Tag Archives: joy

Comparison: The Joy Thief

27 Dec

Fish

“If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves. Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, for each one should carry their own load.” Galatians 6:3-5

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13

Have you thought about the joy thief—the thing that seeks to rob of us our joy; casually, slyly, diverting our attention from the Lord to our accomplishments and possessions that don’t quite measure up?

“Comparison is the thief of joy.” —Theodore Roosevelt

Comparison not only steals our joy it weakens our faith; drawing us into the shade of self and the shadows where discontent…

Click here to continue reading: Taft Avenue Community Church: Orange, CA > Comparison: The Joy Thief.

When the Holidays are Hard…Make Room

13 Dec

broken ornament

“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13

The Christmas holiday season represents generosity and beauty wrapped up in the very presence of our Savior, Jesus Christ. The hymns and carols we sing during this time of year focus on peace, joy, hope, comfort, and the incarnation and its glorious implication for humanity — the lyrics highlight the turning point in which God entered into our history cloaked in flesh; humbled (Philippians 2:8).

“God first enveloped Himself in mortal form and tabernacled among the sons of men!” — Charles Spurgeon.

We look back to that first expectant waiting and look ahead to His coming again. We long for…

Please click here to continue reading: Taft Avenue Community Church: Orange, CA > When the Holidays are Hard…Make Room.

What to do With a Season of Discontent

18 Oct

stress“A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.” Proverbs 14:30

“Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain.Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word.” Psalms 119:36-37

“It’s not fair!” Those words rise unbidden to our hearts and lips as we compare our circumstances, relationships, possessions to others’. We begin to covet—to desire—to want—what we selfishly believe belongs to us thinking, “I wish it was mine,” —until our focus is consumed with gaining what we perceive to be the lack…

via Taft Avenue Community Church: Orange, CA > What to do With a Season of Discontent.

True Grit, Perseverance, and the Joy of the Lord

16 Aug

grit_opt

“…for the joy of the LORD is your strength” Nehemiah 8:10

Charles Spurgeon described the joy of the Lord as, “…a joy of divine origin…a source of strength to  all who partake…” This joy springs supernaturally from God Himself radiating outward to us as we contemplate all He is, has done, will be. 

“All these attributes of my God are mine: his power, my protection; his wisdom, my guidance; his faithfulness, my foundation; his grace, my salvation” Charles Spurgeon

This delight in His character, His salvation, His abundant grace, promises, and providence stems from a heart tuned to the Lord — filled with His very presence; the indwelling Holy Spirit. Joy is our reaction to abiding in Christ, our expression fellowship with our Savior.It is this joy — the joy of the Lord — that…

Please click here to continue reading: Taft Avenue Community Church: Orange, CA > True Grit, Perseverance, and the Joy of the Lord.

God’s Word Our Story | Final Thoughts From Nehemiah

5 Jul

gospel group_optThe Gospel Coalition Women’s Conference

From Saturday June 28

Highlights from John Piper “Responding to God According to His Word” Nehemiah 9-10“God does not exist so that we would enjoy Bible stories. Bible stories exist so that we would enjoy God. Bible stories are no more ends in themselves than the universe is an end in itself; or history is an end in itself. There is a point to the universe, to history. The heavens declare the glory of God. That’s what the universe is about. History is what it is in order to show that God is Who He is. God writes his story; acts His story; in order to make known Who he is.”Throughout scripture God’s character is revealed to us. Every page speaks His name. God made Himself known thousands of years ago so we could…

Please continue reading at:

Taft Avenue Community Church: Orange, CA > God’s Word Our Story | Final Thoughts From Nehemiah.

God’s Word Our Story | More From Nehemiah

3 Jul

gospel podium_optThe Gospel Coalition Women’s Conference

From Saturday June 28

Highlights from Paige Benton Brown “Fearing God in a Fallen World” Nehemiah 5-6″Twas grace that taught my heart to fear…” It is foundational–the awe, reverence, worship, demanded by God by his power and position and glory; fear is the only proper response to the biblical doctrine of God. It is the beginning of wisdom–a perpetual posture, not an occasional exercise.”We can give the right answers but they’ll always be in the wrong place if fear of the Lord is absent from the foundation. Fear of the Lord causes us to submit to God’s authority not because…

Please view the article in its entirety here:

Taft Avenue Community Church: Orange, CA > God’s Word Our Story | More From Nehemiah.

Maundy Thursday | A New Commandment

17 Apr

jesus-washes-feet_opt

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” —John 13:34.

