Proverbs 17:22 Amplified: A happy heart is good medicine and a cheerful mind works healing, but a broken spirit dries up the bones.
Proverbs 31:25 NIV: She is clothed with strength and dignity, she can laugh at the days to come.
I have mentioned before that I’ve read the book “Deadly Emotions,” by Dr. Don Colbert. I must say once again, I cannot recommend this book highly enough! An area that Dr. Colbert deals with is laughter. He cites research that clearly shows the benefits of “lugotherapy,” or laughter therapy! Whenever a person deeply laughs, it does something similar to aerobic exercise in the body, somewhat like “internal jogging.” Laughter can raise the “good feeling” hormones in your body dramatically, while it decreases the stress hormones.
So why aren’t we laughing? It’s probably not the fact that nothing seems funny. It’s more likely related to the absence of joy. The average child laughs 400 times a day. The average adult….well, you guessed it. We just laugh 25 times a day! And for a serious personality like me, maybe that’s pushing it! I hear so much laughter in my house that I should be able to join right in!
The first scripture above states that a happy heart and cheerful mind works healing inside of us! Dr. Colbert confirms this as well, stating many cases in which he has actually prescribed “laughter doses” daily. He has seen this improve their health. It’s no surprise that God’s Word rings true. Laughter is a release. It stems from the joy of knowing who you are, and Whose you are! It is a result of God’s strength inside of us, a picture of the joy of our salvation. Does it mean that everything looks rosy? No, it just shows that we know Someone more able than us is in charge!
I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. Ephesians 1:18-19 a
When you go to a restaurant, what is your highest expectation? Is it good food, good service, clean bathrooms, quick delivery? All of us have different criteria for what we consider a successful dining experience. If you ever had the privilege of working in a restaurant, you know there are things that go on the customers never see. Much of the preparation necessary to get meals out in a decent time frame are hidden from sight. Many of the techniques used to make the food taste so good are kept secret. And even some of the undesirable occurrences like spoiled meat and ugly produce are quickly removed from customer visibility.
In all honesty, if we saw all that went on at our favorite places to eat, many of us would make some serious changes. However, when we are at mom’s or grandma’s, we don’t care two cents about what the kitchen looks like. Why? Our eyes are opened in a different way. With family, our relationship with them affects what we see when it comes to the kitchen. We look with a lot more grace upon the situation. With them, the meal is more of a by-product of our relationship, so it’s always good. Relationship affects visibility.
As you spend time with God, reading and meditating on the promises of His Word, your relationship with Him will grow. Then the eyes of your heart will began to see things you never knew. There are words in the Bible that make no sense to you right now that will all of a sudden start jumping out at you with vibrant clarity. Spend some time in Daddy’s kitchen today. Don’t stress over the mess, just keep your eyes on Him. He knows what He’s doing, even if you don’t. I can promise you, the end result will be a masterpiece of delight.
Colossians 1:15-16: We look at this Son and see the God who cannot be seen. We look at this Son and see God’s original purpose in everything created. For everything, absolutely everything, above and below, visible and invisible, rank after rank after rank of angels—everything got started in him and finds its purpose in him.
After college, I did business daily in management of retail. I tried to treat my daily activities as if I were following every directive ever given by the founder of the company. There was always an unseen force of power backing me as long as I operated within these established guidelines. If someone decided to take issue over the color of the restrooms or the layout of the store, I would simply give them a suggestion card to fill out and mail to the main office. Why? Because my role was to represent the company, not run it.
This is the picture we have of Jesus when He came to planet earth. He came as the visible representative of the Godhead: Father, Son, Holy Ghost. He was the face on the company, so to speak. Although He participated in the creation of everything, He did not come as the Creator, He came as the representative. His job was to connect the creature back to the Creator, so He had to come as a conduit.
Everything He did and said was backed by the force of God. He was the original “company man.” Comb through the first four books of the New Testament and see if you find any place where He operated by His own set of rules. He didn’t do it. Now to all of us who receive His example of obedience, the mission is conferred. We have become His representatives on planet earth. And He now backs us with all the force of heaven. We do not stand alone when we stand in Him!
I Samuel 3:12-13 The time has come for me to bring down on Eli’s family everything I warned him of, every last word of it. I’m letting him know that the time’s up. I’m bringing judgment on his family for good. He knew what was going on, that his sons were desecrating God’s name and God’s place, and he did nothing to stop them.
