The Weekly PowerBreak – “Joy and Enthusiasm”

When is the last time you thought about approaching your day with joy and enthusiasm?  We are prone to express joy and enthusiasm when things go according to plan, when we accomplish our goals, or feel good.

God expects us to approach life and serve Him with joy and enthusiasm.

Psalms 100:2 (English Standard Version) Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing!

Philippians 4:4 (ESV) Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.

Luke 10:27 (ESV) And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”

Jeremiah 29:13 (ESV) You will seek me and find me. When you seek me with all your heart,

Psalms 119:58 (ESV) I entreat your favor with all my heart; be gracious to me according to your promise.

God expects us to put something into life and to following Him.  Most people approach life as takers rather than givers. Consequently, they live with unfulfilled expectations and become complainers and depressed over what is going on in life.  God’s way is totally different.  God’s way for us to approach life is to find the joy in serving Him as we serve Him with gratitude and enthusiasm.

You will find in the book of Deuteronomy that God gave a list of blessings for obeying Him, and a list of curses for not doing what He said. In the midst of the curses, He also presented the approach to serving Him as well as the motivation behind it.

Deuteronomy 28:47-48 (ESV) 47 Because you did not serve the Lord your God with joyfulness and gladness of heart, because of the abundance of all things, 48 therefore you shall serve your enemies whom the Lord will send against you, in hunger and thirst, in nakedness, and lacking everything. And he will put a yoke of iron on your neck until he has destroyed you.

Deuteronomy 28:47 (New Living Translation) Because you have not served the Lord your God with joy and enthusiasm for the abundant benefits you have received,

The people were told that a curse would follow because they had not served God with joy and enthusiasm.

Whoa!

Before you think that sounds pretty harsh, remember God gives the driving force behind the instruction; the abundant benefits He has already given.

Are you serving God with joy and enthusiasm?

Please note that God doesn’t expect us to stir up this joy and enthusiasm on our own.  It comes from appreciating what God has already done in our lives and allowing the flow of gratitude and the joy that comes from Him to send us forward with joy and enthusiasm.

Psalm 68:19 (King James Version) Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation.

Picture a HUGE truck filled with benefits and blessings. That’s what God is doing for you every day. These benefits include eternal benefits, daily provisions and protection – all the things we enjoy, including life and breath.

God is looking for us to express our gratitude for all He is, what He has done, what He is doing, and even for what He has promised to do.  Anything less than joy and enthusiasm is cutting Him short.  What has He done in your life?

There are benefits to making sure we serve Him with joy and enthusiasm.  You won’t be able to contain either joy or enthusiasm by serving God. It will spill over to all you do and have a positive effect on everything.

God not only provides the motivation and the instruction to serve Him, but He adds to our life when we follow Him.

Matthew 13:12 (ESV) For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.

God does things in a big way, with joy and enthusiasm, so it pays you to review your benefits and allow yourself the opportunity to be joyful and enthusiastic in response to Him today.  Be sure you are allowing the joy and enthusiasm from Him to spring forth.  This will not only draw a greater appreciation of the blessings from Him, thereby opening wide the gate for even more blessings, but joy and enthusiasm also gives great opportunities to bless others and be an attraction of even greater blessings in life.

Godspeed,

Bob Brubaker

The Weekly PowerBreak – “Outdoing One Another”

Sometimes the dog eat dog world of life brings us to the point of exhaustion and we just want to sit back and be served. And some people approach serving the Lord Jesus Christ in that manner. People shop for a church as they would shop for a car, looking for the best deal. And they wonder why they find fault with just about every church. People often attend church with the attitude of “serve me” and wonder why they leave a worship service feeling empty. But it doesn’t have to be that way if we are aware that the enemy uses our natural or fleshly selfish instincts in dominating our worship and service to Christ, thereby pulling us away from the blessings found in submitting to Him and His word.

Romans 12:9–13 (ESV) — 9 Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. 10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.

Notice the actions commanded in God’s word. Particularly notice the word, “outdo.”  Many times, a worldly approach is used in serving God by creating a little competition. In the old days, churches would run contests to see who could bring the most people to church. A common fund-raising technique is to pit people against each other so as to raise the bar as if giving were like an auction. The Bible is clear, however, that we are not to strive with one another so as to win because that is a form of selfish pride that God hates.

