The Joy Of The Lord

Then he said to them, “Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10 (NKJV)

This week Pastor Brent Martini spoke to us on the Joy of the Lord and reminded us that this year we have been called to Rise and Build. We are going to be discussing a few of his key points.

We often become tired and discouraged right in the middle of what God has called us to do. The wall was half way when the people of Jerusalem began to look at the rubble around them. It distracted them from what they had already accomplished and from what they still needed to do.

In times like these we need to tap into God’s joy before we tap out of the fight. It is important that we understand the difference between happiness and joy. Happiness is based on our circumstances, whilst joy operates regardless of them. Happiness is something we need to strive and search for, whilst joy is a fruit of
active relationship with Holy Spirit.

In order to cultivate joy, we need to understand how fruit work. Plants do not battle to produce fruit. That is not the focus for them. They focus on finding water. When they have water, they are able
to produce fruit according to the amount available. We are the same. Holy Spirit is our living water and we have rivers of him. We have more than enough water, we just need to tap into it. When we
do, the fruit of Joy will be abundant in our lives.

Reflection:
– Where are you at in Rising and Building? Is your focus on building or on the rubble around you?
– Discuss the difference between happiness and Joy. How does relying on joy give different results to relying on happiness?
– How can you actively tap into the Living Waters that we have
access to?

Living With Clarity In Uncertain Times

For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints. Corinthians 14:33 (NKJV)

The devil will often try to bombard us in order to get us confused and distracted. This can distort things around us and drain us of our energy. This is why it is so important to live with clarity, especially in confusing times.

The first way we can do this is to remind ourselves that God is not the author of confusion. He wants to bring clarity to our lives and help us through the confusion. This does not mean that he will give us all the answers we want, but that we can trust him to guide us and give us peace.

Another great way to gain clarity is to make sure we know what will never change. When we know what is completely certain (for example God himself, his kingdom, Jesus’ finished work on the cross,
etc.) it gives us a place of safety to run to when other things become uncertain. We don’t always like to admit it, but when we face uncertain times we are often required to change and adapt to our new circumstances. We need to hear from God regarding what areas of our lives we might need to become more flexible in and what
aspects of ourselves we might need to change.

Finally, we must determine what it is we want, what it is we don’t want and why we feel that way. Then, if we can be persistent, disciplined and trust God, we will be able to live with true clarity.

Reflection:
– What thoughts, circumstances or people are causing confusion in your life?
– Make a list of things that you are completely sure will never change. Pray and ask God to add or subtract from your list.
– What is it that you want and don’t want? Why do you feel this way? (This can be applied to many areas. Maybe start with one of the areas of confusion you listed earlier.)

Our Reward is On The Other Side

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, Hebrews 12:1 (NKJV)

This week we are going to look at how we can move through and past our struggles to the reward that awaits us on the other side.

Firstly, we need to learn to pray first when we face struggles and ask other people second. When we pray we humble ourselves before God and admit that we need him. We should also remember that we can ask Holy Spirit to help us. Often we might ask him what we should say or do, but he is not just with us to instruct us, but also to help us and empower us.

Secondly, we need to ensure that we give no space to the devil. He is constantly trying to pry his way into our lives so that he might convince us that we can’t make it through our struggle. Don’t let him in!

We also need to cultivate true faith and not simply belief. Even the devil believes in God. We need to develop trust and confidence in Father. This only comes out of intimate relationship and time spent in his presence.

Finally, some additional tips to make it through your struggle are to give it your best, not compare yourself with others, learn from your mistakes, celebrate others and never give up.

Reflection:
– When you need help, do you ask people of God first? What can you do to practice relying on Holy Spirit to help you?
– Are there any areas in your life where you have made space for the devil? How can you kick him out of that space?
– Think about the difference between faith and belief. Try and explain each of these in your own words.

Strengthened with Power