FOR 2018: Religion or Relationship? (Part 1)

“And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him.” (Gen. 5:24)

By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.” (Heb. 11:5)

Why does someone confess Christ, go to Church, or worship the Lord?

If that question were posed to 20 different people one might receive 20 different answers.

“To go to Heaven”, “To miss Hell”, or “To have a better life” could be some of those responses.

But why SHOULD we serve the Lord?

Finding the correct answer to that question could mean the difference between having a life of emptiness with disappointment and having a life of fulfillment with everlasting joy.

The answer lies in understanding why God created us to begin with.

Some say God created us to worship Him.

But the Bible tells us that all the angelic host cease not to worship Him day and night.

“And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.”  (Rev. 4:8)

Others say God created us to declare His glory.

But the Bible tells us that the heavens declare the glory of God.

“To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David. The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.”  (Psalm 19:1)

Some might say that God created us to obey Him.

But the Bible teaches us that all of nature obeys His every commandment.

“Which (God) shaketh the earth out of her place, and the pillars thereof tremble. Which commandeth the sun, and it riseth not; and sealeth up the stars. Which alone spreadeth out the heavens, and treadeth upon the waves of the sea.”  (Job 9:6-8)

There may be many reasons that can be offered as to why God created us, but there is only one main underlying reason why the Bible teaches we were created.

The purpose for our creation is that God created us for a RELATIONSHIP with Him.

There is nothing in God’s creation that can fulfill this purpose except mankind.

God desires a relationship with you and me.

RELATIONSHIP and not religion.

It has been said that all religion is man’s ineffective way of trying to reach God, but God Himself has provided a way that “whosoever will” can get as close to Him as they desire and have a relationship with God.

“And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.”  (Rev 22:17)

There was a time when this was not the case.

After the fall and the flood, God sought after certain individuals such as Abraham or Moses to have a relationship with, but He didn’t want sinful mankind as a whole to approach unto Him.

When God brought the Israelites out of Egypt, into the wilderness, and unto His Holy Mountain to receive His Law, He commanded Moses to set bounds around the mountain so the people could not draw near.

“And the LORD said unto Moses, Go down, charge the people, lest they break through unto the LORD to gaze, and many of them perish.”  (Exo. 19:21)

“And Moses said unto the LORD, The people cannot come up to Mount Sinai: for thou chargedst us, saying, Set bounds about the mount, and sanctify it.”  (Exo. 19:23)

When God gave the instructions for the Tabernacle and then later the Temple, He commanded that there be a veil separating the Holy Place where the Priests would minister and the Holiest of Holies where the Presence of God would dwell.

And thou shalt make a veil of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen of cunning work: with cherubims shall it be made:”  (Exo. 26:31)

And thou shalt hang up the veil under the taches, that thou mayest bring in thither within the vail the ark of the testimony: and the veil shall divide unto you between the holy place and the most holy.”  (Exo. 26:33)

However, when God gave His only begotten Son Jesus Christ as a sacrifice for our sins and He died upon the cross of Calvary, God the Father tore the veil from the top to the bottom, removing the separation so that all of mankind might be able to enter into the presence of God.

“And Jesus cried with a loud voice, and gave up the ghost. And the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom.”  (Mark 15:37-38)

Since that time the only thing that can separate us from having a relationship with our Heavenly Father is us and unrepentant sin.

“Behold, the LORD’S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.”  (Isa. 59:1-2)

God has removed all of the separation that He had established between us and Him, and now He leaves the choice up to us as to whether we will accept His plan for the forgiveness of our sin and the restoration of our relationship.

“And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.”  (Mat. 1:21)

“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.”  (Rom. 10:9)

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  (1John 1:9)

“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.”  (1John 1:7)

“And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.”  (Rev. 22:17)

Through the washing of His blood and the impartation of His righteousness, Jesus Christ has made a way that we can get as close to God as we want to.

We can now, as children, spiritually crawl up into our Heavenly Father’s lap, lay our head upon His chest, hear the beating of His heart, and experience the safety of His eternal love. 

By accepting Christ and asking Him to be Lord of our lives, God has provided for everlasting and eternal RELATIONSHIP with Him to be restored. Why in the world would anyone settle for anything less?

Why in the world would anyone settle for religion?


All twelve books in the "How to Walk Christian Series" by Raymond Candy are available now in one collection of two volumes for $6.99 each at bn.com for the NOOK, amazon.com for the KINDLE, on iTunes at the iBookstore for the iPad and iPhone, and at Lulu.com for the PC and all e-reading devices

All twelve books in the “How to Walk Christian Series” by Raymond Candy are available now in one collection of two volumes for $6.99 each at bn.com for the NOOK, amazon.com for the KINDLE, on iTunes at the iBookstore for the iPad and iPhone, and at Lulu.com for the PC and all e-reading devices

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HOW TO HAVE FULL AND CONTINUOUS JOY

“His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.” (Mat. 25:21)

The manifested presence of God and the fullness of His joy are found in doing the will of God.

