A Matter of Perspective

Have you noticed that sometimes when afflictions comes, it comes in wave after wave, like it’s never going to end?  It has happened to me and to people I know.  You get to the point of asking yourself, “What’s next?”

The first line of Proverbs 15:15 acknowledges how tough it can be:  All the days of the afflicted are bad…  It doesn’t take a great deal of imagination to understand the truth of this proverb.  When we are afflicted we “get” the “every-day” aspect.

However, look at the second line:  …but a cheerful heart has a continual feast.   You see, even when there is affliction we have the choice of how to view it.  We do not have to give control of our attitude or how we respond to affliction, over to circumstances.

The one with the cheerful heart, always has what he (or she) needs, in a spiritual sense, not to be overcome by the affliction.  What a great encouragement to know that God has given us the gift of determining our own attitude.

It’s almost as though He loves you, isn’t it?  Of course He does, and so do I.

Donnie Bates

Advertisements

Act Resolutely

Jehoshaphat was one of the good kings of Judah, although he made some mistakes by allying himself with Ahab, king of Israel and his son, Ahaziah.  Still, God saw some good in him because he had torn down idols in Judah and had set his heart to seek God (2 Chronicles 19:2, 3).

Our word of encouragement comes from Jehoshaphat’s own mouth as he charged some of the Levites and priests in the work they would do in judging disputes among the people.  At the end of his charge he said:  “Act resolutely, and the Lord be with the upright.”  (2 Chronicles 19:11).

Other translations translate this phrase, “Behave courageously,” or “Act with courage.”  Serving as a judge is no easy task, and many in our culture have proven themselves unfit for the job.  However, the charge itself provides us with courage, not just in the event we find ourselves serving as judges, but in performing our duties before the Lord, i.e. living the faithful, Christian life.

If we will “act resolutely,” or “behave courageously,” we may be confident that the Lord will be with us when we do the right thing. Remember, He loves you and so do I.

Donnie Bates

Because He Cares…

Today, it seems appropriate to spend some time reflecting on 1 Peter 5:6, 7:  Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.

It is easy to be overcome with the everyday cares of this life.  Jesus’ parable of the sower (Matthew 13:3-9; 18-23) illustrates that the cares of this life will choke out any ability to survive spiritually in this world, if we let them.  Still, we need to be reminded from time to time about these truths.

The feeling of being overwhelmed is sometimes so smothering that it paralyzes us.  I am thankful for passages like Peter’s that remind me that there is hope.  Even though my anxiety is too much for me to carry, His Hand is mighty and able to carry the load.  How encouraging it is to know that He cares for me!  He cares for you, too, because He loves you, and I love you, too.

Donnie Bates

My Heart Shall Rejoice

In recent days I’ve had a lot of time to reflect, being on the road for hours at a time.  One of those extended periods was filled with thoughts of those who are close to me, and for whom I am so thankful.  These people make my heart rejoice, but that is not really the message of the title.

Psalm 13:5 says:  But I have trusted in Your lovingkindness; my heart shall rejoice in Your salvation.  This is a great verse, but there is actually a contrast here (that’s why it begins with “but”).  The psalmist (David) is offering hope in the face of trial.

Many of our friends and loved ones suffer various forms of trial and become discouraged.  I find a great deal of comfort in these words that show there is reason for hope.  Verse 6 says:  I will sing to the Lord, because He has dealt bountifully with me.

Put your trust in Him in faithful obedience.  Know that He loves you and so do I.

Donnie Bates

Cry Aloud and Shout for Joy

Sometimes you have to just stop and consider where you are.  I mean that more in a spiritual and philosophical sense, than a physical one.  What I mean to say is that we should spend more time considering our lives with a deeper discernment of just what is important and what our position is relative to it.  I’m suggesting that we spend more time “examining ourselves” to see where we stand before God (2 Corinthians 13:5).

If in our examinations we find that we are not right with God and changes need to be made, by all means make those changes as they are described in Scripture!  However, if we are right with God, or when we are right with God, there is a passage of particular comfort that we would do well to consider more often.  Perhaps it would help us to make sure we remain right with God.

Cry aloud and shout for joy, O inhabitant of Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel (Isaiah 12:6).  This is as true for faithful Christians today as it was for Jews 2,700 years ago.  Now, that’s encouraging!

Remember, God loves you and so do I.

Donnie Bates

Nevertheless…

I love Katherine Hepburn’s answer to a challenge that what she had claimed to have done was impossible in the movie African Queen.  Her simple, one-word answer was, “Nevertheless…”

I find encouragement in Romans 4:18:  In hope against hope he believed, so that he might become a father of many nations according to that which had been spoken, “So shall your descendants be.”  Abraham is a great example of faith.  In this verse, he is a great example to us of one who hopes when there is no hope.

While the hope Abraham had here had to do with his becoming a father when he was too old to think about having children, it is a wonderful example to us about faith and hope.  Very often when we look at the circumstances around us, it is difficult to imagine things getting better.  We are, we think, in a hopeless situation.

Abraham hoped, that is, he believed God’s promise, when all the evidence suggested there was no reason to hope.  That means when I look at life and see no reason to hope, I can still “hope against hope” that God will fulfill His promises to me.

I’m so glad God loves me enough to give me this example.  He loves you, too, you know, and so do I.

Donnie Bates

Love Returned

John 3:16 says:  For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.  John expanded Jesus’ statement in 1 John 4:9-11:  By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him.  In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.  Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

So, it is clear that while the love of God is a great blessing that offers life, we also have a responsibility to that love.  God loves us; we must love others (see also John 13:34, 35).  We also have a responsibility to love God (Luke 10:27).  And Jesus explained what loving Him means in John 14:15:  If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.

Let us learn to return God’s love by keeping His commandments and loving those around us.  And remember, He does love you and so do I.

Donnie Bates