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FICKLE FEELINGS CH 2: JOY FOR DEPRESSION

At the beginning of my bipolar disorder, I experienced two severe depressions following my first manic episode.  I was despondent and numb.  I couldn’t respond to others.  I felt lost and alone.  After a depression, I felt overwhelmed.  I didn’t think anything good could come out of it.  Initially, I did not experience any joy.  My fleeting happiness directed me.  However, that all changed several years later when I was diagnosed with colon cancer.  I was filled with joy and strength that I knew came from God.  In the natural, I should have felt depressed.  However, as I looked back at the depressions and manias of the bipolar disorder, I realized that God had strengthened me by His presence.  When the cancer came, I was not set off guard.  God helped me to realize that He can bring good out of anything, including the bipolar disorder.  I thanked God for filling me with His joy instead of depression.

MEMORY VERSE

“Why, my soul are you downcast?  Why so disturbed within me?  Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God” (Psalm 42:5, NIV).

WHAT’S IN A WORD?

Depression…

Depression is “low spirits; gloominess; dejection; sadness” (Webster’s New World College Dictionary).  It is “a state of feeling sad; dejection” (Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary). 

Joy…

Joy is “a very glad feeling…great pleasure; delight” (Webster’s New World College Dictionary).  It is “gaiety…delight” (Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary).  “Joy is associated with life…experiences of sorrow prepare for, and enlarge, the capacity for joy” (Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words).

HIDDEN GEMS

We all have times when we feel depressed.  It may be an unexpected diagnosis such as cancer.  It can be a particularly stressful situation.  It may feel as if we have lost hope.  The good news is that God is there to meet us and help us in our time of need.

“Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me” (Psalm 23:4, NIV).

Read Psalm 23:4. What was David walking through?

What will he not fear?

Why is this so?

What comforted David?

We all have dark valleys of trials.  These trials can overwhelm us.  We can reach out to God for comfort and strength to help us in our time of need.

“But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus” (2 Corinthians 7:6, NIV).

Read 2 Corinthians 7:6. Who does God comfort?

How did God comfort Paul?

God may send people in our lives to comfort and strengthen us when we are facing difficult trials.  I know this was the case when I was diagnosed with cancer.  Friends from across the country as well as my own church prayed for me and comforted me during this time.  I was strengthened and felt uplifted from the depression and experienced joy.

“You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand” (Psalm 16:11, NIV).

Read Psalm 16:11. What did God make known to David?

What did God fill David with?

Where did God fill David with joy?

What did God fill David at His right hand?

God fills us with joy when we spend time in His presence on a daily basis.  God desires for us to take the time each day to seek God.  This will fill us with joy in His presence.

“A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones” (Proverbs 17:22, NIV).

Read Proverbs 17:22. What is good medicine?

What dries up the bones?

As I was experiencing the early stages of the bipolar disorder diagnosis, I was crushed in spirit.  However, God was right there for me when I cried out to Him.  I now look back on this time and thank God for bringing good out of it.  I now reap the benefits of joy and peace in my current diagnosis of cancer.

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer” (Romans 12:12, NIV).

Read Romans 12:12. What are we to be joyful in?

What are we to be patient in?

What are we to be faithful in?

When we have hope in Christ, we experience joy.  We can praise God for His presence during times of trials.  We can be filled with joy and peace instead of sorrow and depression.

YOUR HEART’S DESIRE

Depression can arise when we least expect it.  It showed up for me just yesterday when it was a cloudy day and I could not get out.  However, I cried out to God for help and He filled me with a song which proclaimed that the joy of the Lord is my strength.  The depression lifted and I praised God for His strength.

Name a time when you felt downcast.

How did you react?

How did you reach out to God?

What Scripture spoke to you during this time?

How were you filled with joy?

The joy of the Lord is indeed our strength.  We can praise God for being there for us when we cry out to Him.  God will then replace our low spirits with His joy.

PRAYER

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for being there for me when I feel down.  I ask You to fill me with Your joy unspeakable each and every day.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

NUGGETS OF WISDOM

Before any great achievement, some measure of depression is very usual.  C.H. Spurgeon

When you come to the bottom, you find God.  Neville Talbot

No matter how low you feel, if you count your blessings, you’ll always show a profit.  Author unknown

Christ is not only a remedy for your weariness and trouble, but he will give you an abundance of the contrary, joy and delight.  Jonathan Edwards

Joy is the experience of knowing that you are unconditionally loved.  Henri Nouwen

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BLESSED HOPE CH 8: JOYFUL HOPE

I was growing more anxious by the minute.  I was seeing the oncologist to discuss the results of the liver biopsy and treatment.  The fear was overwhelming me.  That was when I reached out to the prayer chain at my church.  It only took 15 minutes after I sent the prayer request to find God’s peace and hope once again.  I heard from God and knew the decision I must make.  When I saw the doctor, he confirmed that the colon cancer had spread to my liver.  He then shared the treatment: chemo, colon surgery, more chemo, liver surgery, more chemo!  I felt a boldness to share with the doctor that the quality of my life meant more to me and that I was not going to have treatment.  I felt the Spirit’s presence working through me.  After I left the doctor’s office, I felt a peace and joy as I knew that I was doing God’s will.  I still believe that God can heal me of the cancer.  I praise God for giving me the gift of hope for my future no matter the outcome.

