Word of the Day

Joy for Today

Nehemiah 8: 10               NIV

Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.

My YMCA has a scripture bowl in the entrance. As I leave, I like to grab a slip of paper from the bowl for a bit of inspiration. Yesterday, I dipped my hand in and came out with Nehemiah 8: 10. As I read it, I threw my hands in the air because I was really tired from my workout and I needed some strength. It blessed me.

Like all scripture, the initial impact was wonderful, but it kept ministering to me all day and all night. That is when I realized there are times when I have been bone weary right down in my Spirit and this verse is just what the doctor ordered for those times. You have had those times too. There are times when the smiles seem far away or superficial. Inside your gut you only find stress and anxiety. That is when you need the joy of the Lord.

As you get older it is easy to grow weary. You get tired of fighting the same old battles and the new shape of the world is wearisome. Some people don’t want to live a long time because they are just tired, sick and tired. That is when we absolutely need the joy of the Lord to give us strength and life. It must flow out from our spirits. How do you minister to yourself in those times? Where do you find the joy of the Lord?

Simply being thankful is a beginning. Remind yourself of all the good things the Lord has done for you but don’t stop there. That is yesterday’s oil. Truth be told. You need God right now, here in the present. In these times I have to put on praise music and let the joy build from within. The music reminds me of scriptures that bless my heart and puts Jesus’ face back in front of my eyes. My other keys are my daily devotions and reading my Bible but the biggest booster shot for me is praying in tongues. There is nothing quite as energizing for me as praying in the Spirit. Now if you are one of those really cool people, maybe you can sing in the Spirit. Talk about filling up the tank. That is a great way to go.

Usually when I find myself worn down, it is in part because my gaze has wandered from his face to the situation in the world around me. It doesn’t take long for the world to get you down. Just an instant, in fact. However, as we remain in the Father’s presence on a more continual basis, we build up joy and that joy resists the troubles of the world. It prevents us from being so impacted by those things. I need Jesus in my life daily. If I don’t spend time with him, the strength within me begins to wane. I need his anointing speaking into my life daily.

It is easy to get run down and overwhelmed. It is our responsibility to keep our tanks full and it only takes me a day or two of neglect to start running on fumes. How about you? The joy of the Lord will strengthen you, but you have to make deposits of his presence. It’s not thoughts of the Lord or even promises of the Lord which will give you strength in the day of need. It is his joy deep within you which comes from having spent time with him. Fill up your tank today for you are sure to need it tomorrow.

Unfair

Romans 12: 17 – 18

Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.

There are some verses in the Bible that, frankly, it would be more comfortable and convenient if God would remove them. And that is the problem with being a Bible person, you must deal with the uncomfortable one’s and you must do so honestly. This verse is one of those unpleasant scriptures.

Face it, there are times in life when someone just does you wrong. It is bewildering. Perhaps you have always been nice to that person. Maybe you are the only one who does treat them well but then they act out to you. You deserve better but this is what you get, a rude, ugly person who seems intent on making your life miserable. Well, join the club and be in good company because we have all had to deal with these unlovely folks.

When you encounter one of these people, just look to Jesus. He certainly had to deal with persecution. All he wanted to do was to love people and help them. He said that he came to earth to give us a good life (see John 10: 10 Amp.). Look how people hated him and how they treated him. Even his own family called him crazy and wanted to have him put away as a lunatic. And yet, in the midst of being hated, in the midst of being ill-treated he gave up his life for those people. When we didn’t love him, when we loved our sin rather than him, he laid down his life for us. Can you hear that truth at a deeper level today? While you hated God and didn’t love Jesus, they gave all they had for you.

So how are we to treat the ugly people in our lives? Now you understand why I don’t like this verse. God has called me to love them in an active (rather than passive) way even when they are being mean and ugly to me. It’s not fair God!!! No, it isn’t fair but it wasn’t fair when He put His son on a cross for us either. We must do our best to love these folks into the kingdom of God.

