WELCOME TO REFLECTIONS WITH JOY ...
A collection of faith-building articles by Joy Bollinger -- author, artist, speaker, teacher ... and my mentor and dear friend. No one has ministered to me in my life more than this amazing woman, who introduced me to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ over 40 years ago!
Joy has been a huge blessing to me ever since, and I hope her truly anointed articles will bless you as well. We'll be posting one of Joy's articles every month, so be sure to scroll all the way down past Joy's welcome note and bio below for each month's article, okay? Enjoy!
If you would like to contact Joy, you can do so by sending an email to: sayitwithjoy (at) gmail (dot) com.
A NOTE FROM JOY ...
Welcome to Reflections With Joy. Each posted devotional represents 42 years of lessons learned while sitting at the feet of Jesus. His Word has truly been a lamp unto my feet and light unto my path. I am continually amazed in how God uses His Word, His Holy Spirit, and His creation to lovingly instruct, guide, and correct us.
The Bible is the best self-improvement book available. When we embrace its truths, we discover God's treasures that bring us security, comfort, knowledge, wisdom, instruction, peace, joy and faith. We stand in faith that God has made us more than conquerors over our difficulties, for He is our Redeemer, Healer, and Deliverer. We understand His plan of hope for a world that is out-of-control and lost. We are secure in His love, and we place our trust and confidence in Him, no matter the circumstances.
My hope is that God's revelations, given to me through Scripture, prayer, and my life experiences, will inspire others to search for and discover the wonderful and exciting mysteries within the pages of the Bible. Like a beautiful flower that opens, blooms, and gives off a sweet fragrance, God wants us to know His Word, so that we can bloom and give off the sweet fragrance of Christ to a hurting world. Every time we study scripture, and every time we listen for His still small voice, we discover how He longs to reveal the extraordinary love that He has for each one of us. I hope you enjoy -- and are blessed -- by each of my monthly articles below.
My journey with the Lord began as a small child. I would gaze from my bedroom window into the evening’s starlit sky and wonder, “Why was I born? Am I here for a purpose? Surely, there must be more to life then to die and go into a dark, cold hole?" My mother, who was not a Christian at that time, told me that "good" people went to heaven and "bad" people went to hell. This irreconcilable premise only created a void and deep fear within my heart and soul that could not be satisfied with the things of this world. My futile efforts to find answers, only created a greater uncertainty about being heaven bound.
December 1968, I had just turned 22, when I was introduced to a man through a family member. His good looks, charming demeanor and the fact that he was older, wooed and wowed this very naïve young woman. One month later, we married. Unfortunately, my night in shining armor quickly became an enemy to be feared. After three years of abuse, I fled to a new city with our 10-day old son. Single unemployed, and a new mother, our future was uncertain…but God had a plan.
Nagging questions that had haunted me since childhood, along with fears and doubts regarding my eternal destination, were alleviated in January of 1972, when on a cold winter's night, a visiting relative, whom I had not seen in years, shared the gospel of Jesus Christ. That night marked the beginning of a new direction and a new life, as I surrendered my heart, will, plans, hopes and dreams into the capable and loving hands of Jesus Christ.
January of 1979, God sent me Michael, a godly man to whom I was joined in marriage in October of that year. After my ex-husband signed away all legal rights to Matthew, Michael adopted him, thus completing us as a family.
Life, as a Christian, for the last forty-two years has been a potpourri of mixed emotions, challenges, victories, mountains and valleys, but always, God’s extravagant love was there to embrace and encourage me. I have learned to trust and obey Him, even when it has been difficult, perplexing, and often made no sense.
Our walk with the Lord is a growth process that requires knowledge of His Word. The more we learn about our precious Lord, the more we are able to trust and obey Him. He provides opportunities, talents and gifts to those who seek Him. I never realized my full potential until I began trusting the Lord with my life.
My love for writing, teaching, and expressing what God has placed within my heart has remained with me over these years. I continue to write and to teach and speak when invited. Some of my experiences, challenges and opportunities have included: completing my college education with honors; writing for various Christian publications; developing and teaching curriculum for college remedial English; writing, developing and implementing VBS curriculum that was translated and used in Central America; designing the book cover for Pigs in the Parlor by Frank and Ida Mae Hammond; writing ad and voiceover copy for KFUO radio in St. Louis, Missouri; and WAPR radio in Avon Park, Florida; writing and ghostwriting articles for Children Vision International; writing, “Spoiled Children,” published in The Herald of Truth and “World Prayer Band Prayergram,” and writing the book, Joy and Laughter: Is There A Difference?
Michael and I have been married 34 years. Our son, Matthew has given us three grandchildren, Sara, Joshua, and Michael; and Joshua has given us one great-granddaughter, Kyleigh. We also have a lovable, toy poodle named Brandi.
