“The Gift of Christian Joy”, from L.Willows with Quotes (Hope, Faith, Gratitude)

As my heart is turned towards Christmas this year, I am filled with gratitude for the many ways that God has answered prayer. While this year could be counted as one of great trails, it can also be seen as one that has revealed the power of God’s love and faithfulness. I have witnessed many miracles and healings in my community. Though there were difficult times and deep valleys to walk for all, it has been a journey that caused us to call out to the Lord, to seek His counsel like never before and to follow Him faithfully- perhaps to learn what our faith was really about.

I am grateful that we can speak words of hope because we worship and pray- even in new ways. God’s Church poured like His river into media. Separated was never alone. We gathered together in new ways that became sweet joy. Prayer meetings were sublime calls to God. Fellowship online became an artform; now it is a cherished treasure. I am grateful for the hours that brought me to my knees in surrender and humility. They brought me to the Altar of Jesus. And ultimately, again to the peace of living in the everlasting joy of His Love. My prayer is that hearts everywhere know Him. May His Love and Peace be born into this world, into heart mangers everywhere this Christmas. –L.Willows

And those the LORD has rescued will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away. –Isaiah 35:10

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

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness.–Galatians 5:22

For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning. –Psalm 30:5

Joy is prayer – Joy is strength – Joy is love – Joy is a net of love by which you can catch souls. God loves a cheerful giver. She gives most who gives with joy. The best way to show our gratitude to God and the people is to accept everything with joy. A joyful heart is the inevitable result of a heart burning with love. Never let anything so fill you with sorrow as to make you forget the joy of the Christ risen. –Mother Teresa

How divinely full of glory and pleasure shall that hour be when all the millions of mankind that have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb of God shall meet together and stand around Him, with every tongue and every heart full of joy and praise! How astonishing will be the glory and the joy of that day when all the saints shall join together in one common song of gratitude and love, and of everlasting thankfulness to this Redeemer! With that unknown delight, and inexpressible satisfaction, shall all that are saved from the ruins of sin and hell address the Lamb that was slain, and rejoice in His presence! –Isaac Watts

I choose joy… I will invite my God to be the God of circumstance. I will refuse the temptation to be cynical… the tool of the lazy thinker. I will refuse to see people as anything less than human beings, created by God. I will refuse to see any problem as anything less than an opportunity to see God. –Max Lucado

Gratitude changes the pangs of memory into a tranquil joy. –Dietrich Bonhoeffer

I was delivered from the burden that had so heavily suppressed me. The spirit of mourning was taken from me, and I knew what it was to truly rejoice in God my Savior. –George Whitefield

The Lord gives his people perpetual joy when they walk in obedience to him. –Dwight L. Moody

 Joy is distinctly a Christian word and a Christian thing. It is the reverse of happiness. Happiness is the result of what happens of an agreeable sort. Joy has its springs deep down inside. And that spring never runs dry, no matter what happens. Only Jesus gives that joy. He had joy, singing its music within, even under the shadow of the cross. –S.D. Gordon

Joy is Strength. –Mother Teresa

Joy is the serious business of Heaven. –C.S. Lewis

“Christian Quotes, Scripture & Prayer on Gratitude”, from L.Willows (God’s Mercy, Grace, Thanksgiving)

Christian Quotes on Gratitude

 “We need to discover all over again that worship is natural to the Christian, as it was to the godly Israelites who wrote the psalms, and that the habit of celebrating the greatness and graciousness of God yields an endless flow of thankfulness, joy, and zeal.” –J.I. Packer

“It is not how much we have, but how much we enjoy, that makes happiness.” –Charles Spurgeon

 “We ought to give thanks for all fortune: if it is good, because it is good, if bad, because it works in us patience, humility and the contempt of this world and the hope of our eternal country.” –C.S. Lewis

“To be grateful is to recognize the love of God in everything He has given us — and He has given us everything. Every breath we draw is a gift of His love, every moment of existence is a grace, for it brings with it immense graces from Him.” –Thomas Merton

