Don’t confuse happiness with joy

In the words of Billy Graham:

Some people think Christians should always be smiling and happy, and something is wrong if they aren’t.

But this isn’t necessarily true.  Jesus stood outside the tomb of his friend Lazarus, and we read that, “Jesus wept” (John 11:35).  As he approached Jerusalem “he saw the city and wept”  (Luke 19:41) because of it’s spiritual blindness and guilt.  He knelt in the Garden of Gethsemane and was, “. . . in agony [and] his sweat became like great drops of blood” (Luke 22:44)

Don’t confuse happiness with joy.  Happiness comes with happy circumstances; joy wells up deep inside our souls as we learn to trust Christ.  Joy does not mean that we are never sad or that we never cry.  But joy is a quiet confidence, a state of inner peace that comes from God.

Life’s troubles will rob us of our happiness, but they can never rob us of the joy God gives us, as we turn in faith to Him and seek His face.

The joy of the Lord is your strength.  Nehemiah 8:10

From “What is joy?”  in Hope for each day, (2002).  Thomas Nelson, Inc.  p. 338.

I get this and hope you do too, Gentle Reader.   Few things can rob your happiness like waking up in the middle of the night 8-10 times with convulsive episodes and a massive headache.  It probably wasn’t nice for my beloved husband Steve either, awakened from a sound sleep lying next to me.  The aftermath for me felt like I banged my head in every direction against a wall.  Not fun at all!  Gratefully the dream I later woke up in the middle of (after more seizure attacks falling asleep)  was a reasonable one.  I mean that we had experienced something similar just under 2 years ago so it wasn’t that bad really.

I dreamed that Steve and I had moved temporarily into an apartment while some work was being done on our home only to have all of our belongings and the inside of the apartment become covered cascades of dust!  Yeah, that was not good for someone multiply chemically sensitive like me knowing that mold is often lurking in dust.  The situation was beginning to resolve when I woke up.  Phew!  It was just a dream!  This time the headache was less and the convulsions were replaced with less violent seizure attacks.  They actually helped clear my head some . . . and yet I still felt beat up.  The next few hours were meaningless . . .

Regardless, I have joy!  How is this possible you may ask?  Well, it’s just like the quote from Billy Graham noted above.  I have learned to trust Christ in all things, wretched or not.  Of course I cry in sorrow when a new treatment intended to help me makes things worse for awhile.  Call it a healing crisis, herxheimer reaction, or the like.  It’s a bite in the shorts any way you slice it!  But that doesn’t change anything between my Savior and me.  He meets me on my bed of sickness and weeps for my suffering.  This is not His intention for me yet at the same time my suffering will not be wasted because He has a plan for my life.  Maybe one part is this:  I am hoping that my suffering provided an illustration here of HOPE IN ACTION.  I pray that it will encourage someone out there who is suffering too.  HE CARES FOR YOUR SUFFERING TOO and will see you through it!

One day all of our strife and worry will be over as He makes our joy complete when He comes again in glory:  with unimaginable happiness too!  This promise holds true for those who love the Lord and call Him Savior.  If you are suffering, please do not let that stop you from seeking the best hope you have in your pain:  the person of Jesus Christ.  His love covers ALL.  In Him, you will find a joy that will transcend it all.  Gentle Reader, please do not confuse happiness with joy.  JJ

Jer 29.11

The Children Cry Out

 

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this simply should not be and yet it is.

here’s the story if you have not already heard:  ISIS beheading children in Iraq.

no human could systematically do this to children without experiencing trauma oneself.  it is evil, pure and simple.  the answer?  follow Christ’s example (see Matthew 4) and combat evil with the Word of God.  please join me and conscious people throughout the word in the prayer that will combat this evil.

Matthew 25:40  “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

Matthew 25:45  “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

we pray in Jesus name who takes our prayers to our heavenly Father.  even our utterances of grief will be heard by the holy spirit in One with the Father.  thank you.  Lord have mercy on the least of these!  JJ

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Luke 18:16-17  But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”

Leviticus 18:1  “‘Do not give any of your children to be sacrificed to Molek, for you must not profane the name of your God. I am the Lord.