MEMORY VERSE

“But may the righteous be glad and rejoice before God; may they be happy and joyful” (Psalm 68:3, NIV).

WHAT’S IN A WORD?

Joy…

Joy is “great pleasure; delight” (Webster’s New World College Dictionary).  It is “to rejoice” (Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary).  It is “exuberant joy…gladness” (Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words).

HIDDEN GEMS

Our blessed hope in Christ brings us joy.  No matter the circumstances, we know that God has the best in mind for us.  Joy lightens our load as we surrender to God.  This gives us the strength to face whatever comes our way.

“The righteous will rejoice in the Lord and take refuge in him; all the upright in heart will glory in him!” (Psalm 64:10, NIV).

Read Psalm 64:10. Who will rejoice in the Lord?

Who will take refuge in him?

Who will glory in his name?

As people set free from the bondage of sin, we can rejoice in the Lord.  We can have peace and joy knowing that God is there for us no matter the circumstances.  We can praise God for being our help in time of need.  “But may the righteous be glad and rejoice before God; may they be happy and joyful” (Psalm 68:3, NIV).

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer” (Romans 12:12, NIV).

Read Romans 12:12. What are we to be joyful in?

What are we to be patient in?

What are we to be faithful in?

Hope brings us joy.  We can praise God for the hope we have in Christ.  We can look forward to the day we meet our Savior face to face.  We can thank God for being there for us every step of the way.

“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord.  Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.  But do this with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15, NIV).

Read 1 Peter 3:15. Who are we to revere in our hearts?

What do we need to be prepared to do?

What is this reason?

How are we to do this?

When we have hope in Christ, we are contagious to spread the hope that we have to others.  Nonbelievers will be drawn to us and want what we have.  We can then share the gospel with them to give them hope and joy.

YOUR HEART’S DESIRE

“Rejoice in the Lord always.  I will say it again:  Rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4, NIV).  Paul’s letter to the Philippians is often described as the letter of joy.  I find this amazing because this letter was written while Paul was in prison.  This can be an example to us about how to have joy despite what we are going through.

Name a trial where you struggled with finding hope.

How did you feel?

How did you draw near to God?

What Scripture spoke to you during this time?

How did this give you strength and hope in the midst of your trial?

“The Lord has done it this very day; let us rejoice today and be glad” (Psalm 118:24, NIV).  We can rejoice and be glad in the midst of our trials.  This will bring us peace and comfort and strength to face whatever comes our way.  “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1, NIV).

PRAYER

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for giving me joy in the midst of my trials.  Give me the strength to face whatever comes my way as I find hope in Christ.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

NUGGETS OF WISDOM

I sometimes wonder whether all pleasures are not substitutes for joy.  C.S. Lewis

Christ is not only a remedy for your weariness and trouble, but he will give you an abundance of the contrary, joy and delight.  Jonathan Edwards

Seek joy in what you give not in what you get.  Author unknown

Joy is the experience of knowing that you are unconditionally loved.  Henri Nouwen

One filled with joy preaches without preaching.  Mother Teresa

JUBILANT JOY CH 8: JOYFUL HOPE

I will never forget the lesson God taught me on having hope in Him.  I was in the hospital for depression.  I felt as if I had lost all hope.  I thought I was in the trap of depression always.  One evening after everyone was asleep, I was having trouble sleeping.  Since I didn’t want to bother my roommate, I went out to the hallway with my Bible.  I had trouble focusing but I let the words come to me through the tears that I shed.  God helped me to see that He was right there for me and would never leave me.  This gave me hope that this trial of depression would end.  I then thanked God for getting me through to the other side.

MEMORY VERSE

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer” (Romans 12:12, NIV).

WHAT’S IN A WORD?

Hope…

Hope is “a feeling that what is wanted may happen; desire accompanied by expectation” (Webster’s New World College Dictionary).  It is “the happy anticipation of good” (Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words).

HIDDEN GEMS

“Why, my soul, are you downcast?  Why so disturbed within me?  Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God” (Psalm 42:11, NIV).  I clung to this Scripture during my times of depression.  God’s Word did indeed give me hope.  In the same way, we can all have hope in God and praise His holy name in the midst of trials.

“When I said, ‘My foot is slipping,’ your unfailing love, Lord, supported me.  When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy” (Psalm 94:18-19, NIV).

Read Psalm 94:18-19.  What supported the psalmist?

What did God’s consolation bring him in the midst of anxiety?

In today’s world, it is easy for anxiety to slip into our thought life.  The news is full of bad news which can create anxiety and fear of the future.  The good news is that God knows the future which will lead to heaven for believers.  What a promise!  It can indeed bring us joy.

“Light shines on the righteous and joy on the upright in heart.  Rejoice in the Lord, you who are righteous, and praise his holy name” (Psalm 97:11-12, NIV).

Read Psalm 97:11-12.  On whom does light shine?

