Esther for This Time #10 – Celebrating God’s Goodness & the Feast of Purim

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.
Esther for This Time #10: Prayer, Reversals, & JOY

Esther and Mordecai Writing the Second Letter of Purim, Painting by Aert de Gelder, 1685

Celebrating God’s Goodness

Do you celebrate God’s goodness? Reflecting on what God has done can inspire you to trust Him more and will strengthen your faith. For Esther and Jewish families, the Feast of Purim is an annual celebration that reminds them how God delivered them from their enemies and continues to do so. Join the podcast today to celebrate God’s goodness and review the many reversals in the Book of Esther.

Reversals Continue

Approximately two months and ten days after the first decree was issued, Mordecai wrote the second edict, empowering the Jewish people to defend themselves against their enemies. The turnarounds were astounding! Today, we share at least 15 reversals and cover these points:

No Plundering (Esther 9: 1-17)

  • To plunder means to steal goods by force, often during a war and with an objective of making profit.
  • In Esther 9, the Jewish people remembered the violation of God’s commands in their heritage (1 Samuel 15) and acted in holy retribution for self-defense but took no plunder for their profit.

 The Feast of Purim Established Forever (Esther 9: 18 – 10: 3)

  • Mordecai and Esther declared two days of celebration in an official decree to be remembered forever.
  • Purim means “lots” or dice which is what Haman used to pick the date for the Jewish annihilation.
  • The Book of Esther, also called the Megillah,  is read twice during the Feast dated according to the Hebrew calendar.
  • Children “boo and hiss” and throw popcorn when they hear Haman’s name.
  • Today, Jewish families celebrate by bring gifts to the poor, giving gifts to each other, and eating fruit-filled triangular cookies called Hamantashens [haa·muhn·taa·shn] or Haman’s Ears. They are delicious! You can pick up a recipe card on my website WRAPYourselfinJOY.com or in my book.

Banquets and Feasts in Esther

  • Esther begins with a banquet and ends with a feast, all with great joy.
  • Four pairs of feasts celebrate the turnarounds and triumphs of God.

The Dream, Memory, and Plot (Esther 10 – 16).

  • Esther 10 -16 , the Deuterocanonical additions A – F,  suggest Mordecai remembers a Dream. It foretold God’s deliverance relating to the main events in Esther. In addition, these chapters add a few details to the occurrences.

The Hero of the Book of Esther is GOD

  • God used the beautiful Esther, caused the sleeplessness of the king, brought down Haman, exalted Mordecai, and gave the Jewish people victory over their enemies.
  • God showed tremendous power on behalf of his people. Almost like fireworks, the reversals came quickly and spectacularly, fifteen in all.

Remembering God’s Goodness

  • The Feast of Purim, still celebrated yearly in the Jewish tradition, helps families remember God has delivered them and will continue to deliver them.
  • Psalm 77 calls us to remember God’s goodness.

Personal Reflection

  1. Do you set aside time to remember, joyously celebrate and thank God for what He has done for you? How can you implement Esther’s example?
  2. Do you call upon God for creative solutions or turnarounds when problems arise? Try it!
  3. Are you encouraging others that God intervenes in history when his people seek him with prayer, repentance, and fasting? Please consider it!

New Podcast Series & Cup of JOY Women™

  • Join my newest podcast coming this summer: Ruth – Finding JOY in Tough Times and Trusting in God’s Goodness.  If you would like to host a weekly one-hour “Cup of Joy Women™ ” study with your friends, email me: karen@WrapYourselfInJoy.com. It’s free and I will send you all the materials you need for the weekly one-hour discussion and study over coffee. You can read more HERE on hosting a CUP of JOY Women or Cup of JOY Gathering small group.

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Esther for This Time #9 – Creative Solutions and MORE Reversals

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.
Esther for This Time #9

Esther Reigns as Queen

Creative Solutions for Esther & Her People

Do you need some creative solutions for your life?  It may look like there is NO way out, but God working behind the scenes can always give a perfect solution. Today, we watch the reversals in Esther unfold through a second edict as many watching Esther and the nation’s deliverance express a desire for conversion.

In this podcast, we will cover the following points.

Mordecai Authorized to Write a Second Edict (Esther 8: 3-8)

  • Mordecai not only acquired Haman’s wealth and property but also his position.  The king gave him his signet ring making him the second most powerful man in Persia.
  • However, there was still unfinished business! If Haman’s first edict issued in the king’s name was not overturned, all Jews would still be killed. Legally, a king’s edict was irrevocable.
  • For the second time, Esther appeared before the king, and using gentle leadership asked for Haman’s decree to be revoked.
  • The king had given Mordecai his signet ring allowing Mordecai to write whatever he pleased.

Reversals: Jewish People Empowered (Esther 8: 9-10, 13-17 & 16: 15-23[E])

Two months and ten days after Haman issued the first edict, Mordecai summons the king’s secretaries and wrote a second edict that counteracted Haman’s edict, empowering the Jews to defend themselves.  At least six more reversals transpired:

  • Haman‘s edict was written and dispatched to kill the Jews (3: 13-15) The Reversal (8: 10-14): Mordecai’s edict was sealed and dispatched to give the Jews authority to attack those who would attack them.
  • Haman‘s edict becomes the law (3: 14) The Reversal (8: 10-14): Mordecai’s writ becomes a decree that all must obey.
  • Mordecai mourns in sackcloth, and ashes (4: 1). The Reversal (8: 15): Mordecai wears royal robes of blue and white, a crown, and a mantle.
  • Mordecai wails in disgrace at the king’s gate (4: 2). The Reversal (8: 15): Mordecai was honored as the whole city shouted and rejoiced.
  • The Jews mourn in sackcloth and ashes with fasting (4: 3). The Reversal (8: 16): They celebrate a time of gladness, joy, and honor with a royal festival and holiday.
  • The Jews were weak and dispersed in the culture (3: 8). The Reversal (8: 17): The turnarounds brought about such fear of the Jews that many Persians converted or said they were Jews.

Personal Reflection

Do you need creative solutions and more reversals? Don’t give up.  Ask our Lord to show you creative solutions for your impossible situations. Invite the Holy Spirit to open your eyes and your ears to what you don’t yet see.   Remember God loves reversals and His solutions are always the best solutions and they will bring JOY!! Principles from Esther to help guide you in difficult times might include:

  1. When God defeats your enemies, they are vanquished.
  2. Assemble with others for increased strength to defeat foes.
  3. God can give gladness, joy, and honor to replace sadness, darkness, and despair.
  4. When people observe reversals and empowerment on your behalf, it could lead to turnarounds, change of heart or conversions.

Links

Esther for This Time #8 – Reversals Begin

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.
Esther for This Time #8 – Reversals Begin

Painting: Esther reveals Haman’s plot to the King by Jan Lievens, 1623

God Loves Reversals

Do you need reversals in your life? Let Esther encourage you. God loves reversals, and He can make them happen for you.

Three Reversals

Today in our podcast, we encounter three reversals in Chapter Seven of the Book of Esther. This is God’s providence, bringing dramatic changes in circumstances in response to the prayers of His people. It can happen again, and it can happen in your life! Join us today as we cover these points:

God’s Intervention

  • When King Ahasuerus cannot sleep, he reads his chronicles and discovers Mordecai’s service needs a reward.
  • The King asks Haman what he can do for the man he delights to honor.
  • Haman replies the man should wear the King’s clothes, ride the King’s horse, and be proclaimed for service throughout the streets.

A Peripety

  • Haman hates Mordecai and is humiliated when the King tells him to proceed with these actions for Mordecai.
  • It is a peripety – a significant reversal of circumstances or turnaround of intentions written in heaven.
  • When Haman told his friends and wife Zeresh about the Mordecai incident, they warned him: “If Mordecai, before whom you have begun to fall, is of the Jewish people, you will not prevail against him but will surely fall before him.”

God Reverses Evil (Esther 7: 1-8)

  • Esther dishes up sweet words to the King.
  • She knew when it was NOT time to speak and when it was time to say her request to the King.
  • She used the exact words from the edict so that the King knew he was hearing the truth.

Persian Culture

  • In Persian culture,
    • Diners eat at a table while reclining on a couch.
    • Men could not come within seven steps of a woman in the King’s charge or harem.
  • Haman approached Esther’s couch to beg for mercy – he had overstepped his bounds by 7 feet.
  • To the King, he was assaulting Esther. So, he orders a face cloth draped on Haman.
  • In the Persian culture, a facecloth covers an enemy of the King so the King would not have to look upon the one he condemned.

The Lord Loves Reversals  (Esther 7: 9 – 8: 2)

  • Harbona, one of the King’s chief consultants, appears to know of Haman’s hatred for the Jews and of the gallows he built in his backyard to execute Mordecai. He suggests Haman hang on these gallows.
  • Oh, how the Lord loves reversals! His divine providence reversed three evil events for today.
    • The gallows built in Haman’s backyard for Mordecai are used to hang Haman.
    • The King removes the signet ring, indicating “a second in charge” position, from Haman and gives it to Mordecai.
    • Haman’s decree is reversed.  Instead of plundering the property of the Jews, the King gives Haman’s property to Queen Esther.
  • What the study of literature calls peripety—an event that suddenly brings a reversal of fortune and dramatic change in circumstances, is what Christians call a miracle.

Personal Reflection

  • Romans 15: 4 reminds us: “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction so that by steadfastness and by the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope.” Let Esther give you hope. God can give you reversals too:
  • Which of the following principles do you find most helpful for you?
    1. God can reverse the evils around us.
    2. Gentle leadership with prayer and God’s discernment accomplishes much.
    3. Teachers of drama or literature call a reversal “peripety,” but Christians call it a miracle.
  • What miracle or turnaround do you need today?  Based on what you observed from Esther and Mordecai, how will you pray for one?
    1. Read Psalm 37: 1-5 and notice all the phrases “do not fret” and “trust in the Lord” instead. Which will you do? The Lord will act as you delight in Him and commit your way to Him.
    2. Ask Jesus to bring laughter and joy to your life as you pray for the reversal.

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Esther for This Time #7 – God-Designed Comedy

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.
Esther for This Time - Prayer, Reversals & JOY

Mordecai Led Through the City by Haman by Azor Masters, Painting, 1420 AD, The Hague

God-designed Comedy

God-designed comedy can reverse calamity! Don’t you wish every tragedy turned into a good laugh instead? Sometimes, we think God doesn’t have a sense of humor. Today in our podcast on Esther, we cannot help but see the comedy from the hand of God that reverses a tragedy.

In Between Dinner Parties

In our last study, Esther asked the king and Haman to a festive banquet dinner she prepared. At the end of the dinner, Esther invited the king and Haman to a second dinner the next day. She delayed the real request because her discernment through prayer and fasting told her the timing was not right.  Between the two dinner parties, Haman bursts with pride to family and friends at being asked to dine twice with the king and queen of Persia. However, his joy disappears at the sight of Mordecai, who refuses to stand up in his presence. Today, we join the king, whose sleeplessness, ordained by God, leads to a reversal of circumstances. We cover these points:

The Sleeplessness of the King Results in a Peripety (Esther 6: 1-12)

  • The King can’t sleep, so he entertains himself by reading his annals – large volumes that record the history and accomplishments of a king’s reign.
  • The King’s sleeplessness begins with peripety (pronounced “pe-rip-e-tē”). The term is used in dramatic arts to define a sudden reversal of fortune with a change in direction.
  • In a tragedy, the plot turns a lead character’s fortune into ruin.
  • In a comedy, the reversal changes tragedy into comedy.
  • In Esther Chapter Six, we see both kinds of peripety.

God’s Reversals (Esther 6: 12)

  • The king turns in his annals to an event that occurred five years earlier, only to discover that Mordecai’s service had NEVER been rewarded.
  • Just then, Haman arrives at the inner court after constructing a 75-foot-high gallows for hanging Mordecai.
  • Haman lusts for power and hopes to wear the King’s robe.
  • The ancients attached great significance to wearing a royal robe. It was considered a mark of great favor and honor.
  • Haman tells the king what could be done to the man whom the king wants to honor.

Haman Humbled (Esther 6: 13-14)

  • Haman hated Mordecai and was greatly humbled when he proclaimed his greatness while wearing the king’s robes and crown and riding the king’s horse.
  • God’s hand seems to create a peripety: Haman, once honored as second in power to the king, is humiliated, and Mordecai, in sackcloth and ashes, is exalted in the king’s robe and attire.
  • Haman’s friends and wife Zeresh realize that the Jews worshipped a God, who seemed to be intervening.
  • Haman did not know the warnings of Proverbs 16:18 and Matthew 23: 12.
  • Proverbs 16: 18. Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. NRSV-CE or
  • Matthew 23: 12. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted. NRSV-CE

 The Greatest Peripety of All (Ephesians 2: 4-6)

  • The greatest reversal of all God planned since creation was our redemption from sin and eternal death through Christ’s passion, death, and resurrection.
  • It was the greatest REAL peripety of all.

Personal Reflection

  • In Esther Chapter 6, we see God’s hand at work reversing many situations. Which of the following principles do you find most helpful?
  1.  Wait for God’s timing and guidance: He can intervene in your life with a miracle that changes everything.
  2.  God intervenes in history when His people call out to Him with prayer, repentance, and fasting.
  3.  Jesus Christ is your reversal of fortune—He died out of love for you to forgive your sins and offer you eternal life. Now is the time to accept His forgiveness as His plan for your life.
  4.  I will try to remember these verses to remind me of God’s ability to intervene in the worst of circumstances:
  • Isaiah 59:1. See, the Lord’s hand is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear.
  • Jeremiah 32: 27. See, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh; is anything too hard for me? NRSV-CE

Links

Esther for This Time #6: Pray, Wait and Discern

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.
Esther for This Time, Wait, Pray, & Discern

Image: Esther before Ahasuerus (1547-48) Painting by Tintoretto

Pray, Wait & Discern

Are you praying, waiting, and discerning? Have you ever prayed in a daunting situation? Were you looking for a quick solution? Sometimes a quick solution is not the best solution. In our podcast today, Esther shows us the value of prayer, but also why it’s important to wait and discern God’s solution.

Esther Puts Her Life on the Line

Esther’s name comes from the Hebrew root “SIT-UR seter,” which means “concealed.” It suggests her identity would be concealed for a time, but the time had come for her to reveal her faith.  Mordecai asked her to go to the king to stop the edict against the Jews, but without an invitation, she could be executed.  Esther finally agreed to put her life on the line for such a time as this. She knew she needed God’s intervention, so she called for three days of fasting from food and water for all Jews, and even her maids. Then she would go to the king with the conclusion, “If I perish, I perish.”  In the podcast today, we will cover these points.

The Third Day (Esther 5: 1-8)

  •  The “third day” in the Jewish faith is significant. A Jewish commentary suggests believed God’s deliverance for Israel would come after prayer on “the third day” (Midrash Raba, Esther).
  • For example, in the Old Testament, Hosea 6: 2 says,  After two days, He will revive us; on the third day, God will raise us up, that we may live before him. NRSV-CE
  • The third day also connects to the Christian faith and Jesus’ resurrection.

Esther’s Gentle-Discerning Leadership (Esther 5: 5-7)

  • Esther “stood” before the king, radiating inner strength and outer beauty from God.
  • Esther 15 (Deuterocanonical): the King invited Esther to him, saying: “Come near. 11 Then he raised the golden scepter and touched her neck with it; 12 he embraced her, and said, “Speak to me.”
  • Gentle leadership characterizes a leader who is kind, compassionate, loyal, and willing to listen to the needs of those around her.
  • A discerning leader prays and waits for God’s direction.
  • Queen Esther was truly a gentle and discerning leader.  She leaned completely on God for strength and guidance.

 Esther’s Discernment and the First Banquet (Esther 5: 9-14)

  • The fasting and prayers of Esther and God’s people changed the heart of the King.
  • On the third day of fasting, Esther abandoned herself in total submission to God, put on royal robes to show her authority as Queen of Persia, and became the leader God designed her to be.
  • Esther asked the king and Haman to a festive dinner banquet she had prepared.
  • At the end of the meal, Esther delayed and again asked the king and Haman to come to a second dinner on the following day.
  • God’s guidance and discernment indicated Esther needed to wait one more day.

 Haman and His Prized Sons

  • Haman boasted to his family and friends (v. 10-12). He had 12 sons.
  • Historian Herodotus says the Persians prized a large number of sons, second only to great courage in war.
  • Haman’s pride burst with pride at being invited to dinner twice with the king and queen of Persia.
  • Only the sight of Mordecai, who would not bow to him, pricked his joy. His wife, Zeresh, suggested he build a 75-foot (50-cubit)- high gallows and hang Mordecai immediately.

Personal Reflection

  • Which principles on prayer, waiting and discernment will you apply?
  • I need to seek God with other pray-ers for support to stand firm in spiritual battles.
  • To become gentler and more discerning, I need to increase my time in prayer, repenting for myself and others, fasting, and waiting.
  • I want to rely more on God’s discernment. I must wait where God has placed me and invite his discernment and leadership.
  • I will try to remember this verse: Isaiah 40:31.“But those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” NRSV-CE

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Esther for This Time # 5 – Your Mission For Such a Time as This

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.

Your Mission For Such a Time as This

Do you have a mission for such a time as this? You indeed do, and this podcast will help you!  Join us today as Queen Esther trusts the power of God in prayer, gains needed courage and discovers her mission.

A Passover Turned to Weeping

In Esther Chapter 3, Mordecai refuses to bow down and pay homage to Haman.  Enraged Haman hatred for Jews and cast Purim (somewhat similar to our dice) to determine the date for the killing of all Jews throughout all of Persia. The king agreed, and the announcement for the annihilation of all the Jewish people was distributed throughout the kingdom on Passover—the very day Jewish families annually commemorate the time God delivered them from slavery in Egypt and saved their firstborn.

Now, their joy-filled Passover celebration was turned into a time of wailing. Could you imagine this happening to you, your family, or your church family on a celebration like Easter?

For Such a Time as This is a phrase that comes directly from Chapter 4 of the Book of Esther.

Today, we cover these points:

Sackcloth and Ashes (Esther 4: 1-4)

  • Mordecai heard of the edict, and he sobbed greatly, tore his clothes, and put on sackcloth and ashes. He wailed and wept bitterly on the city square at the palace gate.
  • For all Jews, the happy celebration of Passover with family, friends, traditions, and food quickly turned into wailing, fasting, and prayer. According to Scripture, the Jewish people always linked prayer and repentance with fasting.
  • Sackcloth, made from grain bags, was scratchy and could cut the skin. It served as an act of penance and pleading with the Lord. Ashes, worn on the head or sat in, were a sign of self-humiliation and deep sorrow, often over a national disaster. See Joel 2:12 and 17 to summarize this Biblical purpose for fasting, weeping, and penance.

Persian Palace Life (Esther 4: 5-12)

  • Esther lived in the plush palace environment, but she may have become secluded from the world around her. She was not aware of Haman’s edict.
  • She tried to send clothes to Mordecai. Only when he refused the clothes did she ask what was wrong? Mordecai gave her the evidence of the edict, but she indicated she could not go to the king as he had not called for her in over 30 days. She could be put to death if he did not reach out.

National Fasting (Esther 4: 13-17)

  • Esther called a day of national fasting.
  • Throughout Old Testament history, fasting meant fervently calling out to God with a heart of repentance, sorrow, submission, and supplication to seek his help, protection, provision, and forgiveness. For example, refer to Judges 20, Deuteronomy 9, Joel 1-2, 1 Samuel, and Jonah 3.
  • Every year, according to Leviticus 23, all of Israel fasted on the Day of Atonement, and a scapegoat would be driven into the desert to represent the people’s sins (a foreshadowing of what Christ would do on the cross for us). As they prayed, repented, and humbled themselves, their sins would be taken from God’s sight on the scapegoat.
  • See Esther 13 and 14 for examples of how to intercede/pray for a nation from Esther and Mordecai’s prayers (e.g., praising God’s goodness, repenting for your sins and the sins of your nation, pouring out your heart to God, asking for God’s intervention).

Planning a Fast

  • Fasting is about aligning ourselves with God—drawing close to Him, worshiping Him, hearing from Him, repenting (turning), and changing our ways.
  • Fasting requires planning for most of us, but most importantly, it involves replacing our time spent focused on food and “busyness” with prayer and seeking the Lord.
  • A fast, drinking only water or juice, can last for a meal, a full day, or more. Fasting can also involve refraining from certain foods (see Daniel 10: 2-3). or refraining from distractions like media or television, internet usage, shopping for a certain amount of time, etc.).
  • For the plan, you may want to take five steps: (1) write down your objective, (2) decide how you will fast, (3) schedule time in adoration & personal prayer, (4) read God’s Word & ask the Holy Spirit to speak to you (e.g., John 14 and 15), and (5) believe that God will answer with discernment, direction, and/or a miracle.
  • In Esther’s case, an extreme response would be required for her to safely go to the King, so she called for an extreme fast— three days of abstaining from food and water for the entire nation!

Personal Reflection

Today, our story teaches us:

  • At first, Esther was unaware that God had a mission for her—God planned to use her powerfully. With Mordecai’s help and God’s providence, she discerned her mission but was initially afraid and denied it.
  • Esther needed fellow pray-ers. She asked her entire Jewish nation to pray, fast, repent, and seek God’s intervention. Only after three days of prayer and fasting did she find the grace and strength to proceed in her mission- to be used by God to save the Jewish People.

Application

  1. What is God’s mission for you at your place and time? The Lord Jesus has a mission for you. Ask Him in prayer. Often, it involves bringing God’s love and testimony to those around you. But sometimes, it may be more than you ever thought possible.
  2. Finally, you can pray with St.  John Henry Newman’s Prayer I Have a Place. Start with praying these few sentences:  “I have a place in God’s counsels, in God’s world, which no one else has; whether I be rich or poor, despised or esteemed by man, God knows me and calls me by my name. God has created me to do Him some definite service. He has committed some work to me, which He has not committed to another. I have my mission…” The rest is in a free bookmark on my website WrapyourselfinJOY.com.

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Esther for This Time #4 – Unwavering Resolve & the First Edict

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.

Unwavering Resolve & the First Edict

Esther for This Time #4

Esther 3: 8 Painting: “Haman Convinces Ahasuerus” by Masters, 1420 AD

Do you ever have unwavering resolve? In relationships, we use compromise for cooperation and keeping the peace. Nonetheless, we must stand firm, determined, and unshakable in some situations.  Join us today as Esther reveals the importance of unwavering resolve in difficult times.

Persia, 474 BC – Five Years After Esther’s Banquet

Welcome to Esther & Turnaround Joy Episode #4: Unwavering Resolve & the First Edict, where we encounter Esther and Mordecai five years after King Ahasuerus sponsored the beauty contest, crowned Esther as queen and celebrated with Esther’s banquet.

Next, we watch as the providential hand of God becomes more evident. We will see why God put Esther in a position of influence—even before the Jewish people faced the possibility of annihilation.  It’s 474 BC, and we join Mordecai as he stands near the palace gate and overhears a plot to kill the king. We cover these points:

Mordecai at the Palace Gate & Assassination Plot Foiled (Esther 2: 19-23)

  • Mordecai is “sitting at the gate” checking on Esther and likely working in a government position.
  • Mordecai told Esther not to reveal her nationality.
  • While at the gate, Mordecai overheard a plot to kill King Ahasuerus and reported it to Esther, who told the king. He hanged the would-be assassins Bigthan and Teresh.
  • Acts of loyalty like Mordecai’s were officially recorded so the king could reward the hero.