Deuteronomy 4:9  Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.

Deuteronomy 4:40  Keep his decrees and commands, which I am giving you today, so that it may go well with you and your children after you and that you may live long in the land the Lord your God gives you for all time.  (Given before the grace of Jesus Christ at Calvary).

Deuteronomy 14:1  You are the children of the Lord your God.

2 Chronicles 25:4  Yet he did not put their children to death, but acted in accordance with what is written in the Law, in the Book of Moses, where the Lord commanded: “Parents shall not be put to death for their children, nor children be put to death for their parents; each will die for their own sin.”  (Thus correcting the concept of generational sin.  These children are not dying for the sin of their parents!  And they are too young to die for their own sins.  See the grace given to children from Matthew 19:14 below.)

Psalm 72:4  May he defend the afflicted among the people and save the children of the needy; may he crush the oppressor.

Psalm 103:13  As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;

Psalm 127:3  Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him.

Psalm 127:4  Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth.

Psalm 139:13-18  For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts,[a] God!
    How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them,
    they would outnumber the grains of sand—
    when I awake, I am still with you.

Proverbs 17:6  Children’s children are a crown to the aged, and parents are the pride of their children.

Isaiah 43:5  Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bring your children from the east and gather you from the west.

Lamentations 2:11  My eyes fail from weeping, I am in torment within; my heart is poured out on the ground because my people are destroyed, because children and infants faint in the streets of the city.  (The Lord’s heart as reflected in the inspired words of the prophet Jeremiah, grieves for his children.)

Lamentations 2:19  Arise, cry out in the night, as the watches of the night begin; pour out your heart like water in the presence of the Lord. Lift up your hands to him for the lives of your children, who faint from hunger at every street corner.  (We are to grieve for the children.)

Lamentations 4:2  How the precious children of Zion, once worth their weight in gold, are now considered as pots of clay, the work of a potter’s hands!

Joel 1:3  Tell it to your children, and let your children tell it to their children, and their children to the next generation.

Micah 1:16  Shave your head in mourning for the children in whom you delight; make yourself as bald as the vulture, for they will go from you into exile.

Matthew 2:18  “A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.”

Matthew 19:14  Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

Mark 9:37  “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.”

Mark 10:16  And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them.

Luke 11:13  If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

Luke 23:28  Jesus turned and said to them, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children.

John 1:12  Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—

Acts 2:39  The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”

Romans 8:14  For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.

Romans 8:17  Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

Romans 9:8 In other words, it is not the children by physical descent who are God’s children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham’s offspring.

Galatians 3:26  So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith,

Hebrews 2:14-15  14 Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— 15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.   (Christ was once a child and always our Savior.  As such he both grieves and overcomes the evil of the world.)

1 John 3:1  See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!

1 John 3:10  This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother and sister.

1 John 4:4  You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.

1 John 5:19  We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one.

Revelation 21:7  Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children.

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In these words and promises I hope you will find instruction, direction, comfort and hope.  Our Lord sees the suffering of our brothers and sisters in Christ, young and old.  In the words of a dear sister I find the most encouragement of all.  I will close with this and continue to pray for those persecuted for their faith.  Their reward is coming.  Take care,  Just Julie

In view of the tragic beheading of Christian children & adults by Islamic groups, the following, written 68-96AD (1,946 yrs ago) is enlightening: “… and [I saw] the souls of them that were BEHEADED FOR THE WITNESS OF JESUS, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received [his] mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.” Revelation20:4  (From Facebook August 8, 2014)

 

And then you just hope to move sideways

Here’s a brief update on my brother, Michael, and me with a prayer request:

At this moment Mike is moving from an acute, inpatient rehabilitation facility to one of the lowest-rated nursing homes in the city of Detroit.  The social workers claim that of the 35 facilities they have contacted, St. Francis is the only one who would accept him.  The reason?  He is “Medicaid Pending” and does not have any other insurance.  We are sad and concerned.

