Always and Without Ceasing

il_570xN.719399076_tdneEven though he was in prison, Paul was not imprisoned by his circumstances.  In Philippians 4:4, he said:   Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!

As I thought of the remarkable attitude of this wonderful servant of God, I thought of several places in the Psalms where you are encouraged to rejoice:

  • In Psalm 9:14 the writer said that salvation is a reason to rejoice:  I will rejoice in Your salvation.
  • Mercy is the subject of rejoicing in Psalm 31:7: I will be glad and rejoice in Your mercy.
  • The faithfulness of God is another reason to rejoice. Psalm 33:21: For our heart shall rejoice in Him, because we have trusted in His holy name.
  • The writer of Psalm 119:14 said the promises of God’s
  • Word were a source of joy to him: I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies, as much as in all riches.

As Paul closes his first letter to the Thessalonians, he instructs them to “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing,  in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

To embrace the will of God for your life, I encourage you to consider how Paul made a connection between rejoicing and giving thanks.  He did it in the verse above as well as Romans 12:12: “…rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer…

How can “rejoicing always” can make a difference in how you you pray and how you give thanks?

Celebrating God’s Goodness

people-celebrating-1202x500When David wrote Psalm 62, he was in a desperate situation.  Men, who were full of evil, were scheming against  David, and even threatening to kill him.

David did what he usually did when he found himself in dire straits, he looked to God for help. Psalm 62:7-8, gives you a glimpse into the mind of this troubled king, and reveals his concept of God:

In God is my salvation and my glory;

The rock of my strength,

And my refuge, is in God.

Trust in Him at all times, you people;

Pour out your heart before Him;

God is a refuge for us.

Notice the first word in each of the last three lines:

  • Trust: You are to trust God in the good times as well as the bad.
  • Pour: Instead of trying to fight your battles by yourself, confide in God and pour your heart out to Him in prayer.
  • God: To really comprehend this verse, you need to make four sentences out of it, and contemplate each one of them:
    1. God (Creator of Heaven and Earth)
    2. God is (Not was; He is a present tense God)
    3. God is a refuge (Fortress and place of safety)
    4. God is a refuge for us. The Creator of all is always present as a fortress to meet your personal needs)

Celebrate the goodness of God today and praise Him because He is your salvation and your glory; the rock of your strength, and He is your refuge.

A Walk On The Water

images (3)There’s a passage of Scripture in the book of Isaiah that speaks about God’s wonderful love, care, and protection of His people.  In Isaiah 43:1-3, it says:

“Don’t be afraid, I’ve redeemed you. I’ve called your name. You’re mine. When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you. When you’re in rough waters, you will not go down. When you’re between a rock and a hard place, it won’t be a dead end—because I am God, your personal God, the Holy of Israel, your Savior.”

When I read this Scripture from Isaiah, a couple of thoughts came to my mind, and I want to share them with you:

  • You can have confidence in God, this is why he said: “Don’t be afraid.”
  • You can have a relationship with God because He has redeemed you; He knows your name; and, He claims you as His own.
  • When times are tough, and you feel like you’re in over your head, remember that Jesus knows something about water.  He walked on top of it, so He can certainly walk you through it.
  • When you encounter the raging rivers of life, Jesus can see around the bend. He will chart the best course, and He still knows where the still waters are (Psalm 23:2).  “You

To claim this verse as your own, speak it to yourself:  “You are my personal God.  I know you have redeemed me and know my name. I know you claim me as your own, and I give thanks to you for You are the Holy One and my Savior.”

A Summons To Appear

SummonsToAppear (1)There’s an interesting piece of conversation in I Chronicles 28 between God and Solomon that occurs after the rule and reign of King David.  At the start of Solomon’s reign, God set some standards to help guide the new king: “The Lord searches every heart and understands every desire and every thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you; but if you forsake him, he will reject you forever.”