On whom does joy come upon?

Who is to rejoice in the Lord and praise His holy name?

We can have hope and joy in the Lord.  God shines the light on the steps we take one step at a time.  As we obey God, He will show us the next step to take.  We can rejoice in the Lord for the hope we have in Him.

“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him” (Jeremiah 17:7, NIV).

Read Jeremiah 17:7. Who is blessed?

What does the person have in God?

“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10:23, NIV).  God is faithful and will never let us down.  We can have confidence and approach God boldly without fear.  This gives us a hope and joy that cannot be taken away.

“For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people.  It teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age while we wait for the blessed hope – the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:11-13, NIV).

Read Titus 2:11-13.  What does the grace of God offer?

What do we need to say no to?

How are we to live?

What is our blessed hope?

Worldly passions can act as a distraction and cause us to lose focus on the Lord.  However, when we focus upon God, He will give us a blessed hope.  This hope is found in Jesus Christ.

YOUR HEART’S DESIRE

“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’” (Jeremiah 29:11, NIV).  God has good plans for us.  This gives us hope in the present and the future.  We need not focus upon our past mistakes when we repent of our sins.  God has wiped the slate clean and desires to give us a hope and a future.

Name a time when anxiety filled your mind.

What was the cause of this anxiety?

How did you turn to God for help?

What Scripture spoke to you during this time?

How did God’s presence give you peace and hope?

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13, NIV).  We can trust in the Lord.  This will indeed give us joy and peace and hope.  We can face whatever comes our way with God’s help and strength instead of our own.  “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1, NIV).

PRAYER

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for giving me a joyful hope as I follow You and Your ways.  Help me to obey Your commands.  Give me your peace that passes understanding this day.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

NUGGETS OF WISDOM

The future is as bright as the promises of God.  Adoniram Judson

Courage is like love; it must have hope for nourishment.  Napoleon

Hope is a much greater stimulant of life than any happiness.  F. Nietzche

My only hope is that I shall be clothed with the righteousness of Jesus Christ.  M. Lloyd-Jones

We must accept finite disappointment, but we must never lose infinite hope.  Martin Luther King

JUBILANT JOY CH 7: MAKE A JOYFUL NOISE

In my morning time with God, I began reading a devotional on stories of hymns and praise songs and how they were produced.  I felt uplifted as I began singing to the Lord the words on the pages.  Soon, I began my devotion time by asking God to put a song in my heart.  I was astonished as hymns and praise songs came to me as I made a joyful noise unto the Lord.  Something else happened as I went about my day.  God put new words of praise on my lips.  I began singing these new praise songs as I made a joyful noise unto the Lord.

MEMORY VERSE

“Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth, burst into jubilant song with music” (Psalm 98:4, NIV).

WHAT’S IN A WORD?

Praise…

Praise is “to laud the glory of God, as in song; glorify; extol” (Webster’s New World College Dictionary).  Praise “denotes approbation, commendation, praise…praise is to be ascribed to God, in respect of His glory” (Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words).

Worship…

Worship is “to show religious devotion or reverence for; adore” (Webster’s New World College Dictionary).  It is “an act of expressing reverence” (Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary).  Worship is “an act of homage or reverence to God” (Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words).

HIDDEN GEMS

“But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy.  Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you” (Psalm 5:11, NIV).  We can sing for joy unto the Lord.  Joy comes out of praising our Lord God.  We can be thankful as we erupt into praise to our God.

“Then I will go to the altar of God, to God, my joy and my delight.  I will praise you with the lyre, O God, my God” (Psalm 43:4, NIV).

Read Psalm 43:4. Where did the psalmist go?

How is God described?

What did the psalmist praise God with?

“I will be fully satisfied as with the riches of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you” (Psalm 63:5, NIV).  We can praise and adore God.  When we make a joyful noise unto the Lord, we will be filled with joy.  We can worship God with thanksgiving in our hearts.

“My lips will shout for joy when I sing praise to you – I whom you have delivered” (Psalm 71:23, NIV).

Read Psalm 71:23. What will the psalmist’s lips do?

What did the psalmist sing?

Why did the psalmist sing praise to God?

“Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days” (Psalm 90:14, NIV).  When we sing praises, we will be filled with God’s love.  Our joy will be overflowing in our lives.

“Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.  Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song” (Psalm 95:1-2, NIV).

Read Psalm 95:1-2.  What did the psalmist call the people to do?

How is God described?

How are we to come before him?

How are we to extol God?

Christ is the Rock of our salvation.  When we are saved, we are filled with the Holy Spirit.  We can thank God for the priceless gift of His salvation through His Son.

“Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise – the fruit of lips that openly profess his name” (Hebrews 13:15, NIV).

Read Hebrews 13:15. What are we to offer to God?

How often should this be done?

What do the fruit of the lips openly profess?

Trials will come in our lives.  We may not feel like praising God.  This is a sacrifice of praise in the midst of our trials.  When we praise God, we will be filled with strength to face the trials that come our way.

“Is anyone among you in trouble?  Let them pray. Is anyone happy?  Let them sing songs of praise” (James 5:13, NIV).

