Tag Archives: joy

True Treasure

Estate (ist`eit) n.
a landed property. The whole of a person’s property, including real estate and personal estate.

This weekend my family attended the estate auction of my grandmother, Beulah Irene Deckard. There were thirty-two acres with a small house and barn. Furniture sat empty along the walls of the living room and bedroom forming a line of memories out the back door into the yard where there were two tents with tables supporting boxes upon boxes of stuff; much of which I did not remember.

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There were several things that would make the people on those antique reality shows drool. I smiled at the thought as my wife and I walked along the tables looking at everything. But then it happened…we walked by a box of wooden shelves and I saw the crescent moon with a stairwell going from one landing at the bottom of the moon to a landing at the top. There were two of them that hung on the walls holding the small knick-knacks that Beulah’s grandchildren and great-grandchildren had made over the years. The sight of the moons that hung on the walls, among countless pictures, waiting to greet us every time we would visit was too much. I lost it. Just as I was able to turn away and choke back most of the tears, we walked toward the tables (plural) of quilts my grandmother had sown by hand.

After the auction was well underway and the real estate had sold, I stepped into the house and found the new owners standing in the kitchen. The wife remarked, as she closed the oven door, how Beulah was known for her cooking, “But this stove looks almost new.” The tears started flowing again as I smiled, “It is. She wore the other one out.”

Matthew 6: 19-21 says, Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal. But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through and steal; for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. When I thought of that scripture, I realized the quilts and meals my grandmother’s hands had made for so many years were never her treasures…we were. Anyone who received either from her was given a gift of abundant love. Her family knew the Gospel because her husband was a preacher. They understood the Gospel because she lived it.

As it turned out, I was able to see my grandmother the day before she died. We had gone down to visit with her in the nursing home. When my mother was ready to leave, she took my youngest daughter and walked outside. I stayed behind another minute because I wanted to pray. When I finished, Granny looked over at me and said, “I want to go home.” That was the first time I had ever cried for my grandmother, because when I looked into her eyes, I was sure she didn’t mean her little house in Gamiel, Kentucky.

In the end, Beulah Irene Deckard left this moth and rust riddled world with her treasures in the right place. We left the auction with a few quilts, two moon shelves, and a lot of memories. But the tears I am wiping away from my face as I write this have a lot of joy in them. You see, I have one more treasure waiting for me in Heaven. I love you Granny and I can’t wait to come home.

 

Article by C.S. Depew

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3 Things I Learned from Joel Osteen

osteenA wise man once said that he could learn from anyone… did you catch that?  He was wise… because he didn’t let anyone stand in his way of growth.  Not their successes or their failures. Not their preferences, their convictions, their methods, their mannerisms, their eccentricities.  We would be wise to learn from this as well… everyone can teach you something!  Some might teach you WHAT to do, HOW to live, WHY, WHEN – but others might teach you why, how, and what NOT to do!

Here are three lessons that I learned from the pastor of the world’s largest church:

I learned that a smile goes a lot further than a shout

Osteen is known for his trademark smile (it’s almost creepy how much he grins, isn’t it!?).  But the fact is – warm joy takes truth further into the soul than the cold call of duty.  Happy creatures are magnetic while negative ones polarize.  The good news is truly that — good news!  How tragic when the good news is delivered with a frown or a tone of judgment.  I realize that the gospel incorporates ‘negative’ elements of sin and God’s wrath, of blood and death… but it’s overarching message is one of hope and grace.  Share His love with a smile.

Warm joy takes truth further into the soul than the cold call of duty.

I learned that hope is a powerful thing

In his book, Osteen challenges the reader to believe in himself because of the ‘Champion’ within.  He convinces his audience that he believes in them, that they need to believe that things will not always be the same as they are right now, that they don’t have to live under the circumstances, and that they should take action to change their lives right now.  This is powerful because it offers people hope and a promise.  Personally, I believe that the source of hope needs to be more than just believing in yourself; it should be sourced in the great truth that God believes in you (although Osteen might see this as semantics / splitting hairs).  How might God use you to give hope to someone who is struggling today?  Believe in them because God does!

