Thursday, January 28, 2010



Mark 15:43 Joseph of Arimathea, a highly respected member of the Jewish Council, came. He was one who lived expectantly, on the lookout for the kingdom of God. Working up his courage, he went to Pilate and asked for Jesus' body.


After Jesus died on the cross, Joseph of Arimathea asked for his body and then sealed it in a new tomb. Although an honored member of the high council, Joseph was a secret disciple of Jesus. Not all the Jewish leaders hated Jesus. Joseph risked his reputation to give a proper burial to his Lord. It is frightening to risk one's reputation even for what is right. If your Christian witness endangers your reputation, remember Joseph. Today he is remembered with admiration in the Christian church. How many other members of the Jewish high council can you name?

Imagine the faith that is required to believe that a dead body is the key to eternal life. Hope, not despair, makes Joseph bold to petition Pilate, arrange a burial of honor, and provide a newly hewn tomb fit for a King. By action rather than words, Joseph of Arimathea joins the Roman centurion in the confession that Jesus is truly the Son of God. Through Him, God keeps alive the expectation of life, even in the presence of death. For Roman Christians, Joseph is proof that death does not still their witness, but speeds it to the highest councils of the land. For every one who dies, many who are moving toward the kingdom of God will come forward to carry the witness.


As I read the phrase that Joseph was one who "lived expectantly" immediately I felt the Holy Spirit speaking to me and gently asking me about my expectations. What am I expecting out of this day? You see, this is the day that the Lord has MADE; He has created this day and He created me, and allowed me to be a part of today. So...He must have something exciting for me to do. I am full of expectation about the possibility of TODAY.

What am I expecting out of my Bible reading this morning? Just to get through my obligation, or for God to pour something life changing into my Spirit man?

What am I expecting out of my marriage today? My children? My co-workers? My finances?

What am I expecting at church this Sunday? Too often we get ready, go to church, expect things to go well, hear some good singing, be challenged by the Word of God, then go home and take a nap. What if I decide right now, to expect an outpouring of God's Spirit in my life and the lives around me?

Joseph lived expectantly, on the lookout for the kingdom of God. Too often, I live expectantly of something bad, or negative happening. I want today to live expectantly on the "lookout for the kingdom" of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. When I think about today like that, I truly get excited. You see Spirit-led expectation leads to Spirit-induced excitement!

My choice is to live like Hebrews 12:2 says, "Looking unto Jesus..." with expectation. When I do that, it then isn't an "accident" or chance encounter with that person I run into at the grocery store that I haven't seen in a long time. It is a "divine appointment" and the Spirit of God has something exciting for me to do for His Kingdom. Wow, I LOVE living like that!


"Lord, help me to live expectantly today, an excited expectation! I am so sorry for the times I have lived with a negative expectation, expecting things to turn out bad. That isn't Spirit-led, and I CHOOSE to be Spirit-led today. I am excitedly expectant for what you have for me today, Holy Spirit! In Jesus name, amen!"

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

“Sit here while I PRAY”


Mark 14:32-33 They came to an area called Gethsemane. Jesus told his disciples, "Sit here while I pray." (33) He took Peter, James, and John with him. He plunged into a sinkhole of dreadful agony.


In preparation for the inevitable Cross, Jesus retreats to His usual place of prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives. The name Gethsemane is a forewarning in itself. Synonymous with "tribulation," it means "press," connoting the stomping of the grape to squeeze out the blood of the vine.

Jesus expects Gethsemane to be a time of final communion with His Father in preparation for the Cross. Even though He has predicted that all the disciples will deny Him, He takes His inner circle of Peter, James, and John with Him to the place of prayer, hoping that their denial will be delayed until the very last moment. In other words, Jesus counts upon communion with God and fellowship with friends to sustain Him until the moment of betrayal. He does not expect His friends to continue with Him beyond that point, but His Father is different. Surely He will stay beside Him through an ordeal which no man had ever suffered before, and no one will ever suffer again.

Our experiences do not permit us to probe the depths of Jesus' emotions in the Garden of Gethsemane. His foreknowledge of suffering and His sensitivity of spirit take His anguish deeper than we have ever known. Even then, Jesus is not prepared for the shock of reality which overcomes Him in the Garden. Mark says, "He began to be troubled and deeply distressed" (Mark 14:33).

The English translation is not strong enough to carry the full impact of His feelings. A more literal translation is, "He began to be terrified and disoriented." Sheer terror strikes at His soul as He faces for the first time the reality of unbridled evil.

Robinson Crusoe found himself on a desert island. When darkness fell, he retreated to the beach, built a fire, and huddled close to it. The range of security extended only to the outer edge of his campfire's light. Beyond that, as he peered into the darkness toward the jungle, icy fingers of terror caused his soul to shudder, knowing that if he stepped beyond the flickering light of his campfire, his terror would be compounded by the distress of being out of his realm and not knowing how to cope with the situation.

In effect, Jesus stepped beyond the circle of light cast by God's presence into pitch blackness in the jungle of evil. Before this moment, He had theoretically accepted the responsibility for bearing the sins of the whole world. Now, terror tells Him what it really means. Also, before this moment, Jesus has enjoyed unbroken fellowship with His Father. Now, He realizes that He must die alone, His friends will deny Him, and His Father will have to leave Him. The combined weight of sin and loneliness is almost more than He can stand, so to His disciples He confesses, "My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death" (Mark 14:34).

Terror, disorientation, and depression are now so severe that death is the preferable alternative. So...He prays, continually.

The Son of God experienced terror, and distress so that we could walk THROUGH the dark, tough, fearful times knowing we could overcome just as He did:

Hebrews 4:15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are-yet was without sin.


Was Jesus trying to get out of his task? Jesus expressed his true feelings, but he did not deny or rebel against God's will. He reaffirmed his desire to do what God wanted. Jesus' prayer highlights the terrible suffering he had to endure-an agony so much more magnified because he had to take on the sins of the whole world. This "cup" was the agony of alienation from God, his Father, at the cross (Hebrews 5:7-9). The sinless Son of God took on our sins and was separated for a while from God so that we could be eternally saved.

