Joy

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You put me on the stretch, O God.

You do me the honor of putting me to the test

as You once tested our Father Abraham.

You bid me do the impossible:

not only to endure

the tempering heat of trial

but to rejoice in it–impossible!

 

But Your Son did not find it impossible

when You tried Him with failure.

He rejoiced in the Holy Spirit

and gave thanks to You

when You took from Him

the wise and understanding

and revealed Him only to babes,

to the inconsequential little ones

in whom Your love delights.

 

Your servant Paul found it possible.

Your servant James found it possible.

And You are my Father just as You are theirs.

I thank You for all proofs of Fatherhood.

I thank You for the trials I meet.

Give me the heart to meet them unafraid,

to joy in them as I rejoice in You.  Amen.

Prayer by Martin H. Franzmann, Pray For Joy

 

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.  And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”  James 1:2-4

Remembering on this day the trials that began in New York 15 years ago….

 

 

 

 

Celebrate!

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“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!  According to His great mercy, He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith–more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire–may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.  Though you have not seen Him, you love Him.  Though you do not now see Him, you believe in Him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”  1 Peter 1:3-9

Dear Heavenly Father,  There seems to be a lot of celebrating going on in the month of June–weddings, anniversaries, births, and even Heavenly Home comings.  For all of these we give you thanks and praise for the joy and celebration that takes place in these special events.  You are in our midst celebrating along with us.  As we celebrate may we be reminded of the greater joy and celebration that awaits us at your Son’s return to gather us to Himself and to escort us to Paradise.  Keep us in the one true faith even as trials come to us in this world.  Let us rejoice that “you have overcome the world!”  In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen!

Anything Good?

Photo by Laura Jostes

Photo by Laura Jostes

“Many are asking, “Who can show us anything good?”

Let the light of your face shine upon us, O Lord.

You have filled my heart with greater joy

than when their grain

and new wine abound.

I will lie down and sleep in peace,

for you alone, O Lord,

make me dwell in safety.”

Psalm 4:6-8

* * * * *

Photo by Laura Jostes

Photo by Laura Jostes

Lord God, You are good.  When we look for something “good” in this world it dims in light of Your grace and mercy.  You have given us peace in our hearts by turning Your face towards us–we have seen You face to face through Your Son Jesus Christ our Lord who obediently became the sacrifice for our sins.  There are no greater riches than the freedom from sin and guilt found in Your forgiveness.  Help us to live this day in joyful response to all of Your good gifts to us. For Jesus’ sake, Amen.

April 30 Happy Sad

Photo by Laura Jostes

Photo by Laura Jostes

Judges 11:1-12:15;  John 1:1-28;  Psalm 101:1-8;  Proverbs 14:13-14

“Even in laughter the heart may ache,

and joy may end in grief.”

Proverbs 14:13

* * * * *

Happy sad

describes my mood

as neighbor

moves away.

Happy that I’ve known

him

Sad that he’s going

thankful to see him

another day.

* * * * *

Happy sad

Son’s graduating

leaving town I love

full of friends

and memories.

* * * * *

Happy sad

Acceptance into Grad school

Schedule will certainly change

Not as many carefree days

New knowledge, new friends

gained.

* * * * *

Happy sad

the Lord knows my heart

He’s my source of joy

whether happy

or sad.

Lord God, our feelings, our moods go up, go down all given to us by you to experience and point us always to you.   Thank you for the richness of our emotions.  And thank you that underneath them all your peace and joy run deep by faith in your Son, Jesus Christ my Lord.  Happy sad, I’m your’s today.  In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

March 20 Crushed, Yet Soaring

Photo by Laura Jostes

Photo by Laura Jostes

Devotion taken from Streams In The Desert compiled by Mrs. Charles E. Cowman

“As sorrowful, yet always rejoicing.”

2 Corinthians 6:10

The stoic scorns to shed a tear; the Christian is not forbidden to weep.  The soul may be dumb with excessive grief, as the shearer’s scissors pass over the quivering flesh; or, when the heart is on the point of breaking beneath the meeting surges of trial, the sufferer may seek relief by crying out with a loud voice.  But there is something even better.

They say that springs of sweet fresh water well up amid the brine of salt seas; that the fairest alpine flowers bloom in the wildest and most rugged mountain passes; that the noblest psalms were the outcome of the profoundest agony of soul.