That wonderful joy that we first felt when we accepted Christ and were born again, the exhilaration we experienced when we realized that all of our sins had been forgiven and we were saved, and the rhapsody that filled our hearts when our names were penned in the Lamb’s Book of Life were all created in us because we obeyed the Lord.

“Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord;” (Acts 3:19)

“For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.”  (John 3:17)

The glorious joy that we experienced when we were first filled with the Holy Ghost and spoke with other tongues was because we were obedient and obeyed the Lord.

“Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.”  (Acts 2:38)

Ever since then, every time that we have experienced that momentary fullness of joy has been a direct result of our obedience to Christ and His Word.

There have been times that we were glad when our prayers got answered.

There have been times that we were relieved when God’s deliverance came just at the right time at the last moment.

But the times that we experienced real fullness of joy were those times that we obeyed the Lord and experienced the results of that obedience.

Perhaps it was the time that we experienced victory after finally yielding to the sweet conviction of the Holy Spirit and putting away a particular sin, habit, or weight that was hindering our walk with Christ.

“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,”  (Heb. 12:1)

Perhaps it was experiencing God’s faithfulness as we answered the gentle call of the Holy Spirit to be a vessel for His glory and we preached, shared, or taught the Word of God and saw lives changed by His power.

“For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.”  (Mat. 10:20)

“So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.”  (Isa. 55:11)

“Thou hast also given me the shield of thy salvation: and thy right hand hath holden me up, and thy gentleness hath made me great.”  (Psalm 18:35)

Or perhaps it was the joy we felt when we shared our testimony and the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ with someone and they accepted Christ because of it and were saved.

“And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.”  (Rev. 12:11)

“The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise.”  (Prov. 11:30)

Or perhaps it was when we gave to help others and we realized that we are blessed so that we might be a blessing.

“Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing.” (1Peter 3:9)

Whatever the case, obedience to God and His Word results in God’s miraculous fulfillment, the manifested presence of God, and the fullness of the joy of the Lord.

Being determined to live our lives continuously in obedience to the Will and Word of God will open the floodgates to the fullness of joy that already resides in our hearts through the Holy Spirit.

Continuing in daily obedience brings continuing in daily fullness of joy that will abide and never leave.

There is no special way to pray, no verse to memorize, no Scripture to quote repeatedly that will miraculously manifest the joy of the Lord and its fullness in our lives.

There is, however, faith and godly works.

Faith that comes by hearing the Word of God and obedience to fulfill His Word that we hear.

Throughout these last few blog posts we have looked at Scriptures that explain what the “joy of the Lord” is.

We have seen that joy is part of the fruit of the Spirit and that if we have been born again the Holy Spirit dwells inside of us.

His peace, His faith, His joy and all the fruit of the Spirit flows inside of us like a river.

However, for various reasons we lose access to that flow and the manifested “fullness of joy” ceases to be present in our daily lives.

We have seen that the devil wants to keep us without joy and without strength, and we have seen what the Bible says we must do to behold the manifested presence of God and the fullness of joy in our lives.

We have seen that if we have faith in God’s Word and we are obedient to do the things that He has called us to do, then we will behold God’s presence as He brings His will to pass and we will experience the fullness of joy that accompanies His presence.

We will spiritually live our lives daily in Christ, at the right hand of God, being conscience of His presence and filled to the overflowing with His joy.

“Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.”  (Psalm 16:11)


All twelve books in the "How to Walk Christian Series" by Raymond Candy are available now in one collection of two volumes for $6.99 each at bn.com for the NOOK, amazon.com for the KINDLE, on iTunes at the iBookstore for the iPad and iPhone, and at Lulu.com for the PC and all e-reading devices

All twelve books in the “How to Walk Christian Series” by Raymond Candy are available now in one collection of two volumes for $6.99 each at bn.com for the NOOK, amazon.com for the KINDLE, on iTunes at the iBookstore for the iPad and iPhone, and at Lulu.com for the PC and all e-reading devices

HOW JOY IS RESTORED

“Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” (Psalms 16:11)

How do we restore our access to the fullness of joy that is in the Holy Spirit through Jesus Christ?

The first step is to make sure that we are dwelling in the manifested presence of God.

“Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.”  (Psalm 16:11)

Jesus said that He would never leave us nor forsake us.

“Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.”  (Heb. 13:5)

However, He also said that two cannot walk together unless they are agreed.

“Can two walk together, except they be agreed?”  (Amos 3:3)

We must determine in our hearts to live our lives in agreement with the will and Word of God.

Once we have made the decision to remove from our lives all of the things that we know are displeasing to the Lord and we begin taking the necessary steps to do it, then we can trust that the Lord will begin to manifest His presence in our lives.

 Since the Bible says that Jesus is the Word of God, then if we continue in His word we will also continue in the presence of God.

