“In the Name of Our Lord Jesus Christ”

20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, – Ephesians​ 5:20 ESV

Give Thanks 

God knows that we have work to do and relationships to maintain, so how can we “always” be giving thanks? I think we have to put this verse with the verse in 1 Thess. 5:17 where Paul tells us to “pray without ceasing”. To give God thanks always and to pray without ceasing are not commands for us to go around orally praying and giving thanks at all times. Neither do our prayers and thanksgiving have to be with lots of fancy words. One of my favorite prayers in the Bible is Peter’s prayer when he takes his eyes off Jesus and starts to sink in the sea. “Lord, save me”. That prayer was very short and effective. Our lifestyle, which is determined by our thought patterns, should always be one that is ready to pray and give thanks. We should be as quick to say “Thank you, Lord” in the good times as we are to say “Save me, Lord” in the rough times.

1. ​I will bless the Lord at all times;
His praise shall continually be in my mouth.
–Psalm 34:1 (ESV)
3 Because your steadfast love is better than life,​ my lips will praise you.
4 So I will bless you as long as I live;​ in your name I will lift up my hands.
5 My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips,
–Psalm 63:3-5 (ESV)
8 Bless our God, O peoples;​ let the sound of his praise be heard
–Psalm 66:8 (ESV)


“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous

“You Can Have the Same Joy”

11 I have told you these things so that you can have the same joy I have and so that your joy will be the fullest possible joy. – John 15:11 NCV

Access

​Jesus wants each of us to know the same joy that He knew because of His relationship with the Father. Because of the Holy Spirit, we have access to that same joy. Happiness is temporary and fleeting but the joy that we have is a fruit of the Spirit. Since the Spirit never leaves us, we always have access to that joy.

22 But the Spirit produces the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness–Gal. 5:22 (NCV)

We also have access to the same love and the same knowledge. As we learn to love Jesus, obedience becomes an act of adoration and not an act of obligation. One of the results of loving Jesus is that we will also love those around us and it will be easy to show them that we love them thus making it easier to obey the command that we should love each other. The Holy Spirit produces love and joy all the time. The question for us is this: If we are not full of love and joy, why not? Maybe we need to check our connection to the flow of the Spirit. Or as Zig Ziglar said (and I paraphrase here) We need a “checkup from the neck up to get rid of stinking thinking and an attitude of ingratitude”.

“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous

“Sing to the Lord,…”

5 Sing to the Lord, for he has done wonderful things.    Make known his praise around the world. — Isaiah 12:5 NLT

Isaiah 12:1-6 NLT

Each of us needs to pause each day and meditate on what an amazing God we serve. He has every right to be angry with us and punish us accordingly. Instead, He put all of our sins on His only Son and allowed Him to be crucified on a cross for our salvation. Jesus was all man and all God, so God Himself hung on that cross and He has become our salvation. He is our strength and our song. We can trust Him to complete the work He started in each of us when we accepted Jesus as our Savior, No matter the situation, we can turn to Him and draw water from the springs of salvation and they will fill us with joy. Every moment of every day, we should “rejoice and be glad.”

1 Peter 1:6-9 NLT

“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous

“…Spiritual Wisdom and Understanding.”

9 So we have not stopped praying for you since we first heard about you. We ask God to give you complete knowledge of his will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding. — Colossians 1:9 NLT

Colossians 1:9-14 NLT

Though we may have never met or heard about each other, it is still our duty to pray for one another. We need to pray fervently for God to fill each of us with His Spirit. His Spirit is the only way we will gain knowledge of God’s will and purpose for each of our lives. God has promised us wisdom if we ask for it sincerely without doubting or wavering. In Proverbs, we are reminded to get wisdom and knowledge and with all of our getting to get understanding. While we may never have complete knowledge of all of God’s plans that does not excuse us from asking for and receiving as much as God knows that we can handle. Wisdom is knowledge understood and applied to our lives. With God’s wisdom, we can live lives that please and honor Him. That type of lifestyle will produce good fruit and add souls to God’s kingdom. We must continue to study God’s Word and grow spiritually. As we do this, we can be assured that we have access to the same Resurrection power that brought Jesus back from the grave. That enables us to share in His inheritance and therefore we will be filled with joy. He has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness where we have been bound in the service of satan. Now, that He has purchased our freedom and forgiven us, we live in His kingdom and walk in the light. We can live without worry and fear, both of which are fruits of the lifestyle we had before we came into the Light.

