Sow & Gather

joy

How Is Our Joy Complete?

AdventMarci AnthonyComment
#joy #advent #sowandgater I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete

I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. John 15:11

The Christmas Season is upon us! As I sit here this morning, the smell of pine is filling the air in my home.  As I glance across the kitchen, chocolate delights from dear friends cover my counter. Even my coffee creamer is flavored with the tastes of the season.    

From my experience, this season requires a plethora of smiles! And therein lies our problem, the smiles!  While much about the season forces a happy face, we all encounter times of mustering up smiles at times when it is a struggle. Do you ever find yourself faking it during this merriest of times? I DO!!  

It reminds me of one party in particular that my husband and I were hosting in our home at Christmas. To say that our preparation was crazy does not begin to describe the day of the party. From last minute trips to the grocery store to menu changes, there was a scurry of activity in our kitchen. All was completely thrown into bedlam when I decided it would be brilliant to turn on the dishwasher before the party AND USE LIQUID DISHWASHING SOAP. The bubbles escaped the dishwasher all over the floor. I cleaned up the mess quickly, threw on some clothes, lit some candles, and with the most plastered of smiles opened the door for my guests. That fake smile! 

Oh, my dear sweet friends, do you, like me have a desire to run from the fake smile this season? Do you have the desire to experience this season with a face that reflects REAL joy? God has given me a few thoughts on how to experience this complete joy that He spoke about while He was on earth. I invite you to meditate on these and allow God to use them to help you this season as they have helped me. 

 Recognize that happiness and joy are not the same.

Webster’s defines happiness as, “delighted, pleased, or glad, as over a particular thing.” Much delight is experienced during the holidays, but recognize that every day will not be one to celebrate. Excessive time commitments, financial struggles, memories of lost loved ones are just a few of the hurdles to gladness. While God’s Word mentions a happy attitude, His entire message is a message of joy; complete peace that transcends circumstance. Jesus literally came so that we could experience His complete joy. Happiness cannot be experienced all of the time due to circumstances, but joy CAN be experienced all of the time due to Jesus. 

Daily receive the gift of joy that God offers you.

Every single day, Jesus offers us a day walking with Him. Galatians 5:22, 23, 25 says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control….Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” Joy cannot be mustered and it isn’t even a response. Quite simply it is a result of “living in” and “walking with” the spirit of God. Receive that daily. 

Focus attention on receiving the gift of joy instead of creating happy moments.

There is such a tendency to focus on creating these magical moments for ourselves and our families during this season. Focus your attention on running to Jesus, rather than the moments of the season. Run to Him daily. Sit in the overwhelming covering of His grace, mercy and love every morning. Then, create all the happy moments you can. 

Ok sisters, let’s fight for joy this season. May your season be filled with REAL moments! 

Dig Deeper |

John 14-15. Understand while reading this, that these are the last words that Jesus spoke before He was crucified. These are the words that Jesus spoke so that we could experience His joy. 

Action Item |

Will you fight for joy in the presence of Jesus? or just be satisfied with happy moments instead of joy? 

Prayer |

Dear Jesus, I desire to experience your real joy. I know that you came so that your joy could be in me. Please protect my mind from the distraction of the season. Give me the courage to fight for time with You! Amen.

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A Christmas Wish For Joy

AdventMarci AnthonyComment
#joy #advent #sowandgather Romans 15:13

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Romans 15:13

Last night I put together my Christmas card for the season. As I am sure you understand, that required a huge undertaking of investigation through loads of pictures. As I reflected back on the year, I experienced a myriad of emotions. Oh, there were exciting moments this year and some that literally tore my heart out (You will be happy to know that my card reflects the happy moments and not the sad ones[Symbol]). 

As I chose pictures and began to think about my wish for my family and friends, I ran across this verse, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”  While I used another verse in my card, this morning I cannot shake the depth of this verse. 

Walk with me in this moment while I unpack it’s incredible wish. 

The God of Hope

I recently was in a conversation with someone and he explained that the God of the Old Testament and the God of the New Testament seem very different to him. While my initial reaction was defensive, the thought intrigued me to dig a little. My probing God’s word led me to understand and accept one truth, THE GOD OF THE BIBLE IS THE GOD OF HOPE FROM BEGINNING TO END. He was the hope for Adam and Eve as they understood their mistake. He was the hope for Noah, the only man of faith.  He was the hope for Abraham and Sarai as they waited for a child. He was the hope for the Israelite nation as they continually rejected Him and His blessings. He was the hope of King David as he reflected on his horrific mistake. He was the hope for Gomer as she came back from slavery. He was the God of Hope when He sent His son to the earth. He was the God of hope when He offered His son to die for the sins of the world. He is the hope for the world as He offers a relationship with Him. 

Will Fill You

The Greek word for fill is pléróma. In reviewing the Biblical definition, you will find that this word indicates fullness and completion. It is so very difficult for each of us to understand God completely, but for just one moment picture with me, if you will, your Thanksgiving meal. You know that feeling when all is said and done and you simply cannot put one more piece of turkey in your mouth. Or that moment when you think you never want to see pie again! The literal feeling of fullness is exactly what God desires to do when He gives us something. He doesn’t sprinkle just a little of his gifts. No way! He gives to the fullest. He gives so much that it is complete.   

All

God doesn’t exaggerate! Yep, it says all. 

With Joy and Peace

Joy and peace are like peanut butter and jelly. They simply cannot be separated. What God gives is peace that transcends circumstance. Contentment. Calm.   

As you trust in Him

Trust. Trust. Trust. Trusting in Jesus requires something that is difficult for many. It requires believing in something that you can never touch or see. It requires hearing the word of God, accepting the word of God as true, and then making the truth of God our own truth. That friend that finds himself questioning the truth of God that I referred to earlier, is really struggling with trusting God. I know of that struggle myself at times. Even when I teach the word of God, there are times that believing and trusting God to be in charge of my life is difficult. When I find those moments difficult, I try to look back in my life and remember what God has done for me in the past. Remembering His work in my family and those that I love always brings me back to Him. Then I simply ask Him to help me with my unbelief. 

So here is my Christmas wish for you:   

May the God of Hope (The eternal giver of hope) fill you (to fullness and completion) with all (no exaggeration) joy and peace (peace and contentment that transcends circumstance) as you trust in Him (believing that God is who He says He is!). 

Dig Deeper |

Hebrews 11

Action items |

Make a list of all of the heroes of the faith that James lists in Hebrews 11. Next to their names, list why they were faithful. Ask God to give you the faith that each of those demonstrated. 

Prayer |

Dear Jesus, help my unbelief and my lack of trust. Soften my heart so that I can relax into your plan. Lord, as I go through this season, fill me with your joy and peace so that I can experience all of your hope. Amen.

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Joy--Look to Creation

joyMarci AnthonyComment
The trees of the forest sing for #joy #sowandgather

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. Then all the trees of the forest will sing for joy; they will sing before the LORD, for he comesPsalm 96:11-13 NIV

Where do you like to travel when you are vacationing? Do you like to return to the same destination or does it vary from trip to trip? What about souvenirs? Do you purchase souvenirs for all your family and friends or do you obtain only one special item from each place? 

When my family vacations, we attempt to go to a different place every time. I especially enjoy the variety and am always anxious to see new places. When we travel, we always purchase one singular souvenir. We buy a poster or picture from one of the places we visited to hang on our walls at home. A majority of the pictures are of God’s spectacular creation. We have pictures of beaches, waterfalls, mountains, canyons, trees and even flowers. 

I love it!!!  

And, as I move from room to room, I am able to gaze upon each picture and remember. I recall the rest, enjoyment, peace and especially the joy that comes from God’s creation. His creation is awe-inspiring and He has given it to us to bring delight and joy.  

Your home may not be covered with pictures of creation like mine, but you can begin now to really look at His wonderful gifts. God has given each one of us a blue sky, shining sun, trees just beginning to change color, cooler mornings and fall flowers. I’ve even just experienced a tasty bit of chocolate and some piping hot coffee. His creation truly provides us joy! 

Dig Deeper |

James 1:17, Psalm 104 

Action Item |

Delight oneself in God’s creation! 

Prayer |

Dear God, You are the creator of all things. Thank You for Your gift of creation. Help me to always experience Your joy and delight in this gift. Amen. 