And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.”  (John 1:14)

“Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;” (John 8:31)

When we ask the Lord daily to fill us with His Spirit, to be filled with the Holy Ghost, then we are opening the door to the manifested presence of God.

“And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;” (Eph. 5:18)

“And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”  (Acts 2:4)

If we will draw close to God then He has promised that He will draw close to us.

Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.”  (James 4:8)

We draw nigh to God in humbleness with daily prayer and worship.

“But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.”  (James 4:6)

Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.”  (Psalm 100:4)

The Bible teaches us that all of these things open the door to the manifested presence of God, and the manifested presence of God is where we will find the fullness of His joy.

The Bible tells us that the righteousness of God also brings joy.

“He shall pray unto God, and he will be favorable unto him: and he shall see his face with joy: for he will render unto man his righteousness.”  (Job 33:26)

The Word of God tells us that we have no righteousness of our own, but that when we put our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, God transfers His righteousness unto us.

“But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.”  (Isa. 64:6)

“For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”  (2Cor. 5:21)

To understand this and really believe it can also release the fullness of joy in our lives.

To really believe that no matter what mistakes or bad decisions we make can change the fact that we are righteous in the eyes of God, and that nothing we could ever do can stop God from loving us should make us realize that we are always in the presence of God and able to have fullness of joy.

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?”  (Rom. 8:35)

“Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.”  (Rom. 8:37)

“For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  (Rom. 8:38-39)

When we genuinely believe that we have been made the righteousness of God in Christ and that nothing can separate us from the love of God, then we can be secure in the fact that God will do whatever is necessary to keep us, protect us, and provide for us.

“For the LORD thy God is a consuming fire, even a jealous God.”  (Deu. 4:24)

“Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”  (Luke 12:32)

“He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?”  (Rom. 8:32)

This also includes His correcting us when we err and begin walking a path that leads away from Him.

“For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.”  (Heb. 12:6)

He chastens us with His Word and scourges us with the convicting power of the Holy Spirit. It is only because He loves us so that He goes to such great lengths to keep us from departing from His presence.

This security we have in His love and righteousness also provides for the fullness of His joy.

“But let all those that put their trust in thee rejoice: let them ever shout for joy, because thou defendest them: let them also that love thy name be joyful in thee.”  (Psalm 5:11)

“To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David. The king shall joy in thy strength, O LORD; and in thy salvation how greatly shall he rejoice!”  (Psalm 21:1)

“Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation.”  (Isa. 12:3)


All twelve books in the "How to Walk Christian Series" by Raymond Candy are available now in one collection of two volumes for $6.99 each at bn.com for the NOOK, amazon.com for the KINDLE, on iTunes at the iBookstore for the iPad and iPhone, and at Lulu.com for the PC and all e-reading devices

All twelve books in the “How to Walk Christian Series” by Raymond Candy are available now in one collection of two volumes for $6.99 each at bn.com for the NOOK, amazon.com for the KINDLE, on iTunes at the iBookstore for the iPad and iPhone, and at Lulu.com for the PC and all e-reading devices

GOD’S PURPOSE FOR JOY (JOY IS A GOOD WORK)

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” (Mat. 5:16)

The Bible has said that God will give us the desires of our heart. However, it is a promise contingent upon one thing:

Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.”  (Psalm 37:4-5)

The promise requires that we first “delight” ourselves in Him.

How to “delight ourselves in the Lord” might seem confusing until we find out what the word translated “delight” actually means.

The Hebrew word that is translated “delight” actually means “to be soft or pliable”.

In other words, the Scripture here is telling us that if we will allow ourselves to be “soft” or “pliable” in the hands of the Lord then He will give us the “desires” or “requests” of our heart.

That is why the next verse says, “Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.”

The present “request” of our heart is to regain access to the joy of the Lord that resides in our spirit. The place to begin is to allow ourselves to be “soft and pliable” in the hands of God.

In the eighteenth chapter of the Book of Jeremiah, we read of the potter and the clay.

“The word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying, Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will cause thee to hear my words.”  (Jer. 18:1-2)

“Then I went down to the potter’s house, and, behold, he wrought a work on the wheels. And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it.”  (Jer. 18:3-4)

“Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying, O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the LORD. Behold, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel.”  (Jer. 18:5-6)

The Bible says that as the clay is in the hands of the potter, so are we in the hands of the Lord.

If the clay is hard and resistant to the potter’s will, then it is difficult for the potter to make it into the vessel that he wants.

However, if the clay is soft and pliable then the potter can mold it into the vessel of his desire.

How can we be soft and pliable in the hands of God? By submitting our will to His will and not resisting Him.

This is done by knowing His will for our lives and desiring or requesting the same things for ourselves that God wants.

“And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us:”  (1John 5:14)

“And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.”  (1John 5:15)

The only way we can know what His will is for our lives is to read it.

It is called “The New Testament”.