“Gratitude is an offering precious in the sight of God, and it is one that the poorest of us can make and be not poorer but richer for having made it.” –A.W. Tozer

 “Yes, give thanks for ‘all things’ for, as it has been well said ‘Our  disappointments are but His appointments.’” –A.W. Pink

” A sensible thanksgiving for mercies received is a mighty prayer in the Spirit of God. It prevails with Him unspeakably.” — John Bunyan

” The unthankful heart discovers no mercies; but let the thankful heart sweep through the day and, as the magnet finds the iron, so it will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings!” — Henry Ward Beecher

Scripture on Gratitude

2 Corinthians 4:15 — All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.

Colossians 1:12 — And giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light.

Hebrews 12:28 — Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe.

Psalm 7:17 —  I will give thanks to the LORD because of his righteousness; I will sing the praises of the name of the LORD Most High.

Psalm 28:7 —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.

James 1:17 —  Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows

Psalm 136:1 — Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good. His love endures forever.

Gratitude’s Prayer, “Falling before YOur Throne”

Father God,

We come before you with hearts of wonder, humility and love- falling before Your Throne.

Lord of Lords, only Your Presence can fill the needs and longings of this world, we are thankful for Your Love and for Your protection. Thank you for keeping us near to You.

We bow before you aching to love more, to be more and to break that we might wake- as Yours, help us to know You. May be believe, worship and walk the Light of Spirit.

Your tent is merciful and wide. Stretch our hearts as we shelter in your grace. Let us be graceful to one another and be people of mercy.

Only You can bring peace to us, and comfort this day, this time, these hours. We beseech you knowing the height and length and depth of Your goodness. Help us to be comforters.

We have received so much and been saved and protected by Your Generous Mercies. Our hearts are full because you have loved us, filled us each by Your Faithfulness. Help us to be a Faithful. people.

We are upright because you keep us in Your righteousness by the strength of your Spirit. Cause in us an upright Spirit.

Falling upon Your Heart in gratitude, we spill like a rain cloud of worshippers that sing of love without end. Show us how to worship gratefully.

Falling upon and into Your Heart in gratitude, we tell the story of lives transformed, reformed and made new because of finding You shining through. Teach us how to transform and reform according to your will.

Falling upon, into and from Your Heart in gratitude, we become a new river that flows out of You, in Your Spirit- we live as new, your life in this world, Becoming. Help us to be new, reborn in You.

Gratitude falls in Love with You, Lord. It becomes Love, new by the power of Your Spirit.

In the name of Your Precious Son, Jesus

Amen.

©2020 L.Willows

“Gratitude, Joy and Revival”, from L.Willows (loss & gain, our hearts, God’s Love)

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Gratitude, Joy and Revival from L.Willows

As the month of June began to speed by, I watched trees and gardens blossom to fullness. Just a short time ago, the parks in my area reopened. I remember on that first morning I drove to my favorite garden park and crept past the gate. I could not believe that it was open. I drove slowly in as if I was doing something alien. I felt like a child that was sneaking into a forbidden zone, even though I had been entering on foot during the pandemic! When I entered, this time, everything felt new and filled with hope. As I took those first steps on the dear and familiar path, tears of joy ran down my face. My mask got wet. There were no other people near by. I took it off. That was when I stopped being afraid.

That soaking of joy was gratitude for many things. It wasn’t only that the gate to the park was open. After months of being isolated at home alone and navigating the heart trials that we have all been faced with, I was grateful that this had been a time when the Lord had felt so close. Every day caused me to seek God.

Going back to that sense of restriction vs freedom, it was a discipline to follow the strict guidelines and learn to live “the new way”. For me living alone, I felt like I was in a new frontier.  Shopping in the supermarket was like going to into battleground at first. I remember panicking in the beginning with anxiety that I would catch the virus from gathering groceries, or getting gas for my car or other necessities. Friends called and instructed me in lengthy new ways of taking precautions.