While praying, Jesus was aware of what doing the Father's will would cost him. He understood the suffering he was about to encounter, and he did not want to have to endure the horrible experience. But Jesus prayed, "Yet I want your will to be done, not mine." Anything worth having costs something. What does your commitment to God cost you? We must be willing to pay any price to gain what is priceless-eternal life.

I am so convicted today when I consider my prayer life, compared to Jesus'. Jesus, the Son of God, my example prayed in agony as He faced a circumstance beyond what I can even fathom. Yet, He made it through it because of His dependence upon His Father through prayer. If Jesus needed to pray, how much more do I. I heed Jesus' call to me today, "Watch and pray!"


"Lord, forgive me for the times that I think I am too busy to pray, or I have too much MINISTRY to accomplish to pray. When faced with an situation that was full of terror and agony, Jesus PRAYED. He didn't wash His disciples feet, He didn't raise the dead, heal the sick, teach to multitudes, tell parables to those who were trying to find the truth about God, He didn't rest...He PRAYED. Holy Spirit, thank You for convicting me with this truth today. I make a commitment today to PRAY BEFORE, after, and during any ministry I endeavor. It is the most important part of any ministry that you have called me to. Thank You Jesus for such a great example. In Jesus' name, amen!"

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

“Stay at your post, watching!”


Mark 13:34-37 It's like a man who takes a trip, leaving home and putting his servants in charge, each assigned a task, and commanding the gatekeeper to stand watch. (35) So, stay at your post, watching. You have no idea when the homeowner is returning, whether evening, midnight, cockcrow, or morning. (36) You don't want him showing up unannounced, with you asleep on the job. (37) I say it to you, and I'm saying it to all: Stay at your post. Keep watch."


Months of planning go into a wedding, the birth of a baby, a career change, a speaking engagement, the purchase of a home. Do you place the same importance on preparing for Christ's return, the most important event in your life? Its results will last for eternity. You dare not postpone your preparations because you do not know when his return will occur. The way to prepare is to study God's Word and live by its instructions each day. Only then will you be ready.

In expectation of His "take heed" answer to the disciples' inquiry about the time and the signs for the destruction of the temple, Jesus answers by two parables. One is the Parable of the Fig Tree, which He uses to seal the prophetic signs that He has given. No training in horticulture is needed to know that the leafy, tender branches of the fig tree forecast the coming of summer. In the same manner, anyone can see the signs that Jesus has given and know that the Son of Man is coming, but not until all of the signs are fulfilled, like the ripening of the fig tree.

No one can watch a fig tree grow, but never let the process be mistaken for the lack of fulfillment. As surely as the maturing of the fig tree predicts summer, most surely will the signs of Jesus' prediction bring His coming.

Secondly, Jesus talks about "Gatekeepers" . This term has become popular for persons in key positions of leadership in organizations and communities. As the symbol suggests, there are persons who are on constant watch to protect social values that are entrusted to them. Sometimes this " is a formal authority and sometimes it is a person who wields quiet, but powerful, influence. Nothing significant happens, however, without the approval of the "gatekeepers."

To be a "doorkeeper" or a "gatekeeper," on diligent watch for the coming of the Son of Man, is one of the most solemn duties in the kingdom of God. Someone has to keep watch so that others can do their work. Executives in leadership roles carry this responsibility-reading the signs, interpreting the meaning, putting out warnings, setting the direction, and announcing the coming of the Master. What an awesome privilege! Jesus charges the disciples with the duty of "doorkeeping," making them responsible for the household of faith. If they fall asleep so that the household misses His coming, God will hold them responsible.


Mark 13 tells us how to live while we wait for Christ's return: (1) We are not to be misled by confusing claims or speculative interpretations of what will happen (Mark 13:5-6). (2) We should not be afraid to tell people about Christ, despite what they might say or do to us (Mark 13:9-11). (3) We must stand firm by faith and not be surprised by persecution (Mark 13:13). (4) We must be morally alert, obedient to the commands for living found in God's Word. This chapter was not given to promote discussions on prophetic timetables but to stimulate right living for God in a world where he is largely ignored.

We must remain faithful by staying at our post and watching. It is very easy to become distracted, and focused on the things around us that have no eternal value. It is easy to leave the "post" unattended, and no longer "watch". But my friend, when that happens, this will effect much more than just you. Countless souls are in the balance...Jesus is truly about to come back for His church. We must be busy about our Father's business. Let's determine to "Stay at the post...and watch!"


"Lord, forgive me for the times that I have left the post unattended, and not lived with eternity in mind. It is so easy for me to get lost in my own world and forget that this world is not all about ME. There are folks all around me who have their eternal destination in the balance, waiting on someone or something to "tilt" the balance towards Christ. May I TODAY be the one you use to help do that. In Jesus name, amen!"

Monday, January 25, 2010

“Embrace this God-life”


Mark 11:20-25 (MSG) In the morning, walking along the road, they saw the fig tree, shriveled to a dry stick. (21) Peter, remembering what had happened the previous day, said to him, "Rabbi, look--the fig tree you cursed is shriveled up!" (22) Jesus was matter-of-fact: "Embrace this God-life. Really embrace it, (23) and nothing will be too much for you. This mountain, for instance: Just say, 'Go jump in the lake'--no shuffling or shilly-shallying--and it's as good as done. (24) That's why I urge you to pray for absolutely everything, ranging from small to large. Include everything as you embrace this God-life, and you'll get God's everything. (25) And when you assume the posture of prayer, remember that it's not all asking. If you have anything against someone, forgive--only then will your heavenly Father be inclined to also wipe your slate clean of sins."


In this passage, two unusual incidents are related: the cursing of the fig tree and the clearing of the Temple. The cursing of the fig tree was an acted-out parable related to the clearing of the Temple. The Temple was supposed to be a place of worship, but true worship had disappeared. The fig tree showed promise of fruit, but it produced none. Jesus was showing his anger at religious life without substance. If you claim to have faith without putting it to work in your life, you are like the barren fig tree. Genuine faith has great potential; ask God to help you bear fruit for his Kingdom.