James 4:1–10 (ESV) — 1 What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? 2 You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. 4 You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. 5 Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? 6 But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” 7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.

Outdoing one another is showing honor to another.  This is very similar to the commandments to “submit to one another” or to “stir up one another to love and good works.”  This is like a reverse competition in that the desire is to promote the other person at your own expense.

Ephesians 5:20–21 (ESV) — 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Hebrews 10:24–25 (ESV) — 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

Philippians 2:3 (ESV) — 3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.

It’s a matter of anti-pride and it’s a guard against pride because it’s a form of humbling yourself before God as you submit to Him as Lord. And what is the promise for those who humble themselves?

Romans 12:1–2 (ESV) — 1 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

1 Peter 5:6–7 (ESV) — 6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, 7 casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.

God will lift you up and God will calm your anxieties as you enjoy His care for you. The door is opened as you seek to outdo one another in honor and love. The door is closed as you approach life looking for what you can get from God and others. So, what’s it going to be?

Godspeed,

Bob Brubaker

 

The Weekly PowerBreak – “What is your excuse?”

John Calvin noted our minds are idol factories as we tend to allow ourselves to be controlled by just about anything and everything that comes along.  In addition, our minds are also factories of excuses.

Have you ever noticed how easily excuses flow into your mind? Athletes have this problem before a race or before a big game. From where do these excuses originate? You might be driving to a meeting and immediately you think of an excuse to make for being late. You might agree to complete a project and before you report on the progress or lack thereof, you have come up with a handful of excuses.

Excuse making is not something new, nor is it acceptable! Notice how Jesus framed excuse making in the following parable.

Luke 14:12–24 (ESV) — 12 He said also to the man who had invited him, “When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. 13 But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 14 and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.” 15 When one of those who reclined at table with him heard these things, he said to him, “Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!” 16 But he said to him, “A man once gave a great banquet and invited many. 17 And at the time for the banquet he sent his servant to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’ 18 But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it. Please have me excused.’ 19 And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to examine them. Please have me excused.’ 20 And another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’ 21 So the servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house became angry and said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor and crippled and blind and lame.’ 22 And the servant said, ‘Sir, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room.’ 23 And the master said to the servant, ‘Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled. 24 For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste my banquet.’ ”

Notice how angry the master was about the excuses that were made and how silly the excuses sounded in the context of the one who heard them. Likewise, your excuses, however legitimate they sound to you, do not fool anyone but cause disappointment in the one who upon whom your excuse is dumped.

Notice also that the excuses, although they seemed good to the one giving them, was only cause for missing out on something really good. In other words, when we live on excuses we are only cutting ourselves short.

Take a look back over this past week and count how many times you either made an excuse or were tempted to verbalize an excuse you had in mind.

Notice in the following verse from Romans that we are “without excuse.”

Romans 1:20 (ESV) — 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

Next time you feel the urge to follow the path of excuse making, dump that baggage and be truthful because if you actually fall into believing your excuses, you are believing a lie. Therefore, if you have messed up, if you have not timed your trip so that you have arrived late, or if you have not accomplished what you said you would do, own up to it. Above all, don’t try to make excuses to God.

Think of how much better life would be without the lies of excuses.

Godspeed,

Bob Brubaker

The Weekly PowerBreak – “Need some help?”

Help is what we all need.  We need help in a variety of areas and a variety of ways, but one thing for sure is that we need help.  Admitting your need of help is an important part of receiving help.  When one feels no need of help it forces that person to try to make it on their own and the result is never good.  Jesus said it very clearly when it comes to doing life:

John 15:4–5 (ESV) — 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

We need His help in every aspect of life.  Who do we think we are when we go around and think we do not need help?  Such arrogance!  But we all do it.

Samuel, the prophet, pointed out to King Saul one time that when he was little in his own eyes, in other words, he knew he needed God’s help, then God made him king.  But the occasion proved Saul’s lack of feeling small because he totally disobeyed the commandment of the Lord, proving to Samuel that Saul now felt himself too big to need God’s help so God took away the position of leadership.

1 Samuel 15:17 (ESV) — 17 And Samuel said, “Though you are little in your own eyes, are you not the head of the tribes of Israel? The Lord anointed you king over Israel.

1 Samuel 15:22–23 (ESV) — 22 And Samuel said, “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams. 23 For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has also rejected you from being king.”

