The Greatest Pleasure of All

Did you know that God is a God of pleasure? He invented pleasure to bless Him, and even to bless us. The Bible says, “In God’s presence are pleasures forever more.” (Psalm 16:11) WOW! If anyone knows how to through a party, it’s gotta be God! But, on this fallen Earth, there are pleasures that fill, and pleasures that kill. Pleasure’s not the problem, until we make it a god. It’s when people become, “…lovers of pleasure (“fond of sensual pleasure”) rather than lovers of God…” (2Timothy 3:4) that we get into trouble. We live in a world that worship’s pleasure, and worshipping anyone or anything other than God will kill your spirit. Let God fill your life with His pleasure… After all, the greatest pleasure is knowing Him.

What God Considers Beautiful

In the gospels, a grateful woman broke a jar of very costly perfume, and anointed Jesus. (Mark 14:3) Judging from the response of His disciples, you would have thought she broke the jar over His head. Some of those present said indignantly, “Why this waste of perfume? It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages and the money given to the poor.” (Mark 14:4-5) How much do you make in a year? Can you imagine giving it away in one day? Her action was an incredibly sacrificial gesture. That’s why Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me… She did what she could.” (Mark 14:6,8) Her gracious action makes me ask the following question. What is Jesus asking me to do for Him, that He would consider beautiful?

The Fragrance of Jesus

Jesus was anointed with perfume by Mary of Bethany less than a week before He was crucified. She had poured an entire bottle, worth a year’s wages, on His head. It’s likely the fragrance of this perfume was still evident at the Last Supper. John smelled it when he laid his head on Christ’s chest. Judas smelled it when he betrayed Jesus with a kiss. Those who gambled for his garments, pressed a crown of thorns into His skull, and scourged Him with whips, could all likewise smell the fragrance of our sweet Savior… anointed for burial. Pilate smelled it as he passed judgment. Perhaps, even the thieves who hung on adjacent crosses smelled it as well. The fragrance of Jesus touches lives whether they realize it or not. Can you smell the fragrance of Jesus as He touches your life?

Giving Your Best

Have you ever been left speechless by someone’s generosity? It can make an unforgettable memory! I have a niece who went on a mission trip to Poland. After staying and ministering to a humble family there, as she was about to leave the country her hosts wanted to give her something to express their appreciation. What they did next was beyond her comprehension. They took the only picture they had in their modest home off the wall and gave it to her. It was their most prized possession. She was stunned…overwhelmed with emotion. Giving what you don’t need or want isn’t giving at all. It’s merely a garage sale. But, they had given her their best. It reminds us of Jesus, doesn’t it? He gave His best for us…His very life. It’s no wonder we feel best when we do the same.

God’s Life Goal

I’d like to believe the only reason someone doesn’t love God is because they don’t realize how worthy of our love He is. The Bible says, “We love Him because He first loved us.” (1John 4:19, NKJV) Once I realized how much God loved me, even liked me, me loving Him was a no-brainer. The God who created the Universe loves me! WOW! Nothing could top that! By receiving His love, I began to realize that His love wasn’t looking for limits. It was looking for outlets. God had sought me and found me and captured my heart. Now, I just want to share the love I’ve received from Him with those who have never experienced it. It’s become my life goal. For one very special reason: it was God’s life goal to first love me.

Living a Grateful Life

Compared to people around the world most Americans are rich. Tell someone from Cuba or Haiti you’re not rich. They don’t risk their lives to get here on rickety boats, across a treacherous ocean, because they’re into yachting!  A few years ago, a pastor friend helped some Russian Christians immigrate to the U.S. When he took them to a typical American supermarket, the family huddled in an aisle and said, with tears in their eyes, “Never in our wildest dreams did we ever think people could live like this.” Do you know what you have? Do you appreciate what you have? It’s been said, “you’ll never value what you’ll receive if you can’t appreciate what you already have.” When you and I live grateful lives, we’re seeing life as God intended.

Everything Worth Desiring

Though many American Christians are supernaturally, and even naturally “rich”, they have a “poverty mindset.” A person with a poverty mindset is afraid he won’t have enough if he gives. What does it make him do? It makes him close up. And as soon as the call comes to give, if we have a poverty mindset, our response will be, “I don’t have enough to give.” “I can’t afford it.” If God wants to make you a river of His blessing, why should you remain a stagnant pool of poverty? The “poverty mindset” has to be broken in us if we are going to ever do His will on Earth. Don’t look at your career or check book as your source, when the truth is God is the source for everything He’ll ever ask you to do.

Taking More Risks

Fifty people “95 and older” were asked, “If you had to live your life all over again, what would you do differently?” One of their primary responses was, “I’d take more risks.” Hmm? How revealing! But not surprising! If faith is one of the things that pleases God the most, is it any wonder that our stepping out in faith would please us as well? I was Jesus who said, “You’ll be happier giving!” (Acts 20:35) We are created in God’s image and likeness. We should therefore take more risks! Not foolish, impetuous risks, but embracing the Spirit-led opportunities God has written into His perfect script for us. The Bible says, “…we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” (Ephesians 2:10, NLT)

Needing Others

There’s one season of my life I rarely mention. I’m grateful it was a long time ago. I went through a period where I couldn’t take care of myself. I’d wake up in the middle of the night screaming. I was so incapable of meeting my most basic needs I had to rely on others to dress me, feed me, and even wash me. It lasted for well over a year. I was a baby! HA! How many of you went through the same thing? It’s the human condition. Whether we admit it or not, we all need other people. We all need to encourage and challenge one another, because none of us can make it on our own. The Bible says, “Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10a, NLT)

Don’t Give Up On People

Are their relationships in your life that need repair? I’ve found that most people have them. I once met a man who shared that he hadn’t seen his only son in twelve years. When I tried to comfort him, he shot back brashly, “It’s his loss, not mine!” Sad! He had invented an imaginary reality to soothe an unbearable sadness. I found it revealing that he knew exactly how long it had been since he had spoken to his son. I’m grateful that God can repair breaches, heal divisions, and reconcile relationships. The Bible calls Jesus the “repairer of the breach” (Isaiah 58:12). The Father sent Jesus to heal broken hearts (Luke 4:18), and He’s called each of us to be His “ministers of reconciliation.” (2Corinthians 5:18) I don’t want to stop loving people, because I know God will never stop loving me.

Facing Challenges

A mother was having a hard time getting her son to go to school. The son complained. “Nobody likes me at school. The teachers don’t like me. The kids don’t like me. The bus drivers hate me, and I don’t want to go.” His mother calmly insisted, “Honey, you’ve got to go to school! You’re healthy. You’ve still got a lot you need to learn, and there are many areas you can help others in. You’re a leader. And besides, you’re forty-nine years old, and you’re the principal.” It’s a funny story, but with a good point. All of us have to face things we don’t want to. But if we ask God to help us, we’ll be able to face any challenge that comes our way. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13, NKJV)

Real Friends

If you were in trouble, would there be anyone who could speak into your life? All of us need people who can. Though none of us want to be controlled, we should all see our need for accountability. Control is deciding what people can and can’t do. Accountability is giving an account of what a person has or has not already done. Control is more of a power issue. Accountability is an issue of integrity. Every one of us need people who can speak into our lives. To pray for us! To hold our feet to the fire! To provoke us to do the right things! Don’t surround yourself with only “Yes” people. We all need some “No!” folks as well. Many times we’ll see these are our real friends. “Faithful are the wounds of a friend…” {Proverbs 27:6)