Bible Study and Teaching

Jump For Joy

lenyaJuly

Happiness may hop, but joy can jump. Do you know the difference? Before explaining the emotions, let’s describe the exercise. Hops are short, like a little leap or a small skip. But jumps are long and strong enough to spring into the air and hurdle over obstacles. Hops are usually one-legged while jumps require the strength of both feet and legs. Hopping and jumping are as different as a bouncing bunny and a bounding Olympic athlete.

Just as a jump can take you further and higher than a hop, joy is more powerful than happiness. Both words describe pleasant feelings, but their origin is very different. Happiness depends on what happens. For instance, if you get the latest video game, you’re happy. But if you don’t win that new game, you’re mad.

However, joy comes from Jesus. The psalmist said, “In Your presence is fullness of joy” (Ps. 16:11). One comes from stuff, the other from the Savior.

Happiness is temporary, but joy is eternal. Isaiah described it as “everlasting joy” (Is. 51:11). That’s because happiness lives for the now, lasting about as long as it takes to eat a candy bar. But joy sees into the future, making present pain turn into our gain. King David understood how joy transcended circumstances. One of his sons died at birth. But David knew he’d see his child again in heaven. So he could say, “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning” (Ps. 30:5). You might say that joy takes a licking but keeps on ticking.

Why don’t you jump into joy? Rejoice knowing that…

Jesus.

                                                                  Understands

My

Problems.

Isn’t that better than happiness? Jesus will take you higher, faster, and further than you could ever go it alone. You can “Rejoice in the Lord always” (Phil. 4:4).

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Bible Study and Teaching

Diamonds In The Rough

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Recently, as I helped a friend accessorize an outfit for a special occasion at a nice department store. I decided to pull off my diamond stud earring to try on a funky piece of costume jewelry. As I untwisted the back of the earring I thought, “Lenya, don’t put this on the counter. You’ll forget to pick it up.” Ignoring the nagging voice within, I feel in love with the shiny baubles, paid for them, and promptly left the store and my diamond earring behind. Several hours later, as our family ate dinner, I remembered. “Oh no! I left my diamond earring at the store.”

My son, said, “Mom that was dumb. You’ll never get it back.”

“Oh yes I will,” I responded, “I believe in prayer and that people do good things.”

After prayer, I called the store to share my plight. And wouldn’t you know it. The earring was behind the counter safely tucked away in a bag. I retrieved it first thing the next day.

Jesus understood that something more priceless than a diamond earring waited in the lost and found of life. He came to seek and save human beings that were lost. You might say these people, including me, were diamonds in the rough. They included prostitutes, murderers, and thieves. Before salvation, we wallowed at the bottom of the lost and found heap: a single mitten, a broken pair of glasses, or a tattered paperback book. But when the Master retrieved us we became jewels of joy.

Bible Study and Teaching

Prayer For The Sinner

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“Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” James 5:16

You’ve heard it said that confession is good for the soul. Dietrich Bonhoeffer agreed: “A man who confesses his sins in the presence of a brother knows that he is no longer alone with himself; he experiences the presence of God in the reality of the other person. As long as I am by myself in the confession of my sins everything remains in the dark, but in the presence of a brother the sin has been brought into the light.”

Satan had found a foothold in my past that was hindering the present. Although I had recited “the sinners prayer,” I still felt ashamed of certain sins I had committed and unworthy to be used by God. I was convinced that if any of my Christian friends knew how bad I really was, they’d avoid me. At a summer retreat, the youth pastor taught on this text in James, saying, “If Satan is continually reminding you of sins you’ve already confessed, if you feel stuck in the past, then confessing your sins to another could break the cycle.” I was terrified but felt compelled to confess the untold story of my past to my friends. Instead of condemnation, they offered compassion. Instead of pointing fingers, they laid hands on me and asked God to heal my wounds. From that time on, the cycle of guilt and shame was broken, and the light of God flooded my soul.

In this text, James offers hope to all believers: Confessing our sins to one another and praying for each other brings God’s healing touch. Is there something in your past that Satan is imprisoning you with? Find a friend or Pastor to confess your sins and see how God will break Satan’s hold on you.

Bible Study and Teaching

Little People, Big God

Little-People-Big-God672x345Then Jesus entered and passed through Jericho. Now behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus who was a chief tax collector, and he was rich. And he sought to see who Jesus was, but could not because of the crowd, for he was of short stature. So he ran ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see Him, for He was going to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, He looked up and saw him, and said to him, “Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house” (Luke 19:1-5).

Imagine if Jesus visited your hometown. What price would you pay to see Him? Would you…

…rise early or stay up late?

…stand in long lines for hours?

…fight enthusiastic crowds?

…sit in the cheap seats?

…risk public disapproval?

…suffer hunger or discomfort?

…walk a long distant?

…lose a day’s wage?

My heart cries a resounding, YES! But my flesh fights. Deep inside I hedge. Perhaps I’d turn off the alarm to get a few extra winks. The long lines and crowded streets might discourage me. And if the throng disliked me, I’d shrink back. Let’s face it, Jesus offers to meet us daily. But do we make the appointment? Or do we allow hurdles to hinder us? Zacchaeus, an unbelieving Gentile, overcame all obstacles to get a glimpse of the Savior. His zeal makes me jealous.

Thankfully, Jesus understood that, “The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41). Several saints faced this struggle. The Lord warned Peter that haters would make him a traitor. David, the man after God’s heart, lamented over his fragile humanity. Paul admitted, “I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find”(Romans 8:18).

The solution to conquer our bothersome bodies? The Spirit of God! The same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead breathes resurrection life into your soul. (See Romans 8:11). Without God we accomplish nothing. But with Him, all things are possible.

Bible Study and Teaching

Church Cat

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“Mary… sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word. But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, ‘Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.’ And Jesus answered and said to her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.'”  (Luke 10:39-42).

Thanks to Lewis Carroll, most of us have heard the story of a church mouse. But have you ever heard of a church cat? In the small town of Fairford, in Gloucestershire, England, stands St. Mary’s church surrounded by a churchyard. There stands one of their most beloved sculptures: “Tiddles” the cat. Church members erected the monument because the cat often wandered into the building during worship services to make itself at home. Villagers chided that the cat probably spent more time worshiping than any other parishioner. It doesn’t take much imagination to picture the feline curled up in the sunlight of a stained glass window.

It seems Mary soaked up the Son’s light every chance she got. Once He was in the door, she was at His feet. Sure, she was misunderstood. Martha felt she was lazy. Perhaps the disciples begrudged her intrusion. Even Lazarus could have brushed her away to get some one on one time with Jesus. But Mary remained immovable. The touch of God outstripped the hand of others. Much like Mary and Tibbles the cat, David understood the privilege of being in God’s house and His presence. He said, “A single day in your courts is better than a thousand anywhere else! I would rather be a gatekeeper in the house of my God than live the good life in the homes of the wicked” (Ps. 84:10 nlt).

I think I’d like to be a church cat, too. What a privilege to roam freely in the presence of God and His people. It would be “purrfect” to soak in the worship and the Wordboth day and night.