Keep Your Joy Even In Hard Times

You know those times when everything hits the fan at the same time; when everything that could go wrong, does go wrong; when the pressure of life and work gets the better of you? Nothing feels good then. In fact, anything good seems so far away, you can’t even see it on the horizon. That’s when you know you’ve lost touch with the goodness of God. He’s still with you, but you forgot that. It’s actually your job to keep joy in your heart not His, even in the hard times.

The problem with keeping joy isn’t how to do it, it’s remembering to do it. Maybe you need to make a sticky note or have some memento that reminds you to check you joy level because it’s important to do for your spiritual strength. Joy is a fruit of the Spirit and His always with you, so it’s always yours to have. Always, even when life gets tough. So how do you do that?

Joy is easy when life is good. You can look at all the goodness around you and happily thank Papa for what He’s done. But the tough times, that’s when you need determination. Here’s what you do: think of what you’ve prayed for, all the promises of God that you haven’t seen fulfilled yet. There’s the source of your joy when you don’t feel it any other way. Jesus said, “whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” (Mark 11:24) That means that all those things that you prayed for are on their way! Imagine that!

Just stop and think about all your prayers being answered today. What would it look like? How would it make you feel? That’s joy, my friend. Answered prayer is a ready source of joy and you just read that if you believe, it’s a done deal, so rejoice! Thank Papa for what He has already done even though you haven’t seen it yet. Remember that He’s outside of time. He answers when we pray, we just need to catch up to the reality.

Holding onto joy when times are tough will keep you from all manner of bad thoughts and decisions. It keeps you grateful and expectant. All you need to do is believe that when you pray, He will answer. As long as you know that, you’ll be singing everyday.

Quit Thinking Of Heaven!

OK, I realize that a Christian blog telling people to quit thinking of heaven sounds wrong, but I do have reasons for saying it. Heaven is not fire insurance. We don’t become saved to avoid hell, we become saved to be with God. Our thoughts should not be so focused on heaven that we neglect what happens on earth.

Jesus said that He wants us to “have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10) That can only come through developing a relationship with Him. That abundant life isn’t dispensed from on high, it develops as we spend time in prayer, talking to Him, listening to Him, reading His word, trusting Him all the time. There is so much that He wants to do for you, but if all you’re thinking about is just making it through this life so you can reach heaven, then you are missing the whole point of knowing God the Father. He wants to draw His children to Him and enjoy them just like we do.

It’s about the journey. It’s about all the issues that we face every day and how we respond to them. Do we fly off the handle and stress our way through, or do we turn immediately to God and ask for help? And will we trust Him when He says He will make a way where there is no way, or will we help Him and mess it all up? The journey is about the daily relationship with the Most High who know all our problems and all our joys. He can do what no man can do, but we will never see it happen if all we’re thinking about is a far off future.

And don’t assume that you can’t have that relationship with God because you are imperfect. Pick any hero of faith from the Bible and take a good look at his or her life. No perfection. God is quite aware of our humanity. He made us so He knows what our limitations and failings are, and He LOVES us. He loves us despite our weaknesses. He LOVES us. And the more time we spend with Him, the more those weakness begin to change into strengths. When we trust Him, He shines through us, even if the very next thing we do is something stupid.

Hold the joy of heaven in your heart, but look around today and see the goodness of God and watch for Him to be the Great I Am in your life. Your journey starts now.

When The Enemy Lies

Your know those times when the world is falling apart and everything you do is wrong? You feel like the stupidest person on earth and nothing anyone says helps you in the least. Guess whose game plan that is! Hint, it’s not God’s. Satan’s plan is to kill, steal, and destroy. That means that he will use every device to pull you down, if not physically, then emotionally. The enemy lies.

Granted, we have to admit that we are not perfect, but doesn’t mean that every evil thought that runs though our head, especially when we are stressed, it true. Whether is comes, from your own thoughts, the news, or someone you know, lies will try to take you down; lies that are completely false and destructive.

