Discussion

Posted in Your Jesus Daily

Thump-Thud, Thump-Thud

Thump-Thud, Thump-Thud

Today’s Scripture: “Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father?” Hebrews 12:5

When a potter bakes a pot, he checks its solidity by pulling it out of the oven and thumping it. If it “sings,” it’s ready. If it “thuds,” it’s placed back in the oven.

The character of a person is also checked by thumping. Been thumped lately?

Late-night phone calls. Grouchy teacher. Grumpy moms. Burnt meals. Flat tires. You’ve-got-to-be-kidding deadlines. Those are thumps. Thumps are those irritating inconveniences that trigger the worst in us. They catch us off guard. Flat-footed. They aren’t big enough to be crises, but if you get enough of them, watch out! Traffic jams. Long lines. Empty mailboxes. Dirty clothes on the floor. Even as I write this, I’m being thumped. Because of interruptions, it has taken me almost two hours to write these two paragraphs. Thump. Thump. Thump.

How do I respond? Do I sing? Or do I thud?

Jesus said that out of the nature of the heart a man speaks (Luke 6:45). There’s nothing like a good thump to reveal the nature of a heart. The true character of a person is seen not in momentary heroics but in the thump-packed humdrum of day-to-day living.

If you have a tendency to thud more than you sing, take heart.

The true character of a person is seen not in momentary heroics but in the thump-packed humdrum of day-to day living.

There is hope for us “thudders”:
1.     Begin by thanking God for thumps. I don’t mean a half-hearted thank-you. I mean a rejoicing, jumping-for-joy thank-you from the bottom of your heart (James 1:2). Chances are that God is doing the thumping. And he’s doing it for your own good. So every thump is a reminder that God is molding you (Hebrews  12:5–8).

  1. Learn from each thump. Face up to the fact that you are not “thump-proof.” You are going to be tested from now on. You might as well learn from the thumps—you can’t avoid them. Look upon each inconvenience as an opportunity to develop patience and persistence. Each thump will help you or hurt you, depending on how you use it.
  2. Be aware of “thump-slump” times. Know your pressure periods. For me Mondays are infamous for causing thump-slumps. Fridays can be just as bad. For all of us, there are times during the week when we can anticipate an unusual amount of thumping. The best way to handle thump-slump times? Head on. Bolster yourself with extra prayer, and don’t give up.

Remember, no thump is disastrous. All thumps work for good if we are loving and obeying God.

Posted in Your Jesus Daily

Friends In Action

Friends In Action

Today’s Scripture: “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13 (NIV)

What makes a good friend? Someone who runs errands for you when you’re sick? Who takes your kids off your hands when you need a break? Who sits with you over a cup of coffee and listens? Someone you can count on to see the latest chick flicks with you? Someone who challenges you to be a better spouse, parent, and follower of God?

In each of these examples, we see friendship taking an active form. As I have studied the Bible, I see three instances of friendship in action. Job 2:11-13 shows us how Job’s friends came to help him as he faced hardship. Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar dropped everything to go comfort their friend — even if it was just to sit silently beside him. They knew that just their presence and willingness to listen would comfort him.

Acts 28:15 gives us a glimpse into how just the sight of trusted friends can encourage us. Paul’s friends heard he was coming so they traveled a great distance to greet him. For Paul this was a huge blessing. Sometimes just knowing someone is willing to make an effort on your behalf will put wind in your sails. I love that Paul first thanked God for his friends. I want to remember, like he did, that friends are a gift from God.

Acts 12:12-19 tells us how Peter’s friends couldn’t be with him because he was imprisoned. But that didn’t stop them from doing what they could. They gathered together to pray. The King James Version of Acts 12:5 says that they were literally praying “without ceasing.” These friends knew that corporate prayer was an action they could take on behalf of their friend who needed them.

Whether we physically go to our friend’s side or spiritually partner with them in prayer, we can look to these examples from the Bible as to how to be friends in action.

