Monday, April 30, 2018

Devoted to His Teaching - Why We Love Our Bible Classes

Has the good news of Jesus Christ pricked your heart, as it did some 3,000 souls on the Day of Pentecost? Have you genuinely obeyed the command to repent and be baptized, as they did? Are you thrilled to be saved and forgiven, as they were? Of course! So their first priority is now yours as well! “They devoted themselves to the teaching.” See you in Bible class!
Reading: Acts 2:42-47
“You have to go to Bible class. They’re all expecting you. You’re 53 years old. You are the teacher of the class!”
Men’s Retreat. We all shared thoughts and memories of our brother _____ who always headed our retreats until he died last year. The recurring idea? He was devoted – to God, to his wife, to his daughter, to the men of this church. I remember several years ago, he stayed up all night at the retreat to listen to and counsel a friend. He was also relentless when it came to looking for work after American Airlines restructured and lost one of its most devoted employees.
Devoted – it describes a mother staying up all night with a sick child. A teacher who will not give up on a struggling student. A research chemist who invests 80 hours a week seeking a cure for cancer. First responders – police, firefighters, and EMTs – who risk their lives to rescue victims of 911 or another terrorist attack. An athlete committed to qualifying for the Olympics. A political candidate determined to get every last possible vote.
Devote – from the Latin devovere ”dedicate by a vow, sacrifice oneself, promise solemnly,” from de ”down, away” + vovere ”to vow,” from votum ”vow”. In ancient Latin, “act of consecrating by a vow,” also “loyalty, fealty, allegiance;” in Church Latin, “devotion to God, piety.”
In that sense our “devotionals” might be seen, not just as times for informal worship, but also as occasions in which we renew our vows or promises to serve and obey God.
The Greek word rendered “they devoted themselves” is rich in meaning.
προσκαρτερέωa; προσκαρτέρησις, εως f: to continue to do something with intense effort, with the possible implication of despite difficulty—’to devote oneself to, to keep on, to persist in.’
To persist obstinately in, attend constantly, adhere firmly to, persevere, be earnest toward, be constantly diligent, give heed to, be strong toward, endure. To be loyal to someone, to pay persistent attention to.
προσκαρτερέωa: τῇ προσευχῇ προσκαρτεροῦντες ‘devote yourselves to prayer’ Ro 12:12.
προσκαρτέρησις: εἰς αὐτὸ ἀγρυπνοῦντες ἐν πάσῃ προσκαρτερήσει καὶ δεήσει περὶ πάντων τῶν ἁγίων ‘for this reason, be alert and always keep on praying for all God’s people’ Eph 6:18.[1]
proskarteréō. This word finds two uses: 1. with persons “to be devoted to,” and 2. with objects a. “to focus on,” b. “to hold fast to,” and c. “to be in continually.” In the LXX it is a stronger form of karteréō in Num. 13:20. In the NT sense 2.c. occurs in Mk. 3:9 (“to be continually ready”) and Acts 2:4, and sense 2.a. in Rom. 13:6, where the authorities focus constantly on their divinely given task. An instance of sense 1. may be found in Acts 10:7 (the loyal soldier; cf. also Acts 8:13, where Simon Magus attaches himself to Philip). Sense 2.b. is theologically significant in Acts 1:14, where the disciples hold on in prayer. This persistent praying precedes the choice of a replacement for Judas in 1:15ff. Jesus himself prays similarly, e.g., when in nightlong prayer he brings his decisions before God. He directs his disciples to pray in this way (Lk. 11:1ff.) and to persist in prayer (Lk. 18:1ff.), not just observing set times, but enjoying continuing fellowship with God in the obedience and confidence of children. The apostles accept this as part of their primary task in Acts 6:4, and the community as a whole devotes itself to teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread, and prayer in Acts 2:42. Apostolic exhortations to persistence in prayer occur in Rom. 12:12 and Col. 4:2. In proskartereín, then, we find expressed one important aspect of the vitality and power of the NT church.
proskartérēsis. This word occurs only in Eph. 6:18. Perseverance in prayer and intercession is part of the spiritual warfare. Prayer, which has its roots deep in the life and power of God, knits the church together with a firm bond. It is not just a pious discipline but serious work which demands persistence. [W. Grundmann, III, 617–20][2]
Ac 8:13 Even Simon himself believed; and after being baptized, he continued on with Philip, and as he observed signs and great miracles taking place, he was constantly amazed.