Fig trees, a popular source of inexpensive food in Israel, require three years from the time they are planted until they can bear fruit. Each tree yields a great amount of fruit twice a year, in late spring and in early autumn. This incident occurred early in the spring when the leaves were beginning to bud. The figs normally grow as the leaves fill out, but this tree, though full of leaves, had no figs. The tree looked promising but offered no fruit. Jesus' harsh words to the fig tree could be applied to the nation of Israel. Fruitful in appearance only, Israel was spiritually barren.


Embracing this "God-life" means accepting and obeying God's Word and conditions. If we want to flow in the Spirit and have a right relationship with God our Father, then we MUST forgive, in WORD and ACTION. Then our prayers become very effective.

James 5:16 Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed. The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with.

If you want your prayer to be something to be "reckoned with" then you MUST embrace this "God-life" God's way!

The kind of prayer that moves mountains is prayer for the fruitfulness of God's Kingdom. It would seem impossible to move a mountain into the sea, so Jesus used that illustration to show that God can do the impossible. God will answer your prayers but not as a result of your positive mental attitude. Other conditions must be met: (1) You must be a believer; (2) you must not hold a grudge against another person; (3) you must not pray with selfish motives; (4) your request must be for the good of God's Kingdom. To pray effectively, you need faith in God, not faith in the object of your request. If you focus only on your request, you will be left with nothing if your request is refused.


"Lord, I choose today to EMBRACE this "God-life." That means that I will forgive anyone that I hold a grudge against. Way too often, I nurse that grudge instead of killing it. Please forgive me for allowing bitterness, hurt, offense, and the lack of forgiveness to keep me from embracing the life You have for me. Today, I let go of the past. I let go of the hurt. I choose to forgive. I will not allow bitterness to rob me of the blessed life. I will not allow the flow of the Spirit to be hindered any longer because of my desire to please the whims of the flesh. I die to my flesh this morning and walk in, and embrace, the God-life! In Jesus name, amen!"

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Biting, Devouring or Loving?


Galatians 5:13-15 You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. (14) The entire law is summed up in a single command: "Love your neighbor as yourself." (15) If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.


Paul distinguishes between freedom to sin and freedom to serve. Freedom or license to sin is no freedom at all, because it enslaves you to Satan, others, or your own sinful nature. Christians, by contrast, should not be slaves to sin, because they are free to do right and to glorify God through loving service to others.

When we believers lose the motivation of love, we become critical of others. We stop looking for good in them and see only their faults. Soon we lose our unity. Have you talked behind someone's back? Have you focused on others' shortcomings instead of their strengths? Remind yourself of Jesus' command to love others as you love yourself.

Matthew 22:35-39 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: (36) "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" (37) Jesus replied: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' (38) This is the first and greatest commandment. (39) And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'

When you begin to feel critical of someone, make a list of that person's positive qualities. When problems need to be addressed, confront in love rather than gossip. It really is pretty simple. You can BITE, DEVOUR, or LOVE. I choose love!


"Through love serve one another"
(Galatians 5:13). This is what Jesus meant when He said we would save our lives by losing them. If we give our life in love to others we will find it. "But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another!"
(Galatians 5:15).

Here is the losing and finding of life in a person. Marian Preminger was born in Hungary in 1913, raised in a castle with her aristocratic family, surrounded by maids, tutors, governesses, butlers, and chauffeurs. Her grandmother, who lived with them, insisted that whenever they traveled, they take their own linen, for she believed it was beneath their dignity to sleep between sheets used by common people.

While attending school in Vienna, Marian met a handsome young Viennese doctor. They fell in love, eloped, and married when she was only eighteen. The marriage lasted only a year and she returned to Vienna to begin her life as an actress.

While auditioning for a play, she met the brilliant young German director, Otto Preminger. They fell in love and soon married. They went to America soon thereafter, where he began his career as a movie director. Unfortunately and tragically, Hollywood is a place of dramatic illustrations of people "biting, devouring, and consuming" one another. Marian was caught up in the glamour, lights, and superficial excitement and soon began to live a sordid life. When Preminger discovered it, he divorced her.

She returned to Europe to live the life of a socialite in Paris. In 1948 she learned through the newspaper that Albert Schweitzer, the man she had read about as a little girl, was making one of his periodic visits to Europe and was staying at Günsbach. She phoned his secretary and was given an appointment to see Dr. Schweitzer the next day. When she arrived in Günsbach she discovered he was in the village church playing the organ. She listened and turned the pages of music for him. After a visit he invited her to have dinner at his house. By the end of the day she knew she had discovered what she had been looking for all her life. She was with him every day thereafter during his visit, and when he returned to Africa he invited her to come to Lambarene and work in the hospital.

She did-and she found herself. There in Lambarene, the girl who was born in a castle and raised like a princess, who was accustomed to being waited on with all the luxuries of a spoiled life, became a servant. She changed bandages, bathed babies, fed lepers … and became free. She wrote her autobiography and called it All I Ever Wanted Was Everything. She could not get the "everything" that would satisfy and give meaning until she could give everything. When she died in 1979, the New York Times carried her obituary, which included this statement from her: "Albert Schweitzer said there are two classes of people in this world-the helpers, and the non-helpers. I'm a helper."

What an example and application of Christ like love!


"Love, forgive me for the times I have chose to "bite and devour" instead of love. It is so much easier to tear someone down than it is to lift them up. At least it is to my flesh. That is why I choose to die to my flesh today. I crucify my flesh. I refuse to "bite and devour". I refuse to "backbite" I refuse to gossip. I refuse to whisper against anyone. I refuse to allow an ungodly words to come out of my mouth. I refuse to allow any ungodly attitudes to lead my life. I will love instead of biting and devouring...with Your Holy Spirit's help. In Jesus' name, amen!"

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

BUT GOD intended it for GOOD


Genesis 50:20 (NIV) You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.