Mordecai is Resolute (Esther 3: 1-6)

  • Mordecai stood firm with unwavering resolve, which means firm, determined, not shakable, and displaying unwavering loyalty. (Vocabulary.com dictionary).
  • Therefore, he refused to bow down to Haman because God had commanded the Jewish people not to bow in adoration to anyone (e.g., Exodus 20: 3-6).
  • Haman was the king’s top advisor and “an enemy of the Jews” (Esther 3:10).
  • Haman was an Agagite, a descendent of King Agag of the Amalekites, who was of a fierce nomadic tribe that made their living by raiding settlements, killing the men, women, and children, and then taking their possessions. They had a “blood feud” with Israel, which demanded total extermination of the Israelites (see Exodus 17 and Deuteronomy 25).

The Pur, the Plan, and the Drink (Esther 3: 7-15 & Esther 13)

The Pur

  • Mordecai stood firm in his faith and obedience to God’s law and would not bow to Haman.
  • Infuriated Haman in April 374 BC cast the purpurim is the plural form.
  • The Purim were similar to our dice and were thrown to help make decisions and choose dates.
  • Esther 3:7 indicates the pur fell on the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month of Aadar, March 7, 374 BC, for destroying all Jews.

The Plan

  • Haman offered the king 10,000 talents or about 375 tons of silver, which of course he hoped to acquire by killing Jewish families and plundering their homes.
  • King Ahasuerus gave Haman his signet ring, his signature used to stamp the wax on an official letter from the king.
  • Haman summoned the scribes to draft the edict on the day before Passover- April 17th, 474 BC (Esther 3:12).
  • The announcement was sent out to the 127 provinces of the Persian Empire on Passover—the day Jewish families annually commemorated God delivering them from slavery (see Exodus 12). The date was chosen to dishearten and terrorize the Jewish people.
  • The Passover celebration with family and friends quickly became a day of confusion and weeping. How ironic! The day of the announcement would fall on a commemoration of God’s deliverance. Could God again deliver them from destruction? It would be only God who could!

The Drink

  • To Haman and the king, it was just another day to celebrate their power, so they had a drink.
  • Haman’s heart was hardened with generational hatred, so he rejoiced in the genocide of the Jews.
  • Hebrews 4: 13 reminds us: “before him [God] no creature is hidden, but all are naked and laid bare to the eyes of the one to whom we must render an account.”
  • Little did Haman know that the God of heaven was in control.

Personal Reflection: Unwavering Resolve

  • We witnessed a good example of unwavering resolve with Mordecai. He showed us there are times for unwavering resolve when we must follow God no matter the cost.  We cannot deny God’s commandments ever.
  • Mordecai refused to bow in worship to anyone other than the God of heaven and earth. He followed Exodus 20, “You shall have no other gods beside Me…You shall not bow down to them…”
  • Psalm 119: 2-4 reminds us: “Happy [blessed and joyful] are all who search for God and always do his will, rejecting compromise with evil and walking only in his paths. You [O God] have given us your laws to obey.
  • Unwavering resolve and devotion to God may be met with persecution. However, I can stay strong in the Lord and keep his commandments. 1 Corinthians 16: 13-14 says: Be watchful, stand firm in your faith, be courageous, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.
  • Ask God, ”Where do you want me to have unwavering resolve?” Henceforth, ask God for help to be resolute. He will give it to you.

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Esther for This Time #3 – The Spa & A New Queen

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.
Esther for This Time #3: The Spa & the New Queen

Esther Bedecked by Aert de Gerder, 1684; The Painting shows Esther about to be crowned & bedecked in an ermine-edged coat

The Spa & A New Queen

Are you seeking attractiveness and favor with others?  On the way to becoming queen, Esther offers us an example of attractiveness, God’s way. Join us today at the Spa, circa 479 BC, and hear how the attractiveness of heart wins friends and favor and witness the providence of God unfold.

Persia, 479 BC

  • Four years have passed between Chapters One and Two of Esther (see Esther 1:3 and 2: 16). According to Greek historian Herodotus, during that time, King Ahasuerus suffered a great military defeat by the Greeks and returned home to consume himself with overindulgence and sensuality.
  • He also missed the lasting relationship with his beautiful wife, Queen Vashti, whom he dethroned at his last party. The king’s advisors suggest a beauty contest with exotic spa treatments to help find a new queen. So today we are off to the spa to witness a new queen’s crowning.

Mordecai Brings Up Esther (Esther 2: 1-8)

  • Mordecai was introduced as a Jew in the family line of Kish (King Saul’s family) of the tribe of Benjamin. (Calling him a Jew repeatedly suggests that he was somehow still a foreigner and not completely accepted into secular Persia.) A person’s family line shows his status in Jewish lineage. When the Scriptures mention Nebuchadnezzar carried away Kish, the verses refer to the Babylonian captivity, with a second forced removal involving King Jeconiah of Judah in 597 BC. Likely, Mordecai’s grandfather and family members were among those taken captive in 597 BC.
  • Mordecai was born in Susa of Persia after the defeat of the Babylonian Empire. He and his family had chosen not to return to Jerusalem when Cyrus the Great allowed the Jews to return home beginning in 539 BC.
  • Esther was introduced as Mordecai’s younger cousin (Esther 2:7) whom he raised because she had been orphaned. Likely, her parents died when she was young. So it would have been Mordecai who taught her the Hebrew Scriptures and the Jewish faith

Esther & The Spa Treatments (Esther 2: 9-12)

  • The beauty contest was not the usual Persian way to select a queen. Normally, kings took their wives from the families of the Persian nobles, which is probably how King Ahasuerus crowned Vashti. However, a self-indulgent and powerful king could choose any woman he wanted for a wife.
  • In Susa, Esther was given seven servants plus food, probably laden with oils to fatten her up and help her display the Persian ideal of beauty. The women were given oil baths of delicious-smelling flowers and herbs to soften the skin and add a fragrant aroma.
  • At Susa, Divine Providence – God unfolding his purposes – becomes more visible to the spiritual eye, as we notice Esther found favor with Hegai.

Esther is Crowned Queen (Esther 2: 12 -18)

  • After twelve months of beauty treatments, it was Esther’s turn to come before the king.
  • Esther pleased the king, even though we do not know the details or how this happened in one evening. Obviously, the king saw her inner and outer beauty—the first woman that pleased him since Vashti. It was Divine Providence behind the scenes that surely turned the king’s heart toward Esther, even if she was only cooperating with circumstances that were beyond her control.

Esther’s Banquet

  • When King Ahasuerus crowned Esther as his Queen, he. gave another party, calling it Esther’s Banquet. This celebration included both men and women, generous gifts, and even tax relief.

Personal Reflection

Today, our story teaches us:

  • The Lord can turn the heart of a leader. We can trust and pray that He does in our times as well.
  • God is at work even though we don’t see him right away. We can pray to see God active in the scenes of our lives, for he is surely there at work.
  • Ultimately it is God who turns the heart of the king. He gave Esther favor, and her inner beauty seemed to capture the king’s favor and love.

Personal Application & God’s Attractiveness Plan

  • Read Proverbs 31: 30 and 1 Peter 3: 3 to summarize God’s beauty plan.
  • Proverbs 31: 30. Charm is deceptive and beauty fleeting, but a woman who fears [worships, honors, and respects] the Lord is to be praised. (GNT)    Obviously, with age, beauty fades, but to worship, honor and respect God creates a lasting attractiveness that appeals to others too.  God blesses all of our attempts to honor Him. So how is your attractiveness quotient when you consider spending time daily to worship and honor God is an important part of any beauty plan?
  • 1 Peter 3:3-4. Don’t depend on things like fancy hairdos or gold jewelry or expensive clothes [outward adorning] to make you look beautiful. 4Be beautiful in your heart by being gentle and quiet [with a calm temper and contented mind]. This kind of beauty will last, and God considers it very special [precious in His sight]. (GNT)  It’s not that God objects to putting our best foot forward, so to speak, or trying to look our best at any age, but His Word suggests an attractiveness plan.
  • Does your attractiveness plan include a gentle, quiet spirit with a calm temper and contented mind or demeanor? Ask the Holy  Spirit to help you. Ephesians 5:  22 says, the fruit of the Holy Spirit produces love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, and more in our lives. 

Links

Esther for This Time # 2 – The Queen, the Refusal & the Bad Advice

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.
The Queen, the Refusal & the Bad Advice

Vashti Dethroned

Queen Esther ~Refusal of Bad Advice

What can you learn from Queen Esther? Do you need more wisdom and less bad advice in your life?  Today, we will encounter the outrageous King Ahasuerus, who regrets the outcome of his bad decision based on bad advice! Join us as we discuss the true wisdom from God that does not disappoint.

The Party (Esther 1: 1-8)

Welcome to Esther for This Time: Prayer, Reversals & JOY Episode #2 based on my book Esther For Such a Time As This: Prayer, Reversals and JOY.  The Book of Esther in the Old Testament was written so that even 2500 years later, we can still relate it to our culture. We can learn so much from Queen Esther.

Today, we continue in Esther Chapter 1 with our introduction to the pompous and extravagant King Ahasuerus and the opulent six-month party he threw in the capital city of Susa (modern-day Iran) in the third year of his reign. Ancient historians suggest over 15,000 men came to the party, which lasted 187 days. Amid the grand party, the king received and followed bad advice. In the podcast today, we will cover these points.

Vashti’s Refusal (Esther 1: 9-12)

  • Queen Vashti was throwing a grand party herself for the wives of governors, nobles, and officials who came to the king’s celebration when the king called her to appear before an unruly, intoxicated horde of men to show off her beauty.
  • She refused to come for reasons we might guess.
  • When she refused, she did not expect the king’s boiling rage!

The Bad Advice to the King (Esther 1: 13-21)

  • King Ahasuerus’ wise men, led by their spokesman Memucan, advised the king to dethrone and remove Vashti forever. Guided by his wounded pride, with no respect for his wife, the king followed this bad advice and dethroned Vashti.
  • The Scriptures teach women to honor and respect their husbands and men to love their wives (Ephesians 5: 25, 3). But the king was a pagan consumed with pride and self-indulgence who did not know God’s commands or God’s ways.
  • Greek Historian Herodotus records that King Ahasuerus won a great battle after this feast but later suffered a terrible loss to the Greeks during the four years that occurred between Esther Chapters One and Two.
  • The King returned home from battle and likely consumed himself with even more indulgence and sensuality, only to find he missed a lasting relationship with his lovely wife.

Personal Reflection

Where do you need wisdom today? Our historical story teaches us

  1. Be cautious when taking counsel from worldly advisors who stroke your ego or are motivated by a desire for power.
  2. Be courageous and maintain your integrity in difficult situations.
  3. Anger and violence do not demonstrate strength in a husband or a leader.

Application

  1. Read Proverbs 3: 5-7, James 1: 5, and Proverbs 3:17.
  2. These verses instruct us to ask God for wisdom, who promises to give it generously and ungrudgingly.
  3. So, ask God to lead YOU and clear the road for YOU to follow.

Links

 

Esther for This Time: Prayer, Reversals & JOY – The Backdrop & the Party

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.

Prayer, Reversals, and JOY

Have you studied the book of Esther? Do You Need Reversals in Your Life? Are you struggling to find faith and courage? Esther will show you how. Join our newest series based on the Book of Esther.  It’s a  wonderful study for Lent.  It is about trusting in God, intercessory prayer, and receiving strength to stand firm amid life’s challenges. It is about gentle leadership, discernment, and how God can give you reversals and joy in situations and relationships. Esther is a book of faith, hope, and joy!

[Don’t forget the Joy podcast series here.]

This is the Time

Welcome to Esther for This Time: Prayer, Reversals & JOY Episode #1, based on my book Esther For Such a Time As This: Prayer, Reversals, and JOY.  When we wonder, “Where is God in our lives or our families or communities,” Esther reminds us that God never abandons us. He is faithful. Now is a good time to start if you have never read or studied Esther. You cannot depend on movies depicting Esther because some are more fictional than historically accurate. You will gain so much more by reading it yourself, as the lessons from Esther are so encouraging. And, of course, there is a JOYFUL ending. Today, we will cover these points:

The Backdrop for Esther (Esther 1: 1-3)

  • The days of Ahasuerus (Esther 1:1) refer to the reign of King Ahasuerus, who historically ruled the world as King of the Persian Empire from 486 to 465 BC. In Greek, his name was Xerxes.
  • The Persians, led by Cyrus the Great, the grandfather of Ahasuerus, had defeated the Babylonian Empire of King Nebuchadnezzar, who had taken the Jewish people captive to Babylon beginning in 605 BC. Cyrus the Great had a relaxed attitude toward the Jewish people and allowed them to return to Jerusalem or move to other places. Some went back to Jerusalem. Some scattered throughout Europe. Some stayed in Persia and learned to fit into its culture. This is where we meet Esther.

The Lavish Party (Esther 1: 4-8)

  • King Ahasuerus resided in Susa, one of the three royal cities in the Persian Empire.
  • He threw the lavish party, mostly to inspire patriotism and show off his wealth and splendor to his military leaders so they would support him for going to war against Greece, as history tells us.
  • An old tradition stated that the rest of the party could drink only as the king drank, but at his party, all were instructed to drink freely. The golden goblets used for serving the wine may very well have been the sacred goblets seized from the Jewish temple in Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar in 605 BC (see Daniel 1). Now, they were being used in a very unholy way by a very pagan king!

Personal Reflection.

  • King Ahasuerus was trying to make himself a god in power, prestige, and more.
  • He did not know or refused to acknowledge the truth that God loves us dearly but as Proverbs 15:3 points out: “The eyes of the Lord are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good,” or Hebrews 4:13, saying: “And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”
  • Consider these questions for reflection today:
    • Do you wonder where God is when you see the world focused on self-image, power, and prestige?
    • Do you get discouraged when it appears God is silent about all the evil taking place in the world?
    • When God seems silent, do you turn your attention to the party—that is, to the worldly distractions that draw you away from God, faith, and family?

Prayer Response

  1. Read and pray with Psalm 103: 15-22. Try to memorize the verse that speaks most to you.
  2. Seek God. When you think he is silent as the world parties on, open yourself more to God. Remember that only God, our heavenly Father, Jesus, our Savior, and the Holy Spirit can offer you the true Joy, Peace, Love, and Fulfillment that the world is seeking, as epitomized by King Ahasuerus.
  3. Ask for your needs. When you are lonely, confused, or frustrated, talk to Jesus from your heart.  Ask Him for what you need. Remember Jesus’ words in John 15: 11: As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.   (You may want to listen to my podcast season #1 series, Finding JOY.)

Links

 

 

Seeking Consolation and JOY? Join Anna & Simeon at the Presentation – A JOY-Filled Advent & Christmas #7

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.
A Joy-Filled Advent and Christmas with Anna & Simeon

The Presentation in the Temple, Philippe de Champaigne. 1648; Join Simeon & Anna at the Presentation of Jesus

Seeking Consolation and JOY? Ann and Simeon Show Us the Way.

Are you seeking consolation or more joy? Join us today at the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, where Anna and Simeon show us JOY. They offer us ten ways the Holy Spirit can help YOU.

Off to the Temple

Welcome to Advent JOY Podcast #7, based on my book The Joy Of Advent: Journey With The People, Events, and Prayers At The First Coming Of Jesus Christ.  Today, we travel with Mary and Joseph to the Temple and the Presentation of the Lord. There Anna and Simeon will join us at this very special event as we cover the following points:

Circumcised, Redeemed, and Purified (Luke 2: 21-23)

  • At the time of Jesus’ birth, the Old Testament Mosaic Law required every firstborn Jewish male to be circumcised at 8 days after birth
  • The naming of the baby took place at the same time as the circumcision.
  • Mary and Joseph by divine appointment knew what the Child was to be called. And so “He was named Jesus” which means the Lord saves- the name told to both Mary and Joseph via an angel (Luke 1: 30 and Matthew 1: 20).

Jesus Came to Fulfill All the Law (Luke 2: 23-24)

  • Now, forty days after Jesus’ birth,  Joseph and Mary again follow the Mosaic Law for the Presentation of Jesus in the temple and Mary’s Purification. In Matthew 5:17, Jesus said He came to “fulfill the law,” which begins at His birth.
  • For Mary’s Purification, the sweet Blessed Mother of humble means offers “a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons,” which Leviticus 12: 8 prescribed for a new mother who could not afford a sheep to offer.

The Presentation or Redemption of Jesus (Luke 2: 25-38)

  • This “redemption of the firstborn” meant that the parents redeemed Jesus or bought Him back from God. Isn’t it amazing that almost 33 years later, it would be Jesus who would pay the price for our redemption by dying on the cross?
  • The Catholic Church celebrates the Presentation of the Lord on February 2 every year.

Simeon & Anna

Although their lives differed, Simeon and Anna had much in common.

  1. Both Simeon and Anna were described as deeply spiritual people. They loved the Lord, practiced their faith, and did not allow themselves to become bitter or decrepit with the times.
  2. Both were “senior citizens” active in serving God. Pope Francis says of the Presentation:  It is a meeting between the young, who are full of joy in observing the Law of the Lord, and the elderly who are full of joy in the action of the Holy Spirit. It is a unique encounter between observance and prophecy, where young people are the observers and the elderly are prophets! (The Feast of the Presentation, Vatican, 2-2-2014).  
  3. Both knew the Scriptures.
  4. Both believed in the Scriptures and were looking for the Messiah. Bible scholars and theologians say Jesus has fulfilled at least 300 Old Testament prophecies.
  5. Both were looking forward with HOPE. The words looking for indicate they were actively waiting for the Savior with hope.
  6. Both worshiped, prayed, and adored God. Their eyes went more to God than to the news of the day. That brought consolation.
  7. The Spirit of God guided both.
  8. Both Simeon and Anna recognized the Messiah.
  9. Both received Jesus and were changed.
  10. Both Simeon and Anna received a message about Jesus from the Holy Spirit, and they shared it.

Simeon’s Prayer – The Nunc Dimittis Reflects Isaiah’s Prophecies (Luke 2: 29-32)

  • Simeon’s prayer is one of the Church’s great prayers, or canticles (little songs). It is called the Nunc Dimittis because v. 29 in the Latin translation of the Bible begins with the words “Nunc Dimittis,” which means “now dismiss your servant.” In other words, Simeon was saying to the Lord, “Now I am ready to die; you can dismiss me, Lord; I have seen the Savior.”
  • Every evening, all priests, religious, and laypeople who pray the Liturgy of the Hours pray the Nunc Dimittis prayer.
  • Today and every day, you can pray the Nunc Dimittis from Luke 2: 29-30.

Our Response

  • Why not spend some time with these verses? Using your holy imagination, see yourself receiving Jesus from Mary’s arms as Simeon did.
    • Look into the face of Jesus and give Him your shame and sadness.
    • In exchange, receive His Love and JOY. He has come for YOU. You can’t help but be consoled.
    • Then like Anna, praise God because you have seen the Savior of the World. He has come to give You peace, as John 15 says, Peace I give you, but not as the world gives. He has come to give the world peace as Luke 2: 14 says, Peace on earth, good will toward to men.  He has come to give you His love.

Remember Lamentations 3:22-25. (ESV) … His mercies are fresh every morning. Great is His faithfulness 25 The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul that seeks him.

Links

Join me for my next podcast series, starting in February: Esther for this time: Prayer, Reversals, and JOY.

Consider hosting a weekly one-hour Cup of Joy small group study that accompanies each podcast series, especially this next one: Esther for this Time: Prayer, Reversals, and JOY.  Read more on hosting a CUP of JOY Women or Cup of JOY Gathering small group.  It’s free, and I will send you the materials you need for the one-hour discussion and study. For questions, please email karen@wrapyourselfinjoy.com

You can download a Bookmark of prayer points from A Joy-filled Advent Podcast #1 at my website: WRAPYourselfinJOY.com.

Check out more podcasts here!

Click here for the book: The Joy of Advent: Journey with the People, Events and Prayers at the First Coming of Jesus Christ.

 

Perplexed? Exchange Your Plans for God’s Plans! – A Joy-Filled Advent #5

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.

Perplexed? Exchange Your Plans for God’s Plans!

Do you find changing plans perplexing? Mary and Joseph changed their plans often as they listened to God. Why not ask God to help you lean into change? God can help you most when you are willing to exchange your plans for God’s plans!

Advent JOY

Welcome to Advent JOY Podcast #5, based on my book The Joy Of Advent: Journey With The People, Events, and Prayers At The First Coming Of Jesus Christ.  Today, we travel with Matthew’s Gospel, meet some unexpected members of Jesus’ ancestry, and hear of Joseph’s dream and his faithfulness to Mary. Matthew fills us in on details of Mary’s return home to her betrothed Joseph after she visits Elizabeth.

The Family Record (Mathew  1: 1-7, 16-17)

  • So, we start with Matthew 1. At the time of Jesus, families kept a genealogical record (or family tree) to distribute inherited property and other rights under Jewish laws.
  • Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI points out that Matthew 1 is not a perfect historical account that includes every single member of the ancestry of Jesus Christ, saying: ”This was not Matthew’s goal.“ (Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives, 2012, p. 8).
  • Matthew wrote to appeal to the Jews by placing Jesus first and foremost as the Son of Abraham—the Patriarch and Father of Israel promised as part of an everlasting covenant with God (Genesis 17: 6-7), and as the Son of David—the priestly King of Israel, whose ancestors were prophesied to reign forever (2 Samuel: 7:13).

Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Bathsheba in the Lineage of Jesus

  • Jewish lineages, at the time of Christ, usually did not contain names of women. Christ’s ancestry lists five women in Matthew 1. Of course, we would expect the  Blessed Virgin Mary to be named. But there were four others listed—Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Bathsheba who came from foreign ancestry or had a reputation for immorality that could have disqualified them from inclusion in the lineage of Jesus Christ.  All were Gentile women who turned away from immoralities or idolatries to become faithful to God in their circumstances.
  • Even if your past life or “family tree” seems dishonorable, Jesus offers you forgiveness, grace, mercy, and a new beginning when you turn to Him. You are part of the family of God, and every day you can have a new life in Christ. Hebrews 2: 11: G”od is not ashamed to call them [or you] brothers and sisters.”
  • Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI wrote on the deeper meaning of the genealogies of Jesus and said:“[T]hose who believe in Jesus enter through faith into Jesus’ unique new origin, and they receive this origin as their own…Joseph did not beget Jesus but was truly born of the Holy Spirit from the Virgin Mary, so it can now be said of us that our true ‘genealogy’ is faith in Jesus who gives us a new origin and …to birth ‘from God” (Jesus of Nazareth, p. 12-13).

Found with Child (Matthew 1: 18-25)

  • Dreams were a common way God communicated with His people in the Old Testament. Joseph did not hesitate in his response to the angel in the dream. He trusted God to work everything out. He willingly exchanged his plans for God’s plans. We could say he leaned into God’s plans.
  • Joseph, from the tribe of Judah and the house of David, a carpenter by trade, became the legal head of this precious family (Abbott Ricciotti, The Life of Christ, 1947).  Joseph is a role model to families—looking for God’s plans and leaning into them. This was the beginning of Joseph’s mission for life. Some have said it this way, Joseph was born for this vocation — to be the father of Jesus and Mary’s most chaste spouse. Like Mary, Joseph said “yes” to his vocation. His entire happiness was in knowing what God wanted him to do and carrying it out to the end ( Fernandez, Conversation with God, Vol. 1, 1997). He was devoted to God and his family.

