July 17, 2018

Monday means the weekend is over. Or does it mean the start of another week of opportunities? It’s all a matter of perspective. I pray you will find a way to be used by God today!

What happens when we face adversity in life? How do we live in the face of trials and tribulations?

Walk in the Spirit. Galatians 5:25 (NKJV) tells us, “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” Just before this verse he lists the fruit of the Spirit. John Piper has a good accounting of this so I won’t repeat it here but go check it out if you have the time. But I do want to include one quote from that article here. “The last thing we want to notice in these verses about ‘walking by the Spirit’ is that it refers basically to one kind of behavior: loving behavior. The first thing mentioned in the fruit of the Spirit is love in verse 22. This is emphasized even more in verses 13 and 14: You were called to freedom, brethren, only do not use your freedom as an occasion for the flesh, but through love be servants of one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”

Walk in Joy – how will others be drawn to Jesus Christ if we don’t exhibit joy? I see some of you and I see that life has got you down. I see that Satan is doing his best to bring defeat to your life. So I understand why you have lost your smile. I understand why you walk with your shoulders down. I understand the lack of enthusiasm and zeal I see in your eyes. I do. Trust me, I struggle with life just like you do. I have lost loved ones close to me. I have faced many financial difficulties over the years (try raising six children on a Minister’s salary, no not Joel Osteen’s salary ... think more like mainly a Youth Pastor’s salary for 20 years). I have faced job difficulties and family relationship issues and physical issues. I believe God has allowed those in my life to grow me to be more like Him. Unfortunately, the trials and tests continue because I am still a long way from where He wants me to be. But I do find that when I am faced with negative trials I am reminded of God’s greatness. I am reminded that God is in control. I am reminded that God has my best interest in mind. I am reminded that God wants my life to be filled with Love, Joy, and Peace. When I wake up in the middle of the night and Satan has brought worry to my doorstep, I am reminded that he cannot touch me unless God allows it.

Let me speak to some of you today who are struggling. Maybe you’re just depressed. Not even a steak, and ice cream for dessert, will cheer you up. Maybe instead of facing your difficulty head-on you have chosen to play the blame game. If I can just blame someone for this mess then at least I will feel better because then I can just make them feel bad. Maybe it’s your spouse and it’s easier to just blame them for not making you happy than to face the trials in your own life. Maybe it’s your boss because he never really liked you anyway. Maybe you blame God or your Deacon or your Pastor (I hope not – ha). Maybe the blame game ends up just spraying on anyone and everyone in your path. It’s always easier to push off our responsibility than to deal with it. I still remember when I was fresh out of seminary and I was serving as a Youth Pastor in a church in Oklahoma. One Dad, who happened to also be a Deacon, wanted to blame me for his son’s misbehavior. I was being “paid” to make sure his son turned out like he was supposed to. Never mind that I had only been involved in his son’s life for a little over a year. Never mind that I only saw his son a few hours a week. Never mind that he was already in high school and the formation of his life was pretty far along in being set. His Dad did not want to take responsibility for the fact that he had been a pretty poor Dad. His son needed more from his Dad but his Dad did whatever he could to make sure he didn’t get the blame.

Does your marriage seem a little rocky at the moment? Don’t blame your spouse. Take a look in the mirror. Do your kids seem out of control? Don’t blame the youth pastor or children’s minister. Is your church struggling with attendance or with finances or in spreading the gospel? Don’t blame the staff. Volunteer. Step up. Reach out. Ask God if maybe you are the stumbling block in any of these situations. Maybe your walk needs to change, to grow. If you can’t smile and you can’t laugh and you can’t enjoy life then God says to cast all your cares on Him. Not on someone else. And as you cast your cares on Him He will give you rest. He will give you peace. He will give you joy.

I sense today that there are more than a few today that need a fresh touch from God. I know I need it. Maybe you do too. Let me pray for you!



P.S. Happy Birthday to my daughter-in-law Ashley Hixon, this Thursday!!