Monday, December 3, 2012

Think On These Things: Joy

Is joy the same as happiness? I think not. There are times we use the two synonymously. But it seems to me that joy is the deeper of the two. There are times when we can and should joy or rejoice while we are having trials and troubles. During such times we are not delighted or happy that we are having a hard time. But we have a deep settled peace that all is well between us and God despite our present plight in life. In other words, we can have joy in our souls even when we are not happy about our circumstances.

The New Testament epistle of Philippians has been accurately called the epistle of joy. In the book different forms of the words joy and rejoice appear eighteen times. “Rejoice in the Lord always; and again I say rejoice” is the theme of the book the apostle Paul wrote while he was in prison for preaching the gospel. He was well aware of his situation and that of those to whom he wrote but still said, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice” (Phil. 4:4). The Old Testament prophet Nehemiah was led of God to remind the Israelites of old that the Lord God’s joy was their strength (Neh. 8:10).

It is Christmas time! One of the most popular Christmas carols is “Joy to the World.” The message of that beautiful carol is the reminder that no matter what God allows to happen to us or His world, we need to truly rejoice that Christ came and died in our place.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Think on These Things: God’s Grace

The grace of God is defined universally as the unmerited favor of God to mankind. But the fact is that God’s grace is even more than unmerited favor. This is why. Suppose a tramp, a homeless person, knocked on your door and begged you for food and you gave him some. That would be kind of you. But suppose you discover that that person robbed you, stole from you, and you still give him food. That would be an example of grace. So God’s grace is not simply unmerited favor; it is favor shown despite positive demerit in the one receiving it.

God’s grace, His mercy, and His love form a trilogy of three of His attributes. Here is a good way to remember these three and how they relate to each other. Imagine looking at a triangle. At the top point is love, on the left at the bottom is mercy and on the right is grace. From God’s love, mercy and grace flow. His mercy has to do with His withholding of deserved judgment. God’s grace, on the other hand, extends undeserved favor toward those who really deserve His judgment.

Because God is love, He bestowed His mercy and grace at Calvary. We who have all sinned and continue to sin can be forgiven and made recipients of His wonderful and marvelous grace in salvation.

Annie Johnson Flint described God’s grace beautifully: It “has no measure; for out of His infinite riches in Jesus He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again.”

Monday, October 1, 2012

Think of These Things: Hope

I hope you are informed and challenged by this piece. That is my desire. Some of you may be more informed and challenged while others may not be. The word “hope” in my first sentence is used as a verb. In the Bible the word is sometimes used that way. But it is also used in the Bible as a noun meaning hope for the believer is a certainty, not just a desire.

The difference between these two usages is very important. I want to stress here the certainty and assurance that the child of God’s hope is God Himself.

Here are some of the passages where this is emphasized. The Psalmist wrote of God, “For you are my hope” (Ps. 71:5). Jeremiah the prophet called upon Jehovah-God Himself as “the hope of Israel” (Jer. 17:13). The apostle Paul called God “the God of hope” (Rom. 15:13). As he gave his testimony to the Colossian Christians, Paul made it very clear that Christ was their Hope. He reminded them that Christ Jesus who was in them was their Hope (Col. 1:27). To his young son in the faith Paul made sure that Timothy understood that Christ Himself was his and Timothy’s Hope (1 Tim. 1:1). To Titus, another one of the apostle’s converts, he wrote in anticipation of Christ’s return as the “blessed hope” (Titus 2:13). The believer’s Hope is a “living hope,” not simply his desire (1 Pet. 1:3).

So Christ is the believer’s Hope! What a wonderful truth that is. Think about it. We need not hope He is our hope. He already is the Hope of all who trust Him as their Sin-bearer.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Think on these Things: Peace

What does it mean to be at peace? Does it mean that someone who has peace is a happy person? No, a “happy” person is a joyful person but not necessarily content. He or she who is happy is a person who is not sad or downcast. Instead, the happy person is delighted with his/her present situation in life. They feel good about themselves, others, and their situation in life.

Peace is in some contrast to happiness. A person who is experiencing peace is a person who is content. Peace and contentment are synonymous. They go together. When we experience peace, we are content. We are at rest with ourselves and those around us, but not necessarily happy all the time. Benjamin Franklin is reputed to have said: “To be content makes a poor person rich, but to be malcontent makes a rich man poor.”

God’s peace, the Bible tells us, passes all understanding and keeps our hearts and minds through Christ (Phil. 4:7). There is a difference between the peace of God and the peace with God. God is the God of peace whether one is a Christian or not. He is by His very nature in possession of divine peace. Paul the apostle told the believers in Rome that because they were justified, or declared righteous, by God, they also had made peace with God (Rom. 5:1). What wonderful truth that is. There is nothing better than to be at peace with God Almighty. All who have made peace with God also have the peace of God available to them.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Think on These Things

What are you thinking about right now? To put the question another way, What's on your mind? What we think about has a whole lot to do with how we behave. Before ever an act–good or bad–is performed, we give some attention to it, sometimes more than other times.

In the Bible "mind" and "heart" are sometimes used interchangeably. They are not the same but do work together, and the context in which they are used helps us to understand the meaning. Believers are told to set their affections, their mind, on good things, things not displeasing to God (Col. 3:2). The apostle Peter told his readers to "gird up the loins of your mind" (1 Pet. 1:13). He wanted the people to adjust their thinking so that they would be prepared to be used by God.

Satan loves to get us to think thoughts not pleasing to God. He deceives and apparently knows our weaknesses. The big question is, How can we be victorious in our thought-life?

Here are some suggestions that I trust will help you in the area of gaining control of your thoughts before they get control of you. Try to get proper rest. Fatigue of body and mind hinders spiritual growth. When a bad thought not pleasing to God comes to you, remind yourself of something from God's Word. Do not be afraid to tell the devil to get out of your mind. Guard your heart and mind. Verbalize a truth about God. Good thinking!