe that our children are “missing out”, and neither do they.  Other days are used for costumes and parties. We have found that Halloween provides an excellent time to remind our children that as Christians, we are different, and not of this world (Hebrews 11:13-16; 1 Peter 2:11).

HOW ABOUT CHURCH “HARVEST FESTIVALS”?  They are okay, are they not?

I remember in the ’70’s, our adult church Sunday School classes came to gather for a “Harvest Festival”.  We were to come as biblical characters, not dressed as the scary ‘creatures’ of Halloween.  Dianne [being small in nature] came dressed as Zacchaeus (Luke 18:18-25), who had climbed a Sycamore tree to see Jesus; and I came as…you quessed it, as the Sycamore tree; I carried her in ‘piggy-back’.  That’s better than ‘His and Her Towels’ previously costumed in another Festival Party. Oh so long ago and so foolish; lacking understanding.

“Harvest Festivals” maybe rational and with good intentions behind them but not the best approach.  ‘Harvest’  parties tend to make an assumption:  ‘Our children need something to take the place of Halloween since we won’t be participating in secular and pagan celebrations’.  The suggestion to our church kids is that they are missing out on something.

WE NEED TO TEACH THE CHILDREN

The fight isn’t against occultists, non-Christians, Christians that feel differently than we do about Halloween or institutions who promote and sell Halloween.  BUT who we are fighting with is…

“against the despotisms (oppressions), against the powers, against [the master spirits who are] the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spirit forces of wickeness in the (supernatural) sphere”  (Ephesians 6:12).

You might be thinking to yourself right now, “I’m not much into ancient history, or  a ‘WORD’ detective like you.  If my kids want to go out trick-or-treating on October 31st, it’s just harmless fun and I’m not going to interfere.”

SPIRITUAL WARFARE–is it fiction?  Or is it real?

If you haven’t read “This Present Darkness” by Frank E. Peretti in a long time or never read it, try reading it before Halloween is here again this year.  The painting of things we don’t see are brought to a clear and vivid expression through Mr. Perretti’s words.  Let me quote from the back of the 1988 best-selling novel:

“If you think spiritual warfare is mere fiction, think again. 

Set in unremarkable small towns perhaps like your own, pit ordinary Christians against extraordinary evil at the highest levels.  The stories told will challenge you to open your eyes to the spiritual battle that’s raging in your world right now.”

Is Halloween “Just Harmless Fun?”  Please don’t take my words, for you to decide the answer to that question.  Look to relevant Scripture and let Holy Spirit help you come to your own answer:

1 Thessalonians 5:21, 22  “test and prove all things…Abstain from evil in whatever form or whatever kind”

3 John 1:11  “do not imitate evil”

Romans 12:9   “hate what is evil [loathe all ungodliness, turn in horror from wickedness]”

Deuteronomy 18:9-14

Ephesians 5:11, 12

1 Timothy 4:1  “in latter times some will turn from the faith, giving attention to deluding and seducing spirits and doctrines that demons teach”   ( We are in those “times” today!)

1 Corinthians 10:21 You cannot partake of the Lord’s table and the demons’ table”—

2 Corinthians 6:14-17

Philippians 4:8

1 Corinthians 11:1

1 Corinthians 10:31

James 4:7, 8

Ezekiel 44:23; Revelation 1:6; 1 Peter 2:5  “The priests shall teach My people…to distinguish between the unclean and the clean”.  [We are the “priests” to convey the message about Halloween]

Proverbs 22:6  “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it”  [Parents?]

Matthew 18:6

Hosea 4:6  “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge”  [Better get informed–NOW!]

John 3:19, 20

Romans 13:12

Ephesians 6:11-18

1 John 5:19  “We know [positively] that we are of God, and the whole world [around us] is under the power of the evil one”

2 Chronicles 7:14

The Believers JOY: “Repeat That Sounding Joy”

Well, the weather has definitely changed; from about three weeks of summer to fall in the Northwest.  While working on this blog this morning, I found myself sitting at the laptop with a sweatshirt on and barefoot; I can’t seem to let go of summer altogether.  And yet, the joyful Christmas season is just around the corner; “Joy to the World!”  “For unto you is born this day…a Saviour… Luke 2:11.

