Every Day is a Gift

“Every birthday is a gift. Every day is a gift.”Aretha Franklin (1942-2018), the Queen of Soul, singer, songwriter, pianist, and civil rights activist.At the beginning of this month (May), I wrote a blog post titled, A Month Long Celebration.” Well, it is now the last day of May so the month is now ending. Today is my birthday but as birthdays go, this one has been rather subdued. I had absolutely nothing planned for today, and since I’ve been dieting since the end of April (and I’ve lost 13 lbs so far), I’m not blowing my diet on ice cream and cake.

While a birthday is a special day every year, the truth is that every day is a gift. As anyone reading my blog posts knows, I write from a Christian perspective because I’ve been a Christian since I was a young girl. As our society has become more and more secular over the decades that I have been alive, I’ve found myself wondering at times what a person who does not have any specific spiritual beliefs does when really tough times come into their lives (and tough times comes into everyone’s life at some point). I have also been surprised, especially in the past decade, how Christianity even in America today is often mocked and even visibly so by others, and that number is growing at what seems to be a fast rate.

Yesterday I published a blog post on my regular blog titled, The Ultimate Comeback, and it deals with the issue of nominal Christianity since there is a lot of it in America today. And it is the folks in the “nominal” category that are often shifting to what is now being called the Nones group who claim no particular spiritual beliefs at all (see the March 21, 2019 article titled, ‘Nones’ now as big as evangelicals, Catholics in the U.S.,” published in Religion News Service).

Folks with little or no spiritual beliefs will most likely find the rest of this blog post irrelevant, but for those of us who truly believe, I would like to share an article titled, You Can Enjoy Your Life–Everyday,” by Joyce Meyer, Christian author, Bible teacher, speaker, and President of Joyce Meyer Ministries. Here is what she wrote:

Are you enjoying the journey of your life?

The truth is, God wants you to enjoy your life every day. Did you know that? If you didn’t, or maybe you just aren’t sure whether God approves of people enjoying their lives, take a look at John 10:10. It says, “The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows).”

This is an absolutely amazing scripture because it clearly tells us that God doesn’t just want us to be alive, but He wants us to enjoy being alive. He wants us to live with joy – abundant, overflowing joy!

Learning to Live the Life

My passion as a teacher of God’s Word is to help people learn how to live the life Jesus died to give us. That’s why we’ve titled our program “Enjoying Everyday Life.” And I’ve learned through my own experience that if you don’t have joy, then no matter what you have or what you do or how great your circumstances may be…it doesn’t mean much.

So how do we get the joy of the Lord? Jesus tells us in John 15 that if we will abide in Him, we will experience God’s will for our lives, and everything Jesus has will be ours. Abiding means making Jesus the most important person in your life, living and remaining in Him, and making everything in life revolve around Him. That’s when we bear the fruit of a godly life. And that’s when God’s true joy is released in us.

It’s easy to see that focusing on Jesus has so many benefits. For one, when we’re paying attention to Him, we won’t be focused on the problems in the world; and we’ll be able to live with God’s peace and joy. Another benefit of living this way is that it keeps us from being continually stressed-out, living in survival mode and just getting through the day.

Don’t Wait on “When…”

So many people have the mindset that they will be really happy and enjoy life when…when they go on vacation, when the kids are older, when they get higher on the ladder of success at work, when they get married…the list could go on and on. I can relate to this because there was a time when even though I really loved being in the ministry, I wasn’t enjoying the daily responsibilities and activities it involved. I had to learn to live in the moment and enjoy what God was doing in me and through me now, not when the conference was over or when I could go on vacation.

I really want you to get this: God wants you to enjoy your life now, not when.

I’m so thankful that we have the Holy Spirit, who lives in every believer in Jesus Christ. He is the Helper who gives us supernatural strength and anointing to live this ordinary, day-to-day life with the supernatural joy of the Lord. Nehemiah 8:10 says the joy of the Lord is our strength. And we need that strength every day.    

