Joy Comes in the Mo{u}rning

I’ll admit, some weeks I am on some kind of roller coaster. I go from fear to joy to anxiety to peace like nothing. It’s so exasperating that I even turned off Yahoo as my default browser and unplugged my TV. Let’s see how long that lasts. However, one good thing has come out of this. My relationship with Christ is growing stronger.

Is it worth it, then? To suffer pain? Every moment of it.

It’s not as crazy as it seems. It’s just that I know that my joy is coming. My peace and all the other promises of God are on their way. The closer I get to God the more breakthrough I achieve. It’s not to say that one day everything will be perfect. It won’t be. Well, not until Heaven anyway, but I know that God does want me and you to experience happiness while on this side of eternity. Either way, all this negative emotion has got me wanting joy like never before. I even pray I’ll get to the point like Paul to say, “Consider it pure joy when you face troubles” (James 1:2). And we all know where that will bring us. But, right now, I’m just trying to keep my joy while going through the mourning.

So, why is joy so important?

The answer can be found in Proverbs 17:22: “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” Lord knows I don’t want to feel crushed! I want to be so joyful that I don’t even need a doctor. I’ll have “The joy of the Lord [as my] strength” (Nehemiah 8:10).

I have learned that for whatever trial I am going through or for any negative emotion that is attacking, I need to look up the exact opposite of the word in a Concordance and pray God’s promises over my life. Go on! Give it a try. Here are some verses to get you started:

Grief- Job 8:21 “He will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy.”
Sadness-
Psalm 30:11 “You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy.”
Unforgiveness-
1 Peter 4:8 “…Love covers over a multitude of sins.”


Perfect Love

We all struggle with fear, whether rational or irrational. However, let’s  look at what 1 John 4:18 says, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out all fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made in perfect love.”

The only perfect love I know is that of God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. Let’s look at 3 ways He has shown perfect love.

1. Creation. Look around. God has left His fingerprint throughout the Earth. He continues to reveal Himself through science and through the Holy Spirit’s revelation knowledge. Not only that, but we were created in His image. His children were made to reflect His loving nature, His joy, His holiness and righteousness. These things cannot operate apart from Him, nor can they operate when we walk in fear.

2. Salvation. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.” Because of sin, not one of us is able to go before a Holy God on our own; because of His great love, God sent Jesus to die on a cross as a payment for our sin. He paid our way. Now, His perfect love enables us to go “boldly before the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:16).

3. Eternity. Because of His love, God longs to spend eternity with us. At salvation, our names were written in the Lambs Book of Life. This means our eternal destination is secure and one day we will spent eternity with our Father in Heaven.

Let’s allow God’s perfect love to fill out hearts and minds today so that we have the courage to stand against any adversary.

Loser!

When I say the word, “loser” what comes to your mind? Is it some kid that got picked on in school? Is it the way others have made you feel at times? Could it be how you make yourself feel? Maybe it’s not the word “loser”, but a combination of negative comments that have affected you over the years, through parents, peers, and by probably the biggest liar of them all, satan.

Now, for many of us, the bullies have long disappeared (at least I hope so) and yet, some of the scars remain. I believe some of those words have made us into who we are today, possibly stronger because of it. However, there seems to be a bully that just doesn’t seem to quit- the devil. No matter how good you are doing in life, no matter how close you are to God, he still continues to take his jabs. And I don’t know about you, but sometimes his jabs linger a little longer than they should. You could find yourself becoming depressed, questioning your worth, or doubting God’s will for your life. Next thing you know, a little bit of your joy has been taken away. You find that you are not as kind or as loving. Maybe you’re always in a bad mood, but you just can’t figure out why. It’s because you believed the lie. I may not know exactly how the devil speaks to us, but I know that he does because the Bible says, the devil is a liar.

John 8:44 says, “When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”

It also says in 1 Peter 5:8 “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”

Satan is looking for someone to devour. Wouldn’t it be nice to be the one that he can’t touch?

Listening to the devil’s lies hinders Christ’s work in us. Not only that, but our insecurity can bring us to have self-pity or a self-centered attitude. To me, the biggest (and the hardest) part of being a Christian is to be Christ-centered and others-focused. So, the question is, how do we become so confident in who we are as God’s children that we don’t care what the devil or what anyone says about us? We find it in the pages of God’s Word. Be confident and bold, knowing that you are somebody special and God has an amazing plan for your life!

Moving Forward

(You especially have to go to minute 4.)

What an amazing church service we had today. If you ever make it to Cooper City, Fl. you have to check out my church. We sang this song yesterday, “Moving Forward.” I just wanted to share it with you today. Such a great reminder of what God has done; the past is gone!

2 Corinthians 5:17
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!

What a relief to know that the person we once were is gone. Our sins have been removed from the east to the west (Psalm 103:12).

Don’t pigeonhole yourself. Your past can’t define you. You are on a new path. Let God be gloried through your new life and all things will be made new!

