Don’t worry, be happy? Get real!

“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance…strength of character…confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment” (Romans 5:3-5).

People of the world will say, “Be happy about my problems?  You got to be kidding!

But those of us who are not of this world believe differently, don’t we.

The world says trials bring disappointment and discouragement. God says they will lead ultimately to hope and rejoicing, and a closer walk with Him.  The choice is ours.

I think I’ll put my money on what God says.

The source of real joy.

“Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sins are put out of sight. Yes, what joy for those whose record the Lord has cleared of sin” (Romans 4:7-8).

The apostle Paul, in writing to the believers in Rome, quoted this  passage from Psalms to show that faith in the finished works of Jesus is the only way to heaven.

Salvation and real joy is not obtained by our works, but by our faith in Jesus.

Whatever hardships we may face now will become dimmer as we think beyond them to what we have waiting for us in eternity.

That should bring a smile to our face.

Our choices make a difference.

“Because your men explored the land for forty days, you must wander in the wilderness for forty years—a year for each day, suffering the consequences of your sins” (Numbers 14:34).

Twelve men were sent out to spy out the land.  Ten came back and said the land could not be taken.  Only Joshua and Caleb said it could.

The ten stirred up the people so much so that they complained.  They wanted to go back to Egypt, or die in the wilderness.  They didn’t believe the Lord was capable of doing what He promised—take them into the land.

So, the consequences of their rebellion was that they died in the wilderness.  Does that mean God didn’t love them?  No!  They were still His people.

The same is true for us.  When we ask forgiveness for our wrong choices, He forgives us, but we still live with the consequences.

God has left us His Word so we will be guided in our choices.  He loves us!  He would rather we reap benefits instead of consequences.

The danger of a rigid mindset.

“And they were deeply offended and refused to believe in Him.  Then Jesus told them, ‘A prophet is honored everywhere except in his own hometown and among his own family.’  And so He did only a few miracles there because of their unbelief” (Matthew 13: 57-58).

The seven last words of a dying church is, “We’ve never done it that way before.”  That was the title of a book written by Jack Taylor years ago.  But it is still true today not only for a church but also for an individual.

The people in Jesus’ hometown refused to believe in Him, because their minds were closed.  They thought they knew Jesus’ origin and that settled it.

They along with the religious leaders missed the lifesaving miracles Jesus could have given them, if they had only been willing to believe.

What might we be missing because we’re relying on our thoughts instead of God’s?

Am I sharing the “gems”?

“Every teacher of religious law who becomes a disciple in the Kingdom of Heaven is like a homeowner who brings from his storeroom new gems of truth as well as old” (Matthew 13:52).

As a follower of Jesus, I’m not to hoard the life saving truths God has revealed to me through the study of His Word.  I’m to bring them out in the open and share them with others, so they too will be blessed.

And by being generous sharers of the “gems” of truth from His Word, we in turn will also be blessed.  Didn’t Jesus say something about this?

“Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap.  The amount you give will determine the amount you get back” (Luke 6:38).

Am I easily persuaded by the opinions of the majority?

“You must not follow the crowd in doing wrong” (Exodus 23:2).

“Ahh, that’s the determining factor isn’t it?  We must determine if the majority opinions concerning right or wrong are based on society’s thinking or God’s.

By not understanding this, Israel got into trouble on a number of occasions, and so can we.

Here’s an example:  “Then the foreign rabble who were traveling with the Israelites began to crave the good things of Egypt.  And the people of Israel also began to complain” (Numbers 11:4).

If we tend to be crowd followers, we may need to heed Paul’s advice.

“Don’t be fooled by those who say such things, for ‘bad company corrupts good character.’ Think carefully about what is right and stop sinning.  For to your shame I say that some of you don’t know God at all” (1 Cor. 15:33-34).

Am I to give and take advice?

“If you follow this advice, and if God commands you to do so, then you will be able to endure the pressures, and all the people will go home in peace” (Exodus 18:23).

Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law advised Moses to assign leaders to take care of the small matters the people were bringing to him.  Then, he could deal with the more weightier problems.

Based on this passage, I would say, yes.  We can give advice and receive advice.  The deciding factor, however, in heeding the advice, is determined by Someone else.

“If God commands you to do so…”

What’s Our Source?

“As was Paul’s custom, he went to the synagogue, and for three Sabbaths in a row he used the Scriptures to reason with the people” (Acts 17:2).

Why do we believe what we believe?  Is it because mom or granny told us?

We hope that what anyone shares with us is based on what the Scriptures say and not what society says is true.  The two opinions are not always the same.

Paul gives us a good example in determining what is true, don’t you think?

With Whom Or What Do We Spend Our Time?

“The members of the council were amazed when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, for they could see that they were ordinary men with no special training in the scriptures.  They also recognized them as men who had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13).

Does it make a difference how we spend our time?

I believe so.  It made a difference in Peter and John’s lives.  Others recognized with whom they had been hanging out

Who or what influences our lives?  What do we want others to recognize about us.  Think about this.

Like Peter and John, can other people see Jesus in us?

What’s My Excuse?

“But Moses protested to God, ‘Who am I to appear before Pharaoh? Who am I to lead the people of Israel out of Egypt?'” (Exodus 3:11).

Sound familiar?  What kind of excuses have we used when faced with a ministry opportunity?

Moses said “I” can’t do it, and he was right.

“But God answered, “I” will be with you…” (Exodus 3:12).

Ahh, that makes the difference. Maybe our response should be, “Lord “I” can’t do this on my own, please help me.”

And, He will!