In my quiet time with the Lord this morning, I began pouring over biblical verses on the words joy and happiness. If I couldn’t explain JOY, how could I sing “Joy to the World”?  I wanted to know if there was a difference between the two-word meanings.  As I was sorting through my small but extensive library, a note fell on the carpet, from the inside of a Tommy Tenney book, The God Chasers.  I had forgotten I ever wrote this note after reading the book in 2004.  Let me share my written thoughts on that note with you all:

A time will come, however, indeed it is already here, when the true (genuine) worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth (reality); for the Father is seeking just such people as these as His worshipers”  (John 4:23).

This book has had an effect on my spiritual life, for I had so many questions.  As a born-again believer in Christ Jesus, “Why am I so dissatisfied?  “Why am I so hungry for God’s Word?”  “Where is my  joy that is supposed to be inside of me?”  I wasn’t a new believer, but “there has to be more than this!”  Have I become a part of the Matrix without realizing the absence of my joy?” 

These divine heart cries were calls from the Father to truly find Him!  He wasn’t hiding from me; He is hiding HIMSELF for me. 

In this note that had slipped to the floor, I read this introduction again from my notes:  Cindy Jacobs, co-founder of Generals of Intercession said, “I must warn you, this is a dangerous book if you are comfortable and complacent and want to stay that way”.  I definitely didn’t want to stay in a state of joyless complacency.

The more I read in The God Chasers book, the more I felt a shift in my spiritual life.  My past focus on the Father had been on the anointing.  Now, my attention was being drawn to a different dimension; shifting to the glory of His presence; the calling for me to enter–beyond the veil into His manifested presence.  I had found a new meaning of joy in my spiritual life and I was not going to let it just lie there.

After reading those notes this morning, I seemed compelled to address the believers JOY.   ALL of our lives are affected by how we relate to others.  If believers are not joyful, how on earth’s creation can we ever “Repeat the Sounding Joy” to the world around us?  At Christmas time or any other time.

WE HAVE GOT A HEAVENLY GIFT

JOY is God’s gift to every believer by the fruit of His Holy Spirit living inside of each one of us (Galatians 5:22).  We have a choice before us; the “ifs” and the “do’s”.  The evangelist Billy Sunday once said, “If you have no joy in your religion, there’s a leak in your Christianity somewhere.”

“If we live by the [Holy] Spirit, let us walk by the Spirit. [If by the Holy Spirit we have our life in God, let us go forward walking in line, our conduct controlled by the spirit].  Let us not become vainglorious and self-conceited [NO JOY here!], competitive and challenging [NO JOY here!] and provoking and irritating one another [NOJOYhere!], envying and being jealous of one another [NOJOYhere!]”  (Galatians 5:25, 26).  I inserted the “NO JOY here!” for emphasis.

From the moment you receive the gospel;  “I have told you these things, that My joy and delight may be in you, and that your joy and gladness may be of full measure and complete and overflowing” ~ Jn. 5:11.  The JOY increases as you study and obey:  “And we are now writing these things to you so that our joy may be full [and your joy may be complete]” ~ 1 John 1:4.

Even severe trials shouldn’t rob you of your JOY!  You might be thinking as I once did, “How can I be happy after losing my job or no food in the ‘Fridge?”  JOY is something entirely different from HAPPINESSHappiness is associated with:

–Happenings

–Happenstance

–Luck

–Fortune

Joy, in the biblical context, is not an emotion.  Joy is an attitude of the heart; your feeler, your thinker, your doer;  a firm confidence that ALL is well, regardless of my circumstances

HAPPINESS versus JOY; THE DIFFERENCES

I saw a bumper sticker on the back of a car as I approached a red signal light, and it read, “If momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy”.

The Bible uses the words “happy” and “happiness” about thirty times.  While “joy” appears over three hundred times.  The word To Rejoice definition comes from the word “joy“; “to feel great delight, to welcome or to be glad“.  In the book of Genesis 30:1-13 we run across one of the first times the word “happy” is used.

