Tag Archives: joy

My Hope When I Fall…..

ImageMark ended his gospel message with hope but there was one disciple who still was lingering and wondering; Peter. Where is he emotionally, spiritually, physically at this time as he considers the possibilities of what may lie ahead? He recoiled at the memory of his courtyard experience where he had denied Jesus three times just as prophesied and had left weeping bitterly. From that point he returned to the only safe haven he knew; with his beloved friends, the disciples who had followed Jesus. John tells us that they were hidden behind closed doors for fear of the Jews. Perhaps they were wondering if they too would be crucified if others found them knowing that their very accents betrayed them. As they sat and mourned the loss of the one they had followed for three years their thoughts did not return to the words of Jesus: “when I am raised, I will meet you in Galilee” but rather their thoughts replayed and rehearsed the past few days and the questions of why, when, how and more. Peter of all would be wondering if ever he could forgive himself and could or would God forgive him? We too have times when we fall and wonder and at these times where we can turn. It is then that we have this promise from Psalm 37:

24 When he falls, he will not be hurled headlong, Because the Lord is the One who holds his hand.

Did Peter recall these words? We know that John tells us that after Jesus’ resurrection Peter was fully restored…but we are not there yet. Peter yet has to walk the road of misery, mourning, wondering and questioning. But, later he will write what truly happened in his personal letter to those who are suffering. He knows the path and he knows how to encourage. Listen to his words and be encouraged if you too have like Peter experienced a time of falling away: “His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”

Today, if you are walking with Peter through the agony of dismay, discouragement, despondency for having fallen in some way; take heart, when you repent there is hope. Where there is hope there is joy. Where there is joy there is peace and God’s protection. It is then that the rest of Psalm 37 rings forth with words of comfort and peace: Trust in the Lord, Delight yourself in the Lord, Commit your way to the Lord; Rest in the Lord. This is our journey back to God.




Jn 5; Ps 126-128 “Dreaming…”

ImageThe invalid of John 5 must have thought he was dreaming as he obediently picked up his mat and walked to the Temple. How could this be? Who healed me? Entering the Temple full of awe and surprise whom does he meet but the ‘religious police’ of his day; the Pharisees. Upon hearing of his healing they did not stop to celebrate with him but rather began to question him. Who would tell you to do this “on the Sabbath?” Caught off guard by this barrage, we wonder what his thoughts were; why the Pharisees would not stop to give praise to God for this marvelous healing. Answering as best he could he continues on. It is then that as he walked to worship with his mind filled with thoughts, questions and wonderment that John tells us that the healer appears from out of nowhere. There is only one statement to the man and no return dialog. In vs 15 the man reveals to the Pharisees that it was indeed Jesus. Why did he go back to the Pharisees, these religious naysayers? Could it be that the truth of Prov 29:25 fit in here? 29:25 “The fear of people becomes a snare”? We may never know.

Yes truly the man seemed to be in a fog, so unable to understand what has just transpired. So too, the early Israelites after being freed by Cyrus command from the Babylonian captivity, find themselves in much this same frame of mind, filled with awe, filled with surprise, filled with wonder as they return to Jerusalem. Ps 126:1 “When the Lord restored the well-being of Zion, we thought we were dreaming.” Seventy years of captivity have come and gone. We are really here even though we thought this could not happen in our lifetime! We are in the midst of Jerusalem shouting for joy, laughing loudly and the naysayers are not raining on our parade but giving God praise: “The Lord has accomplished great things for these people.” What a change of heart!

The ‘religious police,’ the naysayers of Jesus’ day, will always be with us. But, also there will be others who, when they see God at work, will have to stop and give God praise. Recognizing that this could only happen because of God’s grace we too need to stop and give God praise.  The psalmist in these three psalms gives wise principles. It is truly a choice on our part. We can choose to return to the naysayers or we can choose to join the chorus and give God the praise!  These psalms, although written to the Jew, are as practically applicable to us today as they were then.


  1. Give praise to God first and foremost: 126:3 The Lord did indeed accomplish great things for us.
  2. Recognize that apart from God no good thing comes to pass: 127:1 If the Lord does not build a house, then those who build it work in vain. If the Lord does not guard a city, then the watchman stands guard in vain.
  3. Fear the Lord in all holiness and reverence: 128:4 Yes indeed, the man who fears the Lord will be blessed in this way.
  4. Seek God’s blessing upon others: 128:5 May the Lord bless you from Zion, that you might see Jerusalem prosper all the days of your life,
  5. With restoration comes a responsibility to live a righteous life. Blessed with God’s provision of healing seek to abide by what Jesus told the healed invalid: “Look, you have become well. Don’t sin any more, lest anything worse happen to you.”  

Did the invalid follow these principles? We must wait until eternity to find out. In the meantime, we are left with a choice. We can follow these principles today or we can join the naysayer’s camp. What will we choose to do?


Living Righteously in the Body of Christ.

ImageRomans 14 always brings to forefront tears for me as I see the Body of Christ being torn asunder with differing opinions. I have to step aside and ask is there a grain of truth in this ounce of criticism and if so in light of eternity is this something I need to alter in my life so that the enemy will not use as his tool to divide the fellowship of my church/fellowship of believers? Maybe that is the question we must all ask ourselves as there are many in the church and outside the church that cry: Hypocrite! Hypocrite! We could all share from our experiences family members, friends, co-workers, etc. that have said this to us and it causes us to cringe. Could it be that in some respects they are right? Let’s dig in and see what we are to learn and then more practically what we are to apply.

