July 31, 2017
LINGER LONGER WITH THE LORD
"Be still, and know that I am God. ...The LORD of hosts is with us;..."
The older I get the longer I want to linger with good people and good times. When I was a young man I would rush from place to place, person to person and experience to experience. But there is something vastly richer and more fulfilling in remaining still and present with special people and memorable places. On a recent guys weekend, our 11th year in a row, we met at a friend’s cabin nestled on the cusp of North Georgia’s rolling and timber laden mountains. I could have stayed until the next weekend, emotionally inhaling God’s refreshing and rejuvenating creation, while laughing and crying with my band of brothers. My soul longs to linger with the Lord in stillness.
What does it mean to be still and know God? Much more than a motionless body, stillness serenades the soul with an inner tranquility so the cares of this world lose their caustic control. To know God is the pinnacle of knowledge; He is all knowing and generous in revealing His grand design. Like an iconic artist, our Creator invites us to sit at His feet and watch Him create something out of nothing or add brush strokes of His brilliance to brighten our lives. Since the Lord is with us we need not rush away, but wait with Him in eager anticipation.
"Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices!" (Psalm 37:7)
"God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,"(Psalm 46:1-2)
Are you seeking help from inferior helpers? Why not go to the One who calmed the seas, who made its surface walkable and who fills the oceans to overflowing. You have an ever-present Helper who is waiting for you to seek His face in trust. The fruit of a frantic pace is anxiety, but the fruit of faith is peace. The roots of aspen trees intertwine in a quiet and stable community of God’s creation. Linger with the Lord so your root system of righteousness goes deeper with Christ and His followers. Linger longer with the Lord and you will linger longer for the Lord.
What appointment is more important than meeting with your Maker? What investment is more valuable than intimacy with your Savior Jesus? What experience is more enjoyable than experiencing God? Stillness is a command but also a sacred comfort. How does a child feel when they crawl up onto their loving parent’s lap? Love, peace, and joy for sure. How much more does our heavenly Father caress our heart with His grace and kiss our head with His kindness. When we linger in our Lord’s presence we receive the gift of His ever-present help.
"So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God's rest has also rested from his works as God did from his." (Hebrews 4:9-11)
How can you adjust your calendar to spend more time with your Maker and in community with His people?
July 29-30, 2017
WON'T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR?
"Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?"
"It's a beautiful day in this neighborhood, A beautiful day for a neighbor, Would you be mine?
When Fred Rogers died February 27, 2003, sco res of newspapers carried the story as front-page news, and almost every headline included the word "neighbor."
Could you be mine? . . .
I have always wanted to have a neighbor just like you, I've always wanted to live in a neighborhood with you.
So let's make the most of this beautiful day, Since we're together, we might as well say, Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?
Won't you be my neighbor?
Won't you please,
Won't you please,
Please won't you be my neighbor?
Hi television neighbor, I'm glad we're together again . . ."
(Theme song and spoken introduction, Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood)
As host of the long-running children’s television show Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, he was well known to millions of children and their parents as a kind, gentle, warm person who genuinely believed “each person is special, deep inside, just the way they are.”
Mr. Rogers once told a journalist: “When we look at our neighbor with appreciative eyes, . . . with gratitude for who that person truly is, then I feel we are arm in arm with Christ Jesus, the advocate of eternal good.”
Because Rogers recognized the value of each person, he believed in being a good neighbor to all. When Jesus was asked, “Who is my neighbor?” He told the parable of the Good Samaritan:
"But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, 'And who is my neighbor?' Jesus replied, 'A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, "Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back."'" (Luke 10:29-35)
At the conclusion of this story, the Lord asked,
“Which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?” (Luke 10:36)
"He [the man] said, 'The one who showed him mercy.' And Jesus said to him, 'You go, and do likewise.'" (Luke 10:37)
Who in your “neighborhood” needs a kind word, an arm of friendship, or an act of encouragement today? Jesus calls us to show love and compassion to others as we love God with all our heart, and our neighbor as ourselves.
Your love for your neighbor is proof of your love for God.
David C. McCasland
July 28, 2017
HUMILITY IS ATTRACTIVE
"Now the man Moses was very meek, more than all people who were on the face of the earth."