Let’s try to put ourselves in Jerusalem, just outside the temple, on the Day of Pentecost. Let’s go through the events from that Passover (when Jesus died and rose) to the time that Peter and the others concluded their preaching to the thousands that were there.
As we do we will discover God’s power and plan for the church. As those who seek to identify ourselves with that original church, belonging to Christ, we commit ourselves to that original, dynamic pattern for growth. The church that follows the Acts 2 model cannot help but thrive, expand, and ultimately take over the world.
The people gathered at that moment were:
Confused. Bewildered, amazed, and astonished by the preaching they heard in their own tongues.
Confronted. Accused of crucifying the One who is Lord and Christ.
Convicted. Cut to the heart!
Converted. Brought to 180-degree repentance and baptism into Christ.
As a result they were:
Consecrated. Devoted to four key behaviors as part of that first church to which they were added.
Their lives were turned upside down. Whatever they were devoted to before they came to Jerusalem was now overcome by their new devotion.
Here are the four:
Learning – Sharing – Communing – Praying
Describe each of these.
We should not be surprised that they were first of all devoted to the apostles’ teaching about Jesus. Having been convicted of their sin and converted to this Savior, they would be irresistibly drawn to hear every word from Him and about Him.
Note what follows their devotion to these four key behaviors.
Awe. Signs. Giving. Meeting. Homes. Rejoicing. Praising. Favor. Growth.
Those results come whenever we today are convicted, converted, and consecrated.
Now let’s talk about what the Scriptures are and what we gain from studying the Bible regularly in our class. In Ps 19:7-9, fill in the blanks regarding the content, source, quality, and effect associated with the Word of God.
Ps 19:7-9
The _______________           Its Content
of the Lord                            Its Source
is ______________,                       Its Quality
_____________________.              Its Effect
The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul.
The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.
The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart.
The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.
The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever.
The judgments of the Lord are true; they are righteous altogether.
We tend to be most devoted to that which we believe has the greatest value or brings the greatest benefit. Let’s note what follows in the rest of Ps 19.
Ps 19:10 They are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb. 11 Moreover, by them Your servant is warned; In keeping them there is great reward. 12 Who can discern his errors? Acquit me of hidden faults. 13 Also keep back Your servant from presumptuous sins; Let them not rule over me; Then I will be blameless, And I shall be acquitted of great transgression. 14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer.
Ps 19:10
More Valuable than Gold
Sweeter than Honey
Ps 19:11
Warning of Danger, Promise of Reward
Ps 19:12-14
Result: Self-Exam, Prayer, and Worship
In preparation for this message I asked the church where I preach to complete this sentence: I am regularly committed to our Sunday morning Bible classes because ...
Here are their responses, listed anonymously and in no particular order.
I am devoted to God and want to please Him in all that I do.  The more I can learn about His Word, the more I can please Him. I enjoy being with my brothers and sisters in Christ every opportunity I have. I enjoy learning from others in the class as well as from the instructor and sharing thoughts and ideas. I enjoy sharing life’s experiences with others whether good or bad, happy or sad. I enjoy building stronger relationships with my brothers and sisters in Christ.
1. Elders have set this time for study. 2. This congregation has the most knowledgeable and capable men teaching that I’ve ever been associated with, and that helps me in my understanding of the scriptures!
1. I always learn something new. 2. They increase my knowledge of God’s Word. 3. I learn how to better apply God’s Word to my everyday life. 4. ____ is a Great Teacher! 5. I learn from the experiences and observations from others in the class.
