Tag Archives: joy

Does Good Friday Make You Feel Bad Religious Christianity Wants You To

The focus of Jesus’ horrific death on Good Friday certainly results in many ‘feeling bad’ about what happened. Maybe it should be called BAD FRIDAY?

Good Friday Guilt

A lot of “it’s my fault” or “mea culpa” happens on Good Friday.

Does God find pleasure in our ‘mea culpa’?

Even as Good Friday elicits major guilt and condemnation from believers, it is also leveraged to make ‘unbelievers’ feel really bad, with hopes they will finally believe in Jesus. What a way to come into the kingdom – through guilt, fear, and sorrow.

Is that how God wants us to feel? Is that how God wants unbelievers to ‘get saved’?

Does God want and appreciate our guilt, condemnation, remorse, and regret over Jesus’ crucifixion?

Hmm, I wonder how much God looks forward to the religious Good Friday services that make us feel so bad?

What really happened on Good Friday

What really came down during Jesus’ crucifixion? All blue skies at the Cross_photo by aaron burdenNotice, it has nothing to do with making you feel bad. In fact, the truth about His death should make you feel GLAD – very glad!

  • God so loved (take pleasure in, esteemed, wish well to) the world He gave His Son…not to judge the world (Jn 3:16,17)
  • When we were weak/ helpless/impotent/ without strength Christ died for us. Realize that scarcely for a righteous man or even a good man would one would die, (Rom 5:6,7)
  • God demonstrated His love toward us that while we were still sinners, His Son died for us – much more then we were justified/made righteous, acquitted, approved) by His blood (Rom 5:8,9)
  • When we were enemies/hostile/with deep seated hatred, we were reconciled/decisively changed to God on account of His Son’s death (Rom 5:10)
  • Much more having been reconciled, we are saved/healed/ preserved/rescued by/inside/within) Jesus’ life (Rom 5:10). Indeed, on top of this, we are rejoicing/boasting/exulting/with head up high in God on account of Jesus Christ (Rom 5:11)
  • Since One died for all, all died (2Cor 5:14), therefore we were buried with Him into His death – and just as Christ was raised from the dead, so we also walk in newness of life (Rom 6:4)
  • The Father was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting the trespasses against them (2Cor 5:19)
  • For the joy set before Him, Jesus endured/remained under/persevered the cross, despising/looking down on/scorning/disregarding the shame/disgrace (Heb 12:2)
  • He reconciled both Jew and Gentile to God in one body on account of the cross (Eph 2:16)
  • You once thought you were enemies with God, but He reconciled you in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy and blameless (Col 1:21,22)
  • You were dead in your trespasses, but He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven you all your trespasses (Col 2:13
  • He saved us and called/named/invited us with a holy calling/summons, not according to our works, but according to His purpose and grace – given to us in Christ Jesus before time began (2Tim 1:9)
  • By God’s will we have been sanctified on account of the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all (Heb 10:10)
  • This Man after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God (Heb 10:12)
  • By one offering He has perfected forever those who are sanctified/(set apart as holy (Heb 10:14)
  • Their sins He remembers no more, thus no longer an offering for sin, and we have boldness to enter His presence by a new and living way that He consecrated for us through His flesh (Heb 10:17-20)
  • We draw near in full assurance of faith/divine persuasion – free from an evil conscience and our whole being washed clean/guiltless/innocent (Heb 10:22)

There are many more scriptures, but can you begin to see a pattern here? Please don’t let religious tradition and mind sets blind you from the fullness of truth!

Bottom line

Good Friday is really a GLAD day – reconciliation, peace, sanctification, innocence restored, joy, the end of all sacrifice and works – happened!

Good Friday is not a time to feel guilty, mourn, and regret.

The God Head was rejoicing, because “It is finished.” Humanity/the cosmos is reconciled, healed, rescued, made whole – whether the cosmos knows it or not.

How God proved the reconciliation of all

Ever wonder why Jesus was raised from the dead?

Many might think it makes going to heaven possible or that God will now forgive us of our sins. Think bigger.

Jesus’s resurrection only happened because of our justification/acquittal/ divine approval. (Rom 4:25) Selah

Mind you, this justification has nothing to do with something we have to do. He justified us without our permission or pleading. He even forgave us without our asking for it. Goodness, who is this God?!

So, stop ‘feeling bad’ on Good Friday or any other day! It’s ALL good!

Dig In

  • Religion focuses on God’s wrath being poured out on the cross. But the Word points to a lot of intentional restoration and joy going on. God restored what He started in the first place when He made man in His image and likeness.
  • To grasp the power of the Resurrection, you have to grasp the power of Salvation that happened ONCE FOR ALL on the Cross.
  • Do not let religious Christianity steal joy on your Good Friday. Enter into this celebration with the lights on and overflowing gladness flooding your heart and mind – even before the Resurrection celebration happens!