A Normal Failure

images (2)Success and failure are the topics of many discussions.  In the Proverbs, Solomon draws a contrast between the “God-loyal people” and the “wicked” and how they manage the difficult times they face:

“Don’t interfere with good people’s lives; don’t try to get the best of them. No matter how many times you trip them up, God-loyal people don’t stay down long; Soon they’re up on their feet, while the wicked end up flat on their faces.” ~Proverbs 24:15-16

When a person is successful, he hears the cheers of the crowd; however, when he fails, the whispers of the same people are heard as an agonizing shout.  Failure is, however, a normal part of a person’s life.

With this in mind, let me share my Top Ten Failure Quotes:

  • Failure is not falling down: It is staying down.
  • “Failure isn’t fatal, but failure to change might be” – John Wooden
  • “Failure should be our teacher, not our undertaker. Failure is delay, not defeat. It is a temporary detour, not a dead end. Failure is something we can avoid only by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.” – Denis Waitley
  • “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” – Thomas A. Edison
  • “Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” – Winston Churchill
  • “It’s not how far you fall, but how high you bounce that counts.” – Zig Ziglar
  • “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” – Michael Jordan
  • Try again. Fail again. Fail better. ~Samuel Beckett
  • Never confuse a single defeat with a final defeat. ~F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • The men who try to do something and fail are infinitely better than those who try to do nothing and succeed. ~Lloyd Jones

When I think of a God-loyal person, I think of Tim Tebow.  This young man had a stellar career as a college quarteback.  When his professional career came to an abrupt halt, some peole labeled him as a failure.

Tebow stayed in shape, continued to work hard, and he signed a contract with the Eagles this week.  He is anything but a failure, and he is a living example of Solomon’s words: “God-loyal people don’t stay down long; Soon they’re up on their feet . . . “

Follow the Leader

Follow_the_Leader_Photo1When I woke up this morning I was thinking of the word “follow” and the several times Jesus spoke this word.  I did a quick scan of the four Gospels, and I found a couple of interesting concepts.

In Mathew 4:19-20, Jesus said:  “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men, and they immediately left their nets and followed Him.”

  • Principle: If you do not follow Jesus you will be snared by the net of the world.
  • Principle: Fishing for fish is good, but fishing for men is better.

In John 8:12, Jesus said: “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”

  • Principle: If you don’t walk with Jesus in the light, you will stumble without Him in the dark.
  • Principle: Jesus does not HAVE the light of the world, He IS the Light of the world.

In John 10:27, Jesus said: “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.”

  • Principle: Obedient sheep hear His voice and make the choice to follow Him.
  • Principle: When you deny and won’t comply, you are easy prey for the wolf.

Here’s the simple truth:  You can follow or be hollow.  When you are hollow, you will search for fullness, satisfaction, contentment, and love in all the wrong places.  When you follow Jesus you can be fully holy.

The wisdom of Solomon is a fitting conclusion:  “The way of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord, But He loves him who follows righteousness (Proverbs 15:9).”

TV Time

o-CHILDREN-TELEVISION-facebookAs I was watching the nightly news, I became curious about TV statistics.  Based on research by statistics brain, I found that:

  • 99% of households in the USA possess at least one television.
  • The average child will spend 1,480 minutes a week watching television.
  • By the time a child is 18, he/she will have seen 150,000 violent acts and viewed 16,000 thirty second commercials.

With these statistics in mind, answer the following questions:

  • Who or what is having the greatest influence in the life of your child or grandchild?
  • If 1,480 minutes are being spent in front of the TV, how much time is being spent reading the Bible, praying, or engaging people in a positive way?

There are two warnings from Paul that are worthy of mention:

  • He said you should not be like a child who is “tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every false wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming (Ephesians 4:14).”
  • Make sure that “no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ (Colossians 2:8-9).”

The 1,480 minutes of TV wouldn’t be so bad if it was healthy and wholesome; however, I think much of it is detrimental to a person’s well-being.

 

Look at the language Paul used. How much of the 1,480 minutes is captivativing philosophy that can be describe as the “trickery of men, craftiness, deceitful scheming?”

