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Jul 2017
The joyful heart is the buoyant heart—
empowered to rise above its circumstances,
unweighted, unburdened, unbound,
tied only to that which would lift it higher,
untethered from anything which would
pull it down, pull it under or suffocate it.

It's the free heart, quiet and at rest
yet jubilant and uncontained,
the celebrating heart, the praising heart,
the thankful heart, the heart set on pilgrimage,
bent on adventure, journey and romance.

All the while it's a waiting heart
because it's a yielded, led heart—
a heart which doesn't run ahead of the LORD
but willingly, quickly to the LORD—
a heart that though eagerly anticipating each
twisting turn, next horizon and changing path
keeps its eyes fixed not on the scenery
but forever on the Shepherd
because it's a heart persuaded
that He alone is the Great Reward
for which it has always been looking.

True joy is only ours when we find an endless
source of satisfaction, and of these I know only One!
The secret to all joy is to crave Him above all else.
The joyful heart is the one addicted fully to Him,
desperate for Him to the expense of all else,
willing to sacrifice everything to have that craving satisfied.

Joy and idols, I have learned,
do not easily reside together in the same heart.
So if I find that joy is chased away
the most likely culprits are my own desires.
What am I wanting more than Jesus?
For if intimacy with Him is the supreme goal of my life
then nothing can arise which I'm not enabled to bear with joy.
There is, I suppose, nothing so reliable as suffering and loss
to expose all of the hidden idols within me.

It's surely those who have suffered the greatest
and most frequent losses for Christ who are also
most capable of knowing the deepest and most abiding joy.
For it's when we've been stripped bare of everything else
that we begin to know for certain that our joy is based
not on the temporary blessings of our circumstances
but only on the presence of the Eternal Blesser Himself.

Sometimes He offers to us all that is in His right hand,
but for any with eyes truly opened to see
the most precious of times may be those
when He offers to us only the intimacy of His right hand.

Rivers of sadness can open up
into wide gulfs of endless delight and
are often the very courses needed to carry us there.
When all is lost, we find to our amazement
that, even so, we still have ALL
and no one can rob us of it.
When He takes everything from us
He proves Himself to be EVERYTHING to us.
~~~

"For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain."
~ Philippians 1:21

"I want you to know how hard I am contending
for you...and for all who have not met me personally.
My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart
and united in love, so that they may have the full riches
of complete understanding, in order that they may know
the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden
all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge."
~ Colossians 2:1-3

"I say to the LORD, 'You are my Lord;
    apart from You I have no good thing.'...
Those who run after other gods will suffer more and more...
    LORD, You alone are my portion and my cup;
    You make my lot secure...
I will praise the LORD, who counsels me;
    even at night my heart instructs me.
I keep my eyes always on the LORD.
    With Him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
    my body also will rest secure...
You make known to me the path of life;
    You will fill me with joy in Your presence,
    with eternal pleasures at Your right hand."
~ Psalm 16:2,4a-5,7-9,11

"Though the fig tree does not bud
    and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
    and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
    and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the LORD,
    I will be joyful in God my Savior.
The Sovereign LORD is my strength;
    He makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
    He enables me to tread on the heights."
~ Habakkuk 3:17-19

"How lovely is Your dwelling place,
     O LORD Almighty!
My soul yearns, even faints,
    for the courts of the LORD;
my heart and my flesh cry out
    for the living God.
Even the sparrow has found a home,
    and the swallow a nest for herself,
    where she may have her young—
a place near Your altar,
     O LORD Almighty, my King and my God.
Blessed are those who dwell in Your house;
    they are ever praising You.
Blessed are those whose strength is in You,
    whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.
As they pass through the Valley of Baca,
    they make it a place of springs;
    the autumn rains also cover it with pools.
They go from strength to strength,
    till each appears before God in Zion."
~ Psalm 84:1-7

~~~
Alyssa Underwood
Written by
Alyssa Underwood
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       Val Ikelugo, Alyssa Underwood and Madeon
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