Thursday, May 31, 2018

LAST CHANCE: For June Prayers

How can we pray

for you and your family

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

May 30 - Prayer - James 5:16


"Any concern too small

to be turned into a prayer

is too small to be made

into a burden."

Corrie Ten Boom


Join us Wednesdays as we pray

… especially in the summer

if you missed or know you’re

going to miss a Sunday.


There’s power when

the people of God

gather to pray.


We’re seeing it

at Spirit of Joy.


The prayer of a righteous person

is powerful and effective.

James 5:16




Saturday, May 26, 2018

May 26-27 - Psalm 11:7


Who shall behold God’s face? The upright. The righteous.


Righteousness is literally right behavior. It is integrity. It is fidelity to God’s ways.


And … it’s more than that.


Righteousness also requires faith. Without faith, morality is just being honorable. Nice. But righteousness is a thoroughly spiritual posture. As Scripture says, “the righteous shall live by faith” (Rom 1:17).


When our hearts and our lives seek after God, that’s when we truly see God’s face.    

Thursday, May 24, 2018

May 25 - Psalm 10:14


It is not fun, but it is a fact: Because of sin, we live in an often cruel world. People do evil, and the pain makes us weep.


Today’s verse is a pray: “Lord, ‘look.’ But, don’t just look; ‘do something.’ Help! We ‘look’ to you for answers.”


And the basis for our confidence of God’s help? “Lord, ‘you are the one who helps the orphans’; surely you will help us too.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Tomorrow is Pentecost - Acts 2:2-4

The Holy Spirit…

makes us yearn for God,




takes spiritual truth and

makes it understandable to us.

B i l l y   G r a h a m

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

May 17 - Psalm 8


A baby isn’t

ready to be king!


Is humanity fit

for dominion of

God’s kingdom?


How about you?


Are you stewarding

your part of God’s realm?


Tuesday, May 15, 2018

May 16 - Psalm 7:1-2



Who's your

greatest enemy?


Did you list the devil who

roars, prowls, deceives

and devours?


Sunday, May 13, 2018

May 14 - Psalm 6:4


Have you ever

battled life’s storms?

Have you ever worried

about going under?


Cry as the Psalmist:

“Turn, Loving Lord!”

He hears.

He saves!


Thursday, May 10, 2018

May 11 - Psalm 5:3


I am not a morning person.

The birds awake before me.


So does God.


He’s created my day.

Will I entrust it to him …

and wait expectantly?


Wednesday, May 9, 2018

May 10 - Mark 4:1-20


Last Sunday:

The Parable of the Sower.


What kind of soil are you?


Hard or soft?

Shallow or deep?

Entangled or clean?


And if you’re good soil

will you become a sower?


Tuesday, May 8, 2018

May 9 - Ephesians 2:5

I am gradually writing an introduction for visitors at Spirit of Joy. I’m letting you listen in. Any feedback would be welcomed!



Who is Spirit of Joy?

Three Words: LUTHERAN …

which means WORD and GRACE!


by grace you have been saved

Ephesians 2:5


Who are Lutherans?


Here’s the super-quick story … In an era when God was portrayed as an angry God, Martin LUTHER opened the WORD and discovered God’s GRACE.


In other words, at Spirit of Joy, we are LUTHERANS whose simple goal is to stand on those principles: God’s WORD is our timeless and unshakable foundation, and we minister with love and GRACE.


If you’re interested, here’s the slightly longer version of the story …


When Martin Luther grew up in the late 1400s, it was as if the rhetoric of that era had heated up the fires of hell a hundred times. People were scared to death of God – including Luther. Charlatans were even “selling” the forgiveness of sins, bilking terrified peasants out of what little money they had.


In the midst of that dark time, as Martin Luther walked home from college one day, a terrifying blast of lightning stuck. Knocking Luther to the ground, the young man cried out in fear, “Help me, and I’ll become a monk.”


Now, if most of us had made a hasty pledge to become a nun or a monk, we’d find a way to weasel out of that commitment. (Even if that pledge was to God, right?) But Martin Luther was too afraid to not fulfill his cry to heaven. Why? Because he was scared to death of God!


In fact, as a young monk, Martin Luther would spend hours every day in the confessional booth, confessing every piddly little sin. And then he’d lay awake for hours each night, worrying about what he’d forgotten to confess. He was taught – and he believed – that if he forgot to confess even one sin, he might be cast for a thousand more years into purgatory … if not an eternity in hell itself.


