Happy with Joy

As I drove to work this morning, WPER played a tape of a little girl telling her parents that Jesus had healed her and she was “Happy with joy.” She repeated several times, “I’m happy with joy; I’m happy with joy.”

It brought me great joy to see this little girl’s thankfulness and passionate praise of God for healing something that was hurting in her mouth.  She prayed and God healed her. She was ecstatic. And there was no doubt that it was God who healed her.

God blesses us in many ways each day.  Yet, we are often too distracted to recognize and acknowledge His blessings in our life.  And, even when we do, we rarely give Him praise with the enthusiasm of this little girl.

King David was a man who knew how to praise the Lord. When I think of exuberant praise, I picture David dancing and praising God as the Ark of the Covenant was returned to Jerusalem.  2 Samuel 6:14 tells us that “David danced before the Lord with all his might.”

Psalm 150 paints a beautiful picture of the ways in which the Lord desires us to praise Him.

Psalm 150

Praise the Lord!
Praise God in His sanctuary;
Praise Him in His mighty firmament!

Praise Him for His mighty acts;
Praise Him according to His excellent greatness!

Praise Him with the sound of the trumpet;
Praise Him with the lute and harp!

Praise Him with the timbrel and dance;
Praise Him with stringed instruments and flutes!

Praise Him with loud cymbals;
Praise Him with clashing cymbals!

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.
Praise the Lord!

 

I encourage you to pause for a few moments each day to reflect on the blessings God has bestowed on your and your family.  Thank Him with your whole heart for all He has done.  And I believe that you, too, with be “Happy with joy.”

Biblical Command to be Generous

The last parable of Jesus’s ministry recorded in the book of Matthew emphasizes the importance of Christ’s followers to be generous towards those who are in need. In this illustration, the Son of Man welcomes into eternity those who cared for the needy and equates such care as caring for Christ personally. Furthermore, those who did not care for the needy are sentenced to eternal damnation.

“When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory.  All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats.  And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left.  Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:  for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in;  I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’

 “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink?  When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You?  Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’  And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’

“Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels:  for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink;  I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’

“Then they also will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’  Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ 4And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

Matthew 25: 31 – 46

 


help-othersThroughout both the Old and New Testament, God commands His people to be generous and care for the poor. Furthermore, the Bible also teaches that generosity should come from the heart and be guided by the Holy Spirit. Nowhere does the Bible teach that caring for the poor is the responsibility of the government. It is the responsibility of God’s people to take care of their poor neighbors as prompted by the Holy Spirit.

A very clear distinction is made, however, between those who less fortunate and those who are idle or wasteful. Specific instructions are provided as to those who qualify as truly needed care and those who have come to poverty by their unwillingness to work or by wasting their money on worldly pleasure.

This is the first in a series of posts which will examine Biblical teachings on generosity and caring for the poor. These teachings include:

  1. God commands us to be generous to the poor.
    Deuteronomy 15:11 “For the poor will never cease from the land; therefore I command you, saying, ‘You shall open your hand wide to your brother, to your poor and your needy, in your land.’”
  2. God blesses those who are generous.
    Proverbs 22:9 “He who has a generous eye will be blessed.”
  3. Generosity is a response to God’s saving grace. James 1:27 “Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.”
  4. Generosity should be done with right motive.
    Exodus 35: 4, 5 “This is the thing which the Lord commanded, saying: ‘Take from among you an offering to the Lord. Whoever is of a willing heart, let him bring it as an offering to the Lord.'”
  5. We should take advantage of opportunities to be generous.
    Mark 14:7 “For you have the poor with you always, and whenever you wish you may do them good.”
  6. God hears the prayers of the generous.
    Daniel 4: 7 Therefore, O king, let my advice be acceptable to you; break off your sins by being righteous, and your iniquities by showing mercy to the poor. Perhaps there may be a lengthening of your prosperity.”

 

Jesus taught that we will always have poor people in our communities. It is no shame to be poor. In Samuel 2:7, we are told the “The Lord makes the poor and makes the rich.” We will always have widows and orphans in our midst who need our help We will also have people who are physically unable to support themselves.

Help should first come from family members, if the person in need has a family. Families are commanded to care for those in need within their own families. “But if any widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to show piety at home and to repay their parents; for this is good and acceptable before God.” 1 Timothy 4:5

Furthermore, those who will not care for needy family members are being disobedient to God’s commands. “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” 1 Timothy 4:8

When families care for those in need in their own families, the resources of the church are then available to help those who do not have anyone else to help them. “If any believing man or woman has widows, let them relieve them, and do not let the church be burdened, that it may relieve those who are really widows.” 1 Timothy 5:16

Paul ends this letter with a command to be generous. “Command them [those who are rich] to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.” 1 Timothy 6:18 (NIV)

Putting Faith Into Action: Ask God to reveal to you people in your family, church, neighborhood, and community who are in need of financial assistance. Pray about how God would have you help those in need.

 

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?