It provides my wife and me the blessing of studying with a teacher who spent a lifetime, preaching and teaching God’s word and leading the lost to Christ.  His insights and wisdom, enables us to more deeply appreciate, better understand and apply God’s inspired scriptures in our lives. Hearing the word presented by a man who represents God’s word in the flesh, helps us to see and believe that living according to the scriptures is an achievable goal. These sound Sunday classes, coupled with the daily searching of the scriptures as Jesus commanded in John 5:39 and Paul praised the Bereans for doing in Acts 17:11, we will be better prepared to share God’s Good News with others as we journey through our lives. While our shepherds always insure all our teachers are sound men of God, studying with ______ is a special blessing.
I love Bible classes primarily for the particular type of fellowship associated with that form of worship. Certainly learning is a key component. However, it is a learning that allows understandings to be compared and evaluated to help one decide how they are progressing in their ‘walk’ with God. There is a stronger sense of community in the Bible class - I think. 
We are all on many different levels of knowledge and experience. By assembling together to study the Word of God, we allow ourselves to be strengthened by other’s abilities and knowledge. And, we allow others to be strengthened by our abilities and knowledge. Who does not want to learn more about Jesus and eternal life? Who does not want to study more from the source of “…Divine power that gives us all things that pertain to life and godliness”? (2 Pet 1:3)
1. I am strengthened and encouraged in a small Bible study setting. 2. My faith is strengthened with every opportunity I have to be with fellow Christians. 3. It is beneficial to meet and search the scriptures together and learn from group discussion and teaching. 4. It is a privilege and benefit to belong to a body of believers who actually meets for Bible classes. 5. I cannot think of any reason NOT to be committed to Sunday morning Bible classes.
I learn so much from the teacher and the participants in the class.  Many people are required by their jobs to go through continuing education on a monthly-yearly basis.  I consider Sunday morning Bible Class continuing education for me as a Christian.
I get to sit by my favorite person; listening to my favorite Book being taught by one of my favorite teachers!!! 
It is a perfect introduction into Sunday morning worship service. You can never learn too much about the Bible and it gives a more in depth study of the scriptures. Don’t like missing at all.
This is what my parents trained me to do since I was born, and I am so grateful. As an adult, Bible class is where I choose to be because the benefits and growth that come from being in class are too many to count. I wouldn’t want to anywhere else.  Bible classes at this particular congregation are excellent and I look forward to them with anticipation every week, much like a person would look forward to their favorite weekly TV episode!  I am also purposely setting the example for my children that they will also regularly attend Bible class once they are grown and on their own.
1. It helps build my spiritual muscles so that I am better prepared to help and witness to others. 2. Being around my church family helps draw me nearer to God. They support and encourage my growth in Christ. 3. ______ and all of the other wonderful teachers who work so hard every week to bring us such inspirational teachings from God’s Word. I just love my Bible class!
It is an opportunity to study God’s Word & have discussion with other Christians about Scripture. It’s also a time for ‘fellowship with a purpose ‘ which draws us closer to each other in Christ. Lastly, a chance to teach Bible classes is vital to the growth of God’s kingdom & raising children up in the Lord & helping self & others to mature spiritually.
Today I was driving with the kids, and we always seem to have deeper discussions while I’m driving. We were talking about what will happen when Jesus comes. We were talking about the loud trumpets and _____ said that as soon as she hears them, she’s going to run. I told her that she couldn’t run from God. She told me, “no mom, I’m not running from Him. I’m running to Him.” That’s why we are regularly committed to Sunday morning bible class. It cultivates a deeper faith for our family. Our kids are able to be involved, learning a lesson that is relevant to them and one that resonates with them. I think it encourages our kids to have discussions with us. We also feel that if we pick and choose when to go to worship, then we could just become once a week Christians. It never hurts to get together, it only helps.
I want my children to grow up to be committed to Sunday morning Bible classes. I want to set an example to those who are in my classes when I’m teaching them. The same applies to Wednesday night classes as well.
I’ve been pondering the motivation for the request below and will say that I like Sunday and Wednesday Bible classes and really enjoy getting reinforcement of things that I have forgotten from the past (sadly) along with occasional new perspectives on some scripture interpretation. There is a saying that I still use on occasion and it is really a question: “How can we look for answers if we do not know the questions?” So, one of the reasons that I actually like Bible classes is because they sometimes (and often sometimes) help me ask more questions which, to date, have helped me do more digging and enhanced learning. I also enjoy being around people who are interested in learning and committed to Biblical truth. Okay, I also like listening more than talking… oops. I am kind of convinced that many times people are not committed to Sunday morning Bible classes because they really do not have questions or interest in the depth of the truth/reality in the Bible, for whatever reason; or, it is not “exciting” enough - for whatever reason.
