Wednesday, December 30, 2009

New Year; New Hope

"But if You can do anything, have compassion on us and help us."

Jesus said to him, "If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes."

Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, "Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!" Mark 9:22-24 (NKJV)

I saw Him again this week. And it was glorious. Surprising, but amazing and delightful.

Those clouds can be so deceiving. Any reason for hope is just clouded by doubt, but the light is blinding when it breaks through, and it leaves me speechless.

Human perspective is so short-sighted. Human reason is so limiting. Hope based on logic is so faint and well, hopeless. But hope in Jesus? The impossible becomes possible. The tragic becomes an opportunity for glorious grace. The heartbreaking becomes heartwarming. Despair turns to joy.

We’re at the end of another year, and maybe you feel at the end of your rope. If you do, I have good news for you. Just like a new year is upon us, new hope is waiting for you to cling to. I have learned that being at the end of my rope, or seeing others at the end of theirs, it’s a glorious place to be. Why? Because the glory is coming! Just wait. Just believe. And if you can’t, do what the man did who wanted his son to be healed so desperately but had trouble believing Jesus could really do it.

“Lord, I believe,” he cried. “Help my unbelief!”

And hear Jesus respond. “Anything is possible for the one who believes that I am able.”

Saturday, December 19, 2009

“Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you. Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you...For if you love them which love you, what thank have ye? For sinners also love those that love them...Be merciful as your Father also is merciful.” Luke 6:27-28, 32, 36 (KJV)

Whew! That’s a tough one. Sometimes I have trouble loving the people who do love me, let alone those who don’t! How about you? So why does Jesus instruct us to love our enemies and those who have hurt us? One reason is because they need the love. People who hurt others have been hurt themselves. They are not well-loved. They need to experience God’s love and the compassion of others. Without it they will never change. They will continue to hurt more people just as they have hurt us. They will remain in bondage to hate and bitterness and strife. And we will remain there with them.

Love brings healing, for them and for us, but when we have trouble loving others, it’s not just an area we need to work on and strive to be better at, it’s a red-flag that we have not taken God’s mercy fully into our own hearts. I like the words that Jesus speaks here in the King James Version because there is an interesting word in the middle of His dialogue. “If you love them which love you, what thank have ye?“

The word ‘thank’ means ‘grace’. To love others that love us is nice, a natural thing, but it doesn’t reveal the grace of God in our lives. But to love those who don’t love us, that can only come from one source: hearts that fully recognize and accept God’s love. Full hearts. Thankful hearts. Forgiven hearts that live continually in His grace toward us first, and then can pass that forgiveness on to others.

Grace is not just something to receive, it is something that when received changes us. Later in His message Jesus says this: “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart...out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.” We can’t just determine we are going to love someone and do it. We can’t just decide we’re going to do good to others who have hurt us. Only when we fully take in God’s love for ourselves and ‘store it up’ will we have anything to ‘spill over’ onto others.

What grace have ye? God’s full measure of forgiveness and healing and goodness filling up your soul? Have you fully accepted His love for you? Jesus says that the way we love others will reveal the state of our own hearts. And hearts that live as His dearly loved children is what He wants for us more than anything.

‘And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge--that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.’ Ephesians 3:17-19

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Things of God

“You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.” Mark 8:33

The words of Jesus often hit me right between the eyes. Calling them profound is an understatement, but that’s exactly what they are. Truthful. Weighty. Thought-provoking. Obvious, yet subtle. Like a knife to the heart, yet delivered with grace.

Jesus speaks these particular words to Peter, and they are meant to be a rebuke, but the curious thing is that Peter was trying to do a very noble thing. Jesus is telling the disciples that the time of His death is near, and Peter steps in to say, ‘Don’t say that!’ He doesn’t want to hear any talk about Jesus being defeated. That isn’t the plan. That can’t happen, and Peter isn’t afraid to set Jesus straight.

But as often is the case, Jesus isn’t swayed by human emotions. He understands where Peter is coming from, but He can’t accept his way of thinking. It’s short-sighted and counter-productive. Jesus came to teach and demonstrate the love of God. That was His purpose, His destiny, His way of telling the world that His mercy extends to all. To take that away made no sense to Him, to put it mildly. Jesus uses some stronger words: “Get behind me, Satan!”