Is God A Judge? What Is God’s Judgment? Who Gets Judged?

What is God’s judgment and who gets judged?

Many Christians believe God’s judgment happens when He comes back. He will separate the goats from the sheep. God will get those nasty evil people who refused to repent and ask Jesus into their lives.

My goodness what a vindictive and punitive mindset to have about God who loved the world!

Scary judgment versus True judgment

Judgment is a confusing and scary topic. Religion makes it so.

If we do not understand His judgment through His everlasting lovingkindness, then it will continue to be intimidating, unsettling, and fearful.

Understanding of true judgment comes when we recognize that everyone is made in the image of God, God does not make bad reflections, and He sent His Son to restore this truth.

Is God A Judge?

Does God judge?

Sadly religious Christianity preaches that God is a judge – meaning, someday He will deal with all this sin in the world and all those sinners. He will pound the gavel and declare “guilty” or “innocent”.

Really?

What do we do with the following scriptures that negate this religious vindictive punitive mindset?

  • God didn’t send His Son to judge the world, but that the world be saved through Jesus. (Jn 3:17)
  • The Father judges no one (nothing) but gave all judgment to the Son. (Jn 5:22)
  • I can do nothing of Myself. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me. (Jn 5:30)
  • You judge according to the flesh, I judge no one. (Jn 8:15)
  • …I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world. (Jn 12:47)
  • God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them. (2Cor 5:19)
  • While we were sinners, Christ died for us and justified us by His blood and saved us. (Rom 5:8,9)
  • When we were enemies we were reconciled to God through His Son’s death, and since reconciled we are saved. (Rom 5:10)
  • Through one man’s offense judgment resulted, so through one Man’s righteous act resulted justification (GR. acquittal, absolution, approval) to all. (Rom5:18)

Sure looks like God is a non-judge Judge! Or His definition of judging is certainly different than ours.

Example of non-Judge judging

When Jesus said, “you judge according to the flesh, I judge no one”, He was speaking to those judging the woman caught in adultery. The self-righteous wanted to stone her to death, because the law commanded it.

But, Jesus had no words of condemnation. He came to fulfill (perfect) the law. Its perfection meant He spoke to her true identity. When He said ‘go and sin no more’, He didn’t mean do not commit adultery ever again. Jesus was exposing her emptiness and speaking of her true identity.

Sin (hamartia) means to have no share, to have no part, to be without, to be empty, to have no substance, to miss the mark.

Our mark, our identity, our part, our origin is God and He made us to enjoy and reflect His fullness of goodness. When we do things that don’t reflect Him we are without substance, without share. We are left empty as are others affected by our lack.

Jesus did not judge her actions, He spoke to her true being and for her “to be” so!

Meaning of Judge and Judgment

judge (krínō) – I judge, decide, to separate, distinguish, think good

judgment (krísis) – a decision, a judgment, divine judgment

Now, isn’t it interesting that ‘judge’ also means ‘think good’?

If “God is good and all the time God is good.”, then why wouldn’t His judgment be to ‘think good’ of all of us? Certainly something to think about.

Dig In

  • We tend to see judgment as a negative thing. We hope to escape God’s judgment because we believe it will be fierce. How quick we are to gloss over – God did not come to judge, but to save the whole wide world!
  • God’s judgment is reconciliation, restoration, salvation. The Greek word for salvation means deliverance, preservation, healing, wholeness. God is not against man, He is for man – His wondrous reflection. We have believed lies about ourselves. God’s judgment dealt a death blow to those lies and falsehoods. One day He is coming to make it very clear who we all really are, in the meantime He is bringing this truth here and now. Yay!
  • If we understood what His judgement really means, then exceeding joy would be our confidence and perspective. One big result – we would judge with a “righteous judgment” – just like His.

Joy Came To Earth – Religion and The World Did Not Know And Still Don’t

Consider – before the Incarnation, God had not spoken to man (through the prophets) for over four hundred years! Selah

When God finally had something to say it centered on joy and a Person!

Even though this joy was for the whole wide world, joy happened in a small and ‘hidden’ way, consequently religion and the world didn’t know it and still don’t!

‘Hidden’ Joy

God’s way – small, hidden, humble.Mary Greets Elizabeth

Look at these small ‘hidden’ joy-filled encounters involving the Incarnation story. Note Greek meaning elaborations included.