Look, Christianity isn’t easy, who said it was? And it is not a religion. It is a lifestyle, a way of being but that doesn’t even begin to say it all. It really is like our DNA gets changed when we give our lives over to God. We are aliens in this world. This is not our home. We are different and we are supposed to behave differently than the world. We are called to love those who revile us rather than fight them or have our revenge. We are supposed to perform acts of love to those who maltreat us. Does that make sense? Not if you think as the world thinks but if you will turn your face to God and let Him minister to you and through you, you will find that He will give you the strength to love the unlovely. He will even give you joy in the doing. I don’t know how He does it, but it is true. Once you quit fighting with Him about the fairness of the thing and complaining about how they treated you, then He can begin to show you His way of thinking. And He will reward you for your obedience. I think obedience is its own reward, but that is not His way. He likes to pour out a blessing on you. It is just His nature.

I know that what I am proposing to you today is difficult and I know all of the arguments about why it’s not fair and doesn’t feel right. I have felt all of the emotions, made all the claims, but now I know the truth. The only way these unlovely people are going to change is through the love of God. It is the most powerful force in the universe and you have been given the right to wield this power. So when you feel like calling down fire from heaven on someone remember what Jesus said to James and John in the same circumstance. “You do not know what kind of spirit you are of” (Luke 9: 55). In other words, you are of the spirit of love, so we move by and through love. Jesus could have French fried those soldiers that drove nails through his hands and feet but instead he prayed for them. He asked God to forgive them. So, pray for those people who are mistreating you. Bake them a cake. Go out of your way to love on them. Speak to them in kindness and forgiveness. I know they don’t deserve it but do something nice for them in Jesus’ name. Make it a gift to him for his kindness. Just pour your love for him onto them. You are going to be amazed at the results. Then write me and let me and let me hear your praise report.

Don’t Shoot the Messenger

Judges 6: 7                   NIV

When the Israelites cried out to the Lord because of Midian, he sent them a prophet.

There are times when we fail to see that the Old Testament stories and experiences hold real life lessons for us. We live in very different times. Most of us have no worries about the Midianites and therefore, have not been crying out to the Lord about them. Perhaps, though, there is something you have been crying out to the Lord about. Maybe there are some people who are a thorn in your flesh. You may have a health or financial need which needs attention. Thankfully, we have learned to pray. For the most part we have even learned to ask others to pray with us. We certainly get the impression from this scripture that the Israelites were praying to God in unison. The good news is, God answered them. He responded.

When the Jews were looking toward heaven for the Messiah, many missed his arrival on earth because they had preconceived ideas of what form their deliverance would take. We, like the Israelites facing Midian, want God to swoop in and in an instant, resolve our problem. Sometimes, though, in fact often, instead of showing His power in a miraculous solution, God sends a prophet. That is not to say that God does not still perform miracles today. He does, but sometimes the answer is not to give us a fish but rather to teach us to fish so we do not end up in the same predicament again.

You may be praying about your health, finances, work, your family or any of a number of things. God will answer you. In fact, He probably already has. The key is in recognizing the answer. God’s answer may have been to send you a prophet.

I have been trying to lose weight for many years. I read the books, did the programs. I exercised. One year I rode my bike 30 miles every morning while being sober about my diet. I didn’t lose much weight even though I rode harder and faster every week. I wished God would just touch me and fix my broken metabolism and balance my hormones, but He didn’t. He sent me a prophet, or two or three. Bit by bit the Father has led me into life solutions. He transformed my life and my weight by leading me into behavioral solutions that I could implement myself. He led me to join the YMCA and He has continued to lead me to diet prophets. I am continually learning more about how and what to eat.

Had he touched me and fixed my problems with a miracle, I would have eventually gotten myself back to the same condition because of the choices I was making. So, sometimes when you pray for something, God sends you a prophet who leads you into the promised land instead of God taking that land for you. Look around you. The Lord may have already sent your answer. He may have sent a person, or maybe a book. Our Lord will never leave us, never abandon us to our problems but He will often send the solution in a form we were not expecting. Don’t be like Israel who killed the prophets. Just because you don’t like what they have to say does not mean they aren’t the life saver you prayed for. Your answer has probably been paraded past you several times. Take some time to relax in the Lord’s presence and become sensitive to His leading. Listen to His voice. Receive His counsel. When you prayed, He may have sent a prophet.

