the truth of joy
"Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me"
Joy....it's a word I speak and write on frequently. This little three-letter word holds the reason behind why this platform was created. It wasn't a phrase that I just stumbled upon and thought that maybe it might be catchy to my readers. There was meaning and purpose behind the words joyfully HIS. That little word encompasses what the Lord has thankfully filled my heart with.
When speaking at the joyfully HIS brunch, I gave a brief testimony of my Salvation in Christ. The Lord saved my soul when I was about 12 years old, and I have no doubts about that moment. God was with me 100% and He called me to Him that day. I remember the Church, the amazing man that led me to the Lord, I remember the place I was standing in that beautiful sanctuary, and I remember feeling the immense joy and overwhelming hope that was offered to me through accepting Christ as my Lord and Savior. I also remember thinking to myself that this would be the moment where life would become easier and that the sinful nature that existed in me would disappear instantly. That was the only error in my thinking that day. Unfortunately, living in a broken world brings about the desires of the flesh. We are born into sin, and we have to fight against it daily. I realize that statement may feel a bit defeating but hear me out. Sin is real and it's part of living here, but we serve a God who has authority over life, death, and all the in-between. He is stronger than any temptation you may struggle with and He is certainly more powerful than any sin that has taken you over.
I think there is an expectation that followers of Christ don't "mess up" or fall into temptation. There was only one perfect man that walked this earth, and His name was Jesus. And even though we will never achieve perfection on this earth, Jesus gave us an example of what our lives should look like and that is what we should strive for every single day. Along with this, He gave us the truths that never change and the tools to battle any temptation that comes our way.
In Psalm 51, We see a man that has been broken by sin. David was a man that loved the Lord but had allowed sin to overtake him. About a year before David wrote this Psalm, he had lingered on the rooftop too long to view the unclothed beauty of a woman that was not his to look at. He made a choice that day that went against the will of His Father. He didn't walk or run from the temptation...he stayed. He rested on his desires instead of running towards God. This choice led to lies, deceit, adultery, and murder. There is no harmless sin, regardless of how insignificant you think it is. IT IS NOT insignificant. It matters and trust me, it has consequences. Even when you think no one sees or notices, it still matters. Even when you think it's little or harmless, it's not. Even when you justify it because it has become acceptable to the world, it is still sin and it matters to God. David found the truth of this statement when he made a conscious choice to look at something that fulfilled his selfish desires. In this moment, his attention was diverted away from God and his focus changed. Did David's mistakes mean that he did not love the Lord? Nope, he had just failed to realize that sin takes away the joy that is promised to us through our trust and belief in God as our Savior and redeemer.
Where there is sin, there is no joy and where they is true joy there is no sin. You see, joy and sin cannot be merged. One cannot exist with the other. They don't live simultaneously in the same space. You can fall into the temptations of sin and temporarily enjoy the gratifications of the flesh, but the joy that comes from running toward God won't exist there.
"Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me."
It was in this Psalm that David confessed his transgressions, sins, and iniquities to a Holy God and pleaded for His forgiveness. And though he had left a trail of destruction for many people, David realized that ultimately it was God he had wronged. Verse 10 is a beautiful image of confession and repentance on David's part. He recognized his need for God here. He needed to be cleansed of his unrighteousness. He needed to be restored and made new again. The God that placed the heart in his chest, has the ability to renew it and make it right again. His spirit was defeated because of the sin he had lived with over the past year. The weight of these burdens was heavy and exhausting. David craved the closeness of God because he knew that was where he could find joy and hope of resting in the love of Christ and not living in the shame of his past mistakes.
Allow me a moment of transparency...
I have had moments in my life where, like David, I did not see the utter devastation that lie ahead of me from, one seemingly, teeny tiny decision. And like David, I ignored that the Lord tells us to FLEE from temptation and sin. Don't walk, don't dabble, don't debate on....FLEE....RUN.....DON'T LOOK BACK. Sadly, what waited on me at the end of that road, was a dead end. It left me confused, hurt, lonely, and defeated. And though the roads leading up to that may have been filled with excitement, the end result was far from the worth the thrill that was offered.
Do you find yourself staring at the end of a road today? A road that maybe at the time seemed innocent, but led to defeat? Do you find yourself lacking true joy and contentment in Christ? Confess your sins before the Lord and allow Him to offer you a clean heart and a right spirit. True joy is only found in belonging to Christ and allowing Him to direct your paths.
Spiritual Disciplines have been such a ginormous part of my growth in Christ. These disciplines changed my daily walk with the Lord and have taught me about reliance and dependence on Him! My prayer is that this space can help deepen your knowledge and understanding by teaching you to lean in closer to God. With that being said, my goal is to incorporate these disciplines slowly so that you can gain a clear picture and understanding of each one as well as learn how to incorporate them into your daily walk with the Lord. Here is a list of the 8 disciplines that we will cover. If these disciplines are already a regular part of your day, now is a great opportunity to reach out to a friend that could use some help learning and growing.
"Fasting is voluntarily going without food or any regularly enjoyed, good gift from God for the same of some spiritual purpose."(David Mathis, "Fasting for Beginners" www.desiringgod.org."
Personally, I think fasting is a way to focus intently on what God wants for me over what my flesh wants. Fasting stretches us outside of what we are comfortable with, removes us from our dependence on our own desires of the world, and instead puts us in a place where we are completely reliant on God.
This week's Bible Study:
MONDAY: Psalm 51-52 tHURSDAY: Psalm 57-58
TUESDAY: Psalm 53-54 Friday: Psalm 59-60
WEDNESDAY: Psalm55-56 Saturday: Psalm 61-62
Sunday: Psalm 63-64
This week's verse to
memorize and meditate on:
Tips and challenges this week:
Gain a clear understanding of what fasting is and what its purpose is.
While fasting, spend the day praying to the Lord and resting in Him.
Fasting should never mean that you abstain from water.
Recognize that all good gifts come from God.
Private Facebook Discussion Group
Would you like to dig a little deeper into your weekly reading and spiritual disciplines? Join our Facebook group where we learn, grow and encourage one another.
If you have questions or things that you don't understand, please email them to me and I will add them to the Q&A section. I can't promise you that I will have all of the answers, but I can promise I will do my best to find them if I don't have them.
Growing in God
Would you like a tool to encourage your growth in God? Check out my newly released 12-month spiritual disciplines book/journal. This journal will give you a brief understanding of 8 tangible spiritual disciplines as well as give you a space to implement these disciplines into your daily walk with God.
Are you searching for an accountability partner or a group? A person that can encourage you in your walk with the Lord? joyfully HIS has made this option available to you. Scan the QR code for more information or to sign up.