Here are some ways from the Bible to experience joy. Of course, there are additional ways to experience joy. What brings you joy? What will bring you joy in 2018?
Get Loved on by Jesus
- Isaiah 61:1-3 – The Spirit of the Sovereign Lordis on Jesus (Luke 4), because the Lord has anointed Jesus to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent Jesus to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners… to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve…to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. Why Jesus? Among other things – Joy!
Love Jesus More
- 1 Peter 1:8-9 – Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls. You love Jesus more simply by learning about Him and focusing on all He has done.
Learn from Jesus
- John 15:11 – “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full,” Jesus said. Regularly read Jesus’ teachings in the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John in the Bible. Focus on what brings you joy.
Get into God’s Presence
- Nehemiah 8:10 – The joy of the Lord is your strength.
- Psalm 94:19 – Though anxiety is great within, God’s comfort brings joy. God comforts with His Presence, with hope, with restoration, with love from others.
- Psalm 30:11 – God turns your wailing into dancing; He removes your discomfort and clothes you with joy. The season of looking to God, trusting Him and seeking Him may be a long one. Don’t give up in the long seasons of hurt and struggle and pain. Joy will be restored.
- Zephaniah 3:17 – The Lord our God is with you. He is mighty to save. He takes great delight (joy) in you. He quiets you with His love. He rejoices over you with loud singing.
Keep Returning to God’s Presence
- Isaiah 35:10 – And the ransomed (redeemed, rescued) of the Lord shall return and come to the place of worship with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.
Respond to the Holy Spirit’s Presence and Leading
- Romans 14:17 – For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
- Galatians 5:22 – But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace…
Place Your Hope in all that is Good, Right and True
- Proverbs 10:28 – The hope of the righteous brings joy.
- Romans 15:13 – May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.
Be Grateful for the Struggles
- James 1:2-4 – Count it all joy, my brothers, when you face trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. And let perseverance have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
Express Joy in Prayer and with Gratitude
- 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 – Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Rejoicing, prayer and gratitude go together. And they lead to joy!
- Philippians 4:4-7 – Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Spread the Love
- Acts 13:49,52 – And the word of the Lord was spreading throughout the whole region…And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit. There is no greater joy than being loved on by God and sharing His love.
- 1 John 1:1 – 4 – Jesus, from the beginning, who we have seen, who we know, who we testify about and proclaim, who the Father has made known, with whom we have fellowship – We are writing these things so that your joy may be complete.
It is year end. We have received numerous year-end requests for support from organizations reporting impact of thousands of lives. You may have received the same. Lots of good stuff going on out there. The need and potential impact with our dollars can sometimes be exciting, yet overwhelming. You may have felt the same.
To help us decide where to give, there are four things that we consider when deciding to send support. This is our heart:
- Is what they are doing in line with our heart to see people come to Christ and grow in their relationship with Christ? Especially among unreached people groups. Are they doing that? There are a lot of Christian based organizations that are doing a lot of good, but never talk about Jesus.
- Do we know them personally? We believe God puts relationships together. Although we always wish we could see you more!
- Do they stay in touch regularly (including expressing gratitude)?
- Is the Holy Spirit leading us to give?
If we answer yes to these questions, then we give. And we believe giving in such a matter makes a difference. A gift given with God’s leading and in love is always the right amount.
What is your heart? As you listen to your heart through the leading of the Spirit, you will know where to give.
Impact and Numbers
How much impact does an organization make with those dollars? It depends on how they define impact. The Refuge exists to make a deeper impact through discipleship. We believe that anyone who has the love of the Father, the grace of Jesus, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit will be more equipped to pursue all that God has for them.
Life-change is unmeasurable. We cannot report that we saw someone have a 20% increase in their walk with Christ, or anything like that. That would be unrealistic. Even someone coming to Christ, which we have seen, does not necessarily mean they will thrive in their relationship with God. A growing relationship with God takes some effort. All we can say is we have seen the result of life-change: people finding hope, loving more, forgiving and being forgiven, giving back and going on mission trips. We are seeing kids from tough home situations making wise choices. To us, that is impact. Yes, it’s unmeasurable. But God is real and alive and active and He is working in The Refuge.
So may we simply encourage you to continue to be sensitive to God’s leading in how he would have you be involved with the relationships that have crossed your path. As you do that, you will help make an impact. And if you’d like to give to The Refuge, the information is below and your gift will be received with grateful hearts.
We are Grateful!
Thanks to the many who have prayed for, volunteered with, encouraged and supported The Refuge! We are grateful for the great year-end giving to The Refuge that is happening!
In 2017, we impacted hundreds of lives with the love and grace of God and the message of Jesus’ reconciliation through mission trips, mentoring and making disciples. And exited to see those who are, in turn, making a difference in others’ lives.
- Ongoing ministry to refugee youth and families
- Weekly mentoring / discipleship groups
- Ladies Retreat – February 2017
- Dominican Republic Mission – June 2017
- New Mexico Mission – June 2017
- Worldview Leadership Camp – June 2017
- 7th Annual Beach Retreat – July 2017
- Discipling young men to be disciple makers
- God has met all our financial needs!
Click to Watch (5:10)
May your relationship with God make a difference in your life today!
