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JOY IS…

We need, I need, a more lasting joy, an inner joy that isn’t snuffed out when everything turns south and an arctic wind of doubt, grief, hardship or poverty blows over me, or us. I believed there ought to be something more and I discovered there was.

To our human mind, joy is dependent on our financial status, our health, the acceptance and favor of others. When we muse on these issues, our joy fades and our pleasure in these things is tarnished.  Scratch the surface of our joy and there is a dark hole.

THE MOST WASTED OF ALL DAYS

IS ONE WITHOUT LAUGHTER

MY STRENGTH

‘The joy of the Lord is my strength,’ is the line of a song. At first, I wondered how joy could be a strength, but as I mused on the words, I saw that Jesus himself was the joy, a deep abiding, joy, regardless of where I was and what was happening to me.

The realization the Lord lives within means that joy lives within and so becomes a strength. Of course, one must believe who the Lord is, we need to accept he indwells us when we commit to him.

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MANY THINGS

Jesus is many things according to the Bible, I guess that is why he can supply all our needs. If he lacked just one thing he would not be able to supply all our needs. Hence, Jesus had to be perfect in every way.

The scripture quotes Jesus as saying, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life and we can add, ‘the joy’, Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life and the joy. When we have Jesus we have joy, joy like a piece of ripe fruit with an eternal shelf-life. To sum it all up, joy becomes a strength in the form of Jesus.

Some further musings on joy:

Joy is serving God

Joy is when we are in chains.

Joy is encouraging others.

Joy is corporate.

Joy is personal.

Joy is Jesus.

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A PIECE OF CAKE

‘It’s a piece of cake,’ is a term explaining that no effort is needed physically or mentally to achieve an outcome.
I attended afternoon tea on Mother’s Day, with my daughter-in-law, granddaughters, and granddaughters-in-law.
A mud-cake and cheesecake took pride of place in the middle of the table. We admired the beauty of the cakes, they delighted our taste-buds.

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If only life was as easy as a piece of cake. Trials, problems, and illnesses beset us, For some of us, we consider we have been singled out to bear the brunt of what life throws at us more than our contemporaries.
Should we continue to be faithful to the Lord? we wonder. We question our salvation and healing.
The heavens turn brass when we need God the most. To consider we are living under the umbrella of God’s blessing is ludicrous.
Thinking about living in the blessing of God was far from my mind. I was thankful when God blessed me but I considered I was I was nobody special, therefore was outside of the inner circle. One day while attending a church service I was struck by the fact that I was in God’s blessing. I didn’t have to work or be good to be in the center of God’s blessing, I was never out of it.
The place of blessing didn’t mean that I behaved myself. It meant God loved me so much he allowed Jesus to hang on the cross, carry my sins and indwell me making me a new person. I had to accept Jesus’ act on the cross though, to access the place of blessing.
Did it mean during times of poverty, and illness; of making poor decisions, that I lost my place of blessing? No, God loved me beyond normal.
‘Who can ever keep Christ’s love from us? When we have trouble or calamity, when we are hunted down or destroyed, is it because he doesn’t love us anymore? And if we are hungry and penniless, or in danger, or threatened with death has God deserted us? … but despite all this, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ who loved us enough to die for us.’ Romans 8:35 – 37.

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When God loves it is forever. His love is awesome, powerful. Jesus death is God’s ultimate act of love to and for us. If we can’t see it or won’t see it and accept it, we are the losers.
Understanding there is a place of blessing and we are living in it regardless, life becomes a piece of cake. Peace and strength to cope are ours.
Life will continue to condemn. Depression follow us, addictions tempt us but the blessing empowers us to break these problems. ‘Overwhelming victory is ours.’
Rejoice and rest under the umbrella of blessing. OK, we don’t deserve the blessing or the piece of cake as it were, but God loves us.
Be courageous, believe and accept Jesus, and live in the blessing.

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THE BURNT HAT

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The philosophy of Len Leane, the father of Bruce was to overcome what life threw at you and come out on top.

‘I saw in my father a mix of strengths and weaknesses, many of which I have inherited,’ Bruce says. ‘The trait I valued most was his compassion for the underdog. I think I inherited that trait because when I see someone being unfairly treated I just have to go to their rescue and fight for a better deal.’

‘My father played a big part in my development as a boy,’ Bruce give a chuckle as he remembers an incident with a neighbor who had had his hat burnt.

A neighbor, James, not his real name, had lost his hat, after some detective work he discovered some boys had burnt it for a joke.  James beat a path to Dad’s door, ‘Your two boys burnt my hat I ought to knock your block off,’ James angrily accused.

I and my brother were listening from behind the living room door, shaking in our boots. We were terrified. We were there when his hat was burnt and knew who did it. We were scared for Dad because he was like a David and James a Goliath.  We were sure Dad would be killed.