Read James 5:13. What should those in trouble do?

What should those who are happy do?

We can pray and comfort others when they are experiencing a trial.  We do not need to throw empty promises at them.  Many times, a listening ear is all they need.  When others are happy, we can then rejoice with them and sing songs of praise.

YOUR HEART’S DESIRE

“Sing joyfully to the Lord, you righteous; it is fitting for the upright to praise him” (Psalm 33:1, NIV).  When we make a joyful noise unto the Lord, God will take notice.  We can praise God and thank Him for the many blessings in our lives.

Name a time when you experienced God’s goodness.

How did you praise and worship God?

How did you make a joyful noise unto the Lord?

How did this strengthen your walk with God?

“Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs” (Psalm 100:2, NIV).  We can indeed worship the Lord with gladness.  When we come before Him and sing songs of joy, our spirits will be strengthened.  It is important to sing songs of praise even in the midst of trials.  When we do so, God will be right there for us.

PRAYER

Dear Heavenly Father, I come before You this day with songs of worship and praise.  I thank You for the many blessings in my life.  I thank You for always being there for me.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

NUGGETS OF WISDOM

Mans chief work is the praise of God.  Augustine of Hippo

There is nothing that pleases the Lord so much as praise.  Author unknown

The sweetest of all sounds is praise.  Xenophon

Praising God is one of the highest and purest acts of religion.  Thomas Watson

Worship is transcendent wonder.  Thomas Carlyle

JUBILANT JOY CH 6: PEACEFUL JOY

I had just tested positive on a colon cancer screening test.  Initially, the fear of death gripped me.  However, almost immediately peace filled my being.  Something else filled me that was new to me during a trial – joy.  God gave me the Scripture that to live is Christ and to die is gain.  I felt a load lifted and knew that God would be with me every step of the way.  I surrendered to God’s will in peace and joy.

MEMORY VERSE

“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7, NIV).

WHAT’S IN A WORD?

Peace…

Peace is “harmony…freedom from disagreements” (Webster’s New World College Dictionary).  It is “freedom from disquieting or oppressive thoughts or emotions” (Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary).  Peace is “the sense of rest and contentment” (Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words).

Joy…

Joy is “a very glad feeling…great pleasure; delight” (Webster’s New World College Dictionary).  “Joy is associated with life…experiences of sorrow prepare for, and enlarge, the capacity for joy” (Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words).

HIDDEN GEMS

“The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace” (Psalm 29:11, NIV).  Peace brings us joy.  The Lord strengthens us in the joy of the Lord.  In doing so, He gives strength and peace in everything we do.

“I will listen to what the Lord says; he promises peace to his people, his faithful servants – but let them not turn to folly” (Psalm 85:8, NIV).

Read Psalm 85:8. Who will we listen to?

What does God promise to His people?

How are servants described?

What should we not turn to?

God’s promises are in His Word.  There are countless promises.  This will bring us comfort and joy and strength in the midst of our trials.  We can then praise God for getting us through the trials in our lives and giving us a peaceful joy.

“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you” (Isaiah 26:3, NIV).

Read Isaiah 26:3. What will God keep us in?

Who will He do this for?

Why is this so?

When we trust God, we will have joy and peace.  Trust requires dependence upon God.  The world clamors for our attention and tells us to be independent.  However, when we ignore their talk and submit to God, we will have peaceful joy.

“But glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good:  first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.  For God does not show favoritism” (Romans 2:10-11, NIV).

Read Romans 2:10-11. What three things come to all who do good?

What is this first for?

What is this second for?

What does God not show?

God has no favorites.  I found comfort in this Scripture when I was going through the recovery from sexual abuse I endured as a child.  I grew up thinking it was my fault.  However, when I looked into His Word, I had peace instead of anxiety.

“For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval” (Romans 14:17-18, NIV).

Read Romans 14:17-18. What is the kingdom of God not a matter of?

What three things are it a matter of?

Who is pleasing to God?

What do they receive from humans?

“Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice!  Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace.  And the God of love and peace will be with you” (2 Corinthians 13:11, NIV).  What an encouraging way to end Paul’s letter to the Corinthians.  When we follow these commands, we will indeed rejoice.  It is then we will have peace and joy.  “And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity” (Colossians 3:15, NIV).

YOUR HEART’S DESIRE

“For God is not a God of disorder but of peace” (1 Corinthians 14:33, NIV).  The world is full of anxiety and disorder.  However, God is not like this.  He offers us His peace that passes all understanding instead of anxiety.  We must come to Him for comfort and peace.

Name a time when you were filled with anxiety.

What was the trial?

How did you reach out to God?

What Scripture spoke to you during this time?

How did God grant you comfort and peace?

How did you praise God for His peace and joy?

“You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace” (Isaiah 55:12, NIV).  Joy and peace – something we all long for.  God promises this in His Word and He will grant this to us when we come to Him.  We can then praise God for blessing us with His peace and joy.

