Finding Peace

God never promised us that the world would be free of chaos and trouble. But what Jesus did say, “...let your heart NOT be troubled or afraidJohn 14: 27c. Prior to this imperative, Jesus gave comforting information to help guard our troubling hearts. So, allow me to remind you that this comforting information can be found in John 14. Jesus starts out in verse 1 by saying, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me John 14:1. I could simply stop there because the words of our Lord and savior is enough. Believing in God and His son should be enough to comfort any troubled or fearful heart.

As we live in uncertain times, we can be certain that Jesus’ words are meant to comfort us during these times. John 14 is a synopsis of Jesus comforting the disciples during an ‘uncertain time’ for them. Causing the worry: “Who will betray Jesus, Peter in denial and overconfident in his commitment to Jesus, plus Jesus was going to leave them”, all of this knowledge overwhelmed them and gave rise to troubling hearts and fear. Currently, our society is overwhelmed with troubling knowledge leading to fear. However as Christians, we should lead the charge in exercising peace because we have a promising future, no matter what the outcome of Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19).

Jesus in His compassion and grace gives us more details facilitating assurance of the peace that is found in knowing the Father and His son. Jesus starts out by informing us of our eternal home (heaven) with Him and it’s capacity to accommodate all true believers, e.g. saints. Further comfort throughout John 14: we are in a constant relational fellowship with God (7-11), we have the privilege of prayer (12-15), we have the gift of the Holy Spirit, our helper (16-18), the enjoyment of God’s (our Father’s) love (19-24) and finally, another reminder of His gift of peace (25-31).

What I would like for you to takeaway from this devotion is to remember peace is a gift from the Lord and it is not something that you must give away. We all have been privileged with this gift from our Lord. It is totally out of this world. In fact, Jesus gave us HIS peace. “27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27

(Pause… and let this sink in).

My encouragement to you: In the coming weeks as the world becomes more afraid and times become more uncertain, you hold on to Jesus’ peace that you have and show love to the world and I declare, your experiences will become less fearful and more faithful. After all there is no fear in love, 1 John 4:18.

Heavenly Father, help us during these times of obvious lack of control. For we know that you have always been in control and forgive us for the times that we thought we were. Help us to surrender our desire to understand and fix everything. We need your help to not only believe and trust you but also to exercise this trust so that the world will be drawn to you and Christians drawn back to you. Lord feed us, protect us, shelter us, & heal us from diseases. Help us not be greedy and self-centered and fall back into human nature but walk by and with your spirit. Help us to be mindful of others and esteem others over ourselves. We can do all of this through your strength. You are almighty and powerful. This is my humble prayer for the world and myself. In Jesus name, I believe… Amen!

Keep safe,
The journey flows…

A Void

There were three women conversing about life. For the sake of this article: their names are Alisa, Betty, & Mary. Alisa asked the two ladies have they ever felt lonely. Betty, asked her why. Alisa stated that she was experiencing an overwhelming feeling of loneliness. Betty said to her, but you have a husband, children, and even grandchildren; how is it that YOU are lonely? Mary chimed in to state that she has experienced loneliness before, even in a crowded room that had much chatter. Again, the question was asked, why were you lonely if there were people and they all talking. Mary said, they were all talking, but none were talking to me. Alisa stated that her loneliness does not stem from silence or lack of companions, but from too much connectivity with man and not enough connectivity with the Lord. Alisa stated that she feels her loneliest times when she does not spend enough quality time with the Lord. The Bible says, “draw nigh to God and He will draw nigh to you” James 4:8a.

Often times, we can get so caught up in the comforts of this world until we depend on them rather than depend on God’s comfort. One of my favorite encouraging scriptures: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4. When I need comfort in any affliction (self-inflicted or otherwise), I read this scripture and pray to the Lord to help me depend on Him for comfort. Depending on God’s comfort is easier said than done, especially since the comforts of this world are right at our finger tips. It takes faith to depend on God’s comfort, not so with the world’s comfort.