“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous

“…I Say It Again–Rejoice!–…”

4 Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice!— Philippians 4:4 NLT 

Philippians 4:4-9 NLT

If you spend any time talking with non-Christians about Jesus and why they have not accepted Him as their Savior, you soon learn that their views on Jesus are not the primary reason for not accepting Him.  It is their view of what they think Christianity is and what it requires them to do or not do. They have this idea that Christians have little or no fun and that to be a Christian, they are going to have to completely change their lifestyle. There will be some changes required.  For some, it will be a very dramatic change.  For others, it will only be a change in their mindset about why they do the good things they have been doing.  The “good” ones are usually the hardest ones to convince that they need a Savior.  Back to the point.  Have we ever considered where the outsiders get this view that Christians must live a dull, joyless life?  Since most of them don’t spend much time, if any, reading the Bible, they get it from watching us and listening to our conversations.  Do we show them that “the joy of the Lord is our strength” or do they see us as sad, beaten down people who are forced to stay home on Saturday night so we can go to church on Sunday morning?   Is our lifestyle a good advertisement for Jesus or does it turn others away from seeking Him? Think about it.

“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous

“…Don’t Be Dejected and Sad…”

10 And Nehemiah continued, “Go and celebrate with a feast of rich foods and sweet drinks, and share gifts of food with people who have nothing prepared. This is a sacred day before our Lord. Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!”— Nehemiah 8:10 NLT

Nehemiah 8:9-12 NLT

After the work on the walls of Jerusalem had been completed and the gates were hung in place, Ezra gathered all the people together and took a census.  Then he sent them all home.  They reassembled in Jerusalem and asked Ezra to read to them all of the Book of the Laws of Moses.  As Ezra and the scribes read the laws, the people wept remembering their disobedience.  They realized how much God had forgiven them and how he had brought them safely back to Jerusalem.  They had seen how God had provided everything they needed to rebuild the walls.  Though the enemy came close shouting insults and discouragement, God had protected them while they finished the work.  Ezra and the priests explained to the people that this was not a day for weeping but a day for rejoicing and celebration. There are times in our lives, when some things need to be rebuilt.  When some unexpected event has shaken our faith, we need time to rest and heal.  Perhaps a close friend has broken our trust or one of our spiritual leaders has fallen from grace. The enemy will come close whispering discouraging words in our ear.  God will protect us through the storm and when the skies are clear, it will be a time for rejoicing and celebration for us just as it was for the Israelis in the days of Ezra and Nehemiah.

Psalm 30:1-5 NLT

“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous

“And There Was Great Joy…”

31 And there was great joy throughout the church that day as they read this encouraging message. — Acts 15:31 NLT 

Acts 15:24-32 NLT

“There was great joy” when the people were told that they had done the one necessary thing they needed to do to be saved.  When we are first saved in today’s society, we need to be very careful who we listen to.  As Paul said, “if anyone, including an angel from heaven and/or me, comes to you and gives you some different message, that person should be cursed.”  Gal. 1:6 (my paraphrase}. The letter did go on to give the new converts some guidelines as to what they should or should not do. The letter did not claim that these guidelines had to be followed to complete their salvation.  It is still the same today, when we personally witness to someone who accepts Jesus as their Savior, we need to take a few minutes and give them some encouragement and guidelines as well.  We need to explain to them that satan will waste no time in trying to discourage them and make them doubt their salvation.  We need to encourage them to find a good Bible teaching church and a good mentor to help them along the way.  After the initial acceptance of Jesus as our Savior, we need someone to help us understand that the Holy Spirit will come alongside us and help us learn to “walk in paths of righteousness”.  

