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Posts Tagged ‘rejoicing’

God Loves People

November 18th, 2016

“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us.” 1 John 3:1

Like a window, a good story lets light shine into darkness.

My thoughts and comments today are that “God loves people.”

God loves people, all people. As a Mom loves her ailing child who needs comfort and healing, God especially loves lost people. Here is how much God loves lost people. “God demonstrates His own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8 NIV. His love is all sourced in grace, unmerited favor, with no qualifying effort or goodness of your own. “And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were [by works], grace would no longer be grace.” Romans 11:6 NIV. Read Ephesians 2:8-9 NKJV.

The Apostle Paul was absolutely secure in his knowledge of the limitless extent of God’s love, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39 NIV. Nothing but your own decision can separate you from the love of God. Such a decision would be tragic.

The Bible’s theme is about redemption, the joyful recovery of what was lost. Everyone likes a good story and Jesus was the best story teller of all. Like a window, a story lets light shine into darkness. Jesus told common, everyday stories to illustrate grand, eternal truths. Usually, His stories began or ended with the words, “In the same way, the Kingdom of Heaven is like . .”  The intent of Jesus’ stories was to illustrate His Kingdom.

One of Jesus’ stories, and probably the most familiar and beloved, is all about lost things. Jesus told about a lost sheep, a lost coin, two lost sons, and a grieving father. Read Luke 15:3-31 NIV. The sheep simply wandered away from the shepherd and became lost by no intent of its own. Yet was found because a shepherd cared enough to search for one lost sheep. And then, there was rejoicing that what was lost had been found. A coin was lost because it was unintentionally misplaced and forgotten, until its owner was unwilling for the coin to remain lost, searching relentlessly until she found it again. And again, there was rejoicing when what was lost was found.

A younger son was lost because he wanted to live independently and apart from his father. He sought what he thought would be freedom but found it was poverty and shame, but there was a father who watched daily and waited for a lost son whose return released the father’s lavish love and restoration. And again, there was rejoicing when what was lost was found. Then Jesus’ story ended with the account of an older son for whom there was no rejoicing. The other son never left home, but his anger with his brother had estranged his heart from his father. Despite that son’s angry refusal, his father, “went out and pleaded with him,” to join the celebration for his brother. The father’s celebration was incomplete without him. It can seem easier for a prodigal to traverse the geographical distance caused by his shame than for an angry son to navigate the relational distance from his father. Tragically, he failed to believe or receive his father’s words, “My son, you are ever with me and all that I have is yours.”

Jesus story was about far more than a shepherd seeking a lost sheep, or a woman searching for a lost coin, or a father longing for his lost sons. Jesus’ story is about your Heavenly Father who gave His one and only Son for you, me, and others to be saved. Jesus’ summation was simple and consistent for the sheep, the coin, and the prodigal son, “In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

“For God SO loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 NIV. When words failed John to explain God’s lavish love, he used a very small adverb, “so,” which well described the indescribable – the dimensions of how much God loves a lost world. “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” 1 John 3:1 NIV. That is what we are – children of God.

Today, I pray for you to allow no distance between your heart and your Father.

A SPECIAL NOTE – In the title below, I have included a Link to a recent video teaching, “The Difference Between Lost and Found.” My thoughts expand today’s topic as I recently shared at the Cathedral of Faith, San Jose, CA. The Father’s love is the  difference between lost and found. As an extra treat, my friend and singer, Lillie Knauls, shares a classic hymn, Amazing Grace, as introduction to my teaching. Enjoy . .

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Christian Communications 2016

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Joyful Praises

April 7th, 2014

“Shout joyful praises to God . . tell the world how glorious He is.” Psalm 66:2 NLT.

Life is best described in the vocabulary of praise.

My thoughts and comments today are about “joyful praises.”

In every life, there is more for which to be grateful and joyful than you might first realize. Yet, there are occasions when life is challenging, when things do not go as you wish. At such moments, your focus may shift to regrets, disappointments, and uncertain fears about what’s ahead. But there is an alternative. You neither choose not control what happens to you, but you can choose what happens in you. Guard and govern wisely the domain of your thoughts, emotions, and decisions. Nothing intrudes there without your permission to enter or remain.