PRAYER

Dear Heavenly Father, I surrender to You this day any anxiety I am feeling.  Fill me with Your joy and peace.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

NUGGETS OF WISDOM

We should have great peace if we did not busy ourselves with what others say and do.  Thomas a Kempis

If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.  Mother Teresa

If you take little account of yourself, you will have peace, wherever you live.  Abba Poemen

Peace if possible, truth at all costs.  Martin Luther

Christ alone can bring lasting peace – peace with God – peace among men and nations – and peace within our hearts.  Billy Graham

JUBILANT JOY CH 5: CELEBRATE GOD’S GOODNESS

After graduate school, I felt led to move to Arizona.  God kept giving me confirmations that this was His will for my life.  As I took the large leap from Indiana to Arizona, I never regretted it.  I enjoyed the bright sunny days as well as the warm temperatures which helped alleviate the fibromyalgia.  The pain I experienced in Indiana was no longer there.  The sun also helped my mood as I soaked in the sun.  I thanked God for His mighty provision as I celebrated His goodness.

MEMORY VERSE

“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever” (Psalm 107:1, NIV).

WHAT’S IN A WORD?

Goodness…

Goodness is “kindness; generosity; benevolence” (Webster’s New World College Dictionary).  It is “virtuous, right” (Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary).  “God is essentially, absolutely and consummately good” (Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words).

HIDDEN GEMS

“Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him” (Psalm 34:8, NIV).  We can indeed see that the Lord is good.  God is our Great Protector.  As He protects us, we can find refuge in Him.

“But may the righteous be glad and rejoice before God; may they be happy and joyful” (Psalm 68:3, NIV).

Read Psalm 68:3. What should the righteous be?

What should we do before God?

What should we be?

We can have joy before the Lord in thankfulness and gratitude.  When we celebrate the goodness of God, we will have a new perspective.  We can thank God for bringing good out of every trial and never leaving us.  We have an ever-present God.

“For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless” (Psalm 84:11, NIV).

Read Psalm 84:11. How is God described in this passage?

What does God bestow upon us?

What does He not withhold?

What does our walk need to be?

In addition to God’s goodness, we have protection from the fiery trials that come our way.  Although we may have to go through a trial, God is a shield of protection.  When our walk is blameless, we will be blessed by the Lord.

“For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations” (Psalm 100:5, NIV).

Read Psalm 100:5. What is the Lord?

What endures forever?

What continues through all generations?

God’s love endures forever.  God will be faithful to us in keeping His promises from His Word.  God will never disappoint us.  He is a good and faithful God.

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:2, NIV).

Read Romans 12:2. What are we not to conform to?

How are we to be transformed?

What will we test and approve?

How is God’s will described?

God has good plans for us.  His will is made just right for us.  When we seek His will, we will never be disappointed.  We will be fulfilled and give thanks to our good God.

YOUR HEART’S DESIRE

“You, Lord, are forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call to you” (Psalm 86:5, NIV).  God is good to us by forgiving our sins and so much more.  We can celebrate His goodness and love for us.

Name a trial in your life when you doubted God’s goodness.

How did you feel?

How did God come to your aid?

How did God strengthen you?

What Scripture spoke to you during this time?

How did you celebrate God’s goodness in the midst of the trial?

How did God bring you through to the other side of the trial?

“Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6, NIV).  God will finish what He started in our lives.  God has a good purpose for us.  “For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose” (Philippians 2:13, NIV).

PRAYER

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for being a good God and never leaving me in the midst of the trials that I face.  Thank You for Your strength and presence in my life.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

NUGGETS OF WISDOM

Goodness is easier to recognize than to define.  W.H. Auden

Good, the more communicated, more abundant grows.  John Milton

True goodness forgets itself and goes out to do the right thing for no other reason than that it is right.  Lesslie Newbigin

Joy is the experience of knowing that you are unconditionally loved.  Henri Nouwen

The opposite of joy is not sorrow.  It is unbelief.  Leslie Weatherhead

JUBILANT JOY CH 4: DELIGHT IN THE LORD

Delight – something so foreign to me in my teen and young adult years.  Depression ravaged my mind.  I always put myself down.  I felt lost and alone, as if no one understood me.  Later on, manic episodes were added to the mix of emotions I struggled with.  It was there that I was desperate for God.  He never let me down.  He protected me from harm during the manic episodes.  I cried out to God for His joy to fill me.  When I began to delight in God and focus upon Him, I truly began experiencing joy instead of depression and misery.

MEMORY VERSE

“Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4, NIV).

WHAT’S IN A WORD?

Delight…

Delight is “to give great joy or pleasure to” (Webster’s New World College Dictionary).  It is “extreme satisfaction” (Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary).  It is “desire; pleasure” (Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words).

HIDDEN GEMS

We can delight in the Lord.  We will be filled with hope and joy when we delight in the Lord.  When we rejoice in the Lord, we will be strengthened during our times of trials.  A delightful spirit also has a thankful heart.

“We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield.  In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name” (Psalm 33:20-21, NIV).

Read Psalm 33:20-21.  How did they wait?

How is God described?

What did their hearts do?

What did they trust in?