In a society that is more and more driven to social media, texting, and emailing as a way to stay connected, we cannot overlook what taking physical action in real time can mean. We can be active in faith, in love, in joy, in kindness. We choose to act because we understand that we are God’s hands and feet to those He puts in our lives. Yes, it takes extra effort, time, and even money to be an active friend. But the blessings outweigh the effort as we live according to the examples God has given us.

Dear Lord, help me to be a friend who takes action. When You lay someone on my heart, help me to feel a sense of urgency to move on their behalf. Help me to follow these Biblical examples and be a friend in action, not just in thought. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

 

Posted in Your Jesus Daily

When Faith Wavers

When Faith Wavers

Today’s Scripture: “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.” James 1:5-8

If we believe that God is who He says He is and will do what He has promised, why do so many of us habitually waver in our prayers? Instead of exercising bold faith, we come to the Lord “hoping” He will hear us and answer our requests, but we’re just not sure He will. With this kind of thinking, we cannot expect to receive anything from Him.

One reason we are so prone to doubt is that we fail to see God at work in our circumstances. We asked, and nothing happened. But the Lord is not some cosmic bellhop who jumps in response to our requests. He sees past, present, and future and knows the right time for every answer. His invisible hand is already at work on our behalf—arranging situations to accomplish His will, opening hearts,
and preparing us to receive what He wants to give.

Another cause for uncertainty is ignorance. If we don’t know God’s ways, we will be disappointed in His response. All too often our prayers are accompanied by expectations of how He will work. When He fails to intervene according to our timetable or anticipated method, we start to doubt. But placing our faith in the Lord and trusting in His good and perfect ways gives us stability as we wait for His answer.

To overcome doubts, spend time in the Word to learn God’s principles and ways. Then you’ll begin to grasp what He wants to achieve in your life and how He goes about it. Examine your past from a biblical perspective—faith will grow as you see the unexpected ways He answered your prayers.

 

 

 

Posted in Your Jesus Daily

Strength and Encouragement

Strength and Encouragement

Today’s Scripture: “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” Philippians 4:13

It is not uncommon in human experience to run up against things that are bigger than we are, that we simply cannot overcome in our own strength. It may be a lust that threatens to consume us, an addiction that repeatedly overcomes us, a resentment that is growing inside us, or a sorrow that seems to paralyze us.

It is also not uncommon to try to grit our teeth, hunch our backs, and seek to make it through by shear determination. We tell ourselves we can overcome if we just try hard enough. Isn’t that what being a good Christian means?

Yet here is the mighty apostle Paul admitting that his strength does not come from himself, or from his own willpower. He is not trying to do it on his own. Rather, he is looking to Jesus Christ for the power and deliverance he needs.

How can you make it through this trial? Through Christ. How can you overcome that temptation or addiction? Through Christ. How can you rise above your grief or depression? Through Christ. There is nothing that you cannot do through the strength that Christ has promised to you. Turn to Him, beloved, and find for yourself the confidence, the joy, the strength that Paul found through Christ.

Posted in Your Jesus Daily

The Power of Patience

The Power of Patience

Today’s Scripture: “Even though we speak like this, dear friends, we are confident of better things in your case—things that accompany salvation. God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, in order to make your hope sure.  We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.  When God made his promise to Abraham, since there was no one greater for him to swear by, he swore by himself, saying, “I will surely bless you and give you many descendants.” And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised.”  Hebrews 6:9-15

Picture yourself waiting in a checkout line that hasn’t moved for ten minutes. Many of us would feel frustrated. We live in a generation that expects instant results.

Everyone struggles with some degree of impatience. We’re born with this trait—think about a three-month-old who wants milk in the middle of the night. The inborn reaction is to fuss at the first hint of discomfort and to keep at it until the need is met. Patterns from our old “flesh” nature make this a continual battle for most people, but one that is very worthwhile to fight.