Comforts of this world will always leave a void. We will always end up empty; loneliness can easily set-in even when those around you are present. The problem is not that our husbands, children, grandchildren and/or other companions fail to fill our void or offer comfort, the problem is that we expect them to. No person, place, or thing can provide lasting and perfect mercies, grace, faithfulness and love… only God can. These truths about God is the ONLY true and lasting comfort. The enemy does not want us to thrive in God’s comfort. If we fail to thrive, then how can we be the conduit for God’s comfort for others. God’s plan is for us to comfort others with the same comfort that we have been comforted. We comfort others by walking out God’s truths in our lives. Think about it, when others see God in you, they are automatically comforted and feelings of emptiness and loneliness eventually dissipates.

Application: When I need comfort, I have to walk by faith and not by feelings. Faith says that I AM already comforted by God; I have to trust the truth. Feelings say I need to be comforted when already… ‘I AM’!

Heavenly Father, help me to draw near to you. You are ever present and you will never leave me. You are the great I AM. You are the God of all comfort. Remind me, oh God that as long as I have you, I have comfort and am already comforted. Help me when I am too weak to walk in that comfort. Help me not be guided by feelings of any kind, but guided by truth through faith and your strength. I believe in your word and trust that you are able. Thank you for helping me see me, but most of all for helping me see your sovereignty through your divine and submissive will in all things. Thank you God for filling my void with Jesus and all that comes with me saying yes to you. I am grateful. Your humble servant… Amen

The journey flows…

Vision

The Vision Board is a new fad that has become quite popular since Oprah Winfrey’s endorsement of a specific book. The idea is that if you can visualize your dreams and goals, they will materialize based on the energy or mode of thinking. This new age craze has gotten the credit for many blessings. My prayer is that we do not lose sight of where our blessings come from. All good and perfect gifts comes from above and comes from God, who is the Father of lights, He never changes or casts shifting shadows (James 1:17). Man is not in control of His destiny. God is sovereign and governs the universe and everything in it. Never cast any vision with faith in your own ability to make it happen based on the time and attention given the goal. That much focus and meditation could be best spent in meditating on God, His word, and other things of God. Always keep a biblical perspective.

No doubt, Habakkuk 2:2 2 And the Lord answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it, has been used to justify or give explanation for Vision Boards. Habakkuk had been praying to God, but God was silent. That particular verse 2:2 is the beginning of God answering the prophet explaining to him, His plans for using the Chaldeans to punish Judah. God needed Habakkuk to write God’s vision, not his (meaning Habakkuk’s vision) and make it clear to the people so that Habakkuk could run and spread it all over the land to God’s people. The vision was not a self-centered attempt toward personal success and greatness.

Habakkuk was distressed, because He was praying and felt as though God wasn’t listening nor did God care about the sin and/or the suffering of His people. God answered Habakkuk in revealing to him that He was listening and heard, yet working a plan that would come to fruition. But, Habakkuk and the people must wait for His/God’s appointed time. While Habakkuk was to wait, he had to watch. After God disclosed the five “woes” of condemnation against sin, wickedness and disobedience, Habakkuk’s reverential and humble response: O Lord, I have heard Your speech and was afraid; O Lord, revive Your work in the midst of the years! In the midst of the years make it known; In wrath remember mercy. Habakkuk 3:2. Finally in verses 3:17-19, Habakkuk’s conviction of faith and trust in God had taken deeper roots, 17 Even if the fig tree does not bloom and the vines have no grapes, even if the olive tree fails to produce and the fields yield no food, even if the sheep pen is empty and the stalls have no cattle— 18 even then, I will be happy with the Lord. I will truly find joy in God, who saves me. 19 The Lord Almighty is my strength. He makes my feet like those of a deer. He makes me walk on the mountains.

I am at the crossroads in my life. There is a literal stop sign with so many directions that I can take. I don’t have a clear vision, it hasn’t been written. My one question to God is “What now?” I know for certain that I have been sent, commissioned, anointed, and appointed. Still, I will learn from Habakkuk. I will pray, watch, wait, and allow God to write His vision and seek to faithfully see where He places me in the plan and seek His guidance as He unfolds it.

Personally, I do not participate in Vision Board practice. Let’s just say for the sake of an ‘argument’, If I did, my board would be white with nothing written on it. While displayed, I would explain that I am waiting for God to give me His vision for His Kingdom; until, and ONLY then will I write the vision and walk by faith. I must walk by faith, because, I declare that from day to day I need a new dose of clarity to walk out my journey. Habakkuk 2:4 “Behold the proud, His soul is not upright in him; But the just shall live by his faith.