Daydreaming

Psalm 27: 4

One thing I have asked from the Lord, that I shall seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord and to meditate in His temple.

Many years ago, I heard Joyce Meyer say this was her favorite scripture. I was surprised by that statement. Of all the great verses in the Bible, verses filled with promise and victory, why was she so fond of this one? Years later, I get it.

It will not surprise you that this is a psalm of David. David had a different relationship with the Trinity than others we find in the Old Testament, especially. He had a New Testament relationship with Father, Son and Spirit. He seems to be one of the few that had any knowledge, especially a working knowledge, of the Holy Spirit at all. His relationship goes further, though. He trusted God. He had a love relationship with Him.

Here we experience David saying that nothing is better and that he seeks nothing greater than staring at the beauty of the Lord. The longing of David’s heart was simply to hang out with God. What do you suppose David would meditate on? Perhaps his thoughts turned around the beauty, majesty and splendor of the Lord such that he just wanted to sit in the temple and meditate on the Lord’s glory all day.

This is the one thing he asked of the Lord. We all have that one thing which is not a numerical value as much as it is a priority number. What is the most precious thing to you? What is it that you want from God above all things? Is it to stare at His beauty? Probably not. Most of us think differently than David. Most who read this are westerners in thought and philosophy. We have to produce something daily. We can’t just sit around and gaze upon the beauty of the Lord. We say, “Lord, what do you want to DO today?” That is, if we bother to ask at all because we are in a hurry. We are busy, but as I have said before, “Busy is a four-letter word.”

Maybe you can take a few minutes to meditate on God’s gloriousness and grandeur. Maybe you just want to meditate on David’s words to see if you can make any sense of them. It’s kinda deep but I would say this is THE one thing. This is the thing that Jesus would not take away from Mary when Martha wanted her to help with the chores. Being in the presence of the Lord may be the one thing you have been searching for too.

Tree Climbers

Luke 19: 7

When they saw it, they all began to grumble, saying, “He has gone to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.”

This is an interesting story about a tax collector named Zacchaeus. Not only was he a tax collector but he was a chief tax collector. Tax collectors were the most despised and reprehensible reprobates of the time. Jesus couldn’t have found a more despicable person. However, when Jesus looked up in a tree and saw Zacchaeus there, he immediately called to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for today I must stay at your house.” Clearly the crowd was incensed that Jesus would soil himself with the company of a sinner.

We, however, have the advantage of several thousand years of perspective. We know that Jesus was more likely to be found with sinners than with the righteous church people of the day. In fact, the people Jesus showed great disdain for were the Pharisees. That is all fine and well and we can look at this objectively now. The one thing we do not seem to do, though, is to overlay this story, and others, onto modern times. So, I ask you, who are the Pharisees today? Who fills the role in modern society that the tax collectors Zacchaeus and Matthew did in Jesus’ time? When we go through this exercise more light shines on Jesus and this story. We begin to see the fullness of Jesus’ testimony through Samaritans and sinners. It also has a tendency to make us a little uncomfortable for fear that we can all too easily slip into the reviled role of the Pharisees.

This is the one case where you almost want to identify with the sinner. I think I would rather you call me a sinner than Jesus call me a Pharisee. The Pharisees were hypocrites and knew nothing about the love of God. You cannot know God if you don’t know love. The Pharisees were righteous in their own eyes but saw sin in others but in truth their garments were stained with sin. Zacchaeus hosted Jesus for dinner. The Pharisees didn’t. What does that teach us? If you want Jesus to sup with you, take off your Pharisaical robes and get real. Better to be a tree climber than a self-righteous Pharisee. Deal with your own sin and righteousness and don’t worry yourself about Zacchaeus and his problems. Leave that to Jesus. He is able.

