by Jesse Jost
“Always be joyful.” (1 Thess. 5:16 NLT)
The rain beat down on the husband and wife who wept softly as they watched the casket being slowly lowered into the black hole. The wooden box contained the physical remains of their twelve-year-old daughter who had passed away in a tragic accident. The girl’s mother turned to her husband, Dr. R. A. Torrey, and quietly said, “I’m so glad Elizabeth is with the Lord and not in that box.” But even knowing this to be true did not remove the terrible sting of the moment. The next day as Dr. Torrey thought of their loneliness without her presence, he was again overwhelmed by the horrible pain of his daughter’s death.
When I read about such intense pain and heartache, and when I see the sorrow and hollow look in the eyes of suffering friends, I wonder how the apostle Paul could have brought himself to write those divinely inspired words, “Always be joyful.” What could be meant by such an admonition? I know he didn’t mean for you to ignore the pain you are going through, put a plastic smile on your face and just be happy, happy, happy! At the same time, we can’t solve the dilemma by redefining joy until the word is stripped of all connotations of mirth and gladness. How can we be always joyful, and yet weep with those who weep? Continue reading…
By Jesse Jost
“If anyone desires to come after Me,
let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow Me.”
What comes to your mind when you think of pleasure? Do you feel the same way Walter Bagehot did when he quipped, “The greatest pleasure in life is doing what people say you cannot do”? Or do you think of God?
Think about it. Who created pleasure? Was it Satan’s idea, or God’s? Satan gives us the false impression that he has the patent number on pleasure. His first lie to Eve was that God was withholding something special from her and Adam. He told her that if they did things his way, they would find real fulfillment. Since that time, he has been constantly modifying and adjusting this lie to fit each appropriate circumstance. He harps on the old song that God is trying to deprive us, to rob us of pleasure. He deceives us into thinking that surrender to God will result in sheer misery.
But who created pleasure? God did. He offers real pleasure to anyone who will comply with His conditions. David took God at His word and accepted the offer. Here is what he subsequently told his Creator in Psalm 16: 11, “You will show me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” And in Psalm 36:8 he said, “They are abundantly satisfied with the fullness of Your house, and you give them drink from the river of Your pleasures.” Continue reading…
by Jesse Jost
“Giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Eph. 5:20 NKJV)
What do you need to be happy? Two ladies were discussing this subject, and one lady said, “If I had fifty dollars, I know I would be happy.” A wealthy man overheard their conversation and thought to himself, “If that lady only needs fifty dollars to be happy, I can help her.” The man walked up to her and gave her a $ 50 bill. The lady was overt in her show of gratitude, but as the man walked away he heard her grumble, “Man, why didn’t I say a hundred dollars!”
I think most of us have our own list of things we “need” to be happy, but will getting those things really make us happy? George Bernard Shaw quipped, “There are two tragedies in life. One is to lose your hearts’ desire; the other is to gain it.” Chuck Swindoll likewise observed that “often one seeks greener grass on the other side only to find when he get there that it’s not edible. Sometimes, however, it is, but if the grass is greener on the other side, you can bet their water bill is higher!”
What is the secret to happiness? Continue reading…
Verses compiled and combined by Jesse Jost
I want you to know how much I truly love you. Yes, I have loved you, with an everlasting love; with loving kindness I have drawn you. I have searched you and known you. I know your sitting down and your rising up, I understand your thought afar off. I comprehend your path and your lying down, I am acquainted with all your ways. I have hedged you behind and before, I have laid My hand on you. I know, such knowledge is too wonderful for you, it is so high you can not attain it.
But where can you go from My Spirit, or where can you flee from My presence? If you ascend into heaven, I am there. If you make your bed in the depths, I am there as well. If you take the wings of the morning, or dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there My hand shall lead you, and My right hand shall hold you. The darkness shall not hide you, the darkness and the light are both alike to Me.
Grace in the Rearview Mirror
A Peanuts cartoon shows Sally writing an essay entitled “Church History.” Charlie looks over her shoulder to see what she has written so far, “To understand church history, you must go back to the very beginning…our pastor was born in 1930.” Charlie Brown can only roll his eyes.
Sadly, there seems to be an epidemic of historical amnesia in the modern church. To many, it’s as if true Christianity disappeared for 1900 years and has suddenly resurfaced with their denomination. This ignorance of history is dangerous; an old Russian proverb states, “Dwell on the past and you will lose an eye; forget the past and you will lose both eyes.” Is history nothing more than by-gone eras, dusty facts, and long-since-departed souls? Emphatically, no! History is a fascinating study of our ancestors, but it is also a treasure chest full of wisdom, with many lessons to teach all who take heed. Here are a few significant reasons to study church history. Continue reading…
Captive or Captivated?
by Jesse Jost
Picture in your mind two things: First imagine yourself in a dark and grimy dungeon. Your hands and feet are shackled, and your body aches because of lack of movement. Your eyes long for color and beauty. You have a very small world. Now picture stepping out of that cell into a world ablaze with color. You notice the smells of the fresh air and flowers; the cool breeze feels so good on your cheeks. Your eyes soak up the beauty of the trees and mountains. As your heart starts pumping fresh blood through your veins, you have a sudden urge to run and leap with all your strength!
What a contrast! Every day we have the ability to choose things that will lead to either freedom or bondage. Self-focus and self-will leads to bondage. Outward focus, God-ward focus leads to freedom and adventure. We were created to be spectators – the audience of God – to observe and discover. We were given five ways of observing, through sight, smell, sound, touch, and taste. We were designed to look outward, to be attentive to what is happening around us.
Things were going wonderfully. I had a good job, a comfortable amount in the bank account, a beautiful wife who was seven and a half months pregnant, a library full of delicious books to devour, and a wish/needs list the length of my thumbnail. Did I trust God? Absolutely! I mean, I could lose my job, break a leg, buy a hundred books and still have enough to live on for months. In this position, I was what you call a man of great faith. I had unshakable confidence in God to provide. Right.
What must I do to be saved?
By Jesse Jost
In the middle of the night, I have often had surreal experiences of reality. It seems that during the day I have an ability to block out awareness of certain things. Some of these things include what happens after I die. Sure I think about it, but it is often in a detached, academic way. But there are nights when the reality hits me hard. What would it be like to stand in the presence of the almighty God? My first thought is a review of my life. Have I been good enough? Nope. Will God send me to hell…for forever? This thought used to terrify me. I would have dreams of being before the judgment seat and then sentenced to hell, and would wake up shaken but so grateful to be alive!