February 8, 2016
The Fear of Death
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou [art] with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
The fear of death or bodily harm can be the most compelling fear of all. The one reality we are sure of is the one we are living in; everything else is by faith. If this life and body are the only hope and reality we know then death can be particularly disturbing and fearful. Life, as we know it will cease to exist; then what darkness, nothing, back to dust?
Some who read this could be walking through the valley of the shadow of death today. It is built into us to protect and preserve our lives. That fear will motivate us to do everything within our power to avoid death. When we are really brought face to face with our mortality it is a sobering thing. It makes us look deep within ourselves to think about the meaning of life and what the loss of it holds for us. We examine our values and what we truly believe.
David was certainly faced with the awesome possibility of death as King Saul hunted him to take his life. He was often faced with enemies that desired his death. I believe David had learned a principle as a shepherd. He knew that his sheep were totally dependent upon him, as their shepherd, for protection. They had no real ability to protect themselves. They knew that if they staid close to the shepherd, his rod and staff, his authority and power, would protect them. Their greatest peace and our greatest peace are in knowing that we are walking with the Shepherd and that our life is not in our hands, it is in His. We are at peace and we have comfort even in the midst of the certain threat of death because He is there and our life is hid with Christ in God. The faith we have in our Shepherd is able to dispel the grip of fear that is seeking desperately to lay hold of our hearts. Faith will dispel fear, but the lack of it will give place to it. If we walk in the light, then we will not fear the darkness, for even if darkness surrounds us, it can not extinguish the light and the hope we have within us through Christ Jesus. Often it can become a battleground between faith and fear as the fear of death seeks to lay hold of us.
One scripture that brings us much encouragement in this fear of death is found in Hebrews 2:14-15. It says, speaking of Jesus, “Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— 15and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.” We have peace and assurance through the blood of Jesus and the confidence that through our trust in Him, He has paid for our sin, and robbed the devil of the fear eternal punishment and condemnation he once could put upon us. Now we have the peace and confidence that when death comes we step out of the limitations of our mortal body into glory and into His wonderful presence. We can almost view death as no longer as a curse, but as a promotion. No wonder so many Christians through the ages have been able to hold fast their testimony and give up their possessions, their livelihood and their very lives. They had their eyes fixed on One far more glorious that quenched the fear of death and loss. It was the One who walked with them through the valley of the shadow of death.
One of the greatest fears and terrors is that of the unknown, but the knowledge we have in Christ and the faith that we have placed in that knowledge of Him has robbed satan of his power of fear and intimidation.
When Israel had come out of Egypt and was going up to battle against their enemies, this is the word that was spoken to them and what I believe the Lord wants us to hold fast in our hearts as we enter our battles. It was spoken in Deuteronomy 20:1-4, “When you go to war against your enemies and see horses and chariots and an army greater than yours, do not be afraid of them, because the LORD your God, who brought you up out of Egypt, will be with you. 2 When you are about to go into battle, the priest shall come forward and address the army. 3 He shall say: “Hear, O Israel, today you are going into battle against your enemies. Do not be fainthearted or afraid; do not be terrified or give way to panic before them. 4 For the LORD your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory.”” If we know that we are already victorious in Christ what have we to fear? The worst that could happen is that we would wake up in His arms. In Psalms 27:1 David says, “The LORD [is] my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD [is] the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” It is like when you were a small child and something frightened you. You could run and jump up on daddy’s lap, bury your face in his chest and he would put his powerful arms around you. You knew then that you were safe; that anything that touched you now had to come through your daddy first. That is exactly how it is for us in the Lord. Colossians 3:1-4 tells us, “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. 2Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” If we are truly dead to the things and the affections of this world then what power of fear does the devil have over us seeing that we have died and our life is now hidden with Christ in God? If the devil touches us, he has to come through God to do it. If I know that God has control over all that touches my life then I have no room for fear, only for trust. He is my good Shepherd that will lead me and keep me wherever I must go and through whatever valley of the shadow of death I must pass, I will fear no evil.
February 5, 2016
Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. 24 See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
Cleaning up the Mind and Heart
As I came in and turned on the computer monitor today I found that my computer had crashed. I had to shut it down and reboot it. I knew that it was time to run software that would go in and clean out all of the junk and corruption that was slowing it down, making it inefficient and ultimately making it crash. I was thinking how we get to be a lot like our computer. We accumulate all of these dead things that way us down, hinder us and make us inefficient for the Lord. Hebrews 12:1-3 says, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 2Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” We, like our computers, pick up things along the road of life that weigh us down and hinder us from our higher purpose in Christ. We are slow and sluggish to get where God wants us because we have all of this excess baggage. It may be habits, indulgences, addictions, behaviors, worries, anger, unforgiveness, the cares of the world or the pleasures of life. It can be any number of things and most of the time it is more than just one.
