Pursuit of Joy

The Declaration of Independence states that life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are inalienable rights given to all people by their Creator.  The pursuit of happiness is living life in such a way that makes you happy, as long as you do not violate the rights of others.  The trouble is, it the pursuit of happiness is an unending pursuit.  Happiness is based on emotions, circumstances, things, and people;  it is fragile and fleeting.

 

Our Creator gives us life (John 5:24, Gal 2:20), liberty (2 Cor 3:17), and joy (John 15:11).  Joy is our strength (Neh 8:8) that transcends all emotions, things, people, and circumstances, whether on the mountain-top or in the valley of the shadow of death (Ps 23). 

 

May our lives be a pursuit of joy (Ps 63:1-8, Ps 112:4-7) and the hope and peace that accompanies it (Rom 15:13).

-8/18/2019

Abode

An abode is a place of residence, a place of an extended stay, a home.  In an abode we abide. 

 

We are the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 3:16-17, 1 Cor 6:19-20).  If we love Jesus and keep His words, The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit make their abode in us (John 14:16-17, 23).  Correspondingly, Jesus tells us to abide in Him (John 15:4) and in His love (John 15:10).

 

Jesus will never leave us nor forsake us (Heb 13:5), His purchased possession  (Acts 20:28b, 1 Peter 2:9).  In a noisy, tempting, and deceptive world that hates us (John 15:19), the best advice for us every day is:  Stay at home with Him Who loves us and gave Himself for us.

-8/11/2019

Precious Peace

Peace is precious, even priceless.  When we have peace in our lives, our body, soul, and spirit thrive.

 

Blood pressures go down, immune systems are strengthened, the risk of cardiovascular disease lessens, and aging slows.  Mental focus and concentration increases, relationships are more stable, petty issues can be ignored while problem solving is enhanced, sleep is easier and more refreshing, and worries fade.  Wisdom and knowledge of God grow.

 

The world offers pharmaceutical means to attain peace.  However, it is a false peace because the world cannot give peace to mankind.  We must go to the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6, John 14:27) to have genuine peace, first with God and then with each other.

-8/4/2019

Ever Present

When a person comes to the end of himself/herself, cries out to the Living God for help, and receives Jesus Christ into their heart as Lord and Savior, the Holy Spirit of God takes residence in that person (Eph 1:13-14, Rom 8:11, John 14:26).  This is the born-again event when sinners are made new creatures in Christ (John 3:3-8, 1 Peter 1:18-23, 2 Cor 5:17-21).

 

Once He has indwelt a child of God (John 1:12-13), the Holy Spirit begins the lifelong work of conforming the person into the image of Jesus Christ  (Phil 1:6, Rom 8:29).  The Holy Spirit is, therefore, a lifelong resident  (Eph 4:30).  Accordingly, everywhere a child of God goes, the Spirit of the Living God goes also; to every movie, to work, to every social event.  The Holy Spirit is present all day, every day, in the life of a child of God.

 

Are you a child of God?  Where are you taking Him?  Are you aware of His ever-presence?

-7/28/2019

Temporary Living Space

Our Creator has assigned each of us a temporary living space.  That space is not the home or city or state we live in, it is our body.  We have been fearfully and wonderfully made (Ps 139:14), body (flesh), soul (emotions, personality, will), and spirit (life, the breath of God), which are “knit” together and inseparable…until death, which is the separation of the soul and spirit from the body.  Our body is not us, our body houses us.  Once our assigned number of days in our temporary living space is reached, we will move out and into an eternal living space (2 Cor 5:1, John 14:2-3).

 

In the meantime, we have been given stewardship responsibly to care for our temporary living space – to keep it properly fed, hydrated, rested, and exercised.  As faithful stewards, we should not abuse our temporary living space with behaviors and substances that are harmful to its health; to harm the body is to also harm the soul and the spirit.

 

Let us strive to please our Creator, in Whose image we have been created, rather than the creature (Rom 1:25), our temporary living space (1 Cor 9:27).

-7/21/2019

Feast, Fast, or Famine

Very few of us look like a stiff wind could blow us away.  Nearly all of us look like it has been a long while since we missed a meal.  We are laboring for food that perishes, but are we laboring for the food that endures unto everlasting life (John 6:27)?

 

Some are feasting.  They eat the strong meat of the Word of God and are mature in their walks with Christ, spiritual, and skillful in the Word of righteousness  (Heb 5:14, 2 Tim 2:15, 2 Tim 3:16-17).