Be it so.  And thus amid manifold trials, souls which love God will find reasons for bounding, leaping joy.  Though deep calling to deep, yet the Lord’s song will be heard in silver cadence through the night.  And it is possible in the darkest hour that ever swept a human life to bless the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Have you learned this lesson yet?  Not simply to endure God’s will, nor only to choose it;  but to rejoice in it with joy unspeakable and full of glory.  ~From Tried By Fire

I will be be still, although I cannot see it,

The love that bares a soul and fans pain’s fire’

That takes away the last sweet drop of solace,

Breaks the lone harp string, hides Thy precious love.

* * * * *

But God is love, so I will bide me, bide me–

We’ll doubt not, Soul, we will be very still;

We’ll wait till after while, when He shall lift us–

Yes, after while, when it shall be His will.

* * * * *

And I did listen to my heart’s brave promise;

And I did quiver, struggling to be still;

And I did lift my tearless eyes to Heaven,

Repeating over, “Yea, Christ, have Thy will.”

* * * * *

But soon my heart upspake from ‘neath our burden,

Reproved my tight-drawn lips, my visage sad:

“We can do more than this, O Soul,” it whispered.

“We can be more than still, we can be glad!”

* * * * *

And now my heart and I are sweetly singing–

Singing without the sound of tuneful strings;

Drinking abundant waters in the desert;

Crushed, and yet soaring as on eagle’s wings.

Lord God, Your dear Son went through fiery trials that we will have yet to come close to.  His suffering and death on the Cross He experienced–for us.  His anguish–His separation from You–for us–He felt its full impact.  Yet, the only tears we read about in Scripture, is that He wept for Jerusalem.  His tears were not for Himself and the suffering He knew He would endure but for His people who did not receive Him, believe in Him, trust Him.  Lord, in our deepest grief, may we remember You and keep our eyes on You and be glad!  Help us dear Lord, for Jesus’ sake, Amen.

January 23 For The End Of The Day

Photo by Adam Major

Photo by Adam Major

Genesis 46:1-47:31;  Matthew 15:1-28;  Psalm 19:1-14;  Proverbs 4:14-19

“The heavens declare the glory of God;

the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

Day after day they pour forth speech;

night after night they display knowledge.

There is no speech or language where

their voice is not heard.

Their voice goes out into all the earth,

their words to the ends of the world.”

* * * * *

“The law of the Lord is perfect,

reviving the soul.

The statues of the Lord are trust

trustworthy,

making wise the simple.

The precepts of the Lord are right,

giving joy to the heart.

The commands of the Lord are radiant,

giving light to the eyes.

The fear of the Lord is pure,

enduring forever.

The ordinances of the Lord are sure

and altogether righteous.

They are more precious than gold,

than much pure gold;

they are sweeter than honey,

than honey from the comb.

By them your servant is warned;

in keeping them there is great reward.”

Psalm 19:1-14

Lord God, you are altogether more precious than gold, sweeter than honey, radiant, right, and perfect!  Thank you for your word that is the power to save, to strengthen, to renew–that goes out to all people throughout the world.  At the end of this day, Lord, I give you thanks for the forgiveness of sins and for the hope that I have in you, for your saving Grace.  In Jesus’ name, Amen

October 2 Mirror, Mirror

Photos by Laura Jostes

Photo by Laura Jostes

“Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ,  if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.  Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.  Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.

~

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.  And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.

~

For it is God who works in you both to will and to do for his good pleasure.  Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.”  Philippians 2:1-8, 13-15

Lord God, may my life reflect the life of one who is a follower of Jesus;  that when people look at me they see someone who is concerned about others, is loving and kind, is not cantankerous or divisive, one who seeks peace, seeks to understand.  May the mirror show a face with fewer worry lines and more smile lines, whose eyes are bright with joy.  May the mirror reflect back an image of pure contentment of one who knows her needs are met by your gracious hand and that there is no reason to strive, to purse the lips and furrow the brow.  Lord, may the mirror show the power and wonder of your grace in a face forgiven and redeemed by you.  Let me smile and reflect my joy in you today.  For Jesus’ sake, Amen

Septmeber 5 Shepherd Of My Soul

Photo by Scott Foster

Photo by Scott Foster

Ecclesiastes 10:1-12:14;  2 Corinthians 8:1-15;  Psalm 49:1-20;  Proverbs 22:20-21

“The words of the wise are like goads, and like nails firmly fixed are the collected sayings;  they are given by one Shepherd.  My son, beware of anything beyond these.  Of making many books there is no end, and much study is weariness of the flesh.  The end of the matter:  all has been heard.  Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.  For God will bring every deed  into judgement, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.”  Ecclesiastes 12:11-14

~

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all

your soul and with all your mind.

This is the great and first commandment.

And a second is like it:

You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

Matthew 22:37-39

 

Jesus, Shepherd of my soul

Walk with me today

Goad me on with

Your pure word

Let me turn away

From all that tempts

My weakened flesh

That causes me to stray.

 

Jesus, Shepherd of my soul

Forgive my wayward sin

My self-seeking-centeredness

That doesn’t want you in.

Lead me out of darkness

And let me see your light.

Make my feet secure

Willing to do what’s right.

 

Jesus, Shepherd of my soul

I give you thanks and praise

For your faithful, tender

Care of me

Despite my willful ways.

You will forever be

My only source of joy

 My heart’s true delight.

Glory, glory ever be,

Jesus Savior

All to thee!

September 3 Occupied Heart

Image by Will Wallace

Image by Will Wallace

Ecclesiastes 4:1-6:12;  2 Corinthians 6:14-7:7;  Psalm 47:1-9;  Proverbs 22:16

“I have seen a grievous evil under the sun:

wealth hoarded to the harm of its owner,

or wealth lost from some misfortune,

so that when he has a son there is nothing left for him.

Naked a man comes from his mother’s womb

and as he comes, so he departs.

He takes nothing from his labor

that he can carry in his hand.”

Ecclesiastes 5:13-15

~

“Then I realized that it is good and proper for a man to eat and drink

and to find satisfaction in his toilsome labor under the sun

during the few days of life God has given him–

for this is his lot.

Moreover, when God gives any man wealth

and possessions and enables him to enjoy them,

to accept his lot and be happy in his work–

this is a gift of God.

He seldom reflects on his days of his life,

because God keeps him occupied with gladness of heart.”

Ecclesiastes 5:18-20

 

Heavy heart

be freed

from worldly

chains of greed.

 

Heavy heart

be freed

from endless toil

and wanton need.

 

Heavy heart

be freed.

Christ has loosed

the chains of sin.

You are free,

cared by Him

whose endless love

meets every need.

 

Redeemed heart

rejoice.

Spill over with gladness

every waking moment.

 

Blessed heart

give thanks

for the treasure

you hold:

Peace and Joy and Salvation.

 

Lord God, thank you for releasing my heart from the chains of death and sin through your Son Jesus Christ and His death on the Cross.  Thank you that those chains could not keep Him down–that He now lives and will come again to gather us to Him.  May my freed heart be continually filled with the treasures of your Word and Sacrament until His return.  And may my heart overflow to others with the good news of your salvation.  In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

August 13 Comfort and Joy!

Image by Zach Fonville

Image by Zach Fonville

Nehemiah 5:14-7:60;  1 Corinthians 8:1-13;  Psalm 33:1-11; Proverbs 21:8-10

“Sing joyfully to the Lord

Praise the Lord with the harp

Sing to him a new song

Shout for joy!

For the word of the Lord is right

and true;

he is faithful in all he does.

The Lord loves righteousness

and justice;

the earth is full of his unfailing love.

Image by Zach Fonville

Image by Zach Fonville

By the word of the Lord were the

heavens made,

their starry host by the breath

of his mouth.

He gathers the waters of the sea

into jars;

Let all the earth fear the Lord;

let all the people of the world

revere him.

For he spoke, and it came to be;

he commanded and it stood firm.

The Lord foils the plans of the nations;

he thwarts the purposes

of the peoples.

Image by Zach Fonville

Image by Zach Fonville

But the plans of the Lord stand

firm forever,

the purposes of his heart

through all generations.”

Praise the Lord!

Psalm 33

 

Comfort and joy,

celebrate today

the faithfulness of our God.

In the beginning he promised

to save fallen mankind

and he did!

I am alive today

fully alive,

mind, body, spirit

because of His

love and faithfulness.

Thank and praise you,

Jesus

for being the answer,

the key

that opened the

door to Heaven.

Your perfect life,

fit the Father’s demand

and then you gave your life

for me.

Thank and praise

your Holy Name!

We are your creation.

You have set us in

our places

to proclaim the Good News

that you desire all

people  come to

faith.

You will never stop

looking for the lost ones.

Oh, what Comfort

and joy!