VIDEO Rediscovering Your Joy – Is the Exclusivity of Christ Unjust?

Rediscovering Your Joy

For many Christians serving God is a duty when it should be a delight. Billy Sunday said, “If you have no joy, there’s a leak in your Christianity somewhere.” Indeed, Christians should be the happiest people on the planet. A happy Christian is a strong Christian because “The joy of the Lord is your strength” (Neh. 8:10). As C. S. Lewis stated, “Joy is the serious business of heaven.”

Unfortunately, the Bible is perceived by some as a book of gloom and doom, rules and regulations, and super serious and dull theological issues. Consequently, God is viewed as a killjoy in heaven who doesn’t want people to have any fun. After all, God is somber, strictly business, and serving Him is drudgery, right? Wrong! That, my friend, is not an accurate picture of the Bible or the God who inspired it. The great revivalist John Wesley said, “Sour godliness is the devil’s religion . . . it originated among unhappy, semi-religious people who had just enough religion to make themselves miserable but not enough to do them any good.”

God is the source of true joy. We can’t have complete joy apart from Him. “In Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Ps. 16:11). There is “fun” in sin, or no one would commit it, but it is short-lived, and the consequences take a terrible toll. You don’t have to drink alcohol, do drugs, gamble, or engage in illicit sex in order to have “fun.” It might surprise you how many joy-related words are found in the Bible. Words like “happy, glad(ness), joy, joyful(ly), joyous, rejoice(d), rejoicing, cheer, cheerful(ly), laugh(ed)” occur nearly 700 times combined in Scripture. Whoever said being a Christian is no fun is reading the wrong Bible.

God must have a sense of humor because He started the nation of Israel with a 100 year old impotent man (Abraham) and a 90 year old barren woman (Sarah). Isaac, their son’s name, means “laughter.” God promised them a son twenty-five years beforehand, but He waited until it was no longer humanly possible for them to conceive. Then God did the impossible, gave them Isaac, and restored joy and laughter to their lives. Proverbs 17:22 reminds us that “A merry heart does good, like medicine.” Thinking about how funny Abraham’s story is should give you a good dose.

Most Christians can quote Nehemiah 8:10—“The joy of the Lord is your strength”—but few know its historical context. The Israelites were a defeated, dejected, depressed people. They had just returned to their homeland after 70 years of Babylonian captivity eager to rebuild Jerusalem. Ezra, the Scribe, read the Law of Moses “from the morning until midday” (and you thought your preacher is long-winded). Many of these former captives had never heard the Law. When they realized how far short they had fallen from God’s expectations, they began to weep in despair. Ezra and Nehemiah calmed them down and told them not to weep but to rejoice. You see, wallowing in the misery of the past doesn’t help or change it. Instead, we should rejoice that God has given us a new beginning and focus on a brighter future.

The Psalmist David enjoyed his walk with God perhaps more than any other Bible character, but he temporarily lost his joy due to compromise. When he repented for his adultery with Bathsheba, David prayed, “Restore unto me the joy of my salvation (Ps. 51:12). Condemnation lifted and his joy returned. Later, he wrote, “I was glad when they said to me, let us go into the house of the Lord” (Ps. 122:1). Then he urged his readers to “Serve the lord with gladness (Ps. 100:2). Serving God should be our delight not merely our duty!

As believers, we don’t have to go to church, read the Bible, pray, or give offerings—we get to! It’s a privilege to serve God. Joy is one of the surest signs of the presence of God. Joy, a fruit of the Holy Spirit, is an evidence of a Spirit-filled life. One author noted, “Joy is the flag that flies over the castle of the heart telling us that the King is in residence.” When the Queen of England stays at Buckingham Palace, the British flag flies proudly to signify her presence. If the King of Kings is living in our hearts, joy should be a main indicator of His presence.

True joy doesn’t result from things or circumstances. Joy is not the absence of trouble, but the presence of Christ. Jesus never promised trouble-free living. In fact, He predicted the opposite, “In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world”(Jn. 16:33). To quote C. S. Lewis again, “Don’t let your happiness depend on something you may lose.” New things may bring a temporary sense of happiness, but alas the newness wears off, the payment book arrives, and buyer’s remorse sets in. Lasting joy is not tied to material things but to a vibrant relationship with the One who is our source of joy! So take time to rediscover your joy, and learn to “Enjoy the journey while you’re getting where you’re going?”