Let’s consider the biblical definition of patience. It can mean both longsuffering and perseverance, or not giving up and yielding under pressure. In either case, it reveals itself when we are willing to wait without frustration while suffering or experiencing some strong desire. In other words, we accept difficult situations without giving God deadlines. What’s more, patience means accepting what the Lord gives, on His timetable—or what He chooses not to give. This quality results in inner peace and lack of stress. Meanwhile, we should pray, obey, and persist as we seek God’s direction.

The danger of impatience is that we might miss the Lord’s perfect plan and His blessing. Only when we trust our Father’s will and timing can we rest peacefully.

What causes you stress? Carefully examine whether you are taking matters into your own hands or releasing the circumstance to almighty God. Listen to Psalm 37:7, which says, “Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him.” Seek His way and His timing. Anything else can be destructive.

 

 

 

Posted in Your Jesus Daily

That Nagging Sense of Dissatisfaction

That Nagging Sense of Dissatisfaction

Today’s Scripture: “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare.”  Isaiah 55:1-2

Have you ever found yourself standing in front of the refrigerator, trying to find something to satisfy a vague sense of emptiness or discontent? You aren’t looking for anything specific, but you know you want to fill a longing. Whatever you choose will probably not do the trick, because the empty spot is not in your stomach but in your soul.

Whether the substance is food, career, possessions, or relationships, our souls are continually trying to find satisfaction. But nothing in this world will fill the void. Since we were created for relationship with God, He placed deep within us a yearning for Him. Though we may not recognize it as such, everyone knows the feeling of dissatisfaction that at time seeps into our souls. Whenever we attempt to find fulfillment with worldly substitutes, disappointment and disillusionment are sure to follow.

There are two possible menus from which we can choose to fill our empty souls. Satan’s menu is long and full of enticing things that seem to promise fulfillment and pleasure. These could include relationships, prominence, acceptance, riches, or recognition. Whatever he offers looks like the good life that will bring contentment, but it’s a deception. But God’s menu is quite small. In fact, it lists just one “item”—Jesus. He is the only one who can fill the void.

What are you pursuing in life? Have you found the satisfaction you seek, or is there always a vague sense of discontent in your soul? If you’ll give Jesus a bigger place in your life and spend focused, unhurried time with Him, He’ll satisfy you as nothing else can.

 

 

 

Posted in Your Jesus Daily

Communion With God

Communion with God

Today’s Scripture: “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death.” Philippians 3: 10

God created men and women to be in a relationship with Him. The type of communion Adam and Eve first enjoyed with Him was meant for us as well. Then sin entered the world and everything changed. God’s intended intimate relationship with mankind was broken, and it has been passed down through the generations in that damaged condition.

But, as we know, that’s not the end of the story. God sent His Son Jesus to die in our place so our sins might be forgiven and our relationship with Him restored. Through faith in Christ, we are adopted into God’s family and belong to Him forever—just as He originally meant for it to be. He has provided us with everything we need to experience intimacy with Him.

So what happens if, following salvation, new believers never go deeper? Some may drift away from their initial zeal for the Lord, failing to make Bible reading or church attendance a regular occurrence. Perhaps others try to focus on the Lord but allow earthly matters to distract them. Over time, some Christians settle for what’s comfortable and familiar. Sadly, they will miss out on the deep contentment God wanted to provide. Yet those who make Jesus the priority of their life will have a deepening relationship that transcends any earthly one.

Communion with God made King David “fully satisfied as with the richest of foods” (Psalm 63:5). Paul viewed his accomplishments as nothing in comparison with “the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:8). Draw near to your Father, and experience the blessings of knowing Him.

 

Posted in Your Jesus Daily

A Thirst For God

A Thirst for God

Today’s Scripture: “O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.  I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory. Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you.  I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands. My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you. On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night. Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings.  My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me. Psalm 63:1-8

A personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ has the potential to be more intimately satisfying than any earthly connection. King David recorded his experience in Psalm 63. Our heavenly Father wants to have a loving bond with us just as He did with David.

