“Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.” [John 16:24]
Last Friday night, I went to our women’s group at church and many of the women were asked to share their one Christmas wish this year and why. Their responses were powerful, and the one common factor between all of their answers was that they were wishing and praying for something that money couldn’t buy. They weren’t asking for new shoes and handbags, they were asking God for miracles and for God to do the supernatural in their lives.
I love this scripture in John 16:24 because it is a call to action for us to ask our Heavenly Father for what we need, what we long for, and our deepest desires. I love that receiving from God and the fulfillment of our prayers being answered will give us complete JOY.
This morning I want to challenge you to think about the things your heart desires and the things in your life you need an act of God. We live in a world focused on the material and surface-level during Christmas, but I want to encourage you to dig deeper to find the real meaning and purpose of the season. Jesus came into this world not to only dwell among us, but to live in us. He is capable of changing hearts, circumstances and making the possible out of the impossible.
What is the one thing you are asking God for this Christmas season and why?
Ask your Heavenly Father. He delights in giving His children good things that will complete our JOY.
This Christmas season, the theme for Words of Wisdom is going to be centered around JOY. This week I’ll be sharing about what it means to be joyful. Next week, I’ll be sharing about the things in our lives that stifle joy, and the week before Christmas, I’ll be sharing about the joy that comes from the Christmas story (the birth of Jesus!).
What’s interesting about joy is that it often gets confused with happiness. Joy is actual a fruit of the Holy Spirit and is supernatural. Happiness is the “fleshy” version of what true joy is, and it is temporary in nature while authentic joy is long-lasting.
Today, I will be sharing about what it means to be joyful. First and foremost, joy comes from loving Jesus. 1 Peter 1:8-9 says this — “Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”
We are able to truly love God because He first loved us. Discovering the love of God is unexplainable, and there are no words to explain it. To experience joy comes from loving Him and discovering the love that He offers. God’s love is unconditional. Jeremiah 31: 3 says this — “The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.”
There is absolutely nothing you could ever do to earn God’s love or to get him to love any more or any less. His love is unconditional and it does not change based on your actions. I don’t know about you, but to be loved by God is the best thing I’ve ever known.
Let His love fill you with inexpressible and glorious JOY!
“Not one of all the LORD’s good promises to Israel failed; every one was fulfilled.” [Joshua 21:45]
When I was twenty-three and living in LA, I was driving to work one day and I heard God whisper to my heart, “Ashley, you will not have a boyfriend again until you begin dating your husband. And the man you marry will have a gentle spirit.” I knew that I heard from the Lord, but I carried on with my life. Right when I turned twenty-seven, this promise God made to me came to pass. I look back and think, “Wow, when God speaks His word never returns void.” God is faithful and His promises are as sure as the rising of the sun.
There are things God has spoken to you too. Desires that he has placed in your heart. I want to encourage you to talk to Him about those things. Proverbs 25:2 says, “It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings.” There are promises that God has concealed that he desires for you to uncover because God wants you to get wrapped up in Him. True riches come from getting quiet and with Him alone and letting Him speak to your heart.
My favorite verse right now is this — “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived– the things God has prepared for those who love him.” [1 Corinthians 2:9]
Friends, get lost in love with Jesus. Let His words change the trajectory of your life, and don’t forget the things He has spoken to you already. Surely, if He has spoken, He will deliver in due time.
“Look here, you people who say, “Today or tomorrow we are going to such and such a town, stay there a year, and open up a profitable business.” How do you know what is going to happen tomorrow? For the length of your lives is as uncertain as the morning fog—now you see it; soon it is gone. What you ought to say is, “If the Lord wants us to, we shall live and do this or that.” Otherwise you will be bragging about your own plans, and such self-confidence never pleases God.”
“Remember, too, that knowing what is right to do and then not doing it is sin.” [James 4:13-17]
If you’re feeling stuck, I want to ask you, are you being obedient to what the Word of God says and are you walking in God’s will for your life?
Obedience is everything — it aligns us into God’s world. It’s impossible to try to put God into our world and expect great results. Instead, we need to step into God’s world and align ourselves to His plan.
Obedience before understanding, always! I’ve found it’s better to say “Yes” to Jesus regardless of how I feel because I know that my feelings will eventually catch up with me.
I find we plan out our entire lives and follow our own desires, but give zero space for the Holy Spirit to move. At some point, we have to give way and allow God to lead our lives. Too many people want extraordinary results, but aren’t willing to count the cost and give up with God is asking them to leave behind. In order for us to pick up the new, we must get good at throwing out the old in our lives.
Obeying God is actually a blessing and it is a privilege to walk in His ways. Those that really choose the narrow path find everything they could ever look for and then some. If you’re looking to live an extraordinary life and craving more, it’s time to start laying down what you thought your life was going to look like and pick up God’s dream for you.
“For we walk by faith, not by sight.” [2 Corinthians 5:7]
“And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” [Hebrews 11:6]
For my husband and I, buying our first home was a faith journey. We weren’t sure if all of the details would align, but we kept hearing God tell us to keep moving forward so we kept taking baby steps forward. Step by step doors kept opening, and little before we knew it, we had keys in our hands. Was there some fear involved? Yes. Were we worried it wouldn’t work out and we would get our hopes up for nothing? Yes. But, it was worth the risk because we are now blessed with our own home.
I’m afraid too many times we walk by what we see in front of us verses by faith. The things of God are not found by waiting for the perfect moment where all of the details align. Real faith requires risk and it requires you to count the cost. Faith will ask you to give up convenience and comfortability. Keep taking baby steps forward and obeying what God is telling you to do, and you will always end up right where you need to be. True blessing will always be found through a life of faith and obedience.
What is one step of faith you can take today?
