Joy to the Full

SHg3_180515-Hawaii-4643

Hawaiian sunrise

I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.  John 15:11

Every once in a while I am struck with the joy of life. It is not because of the freshness of the mountain air or the brilliant morning sunrise. It is that these joyous moments are but a foretaste of eternal life in Jesus. When I sit down and contemplate why I have such joy, it always comes back to His love for me. The verses just before John 15:11 confirms it:

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. John 15:9-10

“As the Father has loved Me,” Jesus says, “so I have loved you.” There it is––Jesus loves me deeply.

Part of that love for me is to tell me how I should be. Jesus uses the word command because what He says next about staying in His love is absolutely essential. It is the difference between looking through the window at the Christmas celebration, or going in to sit down to fully partake in it. Jesus is telling us that to have complete joy you have to join in His love:

Love each other as I have loved you. John 15:12

I urge you to let the Holy Spirit pour His love through every part of your existence and join the celebration of joy to the full.

Yet, God still Loves Us.

SLH_070609-1547

When life seems to be going down.

Yet, O Lord, you are our Father.
We are the clay, you are the potter;
we are all the work of your hand. Isaiah 64:8

The “yet” that starts verse eight is huge, because the preceding verse six lays out the truth about our past.

All of us have become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags;
we all shrivel up like a leaf, Isaiah 64:6

Though our actions are like filthy rags, yet You are our Father.
Though we have given up on ourselves, yet You do not throw us away.
Though we have made a mess of everything,
Yet, from this lump You will form something beautiful.

Turbulence

white river 6-22-06 040-Edit

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. Isaiah 43:2

This morning I was reading from the end of Jeremiah, where Jeremiah is warning the Israelites not to run off to Egypt. They instead are told to remain in Israel to be taken into captivity by Babylon. In other words it is better to go into captivity with God than to seek refuge anywhere without God.

This is a hard lesson to grasp, but so very important.

Better is a little with the fear of the Lord
than great treasure and trouble with it.
Better is a dinner of vegetables where love is
than a fatted ox and hatred with it. Proverbs 15:16-17

For a day in your courts is better
than a thousand elsewhere.
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
than live in the tents of wickedness. Psalm 84:10

I find that this day is better because God is with me. This blessing is not found in anything else (not in vacation trips, not in winning the lottery, not in great acclaim, not in anything I can imagine). As I meditate upon this fact it changes my perspective for whatever I’m doing. I begin to worship taking a deep breath of the joy in this moment, for my joy is God being with me.

Dreaming Dreams

SH_180331-Monterey-3716

May your dreams take flight

In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Acts 2:17

Lord pour out Your Spirit on me.
Dream Your dreams in me.
Let my thoughts come from You.
Then give me the words to express the vision You give,
So others may rejoice with me.

The River of Life

YNP2014-2447-Edit-2

The might and power of the Firehole River in Yellowstone National Park

When I am feeling burdened by the troubles of life, I cheat and go to the last chapter of the Bible to see how it will end.

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb…
The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. Revelation 22:1-5

Next I go to Psalm 46:

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
God is within her, she will not fall;…
Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
he lifts his voice, the earth melts.
The Lord Almighty is with us;…
Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.
The Lord Almighty is with us;

Jesus is that river of living water––the power of God. I need to be still and trust Immanuel, the Lord Almighty, is with me and my family. Carrying us along to do His will. Isn’t that good news.

Redwoods of Mount Hermon, CA

SH_180331-Monterey-3260-Edit-Edit-2

I think that I shall never see a poem as lovely as a tree. J.Kilmer

A poem for National Poetry Month

When I see a child’s happy face,
It reminds me of a different place.
A child of an innocent age,
But now, time has turned the page.

Fading memory my only measure,
Longing for that long lost treasure.
I see it faintly in my dreams,
What could have been is all it means.

Wars and famine crush and rake,
Leaving sadness in their wake.
Such joy lost, the world has taken,
Bewildered children left forsaken.

To carry this burden of what was lost,
Squandered purity, a terrible cost.
I had no idea how much it mattered,
Joy and peace so quickly scattered.

Can anything undo what’s been done?
Bring back the child to play and run.
Roll back time before I knew,
The terrible taste of that cursed brew.

With great love God became the key,
Stooping down He rescued me.
He offered His life exchanged for mine,
Pure and holy no end with time.

Now I dance before my Lord.
His love my banner not the sword.
Held secure above the fray,
Purest joy with no decay.

Come all who thirst for water clear,
Drink in His life; wash away the fear.
Let God write your poem anew,
Sparkling glory of God in you.

by Stephen Hufman

Belated Praise

 

SHg3_180310-3057

Beauty that is hard to miss

Mount Rainier looms large over Seattle yet most of my fellow passengers on the ferry took little notice (they had seen it hundreds of times); instead they were caught up in reading or conversation. I must say I took a few photos, then returned to doing something else until we docked at Edmonds. It chagrined me later, when I downloaded the pictures, that I had failed to give thanks to the Lord for the beauty I had witnessed.

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. Romans 1:20

So I offer this belated praise as I share this picture:

In his hand are the depths of the earth,
and the mountain peaks belong to him.
The sea is his, for he made it,
and his hands formed the dry land.
Come, let us bow down in worship,
let us kneel before the Lord our Maker;
for he is our God… Psalm 95:4-7

Extraordinary

SH_131003-7668_69_70_tonemapped

The sun shining through the trees…extraordinary!

O LORD make this an extraordinary day.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.  John 10:10

Jesus didn’t come to just save us from evil, He came to give us an abundant extraordinary life.

What makes for an extraordinary life? Living this day to the fullness of God’s blessing. What is God’s blessing? His love for us in Jesus Christ.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.  Eph. 1:3

Life is not about fame, or power, or fortune, but living in, and through, and by the love of God.

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.  Eph. 3:17-19

Stop for a moment an let the love God has for you build into a crescendo of joy. For one day of God’s blessing and love, at work in us, and through, and for us is worth a lifetime elsewhere.

Better is one day in your courts
than a thousand elsewhere;  Psalm 84:10

My Hope

eight mile 25-26

Glorious View

Hope gives us life today because it assures us of God’s goodness for our tomorrows.

We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, Hebrew 6:19

Our hope is this: Jesus Christ in us the hope of glory (Col. 1:27).

What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Romans 8:31-32