 

Some are fasting.  They are still babes in Christ, carnal rather than spiritual, dull of hearing the Word of God, and unskillful in the Word of righteousness  (Heb 5:11-13, 1 Cor 3:1-2).

 

Some are famished, living in a self-imposed famine of the Word of God (Amos 8:11).  They are without strength, dead in their sins, because they reject and despise God and His Word.  They do not believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God.

 

Are you feasting, fasting, or famished?  Look in the mirror of the Word of God, not in the mirror in your bathroom.

-7/14/2019

In Denial

In the time of his intense suffering, Job declared that gold was not his hope but the LORD was his confidence.  To have hope in gold instead of the LORD would have denied the God above (Job 31:24-28). 

 

Before weeping bitterly for having 3 times denied even knowing his Lord Jesus, which he vehemently denied he would do, Peter’s was full of self-confidence rather than God-confidence  (Mark 14:27-31).

 

If we trust in money, we are in denial of the Living God  (Matt 6:24, Rev 18:17a).  If we trust ourselves or others, we are in denial of the Living God  (Phil 3:3, Gal 3:1-3, Ps 118:8-9, Ps 146:3-6).  In good times and in bad, remember:  The LORD is our strength!

-7/7/2019

Estate Sale

Seeing an “Estate Sale” sign is sobering.  An old person has died, leaving all their stuff behind (at least all the stuff the surviving family members do not want to fight over) and a commercial enterprise has been hired to sell everything just to get rid of it.  And usually, the stuff gets gobbled up by many others looking for more worldly stuff for pennies on the dollar.  Such is the end of all our worldly stuff – a family fight or a feeding frenzy Estate Sale.  How empty and useless.

 

There is a much more productive and rewarding way to use our worldly stuff – be faithful stewards (1 Cor 4:1-2) of the Lord’s stuff (Ps 24:1) while we have breath to further His work of preaching the Gospel to those who need to hear and see Jesus (Phil 4:14-17).  Put the stuff (which certainly will stay behind) to work for the Lord; that is why He entrusted us with it.  There will never be an Estate Sale for the kingdom of God (1 Cor 15:58) so may we seek the Owner’s guidance in Estate Planning.

-6/30/2019

Just Saying

In John 13:1-20, Jesus teaches us that we believers in Jesus Christ are clean in heart but dirty of feet.  We are sent into a filthy world to be His witnesses, engaging unbelievers with the Good News.  Then we gather on Sunday morning to have our feet washed by the water of the Word for another venture into the world in the coming week.  Yet being a witness of Jesus can be a struggle, can it not?

 

As the flesh is contrary to the Spirit (Gal 5:16-17), so is fear contrary to faith (2 Tim 1:7).  We do not fear talking to others about the weather, our work, our kids/grandkids, etc.  It is natural to do so.  By the power of the Holy Spirit (Luke 24:46-49, Acts 1:8), may it be as natural to talk to others about the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 10:36) and the boundless love, peace, joy, contentment, and hope we have in Him.

 

Increase our faith, Lord (Luke 17:5, John 3:30, 1 Cor 9:27)!

-6/23/2019

Callous

As we walk in this cruel and wicked world, our feet get dirty and need to be washed by the water of the Word of God (John 13:10).  Additionally, our feet get callous, hardened and insensitive, if we do not take care of them. 

 

I have just returned from a place where nearly all the people are callous to the neediest in their midst.  Their hearts are hard (do not care) and indifferent (take no action) toward homeless children living on the streets of their city.  The Word of God is rejected and the Spirit of God is quenched in that place.

 

We may be no different than those people.  If we are not diligent to take care of our hearts, by feeding the Spirit rather than the flesh, we gradually become indifferent and unsympathetic to the hurting people all around us.  The Word of God is alive and the Holy Spirit is Living Water, keeping our hearts spiritually healthy by daily washing away the filth of the world.  The Word of God is the balm needed to keep our hearts soft and sensitive (taking action) to the needs and suffering of others.

 

Be clean and be soft.

-6/16/2019

Cotton Candy

Cotton candy is a mouth-watering treat made from nothing but sugar.  It has absolutely no nutritional value whatsoever.  A well-balanced meal provides the necessary nutrition for our bodies.

 

Like cotton candy, the ear-ticking fables heard in many congregations in the days before Jesus Christ returns to earth, as foretold by the Holy Spirit in 2 Tim 3:1-5 and 2 Tim 4:1-4, have absolutely no nutritional value either.  The sound doctrine of the Word of God provides the necessary nutrition for our souls and spirits.

-6/9/2019

Forgotten

Full Service gas stations.  Party line telephones.  The postman delivering mail to your front door, and picking up your mail at the same time.  The milk man leaving ice cold milk in glass jars on your porch.  Walking to and from school without a care in the world.  We have either forgotten those days or we never knew them.

 

The fundamental difference between those days of innocence and these days of wickedness is this nation has forgotten God  (Jer 3:21, Jer 13:25, Jer 18:15, Jer 50:6) or never knew Him (Jer 4:22, Jer 5:4, Jer 8:6-7, Jer 9:1-3). 

 

The followers of Jesus Christ are to be in this confused nation as Jeremiah was in his, calling those who have forgotten God or never knew Him unto repentance with the Gospel (Rom 10:9-17) and warning of the judgment of God for failing to believe Him (Jer 9:9).

-6/2/2019

Stubborn or Uncompromising

Is there a difference between being stubborn and being uncompromising? 


Being stubborn is refusing to change or obey, even in the face of reason.  As a Missouri mule is obstinate, so is a headstrong person resolutely standing on Self.  King Saul was stubborn  (1 Sam 15:22-23).  Israel was/is stubborn  (Deut 9:1-6, Acts 7:51-53).

 

Being uncompromising is refusing to alter or dilute truth, even in the face of great ridicule or pressure.  The Word of God is uncompromising.  Jesus Christ was uncompromising in doing the will of His Father.  Therefore, a faithful follower/disciple stands with Jesus, resolved to be Christ-like  (Mal 3:6a, Heb 13:8).

 

Stubbornness sows to the flesh while being uncompromising sows to the Spirit (Gal 6:8).

-5/26/2019

Serving Others

As recorded in Acts 20:35, Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”  He also said He came to serve, not to be served (Matt 20:28), the first shall be last and the last shall be first (Matt 19:30), the exalted will be abased and the humble will be exalted (Matt 23:12), and deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Him (Matt 16:24).

 

Therefore, with forethought and His mindset, the follower of Jesus Christ thinks of others before Self and serves others rather than Self.  How refreshingly different is the follower of Jesus whose life is a blessing (Rom 12:16, Rom 15:1, Gal 6:2) from the every-man-for-himself citizen of the world whose life is a competition.

-5/19/2019

The Greatest Adventure

Abraham obeyed God and left home, not knowing where he was going (Heb 11:8), to receive an inheritance.  Moses saw the Red Sea part, the waters being a wall on Israel’s right and left (Ex 14:13-22).  Joshua saw the Jordan River stand up as a heap as soon as the feet of the priests carrying the Ark touched the river (Joshua 3:7-17).  He saw the impregnable walls of Jericho fall down flat (Joshua 6:20).

 

Oh, the mighty things the Living God has done!  Not just for the mighty men of faith in the Bible but for all who look to Him.  How many defeats in your life has the Lord turned into victories?!  How many little things at the time have become big blessings?  Romans 8:28 says, “we know” that God is working in “all things” for those who love Him.  Following Jesus and seeing

the Father’s hand in everything makes life the greatest adventure of all!  What is our God going to do next?

-5/12/2019

Unthinkable

Jesus very clearly told His disciples in advance how His ministry was going to end  (Matt 16:21).  His words were plain and simple to understand.  But the 12 disciples did not understand, His words were unthinkable (Matt 16:22);  they had a much different end in mind – His kingdom and their place in it  (Mark 9:30-34).  They did not believe what Jesus said.  After Jesus’ resurrection, they still did not believe  (Mark 16:9-13).  Jesus rebuked His unbelieving disciples before (Matt 16:23-25) and after (Mark 16:14).

 

But there was one disciple who believed the plain words of Jesus, and there is a memorial of her faith wherever the Gospel is preached.

 

Whether or not you can wrap our finite minds around what the infinite Living Word of God says, do you believe?  Will you follow, even into the unthinkable  (Matt 16:23)?