Paul addresses this full head on in chapter 14 but does not use the word hypocrite but rather bluntly says “do not condemn” and “do not judge.” Yesterday we talked about how to live righteously in an unrighteous world. Today Paul asks us the same question but in regards to how we live in the Body of Christ. Again we need to come back to our premise of yesterday: we are to love our neighbor and sometimes loving comes at a price, comes when we are face to face with those who differ with us. How do we do that lovingly? That is the question.

First off, Paul addressed two situations that the church in Rome was experiencing and which we find are the same two that are still with us today: food/drink and days on which we worship. Some say it is ok to eat certain foods, another says no. Some say it is ok to drink alcohol and another says no. Some say you must worship only on Saturday and others say not so, worship on Sunday or any other day is ok. Oh the tools that Satan uses to divide and he will use whatever he can to destroy the Body of Christ.  We must remember that our enemy, Satan, is wily, and he knows where we are weak and where we are strong. (2Co 2:11 Satan… (for we are not ignorant of his schemes); and in fact he often disguises himself as an angel of light (2Cor 11:4). He will seek to divide and cause disunity and what better place than within the Body of Christ? Let’s get practical here and see what the Word of God says.  

Paul uses very strong language in this situation: vs 4 “Who are you to pass judgment on another’s servant?” Then he also reminds us that we are “not to condemn” nor are we to “judge.” And if we didn’t get those phrases he adds another: DO NOT to be a stumbling block for another. So if we are not to do that, then what key elements should be a part of our life?

Beloved, the key is found in vs 7: “righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.”


14:19 “So then, let us pursue what makes for peace and for building up one another.” Did you note that the word peace seems to be cropping up over and over from chapter 12 to 14? Did you also note that he inserts peace between righteousness and joy? If you do a search you will find that Paul used that word 13 times in this book.

Today may we seek peace above all else. May this be our mandate for today, Rom 12:18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all people. And if we disagree on the points of food/drink and days–remember that Satan is lurking, waiting and looking for ways to divide us. Ecc 4:12 Although an assailant may overpower one person, two can withstand him. Moreover, a three-stranded cord is not quickly broken. Let’s keep the three strand:

          J – Jesus O- Others Y- Yourself = Jesus righteousness, peace, joy

J-Joy O-Others Y-You…that Spells Jesus Joy!

ImageYes it does spell that word joy but how does one live joyfully, how does one live righteously in a world that is turning upside down day by day?

Throughout history the Bible along with secular history records men/women who willingly chose to live righteously, (ex. Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, Peter and John, Jesus, Paul)  amidst unrighteous leaders and unrighteous governments. How were they able to stand tall, strong and brave? I often wonder if I could do the same? After reading Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s biography along with the examples from scripture I have come to some conclusions.   Image

First some principles: In Romans 12 Paul gives some basic life principles or life guides as to how to conduct ourselves as we live side by side with our family, our neighbors, our co-workers. Paul furthers this thought in 13: 9 ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’ which is the commandment Jesus gave the rich young ruler as well. When we have love for others all of our own personal ideas are tossed aside for we put others ahead of ourselves. It might be helpful to remember this simple equation to keep our priorities straight. 

“J –Jesus, O-Others, Y-Yourself = JOY.”

I noted that Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit placed our obligations to government between the obligations to others, [Rom 12:9-21 and Rom 13:8-14], which he followed by admonitions to godly conduct. I don’t think I ever saw that before!  Therefore, it behooves that we can surmise that our societal obligations to one another are the guide to how we live in an unrighteous world. When Jesus is first, others are second; we find that ourself falls nicely into the last spot with all humility. Jesus reminded us that when we render unto Caesar the things that are Caesars we can then render unto God the things that are God’s. (Matt 22:21). Thus know God’s Law and then know man’s law. When we follow God’s Law as the primary we can thus obey those that God has allowed and those that are not opposed to the supreme Law.

Our first mandate is to be the best citizen possible by obeying the governmental authorities over us for they are ordained and are in place by the will of God.  The second one is found in Rom 12:19 “as much as possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all people.” The third one is found in 1Tim 2, again written by Paul, “I urge that requests, prayers, intercessions, and thanks be offered on behalf of all people, even for kings and all who are in authority…(why) that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.” Lastly, when the government is opposed to the ways of God one must take a stand as Peter and John did in Acts 4 “Peter and John replied, “Whether it is right before God to obey you rather than God, you decide,” Down through history we have seen men who, like Peter and John as well as many others like Daniel, took a stand and God honored their stand.  They chose God’s way over man’s way. The guiding principle is to obey the installed government until such time comes that it dishonors the Law of God given through Moses.

Now the reason why. The world is watching how we act, react, and respond. Our prayer must be that offered by the believers when Peter and John returned: “Lord, pay attention to their threats, and grant to your servants to speak your message with great courage.” Jesus is our prime example who when reviled did not revile in return. Paul and Jesus lived under monstrous rulers and yet they obeyed and encouraged us to do the same. We are then brought back to this Tit 2:12  “live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age,” and how Romans began “The righteous will live by faith.”

My conclusion is this: May God grant us wisdom to live righteously this day and the days ahead.