“The Wonderful Joy”

13 Instead, be very glad—for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world. – 1 Peter 4:13 NLT

1 Peter 4:12-16 NLT

Some of us have thought or been taught that once we are saved, life is just sunshine and roses. This can be true for us inwardly because we have the joy of the Lord abiding in us as our strength. But on the outside, satan is still around and sin still abounds, so we are going to have to face some offenses and situations. We should not be surprised when these issues arise.  Instead, we should rejoice in the situation.  Not because of the situation or offense, but because we know that if satan is confronting us with his garbage and lies, we must be messing with his plans. Sometimes it hurts deeply, but warriors on the front lines are the ones who get wounded. Should we complain?  Was Jesus not “wounded for our transgressions”?  Yes, He was and He suffered silently. Is the created better than the Creator? No, we are not.  We should count it a privilege and a joy to participate in the sufferings of Christ.

2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. — James 1:2-3 NIV

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

“Make Known His Praise”

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

Praise

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.”

8 And though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, 9 obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls. – 1 Peter 1:8-9 NASB

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

“Led Astray”

13 As a result, other Jewish believers followed Peter’s hypocrisy, and even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. – Gal. 2:13 NLT

Gal. 2:11-14 NLT

Paul continues his crusade to help people to understand the freedom they now have since Jesus fulfilled the law. New converts then and now are not compelled to travel to Jerusalem and make sacrifices each year nor are we expected to meet any requirements of the law. We are required to love the Lord, our God, with all our heart, strength, mind and body. If we do this, we will see changes in our lifestyle. Not because of some written laws but because the love of God constrains us. We respond to the love of God. It is His love for us that keeps us.

2 ​ ​fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him​ endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.–Hebrews 12:2 (NASB)

6 For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.—Philippians 1:6 (NASB)

Our focus is not to be on requiring others to take communion as often as we do or if they worship more reverently or loudly than we do (I could go on but you get the picture). We should be focused on making disciples that obey Jesus because they love Him, not in making clones that worship and/or serve like we do.

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

“You Will Be Made Complete”

 19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.  — Ephesians 3:19 NLT

Ephesians 3:14-21 NLT

It is impossible for us to even imagine the glory, power and strength of our God. His power is unlimited and we have access to it all. If we ask Him, He will come live with us in our hearts. We can never fully understand His love for us. He is the beginning and the end. We are incomplete without Him. He makes us complete with all the fullness of life. We are not even able to ask Him to do for us all the things He wants to do. These human bodies would explode if God just dumped all His power upon us. Our finite minds do not have the ability to conceive all the things God is capable of doing for us. “To God be the glory, great things He has done” , is doing, and will continue to do.

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

Post 09-09-2019

Focus On Jesus

22  I was so foolish and ignorant—    I must have seemed like a senseless animal to you. — Psalm 73:22

 Psalm 73:22-28 NLT
Have you ever wondered if God thinks about us in these terms?  I am sure that satan, the old deceiver, would like for us to believe that He does.  If we have ever had these kind of thoughts, we should be like the Psalmist here. In his very next breath (or verse in this case), he immediately gets his head on straight by remembering what has happened in every instance in the past. The Psalmist realizes that he is speaking from a bitter heart and he has been questioning God’s wisdom.  God never leaves us nor forsakes us nor does He cast us from His presence.  Instead, He reaches down to us and if we reach up to Him, He takes us by the hand and continues to lead us toward our glorious destiny.  The Psalmist remembers that God is our strength, our fortress and our shield.  We allow satan to sneak these silly ideas into our minds when we are focused on the horizontal.   We need to stay focused on the vertical.  That means spending time alone with God, praising and thanking Him for His goodness and His blessings.  If we do this, we can be assured that God will set the rest of the world straight in His own time.
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous

Post 04-02-2019

“The Joy of the Lord Is My Strength”

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 hear.  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

Post 03-25-2019

“Our Journey Requires Spiritual Food”

7 Then the angel of the Lord came again and touched him and said, “Get up and eat some more, or the journey ahead will be too much for you.”— 1 Kings 19:7 NLT

1 KIngs 19:1-8 NLT

God had just used Elijah to defeat the 400 prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel, after that, God had given Elijah supernatural physical strength so that Elijah could catch and outrun Ahab’s chariot to Jezreel.  Now, Jezebel had threatened his life.  She promised to kill him before twenty-four hours had passed.  After seeing the miracles God had just performed, how could any human being think that they could do anything to one of God’s chosen people?  Even worse, after all Elijah had experienced, how could he possibly believe that God could not protect him from the threats of Jezebel?  Is the God on the mountain not still God in the valley?  Yes, He is!  We want to spend our lives living mountain top experiences.  We should take notice that there is very little life on the mountains above the timberline.  The view is great and the atmosphere is exhilarating, but there is not enough dirt or oxygen to sustain life.  The life-giving elements are down in the valley and we need to spend some time there as well.  Elijah was having his valley experience, wallowing in self-pity, as we so often do.  God said “get up and eat”.   He was preparing Elijah for a journey that would take all of his strength.  When God calls us to do a work, He always provides everything we need to accomplish the task.  It is up to us to decide whether or not we are going to “eat” the spiritual food that will prepare us for the trip through the valley and to the next mountaintop. 
If  we don’t eat the spiritual food God provides, the road will be rough and the journey will be miserable.  But if we do eat and prepare, the road will seem to be smooth and the journey will be a joy as we experience the presence of Jesus leading us home.