Those are some pretty harsh words for Jesus to speak to anyone, let alone one of His closest followers, but I think He often has cause to say the same thing to you and me--a lot more often than we are willing to listen.

When I read these words a few days ago, I knew Jesus was speaking them to me in a variety of ways. Some more serious than others. And while there is that element of rebuke in bringing my thinking into alignment with God’s, there is also a great deal of freedom in knowing that the burdens of my heart are of little significance in light of God’s perfect ways. What I see as tragedy, hardship, confusion, failure, pain, loss, and negativity, He sees as opportunities for grace, redemption, love, and hope.

The mind of man is unreliable, untrustworthy, short-sighted, and lacking in understanding and proper perspective. But the mind of God is always perfect. The things of God are good, intentional, and higher than our own ways could ever be. In what ways are you allowing your mind to dwell on the things of man? Do you need a heavenly perspective? Is your heart bound by human emotion and despair, or are you living in the freedom of His grace? Are you trying to be in charge, or are you letting Him be?

It can be tough to let go of what we think is best, but it’s the best thing we can ever do. For ourselves, for those around us, for our world--which you might not think is worth much, but Jesus did. And so are you. You were worth His life. Now there’s some out-of-this-world thinking. But it’s true.

‘Follow the way of love...’ 1 Corinthians 14:1

Thursday, December 3, 2009


There was a young woman named Sarah who was raised as a princess. Her father was the king of a great land. He was very wealthy, and she was well educated. At the age of 22, having finished college and not being married, she moved to New York City in America to make her own way in the world.

She was close to her family and remained in contact with them. While she searched for a job, they supported her financially, and when she called to tell them she had been hired as a research assistant for a large publishing company, they were happy for her. Being financially stable on her own within a few weeks, she asked them to stop sending her money, and the weekly wire-transfers ceased.

Many years passed. Along the way, Sarah found a man to share her life with, and they were married. They had two children. She climbed the ladder of success in the publishing world and became an editor, and she balanced career and family. She was busy, didn’t get a lot of sleep, and went from one day to the next with a familiar kind of monotony, but she was her own woman, doing what she had left her homeland to do, and she was happy, as happy as she could imagine ever being.

When her youngest child was five years old, Sarah’s husband became very sick. After many medical tests and doctor’s exams, his condition remained a mystery. Nevertheless he was sick and couldn’t work for several months. Eventually he lost his job and his share of the family income. With a hefty mortgage to pay on their New York condo, Sarah called her father and asked if he could help them out. He agreed without hesitation, and the money was wired to their account that very day, and once a month until her husband got better, was able to get his job back, and began bringing in a steady income once again. When she called her father to let him know they no longer needed his help, the monthly support stopped, and life returned to normal.

About a year later another crisis came. This time her job was in jeopardy, as her publishing company was facing tough financial times and several editors were let go to downsize things. After twelve years with the company, Sarah was suddenly unemployed in a city where other similar businesses were in the same boat, and finding another job took two years. During that time, she enjoyed quality time with her husband and children she hadn’t had been able to fit into her schedule before, and with her father’s money to help them out once again, they didn’t experience financial hardship.

Returning to work as an editor with a publishing company she had once only dreamed of working for, Sarah could see that losing her job originally had been a blessing in disguise. They hadn’t just survived the difficult time but actually thrived, and her new job was better than the one she’d had before.

A few years later her husband got sick again, and in just two months he was gone. Sarah became a widow at the age of forty with two children to care for on her own. She knew if she sold their upscale condo and moved into a smaller place in a less desirable neighborhood, she could support her family on one income, but she loved their home and didn’t want to leave where she had spent so many happy years with her husband, nor did she want to uproot the children from everything that was familiar to them.

Her parents made the journey from their homeland to attend the funeral and remained for another week to have time with their daughter and grandchildren, providing emotional support during the difficult days. The evening before they were scheduled to leave, Sarah broke down with the burden of the challenges and changes that lay before her. She had silently decided to sell the condo and move them to a new place, not feeling certain where they would go but feeling like it was her only option.

“What is this talk?” her father asked. “Why are you talking about not having the money to remain here?”

She looked at him and waited for an explanation.

“Don’t you remember your childhood and how we cared for all of your needs until you moved here and were able to support yourself? Don’t you remember when your husband was sick and we wired you money to meet your expenses until he was better? How many months was that?”

“Six,” she replied.

