Sunday Devotional: Psalm 126

“When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion,
we were like those who dream.
Our mouths were filled with laughter then,
and our tongues with shouts of joy.
Then they said among the nations,
“The Lord has done great things for them.”
The Lord had done great things for us;
we were joyful.

Restore our fortunes, Lord,
like watercourses in the Negev.
Those who sow in tears
will reap with shouts of joy.
Though one goes along weeping,
carrying the bag of seed,
he will surely come back with shouts of joy,
carrying his sheaves.”

The Israelites had several experiences where they were in bondage, away from their home.  Each time they were in sorrow and each time God was faithful in delivering them.  When they returned, they were joyful and were again reminded of God’s faithfulness to them.  They had reason to shout “The Lord has done great things.”

We go through seasons where we weep, where we sow in tears.  There are seasons where we struggle in depression and hurt.  But God is faithful, there will come a time when we will “reap with shouts of joy”.  God will deliver us through to the other side.  And we will shout out “The Lord has done great things for us.”  This week let us encourage one another with these words.  Let us remember God’s faithfulness in those seasons when we sow in tears and be grateful when reaping with shouts of joy.

Sunday Devotional: Luke 15:1-7

“All the tax collectors and sinners were approaching to listen to Him. And the Pharisees and scribes were complaining, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them!”

So He told them this parable:  “What man among you, who has 100 sheep and loses one of them, does not leave the 99 in the open field and go after the lost one until he finds it? When he has found it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders,  and coming home, he calls his friends and neighbors together, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, because I have found my lost sheep!’  I tell you, in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over 99 righteous people who don’t need repentance.” (Luke 15:1-7)

This was the first of three parables Jesus shared to the crowds after hearing the Pharisees and scribes complaining.  This one dealt with a shepherd who had lost a sheep.  He had the 99 out in the open field safe and sound but one was missing.  The shepherd went and searched for it and eventually found it.  When he did, he brought it home.  Not only that, he called all his friends and neighbors to let them know what had happened.  The shepherd was joyous that all 100 were back in the open field again.

There is that same kind of joy that happens when one sinner repents and follows Jesus.  There is great celebration that takes place.  One was lost but now is found.  We should celebrate like that when we hear such great news.  We should be sharing that good news so that others who are lost can be found.  This week let us share that joy and share that good news of salvation to a world that needs it.

Sunday Devotional: John 15:11-17

“I have spoken these things to you so that My joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.  This is My command: Love one another as I have loved you.  No one has greater love than this, that someone would lay down his life for his friends.  You are My friends if you do what I command you.  I do not call you slaves anymore, because a slave doesn’t know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything I have heard from My Father.  You did not choose Me, but I chose you. I appointed you that you should go out and produce fruit and that your fruit should remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in My name, He will give you.  This is what I command you: Love one another.” (John 15:11-17)

Right now in this day and age there is a lot of hate and sadness.  A lot of pain and despair.  But we have hope.  We have joy.  We have love.  We have this through Jesus.  Here in this passage in John, Jesus is speaking to the disciples.  He encourages them that they have joy and they have love.  And not only do they have love but they are to share it with others.  He commands them to “Love one another as I have loved you.”  They are able to love this way because of Jesus.

This week, let us love one another.  Let us share with others the good news of Jesus and how He gave His life for us so we can be made whole.  And that He chose and loves us.  As we’ve been greatly loved, let us go and love others.

Sunday Devotional: 1 John 1:1-4

“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.” (1 John 1:1-4)

John opens the letter of 1 John with eyewitness experience of who Jesus is.  He writes not only about who Jesus is but also what it means for us.  Jesus is the Son of God.  He came to Earth and lived among us.  He was seen and touched and was real.  And He brought with him hope of eternal life and hope of a restored relationship with the Father.

John said that he wrote these things so “our joy may be complete”.  Knowing Jesus should bring us joy.  Joy for having a restored relationship with the Father, joy for having eternal life.  This week let us live our lives and proclaim to others that which we have seen and experienced through Jesus.

Searching For Happiness

A couple of weeks ago I watched the film Hector and the Search for Happiness.  It’s a dramedy that stars Simon Pegg as a psychologist who is trying to figure out what it means to be happy.  He is not happy in his own life and has a dysfunctional relationship with his girlfriend Clara.  So he decides to take a trip to figure out how and what people define as being happy.

hector-and-the-search-for-happiness

This trip leads him around the world.  He goes to such places as China, Tibet, Africa and Los Angeles.  He comes in contact with a variety of people including a businessman, a doctor, a drug dealer, a call girl, an old girlfriend & a professor who is studying the effects of happiness on the brain.  Along the way, he journals his thoughts.  He sees people trying to find happiness through a variety of ways but none of them are ever fully happy.  The end of the film sees him reconcile with his girlfriend Clara and he goes back to England & appreciate what he has.

We all can identify with Hector.  We all want to be “happy” and we all try and have things in our lives that we use to try and make us happy.  Whether it be relationships or money or job or medication, we seek to try and find happiness.  But happiness is predicated on circumstances.  When circumstances aren’t going well, we don’t have happiness.

However, something that is not predicated on circumstances is joy.  Joy is constant throughout.  That is what God offers to us.  He offers us something that is consistent, that does not change when circumstances change.  We can have that joy through a relationship with Him.  It’s that relationship that brings peace when our circumstances are tough.

We all search for happiness.  But instead of searching for happiness, let us search for joy.  And we can find joy in Jesus.

Sunday Devotional: Habakkuk 3:17-18

“Though the fig tree should not blossom,
    nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail
    and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
    and there be no herd in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord;
    I will take joy in the God of my salvation.”  (Habakkuk 3:17-18)

Habakkuk was a prophet that God used to share His message with the people of Judah.  Unfortunately, the people of Judah weren’t receiving a happy message.  They had fallen away from God and God was warning the people that they would have to deal with the pending judgment.  Even more so, God was going to use the Babylonians, who were very wicked in their own right, to be the instrument that God would use.

In all of this, Habakkuk was faithful to preach the message.  He did question God as to why and the means that God would use.  However, Habakkuk trusted God no matter what.  These verses which are toward the end of the book show that.  When tough times come, Habakkuk would rejoice in the Lord.  When things don’t make sense, Habakkuk would take joy in God.  Habakkuk trusted God and would follow Him through thick and thin.

That should be our hope as well.  When times are hard, we should rejoice in the Lord.  When we question what we’re going through, let us be reminded of God’s faithfulness and works.  He has provided us salvation through Jesus.  He has given us mercy and grace.  And he has given us joy.  This week, let us rejoice in the Lord, both in the midst of good times and the midst of bad times.