  • Elizabeth shouted with clamorous screaming that was extremely boisterous with great emotion as she explained, upon hearing the sound of Mary’s voice, how her baby John in utero – leaped skipped, bounded with exuberant, wild, ecstatic, delightful joy! (Lk 1:39-45)
  • Mary, while pregnant with Jesus, extolled that her spirit was experiencing a gladness that was jumping in celebration! (Lk 1:47)
  • The angel, standing before the shepherds, reassuringly and excitedly declared – Don’t be afraid, I bring good news of great and large joy! It is a joy because of grace recognized. And this joyful news is for ALL the people!” (Lk 2:9,10)
  • Then suddenly the sky filled with a multitude of heavenly host, who brought the message to conclusion – “peace to the earth and goodwill, happiness, favor, and delight in men”. (Lk 2:13,14)Heavenly Host Declaring Peace and Goodwill Towards All
  • The Shepherds urgently went searching for the babe. Can you imagine their wide-eyed excitement and anticipatory joy at what they would find? Afterwards encountering, they spread abroad this joyful good news. Those who heard marveled and were astonished. Perhaps because it came from shepherds! (Lk 2:16-18)
  • The Wise Men, after their arduous long-seeking journey, when they saw the star standing still to indicate where Jesus was, rejoiced with excessive, violent, extreme, great, loud, even fierce joy and delight. (Mt 2:9-10)
  • The earth was given a declaration of peace – i.e. a sense of welfare, to tie together into a whole, God’s gift of wholeness. Imagine the joy with that kind of ‘togetherness’! (Lk 2:14)

Joy Is The Focus Not Sin

When Jesus became flesh it was a happy, exuberant celebration. Joy for the world was the Godhead’s focus in coming to earth. Sadly, sin is religion’s focus for His coming.Oh The Joy!

Please realize Jesus did not have to come, He wanted to come to restore truth. Jesus came to show us who the Father really is and who we really are. (Jn 14:9 2Tim 1:9)

God did not send His Son into the world to condemn it, but that the world be saved, preserved, rescued on account of His Son. (Jn 3:17)

God’s joy over us propelled Him to come and remove the emptiness of sin that was keeping us from real relationship with Him.

Sin literally means ‘without form, having no substance’. Truly when we sin there is no fullness in it. It leaves us formless and empty in the long run.

God hates that emptiness. He originally made us to enjoy His fullness. Jesus came to restore that fullness. That is why God was so happy when, after 400 years, the fullness of time had come to reveal His eternal joy over us and restore access to the fullness.

Dig In

  • At times it can seem God is nowhere to be found, all is silent, life seems hopeless. But joy is coming. He might surprise you in a humble hidden way. Be open to believe (be persuaded) and receive, just like Mary. (Lk 1:38)
  • If you live in fear and guilt in your relationship with God, then know that is a religious relationship. Repent = change your religious mindset! Joy is a huge part of  God’s kind of relationship. Ask for the real deal. He longs for you to have it.
  • The Incarnation is huge – it means God enjoys our human ‘be-ing’. And God is not partial in His enjoyment. Consider – He made known to illiterate poor shepherds (the lowliest of people in that culture and time) something profound. In the darkness and quiet of the night He let them encounter  the supernatural and hear heaven-resounding news that affected the whole wide world. The shepherds didn’t grasp it all. But, they were one little hidden way He expressed His value of all mankind.

Joy to the world the Lord has come!

Oh the Fullness in hidden smallness!

What Is A Cheerful Giver Really

Paul states that “…God loves a cheerful giver”. (2 Cor 9:7)

Does that mean if you are not a cheerful giver then God doesn’t love you or He doesn’t love you as much as someone who is a happy giver?

I remember being in a few services where this very cheery attitude was preached or expected. People would come down to the front with offering or tithes in hand with a huge smile on their face or laughing all the way to the collection basket.

I certainly wanted to be happy in my giving. But is this the meaning of this verse? Nope, I have discovered!

If not cheerful

Let’s say you are not a ‘cheerful giver’. Then, have you ever given:

  • grudgingly
  • out of compulsion
  • out of guilt
  • out of fear of God
  • out of what other’s think
  • for appearance’s sake
  • for personal gain
  • to manipulate or control

I confess I would have fit in most of those at one time or another.

But good news! There is no condemnation in any of the above! You and I have been caught in a trap.

Traps

Now who set that trap? Religiousity  –  man, not God.

Years ago I heard the Lord say, “silent traps”. At the time little was my understanding. But growing in fullness has significantly begun to expose these silent traps.

Because they are ‘silent’ we have no idea we are trapped. God did not make us to be trapped, confined, limited, or controlled.