“And when you lost your job and we sent you money so you wouldn’t have to move then? How long was that?”

“Two years.”

“Do you still not understand that we are always here for you no matter what?”

She felt humbled by their generosity, but she knew she shouldn’t be surprised. Had they ever let her down? Had they ever left her to fend for herself when she was in need? Had her father been the one to withhold anything from her during the times of prosperity, or had she been the one to stop receiving when she could provide for herself?

More tears escaped her eyelids, but this time they weren’t from an overwhelming burden caused by difficult circumstances. They were simply tears of gratitude and a realization that she was so loved and could always count on the care of her father. She could deny his generosity whenever she didn’t have the need or was too proud to receive it, but he could never turn his heart from however she needed him.

This parable was inspired by the words of Jesus in Mark 8:14-21. If you are facing tough financial times or have other burdens that are weighing you down, I encourage you to read these precious and poignant words of our loving Savior and allow them to bring you peace today.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

God is Father, Creator, Savior, Lord, Spirit, Truth, Light, Life, Infinite, Ever-Present, Holy, Just, All-Powerful, All-Knowing, Good, Righteous, Merciful...

What are we?


Thursday, October 8, 2009

“I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God...” Luke 4:43

Jesus had a mission. He had good news to share, and He was eager to share it. “The kingdom of God is near,” He said. It was close. It was for everyone. It was good.

Love, forgiveness, goodness and hope was His message. He talked about it. He demonstrated it by healing people of their diseases, forgiving their sins, driving out demons, and calming raging seas. ‘It’s right here. Take it. It’s yours.’ And many did. He was popular. He drew a crowd. He had the power. He had what they needed and the message they wanted to hear. (Well, except for the ‘religious’ ones.)

Everywhere He went, the truth poured out of Him. “I must preach...” It was too much a part of Him to hold inside. He was experiencing Kingdom Life as God’s Son, and He wanted everyone else to experience it too. The reality of God--their loving Creator and Father; The Eternal One.

I think we as Christians want to share the good news of the Kingdom just like Jesus did. We want to and we try to, and yet it often doesn’t seem to come out right or be received well. We’re not popular like Jesus was, we’re marked as religious fanatics. We don’t get invited to the houses of “sinners.” We don’t draw a crowd. We’re not powerful. We stammer and stutter over the right words.

But I don’t think it’s about our delivery style. It’s about us. Are we experiencing Kingdom Life like Jesus did? Are we believing that we are God’s ‘Beloved child with whom I am well pleased’? (Mark 1:11) Are we ‘Seeking first His Kingdom’ and letting Him take care of the rest? Are we letting God be our King and doing ONLY what He asks of us, and no more? (John 5:19) Are we heeding his words, ‘Follow Me’ or trying to mark out our own course?

Evangelism 101: To teach the good news of the Kingdom of God effectively, we must first live it ourselves. We must let God’s love invade our entire being before we can tell others that God loves them too. We must have God on the throne of our hearts, follow Him every day, and trust where He is taking us before we can say to someone else, ‘Follow Him.’

Focus on your own relationship with God today, and see where He leads you to share about it tomorrow. Focus on your own faith this week, and see how He uses that to increase someone else’s. Focus on His love FOR YOU, and see where He leads you to share that same love in the days to come.

It’s a message worth sharing. It's a message worth living! A message of hope, life, love, and transformation. Are you living it today?

Sunday, September 20, 2009

"Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come." Rev. 4:8

As I was driving home this evening, I was listening to a song on the CD player that I really like. I've heard it many times, but there was a line I realized I hadn't quite caught before, and it intrigued me when I finally made out what the singer was saying.

'Hide my sin from the beauty here before your throne.' The song is Hallelujah by Tenth Avenue North, and it's a picture of the scene in Revelation that talks about God's Throne and all that surrounds it, including the Lamb that was slain. Whenever I hear this song I imagine myself standing before God, gazing upon His beauty and holiness and being covered by the blood of Christ.

But as I was thinking of this line I thought, 'How can my sin be hidden from the beauty of God and His Throne?' Through Christ, yes, but I was looking for something more tangible. Not just to be forgiven and cleansed of my sin so that I can stand before God blameless, but how is my sin actually removed? Or is it? Is it just concealed? When something is concealed, it can't be seen, but it's still there. Does God just overlook it and say, 'It's all right. I know it's there, but I'm covering it up."? Or can it actually flee, never to be seen again?