Humility is attractive because it accepts others. You feel valued and important when you are in the presence of humility. The humble person is not pressing their agenda; rather they are listening for your needs, dreams, and fears. Humility is other centric. It is also in a position to trust in God. You tend to trust someone who trusts God. They depend on their Heavenly Father because they recognize their limitations without Him.
Humility also solicits followers. People want to follow a person of humility. They respect the honesty that travels with humility. This is vital to effective leadership. People will go the extra mile for an honest and humble leader. They serve with passion because they feel they are served and cared for by their humble leader. However, humility not only attracts positive reactions but negative ones as well.
"The Lord lifts up the humble; he casts the wicked to the ground." (Psalm 147:6)
Critics can hound the humble. Some critics view the humble one as weak, and therefore their humility is a target for criticism. Their strategy is to wear down the humble one and force him or her to capitulate to the critic’s claims. However, the critic may underestimate the resolve of the humble. A humble person, submitted to the will of God, will not wither under the critic’s verbal firestorm. When there is a conflict between pleasing God or pleasing people, Christ is the choice.
"The reward for humility and fear of the LORD is riches and honor and life." (Proverbs 22:4)
There is a deep reservoir of stamina within the heart and mind of the humble to do what is right and trust God with the results. Over time the humble person will learn from his critics and become better because of them, but he will not compromise his core values and principles. Ultimately, the goal is to humbly love God and people. This is attractive.
"He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?" (Micah 6:8)
Do you walk humbly with the Lord your God? Are others attracted to humility in you?
July 27, 2017
WHO IS MY NEIGHBOR?
"..'You go, and do likewise.'"
Mary enjoyed her midweek church group meeting when she and several friends gathered to pray, worship, and discuss questions from the previous week’s sermon. This week, they were going to talk about the difference between “going” to church and “being” the church in a hurting world. She was looking forward to seeing her friends and having a lively discussion.
As she picked up her car keys, the doorbell rang. “I’m so sorry to bother you,” said her neighbor Sue, “but are you free this morning?” Mary was about to say that she was going out when Sue continued, “I have to take my car to the repair shop. Normally I would walk or cycle home, but I’ve hurt my back and can’t do either at the moment.” Mary hesitated for a heartbeat and then smiled. “Of course,” she said.
Mary knew her neighbor only by sight. But as she drove her home, she learned about Sue’s husband’s battle with dementia and the utter exhaustion that being a caregiver can bring with it. She listened, sympathized, and promised to pray. She offered to help in any way she could.
Mary didn’t get to church that morning to talk about sharing her faith. Instead she took a little bit of Jesus’ love to her neighbor who was in a difficult situation.
Faith is seen in our actions.
July 26, 2017
OUT OF THE DEEP
2 Samuel 22:17
"He sent from on high, he took me; he drew me out of many waters."
I scanned the water intently, on alert for signs of trouble. During my six-hour shifts as a lifeguard, I watched from the side of the pool to ensure the safety of those swimming. Leaving my post, or even becoming lax in my attentiveness, could have grave consequences for those in the pool. If a swimmer was in danger of drowning due to injury or lack of skill, it was my responsibility to pluck them from the water and return them to safety on the pool deck.
After experiencing God’s aid in battle against the Philistines:
"There was war again between the Philistines and Israel, and David went down together with his servants, and they fought against the Philistines. And David grew weary. And Ishbi-benob, one of the descendants of the giants, whose spear weighed three hundred shekels of bronze, and who was armed with a new sword, thought to kill David. But Abishai the son of Zeruiah came to his aid and attacked the Philistine and killed him. Then David's men swore to him, 'You shall no longer go out with us to battle, lest you quench the lamp of Israel' After this there was again war with the Philistines at Gob. Then Sibbecai the Hushathite struck down Saph, who was one of the descendants of the giants. And there was again war with the Philistines at Gob, and Elhanan the son of Jaare-oregim, the Bethlehemite, struck down Goliath the Gittite, the shaft of whose spear was like a weaver's beam. And there was again war at Gath, where there was a man of great stature, who had six fingers on each hand, and six toes on each foot, twenty-four in number, and he also was descended from the giants. And when he taunted Israel, Jonathan the son of Shimei, David's brother, struck him down. These four were descended from the giants in Gath, and they fell by the hand of David and by the hand of his servants." (2 Samuel 21:15–22)
David likens his rescue to being drawn out of “deep waters”:
"He sent from on high, he took me; he drew me out of many waters." (2 Samuel 22:17)
David’s very life—and that of his men—was in serious danger from his enemies. God buoyed David as he was drowning in disaster. While lifeguards are paid to assure the safety of swimmers, God, on the other hand, saved David because of His delight in him My heart leaps for joy when I realize that God doesn’t watch over and protect me because He’s obliged to but because He wants to.
