count it all joy

Every year I pray and ask the Lord for my word for the subsequent twelve months. More often than not, it makes far more sense upon the completion of that season than when He first lays it on my heart. At the start of 2020 I was given the word, “joy.” And, as you can imagine, by March and April it was abundantly clear as to why.

“Definition: Joy means an intense, ecstatic, celebrative, and/or exultant happiness or pleasure. The biblical Greek term the apostle Paul wrote about in Galatians is chara: joy, cheer, gladness, or celebration.” The difference between joy and happiness is that joy is sustainable, it is a positioning of the heart. Joy seeks and finds the silver lining, it trusts the process, and abides in peace.

Joy is deep, abiding rest in the goodness and promises of God.

This past year has revealed to me where my faith needed to be shored up. Where I needed to press in. THAT I needed to press in. It was an opportunity to recognize that my soft American Christianity has never truly faced persecution. I have learned to embrace the smaller things, to laugh a little louder, to let go of anything not flourishing, and chase hard after every opportunity presented.

Trusting the process in the darkness of the season.

Taking a peek into 2021, I believe we are on the precipice of the single greatest global spiritual awakening since the first coming of Christ. And, most likely the deepest turmoil this country has seen since the Civil War. Perhaps ever. To count it all as joy, we must shift our gaze to an eternal perspective, no longer languishing in the luxury that is this life, but looking to those who truly have fought the good fight of faith and cherish the Word of God above their very lives. Recognizing that strength comes only through being tested, and hope is the result of freely engaging in this thing we call faith. Diving into the deep end regardless of the cost.

May you count 2020 as the year of joy. As a year of revelation. A year of shaking so that you can be rebuilt. Allow what has been lost to show you what has been gained. Engage in the new year recognizing that you are better prepared for what is ahead because of what you learned from what is behind. Choose to see every situation as an opportunity for the Lord to reveal to you what He is teaching you in that situation. Knowing that He brings ALL things to good for those who love Him and are called to His PURPOSE.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,  because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. – James 1:2-3

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levitical lessons (a journaling journey)

In my quiet time this morning I felt the Lord nudge me to read Leviticus 4:9 – “And the two kidneys, and the fat that is upon them, which is by the flanks, and the caul above the liver, with the kidneys, it shall he take away. ‘

Needless to say, I was not entirely confident in how this applied to me. At all.

I have recently started journaling again, so I broke out the pen and dove in. After reading the commentary, I learned that the “fat and the most valuable portions were always burned on the brazen altar as an offering of the ‘sweet savor’ to God. Okay, so I wrote that down. Then I remembered that the bible says that obedience is better than sacrifice. So, if my offering the best, most sacred things in my life is a sweet fragrance to the Lord, but not as beautiful as my heart being inclined to obedience, then what more can I do but to wholeheartedly submit my spirit daily to incline to whatever He has for me in each situation.

Furthermore, my heart is not naturally in a static state of peace and grace, so I must, out of necessity, take moments (many) throughout the day to pause, rest, and be restored to the correct heart position.

After journaling all this, I went to the start of Leviticus and began to see a great deal of redundancy in directives. Over and over, the same (or similar) words and patterns of required behavior. (Is this why I never read this book?)

So often we go to the bible, open it up hoping for a two minute sound bite which will fill us up and inspire us for the day. We have unfortunately moved even further past microwave moments, to a literal craving for that next hit. Judge others all we want – Christians today more often than not just want a quick fix so we can move on to the next thing. And that next thing needs to be tailored to our wants, perspective, and individual agenda. AND, it needs to be inspiring and come with minimal personal responsibility. (Mental note – write that down).

But God has given us an entire manual created to guide us, step by step, through our walk with HIM. We are not designed to fit faith into our lives, but rather to build our lives AROUND faith. God didn’t give Moses one order and then say, “Yeah, do the same thing with all the animals, etc, etc.” But rather He was clear, concise, and spelled out each step so there was no ambiguity. Where there is confusion or seeming contradiction, we are given the opportunity to stay close in prayer. In quiet. In relationship. Communion.

Relationship takes work. It demands time. And by design, brings that heart shift that we need to come back to center, over and over again….

God is not the author of confusion, but rather is a God of order. Of relationship. Of revelation. He will not merely hand you something which your soul needs to do the work to earn. And He will never turn away a meeting with Him in the quiet.

Matthew 7:7 – Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.