Today Mike’s rehabilitation stops until Medicaid is approved.  Today Mike learns how the indigent of our society are left behind in facilities located across the street from an abandoned buildings in scary neighborhoods.  Today Mike decides whether or not he is a FIGHTER.  I only got to talk to him briefly before the transport vehicle came to wheel him out of his private room and begin the next leg of his recovery journey.  He has made tremendous gains in cognition, swallowing, self care, transferring from one seat to another, and even walking.  Mike has had close monitoring of his medical condition, medications, and test results.  The plan to address a complex cyst on a kidney remains unclear as he moves away from his rehabilitation and medical specialists.  None of them go to the new facility.  It is unlikely that he will receive any rehabilitation therapies from this point forward until his Medicaid is approved.  We are sad and concerned.

We are hoping that this transfer is a move sideways and not the beginning of a downward slide.  At this point I do not believe that he knows that he will be receiving fewer services.  He is concerned about the facility location and the comfort level of his fiancé visiting him in an unsafe neighborhood.  Gratefully our cousin, Lisa, is an optometrist who sees patients there every 6 weeks.  She has known the staff there for 10 years.  We are hoping that this helps place Mike in a favorable light.  Lisa has also offered to accompany Mike’s fiancé, also named Lisa, on her first visit to the new place.  I am exceedingly grateful for this.  I wish I could be there too.  I cannot go at this time.

I had my own questionable “move” this past weekend.  Difficulty breathing and bizarre, violent seizure attack episodes landed me in the emergency room.  I received “treatment” and returned home; the last three days have been marginal yet better in some ways.  I saw my family practice physician yesterday and was able to put together a few plans to tighten up my treatment plan.  Unfortunately I had to escape outside for fresh air THREE TIMES due to the mold aerosols in his water-damaged office building!  Did I mention that I was already wearing a charcoal mask?  Geez.  I was re-reading the Clinical Summary this morning from my visit and collapsed at the kitchen table into a pile of seizure-like tics.  Perhaps the aerosols followed me home on the porous copy paper?  Who knows.  My gracious husband has seen me through it all, threw out the papers this morning and opened the bay windows to help me revive.  Thank you my beloved Steve!

Sometimes it looks like things are going downhill when actually we have just stepped a little to the side.  Many hidden blessings have come from my brother’s stroke:  developing a closer relationship with his fiancé, rekindling a friendship with my amazing cousin Lisa, and seeing a few family members step forth to love on my brother are wonderful.  And in my own situation I now have a biotoxin illness doctor who is willing to go to bat for me when headed to the ER on a Sunday in addition to an incredible husband who is my kinsman redeemer.  Steve is willing to love me, care for me, and defend my special needs when needed on my journey to wellness.  He believes me that this crap-ola-ski is NOT all in my head and is helping me overcome it too.  In both my brother’s and my own situation, I am seeing new expressions of love that have not been there in our lives before.  Cool beans.  Thank you Jesus!

Gentle Reader, would you kindly pray this scripture with me?  I pray that we will lean on the Lord, trust in the Lord, and have courage to move forward when-and-as the Lord leads these next few weeks.  I need to rest in the tender care of my Jesus and not get ahead of the work He is accomplishing in today.  After all, I do not want to miss the richness of His tender care, His presence in each breathing moment.  Such a joy it is to know that He is here carrying Mike this afternoon in that transport van.  Such a joy it is to know that He is here too with me and you carrying our thoughts and prayers to our Heavenly Father for His wise care according to His Divine plan for our lives.  Perhaps sideways is a good place to be right now.

Want some bulletproof coffee?  Let’s go out on the patio and sit for awhile.  The sun is shining this afternoon and the narcissus, tulips, hyacinths, and buttercups are blooming!

Proverbs 3:5-6
Proverbs 3:5-6