Having True Joy in Your Life

Kamala Harris advocated this week for the legalization of marijuana, saying “It gives a lot of people joy. And we need more joy in the world.” I agree that most people have a need for more true joy in their lives. However, lasting joy does not come from the use of chemical substances. Ms. Harris is calling for people to temporarily ‘feel better’ by using marijuana and other substances to masks their problems.

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Dictionary.com defines joy as “the emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying.” I have never smoked marijuana or consumed alcohol, yet I experience true joy in my life every day. I experience joy as I am enveloped in the love of my family, enjoy the fellowship of friends, bless others through ministry and giving, and contribute to society by working diligently at my job. More importantly, I experience true joy from the assurance that God has forgiven my sins and I am his child. These are things that are exceptionally good and satisfying.

The Lord Jesus told His disciples that joy comes from abiding in Him. “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” John 15: 10- 12.

There are many Scriptures in the Bible that speak about joy. These are just a few of them:

  1. Nehemiah 8:10 “The joy of the Lord is my strength.”
  2. Psalm 21:1 “The king shall have joy in Your strength, O Lord; And in Your salvation how greatly shall he rejoice!
  3. Psalm 32: 10 -11, “Many sorrows shall be to the wicked; But he who trusts in the Lord, mercy shall surround him. Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, you righteous; And shout for joy, all you upright in heart
  4. Ecclesiastes 2:26, “For God gives wisdom and knowledge and joy to a man who is good in His sight.”
  5. Romans 15:15, “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

If you are searching for true joy in your life, I encourage you to seek it from God. God is our only source for forgiveness and salvation. We need to have fellowship with God in order to experience true joy in our lives. Don’t fall into the trap of using substances as a substitute for having real joy in your life.

You Would Not Have Been Born


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“You would not have been born.” I remember clearly the conversation in which my mother uttered those words to me. I was 7 years old, and Mom had just shared with my sisters and I that she had miscarried her second child. Sharon, the oldest of child of the family, was only a few months old when the miscarriage took place. This child would have been born when Sharon was less than 1 year old. I was born approximately one year after this child’s due date.

I was not bothered in the least by my mother’s statement. In fact, I replied with absolute certainty, “Yes, I would. I would have been born to another family.” Mom tried to explain to me that life doesn’t work that way, but I was adamant. The fact that I had been born was proof enough for me that I was supposed to be born. It still is, in fact.

I thought about this conversation recently after watching the movie, ‘About Time’. The movie revolves around a family in which the men can go back in time and relive parts of their lives. At one point, the main character travels back a few years to try to change the outcome of an event and returns to his present life to find that his young daughter Posy has not been born, and he has a son instead. He realizes that his time travel somehow changed the dynamics of his child’s conception resulting in a different child. Fortunately, he is able to undo is time travel mistake and regain Posy.

The movie reminded me that every conception results in a unique child. If conception takes place in a different month, a different child is created–at least in terms of the physical DNA. If the miscarried child had been born, it certainly had the potential to impact the timing of the conception of the next child, namely me, and the 7 children who were born after me.

I am neither a theologian nor a geneticist, so I cannot say with any certainty how I would have been conceived and born if my parents’ second-conceived child have lived. I do, however, have complete confidence that my birth was part of God’s plan. The psalmist David wrote, “Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, The days fashioned for me, When as yet there were none of them.” (Psalm 139:16)

The rest of the Psalm reminds us that God know us intimately. He knows our thoughts and He knows where we are. There is no where that we can go to hide from God. He is always with us, walking with us and guiding us no matter where the path takes us. And He has known us since before we were formed. I have absolute assurance that my birth, and your birth, were part of God’s perfect plan.

My mother miscarried another baby 25 years or so after her first miscarriage.  She was just as bereaved to have lost her 11th child, as she was to lose her 2nd child.  She always carried those children in her heart, despite never getting the opportunity to meet them.  She realized that all life is precious and that children are gifts from God.  Psalm 127:3 tells us, “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, The fruit of the womb is a reward.”