When we feel overcome by the troubles of life, we can rest in the knowledge that God, our Lifeguard, sees our stdruggle and, because of His delight in us, watches over and protects us.
Our Daily Bread
July 25, 2017
ONLY GOD GETS TO BE THE CAKE
"You shall have no other gods before me."
I once heard a woman on television say she wanted another child because “I know another child will make me happy.” She already had eight. If she birthed more babies, a hunch tells me she discovered Number 9 couldn’t do anything for her that Numbers 1-8 hadn’t. This woman had made an idol out of motherhood.
I used to think an idol was either just an icon, like those I see in a particular shop window near my home, or something you owned that also “owned you.” But I later realized an idol can be anything you just want more than God. It can be something you believe will “save” you—just like this woman believed another baby would save her.
Somewhere in my thirties it slowly dawned on me in a way it hadn’t ever before, that all my biggest and brightest dreams fulfilled, and even the greatest gifts life offers such as the love of family and friends, will never fully satisfy. All of our greatest earthly desires are like icing on the cake of life, but they are not the cake. And they can never be the cake. It’s not possible. Only God gets to be the cake. It’s the way He designed it.
"The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot." (Psalm 16:5)
When we admit that a new home, the best furnishings, a six-figure job, a loving spouse, or even another child cannot fill us, we are in a very good place. At first, it may make us feel desperate because we come face-to-face with our emptiness. But it’s a good kind of desperate because it can lead to peace and rest.
Until then, we are like little children who scream in a panic while grasping at the sky “I want!” But after we admit nothing in this world can satisfy like Christ, we can lie down in the gentle grass of God’s enough. And then (Ah, joy!) comes rest from striving.
To realize you are desperate and that nothing in this world can satisfy leads to liberation from the bondage of serving idols which never keep their promises. All of us have a choice: we can admit nothing in this world will ultimately fill us, or we can spend our entire lives on an endless chase of emptiness, running after another new relationship, another new car, or another new job to make us happy—and we’ll be miserable. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that these things are bad; it’s just that they’re only good for us when we assign them the place in our hearts God has assigned to them. Giving them His place on the throne of our lives only leads to torment.
Do you believe that anything else in life will satisfy besides Christ? Talk to Him about your desires today and ask Him to speak to you and set you free from the power of idolatry.
"Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him." (1 John 2:15)
Ask yourself if there is something in your life that you feel you must have. If so, talk to the Lord about it today and surrender it to Him allowing Him to sit on the throne of your heart.
July 24, 2017
HARMONY IS REFRESHING
"Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it."
Children are blessed with unsoiled and underdeveloped talents and gifts given to them by their heavenly Father. Some are scary gifted in their ability to speak clearly and accurately as a preschooler. Phrases like “trains coupled together” and “owls are nocturnal” are impressive. Or a child may be a good organizer, a dependable helper with chores, creative in their drawing and writing, patient in waiting on others, and generous in sharing their stuff. Wise parents support and develop the skills and giftedness of their children to grow their confidence and to serve others.
Proverbs teaches us that our child has a bent for becoming someone with unique abilities and talents that can be unlocked with patient parental guidance. To train a child is so much more than to tell a child—train means to show, interact and explain. Start early by observing what interests them: reading—tell stories and read together, building—assemble legos and solve puzzles together, exploring—look for adventure in the outdoors and expand their imagination indoors. Most of all, seek God’s wisdom together in shaping their worldview from His Word—the Bible.
"and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus." (2 Timothy 3:15)
Consider the same amount of energy exerted in angry correction, “I’ve told you to do this three times, now do it!” Instead, channel that focused attention into using their strengths to solve a problem, “You are such a good organizer, what if you packed your backpack the night before and placed it by the door?” Or, reinforce a strength that can preclude a problem,“You were such a big help when you shared with your brother/sister, did you see how much they enjoyed your ?” Strengths are meant to compensate, even overcome weaknesses, so when we manage strengths well, we unlock a whale of potential! What strengths do you see in your child that you can praise?
