Imagine wandering in the desert. You are hot, tired, and extremely thirsty. As you are in despair, you come upon a spring of water! There is joy, strength, and encouragement because of the water! YOU ARE REFRESHED. Are we like that spring of water in the lives of others? Do we bring refreshment to their lives? “For they (Stephanus, Fortunatus, and Achalcus) HAVE REFRESHED MY SPIRIT AND YOURS.” (1Co 16:18): God used these three men to REFRESH others. Will we be a spring of water to someone in despair, discouragement, or depression? Here are ways that we can bring refreshment to others.
1. We can refresh others by our presence.
2. We refresh others by our words
3. We refresh others by our prayers
4. We refresh others by our example
5. We refresh others by our kind deeds
6. We refresh others by forgiving them.
7. We refresh others with our love.
“Dear Lord, help me to look beyond myself and see the needs of others. There are people around me who need to be encouraged. Others need emotional healing. Some people need a friend. Guide me so that I can be a refreshment to others as you daily refresh my soul. Amen”
“DELIGHT THYSELF IN THE LORD” (Psalm 37:4) Why can we Delight in Him??
When we go astray, He is the seeking Shepherd.
When we are lonely, He will never leave us, nor forsake us.
When we are confused, He is our wisdom.
When we are weak, He is our strength.
When we are full of guilt, He is the merciful God who forgives.
When we need direction, He is our Light.
When we are sorrowful, He is our Comforter.
When we are without Hope, He is our hope.
When we need love, He loves us with an everlasting love.
When we are misunderstood, He knows our heart.
When we are anxious, He is our Peace
When we face death, He is the Resurrection and the Life.
“Dear Lord, we thank you for all that you are in our lives. Because we focus on our problems, pains, and the people in our lives, we often lose our delight in you. Please rekindle our delight in you! Help us to remember that you delight in us. How can we not delight in you! Amen”
Christmas in Johannesburg, South Africa in 1983 was quite different for our family of three. I had always been accustomed to cold weather and snow in Michigan. In Johannesburg, it was the middle of the summer. What could we do special with our toddler? We ventured out one evening to nearby Joubert Park to see the annual Christmas displays. We were surprised that the displays had nothing to do with Christmas. Each display depicted a fairy tale story. What did the Three Blind Mice and Little Jack Horner have to do with Christmas? Where was Jesus in the manger? Where was the Christmas music? Finally, in a quiet corner, we found the manger scene lost in the midst of the fairy tales.
Today, those displays remind me of how easy it is to forget Jesus in the midst of all the activity, lights, music and shopping of the season. We may give Jesus a little corner of our lives as the baby in Bethlehem, but are we willing to allow Him to rule in our hearts and lives?
Seven hundred years before Christ’s birth, the prophet Isaiah prophesied concerning the birth of Jesus Christ. He not only spoke of His birth, but revealed the character of the coming Deliverer of Israel. These words are quite well-known; yet do we know the meaning of this description of Jesus?
“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God,The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)
This description of Christ creates a spirit of prayer, worship and praise unto Jesus. Yes, He came to earth as a baby, but He is unique. He is God in the flesh. Do we take the opportunity to pray, honor and glorify our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ? Will you join me in the following prayers based on the greatness of the baby in the manger.
“And His Name Shall be Called:
Wonderful-“Dear Lord Jesus, As I read the Bible, I often treat it as textbook from which to learn truth. I can lose the wonder of being in your presence. I can lose the wonder of all that you have done in my life. Please restore the wonder of your birth, life, death and resurrection in my life. With wonder comes true worship. You are worthy. Amen”
Counsellor-“Lord, you are always there to guide me. When I don’t know what to do, you show me the way. When I need to pour out my heart to someone, you are always ready to listen. Thank you for being my counselor always and in every situation. You are truly the All-Wise God! Amen”
The mighty God-“Dear Lord, I often find myself trying to live the Christian life without you. I try to deal with life’s difficulties on my own. I forget that you are all-powerful and that nothing is too hard for you. Help me to lean upon your all-powerful arms. Help me to trust you in every situation and to remember that nothing is impossible with you. Thank you for your patience towards me. Thank you that you are the mighty fortress to whom I may always flee. Amen”
The Everlasting Father-“Dear Lord, because you are the Father of Eternity, you are always with me. You love, protect and provide for me. Thank you for giving me eternal life. Help me to love you even in a small way as you love me. Help me to learn at your feet and be quick to obey you. Thank you that I can call out to you as My Heavenly Father, and you always answer! Amen”
The Prince of Peace-“Lord, thank you for dying on the cross for me, so that I may have peace with you! I also thank you that when I cast my cares upon you, I may also experience your peace every day. Please work in the hearts of the many people who don’t know you as THE PRINCE OF PEACE. Amen.
This time of year is a great opportunity to renew our wonder in the attributes and works of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world. Let’s not view Jesus as the babe in the manger, but as the Savior of the world and the Lord of our lives. Let’s do more than keep in Christ in Christmas. Let’s keep Christ in the center of our lives.
The jail cell was damp and cold. The quality of the food was dismal. The Apostle Paul didn’t know if he would soon be executed. How could he enjoy life in the midst of such dismal circumstances?
The Apostle Paul faced many trying times in his life, but he enjoyed life instead of enduring life. Many of us no longer enjoy life. We complain about our circumstances. Self-pity controls our thought patterns. Anxiety keeps us from enjoying God’s presence. We have the idea that enjoying life is based upon our circumstances. Paul’s circumstances were dismal in the Roman jail; yet he enjoyed his life. Let’s look at why Paul enjoyed life even while he was suffering in a Roman jail.