We can trust God for bringing good out of our trials.  This will lead to rejoicing in the Lord.  Joy is a by-product to rejoicing in the Lord.  When we take delight in the Lord, we will give thanks to the Lord for always being there for us.

“Praise the Lord.  Blessed are those who fear the Lord, who find great delight in his commands” (Psalm 112:1, NIV).

Read Psalm 112:1. Who are blessed?

What did they find great delight in?

To fear the Lord is to hold Him up in awe and reverence.  God deserves our utmost awe and reverence.  We can indeed delight in God’s commands as they guide and direct our steps each and every day.

“A fool finds pleasure in wicked schemes, but a person of understanding delights in wisdom” (Proverbs 10:23, NIV).

Read Proverbs 10:23. What does the fool find pleasure in?

What does a person of understanding delight in?

Wisdom is a precious commodity in our walk with God.  God freely gives us wisdom when we ask for it.  It will guide and direct our steps in the way we should go.  We can indeed delight in the wisdom God gives to those who ask Him.

“I desire to do your will, my God; your law is within my heart” (Psalm 40:8, NIV).

Read Psalm 30:8. What did David desire to do?

What was within his heart?

“I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word” (Psalm 119:16, NIV).  We can delight in God’s Word.  It guides and directs our steps.  As we study His Word, we will be filled with joy and delight as the cares of the world subside.  “Your statutes are my delight; they are my counselors” (Psalm 119:24, NIV).

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’  Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.  For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10, NIV).

Read 2 Corinthians 12:9-10.  How did God respond to Paul’s request to take away his “thorn in the flesh”?

What is sufficient?

How is God’s power made perfect?

What did them boast about?

What did he delight in?

What was Paul when he was weak?

It is hard for us to imagine taking delight in weaknesses and trials.  However, when we walk with God, He will bring good out of our trials.  We can learn lessons we would have never been able to learn.  We can thank God and delight in Him.

YOUR HEART’S DESIRE

“Your statutes are my heritage forever; they are the joy of my heart” (Psalm 119:111, NIV).  God’s Word is the joy of our heart.  When we delight in the Lord, we will be strengthened to face whatever comes our way.  “For in my inner being I delight in God’s law” (Romans 7:22, NIV).

Name a recent trial you had to experience.

What lesson did you learn?

How did you delight in the Lord?

How did this bring you joy?

How did this strengthen your walk with God?

What Scripture spoke to you during this time?

When we delight in the Lord, we will indeed find great joy because of God’s promise to never leave us.  We can find comfort in His presence and know that He is always there for us.  We can then praise God for being there and carrying us through the trial to the other side.

PRAYER

Dear Heavenly Father, I delight in You all the day long.  Thank You for bringing me joy through the trials I experience.  I thank You for strengthening me in my Christian walk.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

NUGGETS OF WISDOM

Our only business is to love and delight ourselves in God.  Brother Lawrence

Seek joy in what you give not in what you get.  Author unknown

Desire joy and thank God for it.  Robert Browning

I sometimes wonder whether all pleasures are not substitutes for joy.  C.S. Lewis

Joy is the experience of knowing that you are unconditionally loved.  Henri Nouwen

JUBILANT JOY CH 3: OUR STRENGTH

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).  This verse became a favorite verse as a young Christian who had just re-dedicated my life to Christ.  After I moved to Arizona, the depression I had experienced in my teens returned.  I clung to this verse.  This clinging became a desperate plea after I had experienced my first manic episode.  I had lost all control and made foolish decisions.  I held tightly to my Lord who got me through the most trying time in my life.  After I had gained footing once again, the Lord blessed me with the joy which came from the lessons I learned in the midst of recovering from the manic episode.  I praised Him for protecting me and always being there for me.  I praised Him for being my strength in my weakness.

MEMORY VERSE

“Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10, NIV).

WHAT’S IN A WORD?

Strength…

Strength is “the power to resist strain, stress” (Webster’s New World College Dictionary).  It is “capacity for exertion or endurance” (Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary).  Strength means “power” (Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words).

HIDDEN GEMS

“The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace” (Psalm 29:11, NIV).  Strength and peace – something we all desire.  We can praise God for granting us His strength to help us in our trials.  This will give us the ability to overcome our trials in victory with a stronger faith.

“The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me.  My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him” (Psalm 28:7, NIV).

Read Psalm 28:7. What two things was the Lord to David?

What trusted in the Lord?

What did the Lord do?

What did his heart do?

How did David praise God?

“Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken” (Psalm 55:22, NIV).  Worry and anxiety ravage the world around us.  It can be easy for us to be caught up in the same trap.  However, when we cast our cares upon the Lord, we will be strengthened to face whatever comes our way.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30, NIV).

Read Matthew 11:28-30.  Who did Jesus invite to come to Him?

What did He ask for us to take upon us?

How did Jesus describe His heart?

What will we find?

What is easy?

What is light?

“The righteous will rejoice in the Lord and take refuge in him; all the upright in heart will glory in him!” (Psalm 64:10, NIV).  We can indeed rejoice in the Lord and find shelter in Him.  God has promised to protect us and give us strength in times of trouble.