Study of God’s Word is a necessary part of the life of any Christian and it is more illuminating, and sometimes more interesting, to study the Bible in a group with my church family.
Close fellowship with family. In-depth study of the word where discussion should and does take place. Smiles/laughs. Prayers. In a nutshell it’s great.
I attend Bible class because the word of God is sweeter than honey to my taste and I am encouraged by those present.
We are interested in learning about the Bible, its contents and its meanings.
I am an assistant teacher for a young children’s class. I love working with the children and teaching them about Jesus.  I try never to miss unless I have to be out of town.  I am committed to being there and get so much enjoyment out of serving our Lord in this way.  I work with ______, and I enjoy her friendship and I think we make a good team!
Possible hymns:
Thy Word is a Lamp Unto My Feet
Give Me the Bible
Restore My Soul
My Eyes Are Dry
Light the Fire
Holy Bible, Book Divine
How Shall the Young Secure Their Hearts?

[1] Johannes P. Louw and Eugene Albert Nida, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains (New York: United Bible Societies, 1996), 662.
[2] Gerhard Kittel, Gerhard Friedrich, and Geoffrey William Bromiley, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans, 1985), 417–418.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Called to Be Saints - 1 Corinthians 12 – Spiritual Gifts – What?

Spirituality and Lordship: 12:1-3
Spiritual _______ …
(gifts, people, things, ideas, attitudes, churches, ministries, activities)
Begin with a Spiritual change …
(leaving pagan idols, practices, and ideals) …
And a Spiritual confession.
(“Jesus is Lord.”)
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Unity and Diversity: 12:4-11
Diversity of …                                From one …
         Gifts  (charismata)                    Spirit
         Services (ministries)                  Lord
         Activities (energies)                   God
Unity of …
         Purpose: “the common good.”
Spectacular gifts have ceased; the principle remains.
Membership: 12:12-13
One body. Many members (working parts).
Rom 12:3-8; Eph 4:11-15; 1 Pet 4:10-11
How to enter? When one is baptized (water and Spirit), the Spirit then brings that one into the body.
Parts work together in the local church body.
1 Cor 1:2 To the church of God in Corinth …
Phil 1:1 To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons …
Belonging – Accountable – Activated – Connected
Working Parts: 12:14-27
You are a part of the whole. 12:14
No one can play your part but you. 12:15-16
Jealousy and friction damage the whole. 12:15-16
No one part can do it all. 12:17
The body’s needs outweigh your own desires. 12:17
You are here because God has a job for you. 12:18
If it’s all about you or me, there is no body! 12:19
You need the body and its other parts; the body and all its other parts need you. 12:21-24
Weaker or unpresentable parts deserve / receive special care and greater modesty. We protect and cover them. 12:22-23
Division in the body destroys it. 12:25
Members have the same care for each other. 12:25
When one members hurts, all hurt. 12:26
When one is honored, all rejoice. 12:26
Health blesses all; friction hurts all.
A healthy body grows as part of its nature.
God’s Assignments: 12:28-31
“God has appointed …” Not, “You have earned …”
First, second, third, … Hierarchy, priority (cf. 12:31).
1 Co 12:28 … first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, various kinds of tongues.
Why this order, with apostles first, etc.?
Which item is last and least in the list?
Rhetorical questions: “Are all …” “Do all …” No!
What is the more excellent, all-surpassing way?

Thursday, April 26, 2018

No-Matter-What Joy

How can there be joy in the midst of pain, grief, and loss? When days are dark and drear, what difference does our faith make? Why do we not despair? The Bible teaches that those who face the direst of circumstances can discover through their trials the most vibrant joy. Their strategy? They look beyond their problems to see the God-given fruit that can result.

Reading: Jas 1:1-4
Visual aid – giant eraser.
