Saturday, January 30, 2016

Seeking Pleasure


Seeking Pleasure

What is pleasure? Here is Webster’s definition: "a feeling of happiness, enjoyment, or satisfaction; a pleasant or pleasing feeling; activity that is done for enjoyment, or satisfaction."

Most folks reading this have probably come to understand that God created mankind for His pleasure. Scripture clearly reveals the Creator was well pleased with His handiwork throughout the creation process. It pleased God to form and fashion His greatest work—mankind—in His own image and likeness.

What brings you pleasure?

Have we come to a place where the only thing that really matters is bringing pleasure to the One we were created to please?

Are we living to please the One that created us for His good pleasure? Only then will we experience the fullness of pleasure that He is pleased to give.

Through the process of discipleship, we experience a variety of seasons. Perhaps early in our walk we are focused on the Law and living according to the dictates of our Master. As time progresses, we discover a new appreciation of grace as it is clear that we are nothing and can do nothing of value outside of God’s wonderful grace.

Consider: Man’s ultimate end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.

Obviously, we glorify God by bringing pleasure to Him. In addition, the journey of discipleship becomes more enjoyable as we learn of Christ and seek to follow Him daily. This requires us to come as a child, not someone that seeks to maintain control and authority over our own lives, and not as someone seeking to prove themselves right. Rather, we learn meekness, put on humility, and walk by faith, not sight.

"For it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure" (Philippians 2:13).

Grace & Peace,

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Simplify Your Life


Simplify Your Life

We humans seem to have a tendency towards complicating even the smallest issues of life. This may be traced all the way back to the Garden. God had placed man in Paradise and gave a very clear mandate with "easy-to-understand" instructions. Of course, as most of us know, man was not content simply eating from the Tree of Life. Instead, Adam chose to eat the one fruit that was off-limits, and from that point to the present, things seem to have gotten very complicated. Today, this is evident in the lives of far too many people, particularly the children of God.

Mankind has a propensity towards complicating life. This is most evident in regard to religion. The Lord never intended Christianity to be as hard to understand and experience as many make it out to be. A brief study of the “Sermon On The Mount” illustrates this point quite succinctly. However, we often seem to worry about the things Jesus tells His followers NOT to worry about. We habitually seek that which we do not need and ask for things that can never satisfy.

This is not to say that we should abandon ambition or fail to have a vision, for without vision, we will wander through life aimlessly. Certainly, we are to plan and set goals along the course of our journey. These things ought not be cause for frustration.

The point is this: believers are instructed to be content no matter our circumstances.

"Now godliness with contentment is great gain" (1Timothy 6:6).

The combination of godliness and contentment has tremendous benefits!

Paul continues to elaborate on the topic by explaining how seeking to have the world’s riches can lead us to be driven with lust and may even result in ultimate destruction. Please understand, I have taught on God’s prosperity for over thirty years. It is most definitely God’s will for His people to prosper and have good health.

However, when we place possessing the world’s goods above experiencing His presence, we can soon lose the benefits of the Kingdom (righteousness, peace, joy in the Holy Ghost). Our lives can become twisted, no longer in proper alignment with God’s will. Peace may escape us, and joy is no longer available to give us strength. As a result, we are not “walking in the Spirit,” but rather become slave to the flesh (carnal attributes that are contrary to God).

Apostle Paul reached a station in life wherein he wrote, “I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content.”

One of the keys to contentment is found in simplifying our lives. Stop worrying about things that you really have no control over. Weed out the stuff that is no longer necessary. Evaluate relationships. Invest in things or people worthy of your time, money, and energy. First and foremost, if we will seek God and His Kingdom, all the "things" will be given to us. Seeking God and His Kingdom must become our priority and driving force.

Take time to examine your life. Is there any clutter? Are you seeking the world’s goods above those of the Kingdom? Are you giving thought to things that really do not matter? Are your priorities in right alignment with God?

As we begin a new calendar year, may it be a season of simplicity for the people of God. May we stop allowing the world, the enemy, and people to bring clutter and/or confusion. Let’s focus more on things eternal and less on the temporal.

"Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you" (Hebrews 13:5).

Grace & Peace,

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Here We Are


Here We Are

So folks, here we are at the start of another calendar year!

I am quite sure many of us never thought we would live to see 2016, but we have survived by the goodness and grace of God. It seems fitting to share a few thoughts and insights. I do this with full knowledge that anything good flowing through this vessel is from the Lord, for in myself is nothing of lasting value.

My prayer is that someone, somewhere will glean something that can help along the journey of life and growth as a believer and a follower of Christ. We are all moving along in a flow and are in a place of transition right now. You and I are somewhere between what we were and what we are becoming. There is a process of molding, shaping, and continual development taking place whether we are mindful of it or not.

The Master Potter has begun a good work and will be faithful to complete it as we learn to simply yield to the influences along the path. This involves both the practical and spiritual, or divine experiences we encounter. There are many things that have the power to influence, and thus shape our lives during our journey.

Here are a few gleaned from A.W. Tozer (I have added the content):

THOUGHTS: We would do well to take into account the great power that lies in our thinking. Scripture says, “As (a man) thinketh in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7). How we think and what we think about are very powerful influences in our lives. No Christian has thoughtlessly stumbled into sin without first brooding over the desire for a time. In similar fashion, as we meditate on the Lord, His Word, His will, and His ways, the more we take delight in what is good. Remember: we are responsible for our thought-life as much as the actions that result.

FRIENDS: We may not want to admit it; however, the company we keep influences us all. Yes, we are here to change the world around us, and we all want to believe we are the great influencers of life. The truth is we are both. Therefore, we would do well to consider our circle of friends.

BOOKS: What we read has tremendous power on the way we think. In a very real sense, those printed words are much like a potter, and our mind is the clay. We come under the influence as we surrender our intellect and absorb that which we’ve focused our attention on. Be mindful of the books you read, whether for mere enjoyment or education. The issue is not “how many” books we read. What really matters is the content. It is better to reread a few good books than to read many books of little value.

MUSIC: This can be a point of controversy for some. The truth is, music has a subtle way of conditioning the human mind. It can sway our thinking and influence our will towards righteousness or sin. Music is a powerful, creative force that goes way beyond mere entertainment!

PLEASURES: God has fashioned man to enjoy life. We all require a certain amount of pleasure. It would serve each of us well to consider what brings us pleasure. Sin is always standing at the door to lure us in a direction contrary to righteousness. Our greatest pleasures are found in knowing and doing the will of God. Let’s commit to finding pleasure in His presence and not the temporal things of life.

AMBITIONS: No one has ever accomplished anything without ambition. We see this characteristic demonstrated in the life of every great man or woman of God. It is a powerful driving force and can be routed in a myriad of directions. Ambition compels and empowers us to fulfill vision. It brings passion to get things done. We are responsible for our ambitions. If we are more driven for the things of the world, we end up with nothing. On the other hand, if we are constantly going for the things of God, we can have it all.

In conclusion, let’s be mindful of the things that truly influence our lives this year. Make adjustments where needed. I want to add one more point as we embark on another year together . . . let’s learn to SIMPLIFY our lives! Too many of God’s people are living complicated lives that seem to rob them of the simple pleasures the Lord has provided. Christianity was never intended to be complicated. Rather, God made it so simple that even you and I can enjoy the journey from the cross to the throne.

There will be more about that next time.

Until then . . .

Grace & Peace,