Dad stepped out onto the veranda and looked James in the eye, and dared him, ‘Come on then, knock my block off, because my two sons were not involved in burning your hat.  They know better than to destroy other peoples’ property. ’ Dad was angry at being rudely addressed and secondly, having his sons accused of a crime when to his mind, they hadn’t done anything wrong.  Dad and James glared at each other, dad’s chin was jutting out rock-like, just daring to be hit.  James turned and walked away, we boys heaved a sigh, we had been saved, dad, was still alive.  James never found out who burnt his hat, he blamed us though and never forgave us.

‘I was so impressed with my father’s courage and daring,’ Bruce said. ‘I have never forgotten his recipe for living.’

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NO GREATER LOVE

I, the writer of this story, am also impressed with God. More than impressed because of who God is and his unconditional love and his daring to release his only son Jesus to come to this earth and save me and the rest of humanity.  In making me his child, he has become my Father, he has taken up my fights. God has smoothed out the circumstances even though he knows I have not always been in the right.

What God has done is more than I deserve, yet his love for me made him seek a way to redeem me.  It was Jesus who took my blame and wrongdoing when he hung on the cross, and in turn gave me his goodness or righteousness.  My position with my Father has not been earned it is an unearned gift, I’m so impressed that I have elected to become the Father’s child, I have let go everything I thought was good because my Father’s love is all I want.

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Bruce’s father’s love for his sons was impressive but my heavenly Father’s love is unexplainable, depthless, we can never measure it this side of eternity.

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DON’T LOOK IN – ENTER

When Bruce and I returned from our honeymoon we went immediately to our new home. For the fun of it, we kept the tradition of the groom carrying the bride across the threshold or doorstep of their new home.  It signaled the start of a life together with the groom welcoming his bride into the home he had prepared for her.

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Restlessness hung over every home, town, village, and city in Egypt that night.  Every house in throughout the nation and especially the Jewish quarters was lit up, no one went to bed. They were waiting for the word to move out. It was the last night the Israeli’s would spend in  Egypt. The feeling was mixed, what would happen to them, where would they go? Were they exchanging one kind of slavery for another?

By and large, the people huddled in their houses eating their last meal in Egypt as Moses was instructed by God. The order had been issued, word of mouth, an unblemished lamb had to be killed and cooked a certain way and its blood painted on the .lintel and sides of the door. The information was that a curse of death was placed on the firstborn of every family regardless of nationality.  Those sheltering in homes with the blood painted over the door would escape.  The Israelis believed this and complied.

When the night was at its darkest, the cry of heartbroken people could be heard, the firstborn offspring, men, women, and children were being found dead.  Those sheltering behind the blood splattered doors were safe, no death or evil could cross the threshold. The Israeli homes were safe-houses. It was to be known as the Passover when the curse passed over the Israeli nation.

The rituals carried out in every home were to be passed down word of mouth, and celebrated every year. How God ordered the blood of animals to be killed to cover his people from the curse and keep them safe.  Today, Christians celebrated Easter, but really it is the Passover being practiced.

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God has made some changes to the Passover Feast,  animals are no longer used.  They were only a stopgap, a covering,  God had a grand design, changing the heart of man,  making him a new creature and to do that he needed a perfect person to take the place of the unblemished lamb and who better to do this than his only son Jesus.

Jesus Christ became the lamb, he was crucified, he carried us and our waywardness onto the cross and when we believe and accept him we are carried over the threshold of past hurts, failures, and wrong decisions into a new life of righteousness, the old life is annihilated. Every principality and power, in heaven or earth, was crushed and they were placed under Christ’s feet.

Satan may tell us that we must perform this ritual, or do that act to be worthy to serve God and reach our full potential.  The thing is, we are free and worthy the moment we believe in Jesus as God’s son and savior.  God can’t do any more for us, he freed us when Jesus died for us.

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Because we have believed, we are the children of God. We’ve been elevated to be joint heirs with Christ.  Everything that is his is ours. The Father’s love, his care, and provision. The Father’s power,  and wealth, it’s all ours,  so don’t let Satan dupe us into believing we have to do something to cross the threshold to be free.

 

 

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YES, IT’S A FAKE

 

I saw an image of a frog sitting on a peeled banana, enjoying the sweet moisture.  For me to capture such an image would not be possible because transport is not available.  All I have at my disposal is my imagination and innovation.

The frog in the image above is a fake. I bought it at a tourist store rather cheaply.   The creature looks real tucked away among the leaves.  I had fun experimenting with the toy in many different positions.

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A tin flower made by an artist

We humans can put on a good front, we can pose, making out we are who we are not. We often hide a broken, hurting heart behind a smiling face. We are fakes, and in some ways, we become shams just to survive.  When self-esteem is lacking, human nature compensates, by putting up a front.