So what do you do? First, you have to recognize them. Jesus said,  “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.” (John 14:6) He also said, ” My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10:27) That means that you need to learn to hear His voice and you do that through reading the Word and prayer. Ask the Holy Spirit to speak to you. Ask Him to help you hear His voice. He wants more than anything to be in communion with you, like any loving parent would. Spend as much time as you can learning to hear Him. He will be surprisingly responsive to encourage you to come closer. Do it! It’s awesome.

After you know that you are hearing God, knowing what is true becomes easier. All you have to do is ask. Even so, when we are under pressure, or have to deal with serious difficulties, it’s not always easy to realize that the enemy is at work. That’s why having a habit of spending time with Jesus is important, especially in the hard times. He will help clear your mind and keep you centered so you can see what is true and what is a lie.

And when you recognize a lie, all you have to do is rebuke it. Rebuke the lies of the enemy and claim the truth of God for your life. Thank God for His goodness and faithfulness and ask Him to lead you in all righteousness. He gave us authority over all the works of the enemy. We don’t have to put up with lies that tear us down. Be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. (Matt 10:16) Don’t fall for the lies. You are amazing.

Why Do You Want Salvation?

If asked, I think most people would say that the reason they want to be saved is to avoid going to hell. It’s not an unreasonable desire, but I think it misses the entire point of salvation. Let’s go back and look at why that is.

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. He had to create it because there was nothing, nothing that we understand anyway. He made the earth and animals and people. Then He chose a specific people group to call His own. He led them and taught them to understand their need to trust Him and His will and desire to love and protect them. As we follow the story of human interaction with God, it becomes clear that the reason for creation was for God to have a relationship with us. Not an oppressive, domineering relationship, but an intimate, loving, family relationship.

“And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, Abba! Father!” (Galatians 4:6) He has called us to be His own family. We’re meant to call Him Daddy, or Papa. He wants to spend time with us, enjoying our company, teaching us and protecting us in life.

As an adult, I learned much more about my earthly father than I did as a child. The more time I spent with him, the more stories I heard that I had never heard before. The same is true with God. Never assume that because you believe in God and accept His salvation that that’s all there is. He promises that we “may know the mystery of God, namely Christ,  in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” (Colossians 2:3) Those treasures aren’t just dropped in your lap. They don’t automatically come after a set amount of time or service. You have to want them. You have to spend time with Papa asking for more. Ask and it will be given. He is delighted to show you the deeper things.

Why should you want to be saved? Because it allows you to know the most magnificent mind in the universe and be called his family and friend. Dive into that and the idea of being saved to avoid hell becomes irrelevant.

What Does Christmas Really Mean?

When you think of Christmas, you automatically think of Christmas trees and Santa Claus. Never mind. Enjoy the holiday with your family. Give presents and have a nice meal. Ignore how the date was chosen and all the baggage of those long lost associations. What Christmas really means is that amazing moment when Heaven came to the earth.

Imagine that. The God of heaven coming to earth because He had a plan to love us and save us. Jesus is the Son of God, part of the magnificent Trinity, so yes, God came down to live with us. His plan was to teach us to love as He loves, to trust Him in all things, and to encourage us with blessing and hope for the astonishing future waiting for us. It was the divine appointment meant to set the plan of salvation into action. Next to creation, it was the greatest event to happen on earth.

What does it mean to us today? If we call Jesus Lord, it means a time of reflection that eclipses the tawdry commercialization of the season. It’s a time to wonder at the stunning blueprint written in heaven to draw us into the eternity of His love. You could lose yourself just thinking about how Abraham was picked to be the father of a people chosen to hear the voice of God; about the Godhead living as a child among a people who despised and ignored Him for generations; about the destiny He created for each of us if we honor and love Him with all our heart.

Christmas is when Heaven came to earth in the most divine, lavish demonstration of love we will ever know. Sing the carols of Silent Night, Holy Night and Hark, the Herald Angles Sing. Sing with the joy of thankfulness and wonder of what we celebrate. Heaven came to give us the greatest blessing known to man.