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How Do Joy and Suffering Go Together?

joyMarci Anthony2 Comments
#joy and suffering can work together #prayer #Jesus

For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.  2 Corinthians 4:17 (NKJV) 

Joy:  “The emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying,” from Dictionary.com.  That’s probably how most people would describe joy.  Joy is so much more than just an “emotion” that must be stimulated by something “exceptionally good or satisfying”.  When you see the word joy in the Bible, it is often used along with suffering, which might seem strange.  What do suffering and joy have in common? 

The definition of joy in the Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary says, “State of delight and well-being that results from knowing and serving God”.  It has nothing to do with what is happening in my life.  The joy that the Bible talks about has so much more depth and meaning.  It doesn’t matter what I’m going through, I can still have joy because I have Jesus.   

My joy is not dependent upon my circumstances, which can change so quickly.  I can have joy despite my circumstances.  James 1:2-4 says, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trails, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.  But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”  James is telling us that we don’t have joy because of what we are going through, but, that what we are going through won’t be wasted.  God will use it for our good, drawing us closer to Him and developing spiritual maturity in us. 

According to the Bible, the source of my joy isn’t an emotion caused by external things, but God Himself, who fills me internally.  “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit,” Romans 15:13.  The joy that God gives us cannot compare to anything that the world can offer. 

Dig Deeper |

Romans 5:3-5, Romans 12:12, Hebrews 12:2, James 1:2-4

Action Item |

Are you ready to experience true joy?  Seek God in His word and you will find Him. 

Prayer |

Father, thank you that my joy isn’t temporary or fleeting.  It is not dependent on what I am doing, but rather Who I am trusting.

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When You Just Can't Measure Up

joyMarci AnthonyComment
when-you-just-cant-measure-up-theres-joy #sowandgather #Jesus

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.  John 10:10 ESV

We live in a world where the opposite of good is not bad; it's "not good enough." 

Many of us devoted hours of the month of August to watching the Olympic Games. I saw the heartbreak of second place over and over again. I simply ask myself why. Why does coming in second, third, or last have to steal the competitors' joy? I can't begin to imagine the hard work, hours, grit, determination, money, and sacrifice it takes to compete at that level. There's a singular goal in mind, and when that goal is not achieved, does joy go away? 

I know I'm not competing on a world stage. Even in my everyday tasks, I suffer from the falsehood of "not good enough." Maybe I don't allow the world to dictate I'm a "bad" mom, but I do allow the world to dictate that I'm "not good enough" as a mom (wife, sister, friend, co-worker, boss, employee). 

I fail. I often fail miserably.

Here's the deal, I get up and start over every morning. I don't want to get up and start over. There are days I want nothing more than to snuggle into the pillow and forget my responsibilities, my failures, and even my successes.  

There have been times in my life where there was joy-void a mile wide. I allowed circumstances to control my joy. A time where I constantly lived in the shadow of "not good enough" and let the world rob me of joy. 

Are you there today? Have you been beaten down by the world saying "you're just not good enough"? 

In the middle of a period of constant frustration with life, I clung to John 10:10. I come so that you might have life more abundantly. The verse was so simple, it seemed to commit to my memory by osmosis. At the time, I didn't know what to do with that verse. It was there in my mind and over many years worked itself into my heart. 

The verse is a picture of God's desire for us to have Joy in Him. Not in the things of this world. But, in His abundance. We cannot find joy on our own. We can't earn it; we can't be good enough. And, we can't be bad enough to be robbed of joy. 

In the midst of the struggles and stresses of life, we have to have something to cling to. Find your joy in Christ. Know with all your heart that God's desire is for you to hold onto joy in the hard days and the easy days. Joy is always available. Joy only hides when we allow it.  

If you have questions about how you can find joy in Christ, please visit I Am Second.

Dig Deeper |

John 15

Action Item |

Write down three things you are grateful for today and post it on your mirror. 

Prayer |

Dear Heavenly Father, I know that I just don't measure up to the world's standards of winner, best, or number one. Lord, help me to accept that I am not measured by the world's standards, but by the grace of God that covers my imperfections. Lord, bring joy to my life and my household today. Amen. 

