Jesus’ Joy

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross… Hebrews 12:2

Have you ever played Scrabble (or any other word-type game), and been trying to make some simple word, when all of a sudden you looked down and realized that you had the greatest word right in front of you the whole time, but just hadn’t seen it?  I LOVE that feeling!  Those are the moments when you pretty much bounce up and down in your chair and pound the table and yell “HAH!  Beat THAT!”… Ok well at least I do.

Anyway, sometimes I find that the same sort of excitement, the same sense of discovering a secret treasure you completely overlooked before, can be found in the reading of God’s word.  It’s like you all of a sudden had a black light turned on and saw for the first time some glowing thing that you’d never noticed before, and it’s incredible.

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Thankful

I am thankful for mornings that I wake up with an aching back.

They remind me of all the other mornings that I don’t.

I am thankful for days when the sky is dark and gloomy.  They remind me that it’s usually bright and sunny.

I am thankful for days when my heart is filled with pain.  They remind me that I am still alive, still breathing, and that most other days are filled with joy.

I am thankful for days when the future is uncertain.  They remind me that I’ve been through uncertainty before, and God has always brought clarity when the time is right.

I am thankful for days when I feel the weight of failure, guilt, and shame.  They remind me that Jesus shed His blood for me, and His love never, never fails.

Anyone can be thankful for good times, good food, good moments with family and friends.  I’m asking God to help me keep a heart of thankfulness, not just through hardship, but for it.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Dancing in the Dark

Like dandelion spores float in the summer breeze, she danced with an easy, effortless grace.

As the music swelled and the people sang, her hair flowed in cascades around her weaving form, the smile on her face like sparkles of sunlight reflected in a stream… joy, unbridled, open, free.

The auditorium was filled to capacity with worshippers, all having come seeking an experience with God, and as the band played and the amphitheater resounded with singing, the dancer was all alone, eyes closed, head back, oblivious to all around her… and she was all but invisible to the crowd.  She was not on stage, but rather off in a corner beside it, seemingly oblivious to all but the music and the Spirit of her Lord.

She was a dancer in the dark.

Some will dance for art, some for attention, some for money or fame, but she danced for one reason only – worship.  Some will “do their acts of righteousness before men”, or play the role on a stage for as long as people watch, but she danced for an audience of One.  For her, the dance was not to be seen, only lived out as an overflow of joy to the One who gave it to her in the first place, and it didn’t matter who saw or didn’t see, for she had only one Person to please.

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It Will Surely Come

For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end – it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.” -Habakkuk 2:3

What comfort in times of waiting! When all around us seems stagnant and dead, when the dream seems to have faded away into nothing, it is then that God extends His assurance, “It will surely come.”

What is at stake with the vision is not just the circumstances at hand.  It is not just your life, your hope, your future that is on the line.  No, it is God’s name and reputation that hangs in the balance, that waits for the vision to be fulfilled.

Does God not look after His people?  Does He not care for His children?  Of course He does!  How much more, then, will He look after the glory of His own name?

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Traitors and Tyrants

“Why do You idly look at traitors and remain silent when the wicked swallows up the man more righteous than he?” -Habakkuk 1:13b

Judas was a traitor, used of God to fulfill His purposes (John 17:12). What of him?

Consider the pagan conqueror Cyrus, “whose right hand I [the LORD] have grasped, to subdue nations [including Israel] before him…” (Isaiah 45:1). What of him?

Think also of the Pharoah of Exodus, of whom God said, “for this purpose I have raised you up, to show you my power, so that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth.” (Exodus 9:16, Romans 9:17) What of him?

What tyranny Pharoah set upon the children of Israel! What hardship came through Cyrus! What betrayal from the lips of Judas, yet all the while it was God, working in the midst of darkness to finally bring forth His light.

To truly have peace in the life of faith, we must be careful to not presume, not only upon God’s ends, but also His means.

A Pink Coat’s Worth

How much is a pink coat worth?

$7.99 on eBay? $94.99, also on eBay?

My friend Ruth brought in this pink winter coat as a part of our last-minute coat drive for children in Moldova. We have only until Wednesday afternoon (November 10th) to collect coats, hats, pairs of boots and donations to send to a ministry serving orphans there for what is predicted to be the coldest winter in 100 years.

How much is a pink coat worth? As much as the life of the child it might save.

Will you help?

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You can bring items by the Gateway Baptist Church offices or by the offices of KAIO Student Ministries, on the campus of First Assembly of God in Fort Myers.

Psalm 41:1

“Blessed is the one who considers the poor! In the day of trouble the Lord delivers him.” -Psalm 41:1

All throughout Scripture we see things like this; promises made that those who do X will receive Y. What do do, then, with the fact that there are many who DO “X” but DON’T receive “Y”?

The more I learn and experience of God’s ways in the world, the more I start to think sometimes we have it backwards. Perhaps in this passage, it’s not a promise that helping the poor will mean you always get out of trouble because you somehow earned it.

Maybe it’s not so much about a guarantee, as much as it is an evidence of a God-filled, Christ-centered life, and that lives like that have His power manifested in them already.

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