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Looking For The Joy!

Looking For The Joy!

My reading this morning brought a huge surprise for me!  Let me explain:  My morning devotions begin with reading  the popular book, Jesus Calling  by Sarah Young,  followed by reading her suggested Bible passages.  One of today’s passages:

“… looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy  that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”   (Hebrews 12:2 NKJV)

You know how it is…you can read the same scripture many times and every time you find something new that has a special meaning for you at that time!  Today the word “joy” really popped out to me!  How was it possible for Jesus to be able to experience “joy” when He was “looking” at the disgrace and pain of the cross that was right before Him??  (Not to mention what He must have gone through with every sin of all the world being on His mind!!)  I had to think about that!!!!

David Jeremiah in his commentary for this verse, offered this explanation: “Looking” means ‘to look away from something and to fix your gaze on the right thing’.  Christian men and women should look with spiritual eyes beyond their immediate trials, to Jesus the author and finisher of their faith!!!”  (The Jeremiah Study Bible page 1762)   Now, that really excited me!  That’s the answer for me, too!!

Lets back up a little! The previous chapter of the book of  Hebrews is Hebrews 11, which is famously called “The Hall of Faith”!  This chapter is easy to read and serves as a great list of many of the Old Testament Israelites that “looked forward in faith” to something unseen or unknown!!  Their faith was based on believing that God would do what He said He would do, even when it wasn’t seen.  In other words; it is not “seeing is believing”!!!  I hope you will read Hebrews 11.  If you aren’t familiar with the lives of the people, let me help you:

  • Abel:  Genesis 4: 1-8
  • Enoch:  Genesis 5: 21-24
  • Noah: Genesis 6 – 9
  • Lives of Abraham and Sarah: Genesis 12 -25
  • The Patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph): Genesis 22 – 50
  • Moses: Exodus
  • Rehab: (Rehab was not an Israelite, but showed faith in her actions)  Joshua 1: 1-21; 6: 16-25
  • Gideon, Barak, Samson, and Jephthah: Judges 4: 6-24;   7: 1-25;   11:1 – 12:7;   13:24 – 16:31.
  • David: 1 Samuel 16 -17 (Read 1 & 2 Samuel and 1 Kings 2:1-11)
  • Samuel: 1 Samuel 7: 9-14 (Read 1 Samuel 1 – 25)
  • and many others

I hope you are able to realize from this reading, that we can find joy no matter what situation we are in!  Our joy must be like Jesus’ joy:  knowing by faith what is before us in eternity! There are going to be trials and pain and sorrow; but a part of us, our faith,  will always be looking forward to what is before us:  spending eternity with the Great I Am!   The King of Kings!  The Lord of Lords!  Praise the Name of Jesus!!



For Every Thing There is a Season

For Every Thing There is a Season

Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes 3:1, “For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.”  (NLT)  I have had a hard time with this scripture this year; especially this Christmas season.  A close friend advised me to use the internet for a possible source of finding out why holidays sometimes affect us in a negative way. I did find a few good resources, but one seemed to hit on one thing in particular that could explain what I was feeling!  It was possible that I was grieving because Christmas had changed from what it had always been.  I had to look back over my Christmas memories to get a better understanding of what I was missing so much!

I realized that I have had to change my Christmas “tradition” many times over the years!  Christmas Eve has always been the Danish tradition of “dancing around the Christmas tree”!  When I was young, most Christmas Eves were spent at our Grandma and Grandpa Olsen’s home. After enjoying a delicious supper Grandma had prepared; the entire family,  including grandparents, aunts and uncles and all the cousins would join hands and sing Christmas carols, as we would circle the Christmas tree!  (The Christmas tree lights were “blinking” as Grandma always had the old-timey bubble lights). The only light would be from the Christmas tree, which added to the spiritual atmosphere we all shared!  Then it was time for the Danish song that all kids love!  “Nu ar det Jul igen” is a Danish Christmas song that is actually “danced” around the tree with stomping feet and switching direction of the circle after singing it a couple of times! I believe it’s meaning was something like “Now it is Christmas again and may the joy of Christmas last until Easter”.   Of course, we sing it many times along with the other Christmas carols because the children love it so much!