On the Thursday before Jesus was crucified, in an act of humility and love Jesus was on His knees washing the feet of His disciples. The Creator of the Universe, the Author of Life performed the lowly task of washing clean the dirt and muck from callused feet seeing past the filth and grime. This simple act was full of meaning; a foreshadowing of the morrow.

On this day Jesus gave a new commandment shedding new light on “loving your neighbor as yourself,” (Leviticus 19:18).

“What makes the command new is that because of Jesus’ passion there is a new standard, a new example of love.There was never any love like the dying love of Jesus. It is tender and sweet (13:33). It serves (13:2-17). It loves even unto death (13:1). Jesus had nothing to gain from us by loving us. There was nothing in us to draw us to him. But he loved us still, while we were yet sinners.” —Kevin DeYoung, Maundy Thursday.

Jesus desired for us to love our brothers and sisters out of the depths of an overflowing love no matter the cost (John 15:13)…to go low in foot-washing-like service to others, be willing to risk everything, our lives, our privileges…to love because we are “members of His body,” (Ephesians 5:30) and like Christ who was sustained “by the joy set before Him,” (Hebrews 12:2) we too shall be stengthened by the indescribable joy found at the cross when we love out of faithfulness, obedience, and the desire to bring glory to God.

Additional Resources:

The Gospel Coalition | When Jesus Said Farewell

Desiring God | The Greatest Prayer in the World (Maundy Thursday)

Five Truths About Christian Suffering

8 Mar

stress

“Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” –Romans 5:3-4

God is the author of His story – our story and no chapter is without purpose. The story is not one of isolation for there on every page is the presence of the one true living God revealed. When the words of our story are thick, inky black, tear stained, strokes of pain, grief, or suffering God is near sharing in our ache (Psalm 34:18). When we struggle to muster the strength to begin the next page He is there relieving our burdens (Matthew 11:28).

“God does not willingly bring affliction or grief to us. He does not delight in causing us to experience pain or heartache. He always has a purpose for the grief He brings or allows to come into our lives. Most often we do not know what that purpose is, but it is enough to know that His infinite wisdom and perfect love have determined that the particular sorrow is best for us. God never wastes pain. He always uses it to accomplish His purpose. And His purpose is for His glory and our good. Therefore, we can trust Him when our hearts are aching or our bodies are racked with pain.” –Jerry Bridges, Trusting God Even When Life Hurts

God is the sovereign author of the universe; the chief character in our narrative glorified in our weakness. His great love for us is most visible in the suffering and excruciating death of His son–the Word made flesh–Jesus Christ bearing our sins on the cross. Ransomed by His blood, the richness of God’s abundant grace is evident and overflowing. It is here at the foot of the cross our sorrows can be exchanged for indescribable inexpressible soul filling joy and the hope found in Christ alone. Our book will not close with “the end.” Our story will continue to unfold and new pages will be written for our hope is in Heaven.

Five Truths About Christian Suffering by Joseph Scheumann

All Christians suffer. Either you have, you are, or you will — “through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22).

This reality is a stark reminder that we have not reached the new heavens and new earth. The new Jerusalem of no tears and no pain, of no mourning and no death, hasn’t arrived yet (Revelation 21:1, 4).

But just because we experience suffering as we await the redemption of our bodies, it doesn’t mean that our suffering is random or without purpose. And neither does it mean that Scripture doesn’t tell us how to think about our suffering now.

Here are five important biblical truths about suffering every Christian should have ready:

Finish the article here: Five Truths About Christian Suffering | Desiring God.

 

Death: Shall We Weep or Rejoice? | Yes!

2 Mar

hope_opt“but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint” –Isaiah 40:31

Saturday, March 1, 2014

“Trent Koontz passed away this morning at 5:17am. He is still a shining light in our lives. Have fun in heaven! Give Jesus a big hug from all of us!” –Jerry Koontz via Trent Koontz’s Blog

As we absorb those words, joy and sorrow tangle together within grieving hearts. Such is the paradox of living a life in Christ. Simultaneously we rejoice and mourn; are crushed and unburdened and through it all the confident expectation of hope endures; singing a wordless song of unceasing faith. 

“Hope” is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –
 –Emily Dickenson

It is hope rooted in the Gospel that creates equilibrium between the bone deep sorrow of loss and joyful trust in the sovereignty of God who works for our good. It is in this stability that we come to understand God’s infinite wisdom is inscrutable and his providence mysterious and that opposing emotions can coexist harmoniously. 

