Friday, November 7, 2014

The Joy Path

Retreat Center in Ffald-y-Brenin, Wales
Near our retreat house there is a path that runs the contour of the property.

One day some guests were praying down in that area when they saw a strange sight. 

The high ferns in the undergrowth were moving, but there wasn’t any wind.  Being curious they approached the greenery to see what was causing the disturbance. 

To their surprise they found a couple who appeared to be in their thirties, on their backs, with their feet and hands in the air.  They had tears flowing down their faces but were laughing and crying at the same time.

A little while later they watched as the couple began to walk the path and how they were animated in their conversation with one another.  They continued their walking, but returned to the same spot toward the ferns and the whole thing started all over, including the laughing and crying.  This time the young couple noticed they were being watched and explained what happened.
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Joy by the Hillside
Now the observing pair were intrigued as to what in the world would make what seemed to be normal adults act in such a way publically. They were all ears as the story began to unfold.
“When we walk on the path near the boundary, it’s as if we’re drunk and our legs won’t hold us.  We fall down and feel full of inexpressible joy.  We also noticed that the closer we are to the border, the stronger it gets.  If we can manage to pull ourselves off the path, the feeling goes away.  Can you explain what’s happening to us?”
Praying & speaking a blessing Mt. in Wales.
The visiting guests knew exactly what was happening to the unsuspecting couple; it was why they were there in the first place.  God was pouring out His grace and blessings on the people as they prayed.
The young adults had been caught up in the overflow from the events that were taking place in the chapel, where the Holy Spirit had been present. 
For the past season there had been a flood of people experiencing the joy of the Lord whenever they passed through that valley. It was as in the days of Nehemiah when the scriptures were given to the people.
Although it wasn’t really something to be explained in the natural, anyone who experienced it wanted more of that peaceful and happy “feeling” of joy they felt for what would seem, "no apparent reason". 
The Secret Note
Erin had been in a particularly good mood this week.  We all knew why.  She became a grandmother last week and was full of joy.  Nothing seemed to break that flow, not even a messenger of bad news, heater problems or having to come into work on her day off last Friday.
Now Yolanda on the other hand, wasn’t having such a good week.  When she saw what someone left on her desk that morning it put her off and her pleasant attitude was somewhat subdued.
Walking over to me, Erin handed me what someone put in their office desk secretly. After I read it, I tried to help giving voice to reasons why the person may have left the not so nice message.  It basically was saying that they were heathens and needed to repent.
When I asked if they knew who left the uninvited piece of advice, Yolanda quickly replied, “Oh, I know who it was.”  While Erin was leaving it open and hoping she didn’t offend anyone.  This really puzzled me because the ladies are usually encouraging, and Yolanda is the one who breaks out in song praising God when my husband seemed a bit down. 
Thinking on Joy
I was writing in the conference room as my husband continued his physical therapy and Erin walked in to get a bite to eat.  She inquired if she was interrupting and I said no, but may I ask you a question.  (You can tell her personality by the way she asked if she was intruding on me … sitting in her conference room!) Without hesitation I informed her that I was baiting her for an answer, so she was poised for what I was about to ask.
“What comes to your mind when you think of joy?” I asked.  The first thing out of her mouth was her grandbabies; then she listed a few things and said God.
As soon as she said, “God” something changed in the atmosphere.  You could feel the Holy Spirit presenting Himself.
It was wonderful to see the conversation open other areas that she had pondered in her mind about the Bible, and we enjoyed sharing time talking about the Lord. In other words, it was a joyful experience for "no apparent reason".
Joy Strength
If you knew Yolanda you would be amazed at how she handles things.  Two weeks ago her finger was literally blown apart on both sides cutting through an artery from when a heavy bathroom door in a store closed on it.  She handled the entire situation like a trooper, settled the personnel in the store when blood was squirting all over the walls and even drove herself to the hospital. 
After being stitched up in the emergency room all she asked is that they pay the doctor bill.  I felt like a wuss when one of the rescue cats bit through my finger last week compared to what happened to her.  She never missed work or skipped a beat in helping patients and maintained a grateful attitude.
On our way out of the building I learned why Yolanda was having a “bad” day.  Her tire didn’t go flat, but blew out on the way to work.  Her reaction to the event laid the groundwork for how she responded to everything that happened that morning. 
I watched how she walked out to the parking lot and even her stride was slow.  It was if all her joy was blown away with that tire explosion.  Instead of letting the Joy of the Lord be her strength like she has demonstrated so many times in the past, this time she gave in to the problem.  Everyone around her was affected by it.

I Give You Joy
Actual accounts of God's Blessings
The opening story I shared actually happened several years ago in Wales as told in Roy Godwin’s book “The Grace Outpouring.”  It was the result of a few people who continually went before the Lord in prayer.  They didn’t plan what happened nor could they control it. 
When people came in contact with the fullness of joy they couldn’t keep it in, but let the Holy Spirit’s power pour out on the community.
No matter who entered the area they experienced what it was like to have the fullness of joy for "no apparent reason" of their own, but wholly of the Lord.  Whatever was happening in their lives didn’t matter, because the Lord became the focus of the moment instead of their problems.

God’s outpouring of grace was His blessing and favor being given to those who fellowshipped with Him along the path of joy.  He answered their prayers.

