August 19, 2016
“Delight yourselves in the Lord; yes, find your joy in Him at all times.” Philippians 4:4
Misery is optional even though pain and suffering are inevitable. Those words were written by a man who lives with excruciating pain every day. How can misery be optional for someone in pain? How is it Paul can mention joy 17 times in a short letter he wrote from prison?
For those who experience and express the fruit of the Holy Spirit, who have a relationship with the risen, living Christ, there is a joy that is not controlled by circumstances.
The peace Paul experienced and prescribes for you and me can be called the peace that doesn’t make good sense. It is a peace that “transcends all understanding.” (Philippians 4:7) The joy of which Paul writes can be called the happiness that doesn’t make good sense. This is true because this peace and joy are the fruit and evidence of the Spirit Who lives in us and they are not controlled by our circumstances. What is the foundation of that joy? According to Paul, that foundation is the Lord. We are to delight ourselves in the Lord and find our joy in Him at all times.
What is the foundation of your serenity and joy? If it’s your spouse, children or special human being with whom you have a relationship, then the foundation of your serenity is very fragile. There is no relationship on earth you cannot lose.
If the foundation of your serenity and joy is your health and athleticism, I bear witness to the sad reality that you have an extremely fragile foundation for your peace and happiness. Thousands of people, who had a physical orientation around which their lives revolved before illness or injury destroyed that foundation, will join me in warning you that health, athleticism and youth are fragile foundations for joy and happiness.
Jesus commended Mary when her sister Martha was upset because she chose to sit at His feet and hear His Word rather than help with dinner preparations. With much love for Martha, Jesus said, “Mary has chosen the good part that will never be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:38-42)
When Paul writes his words about joy, he agrees with what Jesus told Martha about Mary, and he directs us here to a foundation for serenity and joy that is not fragile: “Delight yourselves in the Lord; yes, find your joy in Him at all times.”
Like Mary, you should prioritize a regular structured time in the Word of God before you enter into the rush and whirlwind of another day in the marketplace. Time in the Word is like sitting at the feet of Jesus. The communion with Him you can experience will never be taken away from you. It will set your sail for whatever adverse winds may blow against you that day.
Dick Woodward, Marketplace Disciples (p. 188-190)
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Posted by Dick Woodward
August 2, 2016
“And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.” (1John 4:21)
In this love chapter of the Bible, John gives us 10 reasons we must love. His last reason is that we have been given a commandment by Jesus that we are to love one another. When Jesus was about to leave the apostles by way of His death on the cross, He gave the apostles this New Commandment.
Jesus explained in that same setting that this would only be possible because He was sending the Holy Spirit. He used a word for the Holy Spirit that means: “One who comes alongside of you and attaches Himself to you for the purpose of assisting you.”
In our culture the concept of a commandment is lost for many people because we are so democratic in our values. The closest we come to understanding the meaning of this word is in our military training. When my youngest brother was in training for the Marines the order was given that the smoking lamp was out – which meant no smoking. In defiance he lighted a cigarette. His Marine drill instructor ordered him to bury that cigarette in a grave six feet deep.
When he reported to the drill instructor all covered with mud and sweat, the instructor asked if he had buried the cigarette pointing north and south or east and west? When he wasn’t sure he was told that he had to do it again the next day and make sure it pointed north and south. The next time the no smoking order was given do you think he lighted another cigarette?
Do you get the full weight of the commandment that we must love one another?
Dick Woodward, 06 August 2010
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Posted by Dick Woodward
April 7, 2015
“What do you have that God hasn’t given you? And if everything you have is from God, why boast as though it were not a gift?” (I Corinthians 4:7 NLT)
We would all do well to take a few minutes to think about and answer this intriguing question presented by the Apostle Paul. Can you think of anything you have that you did not receive from God? Can you think of all the wonderful things you have received from God? According to the Bible our salvation is a gift from God. The faith it takes to receive salvation is also a gift from God. As Paul has implied, as we do a gift inventory we will find that God has given us many kinds of gifts.
Our DNA proves that God has given us a physical identity that is unique and different from every other person living on the planet. Physically, there is not now, there never has been, and there never will be any one exactly like you. God has also given us intellectual gifts that equip us to live smarter, not harder.
When we receive the gift of faith that saves us, God also gives us the gift of the Holy Spirit. When we receive the Holy Spirit God adds a cluster of spiritual gifts that enable us to minister in many ways. For example, He gives gifts of mercy which enable us to love those who are hurting with great compassion. He gives the gifts of knowledge, wisdom, and teaching that make it possible for us to teach the Word of God. He gives many gifts that equip us to lead others to Christ.
Today, make a gift inventory and thank God for all the gifts He has given you!
Dick Woodward, 07 February 2012
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Posted by Dick Woodward