Heavenly Father help me as I sit at the crossroads of my journey, not knowing what to do next. I look to the hills from which cometh my help. You, oh God, are my help and my strength. In you, I find wisdom and clarity. Help me not to move until you say move, speak until you say speak, go until you say go, and stand where you say to stand. Please provide as I wait. You are the Potter and I am the clay, mold me into the person for your vision. Thank you for the peace at this intersection. Thank you for the joy you have given me. Thank you for courage to make bold steps into the unknown. Carry me the rest of the journey. This is my humble prayer, in Jesus name, Amen.

The journey flows…

Psalm 24

Blessings Saints!! I have missed our fellowship. I am currently experiencing God’s faithfulness on a mission trip abroad. I am humbled and privileged to see the vastness of God. He indeed is the King of glory. He is God of all creation and every nation. As Jesus walked the earth and modeled the missionary journey and Apostle Paul followed in His footsteps while God paved the road and created the map for Paul’s personal journey, we too must find our path through the written word, prayer, and faith. I would like to share with you a passage of scripture that was read at a beautiful worship service last night. I pray that you are as blessed by the words as I have been and again this morning as I meditate on them. Please join me in reading Psalm 24. I chose God’s Word translation for much clarity. Just ‘hang’ on every word. Please pray for a safe return.

The journey flows….

Psalm 24~

The earth and everything it contains are the Lord’s.
The world and all who live in it are his.
    He laid its foundation on the seas
        and set it firmly on the rivers.

Who may go up the Lord’s mountain?
Who may stand in his holy place?
    The one who has clean hands and a pure heart
        and does not long for what is false[a]
            or lie when he is under oath.
    This person will receive a blessing from the Lord
        and righteousness from God, his savior.
This is the person who seeks him,
    who searches for the face of the God of Jacob.[b] Selah

Lift your heads, you gates.
Be lifted, you ancient doors,
    so that the king of glory may come in.

Who is this king of glory?
    The Lord, strong and mighty!
    The Lord, heroic in battle!

Lift your heads, you gates.
Be lifted, you ancient doors,
    so that the king of glory may come in.

10 Who, then, is this king of glory?
    The Lord of Armies is the king of glory! Selah

My prayer: Dear Lord, Please continue to just BE God. Thank you. In Jesus’ name I pray this simple prayer, Amen.

Serving with Gladness

If anyone has ever received an email or letter from me, you may have seen my valediction “serving with gladness”. This is not just some catchy phrase that I use to evoke a response for any kind of exaltation. Serving with gladness is my aim. Do I miss the mark at times? …certainly. However, missing the mark does not negate my standard for service. The Lord’s charge is my deepest desire, and this is to serve according to the proportion of faith that God has given me, Romans 12:6c.

In whatever capacity that you serve, serve in it above the waist…deep. Become an ‘all in’ server. Even if it costs you. At times it will be a sacrifice. What I have found to be the biggest and toughest sacrifice when serving, is self. Removing self when serving can be a challenge when having a bad day. I have encountered some not so ‘pleasant’ experiences when dealing with customer service workers. Their frustrated and rude behavior could dampen a person’s day, if allowed. Have you encountered this lately? I declare, it seems as though there is an increase in lack of skills and manners in customer service workers. There is such a limited amount of face-to-face time generationally, since social media is the dominant form of communication. Of course, there is no easy fix. Where we can start is one encounter at a time. Model the behavior that you want to receive or better yet, model the behavior that you would show if Christ is standing right next to you. It’s not demeaning to say sir and ma’am to older adults. That generation equates it to respect. It does not cost you anything to say it. Let your light so shine, so that men will see your good works/deeds and glorify your/our Father in heaven, Matthew 5:16. As you lead by example, remember to teach along the way.  Our youth needs it, badly.

Finally, be the salt with every customer service encounter, whether you are behind the counter or in front of the counter, either side is a seasoning opportunity. You are the salt of the earth, Matthew 5:13a. Add flavor and be the preservative to stabilize the environment toward peace with a harmonious and gentle spirit. Speak softly, slowly, with a smile, and even say a prayer, make sure to unfold your arms, leave yourself open with a please and thank you. You may feel vulnerable, but that’s ok, God is your protector and His Spirit will guide into all truth. Watch; wait & pray and see how He blesses the situation.