Finally Luther’s father confessor got tired of the young monks incessant despair and essentially said, “Martin, this contemplative life of a monk is not working out for you. You need to go out and do something practical!” And practical was result: He sent Luther out to teach the Scriptures.


Now, knowledge of the Scriptures, even for a monk, was somewhat limited in that era. With the printing press just being invented and Bibles still being copied by hand, access to the Scriptures was limited, even for monks. Yet Luther was given a great privilege: He was sent off to teach the Word of Life.


First, he taught from the book of Psalms – which surely helped his prayer life.


Second, he taught from St. Paul’s letter to the church at Rome, and in Romans he discovered a concept he’d never comprehended before: GRACE!


Now, I’ll tell you more about how amazing God’s grace really is in another reflection … but for now, suffice it to say, that God’s unmerited love and forgiveness transformed a cowering monk into one of the boldest champions of the Gospel in history.


In fact, as they year 2000 dawned, a secular television network, I think it was A&E, did a show called something like “The Millennium in Review.” In it, Martin Luther was ranked the second or third most influential person in the last thousand years! And it was all because LUTHER opened the WORD and discovered God’s GRACE.


At Spirit of Joy, we are LUTHERANS whose simple goal is to stand on these principles: God’s WORD is our timeless and unshakable foundation, and we minister with love and GRACE.


Monday, May 7, 2018

May 8 - Psalm 4:4

Have you ever heard,

Don’t just stand there, do something?

Today’s Psalm advises the opposite:

Don’t just do something, stand there

… rest there … ponder silently.


Sunday, May 6, 2018

May 7 + Nehemiah 8:10


The joy of the Lord

is our strength ...

Nehemiah 8:10


Wherever there’s a blank below, insert the word “me.”


·         The joy of _______ is my strength – Neh 8:10

·         Rejoice in ______ always. Again I will say, rejoice! – Phil 4:4

·         May my meditation be pleasing to ______, for I rejoice in ______. – Ps 104:34

·         Let the hearts of those who seek ______ rejoice. – Ps 105:3


How does that make you feel?


Now do the same thing, inserting your name wherever there’s a blank ...


·         This is the day that ______ has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it! – Ps 118:24

·         Do not fear ... Be glad and rejoice, for ______ has done great things! Joel 2:21

·         Then shall the trees of the forest sing for joy before ______ , for ______ comes to judge the earth – 1 Chr 16:33

·         With joy [all the people] celebrated ... because ______ had made them joyful – Ez 6:22

·         Let those who desire deliverance shout for joy ... and say forevermore, “Great is ______.” – Ps 35:27

·         My soul ... sings for joy to the living ______. Ps 84:2

·         Declare this with a shout of joy ... “______ has redeemed [us].”– Isa 48:20

·         ______’s words became a joy to us and the delight of our heart – Jer 15:16

·         When ______ restores the fortunes of the people, Israel ... will rejoice. – Ps 14:7

·         Be glad in ______ and rejoice. Shout for joy, all you upright in heart. – Ps 32:11

·         Let the righteous rejoice in ______ and take refuge in him. – Ps 64:10

·         ______ is king! Let the earth rejoice! – Ps 97:1


Alright ... alright ... this many examples was definitely overkill. (And surely you noticed that you should have substituted “the Lord” for every blank line.) But I wanted you to see how closely -- and how frequently joy stems from being God-first. (And these are just a few of many, many examples!)


Here’s the question: How did these corrupted quotes make you feel?


I know … maybe you laughed at a few. (Some were admittedly absurd.) But ultimately it’s not a laughing matter. Me-first is how too many of us – at least on an unconscious level – live too much of our daily lives.


The first sin in creation was the serpent telling Eve, “Eat of this fruit and your eyes will be opened and, then, you can fill-in all of the blanks with your name instead of God’s.” This same sin was at the height of the Tower of Babel. Mere mortals were essentially saying, “One more floor, and we’ll reach heaven itself. And then our names will be equal to God’s.”


Do you admit those motives on a conscious level? Probably not. But subconsciously, don’t we constantly pick ourselves up by our own bootstraps and prefer to control our own destiny?


As Christians, we should learn a better way of discovering “joy” than me-first and selfishness. The real step to joy is spelling J.O.Y. with a J first.


J.O.Y. is:

(J)esus first.

