VIDEO Heavenly Joy – Heaven to Gain

You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Psalm 16:11

Everyone has a special place or environment they know will bring them great joy. Perhaps it is in nature—a waterfall or mountain vista. It may be the weekly worship service at church. For grandparents, it might be a few hours of adventure with a treasured grandchild. The anticipation of such pleasure heightens the experience once it arrives.

The psalmist, David, anticipated the “fullness of joy” in God’s presence—“pleasures forevermore.” He looked forward to the eternal pleasure of experiencing God’s presence, what we would refer to, from a New Testament perspective, as heaven. Not evident in the English translation of Psalm 16:11 is the fact that the word “joy” is plural in Hebrew, this plural form also occurs in Psalm 45:15. The plural form intensifies the joy David anticipated: absolute joy, various joys, or intense joy. This was no idle or casual expectation on his part; he was absolutely looking forward to the multifaceted joy of dwelling in God’s presence forever.

Such anticipation comes from knowing God now. The deeper we know Him now, the more we will anticipate the joy of dwelling in His presence.

One hour in heaven and we shall be ashamed that we ever grumbled.  Vance Havner


Heaven to Gain, Psalm 16:11 – Pastor Chuck Smith – Topical Bible Study

The Foolish Way of New Life

The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 1 Corinthians 1:18

 

Some things just don’t make sense until you experience them. When I was pregnant with my first child, I read multiple books about childbirth and listened to dozens of women tell their stories of labor and delivery. But I still couldn’t really imagine what the experience would be like. What my body was going to do seemed impossible!

Paul writes in 1 Corinthians that birth into God’s kingdom, the salvation that God offers us through Christ, seems equally incomprehensible to those who haven’t experienced it. It sounds like “foolishness” to say that salvation could come through a cross—a death marked by weakness, defeat, and humiliation. Yet this “foolishness” was the salvation that Paul preached!

It wasn’t what anyone could have imagined it would be like. Some people thought that salvation would come through a strong political leader or a miraculous sign. Others thought that their own academic or philosophical achievements would be their salvation (1 Corinthians 1:22). But God surprised everyone by bringing salvation in a way that would only make sense to those who believed, to those who experienced it.

God took something shameful and weak—death on a cross—and made it the foundation of wisdom and power. God does the unimaginable. He chooses the weak and foolish things of the world to shame the wise (v. 27).

And His surprising, confounding ways are always the best ways.

By:  Amy Peterson

 

Reflect & Pray

How is God surprising you today? Why is it true that God’s ways are better than your ways?

God, with Isaiah I pray, as high as the heavens are above the earth, so are Your ways higher than my ways

The Causes of Insecurity

Psalm 8

Yesterday we defined insecurity and saw how it could weigh us down. Today let’s look at some common causes. Insecurity can come from:

Rejection. When we grow up thinking no one really likes us, we turn into chronically reluctant adults who lack confidence.

Tragedy. Traumatic circumstances like a broken home, the death of a loved one, or abusive relationships can open the door for insecurity.

Poor body image. Whether it’s body shape, hair loss, or disability, physical appearance can lead people to see themselves in a negative light. The resulting shame and self-consciousness can permeate interactions with others.

Comparison. People sometimes become preoccupied with those who seem smarter, wealthier, nicer-looking, more successful, and so on. This makes individuals feel overshadowed and creates doubt in their own ability to achieve.

Failure. Because we pour time and resources into our work, families, and life goals, a setback in any of these areas can crush our spirit.

If this sounds familiar, examine your heart carefully. Ask yourself, In what area of life might I have deep insecurity? Remember, today’s psalm says God has crowned us “with glory and majesty!” (Psalm 8:5). That’s who we really are.

The Lord and the King Cyrus

“That saith of Cyrus, He is my shepherd, and shall perform all my pleasure: even saying to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be built; and to the temple, Thy foundation shall be laid.” (Isaiah 44:28)

This is a remarkable prophecy, one of the main stumbling blocks of liberals who use it as an excuse for their completely wrong notion of a “second Isaiah.” Long before Jerusalem was invaded and its temple destroyed by the armies of Babylon, Isaiah was already prophesying its rebuilding!

Furthermore, the great Persian emperor Cyrus (whose nation would eventually conquer Babylon) was here named by God about 150 years before he was born and 175 years before he would fulfill Isaiah’s prophecy by giving Ezra authority to rebuild the temple (Ezra 1:1-2).