Thank you for taking the time to learn a little bit about me. I pray that today's meditation will bless, inspire, and remind you that we can do all things through Christ. He is waiting for us to believe that we can achieve even greater things then what we could imagine or hope for, if we will put our confidence and trust in Him, and set all doubts and fears aside.
You are welcome to send your comments, questions, or suggestions to sayitwithjoy (at) gmail (dot) com.
— February 2014 —
The Promise Keeper
by Joy Bollinger
A new year has begun, and we are faced with many questions and concerns regarding the future of this world and the future of our children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. Daily events and dangers challenge us to believe and trust God, while embracing opportunities to develop our faith.
Our dedication and faith in the Lord and His promises are tested daily by the world around us. Doubt and fear constantly strive to diminish our effectiveness for the Kingdom of God; they stand at the door of our hearts, demanding entrance, for they are no respecter of persons. Even John the Baptist, one of the greatest prophets to serve God, was assailed by doubts and fears that eventually caused him to question the Lord.
God had revealed to John his mission to preach repentance. It’s clear John knew his mission when he said, “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire” (Matthew 3:11-12).
Jesus came to the River Jordan to be baptized by John, who immediately recognized Jesus as the Anointed One. John said, “I need to be baptized by You, and are You coming to me?” But Jesus answered John, Allow it for now, because this is the way for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he allowed Him to be baptized (Matthew 3-15 HCSB). When Jesus came "up out of the water," heaven was opened, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and "lighting (spiritual illumination by divine truth) upon Him. And a voice from heaven said, This is my Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased (verses 16-17).
John was not only a participant in the baptism of our Lord, but he witnessed God's acknowledgement of His Son, Jesus. You would think that such an event would have forever sealed John’s faith in Jesus, His mission, and His promises.
Fast-forward to John sitting in a cold, dark, damp prison, where he was beginning to question whether he had been right in believing that Jesus was indeed the long awaited Messiah. Could he have been mistaken? Had he sacrificed all for nothing? He was facing death and needed to have his doubts alleviated by the One in Whom he had believed and trusted. So when he received word about the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples to ask Jesus, “Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?”
Jesus did not chastise John for his doubts; rather, He sent words of assurance to him. The blind see and the lame walk: the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear: the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them (Matthew 11:2-5). Blessed are those who do not give up their faith because of me. (Matthew 11:6 NIRV)
John had doubts. If he doubted, then why should we believe that doubts could not assail us? We are but human vessels that can succumb to doubts, fears, and unbelief in an unguarded moment or in the most trying of circumstances. Although John had his doubts, it was Jesus to whom he sent word to, because deep within his heart, he knew that the truth would be found in Jesus.
When doubts fill our mind with negative thoughts and we begin to question God's goodness and His promises, we must go to Jesus and His Word for His truth and assurances, just as John had. John sent word to Jesus, who is the incarnation of God's Word, and Jesus returned His Word to John that his faith might be strengthened and his doubts and fears alleviated. We can become strengthened through Jesus who is the Word and the embodiment of ALL TRUTH, FAITH, HOPE, and LOVE.
Do we sometimes doubt God's promises made to us? Do we have a prayer that has been unanswered for too long? Have we questioned whether we have really heard from God? Have we appeared foolish to others for obeying God's instructions?
In my life, I can answer an unequivocal, "Yes, yes, yes, and yes!" I have learned through all of my struggles with trusting, doubting, waiting, and hoping that God is THE Promise Keeper; He is not man who can lie. We become entangled in our own self-doubts while waiting on God, because we have been trained by a fast paced, microwave, "see it before you believe it" world to expect instant gratification and proof. The bare truth is that our timetable is not God's timetable. We must wait upon the Lord.
An example of confusing my timetable with God's began early in my walk with the Lord. In 1971, I was a single, divorced parent and new Christian. A year later, I prayed for a godly man, who would be a husband to me and a father to my young son. I heard God speak into my spirit that He would be sending him "soon." I interpreted "soon" as being "immediately." Each year that passed, I begin to doubt that I had really heard from God. I became angry with Him, because He wasn't answering my prayers. That anger morphed into doubt, unbelief, and rebellion. Eventually, I saw the condition of my heart towards God, repented, and surrendered my plans to Him. Seven years had passed, after that initial prayer for a husband, before I finally met him. It was then that I saw the wisdom in God's timing of events, which very often is not what we would expect or want. His ways, purposes, and thoughts are above and beyond human understanding. Faith patiently waits and trusts in God's plan, the means by which He delivers His plan to us, and His timing.
The enemy loves to manipulate our mind through fear, doubt and unbelief. If he can convince us that all that we have believed has been in vain, then he has us in that valley of despair and unbelief, where hope can so easily be lost. Remember that faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1).