Our Response

  1. Lean into God’s Plans. Can you picture Joseph’s perplexity when his plans suddenly changed? He was likely building the house, planning the wedding, or earning extra money for the marriage, but he was unprepared to hear Mary’s announcement.  Then God gave him more direction through an angel in a dream.  He leaned in the changes. You can ask yourself: Am I open to changing my plans to fit God’s plan? Talk to Jesus about how you can stay open to God’s plans. What changes can you lean into?
  2. Accept Your Place in God’s Family. If you feel unworthy or unqualified to be part of God’s family, remember Tamar, Rahab, and Ruth. These women changed direction to follow God, joined God’s family, and are part of the lineage of Jesus. It is not too late for your family to come to God.  Ask Jesus to forgive you and your family. Ask him to help you change directions.  Then do what he tells you.

Links

Consider hosting a weekly one-hour Cup of Joy small group study that accompanies each podcast series, especially this one:  A Joy-filled Advent: Journey with the People, Events, and Prayers.  Read more on hosting a CUP of JOY Women or Cup of JOY Gathering small group.  For more information, please email karen@wrapyourselfinjoy.com

You can download a Bookmark of prayer points from A Joy-filled Advent Podcast #1 at my website: WRAPYourselfinJOY.com.

Check out more podcasts here!

Click here for the book: The Joy of Advent: Journey with the People, Events and Prayers at the First Coming of Jesus Christ.

Needing more JOY or Peace? Join the Chorus of Angels & Shepherds! – A JOY-Filled Advent & Christmas #6

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.
Jesus Christ is Born -Join the Chorus of Angels & Shepherds!

Jesus Christ is Born – Join the Chorus of Angels & Shepherds!

Needing More JOY and Peace?

Do you need a message that brings MORE JOY and Peace? Join us today for the birth of Jesus and meet the Angels and the Shepherds who have a lot to share. Uniting your heart with the Angel’s Gloria and the Shepherd’s praises will help you know more JOY and peace.

Traveling to Bethlehem

Welcome to Advent JOY Podcast #6, based on my book The Joy Of Advent: Journey With The People, Events And Prayers At The First Coming Of Jesus Christ.  Today, we return to the book of Luke. There we join Blessed Mary and Joseph on their 80-mile journey to Bethlehem. When they arrive, they find it crowded with people, who like Mary and Joseph, had come at the command of Caesar Augustus.

Join us today for these points:

No Home for the Creator of Creation (Luke 2: 1-7)

  • Jesus would be born in Bethlehem, in the City of David, as prophesied by the Old Testament prophet Micah over 700 years earlier and recorded in Micah 5: 1-3.
  • Emperor Caesar Augustus, a master bookkeeper and statistician, likely wanted to keep track of his subjects and kingdom by public enrollment.
  • Joseph had to go to Bethlehem, as he was a descendant of King David. Mary went along too – she may have been required to register, or Joseph wanted her with him.
  • Bishop Fulton J. Sheen explains: Joseph “searched in vain for a place where He, to Whom heaven and earth belonged, might be born. Could the Creator not find a home in creation? …  A stable would be the last place in the world where one would have looked for Him. Divinity is always where one least expects to find it. (Life of Christ, 1958, p. 13-24.
  • Jesus, God Incarnate and the Savior of the World was born and then tightly wrapped in bands of cloth by his mother, Mary, and laid in a manger where animals ate.

The Good News (Luke 2: 8-11)

  • The angel’s message of “Good News” is summarized (v. 10-11): “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the
  • We can say with assurance that Jesus is our Savior, who delivers us from sin and makes us right with God. He is our Messiah, the anointed one who will reign as KING forever.

The Fields Outside of Bethlehem (Luke 2: 12-20)

  • Amazingly, God chooses shepherds—the little, the lowly, the less important of the world (1 Corinthians 1: 28), but also calls himself a shepherd (e.g., “I am the Good Shepherd,” John 10:11). In Ezekiel 34:12-16, God describes himself as one who “shepherds right.” He tends sheep, rescues them, leads them, gives them rest, brings back the lost, binds up the injured, and heals the sick.
  • Jesus is our Shepherd: If at times you feel “lowly,” please know that Christ is YOUR Savior and Shepherd. He came for you! You are His little lamb, and He loves you.
  • Some shepherds around Jerusalem took care of the temple lambs used in the temple sacrifices. Shepherds would wrap lambs born without blemish in swaddling cloths and place them away from the others  (e.g., Leviticus 4-5). Amazingly, the shepherds caring for the temple lambs used for sin offerings would be the first to recognize Jesus Christ, who came as our sin offering forever!

The Angel’s Gloria and the Shepherds Praises (Luke 2: 14-20)

  • We find two beautiful choruses in Luke 2:14-20. First, there’s the Angel’s “Gloria” (v. 14), which is so-called because the first word in  St. Jerome’s Latin translation is “Gloria.”
  • This song of the angels proclaims peace to a world that needs peace as we do now. Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; the peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid” (John 14:27, NABRE). The only place of true peace is in Jesus; today, we must remind ourselves of this. We can join the angels in praise: “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, goodwill toward all.”
  • The second chorus includes the shepherds’ praises (v. 20). They praised God for the good news from the angel and the song of the heavenly host of angels. From them, we learn that praising God for His goodness is a wonderful way to evangelize and get other’s attention on our Savior.

Mary Treasured and Pondered God’s Words (Luke 2: 19)

  • Mary “treasured and pondered” these things in her heart.
  • She gives an example for us in treasuring, pondering, and delighting in the things God has revealed, especially because we have God’s Word in Scripture.

Our Response

Try to put yourself in the scenes with Mary, Jesus, the angels, and the shepherds. Then prayerfully ask:

  1. Am I praising God for sending Jesus, like the angels and shepherds did?
  2. Am I making a “manger” for Jesus in my heart, allowing Him to be my Savior and Lord?
  3. Am I receiving the true joy and peace that Jesus offers?
  4. Am I treasuring God’s Word in my heart as Mary did?

Links

Please consider hosting a weekly one-hour CUP of JOY Women’s small group. Karen provides studies and discussion questions to accompany each podcast and each series.   In February and for Lent, we will start the new series: Esther for This Time: Prayers, Reversals, and JOY.  It is an exciting podcast series about how God answered prayer and sent mighty reversals for a family, people, and nation. Click here to read about hosting a CUP of JOY Women’s small group.  For more information, email karen@wrapyourselfinjoy.com.

Free Bookmarks: You can download a Bookmark of prayer points from A Joy-filled Advent Podcast #1 at my website: WRAPYourselfinJOY.com.

More Podcasts: Check out more podcasts here!

Advent book: Click here to get a copy: The Joy of Advent: Journey with the People, Events and Prayers at the First Coming of Jesus Christ.

Needing Calm? Seek Stillness with God! – A JOY-Filled Advent #4

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.
Need Calm. Seek Stillness with God!

Zechariah writes, His Name is John!

Needing Calm? Seek Stillness with God!

 Do you need more calm in your life? Today, Zechariah teaches us to seek God in stillness and shows us the joyous blessings. Stillness with God will do the same for you this Advent, giving you more joy and peace!

Advent JOY & the Celebration at Zechariah’s Home

Welcome to Advent JOY Podcast #4, based on my book The Joy Of Advent: Journey With The People, Events, and Prayers At The First Coming Of Jesus Christ.

Today, we are going to a celebration at Zechariah’s home. It’s the circumcision and naming of his newborn boy. Can’t you picture yourself as one of the neighbors who has come to help name the baby born to the old priest Zechariah and his aged wife, Elizabeth? Can you hear yourself say:

“This must be some child—a miracle baby! What a blessing from the Lord for Elizabeth! Zechariah is mute since the last time he went up to serve in the temple.” Join the podcast as we cover these exciting points:

The Circumcision and the Sacrament of Baptism (Luke 1: 56-59)

  • The neighbors come to celebrate the birth and help with the circumcision.
  • Circumcision is a rite by God under the Old Covenant, usually performed on the 8th day after birth. It was a mark on a male and a sign that he was in covenant with God, sanctified for divine service, and a member of the Jewish people.
  • Under the New Covenant, circumcision is not a religious ritual for us (Galatians 5: 6).
  • The circumcision ritual is similar to the Sacrament of Baptism, celebrated with family, friends, and godparents.
  • For the Christian, baptism is a sign one belongs to Christ, is united with Him in His death, and is incorporated into the Church (Hahn, Catholic Bible Dictionary).

The Neighbors Want to Name the Baby Zechariah (Luke 1: 60-66)

  • Zechariah confirms that His name is JOHN.
  • Immediately, Zechariah’s mouth was open, and his tongue was freed.

 Zechariah’s Silent Retreat Results in Joyous Benedictus Blessings (Luke 1: 67-79)

  • Zechariah grew in faith, peace, and trust in stillness with God.
  • Benedictus means Blessed be..the Lord.
  • Zechariah’s prophecy is called a canticle, which means “little song”- a liturgical song from a Biblical text.
  • Zechariah thanks God for the promises to be fulfilled in the Messiah and for His Son John, who would go before the Lord to prepare His way, to give knowledge of salvation to his people by forgiving their sins.

Responding to the Scripture

  • Seek God in stillness. Choose a quiet morning or evening during Advent. Turn off all media and be present with the Lord in adoration, prayer, and Scripture. Sit with God and LISTEN. You may find a new vision, peace, and a deeper relationship with God – the one He wants with you.
  • Let God redeem you. If you are living in any darkness or carrying baggage, Jesus wants to carry your baggage, forgive your sins, and give you peace. “By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

Links

Consider hosting a weekly one-hour Cup of Joy small group study that accompanies one of the podcast series, especially this one:  A Joy-filled Advent: Journey with the People, Events, and Prayers.  Read more on hosting a CUP of JOY Women or Cup of JOY Gathering small group.  For information, please email karen@wrapyourselfinjoy.com

You can download a Bookmark of prayer points from A Joy-filled Advent Podcast #1 at my website: WRAPYourselfinJOY.com.

Check out more podcasts here!

Click here for the book: The Joy of Advent: Journey with the People, Events and Prayers at the First Coming of Jesus Christ.

The Visitation & JOY of Fellowship – A JOY-Filled Advent #3

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.

Today, we witness the visitation of Mary and the Joy of fellowship. Do you need more JOY in your life? Who doesn’t? Advent is the perfect time to receive and share more JOY with others! Mary and Elizabeth will show us how.

Join us today as we travel with Mary 90 miles to the home of Zechariah and Elizabeth. We will drop in on a special meeting of hearts to partake in the delight, the prayer, and the JOY of Fellowship.

The Advent JOY Podcast

Welcome to A JOY-Filled Advent Podcast #3, based on my book The Joy of Advent: Journey with the People, Events, and Prayers at the First Coming of Jesus Christ.  Last week, we heard how God supernaturally begot the Son of God in the Virgin Mary and gave an old woman, Elizabeth, past her time conceiving a child. We discovered any barrenness in life can become a breakthrough! “For nothing is impossible with God!”

Advent JOY in the Hill Country

Today, we travel with Mary down the 90-mile road from Nazareth to the Hill Country of Judea, near Jerusalem. We will drop in on Mary’s visit to her old cousin Elizabeth. Both women are expecting, rejoicing over the births to come, and thrilled to see each other.  Join the podcast today as we cover these exciting points:

The Visitation – Leaping for JOY (Luke 1: 39-45)

  • John the Baptist leaps for Joy
  • Elizabeth is filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaims words of JOY.
  • Mary praises and skips with JOY.
  • Jesus is always joy-filled—even in the womb!

The JOY of Fellowship – God Knows Our Need (Luke 1: 31-33)

  • Fellowship in the Scriptures is translated from New Testament Greek Koinonia, occurring 20 times in the New Testament.
  • Elizabeth brought out Mary’s JOY, and Mary brought out Elizabeth’s JOY. True fellowship strengthens and encourages faith.
  • Elizabeth praises Mary for believing Gabriel.
  • The Holy Spirit reveals the presence of Jesus in Mary’s womb to Elizabeth.

The Magnificat – Mary’s Song of Praise (Luke 1: 46-56)

  • Magnificat was the first word in Luke 1: 46 found in St. Jerome’s Latin translation of the Bible (4th-century common language of the people) and it means “my soul magnifies.”
  • The Magnificat is a canticle – a liturgical song from a Biblical text.
  • The Magnificat shows Mary’s love for Scripture. She knew the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) well.
  • The Magnificat reflects themes from many Old Testament Scriptures – the powerful arm of God, His mercy to all, His justice and faithfulness, and His care for the poor and afflicted (e.g., 1 Samuel 2:1-10 and Psalm 34:2, 35: 9, 103: 17, 107: 9, 132: 11, 138: 6).

 Three Months of Sharing Hearts

  • We can only imagine the comfort Mary and Elizabeth must have been to each other. They talked of the Scriptures to be fulfilled because they knew well the promises regarding the Messiah and the one who would precede Him. They shared the stories about Gabriel as his message had changed each of their lives. They would have known of Gabriel’s former visitations and announcements recorded in Daniel 9.

Advent Application

  • We can respond to these verses of JOY shared between Mary and Elizabeth by 1) Asking God for Advent JOY (He wants to give us His JOY), 2) Rejoicing in God’s goodness, 3) Preserving a quiet time for prayer, and 4) Sharing JOY with others, especially during Advent. God has JOY for YOU.

Links

Consider hosting a weekly one-hour Cup of Joy small group study that accompanies one of the podcast series, especially this one:  A Joy-filled Advent: Journey with the People, Events, and Prayers.

Read more on hosting a CUP of JOY Women or Cup of JOY Gathering small group.  For information, please email karen@wrapyourselfinjoy.com

You can download a Bookmark of prayer points from A Joy-filled Advent Podcast #1 at my website: WRAPYourselfinJOY.com.

Check out more podcasts here!

Click here to find the book: The Joy of Advent: Journey with the People, Events and Prayers at the First Coming of Jesus Christ.

“For Nothing Is Impossible with God” – A JOY-Filled ADVENT # 2

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.
A Joy-Filled Advent - Nothing is Impossible with God

A Joy-Filled Advent The Annunciation- Nothing is Impossible with God

JOY in Nazareth

Welcome to A JOY-filled Advent, Podcast #2.  It’s based on my book The Joy of Advent: Journey with the People, Events and Prayers at the First Coming of Jesus Christ.  Last week we met the Archangel Gabriel, who appeared to Zechariah in the temple after 430 years of silence from heaven. When Zechariah disbelieved his announcement, Gabriel gave him a 9-month silent retreat.  This week, we follow Luke 1: 26 to a small town in Galilee, the hometown of Mary and Joseph, to hear another announcement called The Annunciation in the Catholic Church.  Join our journey today as we visit Mary, hear of a Savior to be born, and learn that “nothing is impossible with God.”

 Another Message from Gabriel (Luke 1: 26-30)

  • The powerful Archangel Gabriel brings the second announcement– this time to a young girl in Nazareth.
  • This most important heavenly Annunciation comes to a girl in a remote village where you might least expect it to occur. BUT God causes miracles to happen in the most unlikely and even ungodly places when people are open to Him.
  • The recipient of the Great Annunciation is Mary, a virgin teenager, engaged to Joseph in the lineage of David, which points to the Old Testament prophesies soon to be fulfilled.

Jesus Name by His Heavenly Father (Luke 1: 31-33)

  • The Baby would be named Jesus, Yeshua in Hebrew and derived from Yahweh – the Most Holy Name of God in the Old Testament. The message is clear: Yahweh God would name His son Yeshua after Himself.
  • Truly, Jesus would be the Son of God and fulfill  Isaiah 7: 14: Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel (God with us).

Mary’s Fiat (Luke 1: 34-38)

  • “Fiat” is the first word of Luke 1: 38 in the early Latin Bible translation and it means “let it be.” This was Mary’s “YES.”  
  • Mary received the Word of God, surrendered, and entrusted herself and her life to God’s will. Mary gives us this example of how to seek and accept God’s will: Listen, Dialogue with God, and Surrender.

God’s Power

  • Some may find it hard to believe in the virgin birth. But the virgin birth and incarnation are essential parts of our Christian faith.
  • The incarnation means God became man, reaching out to mankind.  In no other religion does God “become flesh” (John 1: 14), “accept the limitations of humanity,” come to earth to show His love, and then die for the sins of all (Fulton Sheen, 1958, Life of Christ, p. 19). St. Augustine says that when we cannot understand this miracle, “Let us grant that God can do something which we confess we cannot fathom. God is the God of the impossible!” (John Willis, 2002, Teachings of the Church Fathers).
  • For example, Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli told God he felt barren in his old age and then received a great miracle!
  • If you are unsure about God’s power to accomplish miracles or significant changes in your own life, consider this: If God can supernaturally beget the Son of God in a virgin and give an old woman Elizabeth, past her time of conceiving a child, God can fix the barrenness in your life too. If you feel unproductive or barren, ask the Holy Spirit to come upon you in new ways and to open new doors where least expected. He will give you a breakthrough! “For nothing is impossible with God!”

Links

Consider hosting a weekly one-hour Cup of Joy small group study that accompanies one of the podcast series, especially this one:  A Joy-filled Advent: Journey with the People, Events, and Prayers.

Read more on hosting a CUP of JOY Women or Gathering small groups.  For information, please email karen@wrapyourselfinjoy.com

You can download a Bookmark of prayer points from A Joy-filled Advent Podcast #1 at my website: WRAPYourselfinJOY.com.

Check out more podcasts here!

Click here to find the book: The Joy of Advent: Journey with the People, Events and Prayers at the First Coming of Jesus Christ.

God Hears & God Answers; Don’t Give Up Hope – A JOY-Filled Advent #1

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.

God Hear & God Answers

Are you waiting for an answer to prayer, or are you about to give up hope?  Join us today as Zechariah, Elizabeth, and Gabriel teach us this lesson: Don’t give up hope – God hears & God answers prayer.

The celebration of ADVENT often surprises me because it comes so quickly. How about you? It was just fall, then Thanksgiving, and then within a week, it’s Advent. So let’s prepare our thinking—our mind and heart with plenty of time to find the JOY of Advent this year. We will cover these points today;

The Meaning of Advent

  • Advent comes from the Latin word “adventus, ” meaning “coming.”
  • The Advent season helps us focus on the present coming of Jesus in our lives and on increasing our desire for His presence every day.

The People, Prayers, and Events

  • This podcast will help you discover the people, prayers, and events so important to Jesus’ first coming.
  • You will meet Zechariah, Elizabeth, the Blessed Virgin Mary, Joseph, John the Baptist, the Angels, the Shepherds, Simeon, Anna, and the Magi.
  • It’s as if we will travel with them and partake in the most meaningful events in their lives.

The First of Two Annunciations

  • For 430 years prior to the birth of Jesus Christ, God had stopped speaking to His people because they had stopped listening to His prophets. Fast forward 430 years and we will drop in on the “first annunciation.” The term “annunciation” in Latin means announcement.
  • When God began speaking again, He sent announcements through His most important heavenly messenger – the Archangel Gabriel.
  • In Luke 1, we read that the first announcement came to Zechariah. He and his wife Elizabeth served God, trusted him for everything, while they waited and prayed for children, which overtime seemed more impossible (Luke 1: 5-7).

Gabriel, The Might of God and No Puny Angel

  •  Gabriel may sound harsh to you, but he has a gentle side too.  We have to consider the circumstances: the GREAT Archangel Gabriel had been sent by God to  O
  • Poor Zechariah—the Archangel Gabriel just couldn’t take his unbelief so with one look he muted Zechariah for the next nine months.
  • Gabriel is no puny angel –  “Gabriel” in New Testament Greek means “the Might of God.”

Personal Reflection

  • After listening to the podcast, please reflect on the powerful message of Zechariah, Elizabeth, and us in the first part of Luke 1: God hears. God answers.  Don’t give up on God.
  • Have you ever prayed for something so long that you gave up? Have you ever received more than you expected – just as you were about to give up?
  • St. Jerome wrote about Zechariah: “Your prayer is heard…that is to say you are given more than you asked for. You prayed for the salvation of the people and you have been given the Precursor” [John the Baptist] (Souvay, 1910, The Catholic Encyclopedia – Zacharias).
  • While Zechariah was praying and waiting and giving up on prayer all those years, he did not know that God was preparing Joseph and Mary and so, he had to wait just a little longer.

Application and Prayer Points

Consider these prayer points because Jesus wants to share His joy while you wait for His answers:

(a) Ask Jesus for a  new and fresh prayer encounter with Him. Ask for new joy and to experience His presence while you look for everyday miracles.

(b) Take Time. Make a point to take some quiet time every day to listen to the Lord, read LUKE 1, and stay connected to the joy of the Lord

(c) Converse. Share with Jesus what you are waiting for. Then keep an open attitude to receive heavenly surprises JOY. (For example, you could pray: Jesus, I have given up on… Please give me new insight. Show me the little places where I see your hand at work.)

(d) Start an ADVENT PRAYER Journal. Why not record your prayer and conversation with Jesus this Advent?  You may be surprised at the transformation to JOY you receive and will want to record during Advent.

(e) Thank God. Let the Lord know that you trust your life and circumstances to Him.

Links

You can download a Bookmark of prayer points from the Advent JOY Podcast #1 at my website: WRAPYourselfinJOY.com.

Check out more podcasts here!

Click here to find the book: The Joy of Advent: Journey with the People, Events and Prayers at the First Coming of Jesus Christ.

Wrapped in JOY and Armored in Prayer – Joyful & Battle Ready #8

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.
Wrapped in JOY & Armored in Prayer

Pray at Every Opportunity (Ephesians 6:18)

Wrapped in JOY and Armored in Prayer

Is there a way to stay wrapped in Joy and Armored in God? This final podcast of the Joyful and Battle-Ready series focuses on the key to living in  JOY and being protected with armor. So join the podcast today and discover how prayer secures your JOY and activates your armor.  Join us today as we cover these points:

True and Lasting JOY

  • As the Scriptures point out, prayer is the key to staying wrapped in joy and armored.
  • Psalm 16 reminds us that God offers the fullness of JOY in his presence.
  • In John 15 11, Jesus says, Abide in my love…  I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.
  • To abide in God’s love means we are always in communication with him in prayer.

Prayer and JOY

  • Essential points covered in the last eight weeks include: 1) receiving JOY from God the Father, Jesus our Savior, and the Holy Spirit our fruit bearer of JOY, 2) asking God to increase your capacity to receive His Joy and Love, 3) Praising and thanking God-two of the five forms of prayer associated with JOY, 4) Using the Prayer and Holy Imagery to defeat Joy Busters, 6) Rejoicing to stop worry, 7) Reading and Praying scripture leads to deep spiritual JOY.
  • Prayer is the path to JOY.

Prayer and The Armor of God

  • After the armor message of Ephesians 6: 17, verse 18 says: With all prayer and supplication, pray at every opportunity in the Spirit. To that end, be watchful with all perseverance and supplication for all the holy ones (NABRE). The NRSVCE translation says: Pray at all times…
  • Interestingly, PRAYER isn’t called a piece of armor but is connected to the armor.
  • There was not any punctuation or separation of sentences in the original New Testament Greek manuscripts, so the need to pray at all times connects to the armor.
  • We have found that each piece represents Jesus, whom we come to daily, and, in a sense, we “put on Jesus daily.” So we put the armor on with prayer.