It is a popular assumption that public accomplishments can somehow overrule private life deficiencies. Hardly a day goes by that we are not informed of yet another modern day icon’s demoralizing descent due to poor judgment. Contrary to popular opinion, historical evidence tells us being good and doing good in the presence of others isn’t a true test of core character. It’s much deeper than that and only the Creator of the Universe can be the ultimate judge.
During a time of constant battle and unrest, Eli served as High Priest of God’s chosen people. For forty years, he and his family carried on the Aaronic priesthood legacy established in the days of Moses, when he and his brother Aaron led the Israelites out of Egypt. As far as his priestly abilities go, the Bible offers no disapproving words. But as a father and leader of his home, this otherwise good man fatefully failed. He absolutely refused to direct and discipline the conduct of his sons, Hophni and Phinehas. These young men top the “the worst leaders of all time” list. They were rude, obnoxious, and utterly irreverent. God first warned Eli in private through the words of a prophet (I Samuel 2:27-34). Eli did nothing. Later, God spoke to the innocent young Samuel, whose mother had dedicated him to the Lord, three times in the night. The message, in essence was “Judgment is coming to the house of Eli.” Still the priest took no action.
Maybe it was fear of hurting his boys’ feelings or maybe he just thought discipline and training to be cruel. Maybe he even viewed God as too loving to truly allow harsh consequences for corrupt character. Maybe he just didn’t want to do the work it would take to consistently train his sons. I don’t rightly know. But I do know the Bible tells us that because Eli was unwilling to correct his sons, he eventually lost them completely along with his name and position. Instead of being known as one of Israel’s great spiritual leaders, Eli’s clan went down as the priests who cared more about outward appearance before the people than inward obedience before God.
Home can be the hardest place to step up to the plate and direct. Our children are our pride and joy, therefore we often despise having to be the heavy hand in their lives. But if we love them and if we truly respect God, we will periodically play the bad guy, so, in the future, God won’t have to!
Biblical Meditation: Proverbs 12:1 Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but whoever hates correction is stupid.
Genesis 38:26 Judah recognized them and said, “She is more righteous than I…
You’ve seen the tabloids at the grocery store checkout aisle. Illicit behavior seems to earn you a front spot on the walls of fame these days. We shake our heads at the lewdness and immodesty that is plastered in front of our eyes. But even a headline like this would be an all-time shocker here in 2010: Man Pays for Prostitute, Finds Out She’s His Daughter-In-Law!
Yikes! We’re not talking about the 21st century, this event took place thousands of years ago. That’s right, read Genesis, chapter 28. There you’ll find a man named Judah., who after being widowed, decided to find the services of a harlot before retiring. Keep in mind that he’d had some heartache; he’d lost two of his three sons and his wife. Though he didn’t have the goat he’d promised the heavily veiled woman he’d slept with, he gave her his signet and cord to keep until he could pay her. He could never have imagined what was going through the mind of this “woman of the evening.” (Her name was Tamar.) Not only did she know this man, he was her father-in-law! In those days, the custom in place to take care of widows and continue the family line allowed a brother of a deceased husband to take the widowed woman. (Tamar had married the first son, he died, then married the next brother, then HE died. It’s confusing, I know. Now she was waiting for Judah to give her his third son, and he refused to do so.) This doesn’t sound like an emotionally healthy proposition for the wife, but keep in mind, she would need the stability of a new husband and eventually sons and daughters, or she would possibly be reduced to begging on the street. Women of this time knew this. Fair or not, Tamar recognized Judah’s motive and decided to boldly act in the disguise of a harlot, against all sense and reason. She saw no other way out, she was desperate, and she laid her life on the line.
You’ll really have to spend some time reading this roller-coaster of a story and watch as you keep trying to convince yourself you’re reading the Bible! When Tamar was found to be pregnant, Judah wanted her to be burned at the stake. Imagine her walking up to him in front of the whole village, holding his signet and cord, and saying “The man who owns these is the father of my baby.” He was instantly stricken with regret, and says “this woman was more righteous than I.” Tamar ends up giving birth to twins, one of which is in the lineage of Jesus! Wow. Our God is not in a box! He deals with imperfect people, and He judges our true motives. Still feel too inadequate to give your heart to him? Still want to get yourself all cleaned up? Forget it. He is the epitome of mercy, his arms are open wide, and He loves you more than you can imagine…and He’s waiting on you.
Biblical Meditation: Psalm 103:12 …as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
Genesis 18:24 So Moses heeded the voice of his father-in-law and did all that he had said.