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Shout For Joy Today

joyMarci AnthonyComment
shout for joy #sowandgather

Shout joyfully to the LORD, all the earth; break forth and sing for joy and sing praises.  Psalm 98:4. NASB

The bustling shores of the Carolina beaches typically lure our family each summer, but this year, instead of beach chairs and paddle boards, we opted for hiking boots and bear spray.  Our adventure took us out west to behold one of the oldest National Parks – Yellowstone.  I’ve always pictured our family taking this trip in a fully loaded RV (or as my friend calls them, “Marriott on wheels”) with bicycles, and a Jeep Wrangler in tow.  Reality set in, and the RV dream was downsized to a SUV packed out with no bicycles in tow!   

Our trip took us through the majestic Colorado Rockies, the natural sandstone arches of Utah, the grassy plateaus and deep valleys of Idaho, rolling hills of Montana, and into the northwest part of Wyoming.   

The topography changes from state to state were breathtaking, but not as jaw-dropping as entering Yellowstone National Park.  Almost immediately the air was crisper, the sky a brilliant blue, and the sun glistened on the rivers.  We quickly rolled down our windows and we could hear the wind whistling through the trees, and the sound was like pages of a Bible being turned.  Psalm 98 says “Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them.  Then all the trees of the forest will sing for joy.” 

It felt as though the earth was lifting up praise to the almighty Creator God.  There are no words to express the exquisite beauty and splendor of what God has created.  One evening, as the sun was setting, we drove through a valley surrounded by herds of bison and elk enjoying the cooler air and provisions of the valley. My mind wandered to Psalm 104 where God’s Word says He sends forth springs to the valley and they give drink to every beast of the field, beside them the birds of the heaven’s dwell and they lift up their voices among the branches. They all wait for God to give them food in due season, and are satisfied with His provision.   

I joined in the celebration of shouting joyfully to the LORD for all He has done and what He continues to do for me.  What a privilege it was to behold such beauty and know that everything God has created bows down to His holiness.   

It was an amazing trip for our family, squeezed in that SUV, and the good news --- we didn’t have to use the bear spray! 

Dig Deeper |

Psalm 104; Psalm 96; Psalm 98 

Action Item |

When was the last time you were in awe of who God is and what He has created?  Take time to bow down and praise Him for His majesty! 

Prayer |

Dear Father, what a gift it was to stand in the midst of such beauty and give You thanks for all You have done.  I’m humbled knowing that it is You that creates and sustains the earth, and all that is in it.  May I continue to shout for joy all the days of my life.  Amen. 

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This post is part of the linkup with Susan B. Mead.

Yes, God Laughs!

Father'sMarci AnthonyComment
time to weep and a time to laugh #sowandgather

A time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.  Ecclesiastes 3:4 NIV 

One of my absolute favorite traits about my husband is his sense of humor. His humor and ability to laugh, even during dire circumstances, drew me to him when we first met and as we began to date. His laughter throughout our married life and as we have become parents has lightened our life together. 

When our children were small, he started to teach them to laugh. He would drop down on the floor, make eye contact with them, and just laugh out of pure fun. In turn, they would start to giggle and eventually laughter filled the house. Even now he watches funny videos and movies with them, acts silly with all his antics, and at times makes light-hearted jokes during those tough discussions just to ease the tension. Because of my husband, my family spends time laughing. 

As I have learned more about God, I believe he laughs, too. When he created the earth and everything in it, God saw all that he made and it was good. And, I am sure at that moment he smiled and laughed with joy. Just as he attended the wedding at Cana, ate supper with his friends, Mary, Martha and Lazarus, and enjoyed a meal with 5,000 people, I am sure he didn’t just sit there stoically but enjoyed and relished the special moment. 

Even Proverbs 17:22 says, “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” God wrote this proverb for us. He knew we needed to laugh and experience joy. And if you are like me, I periodically allow myself to get bogged down with life. But laughter helps me emotionally and physically. It relieves some of that stress I experience. 

So, add laughter to your day. Listen to a good joke, watch something funny or just sit down and enjoy a good belly laugh at the wonders of life. It is good medicine. 

Digging Deeper |

Psalm 126:2-3; Job 8:21 

Action Item |

Laugh!!!! 

