Enjoy your life!

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 NKJV

When did you last take time to laugh, to dance, and to love? Can you even remember? In the words of an unknown poet: “This is the age of the half-read page; the quick hash and the mad dash. The bright knight with the nerves tight; the plane hop and the brief stop. The lamp-tan in a brief span; the big shot in a good spot. The brain strain and the heart pain; the catnaps until the spring snaps…and the fun’s done!” Sobering words, right? But does it have to be that way? No, if it’s that way in your life today, chances are it’s because you made it that way. And you’re only one who can make it different! You say you’re busy? We’re all busy. Who says you can’t enjoy life even when the pace picks up? Certainly not God! Chuck Swindoll writes: “I refuse to force hilarity into the back seat every time responsibility takes the wheel. If the fun’s gone, it’s because we didn’t want it around – not because it didn’t fit…I don’t care if your ‘to do’ list is as long as the horizon, you need to get back in balance and take the time to laugh…to dance…and to love. Why? Because the Bible says so! Furthermore, your family and friends will enjoy you a lot more when you do.” The psalmist said, “You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11 NKJV). So go ahead and enjoy your life the way God intended – it will be over before you know it.

Soul food: Ezek 43-45; Matt 24:26-35; Ps 78:32-39; Prov 20:20-21

Stop putting it off

Psalm 90:12 NKJV

In a 1985 newspaper essay, Anne Wells wrote: “My brother-in-law opened my sister’s bureau and lifted out a tissue-wrapped package. It was an exquisite silk handmade slip; the price tag with an astronomical figure on it was still attached. ‘Jan bought this the first time we went to New York…eight or nine years ago,’ [he said]. ‘She never wore it; she was saving it for a special occasion. Well, I guess this is the occasion.’ He put the slip on the bed with the other clothes we were taking – to the mortician. Then he turned to me, ‘Don’t ever save anything for a special occasion. Every day you’re alive is a special occasion!'” Those words changed Anne Wells’ life. She continued: “I’m not saving anything anymore. Now we use our good china…for every special occasion – like losing a pound, getting the sink unstopped, the first camellia blossom. ‘Someday’ and ‘one of these days’ are fighting a losing battle to stay in my vocabulary. If it’s worth seeing, hearing, or doing, I want to see, hear, and do it now. I’m trying very hard not to put off, hold back, or save anything that would add laughter and luster to our lives. And every morning when I open my eyes I tell myself this is a special occasion.” Makes you think, doesn’t it? Makes you want to drain the last ounce of joy out of every day and break free from the cement of procrastination that whispers, “You can do it later.” Wise up! Forgive that offense, tell that person you love them, take that trip, go back to school. Decide today to do the thing you’ve been putting off.

Soul food: Gen 2:7-25; 1 Cor 15:39-55

“Teach me to receive your love”

1 John 4:19 NKJV

We know how frustrating it is to try to give a gift to somebody who keeps refusing it. Insecurity and feelings of unworthiness keep many of us from being good “receivers.” We think we must earn or deserve everything we get. We even go so far as to mistrust the giver and think: “Why would you want to do that for me? What’s your real motive?” Now if we feel that way, imagine how God feels when He extends His love and we refuse it because we feel undeserving, or we’re harboring a false sense of humility. Or worse, we question His motives. The truth is, none of us deserves God’s love. But when He reaches out to you in love, He’s attempting to establish a cycle that will bless you as well as others. His plan is simple. He wants you to: (1) Receive His love. (2) Learn to love yourself in a balanced and healthy way. (3) Love Him in return. (4) Extend His love to those He sends into your life. And learning to do those things takes time – in most cases, lots of it! And just as God did when the Israelites entered the Promised Land, He will help you to conquer your hang-ups “little by little” (See Exodus 23:30 NKJV). Change happens gradually as you continue to pray, read His Word, and act on it (See 2 Corinthians 3:18 NLT). He’s “the author and finisher of our faith” (See Hebrews 12:2). The Bible says God initiated this “good work” in your life and He will complete it (See Philippians 1:6). So today ask Him to help you receive and embrace His unconditional love for you.

Soul food: Ezek 31-33; Matt 23:13-22; Ps 27; Prov 20:5-6

God’s presence sets us apart

Exodus 33:16 NLT

The world expects Christians to be different from those who don’t profess to know Jesus, and that’s as it should be. Believers should set an example when it comes to serving others and showing love. Jesus said, “People will know…you are my followers if you love each other” (John 13:35 NCV). In the Old Testament when the Israelites broke God’s covenant by worshiping a golden calf, Moses pleaded with God not to give up on them. His argument was this: “How will anyone know that you look favorably on…your people – if you don’t go with us? For your presence among us sets your people…apart.” What made Israel unique among the nations was the evidence of God’s presence as He journeyed with them. And God’s presence should set you apart too! When Jesus told His disciples, “I will be with you always” (Matthew 28:20 NCV), He demonstrated His presence through the Holy Spirit who dwelt in and empowered them. So much so, that their enemies said they had “turned the world upside down” (Acts 17:6 NKJV). But as pastor and author Mark D. Roberts observes: “This doesn’t give us grounds for pride or boasting. God’s presence is an expression of His grace, not our worthiness. In fact, our confidence in God’s presence…gives us a strong conviction of our high calling to serve Him in every capacity of life. It gives us courage to live according to His kingdom…to serve others in His name…if God is with us on our side, what do we have to fear?” So today thank God for His presence in your life, and decide never to take it for granted.

Soul food: Deut 30:1-32:28; Matt 14:1-12; Ps 119:9-16; Prov 17:4-6

Consecrate yourself to God

Joshua 3:5 NIV

On the threshold of the Promised Land, God said to His people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you.” When you consecrate yourself to God He will do things in you, with you, for you, and through you that will amaze you. We want to do amazing things for God, and that seems noble. But we’ve got it backwards. God wants to do amazing things for us. That’s His job, not ours. Our job is consecration. And consecration is more than going to church, keeping the Ten Commandments, tithing, sharing your faith, repeating the sinner’s prayer, volunteering for a ministry, raising your hands in worship, and going on a mission trip. All those are good things, but that isn’t consecration. The utensils used in temple worship were considered “consecrated.” In other words, they were set apart for the exclusive use of God. They were devoted to His service. Consecration means dethroning yourself and enthroning Jesus as Lord of your life. It’s the complete divestiture of all self-interest. It’s giving God veto power. It’s surrendering all of you to all of Him. It’s a simple recognition that every second of your time, every ounce of your energy, and every penny of your money is a gift from God and for God. Consecration is an ever-deepening love for Jesus, a childlike trust in your heavenly Father, and a blind obedience to the Holy Spirit. So the word for you today is – consecrate yourself to God.

Soul food: Deut 22-24; Matt 13:24-35; Ps 78:56-64; Prov 16:33