Welcome to 2018! It’s my hope and my focus this year to be a #PresentPresence. To that end, I’ll be taking a bit of a break and sharing some words of my friends each week here in January. I know you’ll love them as I do and we’ll begin with Gretchen Fleming. I began to read Gretchen’s writing as I dug into joy last year and her words always inspire me. I’ve asked her to reflect on joy as we begin this new year, so without further ado-here’s Gretchen!
Do you ever wonder what God expects of us?
As a people-pleaser, it is in my nature to do so.
I am “wired” to wonder- wonder what pleases Him, what He wants from me, wonder if He thinks I am living out my faith the way He expects.
I know I am unconditionally loved, AND accepted, infinitely beyond what my finite mind can fathom. That’s not the issue. It’s the fact that I know God can be “pleased” that compels me to understand how.
Exodus 33 gives me an example of Moses pleasing the LORD. Verse 13 says,
If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so that I may know you and continue to find favor with you.
And God responds back to Moses in verse 17 saying,
I will do the very thing you have asked, because I am pleased with you and know you by name.
It shows me what is possible in my life of faith, that I can know God intimately, profoundly, AND that it is mine for the asking/seeking.
The flip side to the coin is found in Deuteronomy 28:47. I see an example of when God wasn’t pleased.
Because you did not serve the Lord your God joyfully and gladly in the time of prosperity, ……..
This verse speaks of serving the LORD joyfully and gladly. Well, that is helpful because it allows me to examine myself.
Do I serve the LORD and am I doing it “joyfully and gladly“?
The Hebrew word for serve in this verse means “to labor”, but it also means “to worship”. This gives valuable insight.
First, I learn that I am to serve the Lord through serving others. I can use my spiritual gifts to minister to my church family but it should not stop there. Serving others can be achieved in my workplace, in my community, and in my home. As I reflect God to others, I am serving Him.
By loving and helping others, I am actually serving God.
Secondly, I can “serve” the LORD through my obedience to His Word. This in turn helps me transform in Christ-likeness, which also helps me to love and serve others.
There is a third aspect of serving to consider. Interestingly enough, the definition also involves worship. When I worship the LORD, I am serving Him. Attending my local church among other believers, in my own home as I have my quiet time, or as I go about my day listening to worship music are all opportunities to worship the Lord.
Lastly, as I am incorporating serving the LORD into my life, am I doing so with joy and gladness? Do these two adjectives describe my experience with faith?
The answer is “yes and no”.
There are definite times in my life when these two words describe my service to God and my faith. But there are also times when my emotions are flat and my service is on automatic pilot or even times when I don’t feel like doing anything at all!
What makes the difference in these times?
I have found that the greater time and attention I give to the LORD, the more joy and gladness are reflected in my life. I also believe as I dig into His Word, joy and gladness will automatically mark my faith.
The beautiful part of learning what pleases God is how joy and gladness are by-products of our intimacy with Him. We can’t attain these wonderful blessings apart from Him but only THROUGH Him.
In turning to Him and away from myself, I find these sometimes elusive blessings. Just as Moses experienced the reward from intimacy with God, so can we!
For me, the more I get the focus off of myself by serving God and others, the more joy and gladness result as my daily reward. Who could believe that by pleasing God we would end up pleasing ourselves! What a great God we have as our Father!
Gretchen’s passion is to follow hard after Jesus, knowing He is the treasure of a lifetime and worth every minute she commits to Him. God’s Word has been life-changing for her through the most trying times—a great source of strength, wisdom, and truth. She’s a speaker, writer, and Bible teacher who loves to see Jesus change lives as He’s changed hers. Gretchen is a wife of 29 years and mother of 3 young adult children. Connect with Gretchen at on Instagram, Pinterest , Twitter or Facebook.