Prayer |

Jesus, Thank you for laughter. You created it and want us to be joyful. When life is a struggle, remind me to “lighten” up and help me to be filled with your laughter. Amen. 

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Jesus Is The "Easy" Button

Advent 2015, joyMarci AnthonyComment
advent2015-rejoice-in-the-lord-always-sowandgather

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Philippians 4:4-5

"The holidays made easy." "Press the easy button." All phrases I keep seeing from the grocery store to the office supply store.

Each of us would like less stress. I think the world is selling us a concept of less stress by making us think an "easy" life equals a stress-free life. In this fast-paced, often challenging world we live in, we've decided easy equals less-stress and hard equals more-stress.

I don't believe it. I've had times in my life where I'm cruising along with my job and home life and not under deadlines. Times when I should have it all together - when life was easy - and I was miserable. Compare that to days, weeks, months I'm under constant deadlines, traveling like a crazy woman, and my house is a wreck -- I'm content and sleeping easy.

I think of Mary and Martha - two sisters that were friends with and followers of Jesus Christ. These two sisters come alive for me in the pages of the Bible when we see how they cope with the death of their brother Lazarus. Lazarus had been dead for four days and his body was prepared for burial. At last, Jesus arrives and Martha runs to him.

Martha says to Jesus, “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask.”

Martha's statement is not one of accusation, but simply of the facts. She knew Jesus could have prevented the death. She also knew Jesus could bring Lazarus back. Even more important, she accepted that what happened next had to be a part of God's will.

In the grief, stress, and hardship of death, Martha found her "easy" button. Jesus never promised Martha (or us) an easy life. Jesus has promised us a joy-filled life if we trust him. Martha accepted that Christ was with her in the situation. That acceptance is what brings us a joy.

When I present my prayers to the Lord humbly, with thanksgiving for all that God has provided, I receive a peace and joy that surpasses any "easy" button I might try to use.

Life is hard. Jesus makes a hard life easy bestowing his followers with never ending joy. We just need to accept the joy each day.

Dig Deeper |

John 11:1-45; Philippians 4:4-7

Additional Liturgical Advent Readings |

Zephaniah 3:14-20; Isaiah 12:2-6; Luke 3:7-18

Action Item |

Write down one thing that is hard for you today. Then write out a prayer of thanksgiving and joy presenting your request for resolution to the Lord.

Prayer |

Dear Heavenly Father, life is hard. There are so many distractions pulling us away from you and from gratitude. Lord, you promise your followers joy if they follow your commands. May I follow your commands today. May I count my many blessings. May I live in today but, also, yearn for your return. Amen.

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There Is Joy In Obedience

Advent 2015, joyMarci AnthonyComment

Jonah and joy are not two words that typically go together when we recall the story of Jonah being swallowed by a whale. Yet God keeps pressing on my heart that joy is the foundation of this four-chapter book found in the Old Testament of the Bible.

I went back and dug deeper and asked God, "Show me the joy?"

In case you are not familiar with Jonah, his job was to proclaim God's truth at God's direction. Jonah didn't like the message God asked him to deliver. Jonah decided to hop a ship and sail to a city more than 2000 miles in the opposite direction of where God told him to go.

I love Jonah's honesty. He actually tells the sailors he's running away from God. Jonah then promptly falls asleep like a baby in the hull of the ship. While Jonah is snoozing, an amazing storm threatens to sink the ship and crew. The sailors wake Jonah and demand an accounting of just how bad Jonah ticked-off God. Jonah realizes God brought the storm and that it would only subside if he was tossed into the raging sea.

The sailors didn't want to kill Jonah. They fought hard to get to shore. Only after pleading with God not to punish them did they agree to toss Jonah overboard.

As Jonah sinks deeper and deeper into the depths of the sea, the sailors also begin to sink -- to their knees. The sea becomes calm when Jonah and the sailors are obedient to God's direction. The sailors, who did not worship God when the ship launched, greatly feared the Lord, offered sacrifices to the Lord, and made vows to the Lord when the sea calmed. As God reveals himself to the sailors, the joy God promises starts to be revealed to me as well.