It’s important to understand what joy is. It’s not about entertaining yourself all the time, getting your way all the time or laughing all the time. Joy can be extreme hilarity or calm delight and everything in between! I’m a more serious person by nature, so the “calm delight” definition is usually my state of joy. But a good belly laugh is sometimes just what you need.

Good Medicine for Your Heart

The Bible says in Proverbs 17:22 that “a happy heart is good medicine and a cheerful mind works healing….” Interestingly, there have been studies done that show laughter has some exciting benefits:

Laughter causes the release of endorphins, a chemical in the body that relieves pain and creates a sense of well-being.

It can raise your energy level, relieve tension and change your attitude.

It increases antibodies and strengthens your immune system.

A good belly laugh causes you to inhale more oxygen and stimulates your heart and blood circulation. It’s like internal aerobic exercise!

No wonder the devil wants to steal our joy and get us discouraged, depressed and downtrodden. Remember that the thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy. But we don’t have to give in to him and lose our joy.

Lighten Up!

Make a decision today to enjoy your life. If you’re too serious about everything, lighten up! Learn to laugh at yourself and the things that normally frustrate you. Remember that God loves you always. He knows everything about you and loves you anyway. We all have things about us and in our lives that need to change, but they will really only change when we’re abiding in Christ, living with the joy of the Lord.

As you go about your day today, make this your goal: Rejoice in the Lord! As the joy of the Lord gives you strength, you’ll be able to face any problems you have to deal with, and you’ll enjoy your life while you’re doing it! (Quote source here.)

And that is what I want to share with you on my birthday today for your every day! I’ll end this post with Psalm 37:3-4Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Take delight in the Lord…

And He will give you . . .

The desires . . .

Of your heart . . . .

YouTube Video: “Rock Steady” by Aretha Franklin:

Photo #1 credit here
Photo #2 credit here

Waiting in the Wings

“And sure enough even waiting will end…if you can just wait long enough.”William Faulkner (1897-1962), American writer and Nobel Prize laureate.I’ve recently written on the topic of waiting in a blog post titled, The Waiting Game.” However, the subject came to mind again today while reading a book titled, Just Enough Light for the Step I’m On (1999, 2008) by Stormie Omartian, a bestselling Christian author.  She opens Chapter 12 titled, “Waiting in the Wings,” with the following two paragraphs:

Has it ever seemed like you are waiting in the wings for the next scene of your life to start? The stage is dark and you’re expecting the lights to go up and the curtain to rise. The first act may or may not have gone smoothly, but by now you’ve been on an extended intermission and you’re beginning to wonder if the second act will ever begin.

How many times in our lives have we found ourselves waiting like that? Waiting for things to change. Waiting for something to happen. Waiting for life to get back to normal. Waiting for more time or more money. Waiting for the relationship to get better. Waiting for the right door to open. Waiting for the right person to come along. Waiting for somebody to notice. Waiting, waiting, waiting.  (Quote source: “Just Enough Light for the Step I’m On,” 2008 edition, p. 107.)

Sound familiar? On page 109 she writes, “Going through a waiting period doesn’t mean there is nothing happening, because when you are waiting on the Lord, He is always moving in your life.” And he is moving in your circumstances behind the scenes, too (see blog post titled, Backstage: Behinds the Scenes).

Isaiah 40:31 reminds us that “…those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” So what, exactly, does it mean to “wait on the Lord”? GotQuestions.org gives us the following answer: 

The command to wait on the Lord is found extensively throughout the Old and New Testaments. In the Old Testament, it is more about waiting for the Lord’s providential care, but most New Testament references relate to Christ’s second coming. In all cases, it is about waiting expectantly and with hope. Fundamental to being able to wait is trusting God’s character and goodness.