God knows, God sees past the façade of the broken heart, the offended feelings, the poor self-esteem. He cares what happens to us. He sees we are living a life of make-believe which is only half a life. God desires a better life for us, a real, true life.

God cares so much that ‘he gave his only Son so that anyone who believes in him should have eternal life.’(John 3: 16) God did not send Jesus into the world to condemn us but to save us because he cares.

The good news is that Jesus can set those who feel bound by addiction free, that there is hope for them through Jesus, ill health can be dispelled.

God does not condemn a person, he does not give up on a person, I am a testimony to that. He loves us through our problems until the real person emerges. God does not work on the outside, he works on the inside, the heart, he changes the person’s heart so they become a new creature, and they have a new and perfect spirit. There is no need to hide anymore, the self-esteem is restored, and the person is whole

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The fallen petal

The secret to shedding the skin of a fake is to accept Jesus and invite him to dwell in your inner self and begin his work of creating a new person.

 

 

 

 

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RETROSPECT

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Jenny cast her mind back over the last year. Her heart broke again as the memories flooded her mind and she relived how she and her brother and mother Bella fled in the middle of the night. Brett, their drunken, husband, and father, threatened to kill them.
The three of them spent a terrifying night in the car parked in a beach car park. They expected Brett to appear at any moment and smash the car windows.
In retrospect, Jenny had grown up this last year. In years she was thirteen but experience-wise twenty-three.
Against her will and that of her brother, Bella returned to Brett. As Bella kept saying, ‘I’ll lose everything, my home, my husband. I need a man in my life.’
‘But Mum, he is an alcoholic, he will kill us. I’m scared of what he will do to me. Please don’t go home to Brett,’ Jenny pleaded.
They returned home. Life was a sunny day for a few weeks, then the thunderclouds began to build up. Brett reverted to his old behavior.
Jenny and her brother arrived home from school one day to be greeted by a policewoman. Their mother had died at Brett’s drunken hands.
They were orphans, she and her brother. If only her mother had been strong enough to live apart from Brett, she would still be alive.
Jenny promised herself and her brother, ‘I’ll not repeat my mother’s mistakes.’Daily Prompt: Retrospective

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MASQUERADE

 

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The music and lyrics of ‘Masquerade,’ were written by Andrew Lloyd  Weber for ‘The Phantom of the Opera.

I had never given much thought to the opera feeling I would never get to see it. I discovered that it was being shown on TV, alas, I still was unable to watch the production.  I was amazed to find the theme running through the opera was ‘tongue in cheek’, a ‘throw off’ at human nature and its tendency to hide from reality.

How subtle of Weber to create this beautiful magical music as a conduit to reveal our paper masks and the masquerades we indulge in just for the sake of appearances and kid ourselves we are saints.

We sit in church wearing our paper faces designed to give us an identity of who we think we would like to be. Our fellow worshippers accept our paper-faces as our true selves because they don’t know us and know no difference. We can fool them into thinking we are who we aren’t. We can masquerade as somebody else.

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We can’t hide from God, he sees our true heart with all its weakness, grime and hurt yet our humanity didn’t turn God off from us, he didn’t run from us as we feared instead he ran toward us with open arms and said, ‘I will destroy their illusions, their hidey-holes, their idols and make them true people.’ God sent Jesus to shoulder our crap, so when we believe him, accept him as our saviour, we will be free, guiltless, righteous people as he planned for us to be from the beginning.

I have to put my hand up and admit that I am guilty of hiding behind a paper-face. I showed the world a false face because I had been hurt, criticised, thought of as a non-person who was a waste of space.  To live a safe life I created a paper-face for myself.

One day God said, ‘You’ve hidden long enough, it’s time to be your true self.  I want to use you, bless you but I can’t while you are wearing a false face.’  God reminded me that he made Jesus sin for me, he who knew no sin that I might be the righteousness of God in him.’(2 Cor. 5: 21)

P1320812Jesus took my paper-face and tore it up and to reveal his own beautiful face, he filled me with his resurrection spirit, his heart, himself. I took the leap of faith, submitted to God and turned my true face to the world, my Jesus face. So what if I’m not Mrs. Popularity or Queen of World Missions. I am the child of God, the apple of his eye and nothing can separate me from the love of God, not death, principalities, not angels.’ (Romans 8: 35 -39)

The mask has been torn away, ‘ I have put off the old man and have put on the new man, which is renewed in the knowledge after the image of Him Who created me’ (Colossians 3:9-10). How different life is; the circumstances, the people, the ups and downs of life are still the same but I see them all from being a new person.

I don’t know about you, my friend, but life without the paper mask is a lot richer, truer and joyous and Christlike. ‘ I show forth the praises of God who has called me out of darkness into His marvelous light’ (1 Peter 2:9).

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