Pray at Every Opportunity in the Spirit

  • Prayer to Christians is like oxygen to life- live and breathe with prayer.
  • Many Christians say, “All we can do is pray.” We should say, “We will pray. God will hear, and He will change everything.”
  • When prayer is the atmosphere we breathe, and we keep breathing it, the Holy Spirit is released to work in unimaginable ways, and supernatural graces and gifts are poured out.
  • Heaven will even surprise us when we stay connected with the King of Kings and His Kingdom in prayer!

Pray at all times, Aware of His Presence

  • The Catholic Church defines prayer as a “vital and personal relationship with the living and true God” (CCC 2558). It is “Christian…insofar as it is communion with Jesus Christ” – ” a covenant relationship between God and man in Christ”(CCC 2565, 2564).”
  • Prayer is a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. In relationship with a living God, we are continually communing with our Savior. God is with us always. He is for us. He is our Helper in all things.
  • Praying at all times means you are constantly connecting with your closest friend.

Praying at every opportunity

  • Praying at every opportunity, as translated in the NABRE, conveys that opportunities arise at various times of every day and evening. We need to pause momentarily and give that event or situation to Jesus.
  • For example, in Nehemiah 6:9, he prayed, “But now, O God, strengthen my hands.”

Confidence in Prayer

  • Praying at every opportunity establishes a deep personal bond between you and your Heavenly Father in everything you do. It is always heart-to-heart with your heart speaking directly to the Heart of Jesus. He hears you.
  • Pope Francis says, “Prayer is more than just a physical, emotional, or intellectual act; it is an inner desire to encounter God with confidence.   God has revealed Himself to us in His Son, Jesus Christ. So, the prayer of a Christian brings us into a relationship with God without any fear or trepidation. One can establish a relationship built on confidence with Him in prayer” (May 5, 2020).

Personal Reflection

  • Remember all that God taught you in Ephesians 6 about standing strong and firm in battle. Read Ephesians 6 often.
  • Visualize yourself putting on each piece of the armor of God—the Belt of Truth, the Breastplate of Righteousness, Shoes ready to Proclaim the Gospel of Peace, the Shield of Faith, the Helmet of Salvation, the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Lord of God, plus, Praying at every opportunity in the Spirit. Act it out in your mind. Try it!

 Cup of JOY Women or Cup of JOY Gathering

Consider hosting a weekly one-hour Cup of Joy small group study that accompanies one of the podcast series, especially the one that starts next week:  A Joy-filled Advent: Journey with the People, Events, and Prayers.

Read more on hosting a CUP of JOY Women’s small group.  For information, please email karen@wrapyourselfinjoy.com

Links

 

 

 

The JOY of Scripture & Wielding the Sword of the Spirit (Joyful & Battle Ready #7)

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.

Did you know that JOY is associated with reading and praying with scripture? The Word of God promises a deep spiritual joy in interacting with God via His Word.  Join the podcast today as we cover the pleasures found in the Word of God and how to use the Word as a Sword of the Spirit to protect your mind and emotions from attacks of the evil one.

Join us today as we cover these points:

Deep Spiritual JOY

  • Happy in Psalm 1 (ASRAI in Hebrew) more closely means—a deep spiritual joy (Ross, A. P. (2011).
  • The BENEFIT is the deep, joyous pleasure and satisfaction that will come when you listen to the Lord in verses of Scripture and interact with Him around the verses.

Four Stages of Prayer

  • In The Armchair Mystic, Rev. Mark Thibodeaux describes four stages of prayer, summarized as: Talking at God, Talking to God. Listening to God speak in Scripture daily and Resting in God’s presence,
  • Stage 4 is the goal.

Joy and Healing

  • Another benefit of reading and praying God’s word: HEALING
  • Basil the Great said: “The Holy Spirit composed the Scriptures so that in them, as in a pharmacy open to all souls, we might each of us be able to find the medicine suited to our own particular illness… (Spidlik, T., & Drake, P. (1993).

 WRAP – Simplified Lectio Divina for Reading and Praying with Scripture

  • WRAP is an acronym for reading, praying, and reflecting on Scripture, and it works best if you journal what you hear (from WRAP Yourself in Scripture, a book by Karen & Larry Dwyer, Institute of Priestly Formation,
  • WRAP aims to foster a personal encounter with Jesus in the Scriptures so that the words come alive and you hear God speak to YOUR HEART.
  • It’s a form of Lectio Divina— which the Catechism of the Catholic Church defines as reading to hear God speak to you and meditating on His Words so that it becomes your prayer (CCC 1177).

WRAP Method

  • W: Write down the verse that inspires you or seems to arise out of the passage.
  • R: Reflect on the principles/ ideas the verse is inspiring in you & record your thoughts. (Mull Over, Mentally Picture, Mutter, & Memorize.)
  • A: Apply the principles. Write down your response to the Scripture & how it applies to your life today.
  • P: Pray and praise. Talk with Jesus about what the verse opened in your heart.

The Sword of the Spirit

  • In Ephesians 6:17, Paul calls the Word the Sword of the Spirit.
  • The Roman soldier carried his sword in his belt (or girdle).
  • The Romans employed two types of swords: the “rpomphaia” (Revelation 1,2), a large, long, and broad sword that took two hands to wield, and the “makchaira” ( Ephesians 6: 17), a short 6” to 18” sharp and piercing dagger for hand-to-hand combat.

A Formidable and Sure Defense

  • Hebrews 4:12 describes the WORD of God as “living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, …able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
  • The Word brings truth where there is falsehood, light where there is darkness, and joy where there is sorrow. Psalm 119: 11, 105
  • Luke 4: 1-13 shows Jesus using the Word of God in defense all three times.
  • We can speak the Scriptures to help us stand firm against temptations, discouragement, fear, or other attack on our faith.

An Offensive Weapon

  • You can hide God’s Word in your heart to help identify and reject sin and strengthen your inner person.
  • When you share the Word with someone—especially a word that deeply moved you—it is a sword that pierces another’s heart.

Personal Reflection: Sword of the Spirit Declarations

  • You can WIELD THE SWORD OF THE SPIRIT with these Declarations from God’s Word:
  1. I will love and read God’s Word daily (Psalm 119: 11, NRSVCE).
  2. The Word of God is “a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119: 105, NRSVCE).
  3. The Word of God is my defensive weapon as Jesus showed in his fight with the evil one (Matthew 4:10-11, NRSVCE).
  4. When I gently share the Word of God with others, I can be confident that God’s Word is “living and active (Hebrews 4:12, NRSVCE).

  Cup of JOY Women

Consider hosting a weekly one-hour cup of Joy women’s small group study accompanying this podcast.  It’s free! The next opportunity if for Advent JOY.

  • For information, please email karen@wrapyourselfinjoy.com

Links

Stop Worry, Return to JOY and Put on the Helmet of Salvation – Joyful & Battle Ready #6

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.
Stop Worry, Return to JOY and Put on the Helmet of Salvation

Stop Worry, Return to JOY and Put on the Helmet of Salvation

Stop Worry, Return to JOY and Put on the Helmet of Salvation (Joyful & Battle Ready #6)

Are you ready to stop the worry and return to JOY?  Worry is the big JOY thief that brings on fretting. In only a few dances with fretting, you will be exhausted. Your JOY will be sidelined. Join us today and discover how to stop the worry, return to JOY, and put on the Helmet of Salvation to protect your thoughts and reasoning about what God has done for you.

Join us today as we cover these points:

Do You Worry?

  • You will find that worry is not only a joybuster but also a joy thief.
  • In Matthew 6: 25 34, Jesus talks directly to us about worry.

Worry Defined

  • The Cambridge Dictionary defines –  to give way to anxiety or uneasiness, to allow one’s mind to continually dwell on difficulties and troubles, to think about problems and become distracted.
  • Even Jesus shows the anxiety and distraction connection.
  • Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things, but there is a need for only one thing (Luke 10 41- 42).

Fretting

  • The Hebrew word we translate as fretting includes firing up rage and kindling anger.
  • The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines a fret as a worry, an annoyance, a discontentment that gnaws at you.
  • Fretting eats away at your peace.
  • Psalm 37 advises, Do NOT fret.

Actions Advised in Philippians 4: 4-7

  • Rejoice means to return to joy. Actively be glad, actively pursue joy.
  • In prayer and supplication, make your requests known to the Lord.
  • For every need you express in prayer, offer a thanksgiving about something related.
  • Receive peace. The peace of God will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

The Helmet of Salvation

  • Ephesians 6:17 says we must “take the helmet of salvation.
  • Pope Francis says the helmet is “not so much that of acknowledging the Resurrection of Jesus — everyone believes in it — but of believing in the resurrection of the dead.”
  • The helmet of a Roman soldier called a galea, was designed to cover the head with thick leather enclosed in beaten metals of iron and bronze, protecting the head from weapons of warfare causing injury.
  • The helmet of salvation shows that Satan’s flaming arrows target our minds and are directed at our faith in Jesus, who paid the price for our salvation with his passion, death, and resurrection.
  • The devil will try to discourage you and destroy your faith.

Personal Reflection: Helmet of Salvation Declarations

  • Take the Helmet of Salvation in defense against the evil one who pushes doubts to divert you from the truth of eternal life in Jesus Christ.
  • Starting today, say the Apostles Creed often.
  • Remind yourself of the Helmet of Salvation Declarations with the truths from Scripture:
  1. Eternal life is in Jesus, and it’s for me (Romans 8: 12).
  2. I will not be anxious about my salvation (Romans 5: 8-9).
  3. I do not need to worry; I can know I have eternal life (1 John 5: 11-13).

  Cup of JOY Women

Consider hosting a weekly one-hour cup of joy women’s small group study that accompanies this podcast, and you can begin anytime.  It’s free!

  • For information, please email karen@wrapyourselfinjoy.com

Links

 

 

 

Defeat Joy Busters & Take Up the Shield of Faith (JOYFUL & Battle Ready #5)

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.

How are you at defeating Joy Busters?  Everyone faces those situations that can steal their JOY. But you can develop a plan to stop their impact on your life. You can become AWARE of the JOY Busters, UNDERSTAND their sources, and TAKE ACTION to stop their influence. Join the podcast today to uncover the actions you can take to defeat JOY Busters and learn how to” take up the shield of faith to quench the flaming arrows” coming at you.

JOY Busters

  • Merriam-Webster defines a buster “as a person or thing that breaks up, overpowers, or eliminates something.”
  • A JOY buster breaks up, overpowers, or steals your joy and includes, for example, interruptions to plans, hurt feelings, discouragements, fear, family quarrels, busyness, complaints, and weariness. Today, we will cover these points:

Joy Busting Responses

  • How do you respond to JOY Busters, called JOYBUSTING?
  • Joybusting happens when our emotions take over, and our responses leave us with more negative feelings and challenging relationships.
  • Joybusting includes, for example, angry outbursts, discouragement, fretting, gossip, negative thoughts, overeating, over partying, over drinking, over shopping, profane talk,  procrastination, promiscuity,  more quarrels, bitterness, and more.

Plan to Reject Troubles of the Heart

  • In Galatians 5: 16-26, St. Paul reminds us that to conquer the JOYbusting, which he calls “works of the flesh,” is to LIVE by the Holy Spirit.
  • Timothy Gallagher says each person needs an action plan to reject troubles of the heart (JOY busters and joy busting): (1) Be aware, (2) Understand, and (3) Take action. (The Discernment of Spirits: An Ignatian Guide for Everyday Living, 2018).

 TIP: Three QUICK Actions to Defeat JOY Busting

  • You can take three simple actions to stop JOY Busting: thanksgiving, imagery, and persistence.

(1) Thanksgiving – immediately turn to Jesus with genuine thanksgiving

(2) Imagination- use holy imagination and picture Jesus with arms outstretched. You give him your joy buster.

(3) Persist – Persist in praising God and remembering the Thanksgiving JOY.

  • Also, consider getting a prayer partner to pray for more JOY for each other and to defeat JOYbusting.

The Shield of Faith

  • Ephesians 6:16. With all of these, take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
  • Pope Francis, when speaking on this verse, tells us how important it is to take the shield of faith: The devil is a liar; he is the father of lies. And as St. Paul says, we must be girded in the truth, armored in justice.Without faith, you cannot go forward; you cannot defend the salvation of Jesus. We need this shield of faith because the devil does not throw flowers at us but “flaming arrows” to kill us (General Audience, October 30, 2014).

The Roman Soldier’s Shield

  • In Roman history, at the time of Paul, a military soldier held a body shield to about 2.5 x 4 feet to protect himself from an enemy who hurled flaming arrows (dipped in pitch and set on fire) called “plumbata.”
  • Often, the soldiers interlocked shields in a “tortoise” formation – they raised their shields together overhead and in front so it looked like a tortoise.

Faith Defined

  • The word for faith used in New Testament Greek is “pistis,” which means to agree with, trust in, and live out what you believe.
  • Translated belief or faith, it appears at least 200 times in the New Testament
  • Hebrews 11: 1 defines faith, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” and then gives examples, including Noah, Abraham, and Moses.

Jesus is Our Shield

  • The Lord God says he is our shield. See Psalm 28:7, Psalm 33:20.
  • Proverbs 30:5. Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.

Take Up Our Shield of Faith

1) Read the Word of God every day and keep the Scriptures in your mind and heart. Romans 10:17.

2) Pray that moment. Hebrews 2:2 says.

3) Turn to a Prayer Partner or prayer group – In Tortoise Formation, you lock shields with others.

Personal Reflection –Shield of Faith Declarations

You can take up a shield of Faith against temptations, fear, and doubt.” Call on the name of Jesus and repeat these truths aloud and often.

  • When the devil sends the flaming arrow of fear, you say Psalm 56:3. O Lord God, when I am afraid, I put my trust in you.” or Isaiah 41: 10. [the Lord says] … I am with you, do not be afraid, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.
  • When the devil sends the flaming arrow of temptation and doubts, you say Romans 8: 33-34. Who will bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? It is Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us. He forgives us.
  • When the devil sends a flaming arrow saying you are getting old or God no longer cares and cannot use you, you say in Isaiah 46:4, The Lord says, even to your old age I am he, even when you turn gray I will carry you. I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and will save. Or Psalm 92: 13-14. The Lord says They are planted in the house of the Lord…In old age, they still produce fruit; they are always green and full of sap…

Finally, thank the Lord daily for your joys and for helping you defeat the JOY Busters.

  Cup of JOY Women

Consider hosting a weekly one-hour Cup of Joy Women’s small group study that accompanies this podcast, and you can begin anytime.  It’s free!

Links

Singing for JOY & Slipping on Gospel Shoes – Joyful & Battle Ready #4

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.
Singing for JOY & Slipping on Gospel Shoes

Singing for JOY & Slipping on Gospel Shoes

Singing for JOY &  Slipping on Gospel Shoes (#4 JOYFUL & Battle Ready)

Are you singing for JOY? Did you know there is a connection between praising God and experiencing more JOY and Peace? Join our podcast today as we cover singing for JOY and slipping on shoes, ready to proclaim the gospel of peace.

JOY and PEACE

When we praise God, we surrender everything to Him and proclaim that He is God, and we are NOT. He has everything in our lives under control, and even when we do not see it, we can trust Him. Even in hardships, we can sing praises to the Lord, and he will comfort us with deep, calming JOY. In addition, we can put on shoes of Gospel peace as part of the armor we wear everywhere we go.  In our  JOYFUL & Battle Ready series, Podcast #4 will cover these points:

The Praise-Joy Connection

  • Are your prayers primarily prayers of petition?
  • The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) #2644 encourages us to use all five forms of prayer: blessing/adoration, petition with contrition, intercession, thanksgiving, and praise.
  • There is a particular link of JOY with praise or thanksgiving prayers.

Enter God’s Courts with Praise

  • Psalm 100:3 says: Enter God’s gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise…
  • Pope Francis tells us to “NOT be formal Christians, prisoners of formality” (January 28, 2020).

A Garment of Praise

  • In Luke 4, Jesus said he was the fulfillment of Isaiah 61: 3- “to provide the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of discouragement.”
  • Jesus can give you a garment of praise, and it comes with the oil of JOY.

Paul and Silas Praise in a Desperate Situation, Miracles Happen

  • In Acts 16, at midnight and in the wretchedness of a Philippian jail, imprisoned Paul and Silas praised God as chains fell off and prison doors were opened.
  • CCC #2639 says, “Praise is the form of prayer…it gives God glory for his own sake, quite beyond what he has done, but simply for who he is.”

A Garment of Praise

  • Praise God with the psalms, instruments, singing, shouting, and clapping hands (Psalm 150, 100).
  • Praise does not have to be complicated. You can tell Jesus you love Him and praise Him …
  • Spend just one minute of praise this week, and it will be life-changing.

The Armor of God – The Battle Shoes

  • Ephesians 6: 15: As shoes for your feet, put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace.
  • Roman soldiers wore shoes to avoid the battlefield’s rocks, sticks, and debris.
  • Shoes were a combination of heavy sandals and boots with soles of layered leather clenched together with metal studs that could grip the ground for traction.

Peace

  • Isaiah 52: 7 says: How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of the messenger who announces peace, who brings good news, who announces salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.”
  • Peace means harmony and tranquility, without inner conflict, even amid chaos and upheaval.
  • In John 16: 33, Jesus said: I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world, you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.

Proclaim

  • In Mark 16:15, [Jesus] said, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.
  • The best way to start sharing your faith is to share your relationship with Jesus, including His answers to your prayers and your thanksgiving.

St. Pope John Paul II

  • Pope John Paul II in Catechesis in Our Time (1979) said the faithful must proclaim the Gospel message. The Gospel kerygma: – “ the initial ardent proclamation by which a person is brought to the decision to entrust himself to Jesus Christ by faith — is gradually deepened, developed,”  and “channeled towards Christian practice in the Church and the world” (CT 25).
  • Remind your friend how much God loves her and wants her to experience His love and presence.
  • Invite her to entrust her life to Jesus, to give Him their baggage and shame, and to ask for forgiveness.
  • You can prepare yourself with a few words of Scripture about God’s love and how Jesus is the sacrifice for all sin. Invite the person to trust Jesus now.
  • Then, of course, invite your friends to church and keep helping them along the Christian journey.

Personal Reflection – Shoes of Peace Declarations

  • These Shoes of Peace Declarations from Scripture can help you stand firm in peace so that you are “ready to proclaim the gospel of peace.”
  • When the devil tries to make you afraid to proclaim, you can proclaim: The Prince of Peace lives in me. (John 14:23). I have his peace. I will not let my heart be troubled or afraid. I will stand firm in Jesus, my Lord, and my strength, my God in whom I trust.  Repeat John 14:27.
  • When the devil whispers, you are NOT ready to proclaim the Gospel. You say: In Jesus, I am prepared and willing to share the Gospel with anyone. It is what Jesus calls me to do. I am not ashamed to talk about Jesus and my faith with family, friends, or others. Repeat Romans 1: 16.  I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes…”
  • Finally, remember to praise and thank the Lord -just one minute of praising the Name of Jesus every day can be life-changing and joy-filling. You can find a free bookmark on my website to help you with ways to praise the Lord.

 Cup of JOY Women

Consider hosting a weekly one-hour Cup of Joy Women’s small group study that accompanies this podcast, and you can begin anytime.  It’s free!

  • Pray about accepting this opportunity to engage others and gently evangelize a small group of friends over coffee or tea.
  • For information, email me or go to Cup of Joy Women.

Links

Heaven Rejoices & We Put on the Breastplate of Righteousness (JOYFUL & Battle Ready #3)

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.
Heaven Rejoices & We Put on the Breastplate of Righteousness

Heaven Rejoices & the Breastplate of Righteousness

Heaven Rejoices and We Put on Righteousness

Did you know you serve a joy-filled God who rejoices over you?  Join us today as we cover the rejoicing of heaven and the songs God sings over you. You will discover how to put on the Breastplate of Righteousness to protect your heart, keep the JOY, and stand firm against the devil’s lies of your unworthiness.

Heavenly JOY

Last week, we defined true and lasting joy, and with that in mind, we prayed with the More JOY Prayer Guide. We pursue JOY,  invite JOY, and pray for more JOY! This week, we start with Heaven’s JOY. Today, we cover these points:

The JOY of the Lord

  • “The joy of the Lord is my strength” is the source of our strength (Nehemiah 8:10).
  • God and all of heaven are joyful and want to share it with us.
  • Some think God is a grump; if we follow him, we are destined for a life lacking any fun. That is NOT the truth.

Heavenly JOY

  • The Scriptures call our attention to God’s joyful creation (e.g., Psalm 61: 12-13).
  • The Lord takes pleasure in you and even sings over you (e.g., Zephaniah 3: 17).
  • God is a celebrating God (e.g., Luke 15: 20-24).
  • The angels rejoice when one sinner repents (e.g., Luke 15: 8-10)

Put on the Breastplate of Righteousness Over Your Heart

  • We put on the “breastplate of righteousness ” to protect our hearts (Ephesians 6: 14).
  • In spiritual language, the heart “refers to our inner orientation, the core of our being,” including our “thoughts, feelings, and desires.” (Fr. John Horn, S.J., Heart Speaks to Heart, IPF Publications).
  • Jesus is concerned for your heart (Matthew 15:19).
  • So is the devil, so you must guard your heart (Proverbs 4:23).

What is Righteousness?

  • The Catholic Dictionary of the Bible defines righteousness as “communion in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ through which we begin a new life in the spirit –a life in which we live in Christ and Christ lives in us”( p. 743).
  • Righteousness can be summarized as the Right Relationship and Right Living (e.g., 2 Corinthians 5:15).

Jesus Christ, the Righteous One

  • The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains Righteousness: “Justification has been merited for us by the Passion of Christ. It was granted us through Baptism. It conforms us to the righteousness of God, who justifies us. …It is the most excellent work of God’s mercy” (CCC, 2020).
  •  The Scriptures tell us we do not have to produce righteousness on our own; we can look to “Jesus Christ” (Romans 5: 17).

Personal Reflection: Breastplate of Righteousness Declarations

  • Lies: The devil will whisper lies to attack your thoughts, feelings, and desires, especially saying you are unworthy.
  1. You cannot expect God to keep loving you and helping you.
  2. You should be discouraged and fearful. You do not deserve His help.
  3. You can never be holy; it’s too difficult to follow God and be righteous.
  • Truths: When faced with spiritual warfare, put on the breastplate of righteousness. In the mighty power of Jesus Christ, speak these Breastplate Declarations (inserting your own name in the verse).
  1. In Jesus, I am the righteousness of God. (Repeat 2 Corinthians 5: 21).
  2. I live in Jesus Christ. I am forgiven and free. I refuse to feel discouraged, downcast, or fearful. (Repeat Galatians 2: 20).
  3. I will follow the ways of the Lord because they will bring JOY, not hardship. (Repeat Psalm 19: 9 and 14 aloud.)

 Cup of JOY Women

Consider hosting a weekly one-hour Cup of Joy Women’s small group study that accompanies this podcast, and you can begin anytime.  It’s free!

  • Pray about accepting this opportunity to engage others and gently evangelize a small group of friends over coffee or tea.
  • For information, email me or go to Cup of Joy Women.

Links

 

Drenched with JOY & Armored in Truth (JOYFUL & Battle Ready #2)

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.
Drenched with JOY & Armored in Truth

Drenched with JOY

Would you like to be drenched in JOY and armored in truth?  Are you willing to put on the armor of God to stand firm to keep the joy, to stand strong against fear, and to put on the armor of God to protect yourself from lies?  Join us today as we cover how to define JOY, receive more joy, and put on the belt of truth.

