Friday, September 22, 2006

True Joy

My cable company recently sent a pamphlet to me. The title on the front says, “Happiness is only a power button away.”

This is quite a promise: happiness when I turn on my TV and cable box, joy when I watch my favorite sports team, contentment when I catch the latest installment of a sitcom, happiness when I catch a movie, joy when I see the latest reality show, etc…

My cable company promises something that they cannot deliver, yet they do describe a lie that I have often embraced. They cannot deliver true, lasting happiness, nor can I find the source of joy through my TV. I will not find enduring joy in any one of the 70 or more channels I can surf. I will not find soul-satisfying pleasure and contentment from anyone except the living God.

Joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. Jesus encourages us to find joy in obedience to him (John 15:11) and consider trials to be joyful (James 1:2). God gifts us great gifts to bless us: material blessings, wonderful friendships, closeness with siblings, a spouse, children, etc. Joy may come through a variety of means, but the source of joy is the God who gives each of every good thing.

God may be glorified, and should be glorified, through the television programs we watch. He can feed our hearts and increase our joy in him through a quality program. But remember that happiness is a matter of our hearts and not just simply the result of turning on the power button to our TV. It isn’t found in the new car we get, the clothes we wear, the friends we hang out with, or the boy friend or girl friend we want.

Look around at the advertisements on TV, in magazines, or on websites. Observe the messages of the marketing pros. They want us to think we will find happiness in things. But don’t believe the lie. Recognize the false message and reject it. Look to God for true and lasting joy.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Rich Christians?

Does God want all Christians to be wealthy? Does salvation change the heart and lead to financial prosperity?

The cover story of the September 18, 2006 edition of Time magazine talks about a growing emphasis on financial prosperity in some churches.

Have you ever thought about this?

Take a few minutes to check out Dr. Al Mohler’s comments on the Time article. As usual, Dr. Mohler addresses the heart of the matter and provides biblical insights that should shape our thinking and our heart attitude towards God and money.

…and by the way, God does not promise financial riches, but he does promise spiritual riches and the presence of the Holy Spirit, which are far, far greater!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

The Word & Friendships

Yesterday we looked at Hebrews 4:12 and discussed how Scripture is a living and active tool that God has given us to shape our lives. Today I want to look at one verse and use Scripture to begin to shape how we view friendships.

Proverbs 13:20 states, “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.”

The book of Proverbs contains general principles that apply to life. This particular verse addresses our friends and companions. It makes the simple point that our friends influence us. We may be inclined to think we are strong and we influence those around us, but the reality is that more often than not our friends influence us.

We begin to dress like those around us, like the same bands that our friends like, play the same sports our friends like, watch the movie that the group wants to see, and enter into the discussion the group is having.

The issue isn’t whether or not our friends influence us, but instead the types of friends we have. We can control the individuals we chose to hang out with. We can focus on spending time with friends from work, or friends from church, or friends from school, or friends from our sports team.

Take a minute and think about your closest friends. With whom do you spend the most time? Picture their faces, your topics of conversation, and the activities you commonly do with them.

Now comes the hard part: Would you classify them as wise or foolish?

Scripture is clear: the companion of the wise become wise and the companion of the fool will suffer harm. Let this truth pierce you thoughts, your motives, and your actions and today consider what it means to pursue wise friends.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The Living & Active Word of God

Hebrews 4:12 states, “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”

How do you view Scripture? What is your mindset towards the Bible? Do you view it like the author of Hebrews does? Let’s consider this verse and let it shape the way we approach the Word.

The Word is from God, Lord Most High. It is living and active and has a real affect on the life of the reader. It is sharp and penetrating and separates truth from error and right from wrong. It is discerning and evaluates our motives and out thoughts.

The Bible isn’t like all the other books on our bookshelf. Does Shakespeare make claims like this? Does Mark Twain describe his works like this? The Bible makes unique and powerful claims regarding its purpose and nature because it is unique.

The Bible isn’t an irrelevant, old book written in the first century A.D. It is alive and has a purpose for shaping our lives today. Use it to evaluate your heart. Examine what it says and measure your thoughts by its standards. Read it to discern God’s will for your life. It is active, meant to be active, and forever will be active in the heart of a genuine Christian.

Let’s commit to daily read our Bibles with anticipation that God will shape us through his Word.