There is no doubt that dogs know how to get the most out of life.
Ro 15:13 Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Treasure chest full of gold, then empty.

The Bible recognizes the joys of earthly life. Youth, health, and beauty. Delicious food. Adventure and accomplishment. A wedding celebration. A baby being born. A son coming home. A house. A purchase. A promotion. Received gifts and honors. Jesus talked about finding buried treasure, a merchant with pearls, etc.
Paul and Barnabas to the pagan crowd in Lystra:
Ac 14:17 and yet He did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good and gave you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness.”
So the joys of life are actually evidence of God’s existence and care for all.
But the Bible puts all those joys in perspective. Not as bad or unspiritual things, but as unreliable, insecure, temporary. As no substitute for a deeper joy, an eternal joy, a “no-matter-what” joy.
So, when those earth-related joys are lost, Scripture describes another level of joy, another type of joy, a “no-matter-what” joy.
What is joy? Joy is a deep abiding assurance that God’s presence supports me, His power secures me, His promises sustain me, His peace surrounds me, and His purpose strengthens me.
Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be alright, and the determined choice to praise God in every situation. Kay Warren
1.   Switch the Lens.
Turn off the poor-me channel, the terrible-others channel. Anger, revenge, pride, selfishness.
Not our circumstances, but the way we look at them.  
Joy is not found in what we see, but in the lenses through which we see.
How can we give and find more joy every day?
Joy is an inward quality, not an external quantity.
Joy is evident both in our smiles and in our tears.
Joy is the result of thinking, speaking, and acting as Jesus would and did.
Sin brings short-lived “enjoyment” or pleasure. Heb 11:25
Entertainment cannot provide lasting, genuine joy. It can become an addiction that requires greater and greater doses to bring the same results.
The world offers “the law of diminishing returns.” No wonder depression rises as faith decreases.
Joy is not always found in getting what we want but in letting go of what we don’t need. – Unknown
I have learned to seek my happiness by limiting my desires rather than in attempting to satisfy them. – John Stuart Mill
Joy is a choice. So is misery. By choosing the one we make less room for the other.
In NT Greek the word for “Hello” is “Rejoice!”
Jas 1:1; Acts 15:23; 23:26; Matt 26:49 (Judas); Matt 27:29 (soldiers)
The Greek word for “Good-bye” is also “Rejoice!” 2 Cor 13:11
Do others find joy in our greeting, when they meet us?
When they leave us, do they have greater joy?
The greatest joy is found in giving joy. The Ethiopian “went on his way rejoicing.” You know Philip did, too.
Some say, “I will know true joy when …” The Christian says, “I know true joy because …”
For some joy is the goal. “When I have it, I will …”
But joy is ours now. “Because I have it, I will …”
“A Tale of Two Tails”
2.   Seek the Source.
State where you are looking for joy, and you will know why you have the level of joy you have.
The world says, “The fruit of _________ is joy.”
Country song: “Lookin’ for love (JOY) in all the wrong places …”
The source of joy determines the amount, the value, and the “expiration date” of joy.
Treasures on earth – moth. Rust, thieves.
Bank balance. Physical appearance.
Gary Smalley, in his book, Love That Lasts:
Facebook changes moods, depresses people.
Paradox: The greatest joy is found, not in seeking joy itself, but in seeking God. Joy is proof that we have found Him.
Joy is the fruit of a right relation with God. It is not something people can create by their own efforts.
Whenever I struggle to feel joyful, I choose to reflect on how God always meets my needs. Time after time, I’ve seen God put forgiving love in me right where angry resentment had been half an hour before, simply because I asked him to.
As my relationship with God grows, my love for him becomes more deeply entwined with my gratitude to him. The more I remember his goodness, the closer I feel to his comfort, peace, and presence.
4. Try a Scripture search. Remind yourself of the importance of rejoicing by searching the Bible—both Old and New Testaments—for God’s instructions in this area. It will spur you on to “consider what great things [God] has done for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 reminds us it’s God’s will that we be “joyful always” and “give thanks in all circumstances.”
Ne 8:10 Then he said to them, “Go, eat of the fat, drink of the sweet, and send portions to him who has nothing prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
Jn 15:11 “These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.