I'm not asking these questions so much for the future, like when I stand before God in Heaven someday. I'm asking it more for right now. The Bible doesn't just talk about being forgiven of sin and free from it someday. It talks about being free from it now. "It is for freedom that Christ has set you free," Paul says in Galatians. And Jesus says, "If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed." I think they're both talking about a present reality, not just something for the future when we are no longer alive on Planet Earth.

Somewhere between riding in my car and getting myself some dinner, I changed the words of the song slightly, thinking they were the actual lyrics, and suddenly I had a picture in my mind of what happens to the sin. Listening to the song again as I was eating, I realized that I had changed one of the words to come up with this mental picture. I don't mean to say that the writer of this song wrote it wrong, because I'm sure to him it means something that fits in with however he thinks, but for what God was trying to say to me on this particular night, it works better to say, 'Hide my sin in the beauty of your throne." Not to conceal it, but to swallow it up. Not to just forgive, but remove it. Not to cover it with the blood of Christ, but to make it impossible to exist in light of His Glory. In other words, "To go and sin no more," as Jesus said to the adulterous woman who was brought before him and sent on her way to choose a different kind of life.

You see, sin doesn't exist by itself. It is the result of unbelief. The root of all sin is unbelief. We don't do as God says because we don't believe its what is best for us. We don't believe in His love, only His judgement. We believe that if we do this thing, it's wrong. But we don't believe that if we do what is right, we will be better off for it. If we did, in every circumstance, we would never sin.

But we do sin and so forgiveness is needed. But what is forgiveness? It's the belief that we are okay before God. We did something we shouldn't have, but He loves us anyway and we are set free from the fear of judgement. This requires belief on the back side of sin. But God's greatest desire for us is that we would be set free from our unbelief on the front side and experience the blessings of choosing the right way in the first place. That we would see Him for who He really is, know we are loved, and heed His warning about what isn't good for us and choose what is!

That's the beauty of His Throne. He rules with love. And when I stand before Him in light of all He truly is, unbelief can't exist. It's not just covered up. It's gone. I see the truth of His love for me, and I believe. I see the blood Jesus shed for me and I say, "My God! He loves me! He died to prove that, and He lives to empower me to live!" --Free from sin. Free from unbelief. Free to immerse myself in all that He is and all that He has for me.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Why Do You Care?

You give me all I need
Your best, your grace, your heart
You give me everything
Your heart desires for me

And I say why, why do you care
About me way down here
And you say, My child, I am near
I see, I know, I care

On my own I am but dust
So frail, so prone to doubt
But you are patient, you are always
Ready to lift me up

And I say why, why do you care
About me even now
And you say, My child, I'm still here
I'll never leave your side

You give me grace
You give me hope
You give me love like I've never known
You give me peace
You restore my soul
And I am your delight

And I say why, why do you care
So unconditionally
And you say, My child, from where I stand
You're beautiful and you're mine

Thursday, August 20, 2009

"Guard your heart always, for it is the wellspring of life." Proverbs 4:23

I came across this verse the other day, and something about it really stirred my soul. The next day one of my friends posted this same verse on Facebook  and I felt like God wanted me to think on it more, and so I have been. And I've come up with a few thoughts I'd like to share.

What does it mean to guard your heart? When we think of guarding something, we think of protecting it, and I think that's the idea here. We need to protect our hearts, but that can be a tricky thing. When we want to protect our home, we put a lock on the door. When a nation wants to defend itself, it might build a wall around the borders. And sometimes guarding our heart means that we must do the same. We don't let things in that can steal our peace and joy.

But walls and locks can be detrimental too. A heart that is shut down and closed off from everything around it becomes a lifeless heart.

God says that life flows from the heart. It must be guarded, but not shut down. In a world where people, things, and even the heart itself can bring a great deal of harm, how is this accomplished? How can we guard our heart and have it open at the same time?

I believe the secret lies with keeping the heart fully open to God. Letting Him fill it with His love. We don't guard our heart with locks and walls. We guard it with the truth.

How have you left your heart unprotected? What lies are you believing that are damaging your heart? That you're worthless and never good enough? That happiness comes from material possessions and perfect circumstances? That harboring bitterness is better than forgiveness?

I encourage you to take a serious look at your heart. What's there? God's love for you, or shame and regret? Peace or worry? Joy or despair? Thankfulness or discontentment?