Heavenly JOY

Last week, we learned that Jesus has complete JOY for you, God the Father has JOY and pleasures for you, and the Holy Spirit produces JOY in your life. So, how do we get more of this JOY?

Today, we cover these points:

A Niagara Falls of God’s Love & JOY

  • Many times, we come to our Heavenly Father—who is a Niagara Falls of Love, and we hold out only a teaspoon to catch it.
  • We must increase our capacity to receive more great love and joy.

Defining JOY

  • After searching many definitions of Joy and primarily based on the teachings of our last three popes, we find a definition of true JOY.
  • We cover the quote from my book, Wrap Yourself in JOY.
  • The definition involves mind, soul, body, and spirit and its Trinitarian.

 

The More JOY Prayer Guide

  • We ask God to increase our capacity for JOY.
  • We receive His Love and Joy daily.
  • We thank Jesus for the JOY Rays.
  • We praise Him with Scripture.

It’s Warfare

  • Ephesians 6 was written when Roman soldiers and guards surrounded Paul in prison.
  • The Holy Spirit likely inspired him as he observed the Roman soldier’s armor.

The Belt of Truth

  • The BELT for a soldier served as a girdle to support his core or loins and stabilize his weapons.
  • Pilate answered Jesus, “What is truth?”
  • In John 14:6, Jesus defined truth: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
  • Run to Jesus, our truth. Let him lead you.

Put on Truth

  • The devil’s favorite lies are targeted at your JOY, happiness, and identity as a Christian.
  • Do not give into deception, diversion, discouragement, or division.
  • In John 17: 17, Jesus prayed, “Consecrate them in the truth. Your [God’s]word is truth.”
  • Fill your mind with the truths of God and His word. Don’t let a day go by without reading Scripture, even for just 5 minutes.

Personal Reflection: Biblical Belt of Truth Declarations

Girdle UP!! Make Jesus your Core.  Do not give into deception, diversion, discouragement, or division. Declare and remind yourself of these truths:

1.     For Deception (Identity), the Truth: I am the daughter [or son] of God. God knows me and loves me. Romans 8:15.“

2.     For Diversion (God doesn’t hear my prayers), the Truth:  My prayers are powerful and effective, and nothing can separate me from the love of God. He listens, and He is answering.  James 5: 16.

3.     For Discouragement (You are fearful- God can’t meet your needs), the Truth: The Lord has not given me a spirit of fear but one of power, love, and a sound mind.  With the help of the Holy Spirit, I can understand His Word and reserve time to pray and read Scripture daily. 2 Timothy 1:7.

 Cup of JOY Women

Consider hosting a weekly one-hour Cup of Joy Women’s small group study for seven weeks.  It accompanies this podcast, and you can begin anytime.  It’s free!

  • Pray about accepting this opportunity to engage others and gently evangelize by hosting a small group of friends over coffee or tea.
  • For information, email me or go to Cup of Joy Women.

Links

 

Embrace the JOY and Stand FIRM! JOYFUL & Battle Ready #1

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.

Do you find it difficult to embrace JOY and at the same time stand firm in life’s battles? You are not alone. Daily, we all face challenges and fears. Join us today as we discuss embracing true JOY, standing firm, and being strong in the Lord when facing fears and struggles.

Happiness and Joy are Not the Same

About 45% of 12,000 people surveyed say they have not felt true happiness since before the pandemic. Around 25% surveyed say they don’t know, or have forgotten, what it means to feel truly happy (Oracle).  The natural question is this: Are JOY and happiness the same thing? We will find that happiness depends on external circumstances, while true joy is “a gift that fills us from within” and “is to be searched for and shared continuously (Pope Francis. May 10, 2013).   Today, we cover these points:

You Are Made for JOY

  • If you allow God to give you His JOY, it will change your life.
  • It can even change the atmosphere around you!
  • Three Scriptures help you get started in your search for more JOY: John 15: 9-11, Psalm 16: 9-11, and Galatians 5: 22-23. JOY and LOVE are fruits of the HOLY Spirit, the result of the presence of the Holy Spirit living within YOU.
  • Jesus died for your sins and mine. When he arose from the dead, as promised (e.g., John 14: 15-26; John 16: 7), God sent the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit wants to produce deep, lasting JOY in your life.

JOY and Love From the Trinity Declarations

  • Jesus, my Savior. You love me like the Heavenly Father loves You, and You want to give me your JOY—complete JOY. Thank YOU, Jesus, I embrace it. (John 15: 9-11)
  • Heavenly Father. You LOVE me and offer me gladness and fullness of JOY in Your presence.  Thank YOU, Father, I receive it. (Psalm 16: 9-11)
  • Holy Spirit. You love me and produce the fruit of JOY in & through me. Thank YOU, Holy Spirit, fill me afresh today. (Galatians 5: 22-25)

It’s a Battle!

  • Now, we move to Ephesians 6: 10-14, where we are told by St. Paul we must be prepared for battle.
  • Therefore, when Paul wrote Ephesians 6, he was imprisoned “in chains” (v. 20) and knew hardships, challenges, and struggles.
  • Paul tells us to be strong in the Lord and stand firm.

Stand Firm, Stand Strong

  • To stand is a military term meaning “to hold a position” and “to resist an impending attack” (Collins).
  • To stand firm as Christians means we are prepared to resist an attack, and we look to our commander, Jesus Christ.
  • “To be strong in the Lord means to rely on God’s strength, God’s power, and God’s courage.

Wiles

  • Paul calls the attacks we face the devil’s wiles (cunning strategies and ensnarement).
  • In the book The Devil You Don’t Know, Fr. Louis Cameli says there are many common wiles of the devil with which you will struggle, including Deception, Division, Diversion, and Discouragement.
  • The Catechism of the Catholic Church (409) clearly speaks: This dramatic situation of “the whole world is in the power of the evil one” [1 John 5: 19] makes man’s life a battle.

Recognizing Spiritual Warfare

  • Recognize if you are in spiritual warfare and facing some arrows or wiles.
  • You may be facing what the Bible calls the devil, tempter, murderer, accuser, liar, stumbling block, and adversary.

Personal Reflection – The Rs to Stand Firm and Stand Strong

  • You can “strengthen yourself in the Lord” and not depend on your own strength to fight against the wiles, using the “3 R’s” to combat the devil in any of your struggles:
  1. REMEMBER and Receive God’s Love and JOY. Daily, declare the JOY and Love from the Trinity declarations.
  2. RESIST the devil, his wiles, and temptations. Don’t let the accuser win. Participate in the sacrament of reconciliation and go forward.
  3. RENEW your mind with Scripture. God’s Word will give you strength to stand firm and resist the wiles and lies. See Romans 12:2.
  • Finally, be strong in the Lord (Ephesians 6: 10). Weakness is no excuse to lay down and be spiritually slaughtered. The Lord wants to be your strength in weakness. Call upon the Name of Jesus. Try to memorize and declare every day this week: Ephesians 6: 10-14. Put your name in the words so you pray with Scripture.

 Cup of JOY Women

Consider hosting a weekly one-hour Cup of Joy Women’s small group study for seven weeks.  It accompanies this podcast, and you can begin anytime.  It’s free!

  • Pray about accepting this opportunity to engage others and gently evangelize by hosting a small group of friends over coffee or tea.
  • For information, email me or go to Cup of Joy Women.

Links

NEHEMIAH & Rebuilding HOPE  #11 – Nehemiah Recaps, “The Joy of the Lord is Your Strength.”

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.
Nehemiah Finale & Recap: “The Joy of the Lord is Your Strength.”

Nehemiah Finale & Recap, “The Joy of the Lord is Your Strength”

Consider Nehemiah. Do you need more HOPE and JOY in your life? Nehemiah recaps: The JOY of the Lord is Your Strength.” God is waiting for you to come to Him.  Join us today for the finale of Nehemiah where you will be reminded the Joy of the Lord is Your strength.

Moving Day, Dedication & Praises

In our last podcast, covering Nehemiah Chapters 10 – 12, we joined moving day as many Israelites moved back to Jerusalem. Then they signed a Curse and Oath agreement, promising to support the temple, honor the Sabbath Day, uphold a religious marriage, and serve God in everything. After the priests purified the people, the gates, and the walls, they implored God’s presence at the dedication ceremony. Nehemiah appointed two praise processions on the walls. They praised and worshipped with thanksgiving, singing, rejoicing, and trumpeting so loud that all in neighboring towns heard them!

Twelve Years Later

Things change.  After serving as Governor of Jerusalem for 12 years, from 444 to 432 BC, Nehemiah returned to Babylon to serve King Artaxerxes. Sometime later, he “returned to Jerusalem.”  What a shock!  Nehemiah found the people had fallen away from their commitment to God and covenant promises. Today, we cover these points in Nehemiah 13 and the finale of the Book of Nehemiah:

The Falling Away (Nehemiah 13: 6-9, 15, 22, 30)

  • What caused the people to fall away so quickly? They were not reminded daily of God and His ways.
  • When the high priest fell away from God, so did the people.
  • The Bible warns often about forgetting God (see Deuteronomy 8: 13-16)

Nehemiah Addressed Breaking God’s Commands (Nehemiah 13: 1-5, 22-30)

  • The Israelites gave their children in marriage to pagans who did not use the sacred Hebrew language.
  • They stopped obeying the commandments of keeping the Sabbath Day holy and paying tithe.
  • The high priest Eliashib allowed Tobiah to move into the temple storeroom, where the offerings were kept.

Remembrance

  • Remembrance was a theme throughout the book of Nehemiah: The people forgot God again and again, but Nehemiah kept calling them to remember God, his faithfulness, and his promises.
  • Nehemiah prayed: Remember me, O my God, concerning this, and do not wipe out my good deeds that I have done for the house of my God and for his service (a common prayer, from Psalm 106: 4-5.)

The Finale

  • It is sorrowful to know that after all the building and recommitment, the people fell away from God.
  • It is good to remember Romans 15:4: For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, so that by endurance and by the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. God is faithful and we all must return to him again and again. He offers us His strength, His JOY and His hope.

Nehemiah and Hope

  • The Book of Nehemiah has reassured us that prayer changes everything, that every obstacle can be overcome, and that every false accusation can lead to persistence, more prayer, and joyous victory.
  • Declare with Nehemiah: God is with us!  God is for us! God is at work! God has a plan that changes everything!
  • With confidence, we can exclaim: The JOY of the LORD is my strength! (Nehemiah 8: 14).

Personal Reflection on the Book of Nehemiah

Let’s close with some reflection on the principles you can apply from the book of Nehemiah.

(1) Call on your LOVING GOD in the MESSY SITUATIONS (Chapter 1).

(2) SUPPLICATE (Chapter 1).  You can use Nehemiah’s ACTS Model: 1) Adore God 2) Confess sins, 3) Thank God, and 4) Supplicate.

(3) Pray for FAVOR & depend on God to open doors. (Chapters 2-3).

(4) Become a Perfumer; All Vocations are Needed (Chapter 3).  Become a perfumer and help build. Bring the sweetness of God’s spirit and a sweet aroma of prayer to every stinky situation.

(5) Face Opposition & Stand FIRM Against Insults (Chapters 4,  7). Nehemiah showed a 3-pronged approach to defeating opposition: 1) pray, 2) declare the truth instead of believing lies and 3) work together with others.

(6) When angered, step back first (Chapter 5) & Face Slander (Chapter 6): Pray, Speak the Truth, and Persevere. eep the sword of the spirit- the Word of God in one hand and your work tool or skill in the other.

(7) Declare the Joy of the Lord is My Strength (Chapter 8).

(8) Create a personal Prayer BOOTH! in your home (Chapter 8). Your corner of a room is like a spiritual booth where the Israelites celebrated the Feast of Booths to offer praise, and thanksgiving and read His Word.

(9) Remember God Will Never Forsake You (Chapters 9 & 13). After experiencing God’s great faithfulness, the people fell away into sin into the rebellion-revival cycle.

(10) Become a “Praiser” and Read God’s Word (Chapters 10-12). Nehemiah called the people to worship, to praise and to offer thanksgiving to God.

Personal Prayer Response

So, what will you do NEXT? How can you start building now? Nehemiah models personal intercession with the ACTS model.

  • Adore God and praise His greatness and faithfulness.
  • Confess your sins and those of your nation and families with a contrite spirit.
  • Thank God for His blessings and promises.
  • Supplicate or pray with a passionate heart for what you need and for others. Incorporate Scripture, when possible.

Remember: The JOY of the LORD is YOUR Strength!

Cup of JOY Women

  • Why not invite a few friends for coffee or tea every week for just one hour to discuss a one-page study guide accompanying every podcast in each series?
  • It’s called a Cup of Joy Women’s group and is a fantastic way to gently evangelize and encourage others. I will provide all the free resources and even Zoom meetings for facilitators.
  • In September, I start my fifth series called JOYFUL and Battle-ready. It’s a perfect time to form a Cup of JOY women’s group for the 8-week series.
  • For more information, go to my website com, and click under Cup of Joy Women on the menu, or email me: Karen@WrapYourselfinJoy.com

Links

NEHEMIAH & Rebuilding HOPE #10 – Do You Need an Uplift? Nehemiah Calls All Praisers!

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.
Do You Need an Uplift? Nehemiah Calls All Praisers! Adding praise and thanksgiving to your prayer can increase your faith, lift your spirit, help you recall God’s goodness, encourage you in hard tasks, and add much more joy to your life.

Nehemiah Calls Praisers & JOY Fills Their Hearts

Do you need an uplift? Becoming a praiser could change your life. Adding praise and thanksgiving to your prayer can increase your faith, lift your spirit, help you recall God’s goodness, encourage you in hard tasks, and add much more joy to your life. Join us today as Nehemiah calls all praisers and demonstrates the impact of praise.

Rebellion-revival Cycle

In our last podcast, we joined the Israelites as Ezra read God’s Word aloud and they realized how disobedient they had been to God and his commandments, falling into a rebellion-revival cycle: (1) Rebellion against God and His law; (2) Warnings from the prophets and teachers, but to no avail, (3) Repentance from sinfulness and calling out to God; and (4) Intervention when God rescues them from the enemy oppressors. Today, in Nehemiah Chapters 10 -12, we follow the people as they sign a new covenant with God rededicating their lives and the walls and gates to Him. Today we cover these points:

An Oath to Follow God (Nehemiah 10: 29-35)

  • The curse and oath agreement meant “they could expect a blessing for obedience, or a correction from God if they did not follow through on obeying His Law.
  • They signed a public agreement promising to pay their tithes to support the temple, to honor the Sabbath by not buying or selling, and to uphold a religious marriage, not uniting with those who worship other gods or idols.

Moving into Jerusalem (Nehemiah 11: 3-35)

  • Nehemiah shares a long list of the people and the vocations of those who moved into Jerusalem, including leaders, warriors, Levites, temple gatekeepers, overseers, and singers.
  • Repopulating Jerusalem was essential because it would mean the more who lived there, the safer the city would be.
  • There was a special stipend for the singers who sang praises daily and led worship in the temple.

Dedication Joy (Nehemiah 12)

  • Chapter 12 opens with more names – but this time the names are those of priests and Levites who returned with Zerubbabel.
  • Nehemiah is recalling the history and heroes in public record who sacrificed much in returning to Jerusalem.
  • He wanted all to remember these good men as part of their heritage.
  • Nehemiah lists the Levites who were heads of households plus the singers who led praise and thanksgiving with cymbals, harps, and lyres.

Purification JOY (Nehemiah 12: 27-30)

  • It was time to dedicate the walls once they moved into Jerusalem and returned to worship and obey God’s laws.
  • They would seek God’s presence and blessings.
  • The Levites purified themselves, the people, and the walls. See Psalm 24: 3-6

Praising JOY (Nehemiah 12: 30-43)

  • Next, the praisers joined the dedication ceremony.
  • He sent one company of praisers in one direction singing and giving thanks (v. 35). They included the leaders and the young priests playing trumpets while others played and praised with all kinds of musical instruments.
  • Then the other company made up of Nehemiah and half of the people processed in the opposite direction on the walls singing, giving thanks, and playing trumpets too. Finally, they all met at the house of God and sang their hearts out to him. “They offered great sacrifices that day and rejoiced, for God had made them rejoice with great joy; the women and children also rejoiced. The joy of Jerusalem was heard far away” (v. 43).

Offering JOY

  • The last activity of the dedication ceremony involved joyfully offering tithe to God – to support the temple, the priests, and those who led worship.
  • All of Israel gave the daily portions and tithe for the singers, the gatekeepers, and the Levites. The Levites even paid tithe to the priests.

Personal Reflection – Become a Praiser

  1. Have you considered becoming a praiser? So how can you add more praise and thanksgiving to God in your life?
    1. Become a singer of praises to God. Even if you can’t carry a tune, sing with online or CD worship music. Join others in singing praises. As you sing the words from your heart, they become your prayer.
    2. Read Psalms of Praise. You can start with Psalms 145, 146, or 150 traditionally known as praise psalms.
    3. Begin all prayer with thanksgiving and words of praise. Psalm 100:4 tells us to “Enter God’s gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise.  Give thanks to him, bless his name.” So the way to come into God’s presence, the king of the Universe and the Savior of the World is to come with thanksgiving and praise. For example, you can say, I praise you, Jesus or  I love you, Lord. Bookmarks for praise are available on my website.

One final point to remember is this.

  1. Don’t forget the power of praise to defeat enemies and negative situations (e.g., see Nehemiah 2 and 3). Remember  2 Chronicles 20:21 when King Jehoshaphat followed the Lord’s counsel and appointed singers to sing to the Lord and praise him in holy splendor. They lead the army into battle. As they began to sing and praise, the Lord set an ambush against the …enemies.., who had come against Judah, so they were routed. .. they all helped destroy one another. The Lord won a fabulous victory as the enemies were defeated and the army never even used their swords.  If you are discouraged, or fearful and have pressing needs, consider praising God often. God will fight battles for you and lift you up when you turn your attention to him.

Cup of JOY Women

  • Why not invite a few friends for coffee or tea every week for just one hour to discuss the one-page study guide accompanying this podcast or others in my last few series?
  • You would be forming a Cup of Joy Women’s group, and it’s a great way to gently evangelize and encourage others. I will provide you with all the free resources. In September, I will be starting my fifth series called JOYFUL and Battle-ready--It’s a perfect time to form a cup of JOY women’s group with that 8-week series.
  • For more information, go to my website WRAPYOURSELFINJOY.com, and click under Cup of Joy Women on the menu or email me: Karen@WrapYourselfinJoy.com

Links

 

NEHEMIAH & Rebuilding HOPE #9 – Nehemiah Says, God Will Never Forsake You!

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.
National Confession & Nehemiah Says, God Will Never Forsake You!

National Confession & Nehemiah Says, God Will Never Forsake You!

Consider Nehemiah Chapter 9. Do you feel forsaken by God ever? Always remember this: God is ready to forgive. He is gracious, merciful, slow to anger, and abounds in steadfast love.  Join us today as Nehemiah says, God will never forsake you.

Celebrating God’s Goodness

In our last podcast, we joined the Israelites on Rosh Hashanah and the Feast of Trumpets. Many had stopped celebrating the feast days and gave up their faith because of the brokenness of their homeland, families, and lives. In Nehemiah 8, when Ezra read the Word of God aloud, the people wept loudly, mourning for their sins. Nehemiah and Ezra told them: “This day is holy to the Lord your God; do not mourn or weep.” “The joy of the Lord is your strength.” Next, they celebrated the Feast of Booths when each family spent seven days in a   booth remembering God’s goodness, reading the Word of God, praying, praising, and thanking Him to commemorate how God had delivered them from Egypt by parting the Red Sea, and cared for them in the desert for 40 years where they lived in simple huts.  In Chapter 9, two days after the weeklong celebration of the Feast of Booths, the people are together again for a day of national confession. Today, we cover these points:

National Confession (Nehemiah 9: 1-3)

  • The people gather for 6 hours – three hours reading the words of the Torah and 3 hours confessing sin.
  • They were reminded of how far they had fallen from God and His commandments.
  • As Hebrews 4: 12 tells us, the Word of God had pierced their hearts and revealed their sins.

Remembering God’s Care and Praising Him (Nehemiah 9: 5-26)

  • Ezra called them to worship God and recall the ways that God cared for them since Abraham.
  • God gave them the Ten Commandments.
  • For 40 years in the wilderness, God cared for them so they lacked nothing; their clothes did not wear out, and their feet did not swell.

Fasting, Dressed in Sackcloth, Dirt on their Heads (Nehemiah 9: 3, 26- 38)

  • The people stood in fasting – an act of penance to show remorse in skin-tearing sackcloth with dirt on their heads –all painful acts showing deep sorrow for their sins before God.
  • They cried out for ” stiffening their necks “and “not obeying the commandments.”

The Four-Stage Rebellion-Revival Cycle

  • After experiencing God’s great faithfulness of God, they fell away again and again.
  • The Rebellion, Warnings, Repentance, and Intervention cycle could be called the rebellion-revival cycle.
  • But before long the Cycle repeated, and the Israelites became “slaves to this day.”

God Did Not Forsake Them (Nehemiah 9: 17)

Verse 17 seems to be a turning point in the chapter: “But you are a God ready to forgive, gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and you did not forsake them. God will forgive us when we confess the sins of our generations and commit to changing directions.

Personal Reflection on Nehemiah 9

  • How will you respond to these verses of Scripture?
    • Confess your sins. Nehemiah shows us where to begin when you want to be renewed in your spiritual life: Remember what God has done, confess your sin and the areas where you have fallen away, and praise and worship our glorious God again.
    • Make a Change. True repentance and sorrow for your sins mean you want to change direction. Nehemiah 9:38 says the people made a firm agreement in writing to promise to change direction. What change in direction are you willing to make at this time?
    • Read Scripture. All the chapters in the Book of Nehemiah remind us how essential it is to hear, read, and take the Word of God to heart. How will you find more time to read and pray Scripture? If you do, it will revive your spiritual life and the lives of those around you. Start today with just 5 minutes of scripture and form a prayer from your heart to God that responds to what you read.

Cup of JOY Women

  • Consider hosting a weekly one-hour Cup of Joy Women’s small group study. It accompanies this podcast and you can begin anytime.
  • Pray about accepting this opportunity to engage others and gently evangelize by hosting a small group of friends over coffee or tea. It’s free, and I will help you get started. Go to Cup of Joy Women or email me at Karen@WRAPYourselfinJOY.com for information.

Links

 

NEHEMIAH & Rebuilding HOPE #8 – Need Joy in Your Life? Nehemiah Points to a Prayer Booth!

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.

Nehemiah and Ezra tell the people: "The Joy of the Lord is Your Strength."Consider Nehemiah Chapter 8. Do you need more JOY in your life? Are you seeking a revival in your faith? Nehemiah will show you the way. Join us today as we cover creating a spiritual “prayer booth” for rejoicing, reading Scripture, recalling what God has done for us, and receiving new JOY.

Wall Completed

  • Nehemiah and the Israelites completed the walls and gates in 52 days (Nehemiah 6).
  • Now Nehemiah begins restoring his beloved people’s faith (Nehemiah 7 & 8).

Fortification and Worship (Nehemiah 7: 1-5)

  • Nehemiah assigned gatekeepers to keep the city free from enemies so the people could worship without threats.
  • He appointed singers to praise the Lord day and night and to lead worship. It nurtured a close relationship with God.
  • He appointed the Levites to watch over all things holy.

