Mountaintop Blessings

Most Christians have had what they describe as a “mountaintop” experience… a time when they felt especially close to God and keenly aware of His presence and blessings.  Some people may associate that time with their conversion;  others with a special time away on a Via de Cristo or other sort of retreat.  At these times, we feel on fire for God.  We are energized and ready to do anything and everything required of us to lead an authentic Christian life.

My devotional reading this morning focused on how mountaintop times, wonderful and blessed as they are do not last.  We can’t recapture them, but we can continue to use them.

“We must learn to live in the ordinary ‘gray’ day according to what we saw on the mountain.”

My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chamber

How were you blessed on the mountaintop?  Were things clearer, brighter?  Did you feel loved and called for a special purpose?  Did you experience the joy of Christian fellowship or the peace that passes understanding? Even Jesus and the disciples experienced this:

And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became radiant, intensely white, as no one on earth could bleach them. (Mark 9:2-3 ESV)

Yet, they still had the valley of Calvary ahead of them.  I’ve found that continuing in the spiritual disciplines of worship, prayer, study and fellowship (even when the day is gray and I don’t really want to) help keep the mountaintop feelings alive and fresh in my life.  These are the daily blessings that keep us growing in the valley.

 

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A Joyful Direction

The quote below comes from a sermon preached by John Donne in the early 17th century, during a time of plague.  It reminds us that our ultimate, joyful destination is an expansion and continuation of the joy we experience in Christ right now.

“Howling is the noise of hell; singing the voice of heaven. Sadness the damp of hell; rejoicing the serenity of heaven. And he that hath not this joy here lacks one of the best pieces of his evidence for the joys of heaven, and hath neglected or refused that earnest by which God uses to bind his bargain, that true joy in this world shall flow into the joy of heaven as a river flows into the sea. This joy shall not be put out in death and a new joy kindled in me in heaven. But as my soul, as soon as it is out of my body, is in heaven, and does not stay for the possession of heaven nor for the fruition of the sight of God till it be ascended through air, and fire, and moon, and sun, and planets, and firmament to that place which we conceive to be heaven, but without the thousandth part of a minute’s stop, as soon as it issues, is in a glorious light, which is heaven…The true joy of a good soul in this world is the very joy of heaven. And we go thither, not that being without joy we might have joy infused into us, but that, as Christ says, ‘our joy might be full’ (John 16:24), perfected, sealed with an everlastingness. For as he promises that ‘no man shall take our joy from us’ (v. 22), so neither shall Death itself take it away, nor so much as interrupt it or discontinue it. But as in the face of Death, when he lays hold upon me, and in the face of the devil, when he attempts me, I shall see the face of God (for everything shall be a glass, to reflect God upon me), so in the agonies of death, in the anguish of that dissolution, in the sorrows of that valediction, in the irreversibleness of that transmigration, I shall have a joy which shall no more evaporate than my soul shall evaporate—a joy that shall pass up and put on a more glorious garment above and be joy super-invested in glory. Amen.”7

Learning to Count It All Joy

One month after my husband graduated seminary, I got the worst phone call of my life… my brother, my only sibling, had committed suicide. I quickly hopped on a plane to Florida to be with my sister in law and the four young children he left behind.

So many questions ran through my mind…and I turned to God for strength. I knew I couldn’t change the situation but I asked God… what can I do to glorify you in this awful mess? God reminded me to be the light of Christ, and no matter what, He was there to be with our family. The last two years since that day, I have tried to show my family that no matter what we face in life, God wants us to always remember that all things work together for His good, to those that love Him, and are called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28)

As I have looked back on that part of my journey, I know why God had me rooted in the book of Philippians at the time… God wanted to remind me how to count all trials and tribulations in my life as pure joy. The book of Philippians helped me to understand that having the joy of the Lord is so important and vital to our faith walk because God’s Joy is our strength and power.

Both the Apostle Paul and James tell us when we are enduring trials count it all as joy… because when our faith is tested, our endurance grows, and when it fully develops we will be strong in the Lord and ready for the things life throws at us. The pursuit of deepening our relationship with God is continual because our world and our surroundings are constantly changing and little by little we increase the reflection of Christ in our lives.

Living a life of joy is a choice. You want to know the truth of how I got through… two important factors…

…with the help of some awesome ladies whose husbands were also in seminary with us… ladies who became my friends, ladies who are my sisters in Christ.

…and because deep down in my heart I have chosen to wholeheartedly trust that God’s promises are true…He loves me, He died for me, he doesn’t want me to be perfect but to be faithful and obedient, he wants me to share His love with the people I encounter, he wants the joy of the Lord to be my strength, and he wants me to always focus on Him. Sometimes it is hard to count your life as joy, I still struggle with it, and that is when I cling to God even more… so he can help me to find joy in the suffering.

I cling to Philippians 1: 9-11… “I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding. For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return. May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation- the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ- for this will bring much glory and praise to God”.

God says that he has set before us both life and death. I say choose life. Live your life as God intended, counting it all as joy. Listen to His voice and hold fast to Him.

God loves you and so do I,

Leslie

A Prayer in Remembrance of Baptism

Lord God, I am your child.  I call you Father because you are my Father.  You named me with your own holy name even before I could speak.  You made me your own before I could move a hand to help or prevent you.  You insisted on having me even though you knew the end of my life as well as its beginning, its shame as well as its glory, its failures as well as its achievements, its bad as well as its good.

Why, Father, should I persist in resisting you?  Why should I insist on my own way instead of knowing your way of grace and love?  Why should I obey my own whims instead of letting your grace in baptism have its way with me?

Forgive me, Father, for so often wandering into a far country away from you, your forgiveness, your joy, your promises, your love in Jesus Christ.  Help me to live in the freedom of my baptism, by the faith you have given me, in the life which you daily renew by your gracious forgiveness.

I am baptized.  I belong to you, God.  Amen

Taken from the Lutheran Via de Cristo Pilgrim’s Guide

Image result for martin luther on remember our baptism

Dietrich Bonhoeffer on Change

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

Famous Christmas Carols – Story Behind the Carol – “O Come All Ye Faithful”

Another story behind the story of a carol mentioning the fruit of faith and joy.

Jlue's Weblog

“O Come All Ye Faithful”was written by John Francis Wade. Wade was said to have written the song in 1743 and to have based the song on the Bible passage Luke 2:15-16. It was first known as “Adeste Fideles.”

Verses 1-3 and verse 6 were translated from Latin to English by Frederick Oakeley in 1841 while verses 4 and 5 were translated by William Thomas Brooke (1848-1917).

While there has been some controversy surrounding the authorship of the song, the beauty of the melody, along with the worshipful and meaningful words have blessed many over the years.

“O Come All Ye Faithful”

O come, all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant,
O come ye, O come ye, to Bethlehem.
Come and behold Him, born the King of angels;

Refrain

O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
Christ the…

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The Joy of Heaven – Martin Luther

A Luther quote that seems appropriate to the season and our theme!

Christmas Quotes

Good news from heaven the angels
bring,
Glad tidings to the earth they sing:
To us this day a child is given,
To crown us with the joy of heaven.
– Martin Luther

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