Waiting on the Lord is something the godly do. It’s about holding on tight, hoping with expectation and trust, knowing that our Lord is not making us wait just to see how long we can “take it.” There are times when God will delay His answer, and we will at times wonder why He seems so reluctant to intervene in our affairs: “I am worn out calling for help; my throat is parched. My eyes fail, looking for my God” (Psalm 69:3). But, knowing the Lord, we trust that He will come at the perfect moment, not a second too soon or too late.

Waiting on the Lord necessitates two key elements: a complete dependence on God and a willingness to allow Him to decide the terms, including the timing of His plan. Trusting God with the timing of events is one of the hardest things to do. The half-joking prayer, “Lord, I need patience, and I need it RIGHT NOW,” is not far removed from the truth of how we often approach matters of spiritual growth and the Lord’s will. To wait on the Lord produces character in the life of the Christian in that it involves patience (see James 1:4). Waiting involves the passage of time, which is itself a gift of God.

The word “wait” in the Bible carries the idea of confident expectation and hope. “For God alone my soul waits in silence . . . my hope is from him” (Psalm 62:15, ESV). To wait upon the Lord is to expect something from Him in godly hope, “and hope does not disappoint” (Romans 5:5). We wait on the Lord in a way similar to how we wait on the arrival of out-of-town relatives, with loving anticipation of seeing them again. All creation eagerly awaits God’s restoration: “The creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed” (Romans 8:19). Those who wait for God to keep His promises will not be disappointed.

Waiting on the Lord involves being at rest in the Lord. Psalm 23 provides a lesson concerning being still. Sheep will not be at peace near rushing water, but they will lie contentedly by “still” water, and that’s where the Good Shepherd leads us (Psalm 23:2). The words “He makes me lie down” can be translated “He causes me to rest.” When we, like sheep, are still, we are resting in the Lord and trusting our Shepherd.

Being still means we have ceased from following our own agenda or ingenuity; we have stopped trusting in our own strength and will power. We are waiting upon the Lord to exchange our weakness for His strength (see 2 Corinthians 12:9). The apostle Paul had athorn in the flesh,” and, as he gains spiritual insight, he understands that the affliction is a protective suffering meant by God to keep him from sin. As a result, the apostle is content to rest in God’s grace. God does not remove the thorn; He gives Paul a place to be still in the bearing of it. Paul learned to be still and wait on the Lord.

To wait on the Lord is to rest in the confident assurance that, regardless of the details or difficulties we face in this life, God never leaves us without a sure defense. As Moses told the panicky Israelites trapped at the Red Sea by Pharaoh’s army, “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still” (Exodus 14:14). The heavenly perspective comes as we focus not on the trouble but on the Lord and His Word. When it seems God has painted us into a corner, we have an opportunity to set aside our human viewpoint and wait upon the Lord to show us His power, His purpose, and His salvation.

When we don’t choose to wait on the Lord, we solicit trouble for ourselves. Remember how Abraham and Sarah did not wait on the Lord for their child of promise; rather, Sarah offered her maid, Hagar, to Abraham in order to have a child through her. The account in Genesis 16 and 18 shows that their impatience led to no end of trouble. Any time we fail to wait on the Lord and take matters into our own hands—even when we’re trying to bring about something God wants—it leads to problems. When we “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness” (Matthew 6:33, ESV), we can allow God to work out the rest of the details.

This doesn’t mean we sit idly by as we wait on the Lord to act on our behalf. We should not spend our time doing nothing; rather, we should continue to do the work He has given us to do. Psalm 123:2 says, “As the eyes of slaves look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a female slave look to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the LORD our God, till he shows us his mercy.” That is, we should look to God with the constant anticipation and willingness to serve that a servant shows to his master. The idea of waiting on the Lord is not like waiting for the dentist in the waiting room (thank goodness!). Rather, the sense of waiting on the Lord is somewhat akin to what a waiter or waitress does in a restaurant. Our attitude and actions should be as those of a waiter anticipating and meeting the requests of the one he’s waiting on. Our waiting on the Lord is not biding our time until we finally get the service we’ve been waiting for; it’s filling our time with service to the Master, always on our feet, ready to minister.