Historic Memory

  • God put it into Nehemiah’s heart to register every person.
  • Historic memory is crucial to the survival of any nation or culture.
  • Nehemiah had to remind the people of their heritage and that God was with them as the returning remnant.

The Gathering – New Year’s Day (Nehemiah 8: 1)

  • It’s October 444 B.C., New Year’s Day, called Rosh Hashanah on the Hebrew Civil calendar.
  • The Feast of Trumpets on the Hebrew religious calendar calls for the people to prepare for the holy days to come (Leviticus 23: 23-24).

Hunger for God’s Word and Joy (Nehemiah 8: 2-8)

  • The people gathered to hear Ezra read from the Torah (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy).
  • The people stood up the entire time from morning to midday, starved and thirsty for the Word of God.
  • It takes only a few fallen-away generations to leave the next ones destitute and ignorant about God.
  • Ezra blessed the Lord. All the people responded, “Amen, Amen.” Thus, they (1) thanked God with their “Amen”, (2) praised God by lifting up their hands, and 3) bowed down in adoration and submission to God.

Weeping & JOY (Nehemiah 8: 9-12)

  • It took hearing and understanding God’s Word to begin the healing of broken hearts and dreams.
  • The Word of God revealed their sin, they were grieved, and they confessed their sins before God.
  • Nehemiah and Ezra told the people: “Don’t be grieved, for the JOY of the LORD is your strength”(v. 10).

The Feast of  Booths – 444 BC (Nehemiah 8: 13-18)

  • The Feast of Booths, also called the Feast of Tabernacles (or Sukkot) was celebrated for seven days.
  • God called the Israelites to recall how they wandered the desert and lived in booths or huts while God provided for them.
  • The Feast of Booths commemorates God’s provision and guidance, and the Israelites must live in booths to celebrate it.
  • They read the Word of God, rejoiced, offered thanksgiving, and worshipped God with their families in huts/booths.
  • God’s Word led them to repent; God’s Word changed everything, and they were filled with much joy.

Personal Reflection – The Feast of Booths Application

  • How will you respond to these verses of Scripture? You Could
    • Prayer Booth. Set up a Holy Place (call it a booth or secret place) in your home where you can pray, praise, read Scripture, and write in your prayer journal. Your booth is your secret place – it’s like a spiritual booth/or hut/where the people celebrate the Feast of Booths. It’s a place to put yourself in God’s presence in your home. You offer praise thanksgiving and worship.
    • Listen. Take time daily to read Scripture and allow God to speak to you. You can ask the Holy Spirit to set the Words afire in your heart and help you understand as you read. Try to record a few sentences in your journal of how the Lord speaks to you.
    • Receive the JOY of the Lord. “For the Joy of the Lord is your strength.” Ask Jesus for JOY as you read His word. (See John 15: 11 & Psalm 1.)

Cup of JOY Women

  • Consider hosting a weekly one-hour Cup of Joy Women’s small group study. It accompanies this podcast and you can begin anytime or choose another of my podcast series (e.g. Finding More JOY).
  • Pray about accepting this opportunity to engage others and gently evangelize by hosting a small group of friends over coffee or tea. It’s free and I will help you get started. For information, contact me, or go to Cup of Joy Women.

Links

 

Nehemiah – Rebuilding Hope #7 – Facing Slander? Nehemiah Responds, Pray, Speak the Truth & Persevere

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.
Nehemiah - Rebuilding Hope #7 - Facing Slander? Nehemiah Responds, Pray, Speak the Truth & Persevere!

Nehemiah reads slanderous letters from Sanballet

Pray, Speak the Truth & Persevere Always

Look to Nehemiah. Are you facing slander?  Have mistruths been spoken about you? You can overcome the discouragement and discern the lies, deception, and diversion around you! Nehemiah will show you how. Join the podcast today as he shows us to always pray, speak the truth, and persevere. Today we cover the following points:

The Outcry of the People

  • In Nehemiah 5, the immoral and unlawful practices of the Jewish nobles and officials brought many families to poverty.
  • After he stood back in anger, Nehemiah demanded that nobles and officials follow God’s laws, or as a consequence, they would lose their possessions in God’s justice. The Jewish officials made an oath to do this and responded, “Amen,” and “praised the Lord.”

Three Attacks from the Opposition

  • In Nehemiah 6, the enemies from surrounding countries become fearful about losing authority and moneymaking practices.
  • They conspired to stop the building with a 1) Fake Meeting, 2) Slander Campaign, and 3) False Prophecy.

Diversion – The Fake Meeting Scheme (Nehemiah 6: 1-4)

  • They invited Nehemiah to a “fake meeting” in the hills of Ono, a day’s journey away (near Tel Aviv today).
  • It sounded like a neutral place, but he discerned it was a scheme to do him harm.

Division- Lies & The Smear Campaign (Nehemiah 6: 5-9)

  • In an unsealed letter, Sanballat accused Nehemiah of a treasonous plot to revolt and overthrow the king.
  • Sanballat knew that others would read the lies and slander would be spread everywhere.
  • The scheme had worked twenty years prior when the King of Persia shut down the rebuilding (Ezra 4).
  • Nehemiah declared the truth to confront the lies and prayed: But now, O God, strengthen my hands.”

Deception –False Prophecy Trap (Nehemiah 6: 10-14)

  • Tobiah and Sanballat hired Shemaiah, likely a priest and prophet, to mislead Nehemiah.
  • He prophesied that he should seek refuge in the temple and make an offering.
  • Shemaiah tried to use tales of terror and “religious speak, saying the enemies planned to kill Nehemiah.
  • Nehemiah knew entering the temple would be a sin that the enemies would use to discredit him.

The  Completed Wall

  • God blessed Nehemiah, answered his prayers, and helped the Israelites complete the wall in only 52 days.
  • This was a great victory for the people because of opposition from the same enemies over twenty years.

Personal Reflection

  • Today, Nehemiah reminds us how to respond to life’s assaults: Pray, Declare the Truth, and Persevere.
  1. When you are facing discouragement, especially from diversion, division, or deception, pray like Nehemiah, Lord, strengthen my hands! and thus, ask God to help you discern the truth and persevere.
  2. Declare the truth. Don’t be distracted by rumors or slanderous accusations. This is the devil’s way of making you compromise with evil. Instead, speak the truth in love. Declare the Scriptures. For example:
    • Romans 8:15: For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, “Abba! Father!”  Declare: I am a daughter of God!
    • Timothy 1:7: [F]or God did not give us a spirit of fear, but rather a spirit of power and of love and a sound mind. Declare: I don’t have a spirit of fear, but one of power, love, and a sound mind.
  3. Commit your work to the Lord and stay focused.

Cup of JOY Women

  • Consider hosting a weekly one-hour Cup of Joy Women’s small group study on It accompanies this podcast and you can begin anytime or choose any podcast series (e.g. Finding More JOY).
  • Pray about accepting this fantastic opportunity to engage others and gently evangelize by hosting a small group of friends over coffee or tea. It’s free and I will help you get started. For information, contact me, go to Cup of Joy Women.

Links

 

Nehemiah – Rebuilding Hope #6 – Angry? Nehemiah Says Step Back First!

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.

Angered While Rebuilding? Nehemiah Says Step Back First!

Consider Nehemiah. Do you get angry easily?  Do you get riled up? Nehemiah shows us to step back before acting. It never works to respond with emotions. In Chapter 5, during their rebuilding, the people face opposition from within their ranks. It seems that if the opposition doesn’t hit us from without, it comes from within. Join the podcast today as Nehemiah reminds us to step back, then stand up and keep focus when facing opposition. Today we cover the following points:

Fight for Your Families

  • In Nehemiah Chapter 4, the people were making progress when more persecution made them fearful.
  • Nehemiah prayed and encouraged the people saying: “Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome and fight for your kin, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes” (Nehemiah 4: 14).

Outcry and Poverty (Nehemiah 5: 1-5)

  • Many were in poverty: inflation had become rampant and taxes were unbearable.
  • In order to pay the taxes, the families borrowed money from others using their own children as collateral.
  • If loans could not be repaid, their children, and even the wives and men, would be sold as slaves..

Step Back & Take Time to Think (Nehemiah 5: 6-7)

  • Nehemiah was very angry with the nobles and officials who took advantage of their kin.
  • Leviticus 25: 35-38 and Deuteronomy 23: 20 instruct them not to charge interest if they lend to the poor.
  • Nehemiah did not show his angst. He stepped back and collected his thoughts.
  • He gives us the first step in resolving conflict from within – step back.

The Symbolism of the Oath & Gesture (Nehemiah 5: 6-13)

  • Nehemiah confronted the nobles who were enslaving their own brethren and children.
  • He implored the officials to 1) repent of their sins and respect the Lord by following His Law, 2) stop charging interest, and 3) restore everything they took.
  • Using the Word of God (Torah at the time) and a conciliatory manner, he spoke the truth.
  • In one dramatic prophetic act symbolizing the solemnity of their oath, Nehemiah shook out the fold of his garment … In this, he emphasized that judgment would come to those who did not keep their oath before God. The assembly confirmed it with a passionate “Amen.” They “praised the Lord … and did as they had promised.

The Governor

  • Nehemiah kept his focus on building the wall.
  • He used his money earned as a cupbearer to support Jerusalem’s poor and suffering people. He worked more for God’s approval.
  • Nehemiah prayed: Remember for my good, O my God, all that I have done for this people.
  • He was asking God for continued grace in the work and most importantly, for the Lord to remember him when it comes to eternal life and rewards. We can pray with the same words.
  • The Lord promises He will remember you. Hebrews 6: 10—11 says this: God is not unfair. He will not forget the work you did or the love you showed for him in the help you gave and are still giving to other Christians. (Good News).

Personal Reflection

  • Please reflect on the principles that Nehemiah models and we can apply:
  1. Step back. Do not be led by anger. Collect your thoughts. It never works to respond with emotions. Ephesians 4: 26. Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger.
  2. Stand up. In love, confront Christians with the Word of God when they are sinning against Him. Forgive always. 1 Timothy 5: 20 reminds us:  As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest also may stand in fear.
  3. Focus. Keep your focus on what God has called you to do. Keep building, pray always, and never give up. (Luke 18: 1 Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to teach them that they should always pray and never become discouraged [give])
  4. Remember the poor. Do not take advantage of the less fortunate. Instead, help them. Psalm 15: 5, Do not lend money at interest, and do not take a bribe against the innocent.
  5. Pray with Scripture. Remember me O my God, all that I have done for your people. In this prayer, we also remind ourselves that our rewards are eternal when we choose to follow Jesus and as His disciple, we build up others in Christ.

Cup of JOY Women

  • Consider hosting a weekly one-hour Cup of Joy Women’s small group study on It accompanies this podcast and you can begin anytime or choose any podcast series (e.g. Finding More JOY).
  • Pray about accepting this fantastic opportunity to engage others and gently evangelize by hosting a small group of friends over coffee or tea. I will even join you via Zoom.
  • For information or to contact me, go to Cup of Joy Women.

Links

Nehemiah & Rebuilding Hope #5 – Facing Opposition? Nehemiah Shows the Best Approach for Success!

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.
Nehemiah 4 | Facing Opposition? Nehemiah 4 Shows the Best Approach for Success! #podcast #christianpodcast #catholicpodcast #nehemiah4

Work with the Sword of God in one hand and a trowel in the other.

Nehemiah 4 Shows the Best Approach for Success!

Have you looked at Nehemiah 4? Do you ever face opposition in the midst of a daunting task? How do you respond to insults or ridicule? In Nehemiah Chapter 4, the people face criticism, ridicule, name-calling, and insults as they try to repair the burned-down walls and broken gates. Opposition happens to all of us. Join the podcast today as Nehemiah shows us the best approach for success to overcome opposition and discouragement.

Family by Family, Brick by Brick,

In our last episode, family-by-family and household-by-household and brick-by-brick the people started to repair the walls and rebuild the gates. The builders worked side-by-side, beyond their own giftedness or vocations to do God’s work and repair the walls and gates of their holy city. Of course, their enemies came to stop the progress.  They face criticism, ridicule, name-calling, and a constant barrage of insults. This can happen to any of us. Today we cover these points as Nehemiah shows us the best approach to overcome opposition:

Anger Turns to Criticism (Nehemiah 4: 1-6)

  • Sanballat and Tobiah mocked the people: “Will they sacrifice” or “finish in a day?” (They are asking, will they call upon their God or how could their God help build anything in a short time?)
  • Criticism and ridicule only added to the discouragement. This sounds just like the devil, doesn’t it?
  • The people were doing God’s work and they did not need the troubling criticism. See John 14: 27.

Nehemiah Responds to Insults with Prayer (Nehemiah 4: 1-6)

  • Nehemiah did not return their insults with insults.
  • He responded with a prayer, likely aloud, as he went into the midst of opposition.
  • Based on Jeremiah 18:23,  Nehemiah prayed aloud- they will face God and what they say will come back on them.

A Guard of Protection (Nehemiah 4: 7-9)

  • The people responded to the opponent’s increased anger with prayer.
  • Then, they set up a guard of protection around the clock to keep the enemy’s efforts from succeeding.

 Nehemiah’s Three-Pronged Approach (Nehemiah 4: 9-20)

  • Nehemiah models how to face the opposition: (1) Pray first, (2) Declare God’s truth, (3) Work heartily.
  • Together with a sword in one hand and a tool in the other hand, they continued to build.

Join Together and Keep Working (Nehemiah 4: 21-23)

  • For Christians, we must join together by praying together, declaring God’s truth to each other, and working together.
  • God can use cracked, worn-out, old tools when we commit our work to Him.

Personal Reflection

Ask God where the broken gates are in your life—spiritual or otherwise. and what weapons you can use to rebuild the brokenness. You can follow Nehemiah’s model in overcoming the opposition.  1) pray, 2) declare the truth of God’s word instead of believing the lies and 3) work together with a sword of the spirit, the Word of God, in one hand and your work in the other hand. Use your prayer journal to record your action response:

  1. For example, pray Nehemiah 4: 14. Simply insert your name for the “I” and “my.” AND Insert the names of your friends and family members in the places of kin, sons, daughters, etc.
  2. For example, declare “God will fight for my family members, my community, my friends and my country.” Speak aloud with the truth of God’s Word (e.g., Romans 8:31. and Isaiah 41:10).
  3. Work together with other Christians. Ask a friend to pray for your needs and for MORE JOY, and you pray the same for them. Use the ACTS acronym to intercede for the needs. *End your prayer time by sitting in silence and receiving God’s love and joy for you.

Cup of JOY Women

Consider hosting a weekly one-hour Cup of Joy Women’s small group study on Nehemiah. It accompanies this podcast and you can begin anytime or choose another podcast (e.g. Finding More JOY).

  • Pray about accepting this wonderful opportunity to engage others and gently evangelize by hosting a small group of friends over coffee or tea.
  • For information or to contact me, go to Cup of Joy Women.

Links

Nehemiah – Rebuilding Hope #4 – Perfumers Needed! Nehemiah Calls for Your Help!

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.
Nehemiah Rebuilding Hope ~ Perfume-makers needed- Nehemiah calls for your help! This is a podcast of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network and talks about Nehemiah Rebuilding Hope. podcast, christian podcast network, catholic podcast network, Nehemiah

Become a Perfume-maker

Nehemiah Calls Perfumers

Nehemiah calls the Perfumers. All teams need workers from all walks of life with a heartfelt desire to build—even beyond their known skills.  Most importantly, the “perfume makers” provide sweet-smelling assistance, even though their hands are soft and they are not seasoned builders.  Join us today as Nehemiah reveals team-making skills and appoints the perfumers.

Let Us Start Building

In our last podcast, we joined Nehemiah as he secretly inspected Jerusalem at night time. He saw the many ruins but was inspired that God was leading the rebuilding. Although the ruins had accumulated over many years, he inspired the people, and they replied, Let us start building! Today we cover the following points:

Nehemiah Rebuilding Hope ~ Broken Places

  • We all have broken places in the lives of our families, our communities, and our nation.
  • These areas of shame or ruin, physical or spiritual, need rebuilding so Nehemiah will encourage us.
  • In ancient cities, like Jerusalem, the gates were essential to the existence of a people. Gates were entrances to the city and provided military protection. The walls represented strength and defense.

The Gates

  • Outside the gates were stalls like farmer’s markets, where traders sold goods of all kinds.
  • Inside the gates, the leaders met and held court for those seeking justice.
  • If the walls or gates were broken, the loss of protection, commerce, justice, and meeting spaces would be devastating.

Meet the Workers (Nehemiah 3: 1 -8)

  • The high priest Elisheba with his fellow priests rebuilt the Sheep Gate. They started the example for repair plus they consecrated the doors and an entire area to God.
  • The men of Jericho came a long way to build and were included with everyone living nearby.
  • The Tekoites made repairs, but their nobles with status and pride refused. Keep building!!
  • The perfumers [perfume-makers] made repairs but had no building skill; they likely brought some sweet-smelling perfume. Making life smell good is an important skill too. Sweetness or perfume in attitude, speech, and effort is an essential contribution in itself.

More Workers (Nehemiah 3: 12-32)

  • Hallohesh, the ruler of half the district of Jerusalem, made repairs with his daughters offering an example of involving the family in rebuilding.
  • Anaiah and others made repairs beside their homes as they wanted their neighborhoods to be safe.
  • Merchants rebuilt the walls and gates, likely taking days off from their own work to build the community.
  • Nehemiah Chapter 3 lists those who answered the call to rebuild the brokenness. One by one they tackled all the gates in the city, repairing doors and adding bolts and bars.

Teamwork: Everyone’s Effort Needed  ~ Nehemiah Rebuilding Hope

  • Teamwork was essential.  The builders worked for the glory of God—for the place of worship, for the people of God and not for pay.
  • Hebrews 6: 10-11.  For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love you have demonstrated for his name by having served and continuing to serve the holy ones- his people. We earnestly desire each of you to demonstrate the same eagerness for the fulfillment of hope until the end, NABRE

Gates

  • Nehemiah mentions the names of each of the gates that were repaired.
  • There is symbolism for Christians in the Sheep Gate, Fish Gate, Dung Gate, Fountain Gate, and most other gates too. (See bookmark on my website for more meaning of the gates and symbolism.)

Personal Reflection

You can reflect on the principles that apply to your life. In prayer, using your prayer journal, consider these questions:

  1. Where do you have burned gates or broken walls in your life (or family or nation) that need restoration?
  2. For example, burned gates are open portals of darkness into our lives. They can include addictions, uncontrolled imaginations, extreme fears, emotional hurts, lack of forgiveness, unholy media, pornography, unrestrained tongue, or other sinful habits. God wants to heal you and help you rebuild gates or walls that need rebuilding. Ask Him.
  3. Where does God want to strengthen you and give you joy? Ask Jesus to help you change hopelessness, discouragement, or procrastination attitudes into hopefulness and joy.
  4. Become a perfume maker! If you feel you lack giftings, become a perfumer and set your mind to building anyway. Bring the sweetness of God’s spirit and a sweet attitude of prayer to every stinky situation. 2 Corinthians 2: 14-15: God uses us to make the knowledge about Christ spread everywhere like a sweet fragrance. For we are like a sweet-smelling incense offered by Christ to God, which spreads among those who are being saved and those who are being lost…

 Cup of JOY Women

Consider hosting a weekly one-hour Cup of Joy Women’s small group study on Nehemiah.  It accompanies this podcast and you can begin anytime.  It’s free!

  • Pray about accepting this opportunity to engage others and gently evangelize by hosting a small group of friends over coffee or tea.
  • For information or to contact me, go to Cup of Joy Women.

Links

Nehemiah & Rebuilding Hope #3 – Need Favor? Let Nehemiah Encourage You!

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.
Nehemiah Inspects the Rubble in Jerusalem at night

At Night, Nehemiah Inspects the Rubble in Jerusalem, James J. Tissot (1896-1903)

Need Favor?

If you need favor, let Nehemiah encourage you.  When you pray for favor, you are asking God to give a powerful person sympathy or judgment supportive of your needs or for help to turn a bad situation around. After Nehemiah prayed, God gave him favor with the king, and the king gave him everything he asked for.  Join us today to discover how to trust God more and ask for favor when approaching challenges.

From Susa to Jerusalem

It’s about two to five months after Nehemiah left the king’s presence, due to the time it took him to make the 500-mile journey from Susa to Jerusalem. King Artaxerxes of Persia granted his request to return to Judah and rebuild his city. Nehemiah said, [T]he king granted me what I asked, for the gracious hand of my God was upon me [also translated as “the favor of my God was upon me.” Today we cover these points:

Governors Displeased (Nehemiah 2: 8-16)

  • The land surrounding Judah was controlled by enemies of the Jewish people.
  • Sanballat the Horonite was governor of the province of Samaria and a native of Horonaim, a city of Moab.
  • Tobiah the Ammonite was the governor of the province of Ammon in Transjordan. Both were positions under Persian rule.

God Gave Him Favor (Nehemiah 1: 11, 2: 12)

  • God put the desire in Nehemiah’s heart to rebuild Jerusalem (Nehemiah 2: 12).
  • God gave him wisdom and discernment as he went into the midst of opposition.
  • He prayed: Give success to your servant today and grant him mercy in the sight of this man! (Nehemiah 1:11). This man was the KING, and God gave him mercy and favor with the king.
  • Psalm 84: 11-12 encourages us to pray for favor: For the Lord God is a sun and shield; he bestows favor and honor. No good thing does the Lord withhold from those who walk uprightly. 

Encouragement (Nehemiah 2: 17-20)

  • Nehemiah first had to encourage his discouraged people and inspire them to rebuild.
  • The joy was infectious, and the people said, “Let us start building!” So they committed themselves to the common good.
  • Sharing what God had done in his own life motivates others to trust Him too. Calling others to come alongside you in partnership inspires them to work together and do God’s work.
  • The people had lost their identity as a people of God. We must remember our identity as children of God.

Obstacles & Opposition (Nehemiah 2: 17-20)

  • Sanballat, Tobiah, and later Geshem opposed a restored Jewish province, for it threatened their trade and authority.
  • The enemies confronted the people with lies, but Nehemiah refused to answer the lies. He stood his ground.
  • We too must stand our ground. We must seek the Lord first, pray, and do his work. God is with us. Romans 8: 31 says: If God is for us, who is against us?

Personal Reflection

Be inspired to ask God for these requests that Nehemiah has demonstrated. Write the answers in your prayer journal.

  1. Ask God to put His desires into your heart as he did for Nehemiah.
  2. Ask God for favor this week for a needed solution to your needs. God gave Nehemiah favor with the king and the king gave him more than he could imagine.
  3. Ask God whom you can inspire with hope and joy this week. Nehemiah shared his testimony of how God was with Him, helped Him, and called him and his people to this work.
  4. Use the ACTS acronym to aid in the elements for personal intercessions as Nehemiah displays.

Cup of JOY Women

Consider hosting a weekly one-hour Cup of Joy Women’s small group study on Nehemiah.  It accompanies this podcast and you can begin anytime.

  • Pray about accepting this wonderful opportunity to engage others and evangelize by hosting a small group of friends over coffee or tea.You can choose from among my four podcasts (The Joy Series, Advent JOY, Esther & Turn-around JOY or Nehemiah: Rebuilding Hope and JOY).
  • For information or to contact me, go to Cup of Joy Women.

Links

NEHEMIAH & Rebuilding HOPE #2 – Procrastinate or Supplicate? Nehemiah Teaches Intercession!