That’s the way Jesus wants us to live our lives, in fullness of joy.  He tells of this gift of joy in the Bible. Let me share a few with you.
“These things I have spoken to you, that My (Jesus’) joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.” (John 15:11 NKJV)
Then he repeats the phrase but this time it refers to our time in prayer.
“Until now you have asked nothing in My name.  Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” (John 16:24 NKJV)
Both of these passages are telling us that it is God’s desire that our journey on this earth be not only joyful, but filled with joy no matter what comes across our path.  Our part is to be positioned to receive joy through the fruit gift of the Holy Spirit.
Now and Later
When Erin and I were in the conference room the others were just a few feet away, yet no one else was changed by what was happening behind that door.  There have been times when Yolanda was ministering to someone and I didn’t feel a thing that the Lord was trying to do through her.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be on the latter side of the joy experience or missing it completely.
What each of these situations had in common that brought joy into the situation is the openness to let the Holy Spirit lead the journey. That couple walking along the path had no clue to what God wanted to do in their lives, but they gave in to the power of the Lord and let it take them to where they had never been spiritually.  The result was joy unspeakable and full of God’s glory, something people or possessions couldn’t provide.
It didn’t matter what any of us were going through in our personal lives, we allowed God to touch what was happening in the “now.”  By doing that, it affected and effected the "later".  
Friday morning October 31st we had been out planting seeds of faith through prayer and conversation.  On the way home we stopped at a local grocery store to pick up some peanut butter/cheese crackers for trick or treat that night to hand out with children’s tracts.
While shopping we “just by happenstance” showed up in a store that was moving the next day into their new building.  We now know it was the leading of the Holy Spirit to grant us a blessing to share with others.
The fresh vegetables were on sale for literally pennies because they didn’t want to move them.  Pineapples, bags of apples, grapes, celery, fresh corn, butternut squash, lettuce, etc. was priced from ten to fifty cents. For about $5.00 our cart was full with more than enough produce for us and some to sow, and sow we did.
I wanted to see the new store, so out of curiosity we went back on Saturday.  The same produce cost well over $50.  The butternut squash alone would have cost us $24.
Wednesday night my husband finished showering and was preparing for bed when a knock came on the door.  Someone was sharing the activities of a trip they just returned from and then handed my husband $25.00 declaring he felt  he was supposed to give this gift to us.
God honored our time and positioned man to show favor toward His servant.  Did we feel joy when we received the money?  You can be sure we did, but we were already flowing in the joy of the Lord. This was the overflow from God, because of our time in fellowship.
Path of Joy
Anyone walking along that path near the parcel of land by the church in Wales came in contact with the fullness of joy. When they inquired about what was happening, those around town led them to the house where God was dwelling.  It changed the path walker’s lives, and they received Christ on that day.  They didn’t want to let the path of joy go and wanted to continue their journey with God.
What caused this change?  Finding real joy, not like anything they ever experienced before and it had nothing to do with material or earthly things.
The psalmist in conversation with the LORD God tells of this gift.
“You (speaking of God and to Him in prayer) will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy.  At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (Psalm 16:11 NKJV)
God has provided through His Holy Spirit, a path of joy we can take for our journey.  It is one that even though trials and tests come our way, the joy never has to leave because it doesn’t come from anything earthly. 
I’ve had days where my joy was gone because I let the cares of this world steal it from me.  It didn’t change the situation, only my attitude.  I could have kept my joy during the entire time and felt better, even when nothing changed in the natural if I remained in the presence of the Lord. 
When our joy is missing so is peace, and if that is happening it’s proof that we are failing to trust the Lord to see us through to the other side.  In fact, we are demonstrating by our behavior that we can handle the matter better than God. No wonder favor is coming in dribs and drabs.
Joy for the Journey
I have had plenty of difficulties in my life, and it isn’t always easy to keep joy.  There have been times when I continually speak “snap out of it” and remind myself of the promises of God for my journey.  We all have to do that.

"I’m promised a good journey … You said Lord … this is a temporary thing …”, etc. are all statements I say to myself out loud over and over again so that I remain in faith. 
Jesus has already given us His joy for this life journey; we need to walk in that path so we can experience everything He has placed along that road.

This Week’s Challenge:
Bring People to the Joy Path
Not knowing your situation, it’s easy for me to say, “Come on now, buck up and keep a smile on your face ... others are looking at your faith.” 
We all know that sometimes talk is cheap and doesn’t do a thing unless it is followed with action … you know the thing that people can see … the measurement of joy flowing outward.
We have come a long way on this journey and by now should realize how much God has been faithful through it.  Staying on the path of joy is something we have focused on regardless of our tests or trials.
This week we are going to lead others onto the path of joy through our conversations, actions and prayer so that people can experience the blessings of the Lord for themselves. 
If you find that someone is experiencing hard times, introduce them to the joy of the Lord through your conversation.  Talk about God and ask if they have any questions they’ve been wondering about that aren’t answered.  It doesn’t even have to be about the Bible. If you are walking the path of joy the Holy Spirit will give you answers to help them. When they ask how you knew it, tell them God told you and you believe His Word. It’s a sure conversation starter and one they initiated.
Strolling down the path of joy, there is so much God wants us to experience.  Shall we begin our walk right now? I’m ready to talk about His love, mercy, favor and blessings.
“Whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him (Jesus), yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory.” (1 Peter1:8 NKJV)


Until next time, there is favor on the joy path.

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“Meet me on the joy path ...”

– Jesus Christ

What's New this Week:

"The Grace Outpouring" 

Becoming A People of Blessing
by Roy Godwin & Dave Roberts

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Content and Image Copyright from Favored1. Do not copy. A.N.A. logo by J.C.Penney, Inc.
Scripture reference was taken from the New King James Bible Version provide by Gateway Bible
Image credit: Google Images or Dreamstime Creative Common License if not specified.
Image: Baby Joy  Nehemiah 8:10  Psalm 16:11  Cart  Joy Journey
Joy Unspeakable lyrics written by Barney E. Warren, 1900  Copyright: Public Domain  Main subject: Joy Scripture: 1 Peter 1:8  lyrics
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