I learned that God can use anyone

Although Osteen was a PK (preacher’s kid), he has readily admitted that he didn’t see himself in the pulpit.  He avoided the spotlight and felt much more comfortable behind the camera than in front of it.  But, in spite of my many critiques of his methods and quirkiness, I believe that God is bigger than my level of tolerance or acceptance of his ministry.  I should admit that God IS using him to share the gospel and bring glory to His name.  God’s grace is bigger than anyone can imagine.  Don’t get me wrong… I’ll not soon throw the baby out with the bathwater. I would never deny hell or the sinfulness of sin on national TV (like he did on Larry King Live) – but then I’ll not answer to God for what Joel Osteen has done, will I?  I’ll try to keep my eyes on my own life and keep myself in check.  Aren’t you glad God uses us all in different people in different ways?  To think… Wow, God can even use me (and you)!

Article by Patrick Nix

@patchnix

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The Promise

“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life:
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.” Ps. 23:6

The Shepherd has taken us on quite a journey. We have lain in green pastures, drank from still water, walked righteous paths, and gone through the valley of the shadow of death. He has fed us, bound our wounds, and overfilled our cups. Now He wants to leave us with a promise to hold onto as we continue on our journey.

The first word “Surely” is the Shepherd’s way of telling us that we can count on this… just as surely as we can count on every thing else He has said. For the rest of my life — no matter the pain, sorrow, good times, or bad times — His goodness and His mercy will follow me. Oh, if we could only understand this concept. He is not ever going to leave you in need. He has walked the trail before many times with many sheep. He knows the danger and trials that you will face. He has provided His goodness as a gift to help us as we walk. He knows that we will struggle so He reminds us that He will always be there to provide good things for us.

It is so easy in the midst of a trial to think that God is taking a board and hitting you just for good measure. In our pain, we lash out and think that He no longer cares. Yes, the Shepherd will chastise a disobedient sheep, but He never strikes us for His pleasure. Our Shepherd is good and wants us to know His goodness is always there. We must go through trials and testing to strengthen and grow our faith. We tend to expect a Christian life in a bubble of protection; however, if you take a baby and place him in a bubble with no germs, nothing to learn, and nothing to stimulate him, he will die. As humans we need to get sick to build our immunity. We need to learn how to walk, talk, and live on our own. We need difficulty to stimulate us to persist and try again. The Christian life is no different. Just as we would provide goodness and encouragement to a child who is growing the Shepherd provides us that same goodness.

 Our Shepherd is good and He wants us to know that His goodness is always there!

As if it was not enough to have his goodness, He also provides His mercy. The Shepherd knows that we will fail Him. We were born falling short of His Glory, and salvation does not change the fact that we will fall short. Knowing this, the Shepherd has provided His mercy; not as a license to sin, but as a way to continue the journey. If not for His mercy He would strike us down on our first offense. We live our life each day in His mercy and with that mercy comes responsibility. We must rise after we have fallen. (Proverbs 24:16) “For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again: but the wicked shall fall into mischief.” His mercy demands that we get up and go on. Satan will use your falling and tempt you to remain down. The Shepherd never intended you to fall and not get up. If He did, He would never have given His mercy.

Some may ask: “Can I run out of this mercy?” According to the verse, not until He takes you home. I do believe that some sheep go home early, but as long as He gives you breath you have His mercy. In my opinion, for what it is worth, I think that many Christians who quit do so over guilt of their sin. Satan uses past failures as burdens to hold us down, but His mercy allows us to stand again.

To close it all off and finish this journey the Shepherd has taken us on, He has one more thing to say. “and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.” After the journey is complete and when the path has ended – Heaven awaits. The pain of today leads to the joy of tomorrow. The trials made us able to reach more people for Christ. Our faith in the Shepherd was built to its ultimate purpose: He awaits us with nail scared hands. No longer stretched out for our sin, but now stretched our to welcome us home.