Heavenly Father, thank you for the Holy Spirit guiding me in all truth. I am called to salt, light, and the beacon for this world. My transparency helps others see through me straight to you. Help me so that they will see pass my stuff to get to the goodness of me, which is you and only you. Help my presence change the atmosphere into a sweet encounter, let it start with my heart and mind then lead my actions toward grace. Help me to continue to serve You by serving others with gladness. This is my humble prayer, amen.

The journey flows…

Live With the End in Mind

At the end of Apostle Paul’s journey, he wrote to his ‘protege’ Timothy, “7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing” 2 Timothy 4:7-8. I know many of you have heard the saying “begin with the end in mind”. There is no way for me to begin again, unless I count each day as a new beginning. That would be a great perspective, if my lifetime of living, loving, and deeds were not cumulative, meaning increasing with quantity and degree. I pray that my living, loving, and works are an increasing fragrance to God every time, not a low-level stench. This verse is a familiar passage at funerals, but I would like for us to celebrate a good, finished, and faithful race While we run it.

When we have completed our race, others will be the ones to celebrate the quality and degree of that they witnessed. So, why not celebrate our good, finished, and faithful race each and everyday. After all, God is faithful. I believe… Furthermore, at the crowning of our lives, we will all celebrate together, so why not celebrate the here and now together as well. “For we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. 2 Corinthians. 5:10

I encourage you to consider how to spur/motive each other to love and good works/deed, Hebrews 11:24, especially during these last days. Be a cheerleader for one another with a committed love. This is void petty jealousies, misplaced frustration, lofty standards, and unrealistic expectations. The love of God compels us to love each other, because He first loved(s) us. His love is ongoing. Since God loves us, we ought to love one another. We show this love by motivating and encouraging one another toward his/her finish line while he or she is running his or her race with faith. Reach out and help others to make their fight a good one toward a strong finish. If you don’t know how… love will guide you, love never fails.

Thank you Lord for the encouraging words of Apostle Paul. Help me to finish my race with the same convictions, knowing that I will receive my gracious reward. Also help me to encourage others along the way. I dare not try to imagine my finished race, because being in your presence will be the height of my contentment. Thank you for helping me to finish my race good, strong, and faithful. I believe… amen!

The Object of My Affection

Is there anything in your heart that is a recurring thought? You are fixated with it. That particular thought or practice gives you a since of comfort and pleasure. You think about it almost to the point of obsession. You try to figure out how to cozy up to it. When you finally get a chance, you lose track of time. You fall asleep with it on your mind and wake up the same. You daydream about it. It is your go to when you need a distraction from a tense moment. The enemy will use whatever he can to steal affection and attention from God. Has the enemy helped you to erect a ‘high place’ in your life? This high place is an idol. Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary categorizes any physical or mental image or form representing a reality or being that is considered divine and thus an object of worship as idolatry. Basically, anything that occupies that place in your heart and mind which belongs to our Jehovah God. God says, “I am that I am and the One who is.” Exodus 20:2-5a: “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. “You shall have no other gods before Me. “You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God,

36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?”37 Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22:36-40

You must be thinking, “This doesn’t apply to me cause I have not carved or made any image to worship”. The carving is not the issue, it is what’s done with the image. Think about it… We must prioritize every area in our lives. God and only God should take first place, front seat, and be highly lifted. If not careful, instead of God, ambition, emotions (pain & past hurt/wounds), relationships, and/or self will become first place. Ezekiel 14:6: “Therefore say to the house of Israel, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Repent, turn away from your idols, and turn your faces away from all your abominations.

Practical ways to help rid yourself of your idol(s): Recognize-Ask God to show you your idol(s). Repent-Confess and turn away from the idol and in the direction of God. Rest– Take a rest from your idolatrous activity. Don’t try to wean yourself from the idol so you can feel better about having one and not having to admit it is as an idol. Call it what it is! 1 Corinthians 10:14 says, “Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.” Rely-Rely on God to destroy your idols. I declare the more you spend time in prayer, studying the Bible, obedience, praise, & worship, and loving others, this will crush your idol(s). Meditate more on God and the things of God rather than the idol(s). Finally, Rejoice in who God is and what He has done through Jesus Christ’s birth, death, burial, resurrection and freedom from the penalty and power of sin. This will encourage your heart.