Be honest with Him about it, and ask Him to fill it with what needs to be there, including Himself, for Jesus said, "Whoever drinks the water I give will never thirst. It will become a spring of water welling up to eternal life." (John 4:14)

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Powerful Prayer

"I tell you the truth, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but you can also say to this mountain, 'Go, throw yourself into the sea,' and it will be done. If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer." Matthew 21:21-22

The words of Jesus are powerful words. They speak the truth. Truth that we can fully believe in. Truth that can radically change our thinking and our lives.

But His words are often taken out of context, misinterpreted, and used to teach false truths. "If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer," is a perfect example of this. Just reading that sentence alone makes it sound like whatever we ask for, God will give to us, but how dangerous would that be! If you've ever seen the movie, "Bruce Almighty", you know what I mean by that. Having a god who gives us whatever we want and we think is best is a very weak and unloving god. And thankfully, our God is not like that.

So, what is Jesus saying here? What kinds of prayers have that much power behind them? What should we pray for when faced with situations that are difficult and heartbreaking? To answer those questions we must look at the context that Jesus spoke these words.

Going back to verse 12 of Matthew 21, we see Jesus is upset and angry about several things, all of which have the common thread of corruption in the religious system of the day. People were being forced to "buy" their forgiveness, nothing good was happening for the chosen people of Israel, and Jerusalem (this mountain) had become nothing more than a hill of religious and political power run amuck. And Jesus has had it! Enough is enough, and it was time to do something about it.

And He did. Later that week He allowed Himself to be captured by the Powers That Be and be crucified. He became the "sacrificial lamb" that would set us all free from our sins through nothing more than His mercy, and He rose to life to conquer the grave for us all. And in doing so, He showed us something: His great love. He didn't want to leave doubt in anyone's mind. He loved us enough to pay the ultimate price. And because He was God, He was able to put an exclamation point on the truth that God is love!!!

So what does all of this have to do with prayer? Here's what I think He's saying. "If your belief is rooted in My love for you, in the mercy and grace of God, you can ask Me to do whatever is best for you, and I will do it." And similarly, "If your belief is rooted in my love for your brother, neighbor, child, friend, etc., you can ask Me to do whatever is best for them, and I will do it!"

We often don't know what is best for us or for someone else, but Jesus knows. Leave it all in His hands, and He will give you His very best. Believe in His great love and know that you and your loved-ones are safe there. Always.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Yesterday my family and I took a trip to Mt. Rainier. We recently moved to Washington, and I was expecting the mountain to be beautiful close up, and it was. Just take a look at the pictures! But it was more than beautiful and magnificent. Reaching the 6000 ft. elevation point and seeing the glacier-capped mountain come into view was an out-of-this-world experience. Almost unreal. Like another dimension of reality.

I'm sure for those who live or work there, it's become commonplace. It's not new like it was for me. It has become their daily reality. They are constantly surrounded by the beauty and take-your-breath-away views. They hike the trails, drive the roads, see people come and go; It's their life. And hopefully, it doesn't become so familiar that they forget how truly wonderful it all is.

Spiritually-speaking, this happened to me once upon a time. I grew up believing that I was loved by God, and it was a wonderful reality. I'm not sure when that began to change exactly, but it did. Instead of believing I was loved unconditionally, it became conditional. It was as if I was living on a beautiful mountain for many years, never knowing any different, and then someone came along and told me, 'You can't just stay here for free. You have to earn the right to live up here.' I desperately wanted to hang on to His love, so I did whatever I thought I had to do to be worthy of it: Being good; Making the right choices; Doing things to earn God's favor. It was a slow digression, but by the time I began to realize how far I had slipped from a belief in His unconditional love, I was fully immersed in duty, guilt, pride, fear, self-righteousness, and misery.

I felt worthless to God. I was constantly swimming upstream. I was never good enough. I was always falling short of what I thought I should be. But I didn't want to turn my back on Him and run away, so I kept trudging forward, trying to reach the top of the mountain again, but I never got any closer. I remained in the valley of 'He loves me if...'

To make a long story short, God woke me up to the fact I was living that way, and I knew I needed to stop. His love for me was not conditional. He didn't love me more because of all the things I was doing right, and He didn't love me less because of all the ways I was falling short. I didn't have anything to do with how He felt about me. That was all on Him, and God is love.