I leave Psalms 23 with some words that Paul gave those Christians at Ephesus … and having done all, to stand. Stand…
(Ephesians 6:13,14)

Article by David Wagner

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Postmortem for a Dream – Part Four

In February 2011, I wrote a series of blog posts for ChurchWorks Network about what has been by far the most acutely painful time of my ministry life. Though nearly two years have passed, I remember everything like it happened yesterday.

rowell2In the time between my announcement and the last gathering, some of the original people came back into the picture and expressed, with some degree of smug satisfaction, their disapproval of my leadership. These were people whom I’d ministered to as spouses became sick and either died or regressed irreversibly, whose bedsides I’d sat next to, weeping and praying. Their rhetoric stirred up emotions in me that I hadn’t felt in a couple years, emotions I thought were behind me.

So it became clear to me that the church had never fully moved on from what it was, because some people had never moved on. If I were to list the lessons I’ve learned, perhaps the first would be that some people will never change, and it’s better to know as much as possible ahead of time whether they will or not. In retrospect, I have to take responsibility for never asking them that question.

I’ve learned that I was irresponsible in going into a situation without having planned, as much as possible, for how I would provide for my family. Almost from the time I got here, I reacted to changing realities (in terms of the church’s ability to pay me, what kind of job I’d need, raising support, etc.), instead of proactively preparing.

I’ve learned that a dream is only as valuable as the plan for accomplishing it. And I’ve learned that the dream of healthy, deepening relationships with my God, my wife, and my children is of far greater importance.

I’ve learned that, even as the odds were stacked against me, God was shaping me and my ministry style. And I’ve learned that the end result of this chapter of my life does not invalidate who I have become and what I have come to value as a leader and pastor.

I’ve seen the grace of God, in giving a dying congregation five more years to advance His mission. I’ve watched God used a dying church to reach out to and completely, beautifully change the very life trajectory of some very special people. And I have every confidence that God will use our experiences in their lives to impact the churches they engage.

So there is pain, and there is joy. There is frustration, and there is gratitude. There is doubt, and there is faith. There is the end of one chapter, and there is the beginning of another, even as it’s fuzzy at the moment.

And above it all is God, Who gives and takes away, Who comforts and frustrates, Whose ways are not my ways.

I trust Him.

Article by Mike Rowell

@redhedrev

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The Ship is Lost

It was a desperate situation for the captain. He had traveled a long way looking for the answers to the question about his soul. He was no longer satisfied to travel the dark seas, and had heard that there was a place filled with light. He had only to find a lighthouse to guide him on his way. Before the captain – in the darkness – stood a grand lighthouse. It had been known to shine so brightly in the past, and many had found the Kingdom of Light by its testimony. The light inside the lighthouse glowed as brilliantly as it ever had. However, the keeper of the lighthouse had become weary in his well doing. In his despondency he had ceased to keep the windows clean. The desperate Capitan would have to look for another lighthouse because this one had ceased to shine.

I continue my journey though the 23rd Psalm. This time the first part of verse three. “He restoreth my soul:” If there is any doubt of the difficulties faced on the green pastures and by the still waters the fact the the Shepherd restores our souls should settle it. Lets cut through the pleasantries and take an honest look at your soul. To many Christians are just like the lighthouse mentioned above, and way past the need for a restoration. The problem is never the Light for it always shines inside of us. Too many souls are so desperate to be restored that the light can not even penetrate into the lighthouse itself. We are discouraged, depressed, worn out, and tired. We still go to church for now, and we may still even work in ministry at our church. We are however just a shell of a Christian serving God out of a habit.

If you doubt me let me ask you one question: Were is your joy?

In Psalms 53 David pleads with God to “restore the joy of thy salvation.” One of the first things to go in a Christians life is the joy that comes with our salvation. There can be no joy in darkness. The really sad part is the number of Christians who are fine being in darkness. They would never say it, but they are as unconcerned about the lost world as they are about themselves. The Fruit of the Spirit has long since been partaken of, and Satan has victory in there lives.