Now let’s check out the word cheerful and its true Biblical meaning.

‘Cheerful’ Definition

The Greek word for ‘cheerful’ is hilarós – prop. propitious (favorably disposed toward someone); disposed because satisfied – describing someone who is cheerfully ready to act because already approving (“already persuaded”); “won over, already inclined” is only used in 2 Cor 9:7 where it describes spontaneously non-reluctant giving.

Hilarious versus Cheerful

Charismatic Religiosity taught me that this scriptural cheerful means “hilarious” – they said our word hilarious came from the Greek ‘hilarós’. Sure looks that it could have.

Even so, the definition of hilarious

  • hysterically funny, hysterical, uproarious, side-splitting, knee-slapping, boisterously merry

is a far cry (maybe I should say ‘laugh’) from the Greek ‘cheerful’ of being favorably disposed or already persuaded!

Hey, if the Spirit moves you to laugh uproariously – let ‘er rip. Love those moments.

But, 2Corinthians 9:7 is not talking about that kind of hilarity. Paul has a much richer point, which I will unfold in the next post.

For now, please realize you were not meant to be trapped in silent traps, but to be tapped into God’s wealth of grace that overflows with pure joy and simplicity. The Macedonians knew that, by the way.

Dig In

  • Listen for those silent traps of religion. Once you ‘hear’ them, and see them for what they are, get out. His powerful grace enables you to do so. Don’t be stuck in the container!Cheery or Other Do Not Be Stuck
  • God is the most joyful being around and He is always cheerfully happy in His giving. Oh to tap into that!
  • When you move into the revelation of how disposed He is towards you, how persuaded He is about your awesome being – you can’t help but be cheery! So, be of good cheer!

Next post – find out that God does not love a cheerful giver. Say what?!

Satan Fell Like Lightening Names Written In Heaven Things Hidden From The Wise Part 2 Names Are Written in Heaven

Then the seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.” He said to them, “…do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven. (Luke 10:17,20 NKJ)

Part 2 Your Names Are Written in Heaven

Jesus told the seventy.

Boy, that sure stirs up questions!

• Why did Jesus only tell the seventy?
• Does God have favorites?
• Jesus said, “are”, not “will be”, written – how can that be when He hadn’t even died yet?
• Why did their names get written in heaven? Did the disciples do something to make this happen? Maybe because they were casting out demons, i.e. doing the ‘work of the Lord’?
• Did Jesus mean they would be ‘in heaven’, as religion defines it?
• Is that what it takes to ‘get into heaven’ – having your name written in heaven?

The big questionYour character is written in heaven

If their names are already written in heaven and they hadn’t asked Jesus to forgive them of their sins and be their Savior, then has religious Christianity been preaching the wrong message?! Selah

The big point

Time for some Greek understanding of a few key words in Lk 10:20.

names   (GR character, reputation, fame, (figuratively) the manifestation or revelation of someone’s character)

are written   (GR I write, inscribe, to engrave)

in   (GR on, among, inside, within)

heaven   (GR more correctly translated ‘the heavens’, the visible heavens: the atmosphere, the sky, the starry heavens; the spiritual heavens)

In essence, Jesus was telling the seventy (who basically represent all of mankind):

Your character, your fame, your being, your true identity as a reflection of Me, made before time began, is engraved within the heavens. Your fame shouts everywhere! It has nothing to do with anything you do. It has all to do with how I see you, made you, and know you.

My Father and I reconciled and restored the world to Ourselves (2Cor 5:19) to reconfirm the certainty that who YOU are is beautiful, astounding, and worthy. That is why it takes something big, like the heavens, to eternally and joyfully manifest this truth of significance and value.

There is nothing you have to do to be written up like this. I did the write up. In fact, I heavenly engraved it before foundation of the world.

So rejoice in this – your names are engraved within huge places!


Dig In

• So much for the religious notion that your name could be erased. Engraved and inscribed declare permanency. Don’t ever forget, there is a permanency for God’s unconditional love for all.

• Doing the work of the Lord can cause rejoicing, but the greater joy is about the certainty of your true identity and your place in Him. By the way, heaven is not our destination, Jesus is. And speaking of ‘place’ – Eph 2:6 reads in the Greek – “and raised us up together and seated us together within the heavenly realm/divine/sphere of spiritual activities within Christ Jesus.” Now religion says this only happens after you repent of your sins and ask Jesus to be your Savior. My how religion negates His finished work. His wondrous truth comes by revelation, not by doing something. Enter into the joy of where you are and who you are. It’s free.