The Koontz family continues to be a powerful witness for Christ. In weakness their continued love for the Lord glorifies Him; highlighting the strength through grace His love poured out on that tree provided. 

It is here in the strange mix of contrary feelings (ache and brokenness, relief and joy) that our church body is also strengthened; growing in spiritual maturity as through shared suffering we stand in Christ with Jerry, Kristie, and Grant sadly rejoicing now that Trent is freed from the pain of illness and is with Jesus in Heaven.

Death: Shall We Weep or Rejoice? (excerpt) by John Piper

When a Christian dies, shall those of us who remain weep or rejoice? The biblical answer is both, even simultaneously.

An Invitation to Rejoice

He [Paul] already told them why he rejoices at the prospect of his death: “My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better” (Philippians 1:23). Presumably, that is why he thinks they should rejoice also. They love Paul. So when Paul is “with Christ” that will be “far better.”

Experiencing Intense Sorrow

But that is not the whole story. Ten verses later in Philippians 2 Paul praises Epaphroditus because “he nearly died for the work of Christ.” But then he did not die. God had mercy on Paul, lest he should have sorrow upon sorrow [or]…grief on top of all his other burdens.

The Complex Harmony

We should conclude that our sorrows at the death of a believer are joyful sorrows, and our rejoicing at the death of a believer is a sorrowful rejoicing. There is nothing hopeless about the sorrow. And there is nothing flippant about the joy. The joy hurts. And the sorrow is softened with invincible hope. (emphasis mine)

This is why one of the most common watchwords of the Christian life is “sorrowful yet always rejoicing” (2 Corinthians 6:10). Sorrow and joy are not merely sequential. They are simultaneous. This is not emotional schizophrenia. This is the complex harmony of the Christian soul.

Therefore, when a Christian dies, don’t begrudge the tears. And don’t belittle the joy…

Read this article in its entirety here: Death: Shall We Weep or Rejoice? | Desiring God.

Valentine’s Day | Be Mine

14 Feb

valentine_opt“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” Ephesians 3:16-19

“…we were made to crave — long for, want greatly, desire eagerly, and beg for — God. Only God” (Lysa TerKeurst, Made to Crave).

We long to be romanced (courted, wooed, pursued, chased). Enemy distractions may tempt us into believing the wordly idea that somehow the perfect poetic verse or love note, pounds of chocolate, a fancy restaurant, dozens of flowers and/or some other token of love will leave us satiated this Valentine’s Day. Our misplaced hopes may leave us restless and mired in dissatisfaction craving more; searching for more. 

“Trying to boost our self-esteem by trying to live up to our own standards or someone else’s is a trap. It is not an answer” (Tim Keller, The Freedom of Self Forgetfulness).

These intense yearnings emanate from a soul tuned to God; crying out for Him (Psalm 84:2); already in possession of THE ultimate gift freely given; our Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ through whom the Holy Spirit was poured out upon us; streaming with God’s love (Romans 5:5, Titus 3:6), drawn in (John 6:44).

“Look at God and understand who He is and what He’s done and when you’ve forgotten about yourself and it’s all about Him, it is then that you have great pleasure; the greatest joy…the glory of God” (Pastor Burris, “The World at War Against Your Soul).

God pursues us, revealing His presence is a thousand little ways like love notes to us His children beckoning us to the cross. If only we would take notice! We need Him, only Him…desperately (Philippians 4:19)!

“Do not underestimate the power of desperation to do good for your soul” (Jon Bloom, The Merciful Gift of Desperation). 

A Prayer on Valentine’s Day (Excerpt) by Scotty Smith

Dear Lord Jesus, it’s Valentine’s Day—the day in our culture in which red hearts, overpriced cards, dark chocolates, and cut flowers abound. For some, it’s a day of incredible kindness, sweetness, and gratitude. For others, it’s a day in which brokenness, loneliness, and emptiness are magnified. For all of us, it should be a day in which our deepest longings for intimacy and connection find their way home to you…

My heart is fickle and fragile—still capable of being sucker-punched by sin within, and susceptible to whisperings without. Most of the time I believe you greatly love, desire, and delight in me; but then I also have moments when I can be blindsided by unbelief, temptation and discontent.

Those are the times when I place unrealistic demands on other relationships, including marriage. Instead of living as a grateful servant, I can act like a grace-less orphan—over-expecting from others and under-believing of you. Forgive me and free me from all such nonsense…

Read in entirety here: A Prayer on Valentine’s Day – Heavenward by Scotty Smith.

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