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Cherry on Top - A Devotion

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Philippians 4:4-7 (NLT)
Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon. Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

Always be full of joy in the Lord. Rejoice and let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Consideration points back to the fact that you are believer and consider God’s Word, Will and Way which is demonstrated in your lifestyle. Don’t worry about anything? Lord that is a tough one as situations arise like storms on the horizon and circumstances create a whole in my bucket of praise causing me to be empty with nothing to draw from. Even when we pray about everything, there are times it feels like our prayers bounce off the ceiling and hit us in the head. What about those times Lord? How does one maintain joy in the midst of hardship with overwhelming pressure and summoning stress? God promises that those who decide to live this way will experience peace which exceeds anything that we can understand. He also promises that His Peace will guard our heart and minds so that we are free to continue to follow Jesus Christ. The truth of the matter is that it is extremely difficult to always be full of the joy of the Lord. It is not God’s Problem. Jesus provided the solution. It is our problem – God wants to complete our life. Joy is the cherry on top. Do you want to be joy full today? I sure do.

Deuteronomy 28:47-48 (NLT)
If you do not serve the LORD your God with joy and enthusiasm for the abundant benefits you have received, you will serve your enemies whom the LORD will send against you. You will be left hungry, thirsty, naked, and lacking in everything. The LORD will put an iron yoke on your neck, oppressing you harshly until he has destroyed you.

The Word of God makes it clear that we cannot serve two masters for you will love one and hate the other. (Matthew 6:24) This is confirmation that what God spoke to Old Testament believers holds true to the New Testament church as well. There is no middle of the road or carefully constructed gray space allowable by God’s Grace, Mercy and Love. There is a choice between good and evil that must be decided. Those who choose to be lukewarm will not be allowed to live in mediocrity forever. We are called to serve the Lord with joy and enthusiasm. It is not an exchange from one form of slavery to another. When we decide to serve anyone or anything other than God the Father, we become oppressed and in bondage to whatever that thing is. Such a decision puts us in a constant and chronic state of dissatisfaction living in discontentment because such people have not tapped in to the Source of Hope that promotes joy and peace through satisfaction. We have received “abundant benefits” as a direct result of the undeserved privilege that we have been given to live in the Presence of God through Jesus Christ. If you serve the enemy by continuing to live in darkness and associated with sin, you remain in a state of bondage. But those who turn their life over the Lord not only asking Him to be Savior but also making them Lord will find joy, peace and satisfaction in this life. They will be joy full. “Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sin is -put out of sight! Yes, what joy for those whose record the LORD has cleared of guilt, whose lives are lived in complete honesty!” (Psalm 32:1-2)

Psalm 45:6-7 (NLT)
Your throne, O God, endures forever and ever. You rule with a scepter of justice. You love justice and hate evil. Therefore God, your God, has anointed you, pouring out the oil of joy on you more than on anyone else.

A joy-filled life requires two elements – repentance and righteousness. It is through repentance that we discover the joy of salvation (Psalm 51:10-12) The Holy Spirit comes inside our heart to clean it, renew it and restore the joy of salvation that is diminished by our propensity to allow sin to permeate our heart and mind. Righteousness becomes the state of being for those who turn back to the Lord in repentance and choose to walk in His Ways. We must learn to love good and hate evil of every kind even the romantic kind, enticing kind, seemingly harmless kind and little white lie kind just to name a few “kinds”. (Psalm 97:10-12) This world tries to wrap sin in pretty packages with big bows and hand it to the believer. Those who know the Truth about God’s Love will have no part of it in pursuit of the anointing of joy reserved just for you. The Light of His Love shines on the godly producing a constant flow of joy and peace. We are called to keep our body, mind and soul blameless until the return of Jesus Christ always being joyful and in constant prayer avoiding every kind of evil. (I Thessalonians 5:16-24) Even though you have come a long way, there is more ground to cover for those who desire to be joy full. His Word shows us the way to peace and fulfillment in Christ. But does anyone read it anymore and if they do strive to do what it says? I want to be joy full. The way to do so is clear. “Joyful are people of integrity, who follow the instructions of the LORD. Joyful are those who obey his laws and search for him with all their hearts. They do not compromise with evil and they walk only in his paths.” (Psalm 119:1-3)

Psalm 1:1-3 (NLT)
Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked or stand around with sinners or join in with mockers. But they delight in the law of the LORD, meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither and they prosper in all they do.