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

Post 02-02-2019

Prepared, Provisioned, Protected

7 Then the angel of the Lord came again and touched him and said, “Get up and eat some more, or the journey ahead will be too much for you.” — 1 Kings 19:7 NLT
1 KIngs 19:1-8 NLT

God had just used Elijah to defeat the 400 prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel, after that, God had given Elijah supernatural physical strength so that Elijah could catch and outrun Ahab’s chariot to Jezreel.  Now, Jezebel had threatened his life.  She promised to kill him before twenty-four hours had passed.  After seeing the miracles God had just performed, how could any human being think that they could do anything to one of God’s chosen people?  Even worse, after all Elijah had experienced, how could he possibly believe that God could not protect him from the threats of Jezebel?  Is the God on the mountain not still God in the valley?  Yes, He is!  We want to spend our lives living mountain top experiences.  We should take notice that there is very little life on the mountains above the timberline.  The view is great and the atmosphere is exhilarating, but there is not enough dirt or oxygen to sustain life.  The life-giving elements are down in the valley and we need to spend some time there as well.  Elijah was having his valley experience, wallowing in self-pity, as we so often do.  God said “get up and eat”.   He was preparing Elijah for a journey that would take all of his strength.  When God calls us to do a work, He always provides everything we need to accomplish the task.  It is up to us to decide whether or not we are going to “eat” the spiritual food that will prepare us for the trip through the valley and to the next mountaintop. 
If  we don’t eat the spiritual food God provides, the road will be rough and the journey will be miserable.  But if we do eat and prepare, the road will seem to be smooth and the journey will be a joy as we experience the presence of Jesus leading us home.

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

Post 01-02-2019

Victory in Jesus

even-smaller-bug-light1

27 For you will not abandon my soul to Hades or allow your Holy One to experience decay. ​- Acts 2:27 ISV​
 


Our story never changes.  It is the old, old story that is new every morning.  It is our anthem, our song, our strength and our hope.  Jesus voluntarily gave up His glory in heaven temporarily.  He was born into the world, He was fully man and fully God.  He went about doing good and God performed miracles, wonders and signs through Him.  Not everyone believed the story then and not everyone believes the story now.  But God, knowing what would happen, already had a plan in place.  Jesus came to this earth to redeem a fallen people from their sins and nothing, no one, nor any force of any kind would prevent that from happening. Over and over, the religious leaders conspired to kill Jesus before His time and in a manner that would not be sufficient for redemption.  God would not allow it.  Jesus was the perfect man, God had the perfect plan and now we are redeemed.  Just as God had a plan for Jesus, He has a plan for each of us to participate in the redemption story.  We are not perfect, God already knows that, so when we fail, He understands.  But His plan for each of us takes our weaknesses and failures into account.  He is never surprised by our failures and He never gives up on us.  We are chosen, we are called and we will succeed in the plan Jesus has for each of us.  So, when satan, the father of lies, comes to shame us with all of our failures, we just need to tell him to take it up with Jesus, stand up. let God clean us up and press on.  The battle is not ours, it’s the Lord’s and He won the war years ago at the cross.  We may suffer losses and temporary setbacks, but we cannot be defeated.  

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

Post 11-26–2018

“The Lord God Is My Strength”

even-smaller-bug-light1

17 Even though the fig tree does not blossom, and there are no grapes on the vines;
even if the olive harvest fails,
    and the fields produce nothing edible;
even if the flock is snatched from the sheepfold,
    and there is no herd in the stalls—
18 as for me, I will rejoice in the Lord. I will find my joy in the God who delivers me.
19 The Lord God is my strength—  he will make my feet like those of a deer,
        equipping me to tread on my mountain heights.  
– Habakkuk 3:17-19​
 

Happiness and pleasure are worldly things and are dependent on our external circumstances.  They are fleeting and temporary.  But joy, true joy, comes from the Holy Spirit that abides in us.  It is dependent on our internal attitudes.  It is eternal and no one, not even satan can steal our joy.  If we lose it, it is because we give it away.  It is our strength that gets us through every day.  There are times when we may not be happy and our circumstances may not be pleasant, but how we respond to those times determines where we are on our journey with Jesus.  When these times come, do we blame God and sulk like spoiled children or do we respond like Habakkuk and rejoice in the Lord”?  When we don’t feel like praying, that is the time we need to pray the fervent, effectual prayers.  When we don’t feel like shouting with joy, that is the time when we need to clap our hands and shout with a voice of triumph.  Our joy is not based on feelings or circumstances but upon the sure knowledge that “God is our salvation and He has become our strength”.   All day, every day, all our life long.

Come, everyone! Clap your hands! Shout to God with joyful praise! — Psalm 47:1

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

Post 10-12-2018