Monday, March 13, 2017

2017 Devotional Word #11: JOY

It all happened so fast.

There he was... Luis Romero, my 7th grade nemesis. I wanted to beat him up in a bad way.

It was after school waiting on the bus. Before I knew it, we were wrestling in an alpha dog struggle. I picked him up and slammed him down on the ground. I got a few jabs and an upper cut in as well before I knocked him out with a big right hand to the jaw.

Ok, that's NOT really how it all went down. In reality, we rolled around on the ground and got a few slaps and scratches in before some adult broke it up. That was it. No more, no less. I don't even remember why we got in a fight that day.

You and I are in a very real and serious fight each and every day: it's the fight for our JOY!

JOY is defined as "the expression evoked by well-being, success or good fortune." For Christians, our JOY comes as a direct result of our eternal relationship with our heavenly Father. In Christ, we have eternal blessing, success, and good fortune.

Here's the rub: every day is a fight for JOY as we battle circumstances, people, satan, and even ourselves. These things and more join the struggle against us at different times... or sometimes all at the same time! Let's not forget that JOY is not the same thing as happiness. 

While the struggle is real, know that we all can have JOY in spite of any of the problems we face in this life. 

"Consider it pure JOY, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. But endurance must do its complete work, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing." ~ James 1:2-4

"I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret to being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." ~ Philippians 4:12-13

I'm waiting for the day for my boys to ask if I ever got in fight when I was younger. I'll be honest and tell my few stories. I'm sure we will laugh together. I'll be sure to share about the real fights and struggles of this life.

I'm also waiting for the day when I see Jesus face to face, but I don't think I have to wait until that day to ask Him about His fight to the death on the cross. I already know the Truth! The Word of God is sufficient in it's description and account of His struggle and sacrifice that paid for my sin debt.

"Therefore, since we also have such a large crowd of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and the perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that lay before Him endured a cross and despised the shame and has sat down at the right hand of God's throne. For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, so that you won't grow weary and lose heart." ~ Hebrews 12:1-3

Keep your eyes on Jesus: that is how we can have JOY every day of this life.

Monday, March 6, 2017

2017 Devotional Word #10: BLESSED

Did you know that today, March 6th, is National Oreo Cookie Day? Yep, if you're like me, you can almost taste a Double Stuf Oreo (or 7) in your mouth soon to be followed by some ice cold milk!

Leave it to my mentioning delicious cookies to get your attention! You have to admit that there are some really good things that we can experience in this life: family, food, friendship, and many other things that do and do NOT start with the letter F (like a good steak - sorry vegetarians!). Blessed!

Before I go on, I must clarify a few things.

I think America has been truly blessed by God's hand. There are so many blessings that can be associated with living in this incredible country. We are blessed even if only by our country of birth. Don't think so? Then travel outside the USA and see how much you miss and appreciate it!

Being blessed means so much more than where you live, what job you have, your bank account balance, the house/neighborhood you live i, or the car you drive.

According to the Bible, blessed is a state of existence that incorporates the physical, emotional, and spiritual aspects of this life and the one to come. Being truly blessed is a byproduct of being in relationship with God - being a Christ follower and a child of the King of Kings.

Jesus said (Matthew 5:3-12 / the Beatitudes!) being blessed has a big correlation with one's pursuits and attitudes in this life. You can even be blessed in spite of the circumstances in which you find yourself. For those who: are poor in spirit, mourn, are gentle/meek, hunger and thirst for righteousness, are merciful, peacemakers, persecuted, and insulted...  God offers a place in His Kingdom, His comfort, new life, purpose and so much more!

"Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow." ~ James 1:17

Instead of focusing on all the things you wish would happen or thing you want to possess, remember that you are blessed!

Now go get some Oreos and a glass of cold milk!