(O)thers second.

(Y)ou third.


In Christ’s Love,

a guy who spells “joy”

J. O. E.

(Jesus, Others, Ed)

Thursday, May 3, 2018

May 4 - Psalm 3:3

I just talked to a mom of an injured son.

She joked about needing a protective bubble!

God is our shield.

But more than armor we hold in front of us,

he’s all AROUND us – 360°!


Wednesday, May 2, 2018

May 3 + Acts 13:52

And the disciples were 

filled with joy and

with the Holy Spirit.

Acts 13:52


The Biltmore House in Asheville, NC, is perhaps the closest thing America has to an old world castle. I asked a woman once, “What do little girls imagine when touring the Biltmore House?” The answer was obvious: “We imagine being princesses.”


I didn’t have to ask about boys? I was one, and we imagine hide-and-seek and war games with Nerf guns.


In a mansion there are dozens of rooms and millions of hiding places. There are great rooms with tall windows and lots of light. There are also hidden corridors and dark, mysterious closets.


The human heart is like a mansion. And in our hearts are places of light and corners of darkness.


The book of Acts tells story after story of new believers. They come to faith, they are baptized, and … what?! The Holy Spirit comes upon them! As faith dawns within a believer, the Holy Spirit takes up residence in this person’s heart.


“The Spirit is here. It is within you,” we tell people.


But do you know how they respond? “So why don’t I see it, feel it, experience it more fully?” That’s the question. (Have you ever asked it?)


When the Spirit comes to dwell in each believer, He takes up residence in our heart. In that cavernous “mansion”! God would love to have free access to every corridor of the mansion of your heart … but how many of us declare certain corners of our lives off-limits? Sometimes we put up “no trespassing” signs intentionally. Sometimes we do it accidentally. Sometimes we slip into bad routines and gradually turn off the light. But the fact is that too many of us tend to relegate the Holy Spirit to back rooms and dark corridors … and then we wonder why we aren’t experiencing more of the Spirit’s power in our lives. (Is that you?)


Can I ask you a personal question? Have you ever wished for more love, joy, and peace in your life? Have you ever longed for more freedom, hope, and courage? These are all fruits, gifts, and provisions of the Holy Spirit. The indwelling Spirit doesn’t just want to just sit in a back corner within your heart. He wants to fill you. Daily!


Being “filled by the Spirit” is a Biblical term and practical concept. For example, when Stephen faced his greatest trial – getting executed for his faith – it says that Stephen looked up to heaven and was “filled with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 7:55). He’d “had” the Spirit within him since he came to faith, but this was a fresh filling! It was as if all the doors in Stephen’s heart opened and suddenly his heart (and mansion) were filled to overflowing! (In fact, “filled with the Holy Spirit,” Stephen responded just like Jesus did on the cross. First, he asked God to forgive his executors. Then he relinquished his life, praying, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”) 


Do you want more provision and power? In a sense, the level of your filling is up to you. God is a gentleman. He won’t force himself into places where he is not invited. Therefore, in the mansion of your heart, He’ll generally go only where you let him. Therefore, if you want more power and provision, you have open the doors. You have to give Him access to your whole life.




·         Desire is generally the first step to spiritual growth. Scripture calls this “hungering” and “thirsting.” Do you want more – really, really want more? That’s the first step.


·         Repentance is the second step. Sin closes doors in our heart. Pride and rebellion put “no trespassing” signs” over certain corners of our lives. Laziness, boredom, and inattention are like not changing light bulbs in the mansion, and our faith keeps growing gradually dim without us really noticing. But repentance starts taking the walls down and turning on the lights. Repentance gives God permission to start moving!


·         Dedicated, daily dependence is the third and final step. It is saying daily and humbly, “God, I can’t do this on my own. Today I give control of my life to you. Cleanse me of my sin, fill me with your Spirit, and set me free to discover the life you intend for me!”  


In Christ’s Love,

a guy who wants

the mansion of his heart

so full that he can’t

find dark corridors

to play war games










Tuesday, May 1, 2018

May 2 - Psalm 2:2

Adam and Eve set

themselves against the Lord

by wanting “to be like God.”

You and I want control too.

But when kings do it …

nations fall.


May 1 - Psalm 1:1

The first word in Psalms is HAPPY.

Want more joy?

Verse 1 advises, Don’t take the path of sinners.

Verse 2: Delight instead in God’s ways.