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Christian Living joy

Turning the Key

Photo by Jaye Haych on Unsplash

I was intrigued recently with something DeborahMarie wrote on her blog, Great is God’s Faithfulness. The title of the post was, The Key to Life, and it was all about the choice set before God’s people in Deuteronomy 30:19-20.

Moses challenged them to love, obey and commit totally to God–to choose life over death and blessings over curses. This choice would be the key to life, but God would not make it for them.

OK, I thought. I have the master key to life, but it’s useless until I stick it into a lock and turn it. What motivates me to do that?

I found the answer in another devotional the next morning. Glenn Packiam, writing in Our Daily Bread, shared an article called, Costly Joy. The scripture he spotlighted was Christ’s parable of the hidden treasure.

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.” — (Matthew 13:44)

The author then connects the dots to reveal the secret of unswerving motivation:

“Joy drives change–not guilt or duty.”

Glenn Packiam

BINGO! The Joy of the Lord inspires us to choose and use the key to life.

There’s a great example of this in action in Nehemiah chapter 8. The wall around Jerusalem had just been completed, and all the people came together to worship God. These folks hadn’t been to church or heard the Word in a long time. So when the scribe Ezra read from the Law of Moses, the congregation fell under conviction and began to weep. But Nehemiah said, “Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10

According to the book of Hebrews, it was this same kind of joy that gave Jesus the strength to endure the cross (Hebrews 12:2).

It may have been Friday night, but the Lord knew Sunday morning was coming!

You and I have read the book: God wins.

And winners go out in joy and are led forth in peace (Isaiah 55:12).

“Joy is the reason; surrender is the response. The treasure of knowing Jesus is the reward.”

Glenn Packiam

Whose Joy?

This joy that I have

the world can’t take it away

It belongs to God.

Categories
Christian Blog

# Be Kind

“The wise in heart are called discerning, and pleasant words promote instruction.” Proverbs 16:21 (NIV)

Think back for a moment to your formative years. Was there a favorite teacher or mentor?

Chances are this person was more kind and caring than harsh and demanding.

“The only good teachers for you are the friends who love you, who think you are interesting, or very important, or wonderfully funny.”

Brenda Ueland

The old adage, “A child may forget what you say or do, but they will never forget how you made them feel,” is most certainly true. I’ve seen this first hand as a teacher of young children.

It should follow, then, that coming off as kind is the best social strategy for the rest of the world too.

So why does there always seem to be more 😡 than 😇?

I found at least one answer in my favorite read of 2020: The Power of Bad, by social psychologist Roy Baumeister. The author presses a point that is recognizable by anyone who has been “flipped the bird” in traffic:

Bad behavior often gets more attention than good.

People say and do negative things because it works. The power of this “negativity bias” (bad is stronger than good) is well known.

However, for long term positive relationships, according to Baumeister, a healthy balance—between good and bad—is needed.

Here are a few of my favorite fresh angles from the book:

  • Maximizing the good is important, but we must also minimize the bad. Aim for a 4 to 1 ratio: four times as many good interactions as bad.
  • Don’t focus on being perfect in your dealings with others; just be good enough. Consistently plodding along (being good enough) and keeping your promises does more for you than going the extra mile.
  • The Negative Golden Rule: It’s what you DON’T do unto others that matters most.

Maybe the title of this post should have been, “# Be (relatively) Kind.” 😀

Seriously, being gracious to others may not always be easy, but it’s God’s way of doing things.

“He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.” Ps. 103:10 (NIV)

Perhaps the challenge for today (and every day) is to extend God’s grace to others–whether they deserve it or not.

After all, He has been gracious to us.

“But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy.” Titus 3:4-5a (NIV)

Photo by Lisa Fotios on Pexels.com

Categories
Christian Blog Prayer

Let Down Your Ear

When our oldest son was about four years old, he came up to me one day. Motioning with his little hand he said, “Daddy, let down your ear.”

I knelt down and he told me something–about one of his toys–and I nodded in agreement. But the rest of the day I kept thinking about what he said (let down your ear), until it dawned on me: that’s how it feels sometimes with God! I have something to tell Him, but I can’t tip-toe that high. It’s feels too far. “Father, let down your ear.”

My neighbor is an avid cyclist. One day last year, out on a ride before dawn, he hit the end of a concealed culvert and went over the handlebars of his bike–breaking his neck.

He was care-flighted to a trauma center. Things did NOT look good. Three upper vertebrae were broken when he smashed face first into the pavement, and because he only had limited use of his arms, spinal cord damage was suspected.

I remember thinking, “God, this just can’t be happening. My friend goes on 100 mile rides–just for fun–and now he can’t even feed himself!?”

Our little town quickly mobilized in prayer and support for my neighbor and his family. What a pastor friend calls, “carpet chewing” prayers were going up for my injured friend, but were they reaching God’s throne?

This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.

1 John 5:14 (NIV)

Of course, He hears our prayers, but have you ever been desperate for good news that was slow to come?

“Father, let down your ear!”

My cycling buddy underwent surgery to fuse the broken vertebrae, and after months of physical therapy, made a almost complete recovery. However, he now rides a three wheel recumbent bike (like pedaling a recliner) on orders from his family!


Young children say the most profound things! Their innocent, literal thinking brains aren’t fogged over by adult cares and responsibilities. At times, they even speak for God (1 Samuel 3).

As a line from the song, Thank God for Kids says, “🎶The closest thing to heaven is a child.🎶”

A few months after my son said, “Daddy, let down your ear,” I opened my bible to Psalm 86, and there it was–almost word for word:

Bow down your ear, O Lord, hear me; For I am poor and needy.

Psalm 86:1 (NKJV)

God used a four-year-old to say the same thing King David prayed over 3000 years ago!

Amazing!