And the only way that we can know God’s direction for our lives is to hear the still small Voice of the One who authored The New Testament.

One of the things that we read in The New Testament is that it is God’s will that our joy be full.

“And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.”  (1John 1:4)

Our joy is full when His joy is fully manifested in our lives and not hidden deep in our spirit.

Why is it so important to God that His children walk in the fullness of His joy?

His joy gives us strength.

“Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the LORD is your strength.”  (Neh. 8:10)

Without His joy we have no spiritual strength.

Joy results in dedication to the Lord.

“And the children of Israel, the priests, and the Levites, and the rest of the children of the captivity, kept the dedication of this house of God with joy,” (Ezra 6:16)

The Old Testament House of God, the Temple, was symbolic of the New Testament spiritual house of God.

“But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.”  (Heb. 3:6)

With the joy of the Lord we dedicate our house, our bodies, to the Lord and when we walk in fullness of joy it empowers us to walk in that dedication.

The manifested joy of the Lord glorifies God and encourages others to do the same.

Then the people rejoiced, for that they offered willingly, because with perfect heart they offered willingly to the LORD: and David the king also rejoiced with great joy.”  (1Ch. 29:9)

The joy of the Lord delivers souls.

“They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.”  (Psalm 126:5-6)

When our joy is full it causes us to want to sow the Gospel seed in others, to reap and bring a harvest of souls into His kingdom so that they may also have the joy of the Lord.

“I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.”  (1Cor. 3:6)

The joy of the Lord brings victory over the enemy.

“And now shall mine head be lifted up above mine enemies round about me: therefore will I offer in his tabernacle sacrifices of joy; I will sing, yea, I will sing praises unto the LORD.”  (Psalm 27:6)

These are the reasons why Satan wants to steal your joy and these are the reasons why we should be willing to do whatever is necessary to restore our access to the manifested joy of the Lord and walk in it.

The meek also shall increase their joy in the LORD, and the poor among men shall rejoice in the Holy One of Israel.”  (Isa. 29:19)

Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.”  (Psalm 51:12)


All twelve books in the "How to Walk Christian Series" by Raymond Candy are available now in one collection of two volumes for $6.99 each at bn.com for the NOOK, amazon.com for the KINDLE, on iTunes at the iBookstore for the iPad and iPhone, and at Lulu.com for the PC and all e-reading devices

All twelve books in the “How to Walk Christian Series” by Raymond Candy are available now in one collection of two volumes for $6.99 each at bn.com for the NOOK, amazon.com for the KINDLE, on iTunes at the iBookstore for the iPad and iPhone, and at Lulu.com for the PC and all e-reading devices

THE JOY OF THE LORD

“Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” (Neh. 8:10)

“Therefore the redeemed of the LORD shall return, and come with singing unto Zion; and everlasting joy shall be upon their head: they shall obtain gladness and joy; and sorrow and mourning shall flee away.”  (Isa. 51:11)

The Bible teaches that there are psychological and physiological feelings that imitate spiritual attributes.

For example, there is worldly sorrow and there is godly sorrow.

“For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.”  (2Cor. 7:10)

Godly sorrow is being sorry that we have done wrong and offended a Holy God. Worldly sorrow is being sorry that our schemes did not succeed or that we got caught.

One leads to forgiveness and life while the other leads to death.

There is a worldly type of peace that anyone can have when things seem to be working out and everything is going well in their lives.

Then there is the type of peace that only comes when we know that we have a right relationship with God and He is divinely in control no matter what the circumstance.

One is fleeting and only lasts until trouble comes while the other is produced by God’s Spirit and flows in us like an unstoppable river.

“O that thou hadst hearkened to my commandments! then had thy peace been as a river, and thy righteousness as the waves of the sea:”  (Isaiah 48:18)

There is a worldly love for things and others that endures only until whomever or whatever we supposedly “love” becomes a disappointment. Then there is the love that comes from God, birthed in us by the Holy Spirit, which never fails.

 “Charity (Christ-like love) suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth…”  (1Cor. 13:4-8)

For every godly attribute or fruit of the Spirit there is a cheap worldly imitation.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”  (Gal. 5:22-23)

“(For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth…)” (Eph. 5:9)

So it is with the joy of the Lord. Happiness is just a temporary imitation of the unending joy that is the fruit of the Holy Spirit.

 When we accept Christ as our Savior, we are forgiven and cleansed from all sin. Our sins had separated us from God, but now God has made us to be the righteousness of God in Christ and we have entered into His presence.

Not only does God forgive us and make us righteous, but He sends the Holy Spirit to live inside of us and empower us to become the children of God.

“But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.”  (Rom. 8:9)

When the Holy Spirit comes, not only does He bring His power to change us and enable us to do the will of God, but He also manifests His fruit so that others might behold Christ in us, the hope of glory. (Col. 1:27)

The Holy Spirit has said that He would never leave us nor forsake us. (Heb. 13:15) He is always within us.

