Count It All Joy

Part 2

What are you doing, God? This is not what I asked for!

What do we expect to happen when we ask God to bless our life?  Lord, take my life and use me, draw me closer to You, make me more like Jesus!  Does this prayer sound familiar?  When we ask God for spiritual blessings, we expect to get “good” things, not troubles and trials. Right? It is just human nature to want to feel good and avoid pain or discomfort. However, according to Isaiah 55:9, God’s ways are higher than our ways, and His thoughts are higher than our thoughts. What we think is good and what God sees as beneficial for us are two different things.  Although puzzling, many times God does exactly the opposite of what our finite human mind conceives should be. This is the Paradox of God’s Path. Our strength is made perfect in weakness! To live is to die! To lose our life is to save it!  Jesus is a master at making something out of nothing. So count it all joy no matter what you are facing, and rest assured knowing that God is at work. Each trial you joyfully go through brings your life one step closer to reflecting the image of Christ! 

Count It All Joy 2

 

My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations [trials]; 

 – James 1:2

The flesh resists God!

Each of us (that have been born-again) is made up of two people: the old flesh man and the new spirit man. Depending on which man you feed and strengthen, the louder voice will be heard, and ultimately obeyed.

Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.

Romans 6:6

If not crucified, the old man challenges God’s motives, and will selfishly resist any discomfort. On the other hand, the new man submits to God and will recognize the eternal benefits of enduring troubles and trials far outweighs the costs of any temporary discomfort or pain.

For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory:

-II Corinthians 4:17

Even Christ “though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered” (Hebrews 5:8). If Jesus suffered, should we expect anything less for our life? All the while we are struggling with that old nature, God wants to bring us to the point that we silence the old man, stop questioning God’s motives, and completely trust Him with our lives. Although our human frailty may not understand it, God wants to transform our flesh nature into the image of His dear Son, Jesus. This can only come through chastening, trials, and battles, so count it all joy!

Has God forsaken me?

Has your life ever gotten so out of control with turmoil and pain that you think God has abandoned you? David, battled with these same concerns in Psalm 13:1, as well as Job in Job 13:24. Both men cried out to God, wondering where He was, doubting why He wasn’t rescuing them. Yet both these men overcame their doubts and chose to trust this same God they questioned. David relents “but I have trusted in thy mercy; my heart shall rejoice in thy salvation” (Psalm 13:5). Job declared “though he slay me, yet will I trust in him…” (Job 13:15). When tested with trials, our human side cries out, “Where are you, God?” Thinking we’ve been betrayed, we build a wall up between us and the only one that can help us. However, before we can experience true joy, we must tear down this wall of betrayal between us and God. On the cross Jesus cried out in despair “why hast thou forsaken me?” Yet He chose to willingly submit His life to God, and now Jesus is ruling and reigning at the right hand of His Father. As children of God, though we may suffer as Jesus did, we will never be neglected, but have been promised an eternal inheritance with Christ!

17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.

18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

-Romans 8:17-18

When we feel like giving up or giving in, we can take refuge in God’s promises. We can actually get excited in knowing God is working, and has a purpose for each trial. Be encouraged that our temporary sufferings on this earth will seem so insignificant when we finally see Jesus face to face. Through all the despair we can cling to the promise “…weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning” (Psalm 30:5).

Leave me your thoughts in the comments section below this article.

If you missed Part 1 click HERE!

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013: A Father’s Promise

Living in such a materialistic society, we’ve become so spoiled it’s hard to distinguish between what’s really a need and what’s really a want. We spend so much time and energy amassing things: building a little kingdom for ourselves here on earth. We say we trust God’s provision to meet our needs, yet we still stress and worry needlessly over acquiring possessions that bring us fleeting moments of pleasure.  We make plans and pursue dreams that in the end amount to nothing.   Like most kids, we thoughtlessly ask our Heavenly Father for things, with no regard for His will on the matter. Similar to a vending machine, we pop in a prayer and expect God to give us stuff in return. However, if we could just get a glimpse of His eternal plan, all these requests would pale in comparison with what God really wants for us. In fact, the Bible tells us in Luke 12:32 that our Heavenly Father takes pleasure in giving us, not just earthly things, but His Kingdom. Whatever we ask of God always falls short of what God wants for us. God already knows what we need before we ask; He’s more interested in our motives for asking. If earthly treasures are leaving you unsatisfied, then tune in to this podcast episode and take a look at what God wants for you right now and what He has promised for you in the future. Be reassured that your Heavenly Father’s eternal promises will never fail!