The command to “wait on the Lord” means that we are to be near Him and attentive so that we may catch the slightest intimation of what He wants for us. We naturally think of ourselves as self-sufficient. We turn here and there and expect help from our own ability, from friends, or from circumstances. But in the spiritual life we are taught to distrust self and depend upon the power of the Holy Spirit.

Waiting on the Lord involves the confident expectation of a positive result in which we place a great hope—a hope that can only be realized by the actions of God. This expectation must be based on knowledge and trust, or we simply won’t wait. Those who do not know the Lord will not wait on Him; neither will those who fail to trust Him. We must be confident of who God is and what He is capable of doing. Those who wait on the Lord do not lose heart in their prayers: “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us” (1 John 5:14).

Waiting on the Lord renews our strength (Isaiah 40:31). Prayer and Bible study and meditating upon God’s Word are essential. To wait on the Lord we need a heart responsive to the Word of God, a focus on the things of heaven, and a patience rooted in faith.

We should not despair when God tarries long in His response, but continue to patiently wait on Him to work on our behalf. The reason God sometimes waits a long time to deliver is to extend the goodness of the final outcome. “Therefore the LORD waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the LORD is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him” (Isaiah 30:18, ESV). (Quote source here.)

In an article published in 2015 titled, The Spiritual Benefits of Waiting, by Pete Wilson, president of The A Group, and the founding and former senior pastor of Cross Point Church, he writes:

God often uses waiting as a crucible in which to refine our character. Perhaps the prophet Isaiah realized this when he wrote, “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”Isaiah 40:31

Faithful waiting on God makes us stronger, not weaker. Waiting is also a sign of humility. Remember that, long ago, persons of lesser rank who served nobility and royalty were said to “wait upon” them. In a similar way, they were said to “attend” their lords and rulers. Even today, the French word for “wait” is “attend.” Maybe there is something to learn here. Maybe we should think of waiting on God less as passively sitting around until something happens and more as actively attending—listening carefully for God’s voice and watching intently for evidence of His moving in our lives and in the world around us.

Now, believe me, I understand that those of you reading these words who are in the midst of waiting for a miracle or waiting for a dream to be realized or waiting to be delivered from a dark, scary place probably feel helpless. You feel as if you’re doing nothing, but you’re actually doing something very important. In fact, this waiting—this attending to God—may be the most important spiritual work you could possibly do. While you are waiting faithfully on God, you are also allowing your hope to grow up. And if you can’t be still and wait and hope—even when you have no reason to hope—you can’t become the person God created when He thought you into existence.

Spiritual transformation doesn’t take place when we get what we want. It takes place while we’re waiting. It is forged in us while we’re waiting, hoping, and trusting, even though we have yet to receive what we long for. Spiritual transformation happens in the waiting room.

Waiting also helps us learn the vital lesson that just because a dream is delayed doesn’t mean it is denied. When we continue to hope patiently and place our trust in God and in His schedule—not ours—we begin to gain the type of long-range perspective that allows us to have peaceful souls, even when the storms of life are raging about us. With God, we can wait out the storm and see the sun breaking through the clouds. When we trust in Him, we will eventually see the rainbow and the rebirth of our hopes and dreams….

Waiting and Life

So life isn’t turning out exactly the way you thought, and you have laid it before God in prayer, over and over again. You’ve taken the steps you know to take and prepared yourself to the best of your ability—and it still isn’t happening.

Is it time to move on? Is failure inevitable? And if it is, how much longer should you keep prolonging the obvious?

My bias is that, most of the time, we give up too soon. I prefer to help people see all the possibilities God may be placing before them. I am always hesitant to place time limits on God. The important thing is to continue trusting the end result to God, even when the outcomes you want are not immediately apparent.

Remember that faithful waiting—attending—involves much more than passively sticking your hands up in the air until God rains blessings down into your palms. Faithful waiting involves actively seeking contentment, even amid less-than-optimal circumstances.