• Why does traditional religious Christianity make it so hard to enter into the joy of the gospel and the joy the Godhead has over us? Hmmm

Comfortable Stuck Empty or Resistant to Change – In Your Faith? Dream Says He Has So Much More!

Do you dream? Does God speak to you in your dreams?

Dreams are significant in the Bible and they can be significant in your life. Please know there are “God dreams”. Be open to Him speaking to you this way.

Often you will not understand the complete interpretation of a meaningful dream until weeks, months, or even years later.

Fuller understanding might come after other things happen in your life or the Lord has revealed other truths about Himself to you. Be patient. He knows when you need to have more clarity in a dream that seems important.

Remember – Jesus told His disciples, “I have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.” (Jn 16:12)

Sometimes we cannot ‘bear’ (Greek take up, carry) them because our mindset is so unchangeable that we couldn’t hear it if we even wanted to.

That is why it is so important to be like the ‘Bereans’  – they searched the scriptures to see if what they were hearing was so. They were not searching the scriptures to prove something new, fresh, different was NOT true. (Acts 17:11)

Today I share a dream that happened eight years ago, but the freshness of it is still as palpable as it was back then. What is more significant is seeing fuller  meaning in this dream even after eight years!

Click the video to hear the dream and see if you could be like me!

Dig In

  • We all have religious traditions and a world view through which we determine our understanding of life and God. Isn’t it sweet that God can use even dreams to expose and dismantle misguided or limited views.
  • Are you open to change? If not, ask the Lord why you aren’t. Are you too comfortable, too fearful, too set in your religious ways? Don’t forget – change is a principle in growth and maturity.
  • All true growth and maturity have to do with unity of the faith, knowledge of the Son of God, maturing to the stature of the fullness of Christ Jesus. (Eph 4:13) Now why wouldn’t we want to change and grow?! Revelation brings change that brings us into the ‘so much more’! Welcome revelation, welcome God dreams, welcome change! It’s part of fullness.

What Does It Mean to Abide In The Vine? Part Two – False Vine Is Possible!

I ended my previous post with –  Next post we will find out what God had in mind about abiding! You just might be surprised!

In light of some fresh insights that happened yesterday, about Jesus’ passage of ‘abiding’, I need to postpone the surprise of what it really means to abide. I think these additional nuggets will wow you, like they did me.

So hang on for a series of good stuff about John 15:1-12!

The previous post, Part One, talked about things we do that enable us to abide in the vine. In and of themselves they can be part of growing in our relationship with God, but they are not what Jesus was specifically talking about when it comes to abiding.

This post, Part Two, exposes the false vine possibility!

Jesus said, “I am the TRUE vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.” (Jn 15:1, Emphasis added.)

This implies there can be a false vine and even a false vinedresser!

The Father would not tend to a false vine, right? He’d be wasting His time and not being true to Himself. Thus, if we are abiding in a false vine, then that means we could have someone (or a thing) tending to us that is not a true vinedresser/husbandman/worker of the soil. Hey, this could also mean the possibility of  false fruit!Abiding In A False Vine or the True Vine

Gosh, what could a false vine possibly be?

  • a particular denomination/non-denomination/house church
  • a pastor (certain personality and teaching style)
  • doctrines
  • rituals
  • the Bible
  • ministry
  • other believers (AKA fellowship)

Am I saying these are bad? No. But, they can be if they are substitutes for the real deal. Taken to extreme, they could even be idols! That is when they are really ‘bad’ for us. Those things cannot produce fullness or fruitfulness, even though they might ‘feel’ or look like they do.

How to know if these things are not false vines:

  • they are not your identity or even make up part of your identity
  • they do not consume your time and energy
  • they do not lure or sway your thoughts and emotions
  • they do not control you (e.g. through guilt, fear, condemnation, manipulation)
  • they point you to Jesus
  • they help unfold the wonder of Jesus
  • they help you fall more in love with Jesus
  • they increase your love for all the ‘branches’

Obviously Jesus made it clear we are to abide in Him, and Him only. But that can seem nebulous, confusing, or difficult. How do you abide in something you can’t see? Then He talked about pruning, casting out branches, and fire stuff. Yikes!

So maybe this abiding in Him doesn’t look so good in light of ‘judgment’ that seems to be part of His telling us to abide?

Maybe, those substitutes aren’t so bad after all? They can seem to have an appearance of abiding, so isn’t that good enough? Then I don’t have to think about those verses of being cut off and thrown into the fire.

If you have any judgment notions about ‘abiding in the vine’ then please know religion’s ‘fallen man gospel’ has duped you. You are being deceived by false teaching that nullifies the Word of God.
(Mark 7:1-13)

Okay, enough of that religious mindset of hell fire, better watch out, naughty or nice junk! This kind of twisted and confused thinking has propped up our notion that God can be mean, even if He is joyful.