The Holy Spirit never changes. He has not diminished. His power and fruit is still the same and ever present. His peace and joy is always inside.

That same joy we experienced when we were born again and first stepped into His presence has never left. It still flows in us like a river.

However we do not experience it because we lose access to it.

How do we lose access to the joy, peace, and faith that is the fruit of the Holy Spirit? How do we regain access so that this fruit is manifested in our lives on a daily basis?

The first step is to not settle for the imitation, but to crave the genuine article.

Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.”  (Psalm 37:4)


All twelve books in the "How to Walk Christian Series" by Raymond Candy are available now in one collection of two volumes for $6.99 each at bn.com for the NOOK, amazon.com for the KINDLE, on iTunes at the iBookstore for the iPad and iPhone, and at Lulu.com for the PC and all e-reading devices

All twelve books in the “How to Walk Christian Series” by Raymond Candy are available now in one collection of two volumes for $6.99 each at bn.com for the NOOK, amazon.com for the KINDLE, on iTunes at the iBookstore for the iPad and iPhone, and at Lulu.com for the PC and all e-reading devices

WHEN JOY IS LOST

“And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:10-11)

Over two thousand years ago the angel announced that God was going to bring great joy to all people through the birth of His Son Jesus Christ. Everyone since then who has accepted Christ into their hearts knows that this promise has been kept.

However, we seldom see this joy in the believer’s life on a daily basis. That genuine joy that was experienced upon salvation often gives way to something less. Many times what we think of as joy today is a cheap imitation of the real thing.

We use words like “humorous” or “funny” when things happen that make us laugh or give us a smile. However, when the “funny things” are over and forgotten the feelings also go away because they too are only temporary.

We use words like “happy” or “glad” to express the way we feel concerning a particular situation but these feelings also fade away.

And then there is real “joy”. Although often misused, the mere word makes us think of something deep and abiding, not lighthearted and temporary. Something once had but now longed for.

“Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.”  (Psalm 16:11)

This is especially true when we think of the Biblical type of joy that the Bible says only God can create. This is the “fullness of joy” that every true believer experiences when they first step into the presence of God upon salvation.

“Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:” (1Peter 1:8)

The word “glory” in this particular Scripture literally means “honor”.

In these two verses alone we see that this joy from God is a joy which words cannot describe (joy unspeakable), that fills us to the overflowing (fullness of joy), and that receives honor (full of glory).

 Sadly to say, not many Christians today receive honor for their joy. On the contrary, Christians are often characterized as stern, grim faced individuals whose worship is like a funeral and whose lives are filled with “woe is me”.

The once indescribable joy that filled our lives to the point where others beheld it and honored God has now faded to a distant memory.

Exactly why did the joy wane when our faith in God continued? How do we retrieve it back? And more importantly, how do we keep it?

In the next few posts we will see what the Bible teaches about the joy of the Lord, how we can walk daily in it, and why the devil wants to steal it from us.

To walk daily in real joy will cause us to dwell in the pleasures that are at God’s right hand and live our lives far above the worldly situations that Satan would use to rob our peace and steal our joy.

The world needs to see that there is a way of escape from the evil that is present today. They need to behold the joy of the Lord in us and be drawn unto Him.

“Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father:” (Gal. 1:4)


All twelve books in the "How to Walk Christian Series" by Raymond Candy are available now in one collection of two volumes for $6.99 each at bn.com for the NOOK, amazon.com for the KINDLE, on iTunes at the iBookstore for the iPad and iPhone, and at Lulu.com for the PC and all e-reading devices

All twelve books in the “How to Walk Christian Series” by Raymond Candy are available now in one collection of two volumes for $6.99 each at bn.com for the NOOK, amazon.com for the KINDLE, on iTunes at the iBookstore for the iPad and iPhone, and at Lulu.com for the PC and all e-reading devices

THE REAL MEANING OF CHRISTMAS: As seen through the eyes of a very sweet and special little dog

The Holiest Night of All

I can always tell when it’s getting close. The happiest time of the year, that is.

And it always seems to start with the tree.

But I guess I need to begin my story where all stories begin, and that’s at the beginning.

Hi! My name is Jake, and I’m a little black dog with a white furry bottom.

I’m the little pig dog. My Mama first called me that after her and Daddy found me alone and starving in a field. I tried to bark and say hello, but all that came out was a grunt like a pig.

Mama and Daddy adopted me and took me in to live with them in their little gray house. They named me Jake, and that is where I learned about the happiest time of the year.

And like I said, it all started with a tree.

I had been living in my new home for a while, and a lot had happened since I was found in the field. Mama and Daddy had taken me to see Dr. Ann and she found out that I was very sick.

After I had gotten better and was able to go outside, I met a little possum who lived under a branch pile. His name was Marvin and we became the very best of friends.