“For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength” (1 Corinthians 1:25, NIV).

Read 1 Corinthians 1:25. What is wiser than human wisdom?

What is stronger than human strength?

“I can do all this through him who gives me strength…And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:13, 19, NIV).  I cannot count the times where God strengthened me in times of trouble.  This gave me the strength to endure the times of trial and come out to the other side with increased faith.  There are multiple blessings that God will bestow upon us when we reach out to Him.  God will indeed give us strength and has promised to meet all of our needs.

YOUR HEART’S DESIRE

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1, NIV).  God helps and strengthens us in times of trouble.  He has promised to always be there for us.  We can praise God for His comfort and strength.

Name a trial in your life when you felt weak.

How did you feel?

How did you initially react to the trial?

How did you turn to God for His help?

How did God strengthen you?

“Trouble and distress have come upon me, but your commands give me delight” (Psalm 119:143, NIV).  We can turn to God’s Word for comfort and strength.  This will give us joy and delight instead of the heavy burdens we had been carrying.  We can then sing with joy in our hearts.  “Sing for joy to God our strength; shout aloud to the God of Jacob!” (Psalm 81:1, NIV).

PRAYER

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for being my strength which gives me joy.  I give you all of my cares this day and release them to You.  Fill me with Your joy and peace this day.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

NUGGETS OF WISDOM

The way to grow strong in Christ is to become weak in yourself.  C.H. Spurgeon

Study always to have joy, for it befits not the servant of God to show before his brother or another sadness or a troubled face.  Francis of Assissi

God and eternal things are my only pleasure.  Henry Martyn

Rejoicing is clearly a spiritual command.  To ignore it is disobedience.  Charles Swindoll

One filled with joy preaches without preaching.  Mother Teresa

JUBILANT JOY CH 2: JOYFUL TRIALS

I had just tested positive on a colon cancer screening test.  Initially, fear of me dying gripped me.  However, I cried out to the Lord.  My fear was replaced with His peace that passes all understanding.  In addition to the peace, something else arose that had never been there at the beginning of all my previous trials – joy.  I couldn’t believe that I could be joyful and at peace while I awaited having a colonoscopy to detect whether I had cancer.  Although I had to wait months to have the procedure, I thanked God for giving me peace and joy in the midst of the trial.

MEMORY VERSE

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance” (James 1:2-3, NIV).

WHAT’S IN A WORD?

Joy…

Joy is “a very glad feeling…great pleasure; delight” (Webster’s New World College Dictionary).  It is “to rejoice” (Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary).  It is “to rejoice, be glad” (Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words).

HIDDEN GEMS

Trials – nothing anyone of us wants to go through.  However, God can bring good out of the trials.  Instead of responding in dread, we can look forward to the lessons we can learn in the midst of the trial.  In doing so, it strengthens our walk with God.

“For his anger lasts only for a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning…You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy” (Psalm 30:5, 11, NIV).

Read Psalm 30:5, 11. How long does God’s anger last?

How long does His favor last?

What may stay for the night?

What comes in the morning?

What does God turn our wailing into?

What does God clothe us with?

When I started having bipolar episodes, I did a lot of weeping.  When I reached out to God for strength, He was right there for me.  He taught me lessons on His provision and also patience with my recovery.  However, when I learned lessons from the bipolar, the weeping did indeed turn to joy.

“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:17-18, NIV).

Read 2 Corinthians 4:17-18.  How are troubles defined in this passage?

What are they achieving for us?

What do we fix our eyes upon?

What is temporary?

What is eternal?

For a long time, I did not see my bipolar episodes as light and momentary.  In fact, when I read this Scripture, I responded, “Light and momentary my foot!”  I felt like I would never gain any strength and always be under the sense of dread of the mania or depression returning.  However, God did indeed strengthen me little by little until I could see that He had given me joy as I learned lessons and was filled with joy.

“Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.  But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed” (1 Peter 4:12-13, NIV).

Read 1 Peter 4:12-13.  What should we not be surprised at?

What is the purpose of fiery ordeals?

Why are we to rejoice?

What will we be overjoyed when?

Fiery ordeals can threaten to overwhelm us.  However, when we cry out to God, He is right there.  Trials will strengthen our Christian walk as we grow to become more like Christ little by little.

YOUR HEART’S DESIRE

“In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials” (1 Peter 1:6, NIV).  We can greatly rejoice that God is right there in the midst of our trials.  God provides us with the strength to face whatever comes our way.

Name a trial in your life where joy was absent.

How did you feel?

How did you reach out to God?

What Scripture spoke to you during this time?

What lessons did you learn during this time?

How did you grow to become more like Christ?

How did God turn your sorrow into joy?

Trials are guaranteed.  What we need to do is know how to respond to these trials.  When we reach out to God for help, He is right there for us.  He will indeed turn our sorrow into joy.