What we need is God’s cleaner, His fuller’s soap and fire to go through and search out our hearts and our minds. The Holy Spirit is within us to perform such a function. If He showed us our true heart in the light of His Holiness surely we would all perish and despair of all hope, but it is the precious blood of Jesus that cleanses us from all of our sin and unrighteousness. He has made a way of deleting and reformat ting those old ways, those old hindrances, weights and sins that have defiled us and have made less than the effective saints of God that He has called us to be. The Spirit and the Word is the spiritual software that sweeps through our heart and minds. As He shows us those things in us that are our problems we are given the choice to keep them or delete them. We can hold on to them and we can expect the same results in our lives that we have been seeing, or we can confess and release them, embracing God’s righteousness and the mind of His Spirit in the process. He wants to go in and clean the registry of our minds. All of those areas of corruption and impure thinking and all of those wrong perceptions and judgements that we make, He wants to renew. As we put on the mind of Christ we are putting within us a registry and process of godly thinking where we view our world and circumstances through the filter of God’s Word and His Holy Spirit. That changes us from who we used to be and allows God the permission of our will to bring us in to who He has purposed us to be. We are human processors for His glory, so search us, O God and know our hearts. Test us and know our anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in us and lead us in the way everlasting. Amen
February 4, 2016
Forsaking all Others
The light of the body is the eye: therefore when thine eye is single, thy whole body also is full of light; but when [thine eye] is evil, thy body also [is] full of darkness.
When our eye is focused on one thing it sees well. It simply transmits and communicates what is in its focus. If we try to view multiple objects in addition to the one we are focusing on, we will find our vision less clear, more confused and more out of focus. It isn’t long before we find our eye wondering off of the object of focus onto the other distractions in our periphery. Before we realize, we are hardly looking at the first object of our focus at all. This is what we do spiritually with our eyes and heart and what we often do naturally with our spouse and family. We are an easily distracted people and can all find ourselves at times loosing focus on the object of our first love and affection.
God wants us focused on Him. If our eye is single, undivided in its vision, then we will see clearly to walk in the light, but when it is distracted and loses focus, evil and darkness can set in. Like anything we do in life, we do it best when we are focused and our full attention and concentration is given to it. God wants us to remain that way concerning Him and our divine purpose. He has called us to forsake the world, not Him. If our light has become darkness then perhaps it is because we are out of focus, our eye has ceased to be single and it is time to refocus our heart, affections and whole being upon our first love. Are we forsaking all others and all else? Is our eye single or has it wondered onto the world? Has evil and darkness made us shortsighted and blinded us to the truth. Perhaps it is time we examine what we really have our eyes on and how we need to correct our vision and our focus.
February 3, 2016
When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” 6He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.
7Philip answered him, “Eight months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!”
8Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, 9″Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?”
10Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place, and the men sat down, about five thousand of them. 11Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.
12When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” 13So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.
A Little can do a Lot
Most all of us, I am sure, are familiar with this story of the little boy whose five loaves and two fishes, fed over five thousand people. What would have been a staggering task logistically and monetarily was taken care of by a little boy’s willingness and a mighty God’s faithfulness. The message I hear pressing on my heart today in this message is that if we are willing to unselfishly give the little that we have, God is willing to increase it to give back the abundance that we need.
How many times are we robbed because our vision of faith isn’t great enough to see past the fear of not having enough? What if the little boy would have refused to give up his meal for fear that he would go hungry, after all, his mom had made it for him, not for everyone else. Are we willing to put in the Master’s hands what is just provision enough for us? Are we willing to not only trust Him for our own needs, but the needs of others met through us? Those are questions we might all like to answer yes, but in reality, when it comes down to it, we are reluctant to let go of what is in our hand.
Five is the number of grace and the bread represents Christ, who is the bread of life. It is His grace that is sufficient for all of our needs according to His riches in glory. Two is the number of witness and fish are those which carry provision. The great fish carried Jonah to Nineveh and the fish had in its mouth the money to pay the tax for Peter and Jesus. The fish bear witness that Christ is our provision to do impossible things in impossible ways. Our eyes have to be opened and our faith vision increased to see what God can do through our apparent little if we are faithful to give it to Him.