The days began to get shorter and colder, and I wasn’t allowed to stay outside as much.

I was lying by Dad’s chair and he was scratching behind my ears when Mom first said something about the tree.

“What are we going to do about a tree this year, now that we have Jake? Do you think that he will bother it in the house?”

“No,” said Dad. “Jake’s a good boy.” He patted my head while he scratched my ears. “We’ve got to have a tree! And besides, I don’t think he’ll go near it once the presents are around it.”

A tree? Why would anyone need a tree in the house? There were plenty of good trees outside. That’s where trees belong.

And what were “presents”?

It wasn’t long before my questions were answered.

Mom and Dad waited until a day when Brother was off from work, and then they all went and got in the big black truck but left me inside the house.

“No Jake, you stay here” Mama said. “We’ll be right back.” And then they left. I sat and looked out the window. I wished they would come home soon.

I didn’t like to be alone.

It wasn’t long before they pulled up in the driveway, and in the back of the truck was a big green tree.

I started hopping and jumping as they opened the door. I was so excited that they were back home!

“C’mon Jake,” Mama said. “You stay outside now while Dad and Brother bring in the tree. I’ll let you back inside when we get ready to decorate it.”

I kept jumping and barking while Dad and Brother took the tree inside the house. And then they closed the door and left me outside.

I was so confused.

Why did they need a tree inside the house? And what did Mama mean by “decorate”?

I had to go find Marvin. He was older than I was and maybe he knew.

I ran around to the branch pile where Marvin lived. “Hey Marvin,” I said. “Are you in there?”

I saw a little pink nose poke out between the branches and two shiny black eyes inside.

“Hi Jake!” replied Marvin. “I was just about to take a nap. What’s going on?”

“My family just brought a tree home and took it in the house,” I said. “What’s that all about?”

“Oh, it must be Christmas time again!” said Marvin.

“What’s Christmas?” I asked.

“I’m not quite sure,” replied Marvin.

“All I know is that when it’s over they put the old trees outside by the street and all the garbage cans are full of paper and boxes and ribbons.”

“I find the best stuff looking through all of it before the garbage truck comes.”

The back door opened and Mama came outside. “C’mon Jake,” she said. “Come help Mama get the Christmas boxes out of the storage shed. Then we can go inside and decorate the tree.”

Marvin pulled his nose back inside the branch pile to hide from Mom.

“I’ve got to go,” I said. “But if I find out any more about Christmas, I’ll let you know.”

“Oh yeah, I almost forgot,” said Marvin. “Everybody’s real happy during Christmas. It’s the happiest time of the year.”

 Christmas Eve and Christmas morning finally came, and afterwards I couldn’t wait to tell Marvin everything I had learned.

When the presents had all been opened and everyone was looking at their new gifts, I ran out to Marvin’s branch pile.

I told him about decorating the Christmas tree, and putting presents under the tree, and everyone eating Christmas cookies while I ate dog biscuits.

And I told him about waking up and opening the Christmas presents and about all the new toys I got.

I told him that Christmas must have something to do with the Creator and a Holy night that happened a long time ago.

Everyone had prayed the night before and thanked God for Christmas and a “savior” He had sent into the world.

That’s how I first found out about Christmas. That was a year ago, and now it seemed that it was almost Christmas time again!

The days were getting shorter and the nights were getting longer. It had turned colder and Mama began to bake every day.

She always baked a lot just before Christmas and there were good smells coming from the kitchen all the time.

I had guessed right about it almost being Christmas!

Brother’s day off from work came and they all left in the truck but I stayed home. It wasn’t long before they came back and there was the pretty green Christmas tree lying in the back.

I knew what to do this time. I stayed outside and played while they got the tree set up in the living room.

It wasn’t long before Mama went and got the Christmas boxes out of the storage shed.

I followed her back inside the house and we began to decorate the tree. Everyone was laughing and singing Christmas songs.

I sniffed inside the boxes and papers while Mom showed me all the colored balls and ornaments.

Dad and Brother wrapped the Christmas lights around the tree and when Dad turned them on they all lit up with bright colors.

Everyone went “Ahh” when they began to twinkle off and on.

The shiny ornaments were hung on the tree and there was even one that had “Jake” written on it.

When everyone was through they all talked about how pretty the tree was this year. Then everybody brought out the presents that had been hidden and placed them under the tree.

Everyone looked at how pretty their presents were wrapped and Brother even shook his and tried to guess what was inside.

Mom showed me my presents and I smelled them, but all I could smell was new plastic and rubber. Mom brought out the Christmas cookies and dog bones.

I had never seen my family so happy!

Then Dad said we were going to do something different this year. He turned on the radio and found a station playing Christmas carols.

He turned it down low, got his Bible from beside his chair, and he began to read.

He said that he was going to read the Christmas story.

I lay down beside Dad’s big brown chair and finished eating my dog biscuit, and Dad began to read.