Flee from a sinful lifestyle and run to Jesus. If you already know that you are saved, then rejoice again. “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and not of ourselves; it is a gift of God, Ephesians 2:8. If not, be sanctified by accepting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. This is the fundamental step to rid idolatry.

Heavenly Father, as I examine my life, I already know my idols, you have shown me. I know and I know that you know. To rid is not as easy as the written truth. Sometimes to say is easier than to do, oh Lord, have mercy on me. Help me in those times when I would rather believe that I can than actually doing that which I know that I can, if I surrender to you. By your divine power, you have given me everything that I need for life in you through the knowledge of you who has called me by your glory and goodness. Encourage me when I am ashamed to admit my idols not only to you but also to myself. Thank you for your grace , love and mercy. Thank you for the strength you have given me to crush prior idols, but I’m certain there are more. I rejoice in your faithfulness. This is my prayer; Amen!

The journey flows….

A Wonderful Change

So often I hear the term growth or maturity. I would like to speak to those words describing spiritual movement as a Christian. I hear things like, “I sure have grown or thank God I am a Christian because if I wasn’t I would have ______. You fill in the blank with your foothold or weight. I would like to challenge you not to spend so much energy on what you don’t do any longer, but on godly actions and behaviors that please God. “So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.2 Corinthians 5:9-10

I challenge you to live life offensively. Let’s go higher in our effort to please God. The idea of spiritual growth and spiritual maturity is to be transformed into the likeness of Christ. 2 Corinthians 3:18, “But we all with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord. Another one of my favorites: “And be not conformed to this world but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good and acceptable, and perfect will of God” Romans 12:2.

These two verses are referring to a ‘change into’, not just a ‘change of’. Let me explain. When you have a ‘change of’, there is just a difference. Every difference is not necessarily spiritual growth. Example: If you normally speak or talk aggressively or offensively, then you decide to stop. Your reason is because you are a Christian and don’t want to be a ‘potty mouth’ any longer. You now have had a change of speech. Your speech is different, now there is something different about you. Was your change spiritual or was it just a change? Where is your heart?

But ‘to change into’ is like a caterpillar, it ‘changes into’ a butterfly. We are talking about metamorphism, a change of nature. This creature was a caterpillar, but now it is a butterfly. It went through a change process progressively. Christians should not just go through a ‘bunch’ of changes only to call it maturity. The change that I am referring to is the transformation that can only come by the Holy Spirit. Transformation is a by-product of renewing our minds and putting away carnal/worldly behaviors. We are being changed into the likeness of Christ. Because of the lifted veil, we have access to this change into Christ’s image from glory to glory by the Spirit of the Lord.

What is our part? Put to death your earthly tendencies:sexual immorality, impurity, passions, evil desire, and covetousness, and idolatry Colossians 3:5 ESV. Then peel the fruit of the Spirit, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, against such things there is no law Galatians 5:22-23 ESV.

Be encouraged Saints! It is a process and we shouldn’t trouble ourselves with the details of the progression status. A butterfly doesn’t know it is a butterfly until the day it take wings and fly. Do your part and let God do the rest. Be ye transformed. What a wonderful change.

Heavenly Father, thank you for transforming me into the likeness of your son, Jesus the Christ. Help me to put away earthly tendencies and take a closer look at the fruit and walk in them. Help me to recognize my blind-spots in those areas where I think I am so strong. Send someone along to help me recognize them. Give me strength and wisdom to know that when you send this person, it may come in the form of discomfort. Hold me up when it is a shock to me. Oh Lord help me. I tremble at the thought, strengthen me. for this part of the journey. In Jesus name amen!

The journey flows…

The Win

My journey is reflective of glad days and sad days. This 365-day-a-year journey is not ordinary or routine, even though every single day is a battle. Every battle is different even if the sin which I toil with can sometimes be the same. This journal entry was conceived when my life became an all-out target for the enemy. I can remember when getting out of bed was a struggle. I can remember when my thoughts became a war zone. I had to develop a minute-by-minute exercise to keep my thoughts pure. As I struggled daily to push through the quicksand of life, I became a judge and jury for my actions. It felt as if my flesh had turned against me. Not only was I warring with natural tendencies, those natural tendencies had become idolatry from which there was no escape. There was no getting away from myself and these strongholds. Although, my war was carnal, my weapons were not. They were mighty in God for the pulling down of strongholds, For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:3-5

I am learning daily that there is no room in my life to give up in my effort to walk holy and circumspect before man and unto God. My life must be an example of what the bible speaks is true. That truth is that I have been born again, washed in the blood, made new, Holy Spirit led, and live by faith. God forbid: Yea let God be true, but every man a liar; Romans 3:4a.