PRAYER

Dear Heavenly Father, I lift up my trial I am experiencing at this time.  Relieve the burden off of me as I surrender it to you.  Strengthen my relationship with you through this trial and turn my sorrow into joy.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

NUGGETS OF WISDOM

One sees great things from the valley; only small things from the peak.  G.K Chesterton

No pressure, no diamonds.  Mary Case

In tribulation, immediately draw near to God with trust, and you will receive strength, enlightenment, and instruction.  John of the Cross

The way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain.  Dolly Parton

There are times when God asks nothing of His children except silence, patience, and tears.  Charles Seymour Robinson

JUBILANT JOY CH 1: JOY STEALERS

When I was away from the Lord in my teens and early twenties, depression, worry and anxiety filled me.  Joy was so far away from my understanding.  I remember being in the hospital for depression in my teens and feeling so helpless.  I thought I knew what joy was because I escaped from the turmoil in my home by going shopping.  However, this happiness never lasted.  I also thought that I was loving others by worrying about them.  This only filled me with anxiety and helplessness.  I thank God for wooing me back to Him when I was 25.  It would take time for God to help me through my joy stealers but eventually I knew what was stealing me of my joy and focused upon God to get me through.  I eventually realized that the joy of the Lord is my strength.

MEMORY VERSE

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:34, NIV).

WHAT’S IN A WORD?

Worry…

Worry is “to feel distressed in the mind; be anxious, troubled or uneasy” (Webster’s New World College Dictionary).  It is “mental distress or agitation” (Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary). 

Anxiety…

Anxiety is “a state of being uneasy, apprehensive, or worried about what may happen; concern about a possible future event” (Webster’s New World College Dictionary).  It is “painful or apprehensive uneasiness of mind usually over an impending or anticipated ill” (Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary).  Anxiety is “a distracting care” (Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words).

HIDDEN GEMS

“Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up” (Proverbs 12:25, NIV).  When we are under the pressure of anxiety and worry, we can feel overwhelmed.  We may feel like we don’t know where to turn.  However, the good news is that we can bring our anxiety and worry to God and He will cheer us up and give us peace.

“Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken” (Psalm 55:22, NIV).

Read Psalm 55:22. What are we to cast on the Lord?

What will the Lord do?

What will God never let the righteous be?

“Trouble and distress have come upon me, but your commands give me delight” (Psalm 119:143, NIV).  When in distress, we can turn to God’s Word for help.  God will erase our worry and anxiety as we read the Bible and we can then experience delight and joy.

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:33-34, NIV).

Read Matthew 6:33-34.  What are we to seek first?

What will happen as a result?

What are we not to worry about?

What will worry about itself?

What does each day have?

This section of Scripture is about worry.  These verses sum up what we are to seek after instead of worrying about what we eat or what we wear.  We need not worry about tomorrow because God is in control of yesterday, today and tomorrow.

“And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it.  For the pagan world runs after such things, and your Father knows that you need them” (Luke 12:29-30, NIV).

Read Luke 12:29-30.  What are we not to set our heart on?

What are we not to do?

Who runs after these things?

What does God know?

Once again, worry is addressed in His Word.  We are not to worry.  When we worry, we can easily become overwhelmed.  God knows our needs and desires to meet them if we come to Him for help.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7, NIV).

Read Philippians 4:6-7.  What we not to be anxious about?

By what are we to do in every situation?

With what are we to present our requests to God?

How is the peace of God described?

What will this peace guard?

We are not to be anxious about anything.  I am grateful that the Lord placed these Scriptures on worry and anxiety into His Word.  It helped me tremendously when I was struggled with anxiety and worry.  When I brought my worries to God and left them there, I indeed experienced His peace that passes all understanding.

“In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help.  From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears” (Psalm 18:6, NIV).

Read Psalm 18:6. In what did David call to the Lord?

What did he cry to God for?

How did God hear his voice?

What came before Him?

The answer to joy stealers is to cry out to the Lord.  God promises to hear our cries for help.  Anxiety and worry can be brought before God for His peace that passes understanding.  We will then be set free from the joy stealers in our life.

YOUR HEART’S DESIRE

“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7, NIV).  Anxiety and worry can easily overwhelm us and steal our joy.  God cares about every worry that we have.  God never intended for us to carry these burdens.  When we cast our anxiety on Him, we will experience His peace and His joy.

Name a time when you were worried about something.

How did anxiety affect you?

How did this affect your relationship with God?

How did you turn to God for help?

What Scripture spoke to you during this time?

How did you cast your care upon the Lord?

How did this bring you peace and joy?

Worry and anxiety can easily rear its ugly head in our everyday lives.  The news is filled with bad news.  When we focus on the bad of the world, we will easily become overwhelmed.  However, when we fill our minds with God’s Word, we will experience peace once again.

PRAYER

Dear Heavenly Father, I release my worries to You.  Help me to experience your joy and peace once again as I leave them with You.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

NUGGETS OF WISDOM

If only the people who worry about their liabilities would think about the riches they do possess, they would stop worrying.  Dale Carnegie

Fear and worry are interest paid in advance on something you may never own.  Author unknown

Never try to carry tomorrow’s burdens with today’s grace.  Author unknown

Worry is carrying a burden God never intended us to bear.  Author unknown

Worry gives a small thing a big shadow.  Swedish proverb