I remember hearing him read about a man named Caesar, and taxes, and another man named Joseph with his wife Mary who was going to have a baby. And I began to get very sleepy.

And then I must have fallen asleep because that’s all I could remember.

I felt something cold falling on my nose and eyelashes and it was waking me up.

“I must be dreaming.” I thought. “I’m in my warm house with my family.”  I barely opened my eyes so I could peep out without really having to be awake.

But all I saw was darkness, and it was cold.

I opened my eyes wide and sat up quickly. I was out in the field and under the cedar tree where my parents had first found me.

It was beginning to snow and it was melting as it landed on my face and fur.

This couldn’t be! How did I get out here?

I looked for the little gray house but it wasn’t there!

Marvin’s branch pile was gone, the fences were gone, even the cow pasture next to our field was gone. There were only fields and hills and some lights moving far in the distance.

Something terrible must have happened while I was asleep. I didn’t know what it was, but I knew that I had to find my family. They needed me and I needed them.

The snow began to stop falling, the clouds drifted away, and the stars started to twinkle in the night sky.

The faraway lights were clearer now. Maybe that was my family and I had gotten lost somehow. I began to run through the fields toward the lights.

I ran as far as I could until I was out of breath and couldn’t run any further. I had to slow down and walk but I kept heading toward the lights that I had seen.

I went through fields and up and down hills for what seemed like hours.

I finally came to the top of a hill and down below I saw the lights that I had been following. There was a narrow dirt road and some people were traveling on it.

The lights that I had seen were lanterns they were carrying.

Maybe this was my family! With all the strength I had left I ran towards the group of travelers, but I slowed down as I got closer. No one looked familiar.

I was thirsty, and hungry, and tired. I thought maybe there was someone here who could help me.

I came closer to a man and woman who were traveling at the back of the group. The woman was riding a donkey that the man was leading.

They must have heard me panting as I walked up behind. They both turned to look at me and the man held up the lantern to see me in the dark.

I had never felt or seen such kindness in anyone’s face as I saw in theirs. Not even my Mom and Dad.

“Look Mary,” said the man. “It’s a little black dog.”

“Oh Joseph, he looks so tired and thirsty,” the lady replied. “Pour him out some water in a cup and break off a piece of bread so he can eat.”

I sat and watched as the man stopped the donkey, poured out the water, and took some bread out of a sack. He knelt down and held the bread out toward me.

“Here boy,” he said. “Are you hungry? Are you thirsty? Come here boy, we won’t hurt you.”

I felt safe with these people, just like with Mom and Dad. I wagged my tail as I walked up slowly and took the bread out of the man’s hand.

As I gobbled down the bread and drank the water, I tried to say “thank you” but all that came out was a weak “grunt”.

“Oh listen, Joseph” replied the lady. “He grunts just like a little pig. How sweet! And look how hungry he is. He must have traveled a long way.”

The man reached out and gently patted my head.

“How about it, boy? Have you come a long way? We’ve traveled a long way, too. Are you lost? Are you looking for someone?”

I tried to explain about my family and the strange things that had happened, but all that came out were more grunts and oinks.

 The lady smiled softly. “We’re going to a little town not far from here. Why don’t you come with us? Maybe there you’ll find what you’re looking for.”

Joseph picked up the cup and placed it back in their bag. He held up the lantern and they started walking back down the little road.

I followed close behind. Maybe my family was in this little town Mary spoke of.

Maybe all of my questions would be answered there.

It wasn’t long before we began to see the lights of a small town up on a hill. I had heard Mary and Joseph talking as we travelled and they said the name of the town was Bethlehem.

As we got closer, we saw that many other people were traveling there also.

We came into the town and the streets were crowded with people.

I tried to look at everyone’s face to see if anyone seemed familiar or was my family. But everyone was a stranger.

I even looked down the alleys to see if Marvin was digging in the trash.

There were donkeys and sheep and cows in the streets, and even some other dogs, but no one wanted to stop and talk to me. Everyone seemed in such a hurry to get someplace.

Joseph stopped at different houses along the street and asked if they had any room for him and Mary to spend the night. Each one said no but they suggested other places to go and try.

We walked up and down what seemed like every street but no one had any room for us to stay.

Finally, a man told Joseph of a place near the town wall that had rooms for rent called an “Inn” and for him to try there.

We found the Inn and Joseph went inside to talk to the man while I sat by the door with Mary.

The man said that the Inn was full and there were no rooms anywhere in town because of all the people that had come to pay their taxes.

Joseph said that he had to find someplace because his wife was about to have a baby.

“So that’s why Mary rode on the donkey and didn’t walk,” I thought. “She’s going to have a baby.”

The man stepped outside and looked at Mary.

“I have a stable in the back,” He said.

“If you don’t mind the animal smells you’re welcome to stay there. There’s some hay that you can use for a bed, and I’ll bring you both out a good hot meal. I wish I could do more.”