Before Jesus went to the cross he taught His disciples that He was soon to die, rise from the dead, and soon thereafter ascend to the Father.  But He assured them that He would not leave them in a comfortless state like orphans, rather He would come to their aid as He would send the Holy Spirit to them.

John 14:18 (ESV) — 18 “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.

John 14:18 (KJV) — 18 I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.

John 14:26 (ESV) — 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.

One of the things the Holy Spirit does is to assure us of our standing as God’s children, in placing within our hearts the “family language” that shows up the clearest when we go through times of difficulty.  Notice how He, the Holy Spirit, is also referenced as “the Spirit of His Son” and “the Spirit of Adoption.”  God demonstrates how we belong to His family in giving us the Spirit of His Son, who is Jesus manifest to us in the person of the Holy Spirit, Who by the cry in our hearts shows us that, being adopted to the family, we have the same cry as Jesus addressed His Father.  And that cry comes out clearest whenever we pray, but particularly when we are in a moment of suffering.

Galatians 4:6 (ESV) — 6 And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”

Romans 8:14–17 (ESV) — 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

Picture the toddler who falls while running and the first thing he does is cry for his daddy.  Whenever we find ourselves in need we cry to God, it’s the work of the Holy Spirit to help us as He instills the “family cry” to God the Father.  Not only does He do that in drawing us to cry to God, but He helps us as we pray.

Romans 8:26–27 (ESV) — 26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

We have a gracious Heavenly Father who not only sent His Son to die for us, but as Jesus sends His Spirit into our hearts, aka the Holy Spirit, our cry to God is a cry of one of His children.  That same Holy Spirit then helps us to pray and lift our heavy burdens with groanings too deep for words.

Need some help?  You’ve got it!  And it all flows from God’s grace through our Lord Jesus Christ.  With all the help God provides isn’t it pretty stupid to act like you don’t need His help?  But that is exactly what you do whenever you do not take time to pray.

Godspeed,

Bob Brubaker

The Weekly PowerBreak – “What is your heart’s desire?”

If God has made the promise …

Psalm 37:4 (ESV) — 4 Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

What is your heart’s desire?

Now some would make us think God is giving us carte blanche to come up with anything in the world and just name it and claim it.  But that is too small when it comes to the things of God.  Why should you tie yourself to your imaginations, which are not only small compared to God’s purpose and design, but also exceedingly corrupt.

Jeremiah 17:9 (ESV) — 9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?

Ephesians 3:14–21 (ESV) — 14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. 20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

So what are we to do? Go back to the text in Psalm 37.

Psalm 37:1–7 (ESV) — 1 Fret not yourself because of evildoers; be not envious of wrongdoers! 2 For they will soon fade like the grass and wither like the green herb. 3 Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. 4 Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. 5 Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act. 6 He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday. 7 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!

What is the heart’s desire?

  • To be vindicated.  God reminds the psalmist that He has complete control over those who would do him harm so there is no reason to fret.
  • To receive blessing from God. God reminds the psalmist to be concerned with trusting God and doing the right thing and God will take care of the rest in providing what the psalmist needs and taking care of the apparent enemies.

The bottom line is in verse 4 as God reminds the psalmist to delight himself in the Lord and God will give him his heart’s desire.  It’s kind of like the reminder God gives about enjoying the Sabbath.  God says when you set out to enjoy His day, then you will find enjoyment from Him.

Isaiah 58:13–14 (ESV) — 13 “If you turn back your foot from the Sabbath, from doing your pleasure on my holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight and the holy day of the Lord honorable; if you honor it, not going your own ways, or seeking your own pleasure, or talking idly; 14 then you shall take delight in the Lord, and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth; I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

Likewise, when we set out and seek out a greater desire to know the Lord Jesus Christ, honor Him, worship Him, and commune with Him, then we receive the desire of our heart.

Is the Lord Jesus Christ your heart’s desire?

Stop and think about how much you desire Him.  How much time do you seek to commune with Him?  How do you treat His word – both the reading and preaching of the word?  How is your prayer life?  How do you treat His bride, the church?  How often do you ask God for a greater desire to know, love, and serve the Lord Jesus Christ?

If He is not really your heart’s desire, then what is?  Anything other than Him will fade, but He will grow brighter and brighter as you take in more of Him.  No wonder Paul wrote the following:

Philippians 3:7–11 (ESV) — 7 But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

Godspeed,

Bob Brubaker