The Garden of the Lord

“For the LORD shall comfort Zion:

he will comfort all her waste places;

and he will make her wilderness like Eden,

and her desert like the garden of the LORD;

joy and gladness shall be found therein,

thanksgiving, and the voice of melody.”

Isaiah 51:3

She knelt beside the tender plants being careful to pull the weeds from around the red, yellow, pink. and purple frilly edged poppies waving in the morning breeze. Depending on the time of year, her garden of carnations, snap dragons, fancy tulips and Easter flowers smiled at family and friends walking up the garden path. But for Mabel, my mother-in-law, her garden had a different purpose. It was her garden of the Lord.

“Often I watered it with my tears,” she explained. “Then it rewards me with joy and gladness in its beauty. It’s here I meet the Lord and find strength to go on.”

Mabel knew what it was like to walk in the garden of the Lord, not unlike what Adam and Eve must have experienced.

The events of creation tell us –

“The LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden:

and there he put the man whom he had formed…

to dress it and to keep it”

Genesis 2:8, 15.

Unlike Mabel’s garden no weeds threatened the beauty, but the Lord did instruct Adam to care for it. The beauty and the fruit of it were his to enjoy – all except for the one forbidden tree. Until Adam’s disobedience to that command he and Eve enjoyed the presence of the Lord. He walked and talked with them “in the cool of the day.” They knew the nearness of God.

Mabel knew the nearness of God in her garden, especially when faced with the many trials and heartaches she experienced through her life. But in her garden she found comfort, joy, and gladness. There is a garden of the Lord for all who will draw, as the old song says, “Near to the Heart of God.” As Asaph and the writer of Hebrews tell us –

“But it is good for me to draw near to God:

I have put my trust in the Lord God,

that I may declare all thy works…

Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith,

having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience,

and our bodies washed with pure water.

Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering;

(for he is faithful that promised;)”

(Psalm 73:28; Hebrews 10:22-23)

Mabel drew near to the Lord in her garden. Adam and Eve walked with the Lord in his garden. The garden is that place we find ourselves nearest God. It’s the place we come for his comfort and leave with his joy and gladness.

Where is your garden?

Why Rejoice?

 “The LORD reigneth; let the earth rejoice…” So begins Psalm 97. This theme flows throughout the Psalms and calls the people of the earth to rejoice.  As He has reigned, He is reigning and will reign forever. And we find in this Psalm more to fill our hearts  with the joy of the Lord until it flows through our veins, filling our lives and drawing others to this fountain of rejoicing.DSCF1514

“The LORD reigneth; let the earth rejoice… O clap your hands, all ye people; shout unto God with the voice of triumph. For the LORD most high is terrible; he is a great King over all the earth…sing praises unto our King, sing praises. For God is the King of all the earth…God reigneth over the heathen: God sitteth upon the throne of his holiness… I Nebuchadnezzar … praised and honoured him that liveth for ever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation…and none can stay his hand or say…What doest thou…the King of heaven, all whose works are truth, and his ways judgment… And I heard…the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.” (Ps. 47:1,2,6-8; Dan. 4:34,35,37;Rev. 19:6).

He is triumphant, awesome, King over all the earth reigning in holiness and truth. He is all-powerful and His word will not fail. Because He is our King, we who have received his abundant grace and gift of righteousness, “…shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ,” now. And in the future He will make us, “…unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth…and his servants shall serve him…and they shall reign for ever and ever.” (Rom. 5:17; Rev. 5:10; 22:3,5).

 “Ye that love the LORD, hate evil: he preserveth the souls of his saints; he delivereth them out of the hand of the wicked…Rejoice in the LORD, ye righteous; and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness.” Ps. 97:10,12.

“The LORD reigneth; let the people tremble: he sitteth between the cherubims; let the earth be moved…Exalt ye the LORD our God, and worship at his footstool; for he is holy…Exalt the LORD our God, and worship at his holy hill; for the LORD our God is holy.”(from Ps. 99).

Praying our hearts be filled with  joy and rejoicing as we meditate on the Lord who reigns forever,our awesome God, whom we worship and exalt in the beauty of holiness.

“And again I say Rejoice!”

 

The Path to Joy

“Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore…rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.” (Ps. 16:11; 1Pet. 1:8,9).blogreligious-2598299__340

“Thou wilt shew me the path of life…That which was from the beginning…In the beginning was the Word…In him was life; and the life was the light of men…the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world…as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God… Then spake Jesus…I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life…And this is the record that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.” (1John 1:1a; John 1:1,4,9,12,13; 8:12; 1John 5:11,12).

“…in thy presence is fullness of joy…pleasures for evermore…And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full…God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.”(1John 1:4-7).

Where fellowship with God exists there is fullness of joy, a hope that cannot be extinguished by the darkness we are walking through or that surrounds us. The only thing that can dim that hope is the darkness we allow to reign in our hearts.

“God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.” 1Cor. 1:9.

“…ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord…did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the Scriptures… The Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth… he be not far from every one of us.… To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory… I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live: yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”( Lu.24:32; Ps. 145:18; Acts 17:27; Col. 1:27; Gal. 2:20)

“..rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls…That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.” 1John 1:3.

Jesus came to restore the fellowship Adam had with the Lord in the garden, to give us access to the Father, drawing near to Him, walking and talking with Him. In His presence is fullness of joy and pleasure forevermore. Maybe you have lost joy in your journey. Maybe you just want more of Him. Jesus invites you to sweet communion. He is near, even at the door.

“Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” Rev. 3:20.