Ears that Hear

Psalm 85: 8           NIV

I will listen to what God the LORD says.

Okay, fine, I will listen to what God says. What do you think of this statement? Is this something which you might write or say? Why? Why do you want to hear what the Lord says? What is your expectation? Why do you think the psalmist made this statement? The second part of the verse reads, “he promises peace to his people, his saints.” I like how the NASB phrases this part of the verse, “For He will speak peace to His people, to His godly ones.”

The writers of this psalm demonstrate confidence that they will hear God. I wonder how they receive the word from the Lord. Was it just a matter of being quiet and calm as we learn from Psalm 46: 10 or is there more going on here? Do they inquire of the Lord? What do you do when you want to hear from the Lord?

One method we all can use to hear the Lord is simply to read the Bible. Just by reading today’s verse you see for yourself that it is possible to hear what God says. That can be a mighty big revelation when it goes off in you? God’s voice can be heard in the pages of the Bible and this is a primary way you can hear God speak directly to you. You will see verses come alive right before your eyes.

Another way to hear God speak is through two-way journaling. This can be a valuable tool. I used it today so that I could sort out what was in my own head and what was actually from the Father.
You can also hear the Father speak to your own heart and mind. Sometimes I notice Him because I am involved in something different than what comes into my mind. If I am thinking about X and a thought comes in about Y, it is often because the Father is speaking to me.

He wants to speak to us all. In fact, He is speaking to us. The key is in the hearing. Many times the obstacles are too much noise or too constant a noise in our environment. In other words, we can go days and weeks with little quiet. At one time I had some kind of content playing all of the time. I would listen to preachers on TV while getting dressed in the morning. I listened to yet another in the car. I had constant stimulation at work, and then back into the car for praise music or a teaching CD. You get the point. Even though this was all good content, there was no space for Father to speak, no time when I could hear Him above the fray.

The best tool of all to hear the Father, if you really want to, is to just get still and quiet and ask Him. Talk with Him and let Him reply. You don’t need to talk much. He can carry a conversation. Frankly, He already knows what you are thinking so just give yourself the opportunity to hear Him and you will.

Speak Wisely

Proverb 13: 2 – 3               NIV

From the fruit of their lips people enjoy good things, but the unfaithful have an appetite for violence. Those who guard their lips preserve their lives, but those who speak rashly will come to ruin.

This is right in the middle of many of the things I am thinking about and meditating on right now. If you are a journaler, this verse might make for an interesting question to take to the Father and, I would love to hear what He says to you if you journal it.

As a whole, I think we have failed to grasp how powerful, significant and effective our words are. Preachers have been telling us for years that there is power in our words, for good or for ill. For that matter, I remember PMA speakers and authors telling us forty years ago that our mouths would direct our success.

Our health is in our words, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue” (Proverb 18: 21). Our financial well-being is in our words, and lest I recite every area impacted by the words we speak, shall we just accept that every facet of life reflects the words we have spoken?

I have written on this topic many times and yet I have not fully grasped this principle myself. Upon the occasion of a previous Word of the Day on this subject, one of my friends commented that we need to hear this every week if not every day. It is that important and that easily lost.

It is our words which bind and loose the powers of heaven. Angels will either be loosed into your life or bound by what you say. In like manner, you can give Satan’s imps permission to tamper with your life by those words. The spirit realm responds to what you say. You have authority over your life but how are you using it? Adam and Eve had authority too.

Your body is listening to what you say too. So is your mind. If you say you are old, infirm, or that your body is going to fall apart at some specified age, then you are right. If, however, you say that you intend to be as strong as Moses, Joshua and Caleb until you move to heaven, then that is the truth you will live. If you are speaking nourishing words to your mind, your mind will respond. If you continually spew language of senior moments and confusion, then you are going to talk yourself right into senility.

Wherever you are right now is the result of the words you spoke, or even the good words you didn’t speak, in the past. The good news is that you can change course right now. You can reprogram your body and your mind in the next few moments. What would you like your body to believe? What do you say about your mind? It is your choice. Choose and speak wisely.

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