Nothing delights the heart of a parent more than the advancement and success of their children. And the same holds true, in most cases, when it comes to the spouses of the children as well. Every caring parent longs to share any wisdom and insight they may have to increase the peace and prosperity of their children, by blood or by marriage.
Jethro is a wonderful example, in my estimation, of a father-in-law who was cognizant of the delicate balance of respect for the gifts and goals of a child and the responsibility of a parent to give guidance even when it might be hard to take. Moses spent the better part of forty years serving Jethro after he ran away from Egypt. During that time, he married Zipporah, one of Jethro’s daughters, and helped Jethro tend his land and flocks. Needless to say, the two had a lot of history together. So when the day came that God called Moses to leave his father-in-law, Jethro knew. And Jethro was as eager as anyone to see what God would do through the hands of his Moses. In the process of time, God did indeed deliver all of the Israelite people through Moses from the wicked Pharaoh. Later on, Jethro was invaluable in steering Moses to be wiser in his delegation of responsibility after he saw some of the cracks in the foundation of Moses’ great mission. He counseled Moses to appoint able men to share the management of the million-plus people. Jethro’s counsel was well-received by Moses, evidence of their close relationship over time and mutual respect for each other.
I feel that this sort of parent and sibling relationship is a great need today. How we need fathers who can speak wisdom and encouragement into the lives of their sons, by birth or by law. And how we need young men who choose to honor, respect, and covet the counsel of their elders. God’s divine fingerprints are all over the father and son, parent and child relationship. Wise is the one who heeds and receives.
Biblical Meditation: Deuteronomy 5:16 Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God has commanded you, so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land the LORD your God is giving you.
How blessed is God! And what a blessing he is! He’s the Father of our Master, Jesus Christ, and takes us to the high places of blessing in him. Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son. Ephesians 1:3-6
Have you ever heard about the young lady who served a king for many years and upon his death, he awarded her a certificate of service? She was so proud of it that she framed it and hung it on her bedroom wall as a constant reminder of the great years in the king’s royal court. As an elderly woman, she became quite ill and had no money for medical care and so her condition grew worse. One day, a well-known minister was asked to visit her as a source of comfort to the family. While in her home he noticed the certificate on the wall. As he read it, He realized it was a letter of entitlement from the king! The king had specified that this woman be cared for royally all the days of her life because of her unwavering devotion and service to him. However, this woman couldn’t read. She never knew what the document said and thus lived contrary to the king’s desire most of her life. She didn’t know, so she couldn’t act. Think about this! God has entitled you to everything He owns! He sees you as His child. The whole reason Christ came and died was to afford this heritage for you and for me. It was all a part of God’s masterful plan long before one stone of earth’s foundation was laid. Don’t ask me why He did it this way, I’m still learning myself! But I can tell you this, the moment you start embracing the Bible as your letter of entitlement and you start acting on that entitlement, peace and purpose will surround your heart. Get familiar with the truth of God’s Word and all that belongs to you In Christ. Then start acting and talking like you believe it. Here’s an example:
God, what a blessing you are! You are the Father of my Master, Jesus Christ, and You have taken me to the high places of blessing in Him. Long before You laid down earth’s foundations, You had me in mind, and You settled on me as the focus of Your Love. Long, long ago You made the decision to adopt me into Your family through Jesus Christ, all because you chose to love me. Thank You!
Colossians 2:16 Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day.
I was 19 years old when God began to deal with me about ministry. When I was a kid, I admired pastors. But as I grew up, a couple of unfortunate experiences left me feeling let down when it came to preachers and their occupation. In a way, this was good because I began to realize that these men and women are human. They are subject to error just like everyone else. But I also began to see something else. I was responsible. See, like a lot of people, I subconsciously put the weight of my spiritual growth and development on the back of the preacher. I began to realize “all God’s children are ministers!” Over the years, I have become more convinced of this fact. And if there was ever a time for the people of God to step up to the plate and take responsibility for knowing God and His Word for themselves, that time is now.
Until the day I leave this planet, I will advocate that every believer is a part of Christ’s Body, the Church, and thus is responsible to know Him, His Way, and His Word well. That does not excuse us from congregating with other believers on a regular basis (i.e. going to church on Sunday, Wednesday, Thursday, whenever). But it also does not excuse us from turning our home, workplace, school, and neighborhood into a place for His Presence. Wherever you and I are present, He is present. And to the degree we are aware of His presence is the degree in which we will participate with Him in ministering to others.