More Than a Paul-Principle

The_Giving_Hands_by_therealzackDo you ever feel like you just can’t get it done?  You are too tired, too lost, too depressed, too sick, or whatever to get it done?  Whenever I get in one of these down-in-the-dumps moods, I know God’s resources are unlimited, and I ask Him to re-source or re-supply me.

One of the great verses that reveals the resources of God is 2 Corinthians 9:8, and you can read it in three different versions below:

  • God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work. ~NKJV
  • God can pour on the blessings in astonishing ways so that you’re ready for anything and everything, more than just ready to do what needs to be done. ~The Message
  • God is able to make all grace (every favor and earthly blessing) come to you in abundance, so that you may always and under all circumstances and whatever the need be self-sufficient [possessing enough to require no aid or support and furnished in abundance for every good work and charitable donation]. ~Amplified Bible

Notice the “all” and the “always” in the NKJV:

  • All grace” will abound toward you
  • God will “always” have “all” sufficiency in “all” things

I encourage you to embrace this principle and claim it as a promise just like Paul did.   Paul knew he could do “all” things in and through the strength of Jesus (Philippians 4:13).

God has an “abundance” of resources for every good work, and they are not reserved for just people named Paul.  They are available to all of His children for we are “heirs of God and coheirs with Christ (Romans 8:17).”

The TGIF Zone

thank-god-its-p6f715There are some weeks that by the time Friday rolls around, I need to get a little boost to finish the week.  I want to share a little booster  that’s tucked away in the Old Testament.  It’s like drinking a rejuvenating cup of spiritual adrenaline:

“For you are a holy people belonging to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you to be His own possession out of all the peoples on the face of the earth (Deuteronomy 7:6).”

When you listen to its uplifting theme, this TGIF Booster might make you crow like a rooster. Look at this dynamic definition of your righteous relationship with God:

  • You belong to God.
  • You are special because He has chosen you.
  • You are one of His prized possessions.

Isn’t this enough to make you click your heels together; shake off your mental malaise; and praise God?

Let me affirm what’s already been said: “Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture (100:3).”  This verse clarifies and verifies who you are:  You are His; you are made by Him; and, He cares for you like a shepherd does his sheep.

When God purchased you it’s not because He was looking for a bargain and you had been discontinued and discounted.  No, you’re valuable, and He paid a premium to purchase you:  “You are not your own, for you were bought at a price, so glorify God in your body (I Corinthians 6:20).”

Not only can you TGIF, but you can also TGFF.  You can Thank God For the Friday that He paid the price for your redemption through the death of Jesus.

Don’t moan about the day: own the day.  You’ve entered the TGIF zone.

Life: Infested or Invested

reflection-in-mirrorMy morning routine includes the couple of minutes I spend looking into the mirror.  This is not an exercise in vanity.  It’s just the best way to examine my wrinkled mug; apply the shaving cream; and wield the razor to shave my beard.

As I was checking the stubble on my face, I thought of Paul’s statement to the church at Corinth: “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5).”

When you think about it, there are several times each day that you take the time to check the quality of some item:

  • Bananas are checked to see if they are too ripe or too green.
  • Apples are examined to see if they are bruised.
  • When you buy something you check to make sure you have been given the correct amount of change.

How much time do you spend in spiritual self-examination?  The Psalmist said:  “I thought about my ways, and turned my feet to Your testimonies (Psalm 119:59).”  When he didn’t like what he saw, the author of the Psalm ironed out the wrinkles in his life by turning to God’s Word.

The methodology of the Psalms was the same message espoused by James (1:21-25):

Lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.  For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror;  for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was.  But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.

You have the freedom to look into the “perfect law of liberty” and to use it as a mirror to examine your life.  When you do this, what do you see?

  • Do you see a reflection of righteousness?
  • Is there an image of personal purity?
  • Do you recognize the features of faithfulness in the face you see?

A good mirror to use is a prayer in Psalm 139:23-24: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”spic n span

Let me suggest this prayer as a daily test:  Does this mirror reflect a life that’s infested by the ring-around-the-collar filth of the world or one that is invested in the spic and span principles of God’s Word?