-5/5/2019

His Banished

Coached by Joab, a wise woman from Tekoah told King David, “For we must needs die, and are as water spilt on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again; neither doth God respect any person: yet doth He devise means, that His banished be not expelled from Him.”  (2 Sam 14:14)

 

Our sin separates us from God, we are banished from His presence (Gen 3:22-24, Is 59:1-2).  The wages of sin is death (Rom 6:23a).  Yet that is not God’s desire for us (1 Tim 2:4, 2 Peter 3:9).  So He has provided us with  a) an opportunity to make a correcting choice i.e. to believe Him  (Heb 11:6, Hab 2:4, John 5:24) and b) a Way to have our shame covered and be reconciled to Him (Gen 3:21, 2 Cor 5:17-21, John 14:6, Rom 6:23b).

 

The wise woman from Tekoah simply preached the simple Gospel to King David (1 Cor 15:1-4, Heb 2:9-18, Rom 1:16-17).

-4/21/2019

Comparisons

We continually make comparisons.  Between this thing and that thing, between this person and that person.  Between ourselves and others, between what we have and others have.  The “horizontal” comparisons result in a value judgment of good/bad, better/lesser, winner/loser.  Such comparisons stir discord and discontentment and fuel either pride or condemnation.

 

When we are in our right mind (at the feet of Jesus), we compare this world to the next world and ourselves to Jesus Christ.  Such “vertical” comparisons leave the value judgments with the Righteous Judge, fuel faith, break pride, and produce humility, peace, and contentment.

 

Carefully read the Epistle to the Philippians, bearing in mind that Paul was in a Roman prison when he recorded it.

-4/14/2019

Hard Saying and Dark Saying

Ps 49:4 says, “I will incline mine ear to a parable: I will open my dark saying upon the harp.”  Ps 78:2 says, “I will open my mouth in a parable: I will utter dark sayings of old.”  Prov 1:5-6 says, “A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels:  To understand a proverb, and the interpretation; the words of the wise, and their dark sayings.”  A dark saying in the Word of God is a parable or a proverb that is a puzzle, a conundrum, or a difficult and confusing question.

 

After hearing Jesus teach about the Bread that came down from heaven that is to be eaten to have eternal life, many of His disciples said in John 6:60, “This is a hard saying; who can hear it?”  They were saying that the doctrine/teaching of Jesus was harsh, tough, or severe.

 

How are we to understand the dark and hard sayings in Scripture?  By faith, not by intellectual prowess.  When we believe what God has said, He gives us understanding.

-4/7/2019

Time-ly Reminder

Brothers and sisters in Christ, appointed to live in these momentous days:

 

Our citizenship is in heaven (Phil 3:20).

We are in the world, but not of the world (John 17:16).

We are strangers passing through this corrupt world (Heb 11:13-16).

 

Be mindful of where we are going, not of where we are.

Stay focused, not distracted by the cares and the things of the world.

Keep your eyes on Jesus.

Be Christ-like every day of your journey.

Fall deeper in love with the Word of God.

Finish well your course with joy!

-3/31/2019

This Too Shall Pass


There is a Jewish fable in which an eastern king asked King Solomon to put into one sentence a truth that would always apply, whether in good times or in bad.  King Solomon replied with, “This too shall pass.”

 

Regarding the affairs of man living trapped in time on planet earth, it is a very profound statement.  However, regarding the Creator of heaven and earth, it is NOT a true statement.

 

The LORD changes not  (Mal 3:6a).  Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever (Heb 13:8).  Heaven and earth shall pass away but My (Jesus) words shall not pass away (Matt 24:35, Ps 12:6-7, 1 Peter 1:25).

 

Therefore, find peace, comfort, and strength in the eternal Word of God rather than in fleeting experiences and in the philosophies of man.

- 3/24/2019

Suddenly

Suddenly, the unexpected storms of life (Job 14:1) knock us for a loop.  We lose our job, our spouse walks out on us, someone we love dies, we are diagnosed with cancer, etc.

 

Some circumstances in our lives are beautiful, others are very painful.  All these circumstances are interconnected, like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle.  One day we see how all the pieces fit into a big, wonder-full picture.  Until then, when life has us reeling, we must trust the Lord who sees the finished puzzle and keep moving forward with Him.

 

Let your heart explore the depth of these passages to experience the peace of God that goes beyond understanding: 

 

Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.” 

 

2 Cor 1:3-4 says, “…the God of all comfort who comforts us in all our tribulations…”

-3/17/2019

Living in These Days  

We live in days in which good is called evil and evil is called good, light is called darkness and darkness is called light (Is 5:20). We live in the days Jesus called “the beginning of sorrows” (Matt 24:8) before the great and terrible Day of the LORD. How then shall we live?

In holy behavior and godliness, looking for and eagerly awaiting the coming of the day of God (2 Peter 3:11-12).

