Just Happy

I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned this in my writing or not but I think that the book of Philippians is probably my favorite book in the Bible. Know why? Because of it’s central theme: Joy. The word, or a form of it, joy appears more in this four chapter epistle than in any other. Paul repeatedly says how joyful he is, and he happens to be writing from prison. Talk about an example to emulate!

I think that Christians ought to be the most joy filled folks on earth. Afterall, we are the only ones who really have a reason to be filled with joy. I know, there are times when we have aches, pains, tribulation and persecution, just to mention a few things, and they can make it tough to show our joy some times. But I truly believe that no matter what storm you are in, of you’re solidly grounded to the Rock, leaning in Christ Jesus during the bad times as well as the good, that there will be a joy that others will see in our eyes and feel from our hearts. It’s that light that we should never hide “under a basket” that they will see: the light of Jesus that a dark and desolate world needs so badly.

No matter what, inside a child of God will just be happy as long as we draw from the well of Living Water. As Paul wrote to the Philippians:

Philippians 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord alway: [and] again I say, Rejoice.

At the Goodwill Store

I have recently discovered a like, maybe developed is a better term, for old glass. Not all glass, but certain styles and colors have recently begun to catch my eye. This week I obtained an old cake serving platter. It’s nothing fancy, not the type nor even color that I really find attractive. But this old platter had wear on it, it had been used a lot by someone and was likely very dear to them. What I find sad, and I think why I bought this old plate, is of where I got it from: a Goodwill thrift store. Here I was, looking at some thing that has meant so much at one time or another to some one, and it had been discarded like trash, a ho-hum, run of the mill, ordinary “thing”.

As I thought on this I began to think of what Jesus said in the book of Revelation to the church of Ephesus. He told them that they had left their first love: Him. In other words, their relationship with Christ had become ho-hum, ordinary, probably legalistic and formal. They had allowed the things of the world to displace Him as the rightful center of their lives.

Today we can easily become like the Ephesians were, allowing our hearts to grow cold, and things that have no real value to over take His place in our lives. And since this is a process, as one contemporary Christian song says “a slow fade”, if we aren’t vigilant we may end up putting Jesus aside, our relationship with Him relegated to the “bin at the spiritual Goodwill”.

Murmuring Or Grateful?

Murmuring Or Grateful?

BIBLE MEDITATION:

“Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world.” Philippians2:14-15

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT:
Do you know the problem with many of us when we obey God? We murmur about it while we are doing it! And God is taking notes, because halfhearted obedience isn’t obedience at all. Remember, God is looking at the heart, not the deed (see 1 Samuel 16:7).

Do you know why we murmur? Because we’ve taken our eyes off Calvary. Jesus didn’t murmur on the way to the cross. Oh no. Do you thank God for the pains in life? Or only the gains?

ACTION POINT:
Ephesians 5:20 says, “Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

– Adrian Rogers

Precious Memories

This week in Prayer Meeting Pastor Danny continued his mini-series on teaching in the Psalms. I’ve missed one or two of these lessons but have greatly enjoyed the ones I’ve been able to attend. But what has really stuck in my mind from Wednesday night was the “theme” I felt from the songs sang, testimonies given, and words spoken: to me it was “precious memories”.

Through this walk of life and our walk of faith we make many memories. Lots of those have to do with folks: family members, church family members, and others we interact with. Many of those memories are of the sweet blessings we receive from the Lord, and those are so vast and diverse I’ll not even attempt to list them. we also have memories of things and events that, on the surface, aren’t so “precious”. But when we really examine them in the light of eternity, looking at God’s big picture, while they may not be pleasant many should be precious, if for no other reason than to remind is of lessons learned, kind of like the Old Testament is an example for us today to learn from.

It occurred to me last night after the service, as I thought about the lesson and the things I’d heard, that the most precious memories are yet to come. God’s Word is filled with wonderful promises for those that are His. All of those promises are assured to His children yet many of them are ones that we’ll have to wait a while to see realized. And you know what? They are so glorious, so grand that it should give us joy and strength in the low times of our lives to look forward to the fulfillment of all the good things our God has in store for us!

How to Get Rid of Your Pastor

I ran across this piece, originally published in Daily Bread from RBC Ministries back in July 2003, this evening. I’m betting that none of our pastors would complain if we tried this with them!

Getting Rid Of The Pastor

Pastors who do their work well should be paid well and should be highly appreciated, especially those who work hard at both preaching and teaching. For the Scriptures say, `Never tie up the mouth of an ox when it is treading out the grain-let him eat as he goes along!’ And in another place, `Those who work deserve their pay!’ Don’t listen to complaints against the pastor unless there are two or three witnesses to accuse him. If he has really sinned, then he should be rebuked in front of the whole church so that no one else will follow his example (1 Tim 5:17-20)

Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor. (1Timothy 5:17)

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A Christian leader told about some church members who came to him for advice. They wanted to know of a way to get rid of their pastor. Sensing that they were not being fair, he gave them these suggestions:

1) Look your pastor straight in the eye while he is preaching and say “Amen!” once in a while. He’ll preach himself to death.