This is where we will learn kingdom economy and kingdom living as we are the supply for one another’s needs. As we meet the needs in others we will see our needs met. Let us have the faith of this little boy to trust God with our five little loaves and two little fishes. It is not in seeking the miracles, it is in the relationship that we have with the Person of miracles. Let us have the faith to put our lunch and life in His hands.
February 2, 2016
When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
Just Follow Me
A while back my wife and daughter had left to go do something and I had my two grandsons 9 and 14 at the time. I am always trying to think of ways that I can mentor and teach my grandchildren valuable lessons. It is difficult at that age, because they are into their games and their own things, so I asked the Lord to give me some ideas. Well they were both engaged in doing their own thing when I announced the command to get in the car because we are going someplace. Immediately the question came, “Where are we going?”
I said, “You don’t know have to know where we are going you just have to get into the car so we can leave.”
Well, that wasn’t a sufficient enough answer so they continued to press me about where they were going.
I told them, “You know, there are times that God asks or speaks to us to go somewhere or to do something, but He doesn’t always tells us where or why. He just asks us to trust and obey Him. We don’t always have to understand the “why” of God to do the will of God.”
Anyway the boys were loaded in the car and away we went. The first stop was the dollar store. I asked the boys if they would like to go in with me. They decided, no, they would stay in the car. So I went in and bought some different kinds of candy for a project that was later to follow. When I came back to the car with the candy the boys were disappointed that it wasn’t for them, but I explained if they had just followed me they could have gotten the candy of their choice. I explained that when we choose not to follow Jesus at times we can really miss out on the blessing.
The next stop, I took the boys to the drive through ice cream place. As we were in the car line I gave the boys the opportunity to step out of the car and wait till after I got my ice cream cone and I would pick them up on the way out if they would like, so they didn’t have to go with me. Well, needless to say, I didn’t have any volunteers for that offer.
We purchased our ice cream cones and just set and talked as we ate them. As we did, I was showing them the correlation of what we were doing and our walk with Jesus, how it was much the same.
After we finished the ice cream and was headed in a homeward direction I pulled into a nursing home and rehabilitation center.
My oldest grandson asked if we were going to have to pray for people.
I answered, “I don’t know. We are here on assignment for Jesus, so we’ll do whatever He would have us to do.”
Well, we went in and walked up to the desk. I told the lady we had just come by to visit and encourage anyone that might be lonely or want some company. I had also brought some candy to share with them.
She said that was sweet and said we could go into the community room where some were hanging out and visit with them. So that is where we went.
We first visited with a woman whose daughter lived in town. A very pleasant lady.
We were then engaged by another lady standing in the corner of where a piano met the wall. She was eating an ice cream cone and asked my oldest grandson what grade he was in and if he liked basketball. This really caught his attention as she guessed his age and favorite sport.
This lady was 92 and moved here from Washington. She had two boys that had gone through the Air Force Academy. One was still an instructor there and they both lived here.
We had a pleasant conversation in which my older grandson was quite involved. This lady had been a high school teacher and was still pretty sharp. Eventually she announced she needed to get back to her room.
An older man sat quietly at the table and so we attempted to strike up a conversation. I offered some of the candy that I brought which peaked his interest and he gladly accepted. I helped him with the candy wrapper, as I noticed he was missing a finger and his right hand was badly swollen. I asked him if we could pray for his hand to which agreed and we just laid hands upon him and prayed for him.
About that time my daughter called. They were back and she needed to get the boys, so we headed back home.
Through these simple little exercises I believe the boys could see there are blessing when we simply follow, trust and obey. We don’t have to know why, have all the answers or the resources; all God asks of us is that we say yes to His direction. He will provide the rest and often our way is filled with blessing and opportunity, along with the privilege to serve Him.