Well, if I have not totally ticked you off, I will show you the good news. The Shepherd knows that you are going to need restoration. He gladly provides it. His love for us is not conditional on our obedience to Him. His fellowship with us can be affected, but He has promised never to leave us or forsake us.

So there you stand covered in dirt. Your joy is gone. Your testimony to the world is gone. You are the sheep that is standing at the edge of the flock as far from the Shepherd as you can get. I challenge you to lift up your eyes and look into the eyes of the Shepherd. For He has said, ”Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28) Your Shepherd stands there now, knocking on your door; waiting to restore you. You need not worry about cleaning the dirt before opening the door. He already knows it’s there, and He will wash you. Spend some close time with your Shepherd, and you will find your joy restored. See the world with His eyes, and your heart will burn for the lost.

It was a desperate situation for the captain. He had traveled a long way looking for the answers to the question about his soul. He was no longer satisfied to travel the dark seas, and had heard that there was a place filled with Light. He had only to find a lighthouse to guide him on his way. Before the captain in the darkness stood a grand lighthouse. It had been known to shine so brightly in the past, and many had found the Kingdom of Light by its testimony. The Light inside the lighthouse glowed as brilliantly as it ever had. The windows, now restored, reflected that Light far into the dark sea. The desperate captain saw the Light. His heart skipped with joy, and tears ran down his eyes. For this sheep, whom once had been lost, now had been found. His life in darkness had now been transformed into sight. This was all due to the sheep who found himself in need of restoration, and surrendered himself anew to the Shepherd.

Article by David Wagner

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I Don’t Know & I Don’t Care!

Wouldn’t you agree that the two biggest problems in our churches are IGNORANCE and APATHY?  It seems like we’ve crossed a threshold of comfort-level Christianity today.  The Scriptures warn us that the days will come when “sound doctrine” and “godliness” will seem to be things of the past (2 Tim. 3:5, 4:3).

Ignorance is epidemic.  Though many can quote Bible verses and go on and on about Bible stories, those same people have no real idea how Biblical principles impact their daily lives.  They don’t see the connection between their relationship with God and their marriage, between God’s wisdom and their parenting.  They don’t understand how the Bible relates to them being a good employee, a good citizen, or even a good church member.  Culture says: Church & the Bible are ineffective relics of a by-gone era and must give way to new ideas.  As a result, in order to show tolerance, to not offend, and to be politically-correct, pastors and churches have so watered-down the message that it’s no longer bright- or salty-enough to make a difference (Matt. 5:13-14).  All expectations should be thrown out when assuming an American’s familiarity with the core message of the gospel.

Apathy is the tragic norm.  I know you’ve heard this before – but churches are full of members with ‘big ears’ and ‘big rears.’  The average Christian’s spiritual life consists of coming to church, sitting on a pew, and listening to a sermon once a week.  While many sermons challenge a person’s gluteus maximus (by sitting through long sermons) and the tympanic membrane (by enduring loud or obnoxious voices), far too-few challenge a person’s volition (cognitive, decision-making skills) or their mind.  Too many pastors educate and never inspire.  The church doesn’t seem to care about what’s happening around them – calloused to the condition of the world.  Politics, the economy, natural disasters, wars… I’m afraid there are a lot of people who need to wake up to what’s really going on!

1. Be intentional about your growth.  Purpose to not remain stagnate.  The measure of this is NOT your amount of service at church or even necessarily your frequency to attend church meetings.  Although this is a tough one to measure, try to!  Ask yourself:  Do I spend more time with God than I used to?  Do I trust Him more?  Am I more/less patient with others than before?  Do I demonstrate more/less grace?

2. Determine to remain passionate about your faith.  Be sympathetic and don’t let the emotionless disregard for others dull your sensitivity for life.  There is so much to feel (compassion) – and so much to do (in helping others).  Locate and destroy any of pockets of apathy in your life.  Take this personally: it’s time we cared about what’s at stake!  Ask yourself: Am I numb to the reality of Hell?  Do I care about those around me enough to take action?  What would it feel like to love like Jesus loves?