Genesis 50:20 (MSG) Don't you see, you planned evil against me but God used those same plans for my good, as you see all around you right now--life for many people.


Now that Jacob (or Israel) was dead, the brothers feared revenge from Joseph. Could he really have forgiven them for selling him into slavery? But to their surprise, Joseph not only forgave them but reassured them, offering to care for them and their families. Joseph's forgiveness was complete. He demonstrated how God graciously accepts us even though we don't deserve it. Because God forgives us even when we have ignored or rejected him, we should graciously forgive others.

God brought good from the brothers' evil deed, Potiphar's wife's false accusation, the cup-bearer's neglect, and seven years of famine. The experiences in Joseph's life taught him that God brings good from evil for those who trust him. Do you trust God enough to wait patiently for him to bring good out of bad situations? You can trust him because, as Joseph learned, God can overrule people's evil intentions to bring about his intended results.


Genesis 50:20 always reminds me of the need to have 50/20 vision. Anything that happens to me, even if the enemy intends it to harm me, God can take those same plans and turn them around for His purposes, and for my good! Satan tried to plan and scheme to destroy Joseph, BUT GOD turned it around and intended it for good!

Genesis 50:20 is the Old Testament's "Romans 8:28":

Romans 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

God works in "everything"-not just isolated incidents-for our good. This does not mean that all that happens to us is good. Evil is prevalent in our fallen world, but God is able to turn every circumstance around for our long-range good. Note that God is not working to make us happy but to fulfill his purpose. Note also that this promise is not for everybody. It can be claimed only by those who love God and are called by him, that is, those whom the Holy Spirit convinces to receive Christ. Such people have a new perspective, a new mind-set. They trust in God, not in worldly treasures; their security is in heaven, not on earth. Their faith in God does not waver in pain and persecution because they know God is with them.


"Lord, I am so thankful that you take what was intended to harm me by the enemy of my soul, and turn it around for my good. It is difficult to "know" that at times, but thank you for this reminder today. I choose to walk with this truth at the forefront of my mind and spirit today. I trust you and your sovreignity, and KNOW that you are directing my life and steps. In Jesus' name, amen!"

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Do my words RUN LOOSE?


Psalm 17:3 Go ahead, examine me from inside out, surprise me in the middle of the night-- You'll find I'm just what I say I am. My words don't run loose.


Was David saying he was sinless? Far from a proud assumption of purity, David's claim was an understanding of his relationship with God. In Psalms 32 and 51, David freely acknowledged his own sins. Nevertheless his relationship with God was one of close fellowship and constant repentance and forgiveness. His claim to goodness, therefore, was based on his continual seeking after God. H e was asking God to search him from the inside out. His statement, "My words don't run loose" is a claim that every child of God should strive to be able to make.


As I read our text this morning, I prayed, "Lord please forgive me for the times my words HAVE run loose, which is too often. I get frustrated or aggravated and run off with my mouth. I don't DIE to my flesh, I yield to my flesh and allow my words to run loose. The Holy Spirit brought the following verses to my mind a few moments ago:

Ephesians 4:29-32 Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift. (30) Don't grieve God. Don't break his heart. His Holy Spirit, moving and breathing in you, is the most intimate part of your life, making you fit for himself. Don't take such a gift for granted. (31) Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk. (32) Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you.

We can bring sorrow to the Holy Spirit by the way we live. Paul warns us against unwholesome language, bitterness, improper use of anger, harsh words, slander, and bad attitudes toward others. Instead of acting that way, we should be forgiving, just as God has forgiven us. Are you bringing sorrow or pleasing God with your attitudes and actions? Act in love toward your brothers and sisters in Christ, just as God acted in love by sending his Son to die for your sins. Do I allow my words to "run loose"? I'm afraid way too often, I do.

When I allow my words to "run loose" I am breaking the heart of the Holy Spirit, I am grieving Him. I need to remember today that "the Holy Spirit, moving and breathing" in me is the most intimate part of my life. As He convicts me of the angry, frustrated, agitated words that I speak, I must repent of them because God is making me "fit for Himself" according to the verse above. Today...I choose to reign my words in by dying to my flesh, in Jesus' name!


"Lord, I ask you to forgive me for allowing my words to run loose and grieving Your Holy Spirit. Today, I want to please you and allow YOU to have control of my life today. This cannot happen if I do not make a conscious effort to "crucify my flesh." I refuse to allow my words to run rampant in my life. They hurt you and those who are around. I want my words to edify and encourage not tear down and discourage. In Jesus' name, amen!"

Monday, January 18, 2010

Even the waves obey Him


Luke 8:22-25 One day Jesus said to his disciples, "Let's go over to the other side of the lake." So they got into a boat and set out. (23) As they sailed, he fell asleep. A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger. (24) The disciples went and woke him, saying, "Master, Master, we're going to drown!" He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm. (25) "Where is your faith?" he asked his disciples. In fear and amazement they asked one another, "Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him."


The Sea of Galilee (actually a large lake) is even today the scene of fierce storms, sometimes with waves as high as 20 feet. Jesus' disciples were not frightened without cause. Even though several of them were expert fishermen and knew how to handle a boat, their peril was real.

Although the disciples had witnessed many miracles, they panicked in this storm. As experienced sailors, they knew its danger; what they did not know was that Christ could control the forces of nature. We often encounter storms in our life, where we feel God can't or won't work. When we truly understand who God is, however, we will realize that he controls both the storms of nature and the storms of the troubled heart. Jesus' power that calmed this storm can also help us deal with the problems we face. Jesus is willing to help if we only ask him. We should never discount his power even in terrible trials.


This past week, my wife and I were on a cruise ship to Cozumel with some family members. The cruise was going great, and we had a lot of fun...UNTIL Friday around noon. It was at this time that we began to experience 8-15 foot waves constantly beating against our ship. This went on for about 24 hours. For 15 of those of hours we were trying to make it into the Mobile channel so we could dock...but the weather just wouldn't let us. There were several times during those hours that it was pretty frightening, and we were on a huge ship.