The Psalms overflow with man’s honest struggles and victories, but always declare God’s praise. Reading Psalms, my impression is that the word, “praise,” occurs more frequently there than any other book of the Bible. Life is best described in the vocabulary of praise. There are many who will only know God as you describe Him to be.

Fittingly, this Psalm begins with effusive rejoicing and praise. “Shout joyful praises to God, all the earth! Sing about the glory of His name! Tell the world how glorious He is.” Psalm 66:1-2 NLT. Praise is more volitional than emotional, a lifestyle that recognizes the Person and power of God and is not subject to your mood of the moment.

Read all of this Psalm. Here are my observations of this Psalm. As well as what you say to others about God, praise is your personal conversation with God. ”Say to God, ‘How awesome are Your deeds! Your enemies cringe before Your mighty power. Everything on earth will worship You; they will sing Your praises, shouting Your name in glorious songs.’” Read Psalm 66:3-4 NLT.

The Psalms are for all seasons. The psalmist seems unable to contain his joy. He rehearses the record of God’s faithfulness in the national history of Israel and all nations. “Come see what our God has done, what awesome miracles He does for His people . . for by His great power He rules forever and ever.” Read Psalm 66:5-7. Praise shines brightest and rings truest in life’s difficult times.

Joyful praises can be the expression of heart with which you live on days both good and bad. “You have tested us, O God . . purified us . . captured us . . we went through fire and flood. But You brought us to a place of great abundance.” Read Psalm 66:8-15 NLT. Praise remembers the disciplines of God while rehearsing God’s faithful character. See Psalm 100:4-5 NIV. Prayer changes things but praise changes you. See Psalm 34:1 NKJV.

Praise gives voice to your personal story. “Come and listen, all you who fear God, and I will tell you what He did for me. For I cried out to Him for help, praising Him as I spoke . . He paid attention to my prayer.” Read Psalm 66:16-20 NLT. Praise is the natural companion for effective prayer.

My prayer for you today is that His praise flows naturally and gratefully from your heart.

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Rejoicing Is a Choice

January 31st, 2014

“This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24 NIV.

You can choose to make any day a Sabbath experience.

My thoughts and comments today are that “rejoicing is a choice.”

Emotions! What would you do without them? Without emotion, life would be without color or definition. Yet without direction and discipline, those same emotions will wreak havoc. At any given moment, your emotions are either a choice or a reaction. You do not choose, nor can you control, what will happen in your day; however, you must choose how you will respond. Be prepared. Solomon offers a good reminder, “You do not know what a day will bring forth.” Proverbs 27:1 NKJV. Happiness should not relate to happenstance.

You will have good and bad days, happy and sad days, helpful and hurtful days, pressured and care-free days. Addressing this assortment of life experiences, Solomon gave wise counsel when he wrote, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under Heaven . . [God] has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has set eternity in the hearts of men . .” Read Ecclesiastes 3:1-8/11 NIV. Solomon packages the diversity of life experiences within the larger context of eternity and the overarching capability of God to bring beauty into any season or circumstance.

In this [an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you] you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials . .” Read 1 Peter 1:3-14 NIV. Exactly in the context of suffering, grief, and trials, Peter writes of “inexpressible and glorious joy.” Without a broader, spiritual context for your life, emotions will be rampant – unrestrained and unpredictable.

The most ordinary or difficult of days should be celebrated with the perspective of the Lord’s presence and providence, as David encouraged, “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24 NIV. Read the surrounding context of this Psalm. The words of the Psalmist are not a casual detachment from life’s realities. David’s simple declaration is his response, not to the most tranquil of times, but in the most troubling – personal anguish, swarming enemies, feeling surrounded, searching for refuge, yet finding God in the midst of it all and every reason to rejoice. Such days are when you rejoice, not why. Your rejoicing is because, “the Lord made the day.”

What should you do on your worst day? “Rejoice and be glad in it.” Paul instructed, “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! . . Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” Philippians 4:4/1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NKJV. You can choose to make any day a Sabbath experience.

A Sabbath experience reveres God’s sovereignty in daily life, rests in His sufficient providence, and recognizes that God is the author of this day and every other, whatever the source or challenge of its present circumstance. The nature of any day should not determine the joy of your embrace of that day; every day provides you opportunity to respond in joyous faith and thanksgiving to God, rather than react in doubt or despair to its situations.

My prayer for you today is that you will rejoice in God regardless of present circumstance.

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