Wednesday, 16 August 2017

I Am Filled With Joy, John 17:13 by Susan L.

"But now I come to You, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have My joy fulfilled in themselves." NKJV
 "Now I am coming to you. I told them many things while I was with them in this world so they would be filled with my joy." JCB

  These are the words of Jesus as He spoke to His Father in prayer for His disciples. This was right before He was betrayed and arrested.
  I find the word choices between the two different versions thought provoking.
  In the Jesus Centred Bible, it has been translated as an action, that we be filled with the joy of the Lord. It implies that being filled with joy is an ongoing process.
  In the New King James Version, having the joy of Jesus fulfilled means it is a done deal. It is complete, achieved and finished.
  So, which is it?
  Maybe I need to think about what exactly Jesus' joy consists of...
  And here is where I stumble because it is hard for a mortal in this world to grasp even a fraction of the peace and joy Jesus had within.

  Thank You, Lord for having me read further in the chapter because when Jesus prays to His Father for all believers He says, "I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one." Jn 17:22 JCB
  There it is. A joy that outweighs the lies of the enemy. A joy that surpasses all trials, troubles and wrong roads. A joy that is firmly anchored in an unmovable foundation.
  All because I made the choice to believe Jesus is mine, forever.

  Lord, You know me better than anyone. You know my struggles. I confess that the sound of the crickets chirping their requiem for summer has triggered an avalanche of conflicting emotions. None of them are joy because the sound has filled me with sadness and haunting memories of the dark days on the Black River.  
  I thought these things were finished because the sound hasn't triggered these reactions or bothered me for a couple of years. Why is this year different...

  I have been reminded that Jesus was with me then. He is with me now. And I understand that I can be sorrowful yet still have joy. Sorrow will end. Trials will end. Troubles will end.
  Joy never will.
 
 
 

 
 

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Waiting Vessel by Susan L.

  I am filled with the knowledge of His will. Colossians 1:9
  "For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding." NKJV
  "So we have not stopped praying for you since we first heard about you. We ask God to give you complete knowledge of his will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding." JCB

  My pastor approached me about doing some sort of illustrations to dress up the church website. I am meeting with him this afternoon to discuss options and to find out exactly what he is looking for. It's amazing how quickly my creativity gets flowing. Being asked to do this and by simply looking through the website as it is created an avalanche of ideas.
  I have complete faith in God, the author of my creativity. My daughter's wedding bench was a reminder about Who has everything well in hand.
  He has taught me well.
  Art is where my walk began so long ago. He filled my soul with a longing to draw and paint so I sat down at the drafting table and waited. To free a hand and mind that had been stifled for so long, I first put on some classical music and painted what the music inspired. After this, a candle in the darkness emerged and other faith symbols took shape on paper.
  After several paintings of rather stereotypical Christian imagery, I said to Him, "Okay, that's enough. Please, give me something bigger, deeper."
  He gave me the Armor of God from Ephesians. This is the book my walk with the Lord started in. I needed to know how stand firm and tall in my new found faith. And I am a visual learner. (No surprise there.)
  Rising to the challenge of doing one of the biggest pieces I'd ever done, my enthusiasm drove me  to get it finished as quickly as possible.
  It didn't turn out very well. The kneeling figure looked like it was cowering in fear. The armor looked dull and not very solid. The colours in the background looked like the darkness was closing in around it; like the darkness was winning.
  Thankfully, God is a God of grace. "Do it again."
  This time I took my time. I spent many moments quietly contemplating what was taking shape. I painted the armor according to God's vision, not mine. I was able to utilize some of the elements from the first picture. It wasn't completely off base. Using tracing paper I adjusted the figure's position without having to draw the entire thing over again. (Nothing we do is ever wasted.)
  Besides changing the figure's pose, the helmet of salvation was the biggest difference. The second version was completely solid. There was no place for the wearer to see out of. Instead, the helmet of our salvation will enable us to see the world as God sees it.
  I have kept the two pictures safe in a portfolio all these years because they were the birthplace of my prayer life. The best part of all is that even though I took control of the process in the beginning, God is kind enough, loving enough, to give second chances and third and fourth chances to get it right.
  A screwed up painting filled me with a longing for wisdom, clarity, and understanding about what the Christian life is meant to be. It shaped my heart's desire to know God's will in and for my life.
  I am so thankful He keeps giving me the gift of chances and opportunities to learn and grow yet quickly forgives me when I miss the boat.
  I think I am up to at least a thousand second chances.
 
 
 

Monday, 14 August 2017

I am Filled... by Susan L.

...with the fruit of the Spirit. Galatians 5:22-23
  "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law!" NKJV
  "But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!" JCB

  I don't know about anyone else, but if someone tells me I can't have a chocolate chip cookie, it quickly becomes an obsession, something I absolutely have to have! Daydreams fill my mind about the cookie. My taste buds yearn for the crunchy sweetness. I imagine the chocolate chips melting in my mouth. The cupboards get searched even though I know there are no cookies hidden in some forgotten corner. There's only about four corners in my tiny kitchen so the search doesn't take too long. Opening and closing the cupboard door doesn't make cookies magically appear either! Darn it!
  The next time a trip to the grocery store becomes a necessity, I stand in the cookie section, practically drooling over the gourmet chocolate chip cookies. Especially over the ones with added roasted pecans. Yummy!
  I reach for the bag...(If the blog had a sound track, I'd add the scary, shark theme from Jaws here.)
  I pick it up, studying the picture, weighing my allotted grocery allowance against the ridiculous cost of a dozen cookies.
  Then I think about all the weight I've lost.
  Nope. Better stick to fruit. There were ripe pears, peaches, new apples, and strawberries in the produce section at a fraction of the price of a skimpy bag of cookies. Sprinkling cut up fruit with cinnamon makes for a fool-the-mind-there's-sugar-here treat.
  And I am rewarded by achieving victory. Peace fills my heart the moment the cookie bag is returned to the shelf. The cravings slink back into the shadows from where they came. In its place, my body longs for good and wholesome foods.
  There isn't a law against cookies. It was fully my choice to indulge or not. Sin is a choice.
 
  (Long pause.)

  Sigh. Sometimes the cookies win. That's okay. The Lord helps me start over again in my ongoing fight against sugary treats.
  Lord, let me recognize the fruit of the Holy Spirit in my life. Fill me with patience and kindness when the cookies prevail and I come down hard on myself for failing. Show me how to be more patient and kind with the people who are in my life. Give me life speaking words. Help me be more like You. In Jesus' name I pray. AMEN!