A Fathers Promise

COUNT IT ALL JOY

Part 1

Why is this happening to me?  What did I do to deserve this?

Often these are the questions that come to mind when faced with adversity. Consumed with resentment and self-pity, we resist God and think He is punishing us for something we did or didn’t do. However, as blood bought children of God, according to James 1:2, we should embrace trials with joy, not doubts and questions.   How can troubles and trials that cause heartache and pain bring joy to our life? Before we can answer this question, we must understand joy. What is joy? Where does it come from?

Count It All Joy

My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations [trials]; 

 – James 1:2

 Joy is not happiness.

Although used interchangeably in our society, joy and happiness mean totally different things.  Happiness is temporary and depends entirely on our circumstances and feelings. We are happy when we feel good and things are going well for us. Trials do not make us happy!  The joy of the Lord, on the other hand, is eternal and supersedes circumstances because it is nurtured by God Himself. Joy is not only available during a trial, but is also enriched by each trial. Regardless of our struggles, God remains the very source and object of true joy! God delivers joy to meet our needs, but He also becomes our joy.  Jesus faced the epitome of all trials, “…endured the cross, despising the shame.”  Hebrews 12:2 tells us, and He did it all “… for the joy that was set before Him.”

Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.

– Hebrews 12:2-3

Certainly, Jesus was not happy when forsaken by family and friends.  He was not happy when he was unjustly treated like a criminal and brutally tortured. If the source of Jesus’ strength had been anything less than the pure joy of the Lord, He would have protested while His body convulsed with pain under the load of the cross. Instead, He declared to God in Luke 22:42, “…not my will, but thine, be done;” Jesus was not relying on happiness, but something much more substantial­—the joy of the Lord. If Jesus could take joy in suffering on a cross, then “…consider him…lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.” Surely we can take joy in whatever trial we must face on this earth. Whatever evil is committed against us, if family and friends forsake us, when all earthly pleasures fail us, we can still have the joy of the Lord!

 

God has a purpose for each trial.

God is omnipresent: everywhere, watching over my life and your life.  God is omnipotent: all powerful, able to start and stop any trial we are facing.  Everything that occurs in our lives must pass through our Heavenly Father first. Even the devil, and all his devices, is subject to God’s authority.

Many times He allows things to happen to us for our own good, but why?  What good can come out of this cancer diagnosis?  How can this family crisis draw me closer to God? What is God going to do through this financial crisis? How is God going to work this mess out?

Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.  But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

– James 1:3-4

Depending on how we react to the situation, every trial we face is a unique opportunity to allow God to work in our lives.  We know from James 1:3-4, if we face the trial with joy, then patience will follow.  Patience is the ability or strength to withstand discomfort, pain, stress, or any adverse condition without complaint, annoyance, or loss of temper.

Ultimately, through all of this, our lives will mature and develop to the point that we lack nothing.  With each trial, we become more, and more like Christ!

For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.  If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?  But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.  Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?  10 For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness.  11 Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.

– Hebrews 12:6-11

If you find yourself bombarded with one crisis after another, take heart  and rejoice in knowing that trials are a confirmation that we are, in fact, God’s children, “…if ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons…” (Hebrews 12:7). As a loving father corrects and guides his children, God chastens us for our own good so  “…that we might be partakers of His holiness…” (Hebrews 12:10).  Therefore, trials provide a framework for God to mold and make us into the image of His Son, Jesus Christ.  If we endure a trial, according to Hebrews 12:10-11, not only will we be partakers of Christ’s holiness, but the trial will yield the peaceable fruit of righteousness.  This is the ultimate goal!

 

I would love to know your thoughts in the comments section below!