Ben Godwin is the author of four books and pastors the Goodsprings Full Gospel Church. To read more articles, visit his website at bengodwin.org and take advantage of his 4-book bundle for $25.00.

By  Ben Godwin
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Is the Exclusivity of Christ Unjust?

 

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Living with the Lights On – Is Your Ability to See God Blinded?

Living with the Lights On

Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.  Psalm 119:105

A work assignment had taken my coworker and me on a 250-mile journey, and it was late when we began our trip home. An aging body with aging eyes makes me a bit uneasy about nighttime driving; nevertheless, I opted to drive first. My hands gripped the steering wheel and my eyes gazed intently at dimly lit roads. While driving I found I could see better when lights from vehicles behind me beamed on the highway ahead. I was much relieved when my friend eventually took the wheel of his vehicle. That’s when he discovered I had been driving with fog lights and not the headlights!

Psalm 119 is the masterful composition of one who understood that God’s Word provides us with light for everyday living (v. 105). Yet, how often do we find ourselves in situations similar to my uncomfortable night on the highway? We needlessly strain to see, and we sometimes stray from the best paths because we forget to use the light of God’s Word. Psalm 119 encourages us to be intentional about “hitting the light switch.” What happens when we do? We find wisdom for purity (vv. 9–11); we discover fresh motivation and encouragement for avoiding detours (vv. 101–102). And when we live with the lights on, the psalmist’s praise is likely to become our praise: “Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long” (v. 97).

By Arthur Jackson

Today’s Reflection

Father, please fill my heart with Your Word so I can have the light I need for today!


Is Your Ability to See God Blinded?

The people of God in Isaiah’s time had blinded their minds’ ability to see God by looking on the face of idols. But Isaiah made them look up at the heavens; that is, he made them begin to use their power to think and to visualize correctly. If we are children of God, we have a tremendous treasure in nature and will realize that it is holy and sacred. We will see God reaching out to us in every wind that blows, every sunrise and sunset, every cloud in the sky, every flower that blooms, and every leaf that fades, if we will only begin to use our blinded thinking to visualize it.

The real test of spiritual focus is being able to bring your mind and thoughts under control. Is your mind focused on the face of an idol? Is the idol yourself? Is it your work? Is it your idea of what a servant should be, or maybe your experience of salvation and sanctification? If so, then your ability to see God is blinded. You will be powerless when faced with difficulties and will be forced to endure in darkness. If your power to see has been blinded, don’t look back on your own experiences, but look to God. It is God you need. Go beyond yourself and away from the faces of your idols and away from everything else that has been blinding your thinking. Wake up and accept the ridicule that Isaiah gave to his people, and deliberately turn your thoughts and your eyes to God.

One of the reasons for our sense of futility in prayer is that we have lost our power to visualize. We can no longer even imagine putting ourselves deliberately before God. It is actually more important to be broken bread and poured-out wine in the area of intercession than in our personal contact with others. The power of visualization is what God gives a saint so that he can go beyond himself and be firmly placed into relationships he never before experienced.

WISDOM FROM OSWALD CHAMBERS

Always keep in contact with those books and those people that enlarge your horizon and make it possible for you to stretch yourself mentally. The Moral Foundations of Life, 721 R

 

The Word Implanted

James 1:21-25

Most Christians are taught early on to incorporate a devotional time into their day. This typically includes Scripture reading and prayer, both of which are essential for spiritual growth. But occasionally we should evaluate what effect this practice is having in us. In other words, we should ask, Is my quiet time accomplishing God’s purpose, or has it simply become a ritual I do out of habit or duty?

James says we need the Word to be implanted in us. This first happens when we hear and believe the gospel, which leads us to salvation. Peter describes salvation as being born again “through the living and enduring word of God” (1 Peter 1:23). But the implanted Word does even more—it sanctifies us. That’s why Jesus prayed to His Father, “Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth” (John 17:17). Sanctification is the process by which believers are progressively transformed into Christlikeness in conduct, conversation, and character. And the means God uses is His Word.

When Scripture is implanted in us, it roots out sins and produces righteousness. A quiet time shouldn’t be like the description in James 1:24 of someone who looks in a mirror and then forgets what he’s seen. Instead, it should involve an intent look into God’s Word, which changes us inwardly. Divine truth penetrates the heart, mind, and will and ultimately expresses itself in obedience.