Give Thanks for All Who Are in Authority

In 1 Timothy 2: 1- 4, Paul wrote, “Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

As Christian we often use this passage to encourage one another to pray for our President and elected officials. And if ever there was a time that our President and elected officials need our prayers, it is now. Supplications and intercessions go pretty much hand-in-hand with prayers. I am quite happy, and usually diligent, to pray, intercede, and supplicate for our leaders.

Today, however, as I read this passage, the fourth command jumped out at me–‘giving of thanks.’ Now, that is a harder pill to swallow. I give thanks regularly for our President and other elected leaders with whom I agree and support. However, I can’t say that I give thanks for those who oppose the President and the important changes he is trying to implement to keep our country safe and prosperous.

When it comes to praying for those politicians that I believe are moving our nation away from God, I do pray for their salvation. I ask God to remove the blinders from their eyes so that they will see the truth and repent. I pray for revival for our nation, and particularly among those in position of authority and influence. But, I don’t give thanks for those with whom I disagree.

Paul tells us in this passage that “supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for ALL men, for kings and ALL who are in authority.” And the reason for these prayers, supplications, intercessions, and thanks is that we may live in peace in godliness and that people will be saved and come to know the truth.

So, starting today, I will give thanks for all men and women in positions of authority, whether I agree with their politics or not. And, I believe that by giving thanks, and interceding on behalf of all our politicians, that we will enable God to move in the hearts and minds of our politicians to work together so that we as Americans can live in peace in godliness and reverence.

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Will you join me in supplicating, praying, interceding, and giving thanks for all in authority?


Knowing Who You Are

I’d like to share a story by H. B. Kelchner that illustrates the importance of knowing who we are and not being defined about what others think of you.

“One time I was holding a meeting in a certain city and somebody attended my meeting who did not like me or what I preached. He sent an open postal card through the mail to the pastor’s home. He called me a liar, with everything else he could think of, and signed his own name and put it through the United States mail. When I came to the pastor’s home that evening, he said, “Preacher, here is some mail for you.” But when I looked at it, I said, “I am sorry, this is not me.” Another preacher sitting there took it. The longer he read it, the more angry he became. He said, “Brother, you could make yourself some easy money; you can sue him.” “But,” I said, “Brother, when I do that, I have to admit that it is me; and it is not me, so why should I worry?” So many people do not know who they are. I have heard people say, “They called me a liar; and I am not a liar. I’ll take them to court and sue them.” Well, if we are not a liar, then surely they are not talking to us. If I go down the street and someone runs up behind me saying, “Mr. Smith, you old Mr. Smith,” they can say all the things about Mr. Smith they want to; it is not going to bother me because I know my name is not Mr. Smith. My name is Kelchner. Many saints of God have not learned who they are and every time the devil sends a little dog barking along their Christian pathway, they get out of victory. As the common saying is, “They lose their sanctification, ” and want to start a fight. It pays to know who you are.”

From “Living Your Christian Life NOW in the Light of Eternity” Book 1, by H. B. Kelchner

If you have accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior, then you are:

  1. tA Child of God–“Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!” 1 John 3:1
  2. A New Creation–“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. ” 2 Corinthians 5:17
  3. Heirs of God–“And if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him” Romans 8:17
  4. Chosen, Royal, Holy, Special –“But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” 1 Peter 2:9
  5. Valuable–“Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap, which have neither storehouse nor barn; and God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds? ” Luke 12:24
  6. Precious–“Since you were precious in My sight, You have been honored, And I have loved you.” Isaiah 43:4
  7. Loved Forever by God–“For the mountains shall depart and the hills be removed, but My kindness shall not depart from you.” Isaiah 54:10

Don’t let others try to define you. If someone says something untrue or unkind, remind yourself that they are not talking about you. You are not that person. You are a valuable, precious, loved, chosen Child of God.

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My One Word for 2019–Commitment

“Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.” Proverbs 16:3 (NRSV)

My sister-in-law posted this verse on her Facebook page recently, and it spoke to my spirit instantly. I felt that this would be my verse to focus on for the year, and Commitment would be my One Word for 2019.

For this purpose, I am using as the definition of Commit, “to give in trust or charge.” I will ‘give in trust’ all my works to the Lord, and He, in return, will permit those works to come to fruition, so long as my works are in harmony with His word.