Joy is found over 150 times in the Bible. If such words as “joyous” and “joyful” are included, the number comes to over 200. The verb “rejoice” appears well over 200 times.
Open the Word.
Listen. Repeat. Memorize.
Ne 8:9 Then Nehemiah, who was the governor, and Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, “This day is holy to the Lord your God; do not mourn or weep.” For all the people were weeping when they heard the words of the law. 10 Then he said to them, “Go, eat of the fat, drink of the sweet, and send portions to him who has nothing prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
Ps 30:1 I will extol You, O Lord, for You have lifted me up, And have not let my enemies rejoice over me. 2 O Lord my God, I cried to You for help, and You healed me. 3 O Lord, You have brought up my soul from Sheol; You have kept me alive, that I would not go down to the pit. 4 Sing praise to the Lord, you His godly ones, And give thanks to His holy name. 5 For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for a lifetime; Weeping may last for the night, But a shout of joy comes in the morning. 6 Now as for me, I said in my prosperity, “I will never be moved.” 7 O Lord, by Your favor You have made my mountain to stand strong; You hid Your face, I was dismayed. 8 To You, O Lord, I called, And to the Lord I made supplication: 9 “What profit is there in my blood, if I go down to the pit? Will the dust praise You? Will it declare Your faithfulness? 10 “Hear, O Lord, and be gracious to me; O Lord, be my helper.” 11 You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have loosed my sackcloth and girded me with gladness, 12 That my soul may sing praise to You and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to You forever.
Ps 126: A Song of Ascents. 1 When the Lord brought back the captive ones of Zion, We were like those who dream. 2 Then our mouth was filled with laughter And our tongue with joyful shouting; Then they said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.” 3 The Lord has done great things for us; We are glad. 4 Restore our captivity, O Lord, As the streams in the South. 5 Those who sow in tears shall reap with joyful shouting. 6 He who goes to and fro weeping, carrying his bag of seed, Shall indeed come again with a shout of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.
Jn 16:20 “Truly, truly, I say to you, that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; you will grieve, but your grief will be turned into joy. 21 “Whenever a woman is in labor she has pain, because her hour has come; but when she gives birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish because of the joy that a child has been born into the world. 22 “Therefore you too have grief now; but I will see you again, and your heart will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you.
The real secret to “no-matter-what” joy is faith – trust in our “no-matter-what” God. Opening the Word, confessing our struggles, and leaning on Him.
Just ask. When you struggle to obey God in the area of giving thanks, don’t hesitate to ask him to show you how. He’s longing to draw you close, to give you strength for the challenges of every day. So ask for his help. God wants us to have a happy heart as much as we long to be joyful. It’s not all up to us; God’s there, waiting to give us joy.
3.   Grab the Eraser.
Forgive yourself and forgive others.
Burdened with guilt, shame, wrongs you committed and cannot undo.
Weighed down by people who mistreat, reject, and criticize you.
If you have sinned, confess the sin, give it to God, and leave it with Him.
If others have wronged you, leave that with God as well.
Ps 51:8 Make me to hear joy and gladness, Let the bones which You have broken rejoice. 9 Hide Your face from my sins And blot out all my iniquities. 10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me. 11 Do not cast me away from Your presence And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. 12 Restore to me the joy of Your salvation And sustain me with a willing spirit. 13 Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, And sinners will be converted to You.
Lk 11:4 ‘And forgive us our sins, For we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.’ ”
Clean the Closet.
Good Riddance Day.
Remove the junk that has collected in your heart.
Whatever is beyond your ability to help, whatever you wish you could change but can’t, whatever dust and rust and clutter you have allowed to live rent-free in your head – evict it!
Difficult people. Frustrating circumstances. Nagging worries. Baseless fears.
4.   Change the Tape.
Self talk.
I am a child of God. I have a purpose and a future.
Song – Firm Foundation
Fill your mind with music. Listen to, sing, and meditate on music that draws your heart nearer to God and His Word.
5.   Pursue the Prize.
See what can grow out of your trials. Don’t run from trials; run to them and through them!