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.
Nehemiah - Rebuilding Hope & JOY: Procrastinate or Supplicate? Nehemiah Demonstrates Intercession!

Nehemiah Demonstrates Intercession (St. Takla.Org)

Procrastinate or Supplicate?

Do you procrastinate or supplicate when you face a broken situation or difficult task? To procrastinate means you put off doing something often because you don’t know where to begin. Do you feel stymied because something beloved to you seems shattered and you don’t know what to do or where to begin? Join us today as Nehemiah shows us how to supplicate to our God for restoration and new hope.

Intercessory Prayer

Nehemiah teaches about interceding for a people and a nation. Nehemiah demonstrates powerful intercession. The prayer of Nehemiah starts the process of bringing great solutions to great difficulties and a broken nation. Today, we cover the following points.

Five Forms of Prayer

  • There are at least FIVE forms of prayer. “The Holy Spirit is the one who teaches the Church and recalls to her all that Jesus instructs in the life of prayer, inspiring new expressions of the same basic 5 forms of prayer:” 1) blessing, 2) petition, 3) intercession, 4) thanksgiving, and 5) praise” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, #2644).
  • Intercession is simply “asking on behalf of another—it knows no boundaries and even extends to our enemies” (CCC #2647).
  • Nehemiah’s prayer in Chapter 1 is foremost intercession, but it also brings in the other 4 forms of prayer.

The Themes of Intercessory Prayer

  • The four themes of Nehemiah’s prayer teach supplication.
  • The themes model personal intercessory and fit the ACTS acronym.

The ACTS Guide for Intercession (Nehemiah 1: 5-11)

  • A = Adoration. Nehemiah praises and adores God first (v. 5). Praise God’s greatness. Begin prayer with adoration. (Psalm 100: 4: Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise!)
  •  C = Confession. Nehemiah deeply loves and is devoted to God, yet he confesses his sins. He confesses his nation’s and his family’s sins as if they were his own (v. 7).
  • T = Thanksgiving. Nehemiah prays with gratitude for God’s mercy and promises (v. 8-9). (Philippians 4: 6: Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.)
  •  S = Supplication. Nehemiah asks God for his needs and for the needs of his nation and family (v. 11). In the process, he is changed.

Nehemiah’s Supplication to God is Answered (Nehemiah 2: 1-8)

  • Nehemiah’s four months of prayer, fasting, and waiting on God paved the way for God to make a way.
  • No procrastination. By grace via intercession, Nehemiah courageously made requests to the king.
  • The king was sympathetic because the King of Kings had opened his heart. King Artaxerxes gave Nehemiah favor, granted his request to rebuild the brokenness, and even gave him supplies and assistance.

Personal Reflection

Consider the following aids for increasing personal intercession.

  1. Keep a prayer journal (e.g., a small, inexpensive notebook with lined paper).
  2. Prepare to intercede: WRITE concerns, LISTEN to God’s desires, and include SCRIPTURE.
  3. Use the ACTS guide with your prayer journal to record your personal intercession and answers.

Cup of JOY Women

  • Consider hosting a weekly one-hour Cup of Joy Women small group study. It accompanies this podcast and you can begin anytime. Contact me for free materials and help to get started.
  • Pray about accepting this wonderful opportunity to engage others and share your faith by hosting a small group of friends over coffee or tea. For information, go to Cup of Joy Women.

Links

Nehemiah & Rebuilding Hope #1 – Messy Situations? Studying Nehemiah can help!

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.

Messy Situations?

Do you have messy situations in your life? The Book Nehemiah will remind you of God’s presence and power to transform brokenness and disappointment. You can overcome the fear and discouragement. Join our podcast today and allow Nehemiah to teach you to walk with God in new hope and joy.

Inspires Our Faith Today

I hope you were able to listen to my last podcast series – Esther and Turnaround JOY. If you enjoyed the book of Esther, I know you are going to love Nehemiah.  The Book of Nehemiah speaks to our faith today, even though it was written almost 2500 years ago. It will inspire you and your family in times of discouragement, trouble or worry in the face of life’s difficulties.  Nehemiah reminds us all how God’s presence and power are with us and can transform lives. Today we cover the following points.

History

  • The Book of Nehemiah is considered a historical book in Scripture meaning it is part of recorded history. It details the third return of God’s people from the Babylonian captivity, that occurred around 605 BC.
  • In 478 BC, during the reign of King Ahasuerus, Esther, and Mordecai, through God’s providential hand, helped save the nation of Israel from annihilation. The Book of Nehemiah follows the time after Esther.

 Meet Nehemiah (Nehemiah 1: 1-3, 11)

  • Nehemiah lives and works in Suza, the winter home of the Persian kings. He was the cupbearer, who tasted every drop of wine and morsel before the king could consume it. We might call him a professional wine taster and food connoisseur in our culture. However, this position is much more. If the cupbearer dropped dead or would not eat in fear of poisoning by the king’s enemies, the king would know not to eat it either!

Talk to God First (Nehemiah 1: 4-6)

  • Our lesson here is that Nehemiah talked to God. The first thing he did in great emotional pain over the destruction back home was to turn to God. He took his emotional pain and heartbreak to God in prayer. He did not immediately try to fix the problems.
  • Nehemiah knew only GOD could bring solutions to such devastation so he worshipped the creator, the great and awesome One, the Holy One, and the loving faithful One. Nehemiah knew the situation was the result of the nation’s sin – it was not God’s fault.
  • In verse 5, Nehemiah gives us this example: Adore and Worship God before you intercede for a problem. Jesus taught us the same. When the disciples asked him to teach them to pray, he said, to pray like this, Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be the NAME.

Four Names for Praising God

  •  “O LORD (v. 5) is the first name.” In the Hebrew, the word is “Yahweh.” Yahweh is the divine personal name that God gave in love for the people of Israel to use. Yahweh is the Lord God, the self-existent one who is always present. You can say:  O Lord you are with ME. O God, You love me and never leave ME.
  • “O Lord of Heaven (v. 5).” In Hebrew, of Heaven is “Elohim” which refers to God, the creator of the heavens and earth and the judge of the universe. He reigns throughout all eternity and is unlimited in strength and time. You can say: O Lord of Heaven, the Mighty One, you are MY Creator.
  • Great and awesome God (v. 5).” In Hebrew, the word translated great is “Hadol” which refers to the magnitude and importance of God. Psalm 48:1 uses this word in praise: Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised.  The word ” Hael ” translates as ” awesome” in Hebrew, meaning awesome and holy reverence expressed to God, whose deeds are Magnificent.  You can say: God is MY great and awesome God.
  • God who keeps covenant and steadfast love (v. 5). In Hebrew, the word used is “Chesedh” and it means the God who guards His covenant relationship by keeping His promises of steadfast love and unchanging devotion to His people.  “Chesedh” is used in Psalm 40: 11: Your steadfast love and faithfulness keep me safe forever! You can say the Lord God keeps ME safe forever. He is MY loving, devoted God. (Note: Hebrew words are from Zodhiates Word Study Dictionary, 1992, #3069, #430, #410, #2617).

Personal Reflection

  1. Which of the names for God that Nehemiah uses would you like to use more in your prayer?
  2. How will you spend a few minutes adoring God with these praises?

Cup of JOY Women

       If you would like to host a weekly one-hour “Cup of Joy Women” study on Nehemiah with your friends that accompanies this podcast, email me: WRAPYourselfinJOY7@gmail.com.  I will send free materials and get you started.

Links

 

Esther & Turnaround JOY #10 – Celebrating God’s Goodness & Purim

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.

Are you looking for encouragement and JOY? Esther will help you celebrate. <yoastmark class=

Are you looking for encouragement and JOY?  Esther will help you celebrate God’s goodness. When you recall and celebrate what God has done,  your faith is strengthened, you are inspired to trust Him more, and you are encouraged with hope. For Esther and all Jewish families, the annual Feast of Purim celebration helps them recall that God delivered them and will continue to deliver them. Join our podcast today to joyously celebrate God’s goodness and faithfulness as we review the many turnarounds in the Book of Esther.

Reversals Continue

Approximately two months and ten days after the first decree was issued, Mordecai wrote the second edict, which empowered the Jewish people to defend themselves against their enemies. The turnarounds were astounding! Today, we share at least 15 reversals and cover these points:

No Plundering (Esther 9: 1-17)

  • To plunder means to steal goods during a war for your profit.
  • The Jew people remembered the violation of God’s commands in their heritage (1 Samuel 15) and acted in holy retribution for self-defense but took no plunder for their profit.

 The Feast of Purim Established Forever (Esther 9: 18 – 10: 3)

  • Mordecai and Esther declare two days of celebration in an official decree to be remembered forever.
  • Purim means “lots” or dice which is what Haman used to pick the date for the annihilation.
  • The Book of Esther (also called the Megillah) is read twice during the Feast (the date in March is based on the Hebrew calendar). Children “boo and hiss” and throw popcorn when they hear Haman’s name.
  • Today, families bring gifts to the poor, give gifts to each other, and eat fruit-filled triangular cookies called Hamantashens [haa·muhn·taa·shn] or Haman’s Ears. They are delicious! You can pick up a recipe card on my website WRAPYourselfinJOY.com or in my book.

Banquets and Feasts in Esther

  • The Book of Esther shows us joy; Esther begins with a banquet and ends with a feast.
  • Four pairs of feasts celebrate the turnarounds and triumphs of God.

The Dream, Memory, and Plot (Esther 10 – 16).

  • Esther 10 -16 or deuterocanonical additions A – F suggest Mordecai remembers a Dream. It foretold God’s deliverance relating to the main events in Esther plus the chapters add a few details to the occurrences.

The Hero of the Book of Esther is GOD

  • God used the beautiful Esther, caused the sleeplessness of the king, brought down Haman, exalted Mordecai, and gave the Jewish people victory over their enemies.
  • God showed tremendous power on behalf of his people. Almost like fireworks, the reversals came quickly and spectacularly, fifteen in all.

Remembering God’s Goodness

  • The Feast of Purim, still celebrated yearly in the Jewish tradition, helps Jewish families remember God has delivered them and will continue to deliver them.
  • Psalm 77 calls us all to remember God’s goodness.

Personal Reflection

  1. Do you set aside time to remember, joyously celebrate and thank God for what He has done for you?
  2. Do you call upon God for creative solutions or turnarounds when problems arise?
  3. Are you encouraging others that God intervenes in history when his people seek him with prayer, repentance, and fasting?

New Podcast Series

Join my podcast this summer, Nehemiah-Rebuiding HOPE.  If you would like to host a weekly one-hour “Cup of Joy Women” study on Nehemiah with your friends, go to:  https://wrapyourselfinjoy.com/ or email me: WRAPYourselfinJOY7@gmail.com.  I will send free materials to help you get started.

Links

JOY Series #9 –Stop the Worry & Grab the Plunger

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.

Do you have a plunger handy? “What does a plunger have to do with finding the joy and stopping the worry?” A lot! We all need plungers for messy situations - for the sudden, unexpected events, joy busters or "stuff" that can ruin our day, take our time or energy, and steal our JOY. Today you will be reminded of all the JOY maintenance tools that we have covered in our Find the JOY podcast Series. You can stop the worry and grab the plunger. #podcast

Do you have your JOY plunger handy? We all need plungers for messy situations that can ruin our day, take our time or energy, and steal our JOY. Join us today and grab a summary of JOY maintenance tools from our Find the JOY Podcast series that can help maintain true JOY. You can stop the worry and grab the plunger.

Grab the Plunger

Do you have a  plunger handy? “What does a plunger have to do with finding the joy and stopping the worry?” A lot! We all need plungers for messy situations – for the sudden, unexpected events, joy busters or “stuff” that can ruin our day, take our time or energy, and steal our JOY.  Today you will be reminded of all the JOY maintenance tools that we have covered in our Find the JOY podcast Series. Plus you will hear about the next Podcast series: Advent JOY. It’s never too early to start an Advent JOY Journey.

Tool #1 -Declarations of God’s Love for YOU

Look to the Love of the Trinity. Tool #1 -Declarations. Biblical JOY is rooted in the love of the Trinity-Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Everyday remind yourself of these truths: God LOVES ME and offers ME fullness of JOY. Jesus loves me offers me His complete JOY. The Holy Spirit loves me & produces in your life.  I am invited into their LOVE ( John 15, Psalm 16, and Galatians 5).

Tool #2 – The 5-Minute More JOY Prayer Guide

God  is a Niagara Falls of Love. To Receive more Love and JOY from God, follow the prayer guide with the thee four prompts: Ask, Receive JOY, Thank and Read Scripture.

Tool #3 – Four Biblical Affirmations

True JOY is based in the Trinity and involves Body, Mind, Soul and Spirit. The JOY Affirmations are based on the definition of JOY and can be repeated everyday: (1) God LOVES me (John 15: 9-11);( 2) God is NEAR to me; He is with me always (Psalm 139: 1-6, Matthew 28: 20); (3) God is my HELP; He is FOR me (Isaiah 41: 10, 13); and (4) The Holy Spirit PRODUCES JOY in ME; I will exude God’s JOY (Galatians 5: 22-23).

Tool #4 -The WRAP Method for JOY

WRAP Yourself in JOY & Scripture every day. Read and pray Scripture with the WRAP template for hearing God can conversing with Him: W=write down the words that arise out of a Bible reading; R=reflect on and enter into conversation with the Jesus over the words; A=apply what God is speaking in the message, and P =praise and pray to receive the grace needed to respond. Finally, REST and RECEIVE God’s JOY, Love & peace.

Tool #5 – Praise God with His Attributes from Scripture

JOY and Praising God are connected. You can use praises such as these: O Lord, You are Awesome (Deut. 10:17), Jesus, You are Forgiving (Ps. 103: 1-2), God, You are Beautiful (Ps. 24: 5) Lord God, You are Merciful (Ps. 103: 4-5), God, You are Mighty God (Ps. 89: 8) or use Praise Bursts – I love You Jesus, I praise You Jesus, etc. See the free bookmarks for many suggestions for praising Gon on the WRAPYourselfinJOY.com website.

Tool #6 -The Plan and TIP

Stop Joy Busters with a Plan and a TIP. Follow these steps: 1) Be Aware- Notice when your heart is troubled and your joy is diminished; 2) Understand the source of the joy buster/ JOYbusting; and 3) Take Action to reject joybusting instead of spiraling down into a pit of negativity (Rev. Timothy M. Gallagher, The Discernment of Spirits: An Ignatian Guide for Everyday Living . Use TIP: (1) THANK. Recall something for which you are grateful and thank Jesus for it.  (2) IMAGINE. Picture Jesus with arms outstretched, you give Him your JOY Buster and you receive His peace instead.(3) PERSIST. Persist in remembering the JOY or loving emotions of your thanksgiving to reset your brain neurons to JOY.

Tool #7 – BEGIN AGAIN

Start over if you fail in resisting JOY busters. Give your weaknesses to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Commit your worries, anxieties, and cares to the Heart of Jesus. Using Holy Imagery, put your worries, fears, frets and more into His Sacred Heart and leave them there. Begin Again.

Tool #8 – The Philippians 4 Plan to Stop Worry

Arrest WORRY as it cannot add even an hour to your life according to Jesus. Paul tells us exactly what to do to arrest worry in Philippians 4: 7-11: 1) PAUSE—make up your mind to STOP worrying, 2) Pray for your needs, 3) Thank God for his blessings with every petition, and 4) Receive God’s peace.

 Tool #9 – Keep a JOY Journal

Record your JOYS in a Journal. Using a notebook or notes app on your phone, record your JOY thanksgivings daily so you can always give God praise, offer thanks and be ready to share them.

Tool #10 -Find the JOY, Stop the Worry, a Grab a Plunger with a Prayer Partner or Prayer Group

Don’t go it alone. Find Friendship JOY. Go to church. Study how to find true JOY in Scripture with a friend or small group. Pray with a friend to find more JOY every week and have them pray for you. It will make a huge difference in your life. You will be able to stop the worry and grab the plunger.

ADVENT JOY

Next, I will be podcasting a series on Advent JOY. Please join me as week meet the people, events, and prayer at the first coming of Jesus. You can go to my website and subscribe at https://wrapyourselfinjoy.com/ so you can follow the podcast and learn more about Advent JOY.

You can download a Bookmark Summary of all the JOY Maintenance Tools from Podcast #9 at my website: WRAPYourselfinJOY.com.

Check out more JOY podcasts here!

Find the WRAP Yourself in JOY book by clicking here.

JOY Series #8: Arresting the Big JOY Thief – WORRY

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.

How is your worry level lately? Worry is not just a JOY Buster. It's a big JOY thief and it brings on fretting. In only a few dances with fretting, you will be exhausted and any JOY you once had will be greatly challenged. Join us today and discover how to arrest the big JOY thief Worry, stop the fretting and rest in God’s love for you.#podcast

How are you at arresting the Big JOY thief -WORRY? Worry is not just a JOY Buster. It’s a big JOY thief and it brings on fretting. In only a few dances with fretting, you will be exhausted and any JOY you once had will be greatly challenged. Join us today and discover how to arrest the big JOY thief Worry, stop the fretting and  rest in God’s love.

Can your worry and rejoice at the same time?

Have you ever pondered the question, “Can you worry and rejoice at the same time?” Today, you will find the answer. We will especially tackle what to do with WORRY because it will not only take your JOY but your peace as well. Worry’s companions are anxiety and fear so, dealing with worry will help you stop these thieves too.  You will learn the four actions to take to replace worry with JOY, stop the fretting and rest in God’s love, all while responding with gentleness.

God Can Give You His JOY

I used to worry about everything. But when my house burned down and my husband died, I eventually stopped worrying. The worst had happened to me—more than I could imagine or worry about! But God got me through it all, and in the process, I learned to TRUST HIM. He took all my tears, counted them and kept them in his heart.  Psalm 56 says this:  O God, You have kept count of my tossings [wanderings]; You put my tears in your bottle.   Are they not in your record?…  This I know, that God is for me. 11 in God I trust; I am not afraid.”  So God put all my tears in a bottle, kept them in his heart, gave me his joy AND I took it !!!

Do Not be Overcome with Worry

In Matthew 6: 25-34, Jesus tells us not to worry about even our most basic needs of food, water, and clothing. He didn’t say we should shirk our responsibilities of trying to make a living, but he told us not to be overcome with worry — even for our basic needs. God so beautifully takes care of birds of the air and clothes the flowers with great splendor, how much more will He take care of you? In fact, Jesus said worry will not add “one single hour to your span of life.”

Worry Skips Ahead of God’s Provision

Worry focuses on what can go wrong, what might go wrong, what will likely go wrong in the future. It skips ahead of God’s provision and can sap you of your JOY, strength, and your peace. The problem with worry is that it leads to fretting.

Fretting

The Bible says NOT only to stop worrying, but to stop fretting. The Hebrew word we translate as fretting includes the idea of firing up rage, kindling anger.  The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines a FRET as a worry, annoyance, or discontentment that “gnaws at you” and “involves an irritated state of mind”(www.dictionary.com/browse/fret).  Fretting takes worry to a new level. It eats away at your peace. It will eventually be expressed in outward anger or other ways.

Physical Impact on Your Body

Worry as well as fretting, fear and anxiety can have a physical impact on our bodies. According to medical research, worry, fretting, fear, and anxiety have been linked to indigestion or digestive disorders, fatigue, sleeplessness, ulcers, heart problems, skin ailments, lack of concentration and addictions, to name a few physical symptoms and outcomes (For example: www.webmd.com/balance/guide/how-worrying-affects-your-body.

Actions

St. Paul in Philippians 4: 4-7 tells us what to do. (1) Make a decision to rejoice in the Lord—return to JOY and seek JOY from the Lord instead of sitting down in a puddle of worrying and fretting. (2) Pray for your needs and the needs of others.  (3) For every need you express in prayer, offer a related thanksgiving.  (4) Receive God’s peace.

Walk in Gentleness

In Philippians 5: 5,  St. Paul sandwiches between v. 4 and v. 6 these words: ”Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near.“ The USCCB Online Commentary says: The Lord is near “echoes the perpetual presence of the Lord with us (i.e., Psalm.119:151).” Fretting and worry can turn to rage or anger quickly. But when you practice being gentle, you shut down your stronger, harsher, angry JOYbusting responses.

 Note. If you continue to experience excessive worry, anxiety or fear, please do not hesitate to see a professional—a medical doctor or counselor. In fact you should in these cases. Sometimes we need more professional help for our bodies and our lives, and God is with us in this plan too.

You can download a Bookmark to help you Arrest WORRY from Podcast #8 at my website: WRAPYourselfinJOY.com.

Check out more podcasts here!

Find the WRAP Yourself in JOY book by clicking here.

 

JOY Series #7 – Begin Again and Defeat JOY Busters

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.

Are you defeating JOY Busters? OR Are you JOYbusting in response to all those situations, people and communication that steal your joy? Join us today as we continue our focus on how to defeat those JOY-sapping experiences and BEGIN AGAIN. #podcastEpisode #7 –Begin Again and Defeat JOY Busters

Are you ready to Begin Again and Defeat JOY Busters? OR Are you still JOYbusting in response to all those situations, people and communication that steal your joy? Join us today as we continue our focus on how to defeat those JOY-sapping experiences and BEGIN AGAIN.

JOYbusting

Reacting to JOY Busters with more JOYbusting responses leads downward on a path of negativity? In Begin Again-Defeating JOY Busters, Part 2, we will discuss the choices each one makes in responding to those situations that seem to steal our JOY.  You can choose to respond with more JOYbusting, or you can follow a new plan.  Even in unwise reactions that you later regret, you can choose to leave the past behind and say, “I BEGIN AGAIN.”

The Plan to Stop JOYbusting

According to Fr. Timothy Gallagher and based on St. Ignatius of Loyola’s guide for rejecting troubles of the heart, each of us can follow this plan to defeat the JOY Busters:

  • BE AWARE of your troubled heart and loss of joy (e.g., JOY Busters).
  • UNDERSTAND your not-of-God responses that further block your joy (JOYbusting).
  • TAKE ACTION to reject the responses such as quarrels, outbursts of anger, profane talk, bitterness, overindulgence, sleeplessness, over-sleeping, withdrawal, or gossip.[i] Take the actions (summarized in TIP) as explained in Podcast 6 : Defeating Joy Busters, Part 1.

Begin Again and Defeating Joy Busters

Fr. Timothy Gallagher, O.M.V. in his book Begin Again: The Life and Spiritual Legacy of Bruno Lanteri recommends that we should always BEGIN AGAIN. That means we do not allow ourselves to be overcome with discouragement. If you are confronted with opposition or self-condemnation and other JOY Busters or JOYbusting, remember these words: Begin Again. “Seek always to keep your poor heart in peace, and encourage it, and always to serve God with holy joy…. Say with boldness, “Now I begin, and go forward constantly in God’ service. Do not look back so often, because one who looks back cannot run…. Begin [again] every day, because it is for every day, even for every hour of the day. Begin Again.”

Remembering Graces and St. Teresa of Avila

Psalm 34 psalm invites us to “taste and see” that the Lord is good. His love is healing. He will never reject or despise you. Never! He loves you completely and is the only answer to a troubled world. Please remember this.  Saint Teresa of Avila, also called Saint Teresa of Jesus,  says that in trials its easy to forget and not remember what God has done for us. She describes these forgetting tactics: During the “very bitter trials of my soul… all the favors the Lord had granted me were forgotten. There remained only a memory to cause pain; they were like a dream. [T]he devil… knows that in remembering the graces received, we find strength against his present temptation, and for this reason, he tries to lead us to forget” (The Collected Works of Teresa of AvilaThe Book of Her Life, 2nd ed., 1987).

