Tag Archives: encouragement

Tamper Resistent Joy

Tamper Resistant Joy

By Carolyn Dale Newell

…Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength. Nehemiah 8:10b NKJV

Imprisoned and chained to a guard, Paul wrote several of his epistles, including the “joy epistle” of Philippians. How could Paul rejoice when he could no longer plant churches and preach the gospel as he did on his missionary journeys?

Paul believed God’s promise in our focal verse: the joy of the Lord is our strength. Paul lived Christ

For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. (Philippians 1:21 NKJV)

In the original Greek text, the verb “is” is absent. So, Paul lived Christ. Paul’s enemies had meant this for evil, but God had meant it for good. Paul recognized that, and he rejoiced.

The enemy seeks to steal, kill, and destroy our joy. Nothing would please him better than to see grimacing Christians. He has no authority over God’s children. When Satan cannot deceive us into temptation, one of his plots involves zapping our joy. Sadly, we allow him.

That’s right. We fall for his trickery, and the devil knows better than most Christians that the joy of the Lord is our strength. He steals our joy and leaves us weak.

But we are not without hope. We can turn our faces toward the Son and away from our circumstances. Away from the depression, the loneliness, the pain, anxieties, the season we find ourselves in. We don’t find joy in those situations, but when we face Jesus, we see joy, for Jesus is joy.

We live in a topsy-turvy world, and sometimes life must get more confusing to get us right side up. We allow circumstances to dictate our emotional thermometers rather than trusting our sovereign Lord. Sweet friend, we are measuring the wrong thing (topsy-turvy). God allows things, painful things, into our lives to turn us right side up.

We can get our joy back when we live Christ as Paul did. When we commit to praise God no matter what, we will find strength through joy. When we can look at our messy lives and know Jesus loves us. When we look through joy colored glasses, we are made strong.

Christmas can either be depressing or joyful. In order to have a tamper-resistant joyful Christmas, look to the Baby in the manger. He is now our King and has been granted authority over all things. Joy doesn’t erase the hurt, but It delivers strength to cope with it. Joy isn’t found in friends, family, or feasting. Not genuine joy. That joy exists only in Jesus.

Heavenly Father, help us turn our faces toward Jesus this season. Easier said than done, but with You all things are possible. Thank You for the joy You will bring many who would be sad and alone. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

DIG DEEPER

Read Philippians 1: 12-26.

HIKING THE TRAIL

What is one attitude you can adopt this Christmas season to see joy amidst your situation? How can you help someone else who struggles at this time of the year?

Copyright 2018 Carolyn Dale Newell.

Guilt to Grace

 

GUILT TO GRACE

By Carolyn Dale Newell

So Judah acknowledged them and said, “She has been more righteous than I, because I did not give her to Shelah my son.” And he never knew her again.

Genesis 38:26 NKJV

She felt deceived, used, and disrespected. Her future seemed dismal and hopeless. She had done the right thing, but where did it get her? Now, she devised a plan.

This was Tamar, the oldest of the great, great… great-grandmothers in the lineage of Jesus Christ (Matt. 1:4).

Tamar was a Canaanite. Although the Jews were forbidden to marry Canaanites, Judah and his sons did. Judah gave Tamar to his eldest son, Er, to marry.

Er was wicked, and God killed him before Tamar conceived a child with him.

Judah acted according to their custom, and he gave his second son, Onan, to Tamar to raise up an heir for his brother. Onan married Tamar, but he refused to help her conceive an heir to his brother, Er. So, God killed him.

One son remained, Shelah, and Judah feared the Lord would kill him also. At Judah’s request, Tamar remained a widow in her father’s house waiting until Shelah was grown.

Tamar realized Judah did not intend to give her his last son, so she disguised herself as a prostitute. She waited in the place where Judah would pass by. Covered in a veil, Tamar was unrecognizable, and Judah had relations with her. Judah offered to send her a goat from his flock, but Tamar shrewdly requested a pledge: Judah’s signet ring, cord, and staff.

When Judah sent the young goat to the harlot, his men could not find her. No one recalled a prostitute in that area because Tamar had returned to her widow clothes in her father’s house.

Judah received word that Tamar was pregnant, and he ordered the men to burn her. When they brought Tamar out, she revealed the items Judah had given her declaring they belonged to the father of her child.

Judah acknowledged they belonged to him as well as his wrong-doing. Tamar bore twins, and the oldest, Perez was a great-grandfather to the Messiah.

Can you believe these are the ancestors of Jesus Christ? A deceptive father who unknowingly slept with his daughter-in-law, and Tamar played the harlot.

Only four women are mentioned in Matthew’s genealogy, and Tamar is first. She is a portrait of God’s grace. Grace that says you can never stoop too low. Grace that says all can be forgiven. Grace that says your sins have been washed white as snow. Grace that says you are part of the family. Grace that exchanges honor for shame. Grace that chooses to forget the sins. God’s grace blots out guilt.

No matter who you are. No matter what you have done. You are welcomed into the family of Jesus when you genuinely ask Him to be your Lord and Savior. Grace awaits you today.

Lord Jesus, thank You for loving us enough to include guilty sinners in Your family tree. This demonstrates to the world that You truly give grace to the repentant sinner. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

DIG DEEPER

Read Genesis 38.

HIKING THE TRAIL

Does doubt ever cause you to question God’s love? Tamar’s story along with the others in Matthew’s genealogy prove there is no limit to God’s grace.

Copyright 2018 Carolyn Dale Newell.