I began to think about what Peter and the other disciples experienced in a much smaller boat while in the middle of a storm such as what we encountered. I looked into the waves and imagined Peter walking on the water...on top of the waves! I thought about the disciples running to awaken Jesus (today's text) and how frightened they must have been while riding out the waves. I promise you that we (my family and I) were calling out to the Lord to calm the sea.

When caught in the storms of life, it is easy to think that God has lost control and that we're at the mercy of the winds of fate. In reality, God is sovereign. He controls the history of the world as well as our personal destiny. Just as Jesus calmed the waves, he can calm whatever storms you may face.


"Lord, I am so thankful that you are still the Master of the sea. The winds and the waves obey your voice. There are storms in our life that constantly batter us, and we wonder how and if we will make it through. When this happens, help me to remember that you are on the Boat with me. I need to call out to you and allow you to speak peace into my situation. In Jesus' name, amen!"

Friday, January 15, 2010

No longer “fearful slaves”


Romans 8:15-16 For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, "Abba, Father." (16) The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children.


Paul uses adoption to illustrate the believer's new relationship with God. In Roman culture, the adopted person lost all rights in his old family and gained all the rights of a legitimate child in his new family. He became a full heir to his new father's estate. Likewise, when a person becomes a Christian, he or she gains all the privileges and responsibilities of a child in God's family. One of these outstanding privileges is being led by the Spirit (see Galatians 4:5-6. We may not always feel as though we belong to God, but the Holy Spirit is our witness. His inward presence reminds us of who we are and encourages us with God's love (Romans 5:5).

We are no longer like "fearful slaves"; instead, we are the Master's children. What a privilege! Because we are God's children, we share in great treasures as co-heirs. God has already given us his best gifts: his Son, his Holy Spirit, forgiveness, and eternal life; and he encourages us to ask him for whatever we need.


Paul uses the illustration of slavery to show that before Christ came and died for sins, people were in bondage to the law. Thinking they could be saved by it, they became enslaved to trying-and failing-to keep it. But we who were once slaves are now God's very own children who have an intimate relationship with him. Because of Christ, there is no reason to be afraid of God. We can come boldly into his presence, knowing that he will welcome us as his family members.


"Lord, I thank you that I am no longer a "fearful slave" but I have received the spirit of adoption whereby I am your child. Thank you that I can cry out "Abba Father" or daddy! I love you Lord, and choose to walk today, not in fearful slavery, but peaceful sonship. In Jesus name, amen!"

Thursday, January 14, 2010

What is my mind set upon?


Romans 8:5-8 Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. (6) The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; (7) the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so. (8) Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.


Paul divides people into two categories: those who are dominated by their sinful nature, and those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit. All of us would be in the first category if Jesus hadn't offered us a way out. Once we have said yes to Jesus, we will want to continue following him, because his way brings life and peace. Daily we must consciously choose to center our life on God. Use the Bible to discover God's guidelines, and then follow them. In every perplexing situation, ask yourself, What would Jesus want me to do? When the Holy Spirit points out what is right, do it eagerly.

The power of sin over us died with Christ on the cross. Our "old sinful selves," our sinful nature, died once and for all, so we are freed from its power. The "power of sin" refers to our rebellious sin-loving nature inherited from Adam. Though we often willingly cooperate with our sinful nature, it is not us but the sin in us that is evil. And it is this power of sin at work in our life that is defeated. Paul has already stated that through faith in Christ we stand righteous before God. Here Paul emphasizes that we need no longer live under sin's power. God does not take us out of the world or make us robots-we will still feel like sinning, and sometimes we will sin. The difference is that before we were saved we were slaves to our sinful nature, but now we can choose to live for Christ


When you're tempted to entertain certain thoughts in the privacy of your own mind, you may excuse it by saying, "What harm will it do?" The answer is…A lot! Ultimately, you'll become whatever you meditate on. Solomon said, "for as he thinketh in his heart, so is he" (Proverbs 23:7).

When Satan wants to tear you down, he doesn't start with an act, he starts with a thought. You see, thoughts aren't yours because they come into your mind. They only become yours when you allow them to move in and rearrange the furniture!

A thought left to ramble through your mind can attach itself to an event in your past and feed on it. The stronger it grows, the weaker you become until all your strength is drained away. Don't let that happen to you! Paul writes, "… take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:5). Take your thoughts captive, before they take you captive!

God's Word says "… to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life… (Romans 8:6). When your mind agrees with your spirit, you're 'spiritually minded.' When it agrees with your flesh, you're 'carnally minded.' It's that simple!

If you want to be spiritually minded, read your Bible every day, because, "A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things… (Matthew 12:35). Whatever you conceive, you can bring forth. That's why the enemy will do everything he can, to keep you from getting into God's Word. Don't let him!

Romans 8:5 Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.

So the question for today is...What is my mind set upon?" Whether I am spiritually minded or carnally minded depends upon the answer to this question!


"Lord, help me to understand the importance of what I set my mind upon. I don't want to be carnal minded today, but spirit minded. For this to happen, I MUST reexamine my thought life today. In Jesus name, amen!"

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

No Condemnation


Romans 8:1-2 THEREFORE, [there is] now no condemnation (no adjudging guilty of wrong) for those who are in Christ Jesus, who live [and] walk not after the dictates of the flesh, but after the dictates of the Spirit. (2) For the law of the Spirit of life [which is] in Christ Jesus [the law of our new being] has freed me from the law of sin and of death.


To understand what Paul means by the "law of sin and death" we need to note the link between "the flesh" and "sin" in his thinking. For instance, he concludes the previous chapter with the dismal words "with the flesh [I serve] the law of sin," thereby clearly identifying "the flesh" as the means whereby sin operates within the human experience. At this point, considerable confusion can arise because of Paul's habit of using "flesh" (Greek, sarx) in a number of ways. In Romans 8:28, "flesh" obviously means the tissues of the physical body; in Romans 1:3, it means natural descent; in Romans 3:20, it is a synonym for the human race, and in Romans 8:30, it refers to human nature. To add to the confusion, the translators of English editions of the Bible occasionally translated sarx words by the English word "carnal." But all is not lost if we remember that when sarx, whether translated "flesh" or "carnal," appears in contrast to God and His work in human lives, it means human nature with particular reference to its inbuilt sinfulness. Godet defines it as "the inclination to seek self-satisfaction in everything," and Bruce weighs in with "sinful propensity from Adam." The flesh is an attitude or inclination operating in complete rejection of the divine will that requires self-sacrificial submission, choosing rather the free expression of anything and everything that will bring self-gratification. It is in this flesh that the law of sin and death moves and has its being.