I’m curious what you think… Is ignorance or apathy more rampant [POLL]?  Which is worst [COMMENTS]?  How should preachers respond?

Article by Patrick Nix

@patchnix

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Two Sides

“Hey, I’m just bein’ honest here,” or “I’m goin’ to tell it like it is,” more often than not are ways of setting up the fact that we are about to say something unflattering or unkind that we shouldn’t be saying at all as Christians.  With that in mind, I would like to offer a thought with a minor book review.

I will not be telling it like it is…I will be telling it like it should be.

A Basic Guide to Interpreting the Bible by Robert H. Stein was a very good book.  The focal point of the book is Hermeneutics: the practice or discipline of interpretation.  Stein discusses and argues the various points of view in interpreting Scripture as well as discussing translation.  I was reminded of a few men in our church as I read the book.  They are Scholars and Theologians.  Because they are clinical, analytical, and want to dissect and understand all of the Biblical facts, it often seems like they have no passion at all.

I, on the other hand, am full of passion when it comes to the Bible in a different way.  When I was six years old, my father owned a 1966 Pontiac convertible 2+2.  It was sharp.  As we drove down the road one day (with me in the passenger seat beside him and no seatbelt) I turned and said, “Punch it Dad.”  My father looked at me with a mischievous grin and said, “What do you mean…This,” as he kicked the accelerator to the floor.  I was pushed back into the seat and laughing as the car gained speed and the wind blew across our faces.  It was pure joy.  Over the next ten years, my father taught me the mechanics of the automobile so I could properly take care of my own vehicles someday.  I spent a lot of time under the hood of cars learning how they worked and what moved what and why.  It was interesting and I enjoyed it, but all of those hours spent under the hood of our cars dissecting and understanding could not bring about or mimic the joy I felt when Dad “punched it.”

The point is, in our Christian life we need both.  I need those Scholars and Theologians in our church.  I learn a great deal and am able to appreciate Scripture on many levels that I never would have been able to without them.  They, on the other hand, get to feel the pure child-like joy of Scripture.  A passion that understands while Moses and Paul had no idea what they wrote would be translated…And they didn’t know English, Spanish or Russian…God knew.  He knew every language there would ever be and He knew the words they used in Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic would be perfectly translated into words you and I read today, because He has a perfectly translated message for you and me.  Trust me, that kind of passion is contagious.

So no matter which camp you find yourself in, look to the other side with appreciation.  Jesus said the greatest commandment was Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

This is one time we are both right.

 

 

Article by C.S. Depew

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Joy Story

If you were to ask me to stop and recall one of my happiest times as a child, I would have to bring up the Toy Story era. Now before you laugh, whenToy Story came out it was well ahead of its time, not because it was the first successful computer generated movie, but because it solidified what all little kids were thinking: MY TOYS CAN TALK!

As an adult, life is little more complicated now isn’t it? It almost seems that the older you get, the more grumpy and sour you become. Why? Because simply put, life can suck the JOY right out of you. Remember when you actually enjoyed your job? How long has it been since you enjoyed your marriage? Being pointed, remember when you ENJOYED coming to church and seeing everyone?

We are foolish to think that God planned for your life to just putter along in misery. Thankfully, through Paul writing to the Philippians, we can truly find our JOY STORY and get back to loving life again!

Paul, under Holy Ghost inspiration, is careful to send a strong message to this first European congregation in Philippi. Depending on how you look at it, 16 times some derivative of JOY is pumped into this congregation. One of those words, REJOICE, is the ACTION of the emotion of joy. Throughout the book of Philippians, Paul gives us 5 FACTS to help us find our JOY STORY! (This post was from a message I preached recently, if you would like to watch it, click HERE)

What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice. (Philippians 1:18)

1. Take JOY in the FACT the Gospel Is Preached

A few verses earlier, Paul was saying that the Gospel was being preached FOR THE WRONG REASON (envy, strife, etc.) and because of the POWER that it had he still rejoiced in that fact! No doubt there is coming day that the glorious Gospel WILL NOT be able to be preached; let us be busy and find joy in the fact that it still can.

Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain. (Philippians 2:16)

2. Take JOY in The FACT that Your “Race” is Not in Vain

If there is anything that makes a Christ follower want to bail out on “Christianity” it is the question of, “IS IT WORTH IT”. We sacrifice, we struggle, we seemingly tread water … but it IS for a purpose. The situations we face are all specifically for our benefit, but the payoff (at times) takes FOREVER to be manifested. Paul goes so far as to say, “I’m content and have JOY in the fact that my suffering will make sense when I see Jesus!”

I sent him therefore the more carefully, that, when ye see him again, ye may rejoice, and that I may be the less sorrowful. (Philippians 2:28)

3. Take JOY in the FACT that Your “Race” is Not Run Alone

As was mentioned earlier, the reasoning behind some of our circumstances may not be understood until we reach Heaven. With that being the case, God has given us “co-laborers” that are in the fight as well. We should REJOICE, Paul tells us, simply because we do not have to carry our burdens alone.

Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord…  (Philippians 3:1)

4. Take JOY in the FACT of Who God IS

If there was no other reason to have joy, we should rejoice simply in who God is! He is your creator, sustainer, deliverer, redeemer, and FRIEND! Through Christ’s sacrifice your are ACCEPTED before God; take joy in that fact — Why wouldn’t you?

In Philippians 4:1, Paul starts off by saying, “Therefore” — (or in other words, because of everything that was just said) — we should take steps to insure that the fifth fact in intact:

I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord. And I intreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellowlabourers, whose names are in the book of life. Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice. (Philippians 4:2-4)

5. Take JOY in the FACT of Strength in a UNIFIED Body

We need to understand that quarrels and strife have no place in the Body of Christ. There is nothing that steals joy and destroys churches more than disunity. When everyone is on the same page, a unified assembly of Christ followers can truly change the world!

 

Article by Kevin Crozier

@kevcrozier

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Symptoms of the Heart – Part 3

It is no secret that people with high blood pressure have a greater chance of heart attack, stroke and kidney failure compared to those with regulated blood pressure. However, high blood pressure is not the problem itself but a symptom of an even larger problem dealing with the heart. According to one medical health guide, symptoms of this chronic condition are not easily detected giving it the name, “the silent killer.” There are several factors that can be attributed to high blood pressure including obesity, high sodium intake, alcohol consumption and the use of certain drugs; however, many with high blood pressure don’t know it until their blood pressure is measured. Only then can a proper diagnosis be made to correct the problem.

Unlike high blood pressure, it does not take a licensed professional to diagnose the symptoms of an insufferable heart. We all know someone who seems impossible to get along with because of the negative disposition of his or her character. We often speak to them with caution because we don’t know if their response will be pleasant or hateful. These are the people who have a bad outlook in life and usually bring us down with their overall pessimistic attitude. The Bible says “A fool’s anger is known at once, but a prudent man conceals dishonor” (Proverbs 12:16).

We are instructed to “not let the sun go down on our anger” (Ephesians 4:26). The symptoms of anger are evident in nature and reveal the character of a sinful heart. Anger becomes sinful when it is not restrained and can result in devastation and produce permanent damage. The Bible tells us that anger is a deed of the flesh and those who practice it will not inherit the kingdom of God (Galatians 5:19-21). James, half-brother of Jesus, writes, “For the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God” (James 1:20).

But the Bible has a solution for those who are angry and have little or no joy; the answer can be found in Jesus. He has come that we may have life, and have it abundantly (John 10:10). Jesus came to this world for the forgiveness of sin; the most humble act of kindness ever shown to the world, not because we deserved it, but because He loved us so much that He was willing to die on our behalf so our sin can be pardoned. This is the greatest thing anyone has ever done for us. Rather than being angry, we can transfer our anger into love and be joyful in all things by “fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2). It is for this reason alone that we can be joyful; Jesus paid it all.