2) Pat him on the back and tell him his good points. He’ll work himself to death.

3) Rededicate your life to Christ and ask your minister for a job to do. He’ll die of heart failure.

4) Get the church to pray for him. Soon he’ll become so effective that a larger church will take him off your hands.

If your pastor faithfully preaches God’s Word and tries to live an exemplary life, do all you can to support and encourage him. Of course, no pastor is perfect, and sometimes a loving rebuke may be needed (1 Timothy 5:20). But a pastor carries a big responsibility (Hebrews 13:17), and a faithful man of God is worthy of respect and generous financial support (1 Timothy 3:1; 5:17-18).

By the way, when did you last say to your pastor, “I’m grateful for you and all you’ve done for me”?
-Richard De Haan

Another Day

As I am getting ready this morning for a check up with my family doctor, my mind is running through the errands and chores on my agenda for today. Nothing, I found myself thinking, especially exciting (with the exception of tonight being Prayer Meeting).

I think that we all find ourselves with similar thought lines as this, feeling like we are in a rut or going through the same old grind, day in, day out: think “Groundhog Day” here. But the Bible teaches us to embrace each day, to be joyful in every moment. I believe the Psalmist said that today is a day the Lord made; let us rejoice in it.

We aren’t promised another breath, let alone day. We need to be thankful, praiseful, and joyful always, on our exterior when ever possible but with out ceasing on the interior.

Today is as unique as a snowflake: there’ll never be another just like it. Rejoice in that and praise God for allowing you to have one more day to shine the light of Christ Jesus out to a dismally dark world.

Do You Only Have A “Prayer Life”?

I’ve heard this subject/question many times. I think Dr. Rogers provides a good line of thought with his answer.

Do You Only Have A “Prayer Life”?

BIBLE MEDITATION:

“Pray without ceasing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:17

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT:
You are to pray when you are adding up prices in the grocery store line. You are to pray when you are changing a tire. You are to pray when you are singing a song. You are to pray when you are teaching a little one how to read.

We are commanded to pray all the time. But how do we do this? Think of a mother who has a child who is ill with a fever. Finally, the fever breaks and the mother and child settle down for some much-needed sleep. Not a noise from the television, from the street, or from the phone could awaken that mother. But one whimper from her child and she’s awake, right? That’s because even when she is asleep, she is in tune with that child—just as we are to be with God…constantly communing and attuned to His voice.

ACTION POINT:
Prayer to us should be as natural and continual as breathing. Jennifer Kennedy Dean asks an important question: “Do you ‘have a prayer life’—or are you living a praying life?” Think about the difference

Semantics

I often hear commentators say in their “analysis” of a speech or idea that what was said was largely rhetoric. They, and politicians, are also very fond of the word “semantics”, speaking, usually critically, of the thoughts expressed by who it may be they are opining about. Often times the things we hear are really just not that critical in the way they are worded. There are of course exceptions to this but generally the way we say some thing isn’t as important as the “what” we are saying.

One of the exceptions, to me at least, is when Christians speak of “trying to live as a Christian” or “when you are living as a Christian”. To me the “how” or choice of words, the semantics, are important and some thing we need to heed close attention to. While a brother or sister may completely understand your intent, a non-believer, be they the intended recipient of the conversation or an over-hearer, could well sense doubt in your commitment to Christ by the choice of words.

God’s Word is clear: if we are His, we are His 100%, no reservation, no holding back, all or nothing. Passages like 2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore if any man [be] in Christ, [he is] a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” and Colossians 3:10,11 “10 And have put on the new [man], which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him: 11 Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond [nor] free: but Christ [is] all, and in all.” clearly teach the old person we once were is dead and we are new creatures or creations in Christ. Many others, including passages from Romans and Revelation give us the promise of adoption into God’s family, sonship and heirship. Yes, God is clear about His promise, about the fact that we are His; He says no place about how we are to “try” but to be and do. Let’s be careful in our words. Portray boldly the knowledge you have of God’s promise from His Word when you speak. Unbelievers can’t understand much of the things of God because they have yet to be born again; spiritual things are beyond their understanding in most cases. Let’s not speak carelessly and unknowingly plant a seed of doubt of confusion that the adversary can use against them.

The battle is hard enough as it is without us unawares arming the enemy.

What Do You Make Time For?

What Do You Make Time For?

BIBLE MEDITATION:

“For thou shalt be His witness unto all men of what thou hast seen and heard.” Acts 22:15

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT:
What is more important in your life today? Seeing your daytime soap opera or asking an unsaved neighbor over for a chance to love them to Jesus? Joining your buddies for a round of golf, or visiting your unsaved father? Going shopping with your friends, or taking the time to read the Bible to a lost person in a nursing home? Someone wisely observed, “We managed to make time during the day for what’s really important to us.”

Friend, the time is running out. We will not be witnessing in heaven. This is our earthly duty and privilege now. None of us knows how many hours we have left. We must seize the golden opportunities that God gives us daily to witness.

ACTION POINT:
A line from “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” is our challenge: “Oh, be swift, my soul to answer Him! Be jubilant, my feet! Our God is marching on.”