Exactly, what does it mean to train and instruct our child in the Lord? It begins with a healthy fear of the Lord. Not fear as in afraid, but fear as in respect. We obey God because He is our holy heavenly Father who desires and deserves our instant obedience. Simultaneously, we talk a lot about the Lord’s love in giving His only son, Jesus, for the forgiveness of our sins, and for the gift of the Holy Spirit who empowers us to live our life for Him. Lessons learned about God’s gifts of grace, faith, humility, forgiveness, gratitude, generosity, and kindness strengthen our child’s character to engage our culture for Christ. Assuredly, an adult who loves God was trained well!
"You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise." (Deuteronomy 6:7)
What strengths of your child can you help reinforce and develop?
July 23, 2017
FEAR REPRESSES FAITH
"Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God."
Fear represses faith and restrains its recognition. It holds back the boldness to believe; fear is no friend of faith. Fear mistakenly believes it can coddle cunning men while at the same time claim Christ. This is a contradiction that does not stand up under the scrutiny of your Savior. Jesus requires unconditional commitment and unwavering loyalty. It is not all Jesus on Sunday, and Jesus only when it’s convenient the other six days of the week. Covert confession is not an option for a follower of Jesus Christ. Yes, in some parts of the world you have to remain under the rule of atheistic authorities. Discretion is both wise and responsible, but there is no doubt where bold believers stand. Faith is not motivated by fear of man, but by love of God. Faith does not seek to integrate other belief systems into Christianity. It embraces Jesus, and Jesus alone.
Believers who confess their faith in Christ are set free from fear. Confession is freeing, while repression is constraining. You may currently be flailing away on the battlefield of fear. You fear how others may perceive you if they know you fear God. They may label you as weird, narrow-minded, or judgmental. Confession in Christ risks being misunderstood for the sake of the Lord. It values praise from God over praise from man. Yes, public confession of your faith may cost you. Leaders especially have a lot to lose by laying their beliefs on the line.
"Then he [Saul] said, 'I have sinned; yet honor me now before the elders of my people and before Israel, and return with me, that I may bow before the Lord your God.'" (1 Samuel 15:30)
However, how can you be a quiet Christian? What is your motivation? If fear is your reason, then you are wrong to continue down this road of cultural conformity. Where are the leaders who will live by principle even when it may mean losing power? Don’t use your faith just to get a following, and don’t compromise your convictions just to please a group that refuses to respect your values. Fear-based decision-making has no place in the lives of Christ’s disciples. Do the right thing, even though it may cost you votes, a job, a raise, a promotion, praise, or opportunities. In turn, you gain the confidence of Christ.
When you give up something because of principle, you gain His praise. When fear becomes your fortress, you fight a losing battle, for fear is indefensible. There is not enough you can do to defend its exposed flank. Therefore, fight fear with a consistent and compassionate confession of Christ. Trust God to use your public confession for His cause and glory. Confession gives confidence and calm. It agrees with and proclaims the ways of God and builds your faith. Fear melts under the heat of confession. Public confession of Christ refreshes faith and overcomes fear.
The Bible says,
"Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name." (Hebrews 13:15)
What fear has neutralized your faith and caused you unnecessary worry and stress?
July 21, 2017
TEACH CHILDREN GRATITUDE
"Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. Make them known to your children and your children's children—"
My wife Rita created a good tradition early on with our four daughters. At Christmas or birthdays, after one of the girls opened a present they were instructed to walk over and thank the gift giver. Rita knew a child’s (even an adult’s) tendency is to jump into enjoying the gift without expressing gratitude to the giver. This simple strategy of being thankful first, puts pressure on us as parents to model the same. Recently, a three-year-old expressed his gratitude to us with a red sheet of construction paper scribbled with a purple crayon. A child’s simple heartfelt thank you!
Moses gave Israel a very clear command to be intentional in their instruction of their children and grandchildren. He reminds them to remember what the Lord had done. Stories of His faithfulness were not to fade from their hearts. These people of God had suffered under slavery, but were delivered by the Almighty’s miraculous deeds. Nothing they or their children faced could extinguish their experiencing the Lord’s salvation. Emotionally recounting God stories gives mental word pictures that remain. Lessons in gratitude teach gratefulness.