There is joy in obedience for those who choose to trust the Lord and delight in doing His Will. Those who meditate on His Word night and day refusing to compromise for less than God’s Very Best will be satisfied as their soul prospers so will they in joy and peace. As I have said before and I will say again, money will not solve all your problems. In this world money is power, but it has nothing to do with the supernatural power of God that He is ready to manifest in your life. God is waiting for you to decide what currency works best for you. What will you choose? It all goes back to the master who we choose to follow and serve. What kind of harvest are you after? “You have given me greater joy than those who have abundant harvests of grain and new wine. In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, O LORD, will keep me safe.” (Psalm 4:7-8) God wants to produce a harvest in your life. But the crop you harvest is in direct correlation with the seeds you are planting in your life. The fruit of the Spirit are “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23) I will give you a little hint. These things do not grow in your mailbox or bank account just for the record. God doesn’t want you to produce one or two fruits but all the fruit that He is offering you. (Colossians 1:10-12) It is through endurance and patience that a plentiful harvest is produced. We will face many sorrows in this life but each morning His Mercy meets us and joy overflows to us. (Psalm 30:5) When we seek to serve the Lord and open our life to the fruit of His Spirit, we will have joy and pleasures ever more. (Psalm 16:11) These are found in His Presence and those who live there will have them in great abundance.

I Peter 1:7-9 (NLT)
These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy. The reward for trusting him will be the salvation of your souls.

There is inexpressible in faith that is proven to be genuine. This requires trials and tests in our life that are less than pleasant in the process but prosperity producing in the Spirit. I must learn to trust the Lord with all of my heart even if I choose to surrender it bit by precious bit. God will take it and use it to harvest more joy and peace in our life. Repeat the process over and over and you will discover that one day you will wake up satisfied and complete no matter what your circumstances may be. “Even though the fig trees have no blossoms and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the LORD! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!” (Habakkuk 3:17-18) The transformation from want to satisfaction does not take place in the nature because you will always be led to want and desire more than you have in the materialistic world in which we live. But for those who turn to God as their Source of Life will experience a change of heart and mind that allows them to experience inexpressible joy even in the midst of great sorrow. (Psalm 30:5) I don’t know how it works, I just know that it does work. Repentance turns our eyes back to Jesus the Author and Finisher of Faith who looked past the Cross to see joy coming – the salvation of His People. (Hebrews 12:1-3) Righteousness allows us to remain in God’s Love covered in the Blood of Jesus Christ. It is here in this place of radical obedience to God that joy overtakes us and begins to overflow in us and through us. “When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you.” (John 15:10-12)

John 16:22-24 (NLT)
So you have sorrow now, but I will see you again; then you will rejoice, and no one can rob you of that joy. At that time you won’t need to ask me for anything. I tell you the truth, you will ask the Father directly, and he will grant your request because you use my name. You haven’t done this before. Ask, using my name, and you will receive, and you will have abundant joy.

We have access to abundant joy every day and in every situation. God is the Source of our Hope which means every outcome is good with a future according to His Plan. (Romans 15:13) In order to receive this unspeakable joy, we must learn to trust Him more. God will only be our source when we begin to rely on Him for what we need and want. He must become the One who we desire the most and pursue Him with our life. For those there is a promise that our joy will be full. We stand a position of undeserved privilege which allows us to expect happiness and joy in every situation. (Romans 5:1-2) If we simply turn it all over to God, He will turn our mourning into dancing and sorrows into joy! (Psalm 30:11) But it is really up to you – no one can take your joy and peace as they are products of the Spirit and closely guarded in our heart. However we are free to give our heart and mind to lesser things accepting dissatisfaction and discontentment as a lifestyle of choice. (I Corinthians 7:29-31) Jesus Christ came to this world that our joy may be full! This comes by allowing God to complete the work that He is doing in our heart and mind with joy being the cherry on top! (James 1:2-4)

Psalm 90:14-17 (NLT)
Satisfy us each morning with your unfailing love, so we may sing for joy to the end of our lives. Give us gladness in proportion to our former misery! Replace the evil years with good. Let us, your servants, see you work again; let our children see your glory. And may the Lord our God show us his approval and make our efforts successful. Yes, make our efforts successful!

The life of satisfaction and success that we are after will never come through money, worldly power and earthly influence. We gain such a life as God completes the good work that He began in us. We cannot be satisfied without His Love, Peace and Joy in our life. This is the connection between the Eternity in our hearts (Ecclesiastes 3:11) and the Kingdom of God. God wants us to be successful. He desires to bless us, but more than anything else the Lord wants His Joy and Peace to prosper our soul. This is defined by our ability to put all our faith, hope and trust in the Lord. In doing so, your joy will be full! Life will become like the whole cherry rather than a bowl of pits. Don’t take my word for it. Learn to trust Him more. Your life will be complete, satisfied and lacking no good thing. Your joy will be full!

Jude 1:24-25 (NLT)
Now all glory to God, who is able to keep you from falling away and will bring you with great joy into his glorious presence without a single fault. All glory to him who alone is God, our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord. All glory, majesty, power, and authority are his before all time, and in the present, and beyond all time! Amen.

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