February 1, 2016
Time and Clutter
Whoso keepeth the commandment shall feel no evil thing: and a wise man’s heart discerneth both time and judgment. Because to every purpose there is time and judgment, therefore the misery of man [is] great upon him
Are you ever overwhelmed in life by all of the clutter that fills your life and the lack of time to deal with it all? I find that trying to stay neat and organized seems to be an exercise in futility. Our lives are so inundated with mail, junk mail, phone calls, solicitors, bills, materials from work, school, church, kids, and internet. Then there are always all of the projects we have to do or someone else wants us to do. In the midst of this deluge of information, materials and pulling from every direction to make this decision and meet that need we can become overwhelmed and overloaded. There doesn’t seem to be enough time to deal with it all and even if there is, after while we just want to run away and escape all of its demands. As I look at my desk and the condition of my home and garage I think too much stuff is not a good thing. Who can keep up with it all? Obviously some of us are more gifted in that area than others. While it seems it is hard for many of us to finish one thing before we are distracted and on to something else, thus leaving in our wake a barrage of unfinished business, this is the real world. It is filled with clutter that demands our time and energy to deal with it. What’s worse is when you don’t want to throw it away or get rid of it because you might need it someday. “My God, My God, who shall deliver me?”
This is for me this morning, so you are welcome to listen in, or not.
Our time has to be more and more ordered by priorities. Most important things first. This brings us to the spiritual aspect of our lives, which we should have rated number one on our list. Don’t you find that without God first, the rest of life begins to fall apart? He is the order in our lives and helps us with focusing on our priorities. Sometimes it demands getting up earlier in the morning or staying up later at night just to have that time with Him. Our families should be our next priority. How often do we neglect our wife or husband, children or grandchildren because they’ll understand if we have work demands, or are wading through all of the clutter that takes all of our time and attention away from them?
What about meeting the needs of others? “The needs of others, I hardly have time for my own needs.” Isn’t this part of our life mission, to reach out to others and meet those needs where we can? We haven’t even talked about work, which usually consumes a major portion of our time and life. It is a constant juggling act to balance all of the areas of our lives. Yet, I have to believe that God is our wisdom to walk in this world and deal with all of the issues that we are faced with. Truthfully, we bring a lot of it on ourselves. Our possessions bring with them the bondage of time and money to take care of and deal with them. Simplicity, in as much as it is attainable, is an asset we need to cherish.
In Matthew 6 Jesus give us some wise counsel we need to continually apply to our lives. In verses 19-21 he says, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Doesn’t this deal with our priorities and the things we value in life? It is so easy for our focus in life to get on the wrong things. We are not here to gain the world for ourselves, but to gain the world for Christ. In verses 24-26 and verse 33 Jesus says, ” No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? …But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”
Time and clutter must find their order in the One we serve. The Lord and people must be the focus of what we live and work for, not things. The Holy Spirit is the filter through which all things must pass and judgements must be made on their significance or value. How much clutter do we bring on ourselves that hinders us from the more vital things in our lives? Let us order and organize our lives for the advancement of His Kingdom and not ours.
January 29, 2016
2 Corinthian 5:21
God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
The Filter of the Blood
I am in awe and amazement at this declaration of scripture. Can we truly comprehend that Christ made an exchange with us. He became our sin so that We might become His righteousness which is the righteousness of God. I definitely got the best end of that bargain. All of this so that the Father might reconcile us back to Himself and bring us back into relationship and fellowship with Him. Indeed that is amazing grace. We have a high priest in Christ Jesus that has become identified with us in our weaknesses and infirmities, being tempted in like manor as we were tempted to fully represent us before the Father in our human state. Hebrews 4:14 -16 says, “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. 16Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”
Jesus has gone through the heavens as our great high priest. He has gone through the natural heaven of our earthly man. He has gone through the second heaven of spiritual warfare and demonic activity and He has come into the third heaven where He sets at the right hand of the Father, ever living to make intercession for us and bring us, in Himself, into the Father’s presence. Colossians 3:1-3 tells us, “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. 2Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.”
You see Father God looks upon us and now instead of seeing our sin, weakness and failure, He sees us through the filter of the Blood of Jesus. Through that blood He beholds in us the righteousness of His Son that has been imparted to us by our faith in Him. When He sees you, He sees you complete in His Son and because you are in the Son you have access to throne and you can now approach the throne of His grace with confidence and boldness so that you may receive mercy and grace in your time of need.
If the righteous Holy God of all can see us through the filter of the Blood of Jesus and behold the righteousness of Christ in us why is it we can’t look through that same filter to see ourselves and others in the body of Christ the same way? Many of us struggle with self condemnation and always feel estranged from God because we don’t see ourselves through the filter of His blood. Many of us see the faults and shortcomings in one another. We judge and condemn one another rather than forgiving one another. When a brother or sister falls so many times instead of restoring them in love we cast them out and count them no longer worthy.