There was joy in the moment of rescue from physical death. But the true joy was the moment the sailors accepted Jonah's God - - the God that created the land and the sea.

There was joy in obedience to God.

Jonah and the sailors intentionally disobeyed God because they thought they had a better plan. The sailors thought fighting against the howling winds and waves would save them. Jonah thought running away was the answer.

How often do I run from God or fight a battle God has not called me to fight? When I try to do either, I am miserable and exhausted in my disobedience. Only when I give God control and obey Him does joy begin to bubble up from deep within me. Only when I begin to sink down to my knees in praise and submission does the joy spill out.

I no longer have to fear or fight disaster by running or rowing the opposite direction. "The king of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst; you shall fear disaster no more." Zephaniah 3:15.

As we continue this December preparing our hearts for the celebration of Jesus' birth, consider that abundant joy in Christ can be yours if He is your personal Lord and Savior. You can learn more about Jesus as your Savior at IamSecond.

Dig Deeper |

Jonah 1:1-17; Zephaniah 3:14-20

Additional Liturgical Readings For TheThird Week of Advent |

Isaiah 12:2-6; Philippians 4:4-7; Luke 3:7-18

Action Item |

Draw a boat in your journal, on your calendar, or on the napkin that came with your morning coffee. It can be simplistic or ornate. Ask God to forgive you of any disobedience and to help you set sail on His path to joy.

Prayer |

Dear Heavenly Father, forgive me for my disobedience. It seems that almost everyday I set about my work on my path without regard for Your will for my life. Lord, I have tasted the sweetness of the joy of obedience. Please bring me back to You each day. Amen.

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How Do We Embrace Moments of Joy During Advent?

Advent 2015, joyMarci Anthony1 Comment

LORD, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance. Psalm 16:5-6 (NIV)

Right now. Right now I am having a moment of unexplained joy. These moments seem so few and far between in my hurried life. I actually couldn’t express how I was feeling at first. The emotion was so different from how I feel most of the time.

What triggers these moments of joy? A great workout, a hug from my teenager, or knowing family celebrations are just around the corner? Could it simply be for a few moments today I was content with my lot? I was content with the provisions and boundary lines God provides for me and my family.

King David praised God for giving him pleasant boundary lines. In today's world, setting boundaries or being boxed-in seems like a limitation. But, I think King David had it right. God gives us so much. Many times we never even explore the full potential of the boundary that God gives. "Think outside the box," that's what we tell our kids and our co-workers when it comes to problem solving. What if we fully explored all the corners of the box first? How many of us never even go to the edge of what God has provided for us so we can truly say, "The boundary lines have fallen in pleasant places."

The boundary lines bring us freedom -- which bring us joy.

Freedom means to fully embrace what is within the unique domain God has provided for each one of us. As I set my heart on Advent and the anticipation of Christ's birth, I think of the freedom and joy that came down in a baby over 2000 years ago. I ponder the heart of Mary, the mother of Jesus. I consider the fear, excitement, contentment, and joy she must have experienced all at the same time for nine months. Could Mary have ever imagined the borders of her boundary line much less the borders of Jesus' boundary line?

I'm writing this and you are reading this, so it's pretty clear neither one of us was selected to give birth to the Savior of the world or to be the Savior of the world. Just because we weren't called for those missions, doesn't mean our purpose is of any less value. God gives each of us beautiful, joyful, pleasant boundary lines. He hems us in right where we are meant to be today.

Seek the joy in your boundary. It's waiting for you.

Dig Deeper |

Psalm 16; Luke 1:46-55

Additional Liturgical Readings For the Third Week of Advent|

Zephaniah 3:14-20; Isaiah 12:2-6; Philippians 4:4-7; Luke 3:7-18

Action Item |

Write down three things for which you are grateful. Praise God for showing you that gratitude is the foundation of joy.

Prayer |

Dear Heavenly Father, why do my eyes wander to the grass on the other side of my appointed lot? Show me today how to embrace and explore the fullness of your provision. Amen.

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This post is part of A Proverbs 31 Wife linkup.
 