When Grandma Olsen wasn’t able to host all of us, we danced around the Christmas tree at my Aunt Norma’s home!  As we married and started having children, we started celebrating Christmas Eve at Mom and Daddy’s home and passed on all the Danish traditions to the next generation!  Looking back now, I can see that I adjusted very well to these changes.  The next big adjustment came when we moved to North Carolina from Iowa.  Since there wasn’t enough of us to hold hands around the tree; we invited neighbors and new friends  to join us on Christmas Eve.  Everyone always loved the dancing around the Christmas tree and especially the fun Danish carol!

Even after moving away, we were fortunate to travel back to Iowa a couple of times and dance around the Christmas tree with my parents and siblings’ families until Daddy spent Christmas in heaven in 2001. Mother would join us for Christmas as often as she could until Christmas of 2007 when she suffered a stroke that meant she wouldn’t be able to travel or stay in her own home.

This Christmas of 2016 we welcome a new Great Grandson!  It’s always more fun when we have little kids join us around the tree!  We have two other Great Grandsons; one will be three years old and a five year old, that will be all smiles when we turn off all the lights except the Christmas tree!  They will laugh as we dance to “Nu er det Jul igen” and quickly change direction!    I still enjoy talking to my 95 year old mother in Iowa every night!  I miss my Daddy, my son and a granddaughter and many other family and friends; but feel peace in knowing I will see them again with Jesus in heaven!  So why am I having a hard time adjusting to this Christmas season?

I found in that article; that I am grieving because I have had to give up one more tradition: preparing the Christmas Eve meal and having my kids and their families at our home for dancing around the tree!  My son and daughter-in-law are hosting our family for Christmas Eve for the second time this year and I am so grateful!  We will still dance around the Christmas tree in their home!   But this is a newseason” in my life.!  A time for a new “activity”!   The answer was in my Bible all the time!!  So, as the article suggested; Brad and I will start a new Christmas tradition we can look forward to for future Christmas seasons.  We have decided that we will have our kids and their families come to our house for pancake breakfast the Saturday before Christmas Eve.  That makes us both very happy until it is time for another “season” !

To all my fellow Pilgrims traveling God’s trail with me, I pray for a Merry Christmas for you and all your friends and family!  Jesus is the reason we celebrate this Christmas!  So, whatever tradition you use to celebrate, remember Jesus, our Savior, was God’s gift to us.  He was born to pay for our sins that we may live eternity with Him!!   MERRY CHRISTMAS!  or as they say in Denmark: Gladelig Jul!


Joel 2: The Day of the LORD?

Joel 2: The Day of the LORD?

We have been looking at the Old Testament book of Joel.  As a review: A Bible that had been burned in the recent wild fires in SE Tennessee Mountains has drawn a lot of attention.  The badly charred pages were rolled back to disclose the book of Joel chapter 1:15-19.  What does it mean?  Could it have been a sign or a warning from God?  I am leaning that direction in the hope that someone will be curious enough to do soul-searching regarding their position with Jesus Christ, our Savior.

Joel chapter 2 begins with the demand to “Blow the trumpet in Zion”!  According to Numbers 10:7;  this was a signal of an enemy attack.  Joel had just described the locusts’ attach like an future invading, powerful army.  This terrified the people in and around Jerusalem similar to the description of the people’s reaction to the end time army John wrote about in Revelation 9:3-10.

 “The day of the LORD is coming,  for it is at hand.” (Joel 2:2 NKJV)  The environmental disturbances described by Joel are common in biblical descriptions where God wages war (Psalms 18:7, Nahum 1:5 and Matthew 24:29).  Joel  gave a call of repentance in verse 12: “Turn to Me with all your heart,” (Joel 2:12 NKJV)

Again Joel commands “Blow the trumpet in Zion” (Joel 2:15 NKJV).  But, this time it’s for an assembly of believers!  A chance for them to recommit their lives to the LORD.  For Him to forgive them and bless them if they would repent!  And this time, again, the LORD hears His people and Judah did receive His mercy and the LORD withheld His judgment.  (Joel 2:20)  The rest of the second chapter of the book of Joel is God refreshing the land with rain and restoring what the locusts had destroyed.

Is it possible that God allowed this burned Bible to be discovered and shared in order that we would receive this message and come together as God’s people and recommit our lives to Him, as LORD!  Jesus died for the forgiveness of our sins!  He is ready to forgive and bless our families and nation!  “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. ”  (John 3:16 NKJV)