If you have an angry heart or struggle with anger, allow me to urge you to seek the Savior. By confessing your sin to God and turning from them, the Bible says “He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9), for, “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23). By turning from sin and turning toward Christ, He will give you a new heart with new desires. For more information on how to have joy in Christ contact michael@michaelwaits.com

Article by Michael Waits

@michaelwaits

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Enjoying Your Bible

“The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.
“These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.”  Psalm 19:8a, 10; John 15:11

Is your Bible a like a desert (dry, boring) or like a dessert (sweet, satisfying)?  The Bible compares itself to food – and, considering the average American’s fetish with junk food, I’m not so sure that’s a good comparison.  Most of the time, good food isn’t really good – if you know what I mean.  We have to choose between good and good-for-us.  But the Author would have you have your cake and eat it too (spiritually speaking).  He desires to fill you with joy through His Words.

People don’t enjoy their Bible because they don’t __________________ it!  What’s your guess?  Because they don’t read it, understand it, obey it?  Or is the answer deeper… because they don’t treasure it?  Truth is, there’s not an easy, cookie-cutter answer to this question.  It’s different for each person.  Keep reading to find out your answer.

God’s Words are LIFE

In every realm, God’s Words are life: the natural, the physical, & the spiritual. In every form that God’s Word has taken, it is life: the uttered word, the Word made flesh, the Word recorded in Scripture.  We were created by His Word (Hebrews 11:3).  We are redeemed by His Word (James 1:18).  We are sustained by His Word (Hebrews 1:3).  We live by His Word (Matthew 4:4).  In case you don’t get what I’m trying to say, God’s Word is the most powerful thing in the known universe.  It’s more potent than the U.S.S.R.’s Big Ivan Bomb–a multistage hydrogen bomb (which contains 5.4 yottawatts –approximately 1.4% of the power output of the sun — with a blast more than 10x’s greater than all of WW2′s munitions combined).  It’s more powerful than the Great Chilean earthquake of 1960 that registered a whopping 9.5 on the Richter scale.  In fact, these things don’t even compare to the power of the Word of God!

The Bible Fuels your Joy

True joy has faith at it’s core – and there’s no real faith without God’s Word (John 20:31 & Romans 15:13).  Joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit, and where the Bible goes, so goes the Spirit (Romans 8:5).  Hope and comfort come from the Scriptures (Romans 15:4).  Joy is found in a freedom that many on death row have experienced (John 8:32).  Peace and assurance of God’s great control fuels joy in the midst of difficulty (Ps. 119:50,52; 1 John 5:13).  Find joy in the Bible’s wisdom (Prov. 3:13) and in the victory it guarantees (1 John 2:14).

Learning How to Enjoy Your Bible More…

George Mueller is a great example of the ‘blessed man’ of Psalm 1:1-3.  He determined that his happiness would be in first seeking ‘soul nourishment’ by reading, pondering, and living-out the Word of God.

  • Increased Bible INTAKE … reading / listening to it.  How often does the Bible enter your heart (through your eyes and ears)?  It will not affect you by osmosis!  I’ve been encouraged the last two weeks to hear of three church members who have been making time to read their Bibles at work during down- and break-times.  Many others have already chosen to use their commute times to listen to the Bible (CD/iPod).
  • Increased Bible INTERACTION … meditating / talking about it.  Is the Bible becoming a part of your soul (thoughts and emotions)?  It takes time to digest its nutrients.  This simple step of reviewing what you’ve read a couple of times a day will allow the nuclear energy of the Bible to radiate into your soul and amplify the Bible’s meaning exponentially in your life!  But don’t just keep it in… talk about it with others.  Ask questions about it.  Tweet about it.  (This is why small group study is so important!)
  • Increased Bible INTEGRATION … obeying / applying it.  The Bible was never meant to be a textbook or fact-book to be learned.  It is God’s message of hope and salvation meant to be lived.  Real Christianity (religion) happens when His Words come out of you, when you ‘Just Do It.’ (see James 1:25-27).  God’s Word will change you from the inside out if you allow it.

Is your heart set to intake, interact, & integrate God’s Word into your life?

For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments.  Ezra 7:10

Article by Patrick Nix

@patchnix

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