Anyone who reads Romans 8 should have little difficulty grasping the significance of the flesh. The law is said to be "weak through the flesh" (Romans 8:3); those who live "according to the flesh" set their minds on the "things of the flesh," which we are told is "death" (Romans 8:5-6); the fleshly mind is "enmity against God" and "is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can it be" (Romans 8:7); furthermore, "those who are in the flesh cannot please God" (Romans 8:8). To be "in the flesh" means the same as being "in Adam," or unregenerate; to live "according to the flesh" means to live as if unregenerate after becoming regenerate. Paul's cry for deliverance is therefore a longing to be free from the discouraging tendency he has discovered in himself to live, although justified, as if he is not. He finds within himself a sinful propensity which is so powerful that he recognizes he, in himself, is incapable of breaking it; in fact, it is so pervasive that he feels as if he is "sold under sin" because his human nature is so thoroughly imbued with selfishness and self-serving. This is the law of sin and death from which he longs to be free.


"No Condemnation" simply means
"Not guilty; let him go free." What would those words mean to you if you were on death row? The fact is that the whole human race is on death row, justly condemned for repeatedly breaking God's holy law. Without Jesus we would have no hope at all. But thank God! He has declared us not guilty and has offered us freedom from sin and power to do his will.


"Lord, I am so thankful that when I give my life to you, when I confess my sins, and make you Savior and Lord, there is nothing known against me. I am free, and not guilty. That still overwhelms me. I am so thankful for the blood of Jesus that washes me and makes my heart "white as snow." I choose today to walk in that forgiveness and freedom. In Jesus' name, amen!"

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Living Water


John 7:37-38 On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink.
Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him."


What did Jesus mean by "living water"? In the Old Testament, many verses speak of thirsting after God as one thirsts for water. God is called the fountain of life (Psalm 36:9) and the fountain of living water (Jeremiah 17:13). In saying he would bring living water that could forever quench a person's thirst for God, Jesus was claiming to be the Messiah. Only the Messiah could give this gift that satisfies the soul's desire.

Jesus' words, "come and drink," alluded to the theme of many Bible passages that talk about the Messiah's life-giving blessings. In promising to give the Holy Spirit to all who believed, Jesus was claiming to be the Messiah, for that was something only the Messiah could do.

Jesus used the term living water in John 4:10 to indicate eternal life. In today's "Soap" text (John 7:37-38), he uses the term to refer to the Holy Spirit. The two go together: Wherever the Holy Spirit is accepted, he brings eternal life. Jesus teaches more about the Holy Spirit in chapters 14-16. The Holy Spirit empowered Jesus' followers at Pentecost (Acts 2) and has since been available to all who believe in Jesus as Savior.


In Revelation 22:17, both the Holy Spirit and the bride, the church, extend the invitation to all the world to come to Jesus and experience the joys of salvation in Christ.

When Jesus met the Samaritan woman at the well, he told her of the living water that he could supply (John 4:10-15). This image is used again as Christ invites anyone to come and drink of the water of life. The Good News is unlimited in scope-all people everywhere may come. Salvation cannot be earned, but God gives it freely. We live in a world desperately thirsty for living water, and many are dying of thirst. But it's still not too late. Let us invite everyone to come and drink. And may we drink again and again of this Living Water...DAILY!


"Lord, thank you so much for being the Living Water. You invite me daily to come and drink IF I am thirsty. I want my thirst for you to increase, and this happens by spending daily time with you. Today...I THIRST! In Jesus' name, amen!"

Monday, January 11, 2010

MORE than conquerors


Romans 8:35-39 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? (36) As it is written: "For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered." (37) No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. (38) For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, (39) 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.


These words were written to a church that would soon undergo terrible persecution. In just a few years, Paul's hypothetical situations would turn into painful realities. This passage reaffirms God's profound love for his people. No matter what happens to us, no matter where we are, we can never be separated from his love. Suffering should not drive us away from God but help us to identify with him and allow his love to heal us.


These verses contain one of the most comforting promises in all Scripture. Believers have always had to face hardships in many forms: persecution, illness, imprisonment, and even death. These sometimes cause them to fear that they have been abandoned by Christ. But Paul exclaims that it is impossible to be separated from Christ. His death for us is proof of his unconquerable love. Nothing can separate us from Christ's presence. God tells us how great his love is so that we will feel totally secure in him. If we believe these overwhelming assurances, we will not be afraid.

One of my favorite songs (among many) is "We've been made more than conquerors". I have placed the lyrics below. As you read them, please remember that God is on FOR you, not AGAINST you:

We've been made more than conquerors, Overcomers in this life.
We've been made victorious. Through the blood of Jesus Christ!

When troubles come knocking' at your door, Don't be afraid, you know it's not like before.
Don't you give in, don't let it bring you down. Cause you don't have to worry anymore!

Hold on, we're getting stronger everyday. There's no reason for you to go astray.
Don't go leaning to your understanding, Cause you don't have to worry anyway!


"Lord, thank you for making me MORE than a conqueror. Your Word reminds me that nothing can separate me from Your love. No matter what I face today, you will not leave be, but you will walk with me...and comfort me. I love you Lord, and recognize Your presence and help today. In Jesus' name, amen!"

Friday, January 8, 2010

Paul’s Prayer Pattern


Colossians 1:11-14 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully (12) giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. (13) For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, (14) in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.