Can you listen for God’s guidance, even when things aren’t going your way? Can you proactively trust Him, even when you aren’t seeing the evidence of the victory you long for?

I encourage you to keep doing the next right thing, taking the steps you know to take, without getting frustrated because you aren’t yet where you want to be. Act on the belief that God has a plan and that He is bringing it to completion in your life. Commit to being ready for that completion to occur, even if you can’t see it coming. (Quote source and entire article available at this link.)

Waiting isn’t easy but as we’ve read above, that should never be the focus of our attention as much is gained in the waiting if we don’t lose patience. I’ll end this post with Isaiah 40:31 which states: But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles . . .

They shall run and not be weary . . .

They shall walk . . .

And not faint . . . .

YouTube Video: “Wait on the Lord” by Donnie McClurkin and Karen Clark Sheard:

Photo #1 credit here
Photo #2 credit here

The Road to Eternity

“Remember always your end, and that lost time does not return.”Thomas à Kempis, CRSA (1380 – 1471), German-Dutch clergyman and author of “The Imitation of Christ,” one of the most popular and best known Christian devotional books.A daily devotion I received in my email today quoted Ecclesiastes 3:11 which states: “He [God] has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”

Eternity is not something we often think about yet it is the final destination of every human being who has ever lived and who will ever live on this planet of ours. God has not remained hidden from any of us whether we acknowledge him or not. As the apostle Paul stated in Romans 1: 16-20 (MSG):

It’s news I’m most proud to proclaim, this extraordinary Message of God’s powerful plan to rescue everyone who trusts him, starting with Jews and then right on to everyone else! God’s way of putting people right shows up in the acts of faith, confirming what Scripture has said all along: “The person in right standing before God by trusting him really lives.”

But God’s angry displeasure erupts as acts of human mistrust and wrongdoing and lying accumulate, as people try to put a shroud over truth. But the basic reality of God is plain enough. Open your eyes and there it is! By taking a long and thoughtful look at what God has created, people have always been able to see what their eyes as such can’t see: eternal power, for instance, and the mystery of his divine being. So nobody has a good excuse. What happened was this: People knew God perfectly well, but when they didn’t treat him like God, refusing to worship him, they trivialized themselves into silliness and confusion so that there was neither sense nor direction left in their lives. They pretended to know it all, but were illiterate regarding life. They traded the glory of God who holds the whole world in his hands for cheap figurines you can buy at any roadside stand.

We live in an age that tells us repeatedly and in every way and form possible that truth is relative, and that it’s anything you want it to be. But that’s not true regardless of how many people might believe it (see an article titled Is Truth Relative?” at this link). For example, 2+2 always equals 4, even if we would prefer it to equal 6.

An article titled, Three Lies We Believe About Eternity,” published on the website of New Spring Church, states the following:

Science can’t locate it. Books try to explain it. Movies try to show it. Everybody wants to know about the afterlife — Is grandma in heaven? Am I going to hell? What if nothing happens when we die?

Everybody wrestles with questions about the afterlife. Sooner or later, it touches our own lives or someone we know.

Since there is so much confusion, it can be easy to believe what’s popular or feels good. But what’s convenient should never become more important than what’s true.

Here are three common misconceptions about life after death and the truth that God wants us to understand about it:

Lie #1: There’s no heaven or hell.

This view says that after our physical bodies die, that’s it. Nothing else. Humans don’t have souls that live on after we die. Or if we do have souls, they will be destroyed rather than existing in eternity.

Truth #1: Heaven and hell exist.

Everyone spends eternity in one of these places. Jesus spoke about heaven, hell and eternity many times (John 3:13-16). The Bible describes hell as a place where those who reject Jesus will endure eternal suffering and separation from God. Heaven is a place where Jesus followers live forever with God. In heaven, everything that’s wrong with this world is set right. There are no tears, pain or death. Following Jesus is the only way to experience heaven (John 14:6).