The Bigger They Are the Harder They Fall

Shakespeare ain’t got nothing on Samson (pardon my poor grammar by the way). Here is probably one the most tragic stories in the Bible, a story about love, deception, dishonor, shame, and the power of God to redeem the worst of situations.

The story begins here, in Judges 13-16.

When the angel of the Lord came to Samson’s mother, he told her that she would bare a son, even though she was barren. He also told her that this boy would be set apart to do God’s work and this work was to deliver the Israelites from the Philistines. Before he was born, God had a plan for Samson; it is the same for us.

The Israelites were probably whining and complaining, wondering where their salvation was.  They had no idea that in some town, to some woman, a little boy was being born. A little boy was being trained to be the man who would deliver them from the Philistines. They also had no idea that this young man was going to wander away from the faith just long enough to nearly ruin his life.

But no matter what, Samson could not ruin God’s plan. God made a promise to him. There was no way God was going back on it, no matter how awful, no matter how off track, no matter how senseless Samson behaved. From an early age, Samson defiled the rules placed on his life. He defiled himself by touching dead animals. He messed around with women outside his culture and religion and he caroused with prostitutes. The one who would prove fateful was Delilah.

Samson was strong when it came to fighting, but not when it came Delilah He gave in and told her the reason behind his great strength-his hair. She turned him over to the Philistines, the very enemies he was called to destroy. Blind and chained, Samson stood between two pillars of the temple. He could have thought, “This is it, a life wasted. I’m defeated.” But that is not what happened at all. With his final breath, he prayed out to the Lord for mercy and strength to complete that which was promised to him. God heard his cry. In Samson’s death, he defeated the Philistine army by bringing down the temple walls on top of everyone.

Don’t wait until the end of your life to claim God’s redeeming power. If you are caught up in sin, repent today, stop living in chains, and get started living the calling on your life; It’s God’s promise to you.

A Goose, a Gander

A few months ago, our school had these geese and they had four little babies, or goslings. I didn’t know this before but geese stay with their mates for life. It’s encouraging to know that someone in staying together nowadays. Geesh. But that’s not all. I watched them everyday and would you know, the momma and poppa stayed so close to their goslings. They wouldn’t let them out of their sight. They would walk, stand, and swim on either side of them in an effort to protect them. Of course, nature took its course and with turtles and other large birds preying on the little ones, only two remained. But there was something beautiful in the way the geese nurtured their 2 little ones, teaching them how to swim, prepping them for flight. I couldn’t help but think of our children and wonder, are we guarding them closely enough? Are we doing everything we can to make sure that they don’t get snatched up by the evils of this world?

Now, while I don’t have children of my own, I have 120+ students that I work with on a weekly basis. I feel a huge responsibility to instill good values, morals, and love in the short time we spend together. Sadly, as a teacher, there’s only so much I can do. So, today I write to you mom and dad, and I ask, “Are you protecting your child as you ought?”

Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.”

Proverbs 14:26 promises, “He who fears the LORD has a secure fortress, and for his children it will be a refuge.”

Another promise can be found in Ephesians 6:1-3, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.  “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise— “that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”

There are promises to parents and their children when they raise their kids in the love and admonition of the Lord. The world is vying for your child’s attention through video games, television, and movies. Everyone’s trying to tell your child what to believe.

Start building an impenetrable foundation so that they will be unable to be snatched away from the Truth.

When God is Silent

John 11

Did you ever notice how loud our world is? People talking, radios blasting, cars honking. Sometimes, I just want QUIET!

…now what?

Ever notice how hard it is to sit still and be quiet before the Lord? How about when God is silent? It’s unsettling isn’t it? I often wonder why He isn’t speaking; why He doesn’t seem to be moving. What’s going on up there?!

And I’ve come to the conclusion…He’s about to do something great.

If you’ve heard the story of Lazarus you know that Lazarus was one of Jesus’ best friends. Lazarus’ sisters came to Jesus and said that their brother was ill. They wanted Jesus to heal him right away. The two women thought as many of us do, “Hurry up, God. Let’s go. Get a move on my request.” However, Jesus lingered. He actually said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” But guess what happened? Lazarus died. But how could that be? Jesus said he wouldn’t die. It just doesn’t make sense.

See, Jesus never does things as we expect Him to. I mean He loves us too much. Would you want your spouse or loved one to always know what you were up to when you are trying to surprise them with how much you care? How much more so it must be with God!

Jesus goes to the tomb of Lazarus who had been inside for four days and He says, “Lazarus, come out!” and the man comes out still bound in his embalming clothes.

Sometimes God is silent because He needs to get our attention. He needs us to evaluate our lives. Have we been disobedient? Sometimes he just wants us to trust Him and draw nearer to Him. Whatever the case may be, there is purpose in the silence.

Remember after the Old Testament God is silent for 400 years! And what came next was the greatest gift the world has ever known-His Son, Jesus.

Don’t get discouraged in the silence, press into God that much more, wait upon Him, and praise Him for what He is about to do.