In book of Colossians, Paul was exposing a heresy in the Colossians church that was similar to Gnosticism. This heresy (a teaching contrary to biblical doctrine) undermined Christianity in several basic ways: (1) It insisted that important secret knowledge was hidden from most believers; Paul, however, said that Christ provides all the knowledge we need. (2) It taught that the body was evil; Paul countered that God himself lived in a body-that is, he was embodied in Jesus Christ. (3) It contended that Christ only seemed to be human but was not; Paul insisted that Jesus was fully human and fully God.

Gnosticism became fashionable in the second century. Even in Paul's day, these ideas sounded attractive to many, and exposure to such teachings could easily seduce a church that didn't know Christian doctrine well. Similar teachings still pose significant problems for many in the church today. We combat heresy by becoming thoroughly acquainted with God's Word through personal study and sound Bible teaching. Gnostics valued the accumulation of knowledge, but Paul pointed out that knowledge in itself is empty. To be worth anything, it must lead to a changed life and right living.

His prayer for the Colossians has two dimensions:
(1) that they might have complete knowledge of God's will and have spiritual wisdom and understanding; (2) that their lives would produce every kind of good fruit, even as they learned to know God better and better. Knowledge is not merely to be accumulated; it should give us direction for living. Paul wanted the Colossians to be wise, but he also wanted them to use their knowledge. Knowledge of God is not a secret that only a few can discover; it is open to everyone. God wants us to learn more about him,
and also to put belief into practice by helping others.


There are times we need direction on how to pray for people, including missionaries and other leaders we have never met. Paul had never met the Colossians, but he faithfully prayed for them. His prayers teach us how to pray for others, whether we know them or not. We can request that they (1) understand what God wants them to do, (2) gain spiritual wisdom, (3) honor and please God, (4) produce every kind of good fruit, (5) learn to know God better and better, (6) be strengthened with God's glorious power, (7) have great endurance and patience, (8) be filled with joy, and (9) give thanks always. All believers have these same basic needs. When you don't know how to pray for someone, use Paul's prayer pattern for the Colossians.


"Lord, thank you for the knowledge that I can receive daily from your Word. But this knowledge is not to merely be accumulated it should be used to give me direction in my life. I thank you today for the information I received from reading your Word this morning. I choose to use Paul's pattern to pray for those in leadership that you lay upon my heart. In Jesus' name, amen!"

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Keep company with the Lord


Psalm 37:4-5 (NIV) Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart. (5) Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this:

Psalm 37:4-5 (MSG) Keep company with GOD, get in on the best. (5) Open up before GOD, keep nothing back; he'll do whatever needs to be done:


David calls us to take delight in the Lord and to commit everything we have and do to him. But how do we do this? To delight in someone means to experience great pleasure and joy in his or her presence. This happens only when we know that person well. Thus, to delight in the Lord, we must know him better. Knowledge of God's great love for us will indeed give us delight.

To commit ourselves to the Lord means entrusting everything-our lives, families, jobs, possessions-to his control and guidance. To commit ourselves to the Lord means to trust in him (Psalm 37:5), believing that he can care for us better than we can ourselves. We should be willing to wait patiently (Psalm 37:7) for him to work out what is best for us.


Memories of the good times he'd "kept company" with his father, was what eventually brought the Prodigal Son back home (Luke 15:7). And the right memories will draw you back into God's presence, to keep company with Him time and time again. When you are delighting and keeping company with the Lord on a daily basis there are times that you will have to COMMIT everything to Him in the midst of a struggle where you need some direction. So, as you are delighting and keeping company with God, you need to pray...

(1) Until change begins.
"But we all… beholding… the Lord, are changed… from glory to glory… by the Spirit." (2 Corinthians 3:18)

(2) Until you understand His plan for your life.
"For I know the plans I have for you," says the Lord. "They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope." (Jeremiah 29:11 NLT)

(3) Until you recapture your motivation.
"I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living… be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord." (Psalm 27:13-14 NIV)

(4) Until you receive His wisdom.
"I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you." (Psalm 32:8 NIV)

(5) Until new ideas are born. "See, the former things have taken place, and new things I declare; before they spring into being, I announce them to you." (Isaiah 42:9 NIV)

(6) Until Christ becomes the center of your life.
"Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart" (Psalm 37:4 NIV).

Gospel singer Larnelle Harris sang a song years ago that I loved, but it challenged me every time I heard it. It was called, "I miss my time with you." Read over the lyrics, hear God's heart as He longs for you to "Delight and keep company with Him again":

There He was just waiting In our old familiar place. An empty spot beside Him. Where once I used to wait

To be filled with strength and wisdom. For the battle of the day. I would've passed Him by again, But I clearly heard Him say

I miss My time with you, Those moments together. I need to be with you each day. And it hurts me when you say You're too busy, busy trying to serve Me
But how can you serve Me When your spirit's empty. There's a longing in My heart Wanting more than just a part of you It's true I miss My time with you

What will I have to offer How can I truly care My efforts have no meaning. When your presence isn't there. But You'll provide the power If I take time to pray
So Ill stay right here beside You And you'll never have to say "I miss my time with you."


"Lord, I am so thankful that I can keep company with You. Forgive me for the times You had to say of me "I miss my time with you." Today, I choose to delight and keep company with you. In your presence there is fullness of Joy! I love you Lord, and thank you for Your divine, manifest presence. In Jesus name, amen!"

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Joyful INSIDE and OUT


Psalm 16:9-11 (MSG) I'm happy from the inside out, and from the outside in, I'm firmly formed. (10) You canceled my ticket to hell-- that's not my destination! (11) Now you've got my feet on the life path, all radiant from the shining of your face. Ever since you took my hand, I'm on the right way.


David's heart was glad-he had found the secret to joy. True joy is far deeper than happiness; we can feel joy in spite of our deepest troubles. Happiness is temporary because it is based on external circumstances, but joy is lasting because it is based on God's presence within us. As we contemplate his daily presence, we will find contentment. As we understand the future he has for us, we will experience joy. Don't base your life on circumstances, but on God.

David stated confidently that God would not leave him in the grave. Many people fear death because they can neither control nor understand it. As believers, we can be assured that God will not forget us when we die. He will bring us to life again to live with him forever. This provides real security.