Oysters have to be irritated by sand to produce pearls.
Sometimes You Win, Sometimes You Learn. – John Maxwell
Jas 1:1 James, a bond-servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes who are dispersed abroad: Greetings. 2 Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4 And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
Ro 5:1 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. 3 And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; 4 and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; 5 and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
2 Co 1:8 For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction which came to us in Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life; 9 indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead; 10 who delivered us from so great a peril of death, and will deliver us, He on whom we have set our hope. And He will yet deliver us,
2 Co 12:7 Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me—to keep me from exalting myself! 8 Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. 9 And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 10 Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.
2 Cor 1
The Christian can find joy in every situation, trial, challenge, opportunity, or crisis. How? He uses it to glorify God and to grow in likeness to Jesus Christ.
When someone breaks a promise …
Or insults us …
When we lose a job …
Or a loved one …
When the church is going through tough times …
When we are tempted …
Or lonely …
Or blessed!
6.   Use the Pen.
Create a “Joy Journal.”
If developing an “attitude of gratitude” is difficult for you, take heart! You’ll be surprised how a little bit of discipline goes a long way toward giving you a joyful spirit. Try these action steps:
1. Start a joy journal. Keep a small notebook by your bed, just for jotting down a few good things God’s done for you that day. This doesn’t take long—especially if you use one or two key reminder words. At the beginning, or on a day when your heart’s heavy, this may take some work. But even on those days, try to come up with three items, minimum. It may help to look back over the other days’ entries to spark thoughts of God’s faithfulness to you. As your thankfulness “skill” develops, this exercise becomes a pleasure.
7.   Offer the Thanks.
1. Express gratitude to three people every day.
Being happy doesn’t require us to turn a blind eye to troubles such as crime and natural disasters. Neither does it mean we chant shallow platitudes such as “Don’t worry, be happy.” Like most attributes we long for (peace, patience, goodness), a happy heart takes root in the discipline of giving thanks. It’s the secret weapon of the joyous Christian.
2. Find something to be thankful for, no matter the circumstances. In every situation, there is something to be thankful for, if only you look for it (1 Thessalonians 5:18). My former coworker really seemed to loathe working in our office. Day after day, her list of verbal gripes grew longer, which didn’t do much for my morale. Finally, I suggested she list what she did like about her job. The next day she surprised me by showing me her list. She admitted she’d been so busy focusing on her grievances, she’d forgotten to notice the good things in the office.
For years I assigned myself the annual task of making a list of “100 things to be thankful for.” I typically find the first 20-30 easy to come up with, then get bogged down in the middle. But all of a sudden I find myself remembering little things that have built my trust and confidence in God. I always manage to come up with 100. Give it a try
All-or-nothing thinking is common when you feel discouraged, but don’t fall into that trap. There usually are a few times, at least, when things go right. So look for the silver lining.
3. Say “thank you” before “please.” When it comes to prayer, don’t jump directly into your list of wants and needs, no matter how pressing those may seem. God loves to hear us appreciate him. Start by praying the way Jesus taught his disciples in Matthew 6:9-13, by honoring God (“Hallowed be your name”). Your praise will naturally include thankfulness for his faithful love, the daily help of his Holy Spirit, and his provision for you.
8.   Lighten the Load.
Join an Encouragement Team. Practice the “Ken Burnett” method.
Ken Burnett was a beloved brother in Keller, Texas. As cancer weakened him until he died, he was on the phone every day calling other people who were sick. They still talk about those conversations.
When you bear another’s burden, your own becomes lighter.
How sad when a person complains that they are not getting enough attention from those around them! “No one calls me.” “No one visits me.” “No one cares about me.”
The devil loves that spirit. Misery spreads and grows like cancer.
I wish that everyone who needs more encouragement would start by giving encouragement. The Encouragement Teams are one method of doing that.
9.   Follow the Son.
Focus on Jesus’ Path to Joy
Heb 12:1 Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. 4 You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin;
Possible hymns:
This is the Day That the Lord has Made
Into the Heart of Jesus
Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee
Heaven Holds All to Me
When He Comes In Glory By And By
I Stand Amazed
Joy to the World