God is your judge. And He has judged you “not guilty.” He has judged you “blessed.” He has judged you His. So, by all means, get knee-deep in the middle of receiving that judgment. And I can guarantee, it will give you a measuring stick for what others think you should and shouldn’t do.
Colossians 2:20-23 Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules: “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”? These are all destined to perish with use, because they are based on human commands and teachings. Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.
Psalms 31:1-3 I run to you, God; I run for dear life. Don’t let me down! Take me seriously this time! Get down on my level and listen. And please-no procrastination! Your granite cave a hiding place, your high cliff a place of safety. You’re my cave to hide in, my cliff to climb. Be my safe leader, be my true mountain guide.
Have you ever got some really bad news? I mean really bad. Do you remember how that hopeless feeling tried to swallow you whole? You start to feel all alone and isolated. Then you get mad because it’s just not fair! “What did I do to deserve this? Yes, I know I have not been perfect, but who has?” If you have ever been on that mountain before, you can relate to the above verse. This is a desperate cry for help. There is nowhere else to turn but up. If God doesn’t come through, it’s all over. This plea is familiar to God. It does not catch Him by surprise in the least. He’s a parent, for crying out loud! How many times have you heard a distress signal from your kids? What they might think is eminent doom, you see as a teachable moment.
I recall the time I was rock climbing with a group of boys in the mountains. We had about 20 boys with us and I was one of the counselors. Our guides were certified, but we were all pretty efficient in rock climbing safety. But for some reason, I foolishly decided to try climbing without a rope. (This is still shocking to think about!) I didn’t want to influence the kids to follow my lead, so I snuck around the side of the mountain about 30 yards. It was a 40 foot climb and everything was going great for the first 20 feet. All of a sudden, there were no more places to grab. The next big rock was flatter than a pancake. After about 15 minutes at a total stand still, I began to panic. I couldn’t hold on any longer, so I braced myself for the endless fall. It would soon be over.
Right then, a rope from above hit me on the nose and I heard a voice say, “Connect this to your harness.” It was one of the guides who heard a noise and thought he’d check it out. He saved my life. Yes, I made a very poor choice. My heart appealed to God as I prepared for the worst. And right before the darkest moment, light broke through! He saw me and He knew what to do. Right now, you may feel like you are hanging by a thread and you could let go at any moment. Your situation may not even be the result of a bad decision. But even though you can’t see Him with your physical eyes, God is right there. He knows just what you need. Trust Him and let Him be your safe place.
Biblical Meditation: Psalms 91:1 He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall remain stable and fixed under the shadow of the Almighty [Whose power no foe can withstand].
I Samuel 3:12-13 As Samuel grew up, the Lord was with him, and everything Samuel said proved to be reliable. And all Israel, from Dan in the north to Beersheba in the south, knew that Samuel was confirmed as a prophet of the Lord.
God wants to be our source. He wants to be our salvation. It is not considered irresponsible to Him when we live our lives in utter dependence on His guidance and direction. As a matter of fact, this sort of life alone brings joy to His heart. And when God gets happy, look out! Heaven comes down and earth and all its woes are changed in a moment. Samuel, the last and arguably greatest Judge of ancient Israel, lived this way.
In the days of Moses, hundreds of years before Samuel was born, God expressed His plan to forever be the people’s protection as they journeyed to the land of promise. There job was to simply obey His basic commands, i.e., respect Him as Holy Father and God. The goal was for Israel to never need a king to rule over them like the other nations. God would be their king. Unfortunately, human tendency prevailed over time and God’s people wavered time and again. And during those times, when they would cry out, He would answer their cry by way of a helper known as a judge.
The purpose of the judges was to lead the people back to God and His original plan, but often that was not the case. Many of them were plagued with personal character defects and these flaws impeded their ability to effectively govern. Then along comes Hannah’s miracle, Samuel. Dedicated to the service of God before birth, this man of God served faithfully all the days of his life. During some of the darkest days in the land (The death of Eli the Judge and High Priest and his sons, the capture of the Ark of The Covenant, and relentless persecution from the Philistines), his faith and dedication became the rock of safety for His people. And because his devotion had stood the test of time, he was able to get the people to lay down their evil ways and turn wholly to God. As a result, God routed all their enemies and restored peace and prosperity in the land (I Samuel 7). God is truly the Master of “the turn around.” It matters not how bad things get, if anyone will rehearse His promises, He will reverse their problems. And if He did it for Samuel and his generation, He can and will do it for you and me!
Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”