This false teaching actually promotes a false vine and leads to continued uncertainty in one’s relationship with God.

As true abiding unfolds in up coming posts you will see the tenderness, supply, nurturing, fullness, and joy of it all!

Stay tuned. You will never look at abiding as an uncertain and scary dynamic of Christian living again.

Dig In

  • There is an ease and a rest in abiding in the true vine. If you get uptight about abiding then just figure you have heard false teaching. Truth is on the way to bring you pure abiding.
  •  Scary prospects come with the traditional religious gospel message. The true Gospel has nothing but certainty, clarity, paradoxical and illogical grace, compassion, love that never fails, faithfulness that covers our unfaithfulness. Abide in truth, ditch the false uncertain junk.
  • Enjoy and receive from those ‘things’ that make Jesus even more real and nourishing. They can be an asset towards abiding in Him, and in Him alone. But remember true abiding is empowered by the Spirit of God. (1Jn 4:13)

Does Faith Have Joy or Works?

We tend to think of faith as something we do.

In my former religious-traditions-walk I was taught there were things I needed to do to prove my faith and grow in faith. For example:

  • Memorize scripture, especially ‘faith’ passages
  • Declare scriptures out loud – the thinking is that if you speak it then it has more power
  • Fasting is necessary
  • Have quiet time and worship time
  • Pray in the Spirit often
  • Listen to faith teachings
  • Have positive confessions and don’t acknowledge negative circumstances
  • ‘Name it and claim it’

Looks like, to have faith, we must do something. It is up to us. Many Christians have been taught that without faith you can’t do mighty signs and wonder, can’t heal, and can’t advance the kingdom of God. He is looking for spiritual giants – after all there is a war to fight and we need more faith!

What a misunderstanding of faith!

Little did I realize, back then, all those ‘to do’ things were keeping me from TRUE faith and joy, and fullness.

Do you realize that joy is a natural part of faith?

Paul effortlessly and gladly demonstrated this faith dynamic in his repetitive words of, “Rejoice! Again, I say rejoice!”, while imprisoned in a dark cell. (Php 4:4)

Paul acknowledged the Philippians’ “joy of the faith”. (Php 1:25)

Then Paul extolled how he was filled with joy remembering the genuine faith that was in Timothy. (2Tim 1:4,5)

Check out the Greek to get the fullest meaning of Paul’s joy about faith:

Paul was

  • filled (plēróō  – to make full, complete)
  • with joy (chara – joy, delight greatly, gladness)
  • when he called (lambanó – to take hold of, to lay hold by aggressively (actively) accepting what is available)
  • to remembrance (hupomnésis – remembrance, recollection, putting in mind, a reminder
  • the genuine (anupokritos – unfeigned, without hypocrisy, sincere, no phoniness from a hidden agenda)
  • faith (pistis – faith, trust, belief, confidence. From root peithô – to persuade, be persuaded. Faith is God’s divine persuasion on the human heart. Faith is always received from God, never generated by us.)

that was in Timothy.

Was Paul working up joy when he was in the midst of prison? No! Paul’s joy flowed from the faith by which he was persuaded. He knew who he was in Christ Jesus, and circumstances did not alter his confidence, trust, and faith. Joy remained because it is naturally and spiritually a part of true faith.

Paul saw this same faith in Timothy. It was genuine. True faith has no pretenses, no striving, no performance, no requirements, no hype. True faith is rock steady, full of rest, and certainty. Now, who wouldn’t have joy with that kind of faith?!

If you have uncertainty in your walk with God, if you think you waver in your faith, then please realize you have not heard the truth about genuine faith. He wants to persuade you with the truth of real faith and joy. And He will do it because having His faith is knowing your true identity. He wants you to get it. He wants to whack you with the joy of faith!

Dig In

  • Paul said, “I live by the faith OF the Son of God.” (Gal 2:20, emphasis mine) Okay, it’s His faith. Then remember how much joy Jesus has over us? (Prov 8:31) His great delight came out of His faith about us. He was fully persuaded that who He made in His image was perfect. What a huge gift His faith is to us!
  • If you have gotten caught up in all the ‘works’ of faith that religion says you need to do, then ask Him to free you from all that misunderstanding and striving. Then enter into His joy of faith.His Gift of Joy of Faith! Receive! Go ahead, receive – there are no ‘strings’ attached, but hey, maybe a bow of ribbons for fun!
  • “In whom we have boldness and access with confidence on account of His faith.” (Eph 3:12) When we grasp we have His faith – talk about certainty! Let’s get certain! It is part of fullness upon fullness!

