June 23, 2017

And Again I Say, Rejoice!

I love catching glimpses of unifying threads between the Old and New Testaments. Like seeing pictures of Christ in the historical and prophetic books. Or realizing Israel's significance in the Pauline epistles. Or seeing God's overarching plan of redemption all the way from Genesis through Revelation. And lately, I've been noticing another common thread -- the command to rejoice. As New Testament Christians, we have so many reasons to rejoice! We know the more blessed side of the cross -- Israel merely had a promise that the full atonement would someday take place, but we can look back and see how God brought it all together. We have the complete canon of Scripture. We have centuries [...Read More]


Good Things

Which makes more of an impact on you -- suffering or sweetness? Good things or hard? Which one forces you to your knees? Most of us would probably say suffering. Right? Hard times push us to urgently search His Word, and get more intimate in prayer. But why can't good things do that, too? Why can't blessings cause us to trust Him more, and find His sweet peace? Why can't sweetness help us to abide under the shadow of His wings? Good things are good things. They are gifts from a beneficent God, who loves His creation and wants to bless it bounteously. And we should enjoy those good things! After all, He has personally chosen specific gifts for each one of us. He has personally [...Read More]


Rejoicing in Misery?

When you feel lousy – you feel lousy. When your body feels sick and tired and blah – then your spirit feels miserable and cranky and, well, blah. Anyone who’s ever been sick can relate. You see, the body and spirit are so interconnected that when you fight a battle in one area, it gets fought in the other one too. When your energy is being spent fighting sickness of some sort, that’s energy that is not being spent fighting bad attitudes and low spirits. It’s hard to fight on both fronts at the same time. It’s challenging. Sometimes it feels impossible. But I don’t think it is impossible. Why? Because we have commands in Scripture, and we are expected to obey those commands [...Read More]


We Are Not Alone

I don't know what you're going through right now. I don't know what difficulties you're wading through, what trials are flooding over your head and threatening to pull your feet out from under you. I don't know the flame of testing you are being led through. But this I know: you are not alone. This I know, for this is what our Heavenly Father promises us in His Word. We are never alone. He is always with us; He will never forsake us or leave us to falter in our own frail weakness. He will never stop leading us; it is only that we stop following. We stop looking for His direction and try to find our own way. We try to walk on the shifting sands of trouble, only to sink to our knees. We [...Read More]


Occupied with Joy

"There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God, for apart from him who can eat or who can have enjoyment? For to the one who pleases him God has given wisdom and knowledge and joy... Behold, what I have seen to be good and fitting is to eat and drink and find enjoyment in all the toil with which one toils under the sun the few days of his life that God has given him, for this is his lot. Everyone also to whom God has given wealth and possessions and power to enjoy them, and to accept his lot and rejoice in his toil—this is the gift of God. For he will not much remember the days of his life [...Read More]


Yet I Will Hope

"Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines,  the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food,  the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls,  yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation" (Habakkuk 3:17-18) "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.  Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,  though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,  though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling"     (Psalm 46:1-3) Why this trust? Why this rejoicing? We need not fear the wickedness of men: "Fret not yourself because of evildoers; be not [...Read More]


Forgiven!

God's forgiveness is utterly incomprehensible. Consider that, before we come to Christ and receive His cleansing and covering of blood, we are worse enemies of God the Father than Osama bin Laden was of the USA. We are more wicked, more heinous in His sight, than any terrorist could be to our country. And yet, when we come humbly before Him, acknowledging our sinfulness and pleading His cleansing, He forgives every single one of our trespasses against Him. Our account is wiped clean. Not even the slightest accusation remains; we are counted righteous and worthy before Him, through the blood sacrifice of His Son! And His forgiveness is not a one-time thing. Even covered in the blood of His [...Read More]


The Steps of a Good Man

"The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholdeth him with his hand" (Psalm 37:23-24, KJV). Can I paraphrase? The path and direction of our lives are established by the LORD of Lords, the One who formed you and me out of nothing before the world was ever created, the One who loved us so unconditionally that He gave up His life for us. He has planned out every step of our lives, every circumstance. And if we are focused on Him and Him alone, we will find joy in His plan! We will be overflowing with His peace and delight, when we live according to His guidance and instruction. However, there [...Read More]


O for a Thousand Tongues

Do you have a heart that praises God? Stop and think about it. When was the last time that you took a moment to stop and praise Him for something? Not even for some huge thing that happened to you, but for a little thing? Like a day without a snowstorm, or a commute without incident, or a grocery trip where everything you needed was in stock? We who are saved by the blood of Christ ought to be joyful and thankful. We ought to be continually praising Him for His marvelous salvation, His incomprehensible mercy and grace, His overwhelming love. Even as Scripture commands us to "pray without ceasing," it also commands us to "rejoice evermore." Those verses are not telling us to walk around [...Read More]


Reflecting and Rejoicing

Christmas Day may be over, but the reason for Christmas never diminishes. As Tiny Tim says in The Christmas Carol, we must remember to keep Christmas in our hearts all year round. We must remember the birth of Christ all year round. Consider the narrative of Luke 2. After Christ is born, we see the responses of both the shepherds and the mother:"But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them" (Luke 2:19-20). What is your response to "all these things"? Do you treasure them, keeping them in your heart and savoring their truth and hope? Do you rejoice in the [...Read More]