When were any of us ever worthy? Ephesians 4:29-31 gives us as Christians this exhortation, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Don’t you suppose it is the Father’s heart that we view each other through this same filter of the Blood of Jesus that He views us. Since when did we become God and Judge, especially when the same things reside in us that we condemn in others? If God can love me, then there are no limitations on who He can love and who He can forgive.
In Colossians 3:12-14 we receive this like exhortation, “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” Isn’t it time that we get our eyes off of people and on to Jesus? People, no matter how great they are, will always disappoint you. They will always fall short of your expectations. So many of us are looking to people, rather they be spiritual leaders, civic or political leaders, marketplace leaders or even our husband or wife, mother or father. None of these people can take the place of Jesus in your life. Don’t put on others what only Jesus can do for you. Understand they have the same weaknesses and frailties as you. Forgive them and forbear with them. See others through that same filter of the Blood of Jesus that the Father sees you.
January 28, 2016
And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.
One thing that is common in both God and man is that everybody likes to be appreciated. We will go to great lengths sometimes for others if they have a grateful heart and are appreciative of our efforts. It is important that we always appreciate the Lord. It is this appreciation that keeps us mindful of Him and all of His wonderful attributes and the blessings we so richly enjoy from Him. It is a dangerous thing for us to develop an ungrateful spirit. That spirit shuts us off from people and causes us to only be caught up with ourselves.
We see that thankfulness and appreciation to the Lord are basic steps of etiquette to entering into His presence and fellowship. Psalms 100:4 tells us, “Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, [and] into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, [and] bless his name.” We can never appreciate the Lord too much and that heart of thankfulness and praise should be resident in us continually. Appreciation gives value to the one receiving it and it is an act of humility and respectfulness on the part of the one delivering it.
The lack of appreciation has far different results. As many in the world were caught up in sin, it caused their hearts to become hardened toward God, as it can ours. What was the result of their ungratefulness and lack of appreciation to the glorious God and Creator who authored our lives and gave us life? Romans 1:18-32 gives the account of man’s ungratefulness and what results. “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.
21For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.
24Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.
26Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. 27In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.
28Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. 29They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.”
Our ungratefulness and lack of appreciation causes a perverted and arrogant way of thinking and leads us to God’s wrath and judgement. On the other hand, a truly grateful, thankful and appreciative heart can lead us into God’s very presence and the fullness of joy. What does God command us to do? Love Him with all of our hearts and love our neighbor as ourselves. That means we truly need to appreciate the Lord and appreciate those that God places in our lives. We might be amazed at the difference we would have in our relationships if we really became sensitive and attentive to appreciating those around us. We all want to feel that the things we do are worthwhile and that we are valued. We all want to be appreciated, even God.
January 27, 2016
Joy is a Spiritual fruit, Happiness is a Choice
1 Timothy 6:6
But godliness with contentment is great gain.
Isaiah 12:3 says, “Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation.” The thing I have experienced through my life is that when I am walking the closest in fellowship and relationship with the Lord is when I experience the greatest joy in life. Since joy is a spiritual attribute and fruit of the Spirit described in Galatians 5:22-23, it only makes sense that as we walk in the Spirit and feed off of the fullness and goodness of God we are going to experience the joy and contentment of the Lord. The thing about the joy of the Lord is that it isn’t dependent up the circumstances around us. There can be great storms raging in our lives, but yet joy and peace can remain in our hearts when our eyes are fixed on Christ and upon the promises of His Word. When we walk in the Spirit we see things and life from a God perspective. If it pleases the Lord, it pleases us. It is no longer about all of my needs and my wants being fulfilled. This is where a lot of people confuse joy and happiness. If happiness is reliant upon our feelings then it is going to be an elusive experience. It will be here one minute and gone the next. Why, because our feelings are up and down. It rides the roller coaster of our emotions. The feelings of happiness are circumstantial. They are based again a lot on self: self-contentment, self-fulfillment, self-gratification, but not on self-control.
Here is an example many of us can relate with: Why do I have an unhappy marriage? He or she doesn’t meet my needs. They only think about themselves. They don’t care if I am happy or fulfilled. They don’t provide enough. They don’t give enough. They don’t do enough. What is the central theme you hear in all of these phrases? You don’t make me happy and what makes you happy for a short time is going to change to feelings of unhappiness and discontentment the moment your expectations aren’t met. Happiness has to be a choice that you make that isn’t dependent upon what someone else does or doesn’t do. I read this morning where marriages are more successful with people who go into marriage as already happy people rather than those who go into marriage looking for happiness. Don’t put the responsibility for your happiness upon someone else. That is your responsibility. Otherwise you are always going to be disappointed and hurt. People can never give you what only God can give you and that is joy and contentment.