If God Is Mean and Demanding Then Why Is He So Joyful? Part 2 Parrots or Fireworks?

Have you been ever been programmed? Hey, isn’t that something cults do? Are Christians programmed? I say we are, more than we realize.

Personal experience example:

  • Pastor says, “God is good.”
  • Congregational rote response, “All the time God is good.”
  • In some churches there will even be applause after these statements. Like a ‘yay God’ additional rote response.

Now these are true statements, and there can be sincerity in the interaction. However, there is a problem.

How many of those in their programmed response really believe those words?

If the majority of Christians could be honest, they would hesitatingly and fearfully share their belief that, God is NOT so good all the time. In fact, they would say, He can be mean, demanding, and even heartless.

The result of such scary honesty – guilt and condemnation. God doesn’t bring this on. Religion does. Programmed religion does.

Can “God is good” become trite? You bet. Rote has a way of making things lack luster, even annoying. It’s kind of like “Polly wants a cracker. Polly wants a cracker. Polly wants a cracker.”  Polly was programmed. We would do well to pause and consider where else in our Christianity have we been programmed.Don't be a parrot Christian!

God does not want parrots, He wants reflections.
The Lord is not programmed in His responses toward us – they are fresh, genuine, and new every morning. How do we reflect that?

First, get free from ‘programmed’ Christianity and churchianity! ‘Stop going through the motions, stop following the crowd. “Programmed’ sucks the joy right of you. Opt for fresh and new every day in your relationship with Him.

Startled by fireworks

In the spirit, I was startled to see fireworks. They were “wow!” visions from the Lord. Now I am fully grasping what He was showing me, after several years. The one true God is like fireworks going off all the time!His joy is like fireworks!

Those fireworks are all about us!
He lights up every time He thinks about
each one of us
.

Remember, David said His thoughts towards us are more numerous than the sand.(Ps 139:17-18) Now that is a lot of thoughts and that means a lot of fireworks!

Fireworks are fun and celebratory. I’ve seen them bring bright-eyed joy and smiles to my grandchildren.  Shoot, I’ve even seen that happen with adults. Fireworks are hugely spontaneous because when they are lit we don’t know exactly when they are going off. Also, fireworks can be used to make a big statement about something.

God has a big statement to make about us – fun, spontaneous, and celebratory! There is absolutely no dull rote stuff going on with Him in how He feels about us. With absolute confidence I can declare – God’s fireworks over us explode with joy!

Fireworks Scripture

“The Lord your God is in your midst, The Mighty One , will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.” (Zephania 3:17)

Okay, I know, there is no reference to fireworks in Zephania. Go figure, they didn’t have them back then.

But let’s check out a few Hebrew meanings in this passage to see if there are any hints of symbolic fireworks.

First, where is this happening?

  • …in your midst (Heb. qereb – inward part, in the middle)

Secondly, what is God doing in you?

  • The Mighty One, will save (Heb. ‘yasha’ – deliver, endow, gain the victory, help, preserve, keep safe)
  •  He will rejoice over you (Heb. ‘sus’ – delight, delighted, exult, glad, rejoice greatly)
  • with gladness (Heb. ‘simchah’ -delight, exceeding joy, festival, gladness, happiness, joy, mirth, pleasure, rejoicing)
  • He will quiet you with His love (Heb. charash – silent, speechless, rest, engrave)
  • He will rejoice over you (Heb. gil – cry, exult, glad, rejoices, joy)
  • with singing – (Heb. rinnah – cry, joy, joyful shouting, joyful singing, shouts of joy, shrieks of joy)

Here is my elaborated translation of Zeph 3:17 –

The Mighty Warrior, God, inside you, is exulting and rejoicing greatly with delight, gladness, mirth, pleasure, and happiness. He is speechless with love for you, and has engraved His love in you. He exults, rejoices, cries out with joyful singing, joyful shouting, and shrieks of joy in and over you!

 Sure looks like something spontaneous, sparkly, vivid, expressive, celebratory, and colorful. Seriously fun fireworks of joy over you!

By the way, would any mighty warrior look so foolish or even have such effusive joy? Who is this God?!

Please notice these key things about His joy over you:

  • no time limits to it
  • no preconditions to be met
  • no maintenance required on your part
  • no restrictions on His quantity or quality
  • no special location needed

May He grace us with the revelation of His joy over us. Then we can really start indulging in His joy. He sure wants us to do that. He wants us free of the lies and misunderstanding where we think He is mean, demanding, or heartless.

Get it! His joy is contagious!