Lie #2: Good people go to heaven, bad people go to hell.

This view says people get what they deserve. Where you spend eternity depends on how good of a person you are in life. This leaves people hopeless if they’ve lived a messy life, and it leaves well-behaved people prideful about their accomplishments.

Truth #2: Bad people go to heaven, bad people go to hell.

If where we spent eternity depended on the actions in our lives, none of us would go to heaven and all of us would go to hell. Our eternal status does not depend on anything other than our relationship with Jesus.

God’s grace is big enough for everyone. Everyone’s guilty of rebelling against what God says (Psalm 14:1-3). Because we all sin, we’re all headed toward hell. But it’s only because of Jesus that anyone’s life is changed and saved.

Lie #3: There’s a heaven but no hell.

This view, sometimes called universalism, teaches that everyone goes to heaven regardless of what they decide about Jesus. It takes God out of the picture and replaces Him with a general sense of happiness.

Truth #3: Hell exists, and God doesn’t want anyone to go there.

God’s love is far bigger than a sense of happiness. His love is so big He wants all people to be saved from their sins and know Him (1 Timothy 2:3-4).

Sin hurts us and others. God would not be good if He allowed us to hurt ourselves by sinning without consequences. It would be like a young child who kept touching the hot stove while the parent did nothing to protect the child from her self-destructive behavior. God is not OK with us hurting ourselves or others. Because God is a good father, He made a way to stop the cycle of sin once and for all.

Touching a hot pot leads to burned fingers. The consequence of sin is death. When Jesus died on the cross, he took the penalty for all of our sin — past, present, and future. Because Jesus paid for our sins, we have the opportunity to enjoy a relationship with God now and for eternity. Romans 10:9 says we just have to believe.  

Don’t let the afterlife become an afterthought. Saying “yes” to Jesus means spending both now and eternity with Him. (Quote source here.)

Many of us grew up in churches where we heard the message of Jesus Christ, but we might have later rejected it as adults. And many in today’s younger generations (Gen X, Millennials, Gen Z) were not raised in a religious environment since many of the Baby Boomers (e.g., their parents and grandparents) cast off their religious upbringing for a carefree life of “do whatever feels good or right to you” and raised their kids under the same influence. Of course, there was back then as there are today cultural messages galore that heavily influence all of us to shun the shackles of religiosity.

However, it’s not about religion per se… it’s about faith in God and in Jesus Christ that transcends many notions we have about what “religion” should look, feel, or act like. The Pharisees in Jesus’ day had “religion” down pat, but Jesus made it clear to them that they were completely missing the mark. However, few of them ever “got it” in the way that Nicodemus, a Pharisee and a member of the Jewish ruling council, got it (see John 3).

The gospel of Jesus Christ is not complicated. In fact, it is so simple anyone can understand it–“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31). And Paul states in Romans 10:8-9, “’The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,’ that is, the message concerning faith that we proclaim: If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

In today’s world, words like being “saved” can bring about laughter, mocking looks, rolling eyes, or remarks like “saved from what?” And there are people who might have unpleasant memories of growing up in a church or dealing with some church folks that have caused them to shun what we call “organized religion” altogether. I have some of those same memories, too, but not enough to, as the expression goes, throw the baby out with the bath water.” After all, the church is filled with regular, everyday people. However, there is a big difference between acting “religious” and having the faith to genuinely believe.

In an article titled, The Gospel Message is Pure and Simple, by Dan Rhodes, pastor at Christian Community Church, he writes:

When the Apostle John was writing there were certain false doctrines being introduced into the church. Since then, there have been many more false teachers, each attempting to add some “new revealed truth from God” that only they have been given. Most often the result is that the purity and simplicity of the Gospel message is compromised. In other words, they try to add to the requirements of salvation.

But, the Gospel is profoundly simple. It can be summed up easily, and understood by children. One of the best summaries of the Gospel is found in 1 John 3:23: “This is [God’s] command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another.” This verse is a salvation sermon with just two points: believe on Christ, and love others.