 

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012: The Money Trail

Even at best, our human nature is to be selfish! Starting at birth, we learn how to get what we want, when we want it. Parents rush about to pacify their little one before the baby’s whimpering erupts into wailing. In the flesh, we learn to “love” others for what they do for us. If we are not careful this same perversion of love can infect our walk with God. Certainly, if you know Jesus as Savior, then you’ll agree we love Him for being the sacrifice for our sin to save us from eternal separation from God. However, we would be less than truthful, if we claim our love only focuses on the eternal benefits of this relationship. We love God for all His many blessings, including those fleeting, temporary things that only satisfy our flesh and make us comfortable. But what if God withheld these earthly blessings? What if, short of our salvation, God never did another thing for us on this earth? If His protection lifted, if divine healing ceased, if financial provision halted, if all the pleasures we enjoy and take for granted each and every day were gone, would we still be committed to Christ? Or would we be tempted to sell out to the world for all eternity in exchange for a moment of pleasure? If you are wondering about your commitment to Jesus, then stay tuned to this podcast. This refreshing insight into the story of Judas Iscariot and his betrayal will challenge you to examine your motives for serving Christ.

The Money Trail

011: Walk It Out

Scholars, both biblical and secular alike, agree Jesus was crucified on a cross. As a Christian, this crucifixion becomes personal. Jesus took all my guilt and shame, died an agonizing death on the cross for my sins, so that I don’t have to die and suffer an eternity in hell. Right? However, in Matthew 16:24, Jesus said “…If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” Take up what cross? I didn’t even know I had a cross! I thought when I accepted Christ as savior all my burdens and the suffering shifted to Jesus on His cross. Could it be that the truth of the cross has been diluted, and even redefined by traditions and customs of man? It’s no surprise that satan, with all his devices, should launch an attack against the very instrument that leads to our salvation. If you want a fresh look at what the Bible says about the cross, then tune in to this podcast episode; and as you listen keep in mind what you do with the cross determines what God does with you.

Walk It Out - Wed. April 1

010: The House of the Leper

If you study the life of Jesus, you will find He wasn’t concerned about what others thought about Him. In spite of society’s customs, traditions, or taboos, Jesus submitted Himself to the will of His Father, even ministering to the “rejects” of society. God’s mercy is so eloquently demonstrated in Mark 14:3 as Jesus dines with Simon, the leper. Has God ever challenged you to show mercy to someone who others may have deemed worthless? Just remember at some point, before Jesus came to dwell in our hearts, God looked beyond our fault and saw our need. Without Jesus, we are all just as hopeless as this leper, as destitute as the addict, as unworthy as that prostitute, as condemned as a death-row inmate… Without Jesus, we are just as despicable as those who have viciously hurt us. The truth is, until Jesus visits our dwelling, we are all wretched. As you listen to this podcast episode, whether you have been saved for years, or even if you’ve never received Jesus as Lord and Savior, God has made a way for you to experience His mercy, just as Simon, the leper, did.

The House of the Leper - May 17am

 

 

 

009: As a Mother

Mother… She is patient, kind, nurturing… Her love is unconditional. Okay, it sounds good, but maybe your mother didn’t exactly fit this mold. Or maybe, because of circumstances beyond anyone’s control, you never even got a chance to know your mother. If you have experienced the love of a mother, then you’ll agree, she is to be honored and cherished. However, no matter how high we regard her, even the best earthly mother has one flaw: she is human. Like all earthly things, even a good mother will fail. If you have an indescribable void because of something your mother did, or didn’t do, take refuge in God. Jeremiah 1:5 tells us “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee…”  Long before we were conceived in our mother’s womb, God loved us with an unfailing love. As you listen to this podcast episode, let God wrap His loving arms around you.  Realize that God is more than just your Heavenly Father; He is everything you need, including a Heavenly Mother.