Thomas, who had hope in Jesus as the Messiah, lost hope upon Jesus' death. When told of Jesus' resurrection, Thomas said, Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not
believe. Eight days later, the disciples and Thomas were gathered together when Jesus came through a locked door (a human impossibility) and said to Thomas, Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing. And Thomas answered and said to Him, My Lord and my God! Jesus then said to Thomas, ...because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed (Johns 20:25-29).
Faith believes before we see, for Jesus said that those who believe His promises, without first seeing proof, will be the ones who receive what He has promised in His Word. For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen ("so be it"), to the glory of God through us. (II Corinthians: 1:20-21 NKJV). Therefore, let not your heart be troubled, but believe the One whose promises are Yes and Amen.
But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength.
They shall mount up with wings as eagles
They shall run, and not be weary;
And they shall walk, and not faint.
Isaiah 40:31 KJV
— October 2013 —
by Joy Bollinger
There will always be someone who is critical, condescending, and disrespectful, who will try to lessen your importance. The most painful ones to cause hurt are family members. They might celebrate everyone else in the family, but not you. Good news! Let not your heart be troubled. God has anointed you with the oil of joy...your nonstick anointing. He has called you for a special purpose, and if you are properly “oiled” with His joy, those negative behaviors and comments will slide off. Don’t allow jealousy and negativity of others rob you of your joy.
You were created in God’s own image. Imagine that. You were not created in the image of a donkey, a fish, insect, or any other living creature. You were created in the very image of the One Who created all things. You are valuable and precious in His sight. He is your Creator, Sustainer, Supplier, Healer, Deliverer, and Vindicator. He will fight your battles. He hears every disrespectful, negative comment spoken to you or spoken behind your back.
The Song of Moses in Deuteronomy 32 speaks of God’s goodness. He says, He encircled him, He instructed him, He kept him as the apple of His eye. What belongs to God, He protects. We, his children, are the apple of His eye. Though you may be mocked, ridiculed, and persecuted, know that your season of difficulty will end and vindication will come. For the Lord your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory (Deuteronomy 20:).
You do not need to prove to another human being that you are worthy or that you have value. The fact that your FATHER is God, He is with you, and will fight for you, should be enough to settle your worth.
Do not change yourself to fit another’s ideas of what you should be. If you do, you give them permission to change your destiny. You can never please everyone, so be what God has created and called you to be. Be secure in who you are in Christ. God gave you your personality and all that you are. Run your own race and God will take care of your critics.
The Prophet Samuel and David’s father, Jesse, had decided in their own minds, the type and stature of a man whom God would choose as king. However, they were both wrong. The Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart (I Samuel 16:7).
From a human perspective, David was not suitable for the position of King. He was but a mere shepherd boy, small in stature and young in age. Even though he was discounted by his brothers, father, and even the Prophet Samuel, God lifted him up to defeat Goliath and become the most renowned King in scripture.
God is in control, and He has the final say. However, that doesn’t change the fact that the more success you have the more opposition you will have. That was why the Sadducees and Pharisees hated Jesus. He made them aware of their darkened hearts and His ability to successfully turn the hearts of the people to Him who was and is all Truth.
Those people who disrespect you will see you promoted in a place of honor and fulfilling your destiny. Your day of vindication is coming. Those who want you to fail will be jealous of any blessing or promotion by God, but God will give you grace to overlook those who are being critical of you. Faith and maturity declares, “I will not let their actions and words poison me.” Jesus would not allow the comments of others deter him from His mission. Like Jesus, you don’t need to answer your critics. People who are critical and judgmental are Satan’s distraction to divert your attention from the important things of God.
God doesn’t want you to waste your energy and time worrying about how to make a person or persons see your value. Many refused to see the goodness of Jesus, but that didn’t stop him from his mission on earth. He told us that, those who refuse to hear what we say, we are to shake the dust from our feet and move on (Matthew 10:14). If you stay long enough in the dust, crying over the fact that certain people won’t accept, understand, appreciate, and embrace you, eventually, those many tears will turn that dust into a sticky, oozing mud that sucks you in, keeping you from moving forward with God. We are to be firmly grounded on the solid Rock and not stuck in the mud of defeat and despair.
Let what you can’t change go, and God will fight your battles. He will redeem you. Go where you are celebrated and not where you are tolerated. If those whom you want to love and accept you are not 100% behind you, know that you have almighty God’s approval. That is all you need.
You must accept the fact that you don’t need the approval of others. God’s approval is all that should be important. Don’t waste your time trying to win someone over. They have their own issues. Be kind and pray for them, but if they don’t want a relationship, back away. Don’t frustrate yourself with friends or family members who don’t want to have a peaceful relationship with you. Your destiny is too great to worry about winning someone over that cannot be won. With confidence in the Lord, shake the dust from your feet, and move forward towards your destiny in your nonstick anointing of joy.