In Genesis 29:32-35, we see that Jacob’s wife Leah named her first three sons for the way she felt at the time.  Her fourth son, Judah meant to praise.   Now Zilpha, Leah’s handmaid, bore Jacob [her] second son and Leah said, “I am happy”  and she named him Asher.  Happy is the Hebrew root word, “Ashar” which means “to set right or be blessed“.

Now being happy in severe trials, isn’t going to make us laugh out of happiness but your circumstance shouldn’t rob your joy.  What do I mean here?  The best way for me to convey that thought is through God’s Word:

“Consider it wholly joyful, my brethren, whenever you are enveloped in or encounter trials of any sort or fall into various temptations”  (James 1:2).

I like the Amplified version and the King James wording ‘whenever you are enveloped’ “in” or while you “encounter trials“.  Being “joyful” in trials and being joyful ‘because’ of trials is different.  Why? Because in verse 3, James continues in saying:

“Be assured and understand that the trial and proving of your faith bring out endurance and steadfastness and patience.”

Now turning to 1 Peter 1:3, 5 ,6, and 8 , he goes on to say that as believers, we are “born again to an ever-living hope, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,” and that we are “being guarded by God’s power through your faith [till you fully inherit that final] salvation that is ready [for you] in the last time”.  And because of that faith in God’s power in your dire circumstances,  “for a little while you may be distressed and suffer…”; your trials are but for a little while, and “Without having seen Him, you love Him; though you do not [even] now see Him, you believe in Him and exult and thrill with inexpressible and glorious (triumphant, heavenly) JOY”  (verse 8).  Where is my JOY now and where should my JOY be?  That my friends is where ‘The Believers JOY’ comes from!

If you are not convinced of your joy at this point, turn to The Letter of Jude:

“Now to Him who is able to keep you without stumbling or slipping or falling, and to present [you] unblemished (blameless and faultless) before the presence of His glory in triumphant joy and exultation [with unspeakable, ecstatic delight]—”  (verse 24–Amplified version).

THE WORD “BLESSED” IN THE BIBLE

The word “blessed” in the Bible includes being “happy, happy, happy” and “joyful”.  So the next time you read in  Matthew 5 and read the word “Blessed“, read the Amplified versions “Blessed (happy, to be envied, and spiritually prosperous–with life-joy and satisfaction in God’s favor and salvation, regardless of their outward conditions)…”

Old Testament verses:

–Deuteronomy 12:7

–Nehemiah 8:10; 12:43

–Job 5:17-18

–Isaiah 58:5-12; 61:1-3

–Jeremiah 15:16

–Habakkuk 3:18, 19

The Book of Psalms is loaded with being “happy”, “joyful” or “Blessed”.

A great two verse found in Psalm 51:7-13 to pray when joy and happiness seem to be absent in your spirit.

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right, preserving, and steadfast spirit within me”  (verse 10).

Restore to me the JOY of your salvation and uphold me with a willing spirit”  (verse 12).

New Testament verses:

–Luke 2:10-14; 10:17-20; 15:4-7; 15:10

–John 15:5-17; 16:21-24

–Acts 2:22-28; 13:52; 20:24

–Romans 5:11; 14:17-19, 22; 15:13

—2 Corinthians 7:4

–Galatians 5:22-26

—1 Thess. 2:19, 20

–Hebrews 12:1, 2

–James 1:2, 3

—1 Peter 1:6-9; 4:12, 13

—1 John 1:4

–Jude 24, 25

These are but a few verses I found in the Bible in reminding me of my joy planted by God in my heart; my feeler, my thinker, my doer.  I also found the words to a Hymn of Joy by Ludwig van Beethoven, adapted by Edward Hodges (verse two):

“All Thy works with joy surround Thee,  Earth and heaven reflect Thy rays,

Stars and angels sing around Thee, Center of unbroken praise.

Field and forest, vale and mountain,  Flowery meadow, flashing sea,

Chanting bird and flowing fountain,  Call us to rejoice in Thee.”

JOYFUL, JOYFUL, WE ADORE THEE 

How is your JOY working for you right now?  Lift your head and eyes and look around you and Rejoice!