Dig Deep

  • Ask God to deprogram you from all the rote stuff in religion. He doesn’t program anyone. He wants us being His little spontaneous fireworks of joy. My, what a display of fullness!
  • You will know when your “God is good” statement is no longer trite or rote. Those words will burst forth with inner and outer expressions of wondrous joy and delight.
  • Can you imagine, when we get this revelation of His joy over ALL mankind – a big facet of the true Gospel – how we would each shriek out with joy,
    God is joyful! All the time God is joyful!

If God Is Mean and Demanding Then Why Is He So Joyful? Part 1

If most Christians were honest, they would admit to believing that God can be (to some degree) mean, demanding, vengeful, judgmental, hard to please, etc.

Why do many have these thoughts about God? Religious doctrine and influence.

Religion has many oughts, shoulds, musts, dos and do nots. Straight from the, often seen as, sacrosanct pulpit, come misunderstandings about who God really is and who we really are. The fruit of these religious traditionally based teachings are confusion, striving, guilt, fear, condemnation.

If believers could express how they really feel, they would acknowledge

  • how hard they try to please God
  • how they want to please God, even if they think they don’t
  • how they wonder what will God do next to punish them if they step out of line –  the line that religion draws in the sand

Have you ever thought about the narrow line religious Christianity or churchianity draws? Jesus did say, “narrow is the way”. He was not talking about morality. He was talking about Himself being the only way, and that way leads to incredible freedom and fullness. There is no narrowness in Him!

Okay, let’s just imagine you are right – God is mean and demanding. If that is even possibly true, then what do you do with the multiple references about a joyful God?

Seriously, can exuberant joy and meanness be expressed together? Not.

1.       God’s Joy At The Beginning

 God had crazy joy about us from the ‘get go’, even before the get go!

Proverbs 8:22-31 alludes to references of Jesus being with the Father before He began creation, Jesus’ involvement in creation, and how Jesus thought about us.

Here is Jesus’ crazy joy:

  • vs.30 “I was beside Him as a master craftsman, and I was daily His delight, vs.31 rejoicing always before Him, rejoicing in His inhabited world, and my delight was with the sons of men.”
  • vs 31 key Hebrew words elaborated –
    • I was rejoicing, laughing, joking, playing, celebrating, smiling always before Him
    • I was rejoicing, laughing, joking, playing, celebrating, smiling in His inhabited world
    • My delight, pleasure, enjoyment was with and in the sons of men (mankind)

I’m thinkin’ He really likes us, all of us! We are His celebration! We make Him smile and laugh! We are His joy! We bring Him pleasure!

By the way, did you notice there were no qualifiers for His joy over us? We did nothing to make Him rejoice over us – no performance, no service, no sacrifices, no rituals, no nothing. From the get go He was already rejoicing.

Now, why do we think God is so heavy??? Actually, God is ‘heavy’, if you will, in His lightness!

Most of us have never got that, because religion does not know that kind of ‘heavy’ God. Religiosity is the heavy one in all its requirements.

2.       God’s Presence Is Joy

In Your presence is fullness of joy. (Psalms 16:11)

Hebrew elaboration:

  • presence means ‘face’ – there is a face to face rejoicing that He has for us, no long distance joy with Him!
  • fullness  means satiety and abundance
  • joy means delight, exceeding joy, extremely, festival, gladness, happiness, joy, mirth, pleasure, rejoicing

Most Christians have been taught you need to do some stuff in order to get into His presence. This is a false teaching.

His presence is already in you. He is already face to face with you!

Why don’t we get that? Once again, we need to get free from religious tradition, doctrine, and churchianity that promotes a distant, demanding God.

The truth is He can’t get any closer to you or deeper in you than He already is.

You are in His presence right now. His exceeding joy, delight, mirth, pleasure, and festival is yours for the enjoying. You don’t have to earn it, manipulate, or please. Go for it!

Well spring of joy! ©Nancy TeagueThe well spring of joy is in you. Tap into it! Open up. Let ‘er rip!

It’s okay to dance, laugh, joke, smile, be deliriously joyful. He sure is. And He is over you! Be the same. Remember you are a reflection of Him.

Dig In

  • One of the keys to tapping into and releasing His joy is to be honest about your thoughts of Him being mean and demanding. He is not mad at you about this. He just wants those lies brought to the light. He will laugh those lies right out of you.
  • God has been joyful before the beginning. You began before the beginning in His joy and He has never stopped being joyful over you. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Now that is an eternal freeing truth!
  • Remember – it is impossible to be filled with joy and be mean at the same time. A human being can’t do that, and God can’t either! God is total joy. Ditch the ‘lie’ of meanness.

More joy points to come!