Making a firm commitment to know Him is the first step, which takes priority above all other matters. David described his passion to know God as an intense thirst (Psalm 68:1); the apostle Paul likened his dedication in pursuing the Lord to a race (Hebrews 12:1-2). When we pledge ourselves to the lordship of Christ and seek after Him with our hearts and minds, we will find our souls becoming satisfied.

Once we resolve to follow diligently after the Lord, our next step is to spend time in His Word. The Bible is God’s revelation of Himself and His plan for the world. Making time to read and meditate on Scripture is essential for every believer. That’s how we learn who God is, how He works, and what He desires for us and for the body of Christ. When we strive to know and understand a biblical passage, the Holy Spirit will make the meaning spring to life. God is pleased by followers who make it their goal to deepen their relationship with Him.

Dedicating time to knowing and experiencing God is a critical step toward a satisfying walk with Him. Begin today by making a pledge to pursue Him more diligently and taking time in your schedule for regular study and prayer. Your heavenly Father is waiting to meet with you.

 

 

Posted in Your Jesus Daily

Questions in Times of Great Disaster

Questions in Times of Great Disaster

Today’s Scripture: “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the LORD. “And My ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.  For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so My ways are higher than your ways and My thoughts higher than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9

Whenever a great disaster strikes, legitimate questions spring to mind. Why does the Lord let such things happen? Couldn’t He have stopped this? Doesn’t He care? The magnitude of death and destruction caused by earthquakes, tsunamis, or floods strips away all the everyday thoughts that normally occupy our minds and causes us to seek explanations for suffering.

Often we answer our own questions based on our relationship with God. Those who know nothing of Him have no frame of reference for understanding how He works. However, believers in Christ have the Bible to guide them as they wrestle through these issues. But even then, the accuracy of one’s perspective is determined by his or her knowledge of God’s Word. Those with a limited understanding of Scripture may very well come to inaccurate conclusions.

We must guard against attempts at forcing God to act as we think He should. If He does something that won’t fit into the box we’ve designed for Him, we easily become upset, angry, or confused. The Lord will never stay within the parameters we set for Him. Since we are mortal, earth-bound, and sinful, we have a very narrow perspective and understanding of life. But our eternal, sinless, sovereign, and omniscient Creator sees and knows what we cannot perceive.

We want to be sure that our viewpoint of God’s role in natural disasters comes from the Bible, not from our own limited “boxed perspective.” Scripture tells us of the Lord’s love, faithfulness, and wisdom. Whenever we cannot understand His ways, faith in His goodness must be our foundation.

 

 

Posted in Your Jesus Daily

How to Cry Out to God

How to Cry Out to God

Today’s Scripture: “’Yes, come,’ Jesus said. So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. ‘Save me, Lord!’ he shouted.” Matthew 14:29-30

The phone rings, and you answer. A sullen voice informs you of a tragedy. Your heart is so heavy that you feel as though you could die. What do you do?

Bad news, danger, and pain all cause us to look for help. As believers, we dwell with the almighty God, who is able to aid us. At those moments when we are sideswiped by life’s circumstances, we should cry out to Him.

In the Bible, crying out refers to speaking audibly with great emotion concerning an urgent need. God invites us to use this form of prayer to communicate that we desperately need His mercy.

It takes both faith and humility to share our heart’s concern aloud. Crying out, then, is a way for God’s children to express trust in the Lord’s ability and willingness to help. By calling upon Him with such urgency, we also lay down our pride and any attitude of self-sufficiency.

The Word of God assures us that our Father hears our cries and responds. In Psalm 3:4, for example, David wrote, “I was crying to the Lord with my voice, and He answered from His holy mountain.” When we call aloud for help in Jesus’ name, we invite His power into the situation. Remember that there is strength in just speaking His name.

When we cry out to God, He may remove the problem immediately, yet we often have to wait for His perfect timing. Harsh circumstances might even be allowed to remain for His good purposes. But we can always count on His comfort and presence, which enable us to live with joy and hope.