Is your quiet time bearing spiritual fruit, or have you become satisfied with a routine glance at the Bible? For the Word to implant in your soul, some digging is required—and also patience as you wait for spiritual fruit to develop.

Mercy of the Lord

“The Lord is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy.” (Psalm 145:8) 

Not one of us deserves God’s mercy, for “we have turned every one to his own way” (Isaiah 53:6), and “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). What we deserve is death and eternal separation from the God who made us. Nevertheless, “it is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not” (Lamentations 3:22). “He hath not dealt with us after our sins. . . . For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him” (Psalm 103:10-11).

It is by His mercy, not our merit, that we are saved. “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us” (Titus 3:5). “God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)” (Ephesians 2:4-5). It is “according to his abundant mercy” that He has “begotten us again unto a lively hope” (1 Peter 1:3).

In fact, one of the very titles of God is “the Father of mercies” (2 Corinthians 1:3). Over and over the psalmist assures us that “his mercy endureth for ever” (26 times in Psalm 136:1-26; also Psalm 106:1; 107:1; 118:1; etc.). His mercy is not only infinite, but eternal.

How can one possibly reject His mercy? “Despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering?” (Romans 2:4). Sadly, most do. Instead, the divine challenge is: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:1-2). This is our logical response to God’s great mercy! HMM

Text Plus the Holy Spirit

And they come unto thee as the people cometh, and they sit before thee as my people, and they hear thy words, but they will not do them: for with their mouth they shew much love, but their heart goeth after their covetousness.

—Ezekiel 33:31

When you are trying to find out the condition of a church, do not just inquire whether it is evangelical. Ask whether it is an evangelical rationalistic church that says, “The text is enough,” or whether it is a church that believes that the text plus the Holy Spirit is enough….

I would rather be part of a small group with inner knowledge than part of a vast group with only intellectual knowledge. In that great day of Christ’s coming, all that will matter is whether or not I have been inwardly illuminated, inwardly regenerated, inwardly purified.   FBR030, 032

I too, Lord, “would rather be part of a small group with inner knowledge than part of a vast group with only intellectual knowledge.” Fill us with Your Spirit and Your presence today. Amen.

 

Quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord

It is good that a man quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord.—Lamentations 3:26.

 

In to Thy silent place of prayer

The anxious, wandering mind recall—

Dwell ‘mid Thy own creation there,

Restoring, claiming, hallowing all.

Then the calm spirit, won from sin,

Thy perfect sacrifice shall be,

And all the ransomed powers therein

Shall go forth, glorifying Thee.

Anna L. Waring.

 

Take time to be separate from all friends and all duties, all cares and all joys; time to be still and quiet before God. Take time not only to secure stillness from man and the world, but from self and its energy. Let the Word and prayer be very precious j but remember, even these may hinder the quiet waiting. The activity of the mind in studying the Word, or giving expression to its thoughts in prayer, the activities of the heart, with its desires and hopes and fears, may so engage us that we do not come to the still waiting on the All-Glorious One. Though at first it may appear difficult to know how thus quietly to wait, with the activities of mind and heart for a time subdued, every effort after it will be rewarded; we shall find that it grows upon us, and the little season of silent worship will bring a peace and a rest that give a blessing not only in prayer, but all the day.

Andrew Murray.

 

Constant Witness

“For thou shalt be his witness unto all men of what thou hast seen and heard.” Acts 22:15

Paul was chosen to see and hear the Lord speaking to him out of Heaven. This divine election was a high privilege for himself; but it was not intended to end with him, it was meant to have an influence upon others; yea, upon all men. It is to Paul that Europe owes the gospel at this hour.

It is ours in our measure to be witnesses of that which the Lord has revealed to us, and it is at our peril that we hide the precious revelation. First, we must see and hear, or we shall have nothing to tell; but when we have done so, we must be eager to bear our testimony. It must be personal: “Thou shalt be.” It must be for Christ: “Thou shalt be his witness.” It must be constant and all absorbing; we are to be this above all other things, and to the exclusion of many other matters. Our witness must not be to a select few who will cheerfully receive us; but to all men” — to all whom we can reach, young or old, rich or poor, good or bad. We must never be silent like those who are possessed by a dumb spirit; for the text before us is a command, and a promise, and we must not miss it — “Thou shalt be his witness.” “Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord.”

Lord, fulfill this word to me also!

 

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