Clinging to our faith and provoking each other to love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves (Heb 10:22-25).

With patience and resolute hearts (James 5:7-8).

Being still, knowing the Lord of hosts is with us and is our refuge (Ps 46).

As overcomers by the blood of the Lamb and the Word of our testimony (Rev 12:11).

-3/10/2019

Ministers and Ministry

Our God is a relational God that does mighty works.  He is not the God of busyness.  Scripture reveals to us that the Lord cares more about His ministers (servants) than He does their ministry.

God is able to make stones into descendants of Abraham (Matt 3:9).  He is able to use a donkey to speak His words (Num 22:22-35).  Besides, the ministries we do are His works (2 Tim 1:9, Eph 2:10).

Therefore, O servant of God, do not let your ministry (as a spouse, parent, employer, employee, Church ministry leader or helper) get between you and the Lord Jesus Christ.  He is the Lord of all (Acts 10:36).  He MUST be first in your life.  When you tend to your relationship with Him first, He tends to everything else.
-3/3/2019

Heart Piercing

All of us, without exception, would be well served to let this little flick of the Sword of the Lord (Heb 4:12, Eph 6:17) pierce our hearts and lead us to Godly sorrow unto repentance (2 Cor 7:9-10):

“And when the people complained, it displeased the LORD.”  (Num 11:1a)

Complaining/murmuring is a sour and self-centered expression of unbelief in the promises of God.  Instead, our words are to be seasoned with grace, the salt that brings flavor (edification), healing (comfort), and preservation (exhortation) to our words (1 Cor 14:3).  In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you (1 Thes 5:18).
- 2/24/2019

Most Difficult Lesson

By the power of His outstretched arm, the LORD delivered Israel out of cruel bondage in Egypt. When Moses led Israel to Mount Sinai, his father-in-law Jethro came to visit (Ex 18:1-7). Moses shared with Jethro the testimony of the LORD’s glorious deliverance (Ex 18:8). Jethro rejoiced, believed the testimony, confessed that the LORD is greater than all gods, and offered a burnt offering and sacrifices unto God (Ex 18:9-12). Jethro learned what seems to be mankind’s most difficult lesson – to believe the testimony of God and to know that He is the LORD.


The phrase “shall know that I am the LORD” appears 77 times in Scripture (63 times in Ezekiel alone). The LORD is primarily speaking to Israel (His people), but also speaks to the Egyptians (people of the world). The LORD will in fact be known, either by His love or by His wrath.
Every person must choose 1) to believe the testimony of God or not and 2) how they will know that He is the LORD.
- 2/17/2019

Unconditional

God’s love for us is described as unconditional. Passages like 1 John 4:7-8, Romans 5:1-11, and Romans 8:31-39 bless us with great comfort. Yet we must consider the evidence of God’s love for us – Jesus Christ crucified (1 John 4:9-10, John 3:16, Eph 2:13, Is 53:3-11).

Unconditional love does not mean that God loves us just the way we are and we need not change our sinful ways (Rom 6:1-2). Our sin separates us from God (Is 59:1-2, Rom 3:23, Rom 6:23a). The sinner must change, must confess (agree with God) and repent (go a different direction) to be forgiven and reconciled to God (2 Tim 2:24-26, John 12:24-25, 2 Cor 5:17-21, Rom 10:9-13).

The goodness (love) of God leads us to repentance (Rom 2:4) and produces Godly sorrow (2 Cor 7:9-11). In other words, the unconditional love of God goes hand-in-hand with the unconditional surrender of the sinner. The fitting response to God’s unconditional love is our unconditional surrender (Luke 6:46). A life that honors the Father and the Son walks with unconditional surrender in the unconditional love of God.
- 2/3/2019

Section Title

We followers of Jesus Christ are promised trials and tribulations (John 16:33, 1 Peter 1:6-7).  Currently, I have Trials 1 and 2 and 3, Circumstances 1 and 2, and Situations 1 and 2 and 3 that weigh very heavy on me.  Each of you have your own list.  (Note:  1 Cor 10:13)

The Word of God says, “Cast all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.”  (1 Peter 5:7)  There is very little we can carry.  Jesus does all the heavy lifting.  All we can do is carry…on.  Be encouraged and carry on!  Persevere; it is always too soon to quit (John 8:31-32, Acts 14:22, Col 1:23, 1 Peter 1:13, 1 Tim 4:16).
- 1/20/219