Welcome To Daily In Christ Devotionals

Psalm 119:10-11 With my whole heart I seek you; let me not
wander from your commandments! I have stored up your
word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.

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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Don't Worry, Be Happy Now!

Does God want me to be happy? This question I have wondered may times in my Christian walk. We suffer trials of many kinds in our life and often we will hear a well meaning friend tell us that God is building holiness in us. Or maybe that God is testing our character during this time of difficulty. And yes, it is true that God does allow many things in our life to occur for the purpose of building us up, or to strengthen us. I have said it many times myself, "One never knows the strength of a rope until it has tension put upon it." A worn out rope will break and become useless while a well cared for rope on the other hand will endure the load and be successful for its intended purpose. We need to be pulled and stretched and tested in our life. It is a barometer for our faith.

Jas 1:2-3 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.

Job 5:17-18 "Behold, how happy is the man whom God reproves, So do not despise the discipline of the Almighty. "For He inflicts pain, and gives relief; He wounds, and His hands also heal.

But does God really want me to be happy? I have heard it many times over the past several months that "God doesn't want you to be happy, He wants you to be Holy." I heard it again just recently and it caused me to ask myself one question. "Are happiness and holiness exclusive of one another?" My short answer is, no! Actually, unequivocally NO! I believe that scripture clearly shows that true holiness creates joy, and pure joy is very often expressed through happiness. When we pursue God and His righteousness and our life is to glorify Him in all things, then we are authentically happy. Holy and happy are not an either/or but an and/both.

I think to see that it is ok for me to be happy, I must first realize that God himself is happy. For years I thought of God as being like an ancient Puritan sitting in the clouds looking down on all of His creation in a somber Holiness. Kind of like the stoic's of old, He would sit there and endure the pain and torment that was taking place here on earth. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

God is the creator of happiness and joy. He delights in His creation and finds great joy in His children. (Happiness can be defined by many words: Joy, delight, good pleasure, happy, gladness, rejoice etc...)

Psa 104:31 May the glory of the LORD endure forever; may the LORD rejoice in his works,

Zep 3:17 The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.

Joh 15:11 These things I have spoken to you,
that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

Jesus, in John 15:11 says "these things I have spoken to you." What things is He referring to that should bring us great joy? Jesus is referring to our abiding in Him. Our fruitfulness, our obedience, our perseverance, our pursuit of holiness. In addition we should find overflowing joy when we experience His love that He pours out on us. These things will produce His joy in us. We will be so filled with it that it spills over the sides and all over the people we come into contact with each day. When we are pursuing holiness and we abide in Jesus, then the outward expression in even some of the most difficult trials will be a genuine happiness.

"I do not know when I am more perfectly happy than when I am weeping for sin at the foot of the cross." - Spurgeon

"There is a joy which is not given to the ungodly, but to those who love Thee for Thine own sake, whose joy Thou Thyself art. And this is the happy life, to rejoice to Thee, of Thee, for Thee; this it is, and there is no other." - Augustine

This post can only scratch the surface on the topic of holiness and happiness. I believe God does desire for us to be happy when we are in hot pursuit of Him. I also believe that happiness is not a direct opposite of holiness as some well intended Christians may say. But happiness is a genuine byproduct of a holiness rooted deeply in Christ.

I would love to hear your thoughts?



Sunday, December 12, 2010

God's Great Love For You And Me

I was thinking on the character of God recently and my mind began to wander. It finally zeroed in on one concise thought and I couldn't rest until I started writing it down. Here was that one thought... "Why does God love ME?" So for a short time I played around with all sorts of reasons in my head why He would love me. Because I am so good, because of my many talents and gifts, and maybe even because I had so much to offer Him. (All tongue in cheek of course)

The bottom line when I was done thinking about it was this.

The reason He loves me is because I am created in His image.

He loves me not because of who I am or what I can offer back to Him, but because He is God and He chose to love me before the foundation of the earth. Here are some verses today that speak of His great love for us. I pray that you feel His love for you today and are blessed by His Word.

Gen 1:27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

Eph 2:4-5 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ--by grace you have been saved--

Joh 3:16-17 "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

2Th 2:16-17 Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.

Rom 5:7-8 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person--though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die-- but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

1Jn 3:1-2 See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.

Jer 30:22 And you shall be my people, and I will be your God."

God's love is perfect - God's love never fails - God's love never ends.

image courtesy of http://forevernevernalways1.blogspot.com/

Thursday, December 9, 2010

- Death By Materialism -

In the book of Luke there is a story of a rich man who had everything he ever needed. Food, fortune, and fame. At the rich man's gate laid a poor man who desired to feed from the rich man's table scraps. Here is the story Jesus tells as written by Luke:

Luk 16:19-31 "There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man's table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores. The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham's side. The rich man also died and was buried, and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. And he called out, 'Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.' But Abraham said, 'Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.' And he said, 'Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father's house-- for I have five brothers--so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.' But Abraham said, 'They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.' And he said, 'No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.' He said to him, 'If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.'"

If I were to put my own title to this story it could be done in just a few words.

"Death By Materialism"

It is so easy for us to be satisfied with so much. We rely on our resources and expect that when we wake up each day they are going to be there for us. Big homes, numerous cars to drive, lots of money in the bank, plenty of food and water. In another story, Jesus tells the rich ruler in Luke 18 in order to enter the kingdom of Heaven he must sell all he owned and give to the poor. Now Jesus wasn't concerned about the man's wealth, he was interested in his heart. He was telling the rich man that he wanted him to trust in the Father for his provision, not his own riches. In verses 24-25 in Chapter 18, Jesus says it is more difficult for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God than for a camel to go through the eye of a needle.

Luk 18:24-25 Jesus, seeing that he had become sad, said, "How difficult it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God."

This parable in Luke 16 has given me a new perspective as to how I spend my money and utilize my resources. God has blessed us in the United States with abundant riches and I believe we have a Biblical responsibility to use those resources for His kingdom. Jesus shows the eternal outcome of a poor saved sinner and a rich unsaved sinner. The poor man went to the glory of the Father in heaven and the rich man to eternal misery in the depths of Hades. The rich man's sin wasn't his wealth, rather his selfish use of his abundance. While he had the opportunity to give to the poor man, his heart was to hoard his riches for himself.

Pro 19:17 Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the LORD,
and he will repay him for his deed.

After experiencing deep anguish and crying out for relief, the rich man is reminded that he had his good things on earth. He was given every opportunity to serve the Lord and others, but chose to serve only himself and his personal desires. I pray that those of us who have been given much will show the love of God in us to the rest of the world. This parable isn't just to those who are rich, but to all of us who have more than we need. It is a heart issue rather than a money issue...

Over 20,000 children starve to death every day. Over 1 billion people are without safe drinking water. Ask the Lord to reveal how you can impact others for the kingdom today.

May the Lord bless you and keep you.