As A Mother

008: The Supreme Motivator

I can’t function without it!  I can’t live without it! That may sound a little extreme, but it’s all too familiar for the drug addict or anyone struggling with an addiction. Until that craving is satisfied, nothing can stand in the way! Their motives and every fiber of their being is driven by a hunger regardless of who they hurt in the process. Maybe, by the grace of God, you don’t suffer from an addiction. Beware! Today behavior experts are recognizing activities that seem perfectly harmless, and even essential to life, as addictions. Food, shopping, and social media are just a few examples of pleasures that have the potential to become obsessive and destructive. Truthfully we are living in an age of addictions. Consequently, as Christians, we must guard our motives, our intentions, our passions. Jesus was tempted with the same distractions that we face today, yet He stayed focused and never once strayed from His mission. What could possibly have moved a King to willingly give up the pleasures of His Kingdom to suffer an agonizing death on a cross for people who hatefully despised and rejected him? Is it even possible for us to have this same divine motivation to do God’s will no matter what the cost? Listen to this podcast to discover what God expects from us.

The Supreme Motivator - May 3am

DO YOU MIND?

For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.
For to be carnally minded [is] death; but to be spiritually minded [is] life and peace.
Because the carnal mind [is] enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.
So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. – Rom 8:5-8 KJV (Emphasis Mine)

Do You Mind

 

As a child, were you ever told to mind? If you were, you knew exactly what that meant. It meant you’d better obey whatever adult was instructing you or else!

Have you ever told someone to mind their own business? Or are you usually on the receiving end of that comment? :-)

The thing I want to point out is the use of the word mind. It doesn’t always refer to the physical brain. The word mind can be used as a noun or a verb. When used as a verb, it can mean the following: 1) to pay attention to; 2) to obey; 3) to look after or take care of.

Now consider the passages from Romans 8 above. Notice the use of the words mind and minded. What are we to gather from these texts?

1. YOU WILL MIND ONLY ONE OF TWO THINGS: FLESH OR SPIRIT!

What do you find yourself thinking about and tending to most? Spiritual things? God’s Word, His Will, your own spiritual growth? Or do you find carnal things consuming your attention? If your heart’s desire is only toward physical things, then you are carnal. On the other hand, if your are consumed with the things of God, then you are considered spiritual.

2. MINDING THE FLESH LEADS TO DEATH!

“For to be carnally minded is death…” Rom. 8:6 

But why? All of mankind is under the curse of sin. God told Adam & Eve if they disobeyed Him they would die. Not an immediate physical death, but an eternal death. Our flesh cannot be rehabbed or remodeled.

For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;                                                                                                                     – Rom 3:23 KJV

For the wages of sin [is] death; but the gift of God [is] eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.                                    – Rom 6:23 KJV

3. MINDING THE SPIRIT IS LIFE & PEACE!

If we are going to follow Christ we must FOLLOW Christ. That means dying to self – just as He did. That means laying aside our own ambitions for a Heavenly calling – just as He did. But remember, it also leads to resurrection life!

 

4. THE FLESH CANNOT PLEASE GOD!

So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. – Rom 8:8 KJV

WOW! That’s quite a definitive statement. Good thing God made it and not me! The natural default for the flesh is to disobey God. That’s one reason for the cross. As we reckon ourselves crucified with Christ, we rob our old flesh of its power. In its place is the new man – born again, and made a new creature by Jesus Christ.

 

5. THE GAUGE OF SPIRITUAL MATURITY – WHAT DO YOU MIND?

Is it the flesh or Spirit? If you’re “after the Spirit” then you will mind those things. Do you dwell primarily upon the things of self or the things of Christ? What do you find yourself daydreaming about? What do you go to bed or wake up thinking about? Is it spiritual matters?

Begin to take personal inventory of your thought life. What consumes your emotions, your energy, and your thoughts? Are you focused on your spiritual development as much as you are the less important areas of life?

What are you minding?

Leave me your thoughts in the comments section below.

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007: Another Source

Have you ever planted a fruit tree only to have your hopes of harvesting basketfuls of delicious, fresh fruit vanish? You watered! You fertilized! You tried everything in the realm of possibilities, but no matter what you did the tree failed to blossom, lost its leaves, and eventually died because something was missing.  As a Christian, do you find that your spiritual walk is just as unproductive as this barren tree?  Do you doubt and wonder how God can use you despite the hopelessness surrounding your circumstances? Are you tired of going through the motions and doing all the “right” things only to find yourself as empty as you were before?  If you are desperate for a miraculous breakthrough, then consider the source you are drawing from as you tune in to this podcast episode.Another Source - Dec 14 am