Once, I learned how to fight an offensive war, my days became more joyous and less tiring, more peaceful, and less depressing. I wish I could say that there was totality in joy, fatigue, peace, and depression, but I cannot. Even though, I pinned this forward in past-tense, the war continues. Do not be discouraged by this snapshot of my journey. There is a peaceful ‘happy’ ending to my journey…it is called eternal fellowship with Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior. That is the hope that fuels me for the journey that transports me toward my final destiny.

It is fixed, I cannot get off, start life over, stop what has been predestined, or surrender to the barriers. So, I embrace my wins and my losses. I hope you enjoy my freestyle writing that is simple, intimate, transparent, and true. Basically, it is just Zephany. That is all I know how to be. I pray that you are moved and encouraged to embrace your wins and losses. Remember it is all about the destiny. So, do not get hung up on the journey, it’s a moving target that God set in motion. He is the conductor.

The journey flows…

Heavenly Father, help me to humble myself before you as I bury myself deep into your bosom when I lean into you for comfort. You said that you will comfort me in all of my iniquities. Help me with my desire and my effort to walk holy despite of the constant adversarial attacks. You are a constant in a perfect way. Thank you for never leaving me. You are a true faithful friend. This is my prayer, in Jesus name amen.

Joy

My intent was to post a beautiful encouraging devotional about joy. I had it all eloquently written. The message was wrapped around symbolism comparing two candy bars, a Mound bar and an Almond Joy bar. The gist… the analogy was the almond being joy in the center of all the gooey and darkness surrounding it. The gooey substance (our mess) was the creamy coconut filling and the darkness was the chocolate that covered it. Basically, the almond is the firm center beneath the surface, and a stand alone, with or without the stuff. The Almond Joy bar cannot even exist without the almond. As with our Christian journey, it cannot exist without JOY! Without the almond (joy), our live’s would be just like that Mound bar, simply a gooey mess covered in darkness. Jesus is our joy and without Him as Lord and remembering Him being our Savior, our lives will be ‘all that’ without Joy. Jesus is the center of our lives and the Center of our Joy!

Your question… what happened? Life happened, I did not feel like I was in a joyous place! Life has it’s twist and turns. James 1:2-4 reminds me to count it all joy when I fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of my faith produces patience, and patience must have its perfect work, so that I will be perfect(mature) and complete, lacking nothing. I went to bed frustrated, prayed…slept, woke up frustrated, prayed, spent time in Numbers 25:1-13. Well, guess what? Yes… still frustrated. But there is more, I can add joy to my frustration. Joy is not a feeling, it is my position.

The situation that is causing my frustration has not changed, but I know God in His time will change me and my response toward the situation. I do not have a warm and tingly happy feeling about it. It is going to be a struggle to work through the frustration from yesterday. I left the situation at the Lord’s feet, hoping not to go pick it back up and carry it. However, the feelings associated with it is like an ache that has to wear off and be massaged out. The Holy Spirit is my masseuse.

We cannot operate in joy & peace by allowing our feelings to guide us or dictate negative responses. I recognize that the situation is frustrating and that I will have to operate in love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, Gal. 5:22-23, to experience joy and not just have the head knowledge of knowing it exists for all believers in Christ. I want to experience all that God has for me. SO, yes I am still frustrated, but I have joy in the midst. I choose the Almond Joy bar and will pass on the Mound bar. I do not want to experience the mess and dark days without the Joy, after all James says, “when we face or fall into trails and various temptations“. That day will come, but joy is center and beneath the surface. Take a bite!

Heavenly Father, thank you for the trials and temptations that accompany life. We thank you that you have worked them into our journey for good and your glory. We thank you that joy is ours and it cannot be taken even when we face challenges. We thank you that you do not condemn us for feelings, but you guide us through them. Thank you for being with us in all things, even the disappointing ones. You are faithful! Your mercies are new every morning and in them we are not consumed! GREAT is your faithfulness!! Amen!

I believe I will run on… enjoy your blessed day!

the journey flows…