Snow White Thanksgiving - We Are Washed As White As Snow

ThanksgivingMarci AnthonyComment
snow-white-thanksgiving-sowandgather.com

I will enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. Psalm 100:4 (NASB)

Thanksgiving was an extended family affair for my home. Each holiday we would cram into our blue Pontiac with plastic seat covers. Pillows, suitcases, cinnamon-clove wafting pumpkin pie, toys, hanging clothes . . . there was barely enough room to squeeze in, but enough room that my brother and I had a dividing line.  The kind of line that we weren't to cross or swift reprimand would follow. We traveled like this for four hours so when we arrived, it was like releasing caged animals into the wild. 

I was an outside girl so I immediately would head to my grandparent's front lawn where many one hundred year old oak trees stood. In the fall, the ground would be covered in leaves and acorns. The leaves were often wet from fall rains and had begun to decompose and decay giving them a pungent, earthy smell.  Being the tomboy, I loved raking these multicolored offerings into piles I jumped into without reserve. I usually came out with bits of leaves clinging to my naturally curly hair. The moisture which was a deep rich brown often stained my clothes and was virtually impossible to wash out. 

One such Thanksgiving as the aunts and uncles and grandchildren gathered, it began to snow. Since snow was not common at that time of year, the grand kids took turns pressing close to the window glass hoping to see the round cracker-sized flakes fall. Excitement hummed as the children were hopeful to play in the snow.  

As the house awoke to my granny's favorite alarm of a metal spoon and cast iron skillet, the kids rushed to see what had happened in the night. Mounds and mounds of beautiful, pure white snow lay softly on the ground. I thought it was the most beautiful sight. The dead, decaying leaves which made me dirty had been covered by such beauty that sparkled in the sun.

It was a snow white Thanksgiving! 

Much like this story, my life before Christ was stained and filthy. Without treatment of His precious blood, I would not be clean. I had a life filled with death and decay that needed only what the Savior could give. Oh, but what great joy when on the day that I trusted Him to save me, He softly laid His beautiful pure righteousness over me. So when I enter His gates, I am thankful because where I stood rejected, I now have acceptance. Where I was called an enemy, now I am called a friend. Where I once was judged, now I am not condemned. Where I once was dead, I now am alive.

Where once I wore filthy rags, I now wear white that shines like stars in the universe.       

Dig Deeper | 

Isaiah 1:18-19; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Romans 8:1 

Action Item | 

When was the last time you remembered to thank God for His grace towards you through Jesus Christ? Think of all it cost Him so you could have life. 

Prayer | 

Thank you Lord for Your saving grace and for covering me with Your righteousness. Thank You for doing for me what I could not do for myself. Help me not forget what it cost You to give me freedom from sin and death. Give me courage to share with others this tremendous gift of life. Amen.

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Hope Is Not A Feeling - It's Security In Christ

Romans, HebrewsSow & Gather - Tamera B.2 Comments
hope-is-security-in-christ-sowandgather-romans15

I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.  NLT

As my children are growing older, I find myself holding my breath and sometimes simply “hoping for the best.”  Women face a multitude of issues that keep us in that same place of hoping. 

It is exhausting at times to Just. Keep. Hoping.  Webster’s dictionary speaks of this hope. It defines it as, “a feeling that events will turn out for the best.”  Oh my, my future outlook rests on my feelings so many times!

In His word, God speaks to us about a different kind of hoping, a hope that is not at all based on feeling or emotions.  God sized hope is a strong and confident expectation.  This hope has nothing to do with feeling, but is based on truth - the truth of God.  Oh how my soul desires to have confidence, to not simply wish but to know.

Romans 15 reminds us that the hope of God begins with Him and is received through trusting.  We trust when we give our hearts and lives to Jesus daily.  Trusting in Jesus has a result or benefit.  That benefit is joy, peace, and a confident hope.  Sit with Jesus today and trust Him!! 

Dig Deeper |

Hebrews 6; Hebrews 11

Action Item |

Think about how you have experienced joy, peace, and hope from God.  Trust Him today.

my-hope-is-in-christ-sowandgather

Prayer |

Dear Jesus, trusting you is difficult at times.  Forgive me for my lack of faith.  Give me the strength and courage to trust you in my life.  I desire to have confident hope.  I desire to be able to look at the future and smile.  Give me your hope today for all that lies ahead for me.  Amen.

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