JOY Journal

You will learn to create a JOY Journal that can help turn your life into one of positive thanksgiving. Your JOY Journal can be a small note card. For example, I have often added a special scripture to a small card.  Then every time I wait in line, I read it and  record a thanksgiving for new JOYs and Blessings. Or you can use an inexpensive spiral-bound notebook (4” x 6” or 5” x 7” sizes work great) or open a Notes app folder on your cell phone and print on the cover or folder: “JOY JOURNAL.

You can download a Bookmark to help you Begin Again and Defeat JOY Busters from Podcast #7 at my website: WRAPYourselfinJOY.com.

Check out more podcasts here!

Find the WRAP Yourself in JOY book by clicking here.

JOY Series #6 – Defeating JOY Busters

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.

Would you like to stop the JOY Busters in your life? Everyone faces those times, circumstances and people that seem to break up, overpower, block, or steal their JOY. But you can stop the impact on your JOY. You can become AWARE of your JOY Busters, UNDERSTAND their sources, and TAKE ACTION to stop their impact on your JOY. Join us today and discover the actions or TIPs you must take to stop the JOY Buster’s effect on your life. #podcast

Defeating JOY Busters

How are you at defeating JOY Busters? Everyone faces those times, circumstances and people that seem to break up, overpower, block, or steal their JOY. But you can stop their impact on your life. You can become AWARE of your JOY Busters, UNDERSTAND their sources, and TAKE ACTION to stop their influence on your JOY. Join us today to discover the actions you can take to defeat JOY Buster’s and stop their effect on your life.

A JOY Buster

What is a JOY Buster?  You know!  Merriam Webster defines a buster “as a person or thing that breaks up, overpowers or eliminates something.” So, a JOY buster breaks up, overpowers, blocks, or steals your joy.

Flash Prayer

In Matthew 11: 28-30, Jesus says:  “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. When you feel your JOY is busted, why not start with a flash prayer (once called ejaculations) like this one: “Jesus, I give you my burdens, weariness, heaviness and all JOY Busters. I want to experience your rest, your peace and your JOY.” Isaiah 61: 3 says,  you want to give me “the oil of JOY” for sadness, mourning or heaviness.

Responses to Joy Busters

How do you respond to JOY Busters? What do you use to fight off your JOY Busters? Check all that apply.  __ angry outbursts, __ complacency, __ avoidance or withdrawal __ complaints, __ partying or drinking to excess, __ overindulgence, __ criticism, __ striving after possessions, __ gossip/ slander, __ envy, __ negative thoughts, __ profane talk, __ promiscuity, __ quarrels, __ sleeplessness, __ unforgiveness, __ bitterness, or __ fretting.  Paul tells us that the ONLY way to conquer the negative JOY-busting responses he calls “works of the flesh” is to “LIVE by the Holy Spirit” (Galatians 5: 16-26), so we must call on the Holy Spirit for His help.

Develop an Action Plan

Fr. Timothy Gallagher in The Discernment of Spirits: An Ignatian Guide for Everyday Living (2018) says each person needs an action plan to reject troubles of the heart. We all experience times of spiritual consolation where we feel connected with God and sense joy and peace. Also, we all experience spiritual desolation when we allow the enemy to oppress us with troubles of the heart that take our JOY. Fr. Gallagher recommends three steps which are related to JOY:  (1) BE AWARE—Notice what is happening in your inner spiritual experiences- the stirrings of your heart and thoughts. (2) UNDERSTAND—Reflect on the stirrings of your heart and recognize what’s of God and what’s not. Ask yourself, “What is the desolation or JOY Buster responses that contributed to my loss of JOY? (For example, angry outbursts, over-indulgence, jealousy, etc., will lead to avoidance, gossip, profane talk, etc.). (3) TAKE ACTION—Accept and live according to what is of God. Reject and remove what you recognize is not from God. Call upon the Holy Spirit for help to reverse direction and stop the JOY Busters.

 TIP: Three QUICK Actions to Defeat JOY Busting

You can take three simple actions to stop  JOY Busting that leads to spiraling down into further negativity. These actions can be summarized with the acronym TIP: THANKSGIVING, IMAGERY, and PERSISTENCE.  (1) Offer THANKSGIVING – Immediately turn to Jesus with genuine thanksgiving for something related to your JOY Buster. (2) IMAGINE – Use Holy Imagination and picture Jesus with arms outstretched. You give him your JOY Buster. (3) PERSIST – Persist in remembering  the JOY (or pleasurable, peaceful, happy, loving, fun) emotions or feelings.  Stay in the JOY of that thanksgiving for one minute to reset your brain neurons to JOY. Close with a Praise to GOD. Finally, consider getting a prayer partner to pray for more JOY for each other and to defeat JOY Busting.

You can download a Bookmark to help you Defeat JOY Busters from Podcast #6 at my website: WRAPYourselfinJOY.com.

Check out more podcasts here!

Find the WRAP Yourself in JOY book by clicking here.

JOY Series #5 – Praising and Thanking for JOY

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.

Are you praising and thanking for JOY or a "petition addict" when it comes to prayer? You are not alone if your prayer is mostly asking God for his help, but there is good reason to convert your prayer to praising Joy. Today, you will learn how to expand your prayer life with praise and thanksgiving so that you enjoy God too. There is a huge connection between JOY and offering praise and thanksgiving to God.#podcast

Podcast #5 – Praising and Thanking for JOY

Are you praising and thanking for JOY or are you a “petition addict” when it comes to prayer? You are not alone if your prayer is mostly asking God for his help, but there is good reason to convert your prayer to praising Joy. Today, you will learn how to expand your prayer life with praise and thanksgiving so that you enjoy God too. There is a huge connection between JOY and offering praise and thanksgiving to God.

Praising and Glorifying God Completes Your JOY

In praising God, we surrender everything to Him and proclaim that He is God, and we are NOT. He has everything in our lives under control, and even when we do not see it, we can trust Him. You can offer Him your discouragement, despair and mourning and in turn, receive His oil of JOY and the garment of praise.

C.S. Lewis, a Christian apologist and writer, known for books like Mere Christianity and The Chronicles of Narnia series points out the connection JOY with praise:

“We delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; It is frustrating to have discovered a new author and not to be able to tell anyone how good he is; to come suddenly at the turn of the road, to a mountain valley of unexpected grandeur and then to have to keep silent or to hear a good joke and find no one to share it with. Fully to enjoy is to glorify. In commanding us to glorify Him [praise Him], God is inviting us to enjoy Him” (Reflections on the Psalms).

Even Pope Francis tells us to “NOT be formal Christians, prisoners of formality” but instead to express our joy of being Christians (Homily, January 28, 2020).

Jesus Wants You Give You a Life of Praise and JOY

Jesus wants to give you a life of praise, like a piece of clothing, in exchange for discouragement, despair, or mourning that wraps you now.  In Luke 4, Jesus said he was fulfilling Isaiah 61: 3: “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me…He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives, to release darkness for prisoners,” and in Isaiah 61: 3, continues, “to provide the oil of JOY instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of discouragement.” God can give you the oil of JOY for mourning.  If you need some soothing spiritual balm for your wound and a garment of praise that comes with the oil of JOY, go to Him with Praise and Thanksgiving.

Surrender: He is God, and You are NOT

In praising God, we surrender everything to Him and proclaim that He is God, and we are NOT. He has everything in our lives under control and even when we do not see it, we can trust Him. In the hardships of life, we can praise our God and he will comfort us with deep calming JOY.

Praise and Thanksgiving are Different Forms of Prayer

Thanksgiving offers gratitude for what God has done for you, whereas praise exalts God’s character.   Praise “recognizes most immediately that God is God.” Prayers of praise are entirely disinterested in self  and  laud  him. They give  him glory for his own sake, “quite beyond what he has done, but simply because HE IS” (CCC #2639).   Prayers of thanksgiving express our gratefulness to God and are to be offered in all circumstances. For example, 1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18 tells us: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing,  give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (NRSV). The Psalms tell us how to praise God, and we can praise God with the Psalms. You could start with Psalms 150, 145, 105, 100,  or 95.   Also, try praising God’s attributes and  using the Titles of Jesus.

You can download Bookmarks with Praises from Podcast #5 at my website: WRAPYourselfinJOY.com.  They will help you add praise to your prayer life.

 Check out more podcasts here!

Find the WRAP Yourself in JOY book by clicking here.

JOY Series #4 – WRAP-ing JOY

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.

WRAP-ing JOY

Today we are WRAP-ing JOY. How would you like to feel wrapped in JOY? Have you ever wanted to hear God speak to YOU? You can! We will discuss the JOY you can experience from a two-way conversation with your Heavenly Father. You will learn the WRAP method for interactive prayer, how to avoid being a talkaholic in prayer, the four-stages for prayer, and the best way to REST in God’s Love and receive His JOY.God Yearns for a Relationship with You.

WRAP NOT RAP

It’s not RAP music – it’s the  W R A P way to JOY. WRAP is an acronym for a way to hear God speak to you – it will help you listen to Him. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (#2562) defines prayer as: a covenant relationship between God and Man -humans.  Inherent in any relationship is two -way conversation. So God wants a personal relationship with you and that involves two-way communication. There is nothing more joyful than hearing God speak to you in Scripture, but it may mean surrendering your “talkaholism.”

The JOY Benefit of Reading and Praying with Scripture

Happy as used in Psalm 1 does not refer to the short-term happiness found in passing circumstances. The Hebrew word ASRAI used in the original Hebrew language of the Old Testament and translated as “happy” or “blessed” really means—a deep spiritual joy from being with God and the pleasures from that relationship—it’s a deep enrichment and it involves praying with Scripture.

 

Are You Listening?

When you truly listen to God, it is joyful! God is faithful. You can trust Him. He is always patient with you. He invites you to listen and respond. Rev. Mark Thibodeaux in the Armchair Mystic describes four stages of prayer. (See the personal survey for your reflection at my website Wrapyourselfinjoy.com or in my book WRAP Yourself in JOY). The four stages are: 1) Talking at God, 2) Talking to God, 3) Listening to God speak to your heart –through reading & praying Scripture, and 4) Resting in God’s presence, enjoying His company.

 

When You Read the Bible, God Speaks to You

God wants to speak to your needs and even offers you healing for your many issues.  Why not give Him the opportunity?

  • St. Augustine says: “Your prayer is your word addressed to God. When you read the Bible, God speaks to you; when you pray, you speak to God.” (Ennarratio in Ps 85:7: CCL 39, 1177).

 

  • St. Basil the Great says: “The Holy Spirit composed the Scriptures so that in them, as in a pharmacy open to all souls, we might each of us be able to find the medicine suited to our own particular illness…” ( Spidlik, T., & Drake, P. (1993). Drinking from the Hidden Fountain: A Patristic Breviary, Liturgical Press).

 

WRAP Yourself in Scripture

WRAP is an acronym for a method of praying and reflecting on Scripture with journaling, a simplified form of Lectio Divina—”where the Word of God is so read and meditated on that it becomes prayer” (CCC #1177).  It’s from our book WRAP Yourself In Scripture (Karen & Lawrence Dwyer, IPF Publications, 2011, 2018) which explains the WRAP method in detail.  A WRAP prayer ends with resting in God’s Presence & receiving His JOY, His Love, and His Strength.

*You can download a Bookmark of the WRAP method from Podcast #4 at Wrapyourselfinjoy.com.

For more JOY today, please join Podcast #4 – WRAP-ing JOY or more WRAP Yourself in JOY Podcasts by clicking here .

Find the WRAP Yourself in JOY book by clicking here.

JOY Series #3 – Awakening JOY & Telling Yourself the Truth

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.

Awakening JOY

Did you know God sings over you? Are you awakening to more JOY in your life?

One way it starts is by recognizing that all of creation is joyful. God likes to celebrate more than you ever imagined. He rejoices over creation and He loves to sing over you.

Today, you will see yourself wrapped in God’s loving arms and tell yourself five more truths about JOY. These spiritual truths have the power to change your thoughts and actions. Please join the podcast to awaken more joy in your life and find out what God is singing over YOU.

The Truth about God

The truth is we serve a very JOY-filled God who wants to share His JOY with us.  Have you ever heard of the old or new To TELL the TRUTH game show? Sometimes, we believe lies about God and about heaven and about JOY. One of them is that God is a GRUMP and if we follow him, we are destined for grumpiness too or a life lacking joy and fun. THAT is NOT the truth. So today we look to the Bible to Tell us the TRUTH  about God and JOY.

God’s Takes Pleasure in Creation and Sings Over You

The Scriptures are full of examples about God who rejoices in His creation.

  • In Genesis 1, we read, God paused after each day of creation “And God saw that it was good.” But, after He created humans in his image, He paused and enjoyed the entire creation. He said, “it was VERY GOOD.”
  • In Psalm 147: 10-11, we read: “The LORD takes delight and pleasure in those who fear  (at awe and worship Him,) in those who hope in his steadfast love.”
  • In Zephaniah 3:17, we read.“The Lord, your God, is in your midst, a Mighty Savior– he will rejoice over you with gladness, he will renew you in his love; he will exult over you with loud singing  as on a day of festival. NRSVCE

God is singing over you. Today, you will ask God what He is singing.

God Celebrates

One of the most profound examples of God celebrating His children is in the story of the Prodigal Son told by Jesus in Luke 15:16-25+. Here God tells us that He is a God who likes to celebrate and even runs to meet us with love when we come home to Him. He celebrates our return.

Heaven Rejoices

Not only does God celebrate, but so does all of heaven. When a person turns back to God from a life or time away from His presence, Jesus says in Luke 15: 10, that even the ANGELS are joyful: “10 Just so, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” WOW! If you have been away from God, you can ask forgiveness for your sins, turn around and come home to God. Heaven rejoices over YOU when you do.

JOY Declarations & Truths

If you have believed lies that God does not love you or want to give you his love and joy—or that God is Old and GRUMPY, then now is the time to change your thinking. The truth is 1) God is with YOU, 2) The Lord God is YOUR Mighty Savior, 3) The Lord offers YOU calm, peace and restoration daily, 4) The Lord renews YOU in His love,  and 5) The Lord sings over YOU with celebrating love every day.

Thank you, Lord, for celebrating each person. You sing over them with love. Please open their ears to hear the song you are singing. Holy Spirit, awaken more JOY in each one today…

You can download a Bookmark of JOY Declaration & Celebration Truths from podcast #3 at wrapyourselfinjoy.com.

Find more shows from Wrap Yourself with Joy by clicking here!
Find the WRAP Yourself in JOY book by clicking here.

JOY Series #2 – Defining JOY & 4 Tips for Increasing JOY

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.

Defining JOY

Episode #2: Would you like to have a Niagara Falls of JOY in your life?  Have ever wondered if lasting Joy is attainable?  Today we will discuss a definition for true and lasting JOY plus 4 Tips for increasing JOY in your life. You will discover how to launch yourself in prayer with the 5-Minute More Joy Prayer Guide. You can experience more JOY and you will radiate God’s JOY everywhere you go. Please join the podcast today.

A Niagara Falls of Love & JOY

Today we will discover that God has a Niagara Falls of Love & JOY for each of us. Msgr. John Esseff of Scranton, PA often develops this “Niagara Falls of Love” principle while teaching and leading retreats. He says that sometimes we come to our Heavenly Father— a Niagara Falls of Love, and we hold out only a teaspoon to catch it. When in fact, God desires to give us great waterfalls of His Love and JOY. So what does this mean you? We must increase our capacity to receive MORE JOY.

Join me today as we throw away our spoons and instead, stretch our arms to receive more Love and JOY from our generous God.  

Many Ways to Define JOY

There are many ways to define JOY. We started with the following:

  • Pope John Paul II said, “People are made for happiness. Christ has the answer But he asks us to trust him. True joy is a victory- Christ holds the secret of this victory” (World Youth Day, Opening Address, 2002).
  • Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI defined JOY as being aware of God’s presence and friendship every day: “Seek joy in the Lord: for joy is the fruit of faith. It is being aware of his presence and friendship every day: ‘the Lord is near!’ (Phil 4:5). Turn your eyes to him often. He gave his life for you on the cross because HE LOVES YOU” (World Youth Day, 2012).
  • Pope Francis has defined Joy often. He says: “Is it to be happy? No, it’s not the same. To be happy is good. Joy is something more, something which does not depend on external motivations or on passing issues. It’s a gift from the Lord. Joy fills us from within. And this joy is the certainty that Jesus is with us, the Father is with us, and it’s to be searched for and shared continuously… It’s the joy that even in the crosses and the sufferings of this life, when it might be expressed in a different way, it’s having peace and the certainty that Jesus accompanies us. He is with us” (Homily, 2013-5-10, Casa Santa Marta).
  • Billy Graham wrote: “You can receive Christ into your heart, and he can bring joy and a thrill and glory such as you have never known if you give your life to Him” (Breakfast with Billy Graham: 120 Daily Readings, 2003).

After covering other definitions, I offer you what I consider to be a true and lasting definition for joy based on recommendations from these and many others. Most importantly, you will see that true JOY  involves mind, body, soul and spirit AND is Trinitarian.

The More JOY Prayer Guide

Finally, you will learn The More JOY Prayer Guide which includes Four Tips for Increasing JOY.  What if you knew that 5 minutes per day could change your JOY levels? There is help for you and it is called the More JOY Prayer Guide. You can start with just five minutes of personal prayer daily and easily remember the prayer with these four words: 1) ASK, 2) RECEIVE, 3) THANK & 4) SCRIPTURE (WRAP Yourself in JOY, 2022, Dwyer).

You can download the guide as The More JOY Prayer Guide Bookmark from podcast #2 at wrapyourselfinjoy.com.

Find more shows from Wrap Yourself with Joy by clicking here!

Find the WRAP Yourself in JOY book by clicking here.

JOY Series #1 – Searching for JOY

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.

Do you need more JOY in your life? The advertisers think you do! JOY has become the focus of many ad campaigns -- from vacuum cleaners to automobiles to chewing gum. But there is more to JOY than the fleeting nature of acquiring things with transitory happiness. Join us today as we search for how to be filled with true and lasting JOY every day. #podcast

Searching for JOY

Are you searching for more JOY in your life? The advertisers think you do!  JOY has become the focus of many ad campaigns — from vacuum cleaners to automobiles to chewing gum. But there is more to JOY than the fleeting nature of acquiring things with transitory happiness. Join us today as we search for how to be filled with true and lasting JOY every day.

Let’s begin by asking ourselves what comes to mind when we think of JOY? Why do we need more JOY? The world is searching for JOY. So why are YOU searching for JOY?

We are made to search for JOY.

  • John Paul II said, God made us for JOY.
  • Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI said, a yearning for JOY lurks within the heart of every man and woman…our hearts seek for a perfect, full, and lasting JOY.
  • Pope Francis even tells us we should seek for JOY. But he warns, not in a selfish way that leaves us old and wrinkled, with faces like pickled peppers, unable to transmit the JOY of a beautiful life. Instead, he said we must seek for JOY because it’s a gift from the Lord, it fills us from within. And this JOY is the certainty that Jesus is with us, the Father is with us, and it’s to be searched for and shared continuously.

What does JOY mean to you?

How would you describe it? If I asked you to list a few words about JOY, would you say giggles, gladness, eating delicious food, watching a basketball game or a volleyball game, especially where your team is winning, hugging babies, eating wonderful food or having coffee with a friend? How you experience JOY is unique to your life, because JOY can be experienced in many ways. Your JOYs are perfect for you. When it comes to JOY, all of us have one thing in common we want and need more JOY in our lives. So let’s start with the Bible and see what the Bible says about JOY.

  • In John 15: 9-11, Jesus says he wants to share his JOY with YOU, As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you. Abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love. Just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in his love. I have said these things to you so that my JOY may be in you and that your JOY may be complete. (NRSVCE ).
  • In Psalm 16: 11, God the Father wants to give YOU His Joy too:  You (Lord God) show me the path of life. In your presence there is fullness of JOY; in your right hand (at his strength and power) are pleasures forevermore. (NRSVCE )
  • In Galatians 5: 22-25, the third member of the Trinity–The Holy Spirit wants more joy for YOU:   The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control… If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit. 

Prayer Declarations

The prayer declarations with these verses that I shared in this podcast are available as free bookmarks on my website: Wrapyourselfinjoy.com.  Why not download a bookmark with the scriptures and take it with you everywhere you go? You can speak these words aloud and thank God (the Father, Son and Holy Spirit) with each one. On my website, you can also learn more about my books and connect with me.

Final Prayer

God, our Father, we love you. Thank you for bestowing such great love on each of us and giving us joy in your presence. I pray they receive more of the fullness your joy today….

Come back next week as we journey to find joy in life. It’s more than simply finding happiness.

Find more shows from WRAP Yourself in JOY by clicking here!

Buy the book WRAP Yourself in JOY by clicking here.

Find more books by Karen on JOY by clicking here.

Wrap Yourself in Joy Podcast

A Production of the Ultimate Christian Podcast Network.

SUBSCRIBE HERE:

Wrap Yourself in Joy with Karen Dwyer podcastAre you looking for more joy? Join award-winning speaker, teacher, and author Karen Dwyer as we search for joy together.

We will explore how to find true JOY, awaken JOY, defeat JOY Busters, and create a JOY-filled prayer life – from a Christian perspective and a Biblical perspective. We will focus on God‘s love, truth, and what we can do to be filled with more JOY.

Join our journey and discover how to:

*Receive a greater capacity to accept the JOY and the love of God.
*Awaken to joy from our JOY-filled God, who wants to share His joy with you.
*Develop a plan to resist the JOY Busters of fear, worry, anxiety, discouragement, anger, busyness, and more.
*Stand strong in adversity.

In your quest for true joy, you will not be disappointed!

NEW!  Karen offers Cup of JOY Women™ or  Cup of JOY Gathering (for men and women) to accompany each WRAP Yourself in JOY podcast. Karen will send you the FREE small group materials when you sign up.  STARTING in FEBRUARY: The Cup of JOY study accompanies Esther for This Time: Prayer, Reversals & JOY. 

Karen’s Website: https://wrapyourselfinjoy.com/

Get a copy of Karen’s Books here.

About Karen:

Karen Dwyer is an inspirational speaker and an award-winning college teacher specializing in helping students and adults of all ages conquer their public speaking anxiety.

Karen is the author of 10 books, including WRAP Yourself in JOY: Find the JOY & Fight the Fear, WRAP Yourself in Scripture,  Esther for Such a Time as This: Prayer, Reversals & Joy, Nehemiah—Rebuilding Hope & Joy in Your Life, The Joy of Advent—Journey with the People, Events &, Prayers at the First Coming of Jesus Christ, and iConquer Speech Anxiety.

She has been a guest on EWTN’s The Choices We Face and several Catholic radio programs, including programs on Spirit Catholic Radio. She is the founding Coordinator for Magnificat-Omaha, founder of the Heart of Jesus Prayer Groups, a Council Member of Pentecost Today USA, and has served on the Board of Directors for KVSS Spirit Catholic Radio and the national Mission Advisory Council for the Institute of Priestly Formation (IPF).

Karen says, “The Lord Jesus Christ wants to share His joy with you (John 15: 11).  He is the One who sustained me through great tragedy and gave me His JOY.  Our Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, our Savior, and the Holy Spirit want to give YOU more JOY. “

Karen and her husband Larry are active members of St. Robert Bellarmine Parish.