After teaching His disciples the need for obedience, Jesus told them, "I have said these things to you that My joy may be in you, and your joy may be complete" (John 15:11 NIV). According to Jesus our problem is not that we're too happy for God's taste, but that we aren't JOYFUL enough. Nehemiah writes, "The joy of the Lord is your strength" (Nehemiah 8:10). We've greatly underestimated the necessity of joy. Joy is strength. Its absence creates weakness. Failure to live a deeply satisfying spiritual life always has the effect of making sin more attractive - therein lies the strength of temptation.

Psalm 68:3 says, "Let the righteous be joyful."

Joyfulness is a learned skill, but also a "Fruit of the Spirit." It's also a daily decision, one that lifts us above our circumstances. When we celebrate each day, we're exercising our ability to see and feel God's goodness in things we wouldn't have noticed before. As a result our capacity for joy increases.

The first step in pursuing joy is simply to begin - now! "This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it" (Psalm 118:24). We live with the illusion that joy will come someday, like when we go to school and graduate, or get married, or have children, or when our children grow up and leave home; then they do, and we think we were happier when they were still with us. David says if we don't rejoice today we won't rejoice at all. If we wait until conditions are perfect we'll be waiting when we die. If we are going to rejoice, it must be this day.

We can be joyful on the inside and the out! When you have joy on the inside, your outside will be affected...I say it again today, SMILE!

Romans 12:8 if you give encouraging guidance, be careful that you don't get bossy; if you're put in charge, don't manipulate; if you're called to give aid to people in distress, keep your eyes open and be quick to respond; if you work with the disadvantaged, don't let yourself get irritated with them or depressed by them. Keep a smile on your face.

Psalm 42:5 Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul? Why are you crying the blues? Fix my eyes on God-- soon I'll be praising again. He puts a smile on my face. He's my God.

Proverbs 15:13 A cheerful heart brings a smile to your face; a sad heart makes it hard to get through the day.


"Lord, help me to be reminded today, that as a Christian it is not only ok for me to SMILE, it is very appealing and spiritual! You are such a good God...You put a SMILE on my face. Thank you for making me joyful on the inside and the outside. I choose today to walk in that "joy unspeakable and full of glory!" In Jesus name, amen!"

Monday, January 4, 2010

Joy and a Smile


Psalm 4:6-8 Why is everyone hungry for more? "More, more," they say. "More, more." I have God's more-than-enough, (7) More joy in one ordinary day Than they get in all their shopping sprees. (8) At day's end I'm ready for sound sleep, For you, GOD, have put my life back together.


The godly are those who are faithful and devoted to God. David knew that God would hear him when he called and would answer him. We, too, can be confident that God listens to our prayers and answers when we call on him. Sometimes we think that God will not hear us because we have fallen short of his high standards for holy living. But if we have trusted Christ for salvation, God has forgiven us and he will listen to us. When you feel as though your prayers are bouncing off the ceiling, remember that as a believer you have been set apart by God and that he loves you. He hears and answers although his answers may not be what you expect. Look at your problems in the light of God's power instead of looking at God in the shadow of your problems.

Two kinds of joy are contrasted here-inward joy that comes from knowing and trusting God and happiness that comes as a result of pleasant circumstances. Inward joy is steady as long as we trust God; happiness is unpredictable. Inward joy defeats discouragement; happiness covers it up. Inward joy is lasting; happiness is temporary.


Nehemiah 8:10 says "...the joy of the Lord is my strength"

True joy always involves three things:

(1) A conscious decision to focus each day on God's goodness;
(2) Reaching out to bless others every chance you get;
(3) Understanding that joy produces strength, which explains why your joy is the devil's number one target. If you lose your joy you lose your strength, and he wins!

Dallas Willard writes: "To cut off the joys and pleasures associated with our bodily lives and social existence as 'unspiritual,' can have the effect of weakening us in our efforts to do right."

There are basically three kinds of people: The joy impaired - who believe we're not supposed to be happy, we're just supposed to be responsible. These people feel guilty about feeling good. The joy extinguisher - who's been hurt by life and whose anger simmers just beneath the surface. If you let them, they'll rain on your parade because your joy really bothers them. The joy carrier - when you're around them they breathe life into you. If you're joy-impaired, try spending a little time with joy carriers. Explain to them that you've been trying to break out of your joy-impaired condition. Ask them to become your joy mentor, meeting with you and holding you accountable for your attitude.

One way to make sure we express our joy is to lighten up! SMILE! Get a spiritual face-lift! Don't just give your children orders; smile while you're doing it. If your husband or wife works in a difficult environment, make sure they don't come home to more of the same. Smiles are like thermostats; they set the temperature and determine the climate around you. Joy is infectious. How people see you determines how they'll treat you. Who wants to be around somebody who looks like they'll bite your head off at any moment?

Learn to smile; it opens doors and hearts. It causes others to relax and lower their guard. It says, "I'm happy to be with you."

A well-known Bible teacher recently wrote, "One morning in the shower God said to me, 'I wish you'd smile when you're talking to me.' At 6:00 a.m. I didn't feel much like smiling, but I tried it anyway. I thought, 'I'm glad nobody's watching.' But when I did it, I immediately felt better. Then God reminded me of the words, "… joy cometh in the morning" (Psalm 30:5) Suddenly, I realized that when my eyes open each morning - joy is right there with me. All I have to do is activate it and operate in it all day long. The decision comes first - the feelings follow. That's how it works."


"Lord, like the Psalmist wrote in our verse today, "More joy in one ordinary day than they get in all their shopping sprees. (8) At day's end I'm ready for sound sleep, For you, GOD, have put my life back together." You bless my life daily with so much joy. I want to make a conscious effort today to express that joy by smiling more. At the beginning of this new year, I choose to recognize the gift of Your Joy, and to smile at my kids, my wife, my co-workers, people I come in contact with, more than I did last year. I thank you for the joy that I am experiencing today. Now, I will notify my face. In Jesus name, amen!"