Archive for May, 2013

Here is a post that I put on Facebook this morning:

“With Christ, we have a life filled with joy that randomly encounters dark storms. Without Christ, we have a life of dark storms that randomly encounters joy.”

I’m grateful for receiving this insight from God during my devotional reading today. I am so blessed to have the privilege of experiencing joy that is not contingent upon circumstances.

You see, joy is the fruit of strength and direction and confidence for the inner person.

In contrast, happiness is the contingent result of pleasing circumstances that satisfy the outer person, things such as nice clothes, nice food, nice housing, nice body shape, nice job, etc.

Faith is not measured by happiness.

It is measured by joy.

If our joy is great when externalities stink, our faith is strong.

The reverse is true, of course.

Is your life goal one of seeking joy? Or is it really one of seeking happiness?

Happiness depends on circumstances.

Happiness is about the “now.”

Joy depends on promises.

Joy is about the future.

This is the obvious point of Psalm 119:143.

“As pressure and stress bear down on me, I find joy in your commands.”

Like you, I face a lot of pressures and stresses. I’m in an intense season of such just now.

Yet, I’m not depressed. I’m not freaking out. I still breathe slowly and deeply.

Is this because I know a big check is in the mail? Is this because I’ve got a dream vacation coming up? Is this because I have many friends who want me to come over to their houses to hang out and eat tasty food?

No, no and no.

I have joy in this season because I know that obeying God’s Word assures me of an eternal life apart from pressure and stress.

I have joy because of what’s ahead rather than happiness because of what’s in the present.

I pray that this is your view, too.

As always, I love you

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It’s a good thing that God doesn’t require perfect people in order to communicate His perfect love.

If that were the case, we would have no hope for learning and living out God’s plan for our lives here and in eternity.

Sometimes, the messages of God’s gracious love and His desire for relationship are communicated in the most surprising of ways.

I’m not going to explain the bizarre context for the statement below but if you’ll read 2 Samuel 13-14, you’ll understand more fully why the verse below is so significant in its conveyance of how deeply God loves sinful people even though He hates their sins.

“All of us must die eventually. Our lives are like water spilled out on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again. But God does not just sweep life away; instead, He devises ways to bring us back when we have been separated from Him.” (2 Samuel 14:14)

What a delicious display of Old Testament gospel!

Now what will shock you is that it came at the end of a false story concocted by somebody from a community of psychics — for the purpose of bringing a murderer back into fellowship with King David…. a murderer who ended up staging a revolt and running David out of town and off the throne.

Like I said, this was a big, messy story that Jerry Springer would have loved.

But in the midst of it all, God still revealed His heart and commitment to rescuing souls, even through a greatly flawed vessel such as the woman from Tekoa.

Thank God.

We all know that we find ourselves at times in really big messes that might or might not be of our doing.

We can be caught up in “Drama Central” at home or work or school or church or in the hospital.

We can find even ourselves shocked at the chaotic, carnal and costly circumstances being dumped on our heads or, at the very least, at our feet.

But if we’ll look closely or listen carefully, somewhere in the fog we’ll be reminded of God’s promise to never leave us or forsake us.

We’ll find affirmations/illustrations/explanations of the 2 Peter 3:9 truth that God’s preference is for everybody to find salvation.

Sometimes, the messages will come to us from people more messed up than we.

Sometimes, God will reveal spiritual truth to us or spiritual changes we need to make and the one talking to us won’t even pick up on what God is saying through him or her.

Remember that God is sovereign and can choose to speak through people who don’t live for Him.

Remember that Caiaphas – who hated Jesus – said it is better that one man die for the people rather than all die because of one man (John 18:14).

Listen closely to all the people in your life. God just might be telling you something important from the most surprising of sources.

As always, I love you

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I had a conversation with someone this morning about how some people have a gift for encouragement and other people don’t.

This should not come as a surprise, yet we’re still disappointed when not receiving encouragement from those close to us.

The reality is that God doesn’t intend that our emotions or frame of mind or ministry activity become dependent upon a pat on the back for being a hard worker or a gracious forgiver or a thick-skinned, vision-driven church leader.

Even if others withhold their encouraging words, God never does.

Feeling unappreciated at church? At home? At work?

Feeling taken for granted?

Know for certain that nobody has been taken more for granted than God Himself.

And yet, His love for us abides.

His desire to encourage is hard-wired into the Bible so that we can be sustained no matter how difficult life circumstances become.

“If Your instructions hadn’t sustained me with joy, I would have died in my misery.” (Psalm 119:92)

Listen, my friend. No matter how difficult your circumstances become, the Word abides. God’s strengthening love for you abides. His promise for your eternal life abides. And the offer of His Holy Spirit’s leading of your steps along the path of faithfulness abides.

Abiding love. Abiding hope. Abiding wisdom.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

What encouraging news for us today.

As always, I love you

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Wanna surefire way to show people that you love Jesus?

Love them.

Every one of them.

And make sure that you only say loving things about and do loving things for other Christians.

“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:35)

This means NEVER gossiping about others in the church or in other churches.

This means NEVER saying something that tears down but instead saying things that build up.

We can talk about faith all day long but it only takes one stink bomb of failed faith to blow up a testimony at work or at school or at home or at church.

Love always.

It’s what Jesus did for us.

It’s the least we can do for Him.

As always, I love you

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It is true that our morality is not a matter of chance.

It is a matter of choice.

We choose whether we will live the godly lifestyle or not.

Ignorance is never an excuse because the Holy Spirit speaks to our consciences, acquainting us with what pleases God and what doesn’t.

Some might say, “But I didn’t know that doing ________ was sinful.”

That excuse might fly if there were no mention of ________ in the Bible and of how doing such fell short of God’s expectations for believer behavior.

Listen, nobody likes feeling ashamed.

Nobody likes feeling convicted by the Holy Spirit because of offenses against God’s Word and God’s will.

I certainly don’t.

That’s why it is SO much better to learn the Word and rehearse the Word so that we don’t violate the Word.

For when we can put our heads on the pillow at night without regret for having disobeyed God by doing ________ or some other sin, sleep is so much more peaceful.

In our hearts, we can confess to God the words below that will make Him pleased and ourselves content.

“I will not be ashamed when I compare my life with your commands.” (Psalm 119:6)

Do right.

Sleep tight.

It’s a great combo.

As always, I love you

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