Our verse today is so powerful because it is short but it says so much, “Godliness with contentment is great gain.” It simply says we have made a decision that God is enough. What ever He supplies and provides in my life is enough. That may be much or that may be little, but as long as I have God that is enough. The apostle Paul made the statement in Philippians 4:11-13, “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, [therewith] to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” Paul didn’t have his eyes on people to meet his needs. Many of the churches didn’t help him financially or support him. He could have gotten bitter or angry or upset with them, but he didn’t. They weren’t his source and his supply, God was. He had learned to be content with whatever God brought into his life because he had this revelation; “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” Who is your strength today? Who is your supply? Who is your joy and contentment? Maybe anger, bitterness, resentment and unforgiveness have come in to make you so miserable because you have been looking to others to meet your needs and they have disappointed you. Let us learn what Paul did, that the Lord is enough. We can make the decision that we are going to be happy because God is enough rather in much or little, rather we are abased or abound, rather we are full or we are hungry. In order to experience the fullness of joy in our salvation we must take our eyes off of us and let Christ become the focus of why we live. We live to serve not to be served. We live to give and not to take. We live that in all things we may please Him who has given us life. “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19).” Experience the joy of your salvation by walking in the Spirit and make the choice to be happy because of the One that resides within you.
January 26, 2016
The LORD [is] slow to anger, and great in power, and will not at all acquit [the wicked]: the LORD hath his way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds [are] the dust of his feet.
Are things being stirred up in our lives? Have you thought to have an orderly life only to find it going in more different ways than you ever thought possible? There is a whirlwind moving through our lives, a force of separation that is stirring up and sifting all that is chaff in us. Left to ourselves, we would be content to let the mud settle out in our lives and the water clear. On the surface we would look pretty clear and clean, but God knows what lies down in the inner recesses of our hearts. He is not going to leave it alone and let it stay there. There is often a whirlwind that passes through our lives and circumstances that stir up things in our lives we might not have even known were there. There are areas of our lives, feelings, emotions, passions, desires and appetites, that may lie suppressed but never dealt with. Have you ever thought why is it that things are suddenly coming out of my mouth I would have never thought to say, or things are coming up in my soul I thought were gone. God is often the whirlwind in the storms that moves through our lives and soul. The purpose of the whirlwind is to deal with the hidden things in our hearts that have been forgotten, repressed or that we weren’t even aware that they had residence in us. These whirlwinds that move through our soul can be very unsettling because the Holy Spirit is revealing and showing our true heart in areas. Sometimes that can be a much uglier sight than we care to admit. He doesn’t do it to condemn us or embarrass us, He does it to purify us and bring into the light those things in all of us that we have cloaked in darkness and tucked away in the closets of our heart. The Lord is cleaning His house, He is getting into the closets of our hearts and pulling out all that junk that we had so neatly packed away. We all know that when we clean something out that in the process we can have quite a mess as we sort through and separate the good from the bad, the needed from the unneeded. Sometimes our lives can get in quite a mess as the whirlwind of the Holy Spirit is moving through areas of our lives and cleaning house.
Is it disturbing, is it unsettling, is it often bringing us shame or feelings of unworthiness? Yes, it does all of these things. Once it is out in the light, then we have to decide what we are going to do with it. Luke 12:2-3 says, “For there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; neither hid, that shall not be known. Therefore whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the housetops.”
An unfortunate part of life to us is that often our pain reveals to us a problem that we would continue to ignore if it weren’t significant enough to draw our attention to it. We know that we can experience more than physical pain. It is often our heart felt pains that bring to light our heart problems. Praise God He loves us just the way we are, but too much to leave us that way. Don’t despair if you going through this process in your life. We must be willing to relinquish these areas to the Lord, lay them upon the altar, repent of them and find our right standing in His forgiveness and deliverance that He wants to bring to us. In God’s process of cleaning us up our waters are going to get pretty murky at times as His whirlwind is passing through, but it is because He is working a deeper and purifying work in you. 1 Peter 4:17, “For the time [is come] that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if [it] first [begin] at us, what shall the end [be] of them that obey not the gospel of God?”