Since liberal scholars do not want to believe in miracles and fulfilled prophecy, they have decided that this prophecy could not have been written by the original Isaiah but by some later writer living after Cyrus. The truth is, however, that God controls the future and can reveal it if He chooses, using this very fact as proof that He will keep His other promises. “Thus saith the LORD to his anointed, to Cyrus…I have even called thee by thy name: I have surnamed thee, though thou has not known me” (Isaiah 45:1, 4).

God had also named King Josiah before he was born (1 Kings 13:2; 2 Kings 23:15-16), with the specific prophecy concerning him waiting to be fulfilled for over 300 years after it was first spoken.

It may take a long time, but God will surely do all He has said. “I am God, and there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure” (Isaiah 46:9-10). HMM

Be the Right Kind of Leader

Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.

—1 Peter 5:2-3

 

I believe that it might be accepted as a fairly reliable rule of thumb that the man who is ambitious to lead is disqualified as a leader. The Church of the Firstborn is no place for the demagogue or the petty religious dictator. The true leader will have no wish to lord it over God’s heritage, but will be humble, gentle, self-sacrificing and altogether as ready to follow as to lead when the Spirit makes it plain to him that a wiser and more gifted man than himself has appeared.

It is undoubtedly true, as I have said so often, that the church is languishing not for leaders but for the right kind of leaders; for the wrong kind is worse than none at all. Better to stand still than to follow a blind man over a precipice. History will show that the church has prospered most when blessed with strong leaders and suffered the greatest decline when her leaders were weak and time serving. The sheep rarely go much farther than the Shepherd.   WOS191-192

Give me the heart of a servant, Lord, that I might be the right kind of leader. Make me Your servant today, I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

God Loves Hard Places

Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.

—1 Thessalonians 5:24

 

We are in the midst of the storm of life. The believing saints of God are on board the ship. Someone looks to the horizon and warns, “We are directly in the path of the typhoon! We are as good as dead. We will surely be dashed to pieces on the rocks!”

But calmly someone else advises, “Look down, look down! We have an anchor!” We look, but the depth is too great. We cannot see the anchor. But the anchor is there. It grips the immovable rock and holds fast. Thus the ship outrides the storm.

The Holy Spirit has assured us that we have an Anchor, steadfast and sure, that keeps the soul….The Spirit is saying to us, “Keep on believing. Pursue holiness. Show diligence and hold full assurance of faith to the very end. Follow those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.

“He is faithful!” JMI089-090

Nearly all the great examples of faith and victorious grace which we find in the Scriptures came out of situations of extremity and distress. God loves hard places, and faith is usually born of danger and extremity. WCC091

 

Breakfast on the Beach

John 21:12

Is the Christ adventure over for Peter? He is back at his fishing. Could it be that the great dream has evaporated? And now, empty nets and, without his Lord, an empty life.

Through the trailing morning mist something, someone, is dimly visible on the shore. With a strong voice He is calling across the water, asking about the catch. Learning that the night’s work had been futile, He gives advice that immediately results in a harvest so great that the net is strained to the limit.

“It is the Lord!” The exclamation merges with the splash of Peter as he plunges into the water, anxious to reach the shore faster than any boat could take him.

Mercifully, thankfully, the first words of Jesus were not reproachful. Rather, Jesus had shown interest in their occupation; He had sympathized with them in their melancholy, and He had given them amazingly fruitful advice. When they came to shore, they saw a charcoal fire there.

The invitation is cordial and genuine: “Come and have breakfast” (John 21:12). Is not Jesus always calling us to communion with Himself? What He has prepared for us He wants us to share and to enjoy. If, in a spiritual sense, we have “toiled all night and caught nothing,” (Luke 5:5 NKJV) He waits to provide the spiritual nourishment that will help us overcome our disappointment. If we, too, have been guilty of denial, if we, too, have “warmed our hands” at an alien fire, if we, too, have turned aside from a sacred vocation, He bids us “Come.” The Master continually calls to those who spiritually hunger and thirst to “Come and dine.”

The breakfast on the beach becomes a sacramental meal. There had been three denials by Peter. Now, for a triple sin there is a triple forgiveness. “Do you truly love Me more than all these?” (John 21:15). Three probing questions, three penitent avowals, and three binding obligations. The first, “Feed My lambs.” The second commission: “Feed My sheep.” And the third obligation: “Follow Me!” Forgiven, reinstated, commissioned. Once again Peter would be a “fisher of men,” and by the grace of Christ he would follow to life’s end.

“More than all else” love is the kind of love Christ expects in return for His gift of forgiveness. It was this kind of love that changed a denier into a devotee. As we seek to follow Christ, let us be sure that we are motivated by nothing less than “more than all else” love.

Arnold Brown, With Christ at the Table