What is your answer? Fullness of joy is found in opening the door.

Of Woe and Joy

dscf0360.jpg“The sorrows of death compassed me, and the floods of ungodly men made me afraid. The sorrows of hell compassed me about: the snares of death prevented me…My tears have been my meat day and night, while they continually say unto me, Where is thy God?” Psalm 18:3,4Ps. 42:3.

Who that has lived has not felt like David when he penned these words? I admire David’s truthful expression of his pain. I admire more that he turned from the pain to the One who understood it and carried him to the other side of it.

“Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance…the Lord will command his lovingkindness in the daytime, and in the night his song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life… In my distress I called upon the LORD, and cried unto my God: he heard my voice…and my cry came before him, even into his ears. Then the earth shook and trembled…He sent from above, he took me, he drew me out of many waters. He delivered me from my strong enemy…for they were too strong for me…He brought me forth also into a large place; he delivered me, because he delighted in me.”( Ps.42:5,8; Ps. 18:5,7,16,17,19).

As the Lord did for David, He will do for you as you continue to hope in Him and give Him praise.

Joy is not a happy place, but a positive attitude grounded in God. Joy is born of hope which is the child of faith, believing, “…all things work together for good to them that love God…” Rom. 8:28.

The prophet, Isaiah says this about our Lord: “He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief…” Isa. 53:3.”…who for the joy…set before him endured the cross, despising the shame…consider him that endured…lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.”Heb. 12:2,3.

Yet, the Lord himself says, “…the Father hath loved me…I have loved you: continue ye in my love…keep my commandments…abide in my love…These things have I spoken unto you that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.” John 15:9-11.

What gave Jesus joy through His sufferings? He knew He was loved of the Father. He trusted the Father’s plan and carried it out without exception. His life and death had purpose, even as He gives purpose to you and me as we abide in His love. He knew and showed us the truth behind the quote, “Experiences of sorrow prepare for, and enlarge, the capacity for joy.” (Vines Exp. Dict.)

When we find our lives overwhelmed in circumstance, let’s do as David and cry unto the Lord in faith, knowing He hears. Let’s do as Jesus did and trust the Father’s love as we look to the glory that is ours now and that awaits.

“Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing…in prayer… I have set the LORD always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth; my flesh also shall rest in hope…Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore…(Rom. 12:12;Ps. 16:8,9,11).

 “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial…as though some strange thing happened unto you. But rejoice…as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy…I have trusted in thy mercy; my heart shall rejoice in thy salvation. I will sing unto the LORD, because he hath dealt bountifully with me…” (1Peter. 4:12,13;Ps. 13:5,6).

“Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice.” Keeping in mind Jesus Christ, the author and finisher of your faith, “Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.” (Phil. 4:4; 1Pet. 1:8,9).

Praying unto the Father, “…the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.”(Rom. 15:13) Amen.

 

 

Again I say…

blogpraise-1154566__340“Rejoice in the Lord…” Phil. 4:4. “I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify him with thanksgiving.” Ps. 69:30

“And Mary said, my soul doth magnify the Lord, And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior.” Lu. 1:46,47.

“And it shall be said in that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us: this is the LORD; we have waited for him, we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation.” Isa. 25:9.

They waited and He came. Rejoice for our salvation has come. Rejoice for as He has come, He will come.

Jesus said: “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” John 14:1-3.

“And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.” Acts 1:10,11.

“He(Jesus) which testifieth these things saith, Surely, I come quickly.” Rev. 22:20.

“…and again I say, Rejoice.” “…rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.” Lu. 10:20b.

May you rejoice in Christ today and always, remembering your redemption draws near. May you and yours rejoice with the great joy in the Lord’s increase as you plant and water the seed of the gospel in your hearts and the hearts of others. Amen.

Good Tidings of Great Joy!

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…behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people…” Luke 2:10b.

Our world is inundated with reports of murders, terrorism, threats of wars, plagues and natural disasters. And many suffer personal tragedies that strike in a moment. Is it any wonder the masses suffer from depression mixed with intermittent spurts of fleeting happiness? The news media offers a few nibbles of good news at the end of the broadcast like this will give hope?

When Luke penned, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the announcement of good tidings, his world did not differ from the one we live in today. They suffered it all, the same as we do. So, what is it that brings great joy when the world around us is crumbling? Is it really for all people?

“…behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy…”  Angels filled the sky proclaiming the good news to a handful of Jewish shepherds on a hillside. God would fulfill his covenant with His people.

“O Zion, that bringest good tidings…O Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings, lift up thy voice with strength: lift it up, be not afraid, say…Behold your God!—-born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord—He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.” (Isa. 40:9; Luke 2:11; Isa. 40:11).

“How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace: that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation—and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins—that sayeth unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!—And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.”(Isa. 52:7; Matt. 1:21; Isa. 52:7; Luke 1:33).

The above scriptures speak to the lost sheep of Israel, a nation waiting for Messiah. But the promise comes through Abraham and the announcement declares…

“…which shall be to all people…” “…and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.” Gen. 12:3. “For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, Which thou hast prepared before the face of all the people. A light to lighten the gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.” (Luke 2:30-32). “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16). “…God our Savior; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.” (1Tim. 2:3b,4). “For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.” (Rom. 10:12).

There is only one condition I see in these verses: “…for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.”  “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Rom. 10:13.

For those who have called, we know the joy of His salvation. If you do not know the joy of His salvation, make Jesus the one gift you receive this Christmas season.

Praying for the joy of the Lord to reign in each heart.