I have talked a lot about having the right friends and people in your life that will help encourage you, lift you up, and be honest with you when you need wisdom and direction. If you want to take a look at your future, take a look at your closest five friends and where their lives are headed. If you’re friends are not heading in the right direction, maybe you need to make some adjustments. Here are a few pointers I want to share to help you —
1. Do not hang on to old relationships that cause you damage or cause you to stumble.
Jesus is all about helping and loving others, but notice he did not help everyone. I think sometimes we hang on to old relationships because we want to “help” them or be of influence to them, but if the relationship is unhealthy and constantly brings you down, it’s actually not your responsibility to be that person in their life. If the relationship is causing you to stumble or causing emotional damage to you, you need to let that person go.
2. When you are falling, find someone spiritually stronger than you for guidance.
Imagine with me for a second you are falling. It would make no sense to grab someone weaker than you or smaller for that matter. If you grabbed someone smaller, you would bring that person down with you. When you are falling (spiritually speaking), you need to grab someone much bigger than you. Look for friends that might be stronger in their faith than you. People that are whole-heartedly seeking after God. Those are the people you need to help you get back on track!
3. Always be open to honest feedback.
This is not always easy, but I appreciate so much when wise people are completely honest with me. We are not perfect people, and we don’t always see our blind spots. Be open to what the closest people around you have to say. Take feedback, and pray on it. The Holy Spirit will guide you into all truth, but it takes an open and honest heart for Him to work in us.
“Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.” [James 1:12]
Our stories are powerful. The greatest weapon against the enemy is the power of our testimony, when we testify of what the Lord has done in and through us. We each have a story and are on a journey.
Steven (my husband) is really into listening to podcasts especially on entrepreneurship. One in particular is called “How I Built This.” Entrepreneurs share how they took one idea and built revolutionary, successful businesses. I think too many times we get stuck on the successes of others, but neglect to hear the full story. What impresses me the most is not always the success and how many millions they have sitting in the bank, but I am impressed with the hard work, blood, sweat and tears that brought them to success. I am impressed with the grit, the perseverance during tough times, the stamina to keep going no matter what odds were against them. I like to know what it took to get there.
One thing I have learned is that the bigger the dream, the more it will cost you personally. True influencers and world changers are focused on the end result. They have a laser sharp focus on the future and aren’t compromised when a storm or challenge comes. It is the middle part of the journey or story that develops character.
I want to ask you today, what is your story? What is the vision you have for your future? If you are stuck in the middle part of the journey, don’t give up. True successes in life come with challenges and obstacles, but if you stay the path and continue to walk with God, you will always end up where you need to be.
“One day at three o’clock in the afternoon, Peter and John were on their way into the Temple for prayer meeting. At the same time there was a man crippled from birth being carried up. Every day he was set down at the Temple gate, the one named Beautiful, to beg from those going into the Temple. When he saw Peter and John about to enter the Temple, he asked for a handout. Peter, with John at his side, looked him straight in the eye and said, “Look here.” He looked up, expecting to get something from them.”
“Peter said, “I don’t have a nickel to my name, but what I do have, I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk!” He grabbed him by the right hand and pulled him up. In an instant his feet and ankles became firm. He jumped to his feet and walked.” [Acts 3:1-7]
I want to talk about expectation. I love this passage in Acts. Here is a lame man who has been crippled from birth begging for a handout in front of the temple. Peter and John walk by and the lame man looks up, expecting something from them. Right then and there, Peter tells him to get up and sure enough, he not only gets up, he jumps up, and begins walking for this first time in his entire life.
Expectation is a strong belief that something will happen or be the case in the future. It’s ultimately rooted in hope. I cannot stress enough how important it is to hope and believe that God is able and willing to do abundantly more than you could ever imagine or comprehend. Expectation triggers the blessings of God.
Yesterday I talked about making big decisions, but today I want to highlight that we are going to step into the next thing that God has for us because we are expecting Him to do only what he can do. Expectation requires faith. Let’s expect from a great God who can do only what He can do!
What would take me a lifetime of striving and achieving, God can do and change in a matter of seconds! Let’s expect for doors to open! Let’s expect for relationships to be mended! Let’s expect for lives to be healed and transformed by the power of Jesus! Let’s expect for divine connections and miracles! I don’t know about you but I’m expecting for all that God has for my life — not a single thing missing! Are you with me?
“And do not seek what you will eat and what you will drink, and do not keep worrying. “For all these things the nations of the world eagerly seek; but your Father knows that you need these things. “But seek His kingdom, and these things will be added to you.” [Luke 12:29-31]
How many times have you spent days on end worrying about something and in the end, your fear never became a reality? I certainly have.
I believe fear is rooted in a lack of trust in God. If our perspective is in line with God’s perspective, we would see that our biggest fear is incomparable to the greatness of our God. The enemy loves to instill fear. He loves to plant little lies in our minds because he knows if we entertain them for a little while, what seemed to be a little lie turns into a monster.
The truth is this: Your Father knows what you need and there is no fear found in Him. Seek first His kingdom and all of your needs will be added to you. I’ve found that my unanswered prayers go unanswered because my motivation is not pure. Set your heart on Him alone and you will never go hungry again. Do not worry! Your Father in Heaven loves you!
“Praise the Lord, my soul! All my being, praise his holy name! Praise the Lord, my soul, and do not forget how kind he is. He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases. He keeps me from the grave and blesses me with love and mercy. He fills my life with good things, so that I stay young and strong like an eagle.” [Psalm 103:1-5]
I want to give you space today to respond to your Heavenly Father. Praise Him, thank Him for He is forever good and his mercies are new every day. In Him, we have life — not just here on earth, but for all of eternity. Thank Him for His grace. Thank Him for all he’s done for you. He is God and is worthy of our praises today and forevermore!