“Thank you,” said Joseph. “May the Lord bless you for your kindness.”

We went around to the stable where Joseph helped Mary off the donkey. He helped her inside and made her a bed of straw.

There were other animals in the stable and just outside there was even a mama pig and her piglets.

“Maybe now I can get some answers,” I thought.

“Excuse me ma’am,” I said to Mrs. Pig. “My name is Jake and I have lost my family. I wonder if perhaps you’ve seen them.”

 “I do declare,” said Mrs. Pig. “I believe you’re the first dog that I’ve ever heard grunt our language. There have been a lot of people by here tonight. Maybe I have seen them.”

“What do they look like?”

“Well,” I said. “My daddy is big and round, my brother is very tall and quiet, and my mother has silver hair and a face like an angel.”

“No. I don’t believe that I have seen anyone like that,” said Mrs. Pig. “But the town is full of people tonight. They’re probably here somewhere.”

“I don’t believe so,” I said. “I think that I have walked down every street tonight and I didn’t see them anywhere.”

“Baaaa,” said a sheep that was listening from the stable door.

“There are other people here besides just those who are in the town. There are shepherds watching over the flocks of sheep out in the field. Perhaps your family is with them.”

The kind sheep told me how to get to the field where the shepherds were, and I decided to go and see if my family was there.

I checked in on Joseph and Mary before I left, but it looked like everything was alright and they had settled in for the night.

Maybe I could find my family in the field where the shepherds were.

I went in the direction that the sheep had said, and before long I could see the campfire of the shepherds in the field.

They had some dogs with them watching over the flocks and I thought I could ask them about my family.

I was just about to reach the dogs and their flocks, when suddenly there was a bright light in the sky brighter than the sun!

I was so afraid that all I could do was lie on the ground and cover my eyes.

As the shepherds and dogs and sheep all fell to the ground, a shining angel appeared in the sky. He said,

“Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.”

All of a sudden the whole sky was filled with a choir of angels and they all began to sing.

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”

And then just as suddenly as they had appeared, the choir was gone, the angel was gone, and the light was gone too.

The sky was black with twinkling stars and it was so quiet that not even the sheep were making any noise.

I realized that I had just seen a miracle!

Something holy had just happened here. The angel had said that a Savior was born, Christ the Lord, and He was lying in a manger!

A manger!

He must have meant Mary! She must have had her baby.

There was a manger in the stable that the animals ate out of. I forgot about finding my family and I started running back to town.

I had to get to Joseph and Mary. I had to help those kind strangers that had helped me.

I ran as fast as I could back to the town of Bethlehem. I got to the stable and ran through the door, and stopped.

I couldn’t believe my eyes!

There was Mary sitting by the manger and Joseph was standing by her side.

All of the animals were kneeling in their stalls. The shepherds from the field were there too, kneeling and looking into the manger. How did they get there before me?

And then I saw my family.

There was Mom and Dad and Brother. They were kneeling too and looking into the manger. I even saw Marvin. He was by Brother and was kneeling on the ground.

I couldn’t understand what was happening. How did everybody get here? Why was everyone kneeling and looking at the manger?

I started to say something, when suddenly there was the sound of a baby coming from inside the manger.

Everyone that was there turned and looked at me and smiled. They moved aside so that I could come and see.

Joseph looked at me and smiled and waved for me to come.

I walked up to the manger and gently put my head in over the side so that I could see.

There was a baby wrapped in linen rags and laid on the straw. He was so beautiful that it seemed like His face was shining.

But there was something special about this baby. Something Holy. He looked so noble and royal.

Even though He had just been born, it seemed that He had the face of a King.

I felt like I couldn’t keep standing while I was looking at Him.

So this was the baby that the angel told us about.

This was the Savior of the world. This was Christ the Lord.

I blinked while looking at the Savior, and when my eyes opened I was back lying on the floor next to Dad’s chair in our living room.

I was back home in the little gray house!

The lights on the tree were still shining and twinkling. Mama and Brother were still there too, and the Christmas carols were still playing softly on the radio.

Dad closed his Bible and said, “And that’s the Christmas story. That’s the real meaning of Christmas.”

So it had all been just a dream. But it had seemed so real!

I must have been listening to Dad read the Christmas story while I was sleeping and it made me have the strange dream. But maybe it wasn’t just a dream after all.

Maybe it was the Creator’s way of showing me what Christmas was really all about.

I had thought Christmas was all about the tree, and decorations, and presents. I thought it was these things that made Christmas the happiest time of the year.

But the angel of the Lord had said “peace on earth” and “good will toward men.” God had sent the Christ Child on that Holy night, a Savior to save the people from their sins.

That’s what makes people happy. That is the real Spirit and meaning of Christmas.

Everything else is nice, but without Christ the Lord, they really have no meaning at all.

It’s really not hard to understand.

Not even for a little black dog who grunts like a pig.