“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

“There You Are”, a poem from L.Willows (Grace, Hope, Faith)

Somewhere,
in the day that tomorrow brings,
I see you smiling.
Your eyes are sparkling with dances
that light in a new horizon.
You are gathering;
swelling, like waters that fill into rivers
that pour love into view,
You are new.

Somewhere,
in the day that tomorrow brings
I see you healed;
your sweetened heart revealed.
Your life joins with beloveds,
in an eternal embrace.
You are in the arms of grace.

There you are,
in the dawn
that rises up to meet you,
wrapped by the most tender mercies
and a blanket of prayers.

There,
entwined, encouraged and seen;
you are with each good thing.
You are in hope’s dream.
There, I see you.

There you are.
Somewhere.
Not a far smile away.
There, in the Promise,
of a bold new Day.

© 2020 Linda Willows

Philippians 3:13-14 —Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Ecclesiastes 3:11 —He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.

Isaiah 43:18-19 —“Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.

“Walking Towards Hope”, from L.Willows (Revival, God’s Goodness, His Glory, Believe)

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Walking Towards Hope, from L.Willows

The other day, I went to a nearby garden park that has been closed due to the pandemic. The loosely gated entry has not prevented locals from wandering in for private walks.  It is like a paradise inside.  Beyond the gate are gardens that volunteers lovingly tend to on a usual year.  The crews were absent but their labors from so many years past were still evident. That day was a real gift to me.

I  had been praying for a “second wind” in this journey of endurance during home isolation in our region. My heart felt heavy. I was deeply missing loved ones. I felt distant from all that I loved.

Then I stepped beyond the gate of the park. My heart lifted with gratitude that fell over me. Nothing of the world and its concerns seemed real in the gardens. Life seemed to be continuing without knowledge of the news or any updates of what tomorrow might bring. This was an isle apart. I smiled as I listened to birds singing to one another and stepped towards the largest fushia petals that I had ever seen.

Then I stepped amongst delicate yellow buds that reached up to feel the warmth of the sun. My heart melted and I became like a child walking in God’s open green, breathing His sweetened air.

I said to myself, “I am willing to believe that at this moment, everything is new. The bluebells tell be so. The lavender pearl buds on the bushes that run through the field tell me so. The lush green grasses that are dancing in the breeze are telling all that life is moving. A red cardinal flies majestically by.  The deep blue of the vast sky lives like the freedom that I long for. I walk but my heart is dancing. My soul is singing to God. I am praising Him.”

He is the Good Gardener. Nothing can prevent or delay God’s Goodness from rising. The Hope of His Presence and the beauty of His Creation lifts our hearts, from wherever we are.  I understand that there is no time, but the one that He sets. In the beautiful sky that I gaze at, my heart is set free, I am reminded of the vastness of God Himself. That freedom, which is the Altar of His Presence dwells within each of our hearts.  The Gateway is Jesus who is the Door .  My prayer was anwered. I had been revived by the sweetness of His Spirit. He led me to these Green Pastures.

John 10:9 “I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.”

I had been free all the while. Because of the isolation, I allowed my heart to believe that the “walls that I saw” were real. They were really only walls within my own heart. I allowed myself to believe that the limitations of life during home isolation though they were tangible and physically confining did not have to confine by heart and soul. The Good Shepherd, Jesus was leading me once again to the truth of His Kingship and most especially of the gift of salvation.

The Lord, my Good Shepherd had led me to His Green Pasture. There I was, praying for renewal and revival. God sees our hearts, each burden, each care – wherever we live and wherever our walk takes us, He is there. I am so encouraged as I write, yet there is no tangible evidence in life, except that I had the great privilege of this walk. Yet, I realize that the great Glory of our God displays in intangible ways. I am reminded that we can’t always ask to see and have or even feel what we want in a mortal way. The goodness and Glory of God are beyond the gardens of this world, they are only “sighted” by the eyes of our heart when they have been opened by believing.

 

John 11:40 -Jesus said to her, Did I not say to you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?

That evening in my home, I did not feel enclosed by any boundary nor did I feel isolated. I looked out to the sky and I felt hugged by everything that is good. I felt wrapped in the Presence of God. He is beside us each and with us wherever we are. The paradise that I longed for is a blessed eternity in His Kingdom that is promised to all in His Care. For some reason, the words to a familiar song that we used to sing in Church comes to mind as I write:

I believe in God our Father
I believe in Christ the Son
I believe in the Holy Spirit
Our God is three in one…

and we will sing together again!

Hebrews 1:3 -He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.

© 2020 Linda Willows