The first pointbelieving on Christ–describes the proper response to the Gospel message. Simple, child-like belief in Christ saves us from the penalty of our sin. Nothing else is required. God’s will for his Son was to become our Savior. God’s will for us is to believe in him as Savior. The Gospel message is expressed as a command because Jesus deserves to be exalted and obeyed by all mankind. He fulfilled his Father’s will perfectly, and on the cross paid the penalty for sin. He then proved his power over death by his resurrection. For his obedience and work of salvation, God the Father has exalted Jesus Christ and given him a Name which is above all names.(Philippians 2:5-11)

The second pointloving others–is not a requirement for salvation, but rather the result of salvation. God’s love is in our hearts, and we extend it to others. God loves us so much that he gave his Son, Jesus Christ, as our Savior (John 3:16). It was not nails that kept Christ on the cross, it was love. This kind of overwhelming love is within every child of God. Love for others is part of the new nature the Holy Spirit puts within us when we believe on the Lord Jesus Christ (Galatians 5:22). Jesus himself taught that love for others is the identifying mark of a believer (John 13:35).

Don’t believe anything that adds to God’s plan of salvation. The Gospel message is to believe in Christ, and to love others. Response and result–its as simple as that. (Quote source here.)

As I was trying to decide how to continue at this point, a “ding” on my smartphone let me know a new email had arrived, and when I looked to see what it was regarding, it had to do with what I wanted to comment on. There are always folks out there who think that believing in Jesus Christ shows some kind of “mental instability” on the part of anyone who truly believes. However, Christianity has withstood the test of time as it has been around for over two thousand years, and it will continue to last long after the naysayers are gone–for example, Christopher Hitchens (1949-2011) comes to mind. Hitchens wrote many books including, The Portable Atheist: Essential Readings for the Nonbeliever (2007). Naysayers have been and always will be out there.

The road to eternity leads in two directions. I’ll end this post with the words from John 3:16: For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son [Jesus Christ]…

That whoever believes in him . . .

Shall not perish . . .

But have eternal life . . . .

YouTube Video: “God of Wonders” by Third Day:

Photo #1 credit here
Photo #2 credit here

A Month Long Celebration

“There are two great days in a person’s life–the day they are born and the day they discover why.”William Barclay (1907-1978), Scottish theologian, author, radio and television presenterMay is my birthday month, although my actual birthday isn’t until the end of the month. I like to spend the month doing little things to celebrate my birthday leading up to that actual big day. Many of the things I do, like going to a movie or eating at a favorite restaurant or buying myself a bouquet of flowers, are things I can do at any other time of the year, but they take on new meaning during my birthday month. They are all part of the celebration.

Perhaps you’re thinking that celebrating one’s birthday for an entire month is a bit, well, excessive. However, I’m not talking about doing anything necessarily out of the ordinary from what one does in any other month of the year. I suppose you could say it is about an attitude of gratefulness for having been given life in the first place.

I was surprised at the number of articles I found when I Googled “celebrating a birthday month,” but most of them came with a “to do” list of activities, and that’s not really why I celebrate my birthday all month long. I celebrate all month long as it leads up to the most important day of my existence, which is the same most important day of your own existence. We only have one day in which we were born, and that’s a rather big deal, don’t you think?

The opening statement in an article titled, The Importance of Celebrating Birthdays,” by ABM College states:

It has been said that a  birthday is just another day, why even celebrate it? On the contrary, a birthday signifies your beginning and the joy of life. Every human on earth has been given a chance to fulfill their own unique mission. A birthday is an important and momentous occasion not to be understated. It is a time to celebrate, reflect and give thanks.” (Quote source here.)

In an article published on January 6, 2019 titled, Why Birthdays Should Be Celebrated,” posted on Holidappy.com and written by Margaret Minnicks, an online writer for many years,  she writes:

birthday is a day that comes once a year, and it should be celebrated for several reasons. A birthday is a time when a person acknowledges the anniversary of his or her birth. In most cultures, birthdays are celebrated in some of the same ways. Often, birthdays are celebrated with a gift, party, or some other special act. There are reasons birthdays should be celebrated.

