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Echoes of Joy: 30 Days of Experiencing God’s Grace



Staci Mauney









Echoes of Joy: 30 Days of Experiencing God’s Grace

By Staci Mauney


©2017 by Staci Mauney

All rights reserved.

This book or parts thereof may not be reproduced in any form, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form by any means without prior written permission of the authors, except as provided by United States of America copyright law.

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Published by Staci Mauney

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ISBN: 978-1370116003




Introduction

These devotions are adapted from my blog Echoes of Joy. I started writing these messages several years ago as a way to encourage other Christians in their walk with God. I chose to focus on joy as a theme because we seem to have difficulty maintaining joy when life is overwhelming and burdens threaten to consume us. Often, we don’t really know what joy is, so how can we have it when our lives are falling apart?

Let’s start with a definition of joy. How do you define joy in your life? Joy is not necessarily the same as happiness, although it is possible to have both. Joy is much deeper and is one of the fruits of the spirit (Gal 5:22). The Greek word for joy is chara and is closely related to charis, or grace. Joy is the natural response to the work of God in our lives.

Having joy is a choice. It goes beyond emotion. We have joy because of his grace, which is then revealed through our actions and treatment of others. How will you express the joy found in his grace today?

Author’s Note: All scripture quotations are taken from the New International Version (NIV).

Day 1

Joy in His Presence

You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” (Ps 16:11)

Before I leave for work in the morning, my Yorkshire terrier, Lilly, becomes very anxious. She tries to hide under the furniture, and she makes it as difficult as possible for me to catch her to put her in her crate. She doesn’t want to stay by herself all day.

But when I get home in the evening, she is ecstatic – a ball of wriggling, tail-wagging fur, licking me as if she hasn’t seen me in months. And the truth is, I am more than happy to see her, too. She is a good companion, always right on my heels, ready to keep me company, and unhappy when we are apart for more than a few minutes.

Lilly’s response to me makes me think about my relationship with God. He desires for us to respond to him the same way Lilly does to me – with unabashed abandon and joy. On the other side of that, he also responds to us in this way. He never withholds his grace and joy from us when we don’t spend time with him during the day.

So much of the time, spending time alone with God becomes routine, even if we don’t want to admit it. It’s one more thing on our list of things to do, so we hurry through our quiet time and our prayer time, if we even take time to spend with him at all. Then we move on to the next task on our list.

God doesn’t want us to hurry through our time with him. He wants to spend time with us as we give him our undivided attention. He wants us to enjoy being in his presence. But joy goes deeper than our feelings, and spending time with him on a consistent basis yields results such as a stronger prayer life and a closer relationship with him. He extends his grace to us even when we don’t feel it. It is only when we focus on him that we will learn the joy of slowing down and spending time with him.

Dear Jesus, help me to focus on you and the joy of simply being in your presence. Amen.

Day 2

Legacy

She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.” (Prov 31:26)

When I was a child, I loved to go to my Grandma Rena’s house and help in her kitchen. She was always puttering away, whether she was making a pound cake or fixing paper-thin, melt-in-your-mouth chocolate chip cookies. At least once a week, I would beg her to make her famous Big Noodles, a dumpling that no one else on earth has ever been able to duplicate, although my mom’s dumplings come pretty close.

Although my skill level will never equal that of my Grandma’s, I learned countless lessons while spending time with her in her kitchen. Grandma taught me how to bake, and she made cleaning house seem like fun. Most importantly, she taught me about my Savior, Jesus Christ, and showed me how to serve him by helping those around me. I spent countless hours in Grandma’s kitchen, working alongside her, soaking in the wisdom she had to offer about cooking, life, and love for the Lord. Her legacy lives on today through the life of my mother and other family members who follow Jesus each day.

Dear Jesus, thank you for a grandma who set an example of your love and left a legacy that resonates throughout the generations. Let my own life be an example of you that others can follow. Amen.

Day 3

To the Rescue

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful…” (1 Cor 10:13)

When Lilly was a puppy, I would put a harness on her to take her for a walk. At that point, she had grown just enough that the small harness was too tight and the medium harness was too loose. The small ring from the harness sat right in the middle of her chest.

This ring proved to be too much temptation for her. She worked diligently to get it into her mouth. It just fit over her tiny jaw, but then it would get stuck. She would begin to flail her little body as she tried to untangle the mess she had made. I would come to her rescue, loosen the harness, and help her work the ring off her jaw. Once the ring was off, she would rest, exhausted from the ordeal, only to try it again the next time I put the harness on her.

When faced with temptation, I am often just like Lilly: I can’t resist, and I grab hold and won’t let go. Once I’m in a mess, I try to work my way out on my own. I think that since I caused the mess, I should be able to resolve it. But I can’t find the solution on my own and only dig myself in deeper.

Only the Lord can provide the answers I need, and it is only when I trust him that I am able to let go, as he faithfully comes to my rescue time and again. Although there may be consequences for my actions, I know that I can face them with his help.

Dear Jesus, forgive me for thinking I know best. Help me to turn to you when faced with temptation and trust you in all situations. Amen.

Day 4

Preparing for the Storm

If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!” (Eccl 4:10)

We are no stranger to extreme weather in Oklahoma. Even so, when an ice storm hit a few years ago, I was unprepared. Meteorologists had been predicting an ice storm for at least a week, so I had purchased extra bottled water, flashlights, and batteries. I had plenty of blankets so that Lilly and I could stay warm. I thought I had everything I needed.

When the power went off and stayed off, I realized that I would need more than flashlights to survive. While the flashlights would allow me to see at night, they would not heat my house or run my refrigerator so that my food would not spoil.

Thankfully, my dad had a small generator that he loaned me for the duration of the power outage, which lasted a total of six days and eight hours. I used it to power my refrigerator for a few hours a day, allowing me to save my food, and I also used it to power a lamp at night. I borrowed a small propane heater for my bathroom so that I could take a shower to get ready for work. Because I had a gas stove, I boiled water on my stove to keep the temperature from falling too low throughout the house.

In spite of my lack of preparation, I made it through the aftermath of the ice storm just fine because the Lord knew the storm was coming. He made sure that there were people around me who could help me and provided everything that I needed to be comfortable. Even if I couldn’t have everything I wanted, such as a house flooded with warmth and light, I had all I needed to survive: my faith, my family, and my friends.


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