“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous

“Consider the Joy…”

17 “But consider the joy of those corrected by God!  Do not despise the discipline of the Almighty when you sin. — Job 5:12 NLT

Job 5: 17-27 NLT

Eliphaz was wrong in assuming that Job was being punished for some hidden sin that Job had not confessed. God was allowing satan to test Job’s love and loyalty to Himself.  But those of us who have sinned and are being disciplined can receive great encouragement from these words of Eliphaz. God not only allows us to be tested and disciplined, but when that time of testing and/or disciplining is over, He heals us.  Eliphaz lists several ways that God takes care of us and protects us and our families from dangers.  He blesses us in times of distress and provides everything we need to live Godly lives {2 Peter 1:3,4).  We are disciplined so that we can share in His divine nature and become more like Him.  And James tells us that “we should count it all joy ( James 1:2-5 ).  Some say “Life is a marathon”.  I prefer to think of it as a series of short sprints with some refreshing stops in between. Testing-joy-testing-joy, you get the idea.  Whether we consider it a marathon or a sprint, the point is there are hills and valleys, there are times of testing and there are times of refreshing.  Those times are means to an end.  That end is to arrive at our heavenly home after we have run the race.  Some of us will run all the time and some of us will need to rest more often.  Either way, press on to “press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us”.

“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous

“Marvelous Things”

even-smaller-bug-light1

1 I will praise you, Lord, with all my heart;  I will tell of all the marvelous things you have done. 2 I will be filled with joy because of you.  I will sing praises to your name, O Most High. — Psalm 9:1-2 NLT 

Psalm 9 NLT

As we tell and retell the Gospel story and talk about all the marvelous things God has done for us, we are filled with joy. The more we tell the old, old story, the more sure our hope becomes and the more joy we have to help us get through each day.  That old liar, satan, comes around every day telling us how bad things are and pointing out all the things we don’t have.  But all we need to do is stop and consider all the things with which God has blessed us. Then we need to thank Him and praise Him for all that He has done, is doing and will continue to do for us. We need to remind ourselves and satan about Paul’s admonition to us in Philippians on the things we need to focus on in our daily thought patterns.

Philippians 4:8, 9

God tells over and over that we should not worry, fear or be discouraged, yet, we spend more time considering what we are going to do when bad things happen than we do praising God for what He has done, is doing and will continue to do for us.  Just as we don’t want to hear our kids complaining about what they don’t have all the time, neither does God want to hear our murmurs and complaints every day.  It was this kind of behavior by God’s chosen people that caused Him to be angry with them on their trek through the desert. Do we want best friends who only tell us about their problems or those who share their concerns and their victories with us?  God is our best friend, let us treat Him like we would our best friend.  Talk with Him, not just to Him every day and praise Him for all of His goodness, then we will be filled with His peace and His joy, which is His gift to us.

“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous

“Oh, Satisfy Us Early With Your Mercy”

even-smaller-bug-light1

14 Oh, satisfy us early with Your mercy,
That we may rejoice and be glad all our days! – Psalm 90:14 NKJV

Psalm 90:14-17 NKJV


God has an abundant supply of Love and Mercy.  As we arise each morning and acknowledge Him as our Savior and Lord, His Spirit renews us and prepares us for the battles of the day.  Immediately, satan attacks our minds, filling them with fearful thoughts of what the day will bring, reminding us of all the things we have failed to accomplish in the past. The devil, the father of lies, begins to tell us that we will not be able to make it through the day without some sort of catastrophe. The Holy Spirit speaks peace, love, and joy, telling us to lean on Jesus and He will fight our battles for us. We must learn which voice to listen to and heed.  Jesus said that His sheep know His voice, they follow Him and He gives them eternal life so that they will never perish.  If we listen to His voice, we will learn to live in peace.  He will restore all the things that satan has taken away from us and replace evil with good.  Let us learn to listen and live the abundant life that Jesus died to give us.  Let us spend less time each day focused on the lies of the evil one and more time on the goodness of God. Those around us will see that and get a glimpse of the glory of God.

“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous