And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me (Luke 9:23)

Some might not connect this verse with joy, but it is actually the path to true joy.  In Discovering Joy in Philippians: A Creative Bible Study Experience, we look at a key verse that connects denying our selves, picking up the cross and joy.

If you look at some of the key words in Greek, you gain the HOW of walking toward Jess and toward joy.

Deny means to say “No” or repudiate — so to deny yourself could be applied to ask, “Is anything competing for my love for Jesus?” Sometimes our self wants to prioritize belongings, indulgences, hobbies, work or even relationships as more important than Jesus.

Pick up is to raise or lift. This reminds me of our call to lift Christ higher:

May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ,... (Gal 6:14)

“Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing.” (Rev 5:3)

Follow mean to accompany Jesus. At the root of this compound word is a picture of walking alongside, as along the road or to join as a disciple. One example is :

As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen.  “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.”  At once they left their nets and followed him. (Matt 4:18-20 emphasis added)  

As you look at the year ahead, ask yourself:

How can I say “Yes” to Jesus and prioritize him as number 1?

How can I elevate and lift of Christ and the cross?

How can I follow Jesus closer, as a committed disciple?

 

Pam Farrel is author of 52 books including being co-author of Discovering Joy in Philippians, Discovering Hope in the Psalms, and Discovering Jesus in the Old Testament (co-authored with Jean E Jones and artist, Karla Dornacher, from Harvest House Publishers). www.Love-Wise.com 

 

 

 

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Author Pam Farrel sharing her book, Discovering Joy in Philippians

“Do everything without grumbling… ” Phil 2:14

Maybe 2019 was tough year and you find yourself complaining a lot. You want to break the habit, but aren’t sure how. Here are twelve helpful tips to remember when you are tempted to grumble:

1. Turn on worship music
2.Go on a prayer walk
3. Do Bible Art
4.Bible study
5.Post a verse on social media
6. Go out in nature
7.Play with your kids or grandkids
8.Donate time and talent to a good cause
9.Help someone less fortunate
10. Look for a silver lining
11. Count your blessings
12.Praise God for His names or traits.

You might also want to do a Bible study on joy:
Discovering Joy in Philippians: A Creative Bible Study Experience

Pam Farrel is the author of 52 books including bestselling Discovering Hope in the Psalms; Discovering Joy in Philippians, and Discovering Jesus in the Old Testament.

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Peggy Cunningham

Making Holiday Memories

Thanksgiving was a traditional family gathering at my in-laws’ home. The siblings came from near and far with their families. Entering the snowy driveway, we’d see the house with seven gables high on the hill.

Beautiful horse in the snow

Beautiful horse in the snow

The roar of snowmobiles coming from the fields nearby let us know nieces and nephews were enjoying Grandpa’s toys. Beautiful horses galloped in the fields near the red barn.

Approaching the house, we caught a whiff of the baking turkey; then Grandma opened the door and lavished us with hugs. As we sat at the table beautifully set with china and crystal, the golden turkey served as the centerpiece, and pumpkin pie provided a sweet ending to the feast. It was truly a Norman Rockwell scene.

I miss those gatherings. They are treasured memories now that many family members have entered eternity. The memories cause me to be thankful for the times past, and they make me conscious this holiday season of how short my time is on earth.

“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, his love endures forever” (Psalm 107:1 NIV).

As the spirit of Thanksgiving ushers in Christmas, I’ll give thanks to the Lord for providing a way for me to have eternal life; for good health, family, and friends; and for so many other blessings. And yes, for making holiday memories.

God is so good! Enjoy His goodness throughout this holiday season, and make precious holiday memories this year.

Wishing you a blessed December, a Merry Christmas, and a New Year overflowing with God’s abundance.

 

 

Peggy Cunningham

Peggy Cunningham

Peggy Cunningham and her husband are missionaries in

Shape Your Soul 31 Exercises for Faith that Moves Mountains

Shape Your Soul 31 Exercises for Faith that Moves Mountains

Bolivia, South America. They work with the Quechua people and have a children’s ministry. Peggy is also an author of books for children and adults. Her latest book is Shape Your Soul, 31 Exercises for Faith that Moves Mountains, a women’s devotional.  www.Peggy Cunningham.com.

 

 

 

 

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Thanksgiving is an important part of the Christian life. It is the capstone to a life of prayer. The apostle Paul instructed the church in Philippi regarding prayer:

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6, NASB).

Carrying from Europe the tradition of a day of thanksgiving after a successful harvest, the Pilgrims gave thanks to God for the bounty of the harvest after a year of sickness and hunger.

The native Wampanoag tribe also had a tradition of giving thanks to the Creator for a successful harvest, and so they joined with the Pilgrims in a joyful outpouring of gratitude mixed with merriment and feasting.

After the Revolution, the first official presidential proclamation issued in America was George Washington’s 1789 Thanksgiving message:

“…that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks

for His kind care and protection of the people of this country…”

Later, during the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln also issued a thanksgiving proclamation:

“… to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to … fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it … to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.”

As our Forefathers did in the midst of their trials, let us also take time to seek wisdom and guidance from our Heavenly Father and to worship Him for His blessings. In faith, thank God in advance for all He is going to do in the year to come – because there is tremendous power in Thanksgiving!

 

Dr. Craig von Buseck is a popular author, speaker, and editor of www.inspiration.org.  His latest book is I Am Cyrus: Harry S Truman and the Rebirth of Israel. Learn more at www.vonbuseck.com.

 

 

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For fourteen years our home in Florida allowed me to escape the bitter Midwest winters. But due to a health crisis, my husband and I are now back in the Midwest, bracing ourselves for some bitter temps.

When I look out my kitchen window, I no longer see palm trees standing tall against a clear blue sky. I see a blanket of white on the ground and pine needles laced with snow crystals. I no longer see lizards scurrying across the backyard patio. Instead, I see squirrels gathering nuts for the long months ahead.

My environment has changed dramatically, but what hasn’t changed is my awareness of God’s presence and revelation through his creation. “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands” (Psalm 19:1).

No matter where I am in God’s Universe, his power and glory surround me. Whether it’s mountains or oceans, sunny skies or storm clouds, or a flock of noisy geese flying south, God’s handiwork is on display. He made all things and sustains all things—including you and me.

God is everywhere and his love follows us wherever we go. As all of creation praises him, let’s join the chorus and honor our Creator today.

“Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let the sea resound, and all that is in it. Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them; let all the trees of the forest sing for joy” Psalm 96:11-12 (NIV).

Crystal Bowman

Crystal Bowman

Mothers in Waiting by Crystal Bowman

Mothers in Waiting by Crystal Bowman

Crystal Bowman is an award-winning, best-selling author of more than 100 books for children. She’s also written three books for women, including Mothers in Waiting–Healing and Hope for those with Empty Arms. She is a speaker and mentor for MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) and teaches at writers’ conferences throughout the U.S. She is a monthly contributor to Clubhouse Jr. Magazine and writes lyrics for children’s piano music.

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