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This principle applies regardless of whether the work involves (1) doing my job, (2) improving my health, (3) taking control of my finances, (4) learning new skills, (5) building new relationships, or (6) stepping out into new areas of service and/or ministry.

The One Word concept is that one should focus on one word for the year, rather than making a bunch of resolutions that will be quickly broken. So for this year, I will focus on committing to the Lord whatever work I feel led to pursue. And, I will be certain that He will bless the efforts I commit to Him.

What word will you choose to reflect on in 2019?

It’s a Wonderful Time for Giving

It is now 3 weeks until Christmas.  For those of us who like to prepare well in advance, our shopping is down to those last few hard-to-buy-for loved ones.  Procrastinators still have 20 shopping days left and some have 18 or 19 days until they begin shopping.

Whether you have been done with your shopping for weeks or haven’t begun, there is still time for you to think of others who are less fortunate.  It isn’t too late to put some money in the Salvation Army kettle or buy a gift for a needy child.

In case you haven’t decide which worthy charity to support this year, I am offering up a few of my favorites.

Samaritan’s Purse Operation Christmas Child–The ministry founded by Franklin Graham has provided shoe box gifts to 157 million children in impoverished countries for 25 years.  It’s too late to drop off a box at a collection point, but there is still time to build a shoe box online.   For a $25 donation, you can select items for a boy or girl.   You pick the age range and are lead through the process of picking a Wow item, 2 small toys, and 3 accessories.  Essential items, including toothbrush, comb, crayons, colored pencils, and a notebook, are added to each box.   https://www.samaritanspurse.org/what-we-do/operation-christmas-child/

Prison Fellowship Angel Tree Ministry–Donations to this ministry provide gifts to children who have an incarcerated parent.  2.7 million children in American have a parent in prison. Prison Fellowship provides gifts to more than 10 percent of those children using donations collected.  To learn more about this ministry and/or make a donation, go to https://www.prisonfellowship.org/about/angel-tree/.

Toys for Tots–The Toys for Tots toys collection drive sponsored by the U.S. Marine Corps since 1947 has another week or so left in their toy campaign to provide toys to less fortunate children.  You can drop off a new toy at a collection bin and the toy will be given to a child in your area.  Or you can make a cash donation.  97% of donations go to provide toys and 3% is used for fundraising expenses.  To find your nearest collection site, go to https://www.toysfortots.org/donate/toys.aspx

These are just a few of the many organizations that are devoted to helping children in your community and around the world have a very Merry Christmas.

“The Lord Jesus himself said: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”  Acts 20:35.

May your family be blessed as you share His blessings with others this Christmas Season.

That the Works of God Should be Revealed

The entire ninth chapter of John is devoted to the story of Jesus healing a man who had been blind from birth.  As I listened to my pastor preach from this text on Sunday, I was particularly impressed by the first few verses in which the disciples assumed that the man’s blindness was the result of sin, either by the blind man himself or his parents.

Jesus responds to their question in verse 3, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him.”

What a powerful statement.  This was a grown man who had spent his childhood and some portion of his adult life blind, in order that Jesus could heal him on this particular day and reveal to the world that He had the power to forgive sins and to heal infirmities.

This struck a personal chord with me.  When I was 5, my mother gave birth to my brother John.  In the weeks after his birth, we came to realize that John could neither see nor hear.  The doctors said that John’s birth defects were due to my mother having contracted German measles while pregnant. When John was 3, however, it became clear that he was born as he was in order that God might reveal Himself to our family.

 

My mother casually asked the wife of my father’s commanding officer to pray for John, as he was to undergo surgery in an attempt to provide him with some limited sight.  The woman responding by coming over to our house immediately and sharing Jesus with my mother and encouraging her to read the Gospel of John.  My mother read John that very night and accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior.

Over the next four years, all the members of our immediately family accepted Jesus as their Savior.  Soon after my father’s salvation, God called John home to Heaven.  John did not receive his sight or hearing while on Earth.  He never learned to speak and never shared the Gospel with anyone, yet we know that the salvation of our family and many others is credited to his account in Heaven.

This Thanksgiving, I am thankful to God for revealing Himself to our family by sending us John.