The Joy of the LORD is my Strength

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Our homes are meant to be joyful, really joyful.

Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth.

Worship the LORD with gladness;

come before him with joyful songs.

Know that the LORD is God.

It is he who made us, and we are his;

we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving

and his courts with praise;

give thanks to him and praise his name.

For the LORD is good and his love endures forever;

His faithfulness continues through all generations.

Who among us does not love a good praise and worship song during church? How many times have you felt joy welling up inside you at church as you sang? Or what about when you are driving down the street with windows down and the radio up? It is so easy to get caught up in a song like: The Joy of the Lord is my strength.

Let’s wind back to the beginning of your homeschool journey.   Remember your joy and excitement this year when you broke open your new curriculum? Remember all your grand field trip plans, the unit studies you couldn’t wait to tackle, the schedule that was sure to work, and the inspiring literature you envisioned sharing in read-alouds?

Unfortunately, sometimes you find that discouragement has crept into your homes. The excitement has leached away. Perhaps your child is not progressing as you would like, or you have been distracted, busy and unprepared. Maybe you are already exhausted beyond belief. let me share with you another verse that speaks so beautifully into the lives of a homeschooling parent:

I love this verse in Habakkuk 3:17:

“Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crops fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls…” (Wow, this guy is having some problems.)

He said “Yet I will REJOICE IN THE LORD, I will be JOYFUL IN GOD MY SAVIOR” (v.18)

He is going to REJOICE because verse 19 says, “The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on heights…”

Wait a minute, Forgive my modern day translation:

“Though there is no food ready for dinner, and there is no money in the account, though the sickness gets worse and the pain persists, though my children are out of control, and my spouse does not appreciate me, though I feel like I am buried in never ending work, and I cannot get through a single subject without someone interrupting, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.”

Wow! How many moms have you talked to lately that had that kind of joy? Do you have it in your home?

Richard Swenson wrote a book called the Overload Syndrome. He says, “Even our sentences are peppered with such words such as time crunch, fast food, ruch hour, frequent flyer, expressway, overnight delivery, and rapid transit. We send packages by Federal Express, use long distance company called Sprint, manage our personal Finances on Quicker, schedule our appointments on Day Runner, diet with Slim Fasta and swim in trunks made by Speedo. We live in a nano-second culture wheezing and worn out.”

Is that what we are called to do? Ladies, what I am here to tell you, is that regardless of the circumstances, you can rejoice!

Let’s go a little further in God’s word:

“Also that day they offered GREAT SACRIFICES, and REJOICED; for God had made them rejoice with great joy: the WIVES also and the CHILDREN rejoiced: so that the joy of Jerusalem was even heard afar off.”

Neh. 12:43

If you want a little context here, this verse was written after giving a detailed description of all the work that went into rebuilding the walls around Jerusalem. After 52 days of hard labor, and many hours spent in prayers, fasting, work and disagreements, the men made sacrifices to the Lord. As home school families, aren’t we called to make great sacrifices to our Lord daily?

Some of us gave up a lucrative career, some of us gave up the years we fantasized enjoying some freedom from our kids as they climbed cheerfully on a school bus. Some of us have given up many of our own ambitions and freedoms so that we could raise these young one the way the Lord is calling us to raise them. Some have alienated family and friends who simply could not understand our desires to home school our children. To such grace in our hearts that we JOYFULLY make sacrifices unto our God even when we are wheezing and worn out!

Our mouths were filled with laughter

our tongues with songs of joy.

Then it was said among the NATIONS

“The LORD has done great things for them.”

The LORD has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.

Psalm 126

Now who among us cannot see that the Lord has clearly done great things for us? We have been given tremendous freedoms, both in expressions of our faith, and in educating our children. Rather than complaining that we have it so tough, let us rejoice in the Lord. Did you notice that the nations noticed that the Lord had done great things for them? If we are joyfully home schooling our children, people will notice. They will make remarks about our children, their behavior, their maturity, and we will have the chance to show them the light. Have you had that pleasure yet? You are sitting in a restaurant, or maybe out of town on vacation and a complete stranger walks up and tells you that your children are a delight. They say that watching your family somehow blessed them. Take those moments and help to show those people the Light.

Not the homeschooling light but THE light. The one that makes it all possible, CHRIST.

Some of you may be wondering if you have been on the wrong track, how do you obtain the joy of the Lord as your strength. Friends, I urge you to pray for it, to seek it and to act in obedience. When the Israelites were told to cross the River Jordan to the Promised Land, the river did not cease flowing until the priest’s toe touched the water.

Philippians 4:4 says, “Rejoice in the Lord always. i will say it again: Rejoice!”

Psalm 32:11 says, “Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, ye righteous: and shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart.”

You might say, “I don’t feel like rejoicing.” But God didn’t say, “Rejoice, only if you feel like it.” No! he said, “Rejoice always.” Obviously, God knows that you don’t feel like rejoicing always. but he commanded it, so how do we do it?

Joy comes from trusting and obeying God’s word. Joy comes from knowing God is working to accomplish His purposes in all things for the GOOD of those who love him.

But if you feel you are beyond yourself, simply act in obedience, just like those priests did. Rejoice. Sing in thankful hymn. Take a laugh break with your kids. Institute a family joke night. Read a funny story, read the Bible. And families, when you are truly discouraged, go to Jesus. This sounds so trite, but listen: If you are a believer then you will know this. Jesus’ body was dead. Lifeless. I love how Beverly Bradley says this: The body lay in the tomb for three days, you cannot get any more dead than that. And by the power of God, Christ was resurrected. If you think he cannot offer you encouragement and a spirit of joy on those hard days, you are underestimating Him.

This is Jesus we are talking about.

The same power that took a dead, hard corpse and brought him shining and new back to life wants to bring joy to you. Not a book, not just a Word, but God’s amazing, magnificent power!

If you want the joy of the Lord, make your face show it, your body language show it and make sure your husband and children FEEL it, really feel it. Smile broadly when they enter the room. Let them know you have been WAITING for them to wake up and give you good morning lovies.

Laugh at their jokes, with a great big belly laugh, even if they are not too funny. Practice having a joyful heart over and over. When you become overwhelmed and impatient, remember that joy is within your grasp. Laugh. Make a joke. Smile. Think of how to spread to those around you and it will be contagious.

Finally, apply the Word of God in your life. Read what God’s word says about Joy and think of ways to make it a reality in your life. Let the joy of the Lord really be your strength.

If I could give you three things to walk away with, here they are:

1. Trust and obey even when that means sacrifice

2. Realize that God is doing great things for you and through you, and

3. Rely on His power to give you joy beyond your circumstances.

If we follow these principles, we’ll definitely find true joy!

Pray with me now

Father, we ask You now; may we experience a greater measure of joy in our families than ever before. Help us act in obedience even when we do not feel it, and create in us new hearts that seeks to be joyful in YOU. Lord, teach us to trust in You and to do good, delighting in You and in our families. We pray that You will be magnified and exalted in joy-filled homes. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

For our friends from Biblical Principals’  Summer Splash! Kick-off Party: use the code PARTY in our store here to receive a free download of The Joy of the Lord is my strength audio mp3 download. This coupon is for tonight only, so make sure to get your free download tonight before midnight!!  Download your free mp3 before time runs out!

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