1. Paul enjoyed his life because he had a purpose in life. “Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:1)
Many people don’t have a life purpose. They have a vague idea that they should be doing something for themselves, for their family. and for their community; however, they have no real purpose. Paul enjoyed his life because he had a purpose! His purpose was to serve His Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Paul enjoyed life because he knew that he belonged to the King of Kings. Paul wasn’t pulled in many different directions. He received his directions from Christ. He even understood that his time in prison was for the glory of His Master. He wrote in another letter. “Paul, a prisoner of Jesus Christ”. We will enjoy life when we live each day in light of the fact that “I am a servant of Jesus Christ”.
2. Paul enjoyed his life because he experienced God’s grace and peace. “Grace be unto you, and peace from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:2)
Paul wasn’t alone in his jail cell. The Lord was with him. Paul enjoyed his life because he was aware of God’s presence even in the most difficult of times. God’s grace enabled Paul not only to survive in his trials, but also to thrive. God’s peace gave him the knowledge that no matter what was happening in his life, God was in control. We enjoy life when we experience God’s grace and peace in even the greatest storm of our life.
3. Paul enjoyed his life because he invested his life in others. “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you,” (Philippians 1:3)
Even in prison, Paul was ministering to others. He wrote his letter to the believers at Philippi to encourage them. He was willing to sacrifice his life for others. He prayed for others. He shared the Word of God with others. He loved others. Paul didn’t focus upon his problems, but he used his problems as a means of ministering to others. There is great enjoyment in seeing God use us in the lives of others. We minister to others through our testimony, our prayers, our words of encouragement, our expressions of love, and our sharing the truths of God’s Word.
4. Paul enjoyed his life, because he understood that his trials brought glory to God. “But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel” (Philippians 1:12)
Paul’s time in jail was part of God’s overall plan. God used Paul as a witness to the many people with whom he came into contact. God also used Paul’s imprisonment to encourage other believers to go out and share the gospel. God doesn’t allow things to enter into our lives for our harm, but for the good of ourselves and others. We can enjoy life when we surrender to God’s purpose for our trial.
5. Paul enjoyed his life because he knew the future. “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21)
Paul showed joy even in facing death, because he knew that death was the door through which he would enter heaven. We enjoy our life on earth when we live for Christ and keep our focus upon the eternal reward that waits for us in heaven. When we live our lives for ourselves, our focus is upon this life alone. Paul saw the big picture, do we?
“Dear Lord, I often feel as though I am enduring life. I focus on my problems. I focus on my needs. I focus on the faults of others. Thank you for Paul’s example to me of a man who enjoyed his life in spite of the dire circumstances he faced. Please help to enjoy my life in you regardless of the circumstances that I face. Thank you for your great patience and love towards me. Amen”
Have you ever felt pulled in several directions at once? You know you should have faith in God, and yet worry and anxiety have a chokehold upon your whole life. The future seems dim. Your life is at a standstill. Sleep escapes you. God seems very distant. Despair is ruling your life. What can you do?
The word “worry” comes from the West Germanic word, “wrygen” which means “to strangle” or “to choke”. Worry not only chokes our spiritual life, but also our emotional, social, and physical life. God knows the power that worry and anxiety have upon us. He tells us in Philippians 4:6-7: “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
How do we break this chokehold that worry and anxiety have upon us? God gives us several ways to break this chokehold.
1. Understand the consequences that worry and anxiety have upon our lives. The words “be careful for nothing” have the idea of “stop being pulled in different directions”. Worry is sin because it keeps us from giving glory to God. It also keeps us from serving God and others to our full capacity. Worry causes us to doubt the goodness of God. This creates confusion in our lives. For these reasons and many others, God commands us to stop worrying.
2. Focus upon God and not upon our circumstances. The above passage says, “Let your request be made known unto God.” God is the source of peace. When our eyes turn from our trials and are focused upon God, we will see the greatness of God’s power, wisdom, love and sovereignty. We know that we can trust Him regardless of what comes our way. God is greater than any circumstance in our lives.
3. Talk to God about the source of our worry and anxiety. The passage says: “but in everything by prayer and supplication”. God, our loving Father, wants us to take every hurt, misunderstanding, health issue, family issue, financial problem, doubt, and personal issue unto Him. He alone can carry that burden. “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” (1 Peter 5:7) Worry and anxiety say I will carry my burden. Faith says I will take that burden to the Lord and leave it there.
4. Learn to give thanks to God in everything. Many problems and heartaches that choke us can be turned into blessings when we learn to give God thanks in everything that happens. “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” (1 Th 5:18) This doesn’t mean we thank God for everything. When we thank Him in everything, we are saying to God: “I commit this circumstance, person or problem that is choking my life unto you. I thank you that you are fulfilling your great purpose in my life even in the midst of this great trial or burden.”
5. Enjoy God’s promise of His Peace. God tells us that His peace “passeth all understanding”. God’s presence and peace shine forth in those who face their deepest trials with faith in Him. I have been beside many people who are facing death and yet they had a peace that passes all human wisdom. God’s peace doesn’t make sense to people around us because His peace isn’t based upon circumstances. It is based upon the enjoyment of His presence.
God doesn’t want any of us to be continually pulled in two directions. He wants us to turn our faces directly towards Him. The songwriter wrote: “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, and look full in his wonderful face and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His Glory and Grace.” God will break the chokehold of anxiety and worry in our lives. Will we trust Him to do so? “The truth shall make you free.”