He loves me. Period. Not if... not when... not because... He just does, and there's nothing I can do either way to change it. I am loved. That is my reality. And it's magnificent, like living on that beautiful mountain and getting to be there every day. Not once in awhile. Not when I reach the summit after a long climb. No. I wake up there, and I don't leave.

It's amazing how much doesn't matter when I truly believe that. It's like living in another dimension. It moves me from the valley of fear, uncertainty, and trying to measure-up, to the high places of grace, hope, and peace where living-loved is the only rule. That's my reality, and there's plenty of room in God's Heart for you too. We are His children. We are His treasure. We are His delight.

Are you living loved today?

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The young man said to Him, "All these (commandments) I have kept from my youth. What do I still lack?"

Jesus said to him, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me."

But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. Matthew 19:20-22 (NKJV)

The gospels are full of stories. Some were parables that Jesus used to teach spiritual truths. Others were real life stories of people who chose to follow Jesus, or to reject Him.

Of those who chose to follow Jesus, most people had a specific reason for doing so--a catalyst that made them take that initial step. Some followed because they witnessed great miracles, like when some of the Disciples saw Jesus give them such a great catch of fish that their nets began breaking. Others followed because Jesus healed them from illness, rescued them from demon possession, gave them sight or ears that could hear or restored legs that could walk. And still others followed because they experienced great forgiveness that they knew they didn’t deserve.

People followed Jesus because they had a reason to. It wasn’t just a new religion to them, it was personal. They were “touched” by Jesus.

One day a young man came to Jesus. He was rich. He was good. He (I think) wanted to follow Jesus, but he was looking for a reason to. What did Jesus have to offer him? He wasn’t sick. He wasn’t in need of great forgiveness. He had no physical or material needs.

And yet something was missing. He could feel it. He asks Jesus, “What good thing must I do to get eternal life?” I’m not sure he knew what he was asking for exactly. Maybe he was talking about living forever with God in the afterlife, or maybe he was saying, “I know there has to be more to life than this, but what is it, and how do I get it?”

Jesus responds by telling him to follow the Commandments, which this young man has done. “What do I still lack?” he asks. Notice that he doesn’t say, ‘I guess that’s it then. I’m good. Thanks, Jesus. I feel better now.’ No, he knew there was more.

Jesus tells him to go sell his possessions and give the money to the poor and to follow Him, but the man rejects this idea and walks away, feeling sorrowful.

What reason does Jesus give the man for doing such a radical thing? Just one. “You will have treasure in heaven.” I don’t think the young man realized it, or he wouldn’t have walked away, but this “treasure” Jesus was talking about was what the young man lacked. He didn’t have it, and he wanted it, but he didn’t see its value.

In Matthew, Chapter 13, Jesus tells many parables in an attempt to explain “the kingdom of heaven.” It seems that no one comparison can adequately explain it, so He gives many, but one of them would have resonated with this young man better than the others.

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went out and sold all he had and bought that field.”

Jesus wasn’t asking this man to give up everything to be left with nothing. He was asking him to exchange what he had for something better. For something that was priceless. For the one thing he still lacked. The man didn’t see it that way and went away, how? Sorrowful. Sad. Full of grief and despair. What did he lack? Joy. He had everything else, but he wasn’t happy, and he knew it. He was looking for the joy.

What reason do you have for following Jesus? You may have a few, or you may have many. But is joy one of them? Do you enjoy it? Is it thrilling and delightful? Incomparable to anything else? In a good way?

I encourage you to spend some time thinking about that. If following Jesus isn’t something you find joyful, why is that? What are you missing? What would Jesus tell you to exchange for the greatest treasure of all?

Maybe it’s money. Maybe it’s pride. Maybe it’s fear. Maybe it’s busyness or perfectionism. Maybe it’s the expectations of others. Maybe it’s religion. Maybe it’s a lack of belief in God’s unconditional love for you.

Maybe you can pinpoint it right away, or maybe you need to ask Jesus to show you what it is. Maybe it’s one thing, or maybe the causes are many. It might be a quick-fix, or it might be a long journey, but either way, whatever you need to do to find the joy--it’s worth it.

For where joy is, there is life. There is God. There is truth. There is perfection. A treasure not of this world, but a heavenly one. And not just for someday; but for today, tomorrow, and always.