"And all the assembly fell silent, and they listened to Barnabas and Paul as they related what signs and wonders God had done through them among the Gentiles." (Acts 15:12)
Accounts of our answered prayers prepare our children to pray and thank God. A simple idea is to record your family prayers on the left column of a prayer journal and write the answer to those prayers on the right side of the page. Update your prayers weekly with your child and review how the Lord has answered your petitions. Furthermore, gratitude is as much caught as taught. Talk over meals about God’s work in the people you encounter at work. Describe how He has been faithful in their lives to overcome obstacles. Be an aggressive appreciator of God.
Quietly and consistently thank people for the blessing they are in your life. Perhaps you designate “Thankful Thursdays” to write thank you notes with your children. Have stamps, envelopes, stationary and pens in a zip lock bag so you are prepared to sit down for 20 minutes and write a couple of notes to those who need your encouragement. Keep it brief and make sure to pen a scripture verse that reminds you of the person you are writing. Instruct your grandchild to always thank their mom and dad. Gratitude especially honors those who model thankfulness!
"Solomon loved the Lord, walking in the statutes of David his father, only he sacrificed and made offerings at the high places." (1 Kings 3:3)
What is one simple way to instruct your child to be grateful?
July 20, 2017
WHY YOU SHOULD STAY IN DEBT
"Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law."
Consumer debt is a significant problem that threatens our economic system year by year. Whether it’s student loans, maxed out credit cards, or mortgages that we can’t afford, we as a society have overreached our financial limits in countless ways. As such, there are entire industries built around offering debt relief and counsel on how to, as we say, “find financial freedom.”
To be financially free is to be financially autonomous, owing nothing to anyone. Quite literally, it is the ending of a relationship. When you pay off your car loan or your student debt, you are more than happy to free yourself from a relationship with that institution! While financial freedom may be wise and healthy, St. Paul reminds us today that relational freedom is devastating to the heart and soul.
"And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony." (Colossians 3:14)
Genuine love binds us together with our friends, families, and neighbors, and this relational debt can never be repaid. To exhaust the debt of love is to end a relationship, to cease to live for the good of others and simply concern yourself with your own personal needs, wants, and desires. In many ways this is the root of all sin. In the garden, Adam chose to remove himself from a life of dependent intimacy with God and instead chose autonomous self love, and we have suffered from this sickness ever since.
To grow into the woman or man God is calling you to be, you must be willing to allow his Spirit to heal you from an inverted love of self. You must see the relational complexities in your family and the brokenness in your community not as a burden to cast off but as an inexhaustible opportunity to model the self-giving love shown to us on the cross.
As we learn to walk in this way of love, we learn to view the world through a different set of lenses. If love is an inexhaustible debt, our question isn’t just “Is this a good school for my child?” but it becomes “Is it a good school for my neighbor’s children?” We pursue education and careers not based on their promised level of income and affluence but on their ability to free us to work for the flourishing of others. Instead of saying “Why did they get that promotion instead of me?” we are able to rejoice in their success and share in their joy.
If we truly believe we are bound to one another in love, and that love can never be exhausted, it has the potential to radically change the way we view the world and our place within it!
Is there a debt of love that you have treated as closed and repaid that the Lord wants you to reopen?
July 18-19, 2017
2 Corinthians 4:18
"as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal."
Eternal optimists base their optimism on the eternal, not the temporal. The temporal is consumed with current circumstances, while the eternal experiences eternal security. The temporal is anxious about another adverse event, while the eternal is at peace with Providence. The temporal trusts what it can see, while the eternal trusts in the unseen. Do you glance at the temporal and gaze on the eternal? If so, you are an eternal optimist. By faith we see the Lord, who is unseen, and this compels us to obey Christ. Moses experienced this during a time of transition.
"By faith he left Egypt, not being afraid of the anger of the king, for he endured as seeing him who is invisible." (Hebrews 11:27)
Your eternal optimism is what gives you the courage to carry on; so do not let temporal pessimists persuade you to lose heart. Stay fixed on your Savior, the author of your faith.
Eternal optimism exits when fear gets the upper hand. Fear seeks to flush out your faith as irresponsible and irrelevant. However, it is faith that keeps you grounded in God, the definer of reality. The righteous learn to live in the reality of the Lord’s love and leadership. Pain and striving are temporary, but healing and peace are eternal. You can be optimistic, knowing by faith you can be certain of the unseen.
"Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen." (Hebrews 11:1)
Lastly, are you a temporal pessimist or an eternal optimist? Are you striving to survive or thriving to succeed? Look to the unseen, and you will one day understand. Engage with the Almighty’s agenda, your focus will be forever and your results eternally significant. Can your family and friends depend on you to be an eternal optimist? Your hopeful attitude in the eternal gives them reason to be optimists. Live and exclaim out loud:
"Surely there is a future, and your hope will not be cut off." (Proverbs 23:18)
How does your attitude need to shift from a fearful pessimist to an eternal optimist?
July 17, 2017
JUST LIKE DAD
"So Jesus said to them, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise.'"
Isn’t it endearing to see a child mimicking his parents? How often we’ve seen the young boy in a car seat, gripping his imaginary steering wheel intently while keeping a close eye on the driver to see what Daddy does next.
I remember doing the same thing when I was young. Nothing gave me greater pleasure than doing exactly what my dad did—and I’m sure he got an even bigger kick watching me copy his actions. I would like to think God felt the same way when He saw His dearest Son doing exactly what the Father did—reaching out to the lost, helping the needy, and healing the sick. Jesus said,
"...the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise." (John 5:19)
We too are called to do the same—to “follow God’s example:
"Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God." (Ephesians 5:1–2)
As we continue growing to be more like Jesus, may we seek to love like the Father loves, forgive like He forgives, care like He cares, and live in ways that please Him. It is a delight to copy His actions, in the power of the Spirit, knowing that our reward is the affectionate, tender smile of a loving Father.
Our Daily Bread
July 16, 2017
"He will yet fill your mouth with laughter, and your lips with shouting."
Laughter is from the Lord. It is His medicine for the mind and therapy for the soul. The Lord laughs because He is the dispenser of laughter. You cannot give what you do not have, and He has plenty to laugh about. Just as an engaging parent intently observes his children, so God sees antics and behaviors that are hilarious. The Lord must laugh when He sees one of His children smile and do something silly, harmless, and lighthearted. Indeed, He knows laughter is one way to get us through life’s intense moments. God is not so serious that he cannot smile and laugh.
How could Jesus have been 100% human if He hadn’t experienced an old-fashioned belly laugh? Just hanging out with impetuous Peter would be reason enough to giggle under your breath, or even burst into raucous, roaring laughter. Indeed, God has a sense of humor. You don’t have to look beyond the mirror to verify this fact.
"And Sarah said, “God has made laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh over me." (Genesis 21:6)
His joy and laughter are a refreshing combination. In a day when proud piety has frowned on laughter, God still laughs. He laughs, and so do you, for you were created in His image. It is no laughing matter to think that God does not laugh. A world without laughter would be like a joke without a punch line, so look to the Lord of laughter and smile; He does.
"So Sarah laughed to herself, saying, 'After I am worn out, and my lord is old, shall I have pleasure?'" (Genesis 18:12)
God has given you permission to laugh. In fact, He has put joy in your heart and laughter on your lips for a purpose. When you laugh, you relax. When you laugh, the cares of this world shrink and the Lord looms larger. When you laugh, you learn to enjoy life and the Lord himself. When you laugh, you look like the Lord. Laugh loudly and laugh often. Moreover, generosity will fuel your laughter. It is cheerful giving that brings joy to the soul:
"Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver." (2 Corinthians 9:7)
Generosity ignites joy and laughter. No wonder the greedy frown and fret; there is no freedom to let loose and laugh. Laughless living is for losers. They are bound up in boring behavior. If you are too serious to laugh, you are too serious.
Seriously, you can be too serious for your own good. You may be more serious than God. Instead, throw back your head and begin by laughing at yourself. Take yourself less seriously and God more seriously. A good laugh lends itself to longer and better living. A scowling face seems to rush more quickly to the grave. Lean on the Lord for your laughter, and make His joy your strength.
Laughter infuses your faith with mercy and hope. You are not a naïve laughing fool, but a joyful follower of Christ. Take time each day to laugh at yourself and to laugh with others. Recognize laughter as the Lord’s way of leveraging a balanced and healthy life. Life without laughter is dull and mundane. Therefore, choose to lift up others and yourself with a good laugh. There is a time to laugh, so do it often and do it well. The Lord may be laughing right now, so smile.
"a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;" (Ecclesiastes 3:4)
What area of your life do you need to take less seriously and take the Lord more seriously?