Your Birth Was Your Beginning

Your birth was the beginning of your life. God created you to serve a purpose in this world. Every time when you have a birthday, it is an indication that you still have work to do for the Kingdom of God. Your birthday is a sign that you have another chance to fulfill your unique mission.

So a birthday is a momentous occasion, to be commemorated just as a nation commemorates its birth or as an organization celebrates its founding. A birthday is much more than an occasion to receive gifts. Your birthday is a chance to remember the day that a major event occurred, to celebrate and give thanks and to reflect upon how well you are still alive to celebrate the day you were born.

Celebrating Your Birthday Is an Expression of Thanks

A birthday is a time to celebrate birth itself. It is an expression of thanks to God for being born and still being alive. It is also an occasion to rethink your life. It is a great time to reflect on the past, evaluate your present and make plans for your future. It is a time when your past intersects with your present and future.

A Birthday Is a Chance for a Refresher

A birthday is not only a time to think about your birth, but your birthday is also a time to think about your rebirth. To recall your birth is to recall a new beginning. No matter how things went yesterday, or last year, you always have the capacity to try again. Your birthday is a refresher, a chance for regeneration; not just materially, but spiritually.

New Mercies on Your Birthday

To reach another year is an achievement to have lived another year.You have another year’s worth of blessings to thank God for. Think of how much of God’s air you have consumed during the year. Think of how many nights God allowed you to lie down and sleep and how many mornings He has awakened you with brand new mercies. (Lamentations 3:22-23)

Acknowledge Your Existence

When you celebrate your birthday, you acknowledge your existence on this earth. No matter in what kind of family you were destined to be born, you are here to live your life to its fullest. Celebrating your birthday is a way to thank God that He allowed you to be born and to see another’s birthday.

Bond With People on Your Birthday

Birthday celebrations are great ways for your family and friends to bond with you, if they choose. Usually people make a special effort to be nice to you on your birthday. Birthday presents are good, but a wish that comes from the heart is worth all the presents in this world from those who love you. It truly is the thought that counts.

Celebration Ideas for Your Birthday

Birthday celebrations do not mean that you have to have a big party every year. Sometimes people do have parties to celebrate what they call “the big one” such as turning 30, 40, 50, 60, or 70. A simple dinner with your family or a few close friends usually is all it takes to make a person happy and feel appreciated. Greeting cards are always welcome as well as a telephone call.

So, celebrate your birthday each yearIt is always good to be acknowledged that you exist in the earth. Receive it in good faith when others are willing to help you celebrate your birthday with you. (Quote source here.)

I came across the following Birthday Prayer (author unknown) which is a good way to end this post on celebrating birthdays:

Thank you, God, for giving me another year of life.
Thank you for all the people who remembered me today
by sending cards, and letters, gifts and good wishes.

Thank you for all the experiences of this past year;
for times of success which will always be happy memories,
for times of failure which reminded me
of my own weakness and of my need for you,
for times of joy when the sun was shining,
for times of sadness which drove me to you.

Forgive me for the hours I wasted,
for the chances I failed to take,
for the opportunities I missed this past year.
Help me in the days ahead to make this the best year yet,
and through it to bring good credit to myself,
happiness and pride to my loved ones,
and joy to you. Amen. (Quote source here.)

And Happy Birthday to any of you reading this post who might be celebrating a birthday soon. If it was not for our birthday, we would not even exist. That makes it a very important day, indeed!

And to everyone reading this post, I’ll end it with a blessing found in Numbers 6:24-26 (NIV): The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you…

The Lord turn his face toward you . . .

And give you . . .

Peace . . .

YouTube Video: “Celebrate” by Kool and the Gang:

Photo #1 credit here
Photo #2 credit here