"Many are the plans of a man's [mother's] heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails." Proverbs 19:21
Ever see a hamster on a wheel? They run and run, the wheel squeaking and turning, and when they are finished, exhausted, they are still no further ahead, are they?
There are days when I feel like that. As the mother of a very busy, intelligent, strong-willed little boy some days I go to bed with dishes in the sink and toys scattered on my living room floor.
It can be difficult to order my days in such a way that I am able to accomplish the necessary tasks. Lately, it's been impressed on me that there are three things I can do that will help me to keep my purpose aligned with the Lord's.
1. Get enough sleep. It's hard to hear the voice of the Lord when I walk through my day half asleep.
2. Eat whole, energizing foods. I'm not talking about a diet. This is simple - is the food alive? Eat raw fruits and veggies as much as you can - you'll have more energy.
3. Carve out a few minutes for yourself, even just a few times a week, that you can read a devotional book and get out your bible. How will you know if your purposes fit with God's, if you don't know what his purposes are?...
When we can put first things first, we'll find that our life will fall into place. Last night, instead of folding laundry, my son and I sat on the couch and read a book about a porcupine named Fluffy. The laundry will be taken care of over the course of my day, my son will remember what I did - taking time for him - and hopefully connect it with the truth that God will always make time for him, always be interested in his life.
God's encouragement for you today? Align your purpose with His purpose and you'll be on the right track!
"Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed." Proverbs 16:3
December is that time of year when we're inundated with the message of 'Joy to the World'.
This weekend I sat in a small New England church, listening to a message about joy. In the midst of the message, I had a personal epiphany.
The speaker reminded me first that the joy of the the Lord can change the atmosphere of my sphere of influence. This is a solid, comforting thought. Who doesn't want to see their home, their relationships, their work, their neighborhood infused with the bright light of joy?
As the speaker continued on, I realized that I didn't truly understand the nature, the definition of joy. Jesus promises that we will be 'full of joy' (Jn 16:23 MSG).
Full of what, I asked?
I'm not saying I'm right. But this what I heard as I meditated on the meaning of joy:
Joy is the result of understanding what Jesus has revealed, approaching each moment with our focus on Jesus, all requests and actions being filtered through what we understand Jesus' truth to be. Joy is not happiness. Joy is complete understanding and acceptance of Jesus' will for my life: to become like him.
Complete and full joy is the result of a clear understanding of Jesus' truth.
I think that when Jesus says that no one will be able to steal our joy, when we read verses like Nehemiah that tell us: “...the joy of the Lord is your strength...” (Neh 8:10), we wonder how God can expect us to be happy all the time. We wonder what we're doing wrong when we don't feel 'joyful'.
I think sometimes we confuse joy and happiness.
To clarify, I believe that joy is not a 'feeling'. Joy is a choice.
Joy is delving into the very nature of Jesus. Reading, studying and meditating on his life.
“When I see you again, you'll be full of joy, and it will be a joy no one can rob from you. You'll no longer be so full of questions.” ~Jesus in John 16:23 MSG
The joy Jesus speaks of is the unshakable understanding and acceptance that we were created solely to be in relationship with God himself.
Jesus' coming to earth provides us with the missing link needed to experience that relationship with God.
'Joy to the world, the Lord has come.'
Joy is in our midst, manifest in the opening of our heart-eyes to the revelation of our deepest purpose – to become like Jesus and be in relationship with God.
My prayer for you this advent season is that you will experience true joy – the depth of belief and clarity of God's true purpose for your life.
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"We want to live well, but our foremost efforts should be to help others live well."
(1 Corinthians 10:24b MSG)