Click to Watch (4:05)
May your relationship with God make a difference in your life today!
Click to Watch (3:09)
May your relationship with God make a difference in your life today!
God truly blessed us during our mission trips to New Mexico and the Dominican Republic! Students were encouraged by witnessing God’s works and learned about ways the can be used by God in serving others.
We sent three young men – Micah, Munda and Yolian, – to the Dominican Republic to serve with a team from Georgia. One of the young men on the Dominican Republic trip said, “Being in the Dominican Republic was an amazing experience, we worked on a house for a pastor while we were there. Even though we worked in the heat all day it felt good to be able to contribute to the people of the Dominican Republic and spread God’s love.” All men came back encouraged by the trip and are stepping into other opportunities to serve.
We took 7 youth to serve on an Indian Reservation in New Mexico. Our team helped build a porch on the house where mission teams stay while serving on the Indian Reservation. The team also assisted the kids camp for Native American children and helped feed the homeless. Homelessness is widespread on and around the reservation. Scott had the privileged of sharing in both a Navajo church and at the feeding of the homeless. This was a growing experience for our team. They said they loved serving others and enjoyed serving God by bringing smiles to peoples faces. They look forward to next opportunity to serve.
Thanks for all your prayers and support! See more photos on Facebook! (Facebook button on the left)
Thoughts on The Kingdom in Matthew 5:3-11.
We at times have brokenness and hardship and mourning in our lives, but God does not keep us there.
When we are broken, we will belong to the Kingdom (5:3)
When we mourn, we will be comforted ((5:4)
When we hunger and thirst for righteousness, we will be filled (5:6)
When we have pure hearts, we will see God. (5:8)
We can live in His Kingdom, be comforted and filled, and see Him. And when we are broken, mourning and feeling spiritually bankrupt, God will again fill, comfort and heal. We can live in fullness and comfort and healing. That is what Jesus wanted – John 10:10.
When I mess up, I get broken. When I have loss, I mourn. When I am distant from God and don’t have a pure heart, I eventually get hungry enough to turn back to Him. And I see Him.
Then there are ongoing qualities we can have – humbleness, mercy and peacemaking. Micah 6:8 says that the Lord requires us to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with our God.
The humble will inherit the earth. (5:5)
The merciful will be shown mercy (5:7)
The peace makers will see God (5:9)
We can be sure that when we are humble, merciful and peacemaking, God will fulfill His promises of giving us an inheritance and showing us mercy. And we will see Him.
And when we are the children of God, regardless of how good we are, people won’t like us for our faith. But we are blessed to be His children. (5:11-12).
You are blessed…
May the Lord bless you and keep you and make is face shine upon you and be gracious to you. May He turn His face toward you. And give you His peace (Numbers 6:24-26)
Many years ago, when we were raising support to church plant in Kazakhstan, we were doing a presentation for a local church when one of the members asked, “Why? Why go to Kazakhstan? Why not just stay here and minister here? There is plenty to do here.” My response was simply, “Acts 4:12.”
Act 4:12 states, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”
I still believe that. Now more than ever…because His love and grace has been so life changing for me.
I believe Jesus is the way and the truth and the life and no one comes to the Father except through Jesus. Anyone who knows Jesus, knows the Father (John 14:6-7). Since this is true, then we should share about Jesus has much as we can.
We are commanded to love God and love our neighbor (Matthew 22:37-39). We are taught that pure religion is caring for those in distress (James 1:27). Jesus taught and modeled love, compassion, grace, kindness. We should follow His teaching and example. But loving only through acts of kindness is not enough. At some point, we need to share Jesus.
Now in our 22nd year of cross-cultural ministry, I am more convinced….
- Good deeds are not the Redeemer.
- Jobs are not the Healer.
- Food banks are not the Creator.
- Government is not the Prince of Peace.
- English classes are not the Messiah.
- Schools are not the Answer.
- Kids programs are not the Friend.
- Church is not the Rock.
- America, as great as our nation is, is not the Resurrection and Life.
I am not the Savior.
Jesus Is. And anything we do should point to Him.
Yes, we need to be kind to the needy, serve the vulnerable, and work towards redeeming our culture. But doing good is not enough. Our compassionate ministry should point to Jesus.
Refugees need Jesus. And if bringing them to America gets them closer to the message and reality that Jesus loves them, a lot, then bring them on. But if bringing them here means we put them in the worst communities in America, which the resettlement process does, and then do some really nice things for them here and there, then refugees will not be entirely better off. They will be better off, but not entirely. A lost person with some nicer things than what they had overseas is still lost.
Refugee resettlement and what is best for our nation is complicated.
But God keeps it simple for us. If people pursue the Father through Jesus…they will have life (John 10:10). If they seek first His Kingdom and Righteousness…all these things (His care) will be added unto them (Matthew 6:33). If they trust the Father, He will direct and provide (Proverbs 3:5-6).
The best thing we can do for a refugee? Acts 4:12. Jesus. There is no other name where refugees can be saved.
So here is your action item: Share Jesus. Share with invitations and meals and help and compassion. But also share with words. Someone around you needs to hear that Jesus loves them, a lot. And it might even be a Muslim refugee.