New Life Lessons

We re-learned “life”. Then there were ways of speaking.  We had new phrases like “New Normal”. It included restriction and a lack of the cherished freedoms that were taken for granted just months before. As I took it all in at lightening speed, I think that a part of my heart must have constricted into a ball of stressed fear and anxiety. Part of me was saying, “No, I don’t want this. It is a frightening world to walk into. I want yesterday back!” It was very difficult to assimilate the changes so rapidly. I think that my heart, at least may have needed some time to go through some stages of shock, grief, loss and acceptance. Fortunately, as a Christian I was prepared to walk through this with God at my side.

I confess that did have a difficulty with having no control over circumstances. It  is an ongoing lesson in life. I realized that I love to hope and anticipate the future, to dream of a wondrous “next”. Living in a complete not knowing with all connections seemingly severed threw my heart into chaos. As much as I thought that I put all trust in God I saw that I was trusting something in myself, in others and leaning on many sources other than The Lord for security and peace in my heart.

My mortal heart interpreted it all as fearful environment even though everything that I have been taught tells me that circumstances should not rule my perspective or my peace. I went through grieving for what was lost. I longed for the “world” that we may not see again.  At one point in the beginning I could not even watch an images of people being in happy gatherings on television because it caused me mourn that we could not all be together now and worry about our future. I had stages of a lack of hope in the world that we live in. I questioned everything and everyone. In stages I worried about other countries as they became afflicted. The news buried me. Then I climbed out and learned to filter what information entered in and how and when.

Hope and Encouragements

I was fortunate because I was in two Bible Study groups from my Church and also attended two weekly prayer meetings all on zoom. The sermon was also online with a mid-week encouragement. Did I describe myself as alone? That was wrong. I have been actually carried by the body of Christ, by the Church that I belong to. This journey has be filled with God’s protection, Love and Grace. I was never alone.

I also experienced a deepening of love and concern for others. My heart turned outwards and thought less about myself. Community and the body of Christ became palpable as the church without walls was a true experience to me. Prayer intensified and was the first and most important activity of every day and night. Groups that prayed were my lifeline and remain so. Connecting with Christians and loved ones is a heart activity that can’t be stopped by any restriction. It is intensified by adversity.

The church was my real home during the most difficult months of the pandemic and it all continues. We don’t know for how long. The next unknown is when and how Churches will reopen. But my sense was that God will surely lead this. It is His Church. I trust this. I believe that we will worship together again. But, I am not like a child waiting with impatience or fear of the unknown any longer. Somehow, my heart has developed patience. That amazes me. I don’t need to control what happens next month or even three months from now.

Overcome with Gratitude

Lately at the end of each day, I tell The Lord all of the things that I am grateful for as I review the day. There is much that I am grateful for so far from this time in self isolation. I am grateful for the measure of patience that has been born in this heart of mine. I am grateful for Church. I am grateful for Christians that reach out generously to others. I am grateful for those that have a heart for fellowship, for those that teach and mentor others in these times. I am grateful for prayer and prayer groups everywhere and for the lone prayer warriors that pray consistently for others. I am grateful for the kind ones that work in the supermarkets that have been an encouragement throughout these seasons, sometimes the only other people that I saw. I am grateful for family and sweet supportive friends that can listen to your heart when you are feeling sloppy feelings and love you still. That is the love of a True Heart.

We have all been through many trials, some much more difficult than others. Many, in the afflictions of the illness itself. We don’t know if it will be in our own path. We don’t have that complete control even taking every precaution. But, God is with each of us and He sets the days before us for good. I am certain of His Love and of His Leading. My gratitude is to The Lord. He is the Gatekeeper and the only One that can free us regardless of our experience.

Revival. God’s Love is in His Holy Presence. It sets us Free.

My deepest gratitude is that God is making His Presence known to our hearts with His Love. His Spirit moves us in Prayer and lifts us to face Eternity in ways that cause us to review everything in our hearts and renew our perspectives. We are to join in revival. His Gate opens for us by the power of The Holy Spirit. That is a garden to walk in with Holy Joy and complete fearlessness. We can place our trust in God, we are His Beloved Children.

© 2020 Linda Willows