Delighted

happinessTake delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires.
Psalm 37:4 NLT

The doctor said none, but he said some.

Like his father, Dad loved to eat ice cream—and did every night before he went to bed. At a certain time, he would make his way to the kitchen, place several large scoops in a bowl, and delight in what he loved.

Then he developed heart valve trouble. The doctor instructed him on what he should and should not eat. On the should-not-eat list was what he delighted in the most: ice cream. When the doctor told him to lay off the ice cream, he said, “I’ve been eating ice cream all of my life, and I don’t intend to stop now.”

Dad kept his word. He continued eating ice cream, though he did cut down on the amount. Instead of a large bowl, he used a smaller bowl. As he prepared for his second heart valve replacement—the one that would lead to his death, he requested a Popsicle, the closest thing we could get to ice cream at the moment. And my wife and I gave him his heart’s desire.

The psalmist connects delighting in the Lord with having his heart’s desires met. Evidently, he was right because Jesus would later say, “Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7).

To delight in someone is to please them greatly. The way I please God is to love Him with all of my heart, soul, mind, and strength. All my energy will be focused toward serving Him, praising Him, and honoring Him with my words, actions, and attitudes. This is the condition for Him giving me the desires of my heart.

When I love God with my entire being, the desires I have will match His desires for me. God never promises to give me anything I want. His Word will instruct me on the things I should delight in, so when I ask for anything it will be for those things that will promote my spiritual growth and advance God’s Kingdom in this world.

The list of things I can delight in and desire are myriad, but delighting in the Lord will keep me focused on the most important things.

Delight in the Lord. You’ll be amazed by what He does in your life.

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Take a Seat

dog1Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught.
Luke 10:39 NLT

If he had been able to talk, he may have asked, “Can I sit on your foot?”

The highlight of my younger years was staying with my paternal grandparents during the summer. My grandfather was an ice cream delivery man, and I spent the entire summer helping him. Most of his stops were mom and pop shops located in small rural towns and scattered throughout country lanes.

One, in particular, was unique. When I asked my grandfather what the name of the store was, he said, “The store where the dog sits on your foot.” And he did. As soon people entered the front door, he made his way over to greet them. If they stood still long enough, he sat on one of their feet.

I found it difficult to break away and help my grandfather stock the ice cream. I wanted to stay in one spot and enjoy the dog sitting on my foot. I often wondered what made him do this. It didn’t appear to be a trick his owners had taught him. Perhaps it was his way of saying thanks to customers for giving his owners the business.

Maybe it was for Mary too. She and her siblings’ home was a favorite stopping place for Jesus and His disciples. As Martha hurried about, preparing a meal to serve Jesus and His friends, Mary sat at His feet and listened to Him talk and teach. When Martha complained to Jesus about her sister’s laziness, Jesus told her Mary had chosen the most important thing.

Silence and meditation are hard to come by in our busy world, but both are necessary if I’m to sit at Jesus’ feet. Crowds thronged Him, but He took the time to get away with His heavenly Father. If it was important to Him, it should be to me. When He says to be still and know He is God, He means it. Noise and busyness will drown out His Spirit speaking to my spirit. I need reassurance that He and I are on good terms. I need to feel His unconditional love. I need direction for my life. And I need renewed energy to obey His commands. I need to sit at His feet.

Silence and meditation won’t automatically happen. Make it a priority to make them a priority in your life so you won’t miss God’s best.

Serving the Least

homeless1I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these
my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!
Matthew 25:40 NLT

He pushed a buggy and always appeared to be in a hurry.

“I hate to throw away all those leftovers,” my wife said as we sat at the supper table.

Cooking for two people is challenging, and she had prepared too much for our New Year’s meal. We had eaten leftovers twice and still had more to consume.

“What would be wrong with me warming the leftovers up for the homeless man down the street,” she asked.

“Nothing,” I replied, seeing her big heart explode with moisture in her eyes.

Recently, two homeless men had moved into our area. One stayed in a small shack by a local business. So my wife warmed up the leftovers and placed them in several to-go plates. We pulled up to his shack and told him we had some food for him. His response puzzled us.

“You can take it and give it your dogs,” he muttered as he shook his head back and forth.

“But, it’s home-cooked food,” my wife protested.

Her pleading did no good. He became more irritated and made more demeaning remarks. He wanted money to buy his own food but would not take ours. Perhaps he was mentally challenged. Perhaps he feared we were trying to poison him.

“Just leave,” I finally told my wife. And we did as he continued to rant and rave at us.

Jesus lists the thirsty, hungry, prisoners, naked, strangers, and sick among those we should serve in His name, but He never said our efforts would be easy, convenient, or always accepted with warmth and appreciation.

Having this encounter with this one homeless man would make it easy for me to stereotype all homeless people. Instead, I prayed for him that night, asking God to soften his heart towards people who might try to help him. And when God prompts us, my wife and I will help again.

God judges my motives, not the people’s response who I try to assist. He holds me accountable for doing the right thing whether others appreciate it or not. And doing the right thing always feels right because it is the right thing to do. God’s love cannot be contained in a body. It must flow to others as God designed it to.

Don’t let fear, inconvenience, or bad experiences keep you from spreading God’s love.

Shielded

shieldYou have given me your shield of victory.
Psalm 18:35 NLT

Never had a game evoked such fear in me.

As a middle schooler, I was weak, shy, and non-athletic. I dreaded physical education class—mainly because of one game: dodgeball.

I was always the last one picked when the team captains made their choices. Skinny, freckled-faced, glasses. Nothing that would make them want me on their team. I made sure I stood behind everyone else when the balls started whizzing by, but eventually I was exposed. It was then I began using my shield.

Getting hit on the torso or below the waist was bearable, but a hit in the head could be tragic. I wore glasses, and Mom had strictly instructed me to guard them with my life. She and Dad could not afford to replace them. As the balls made their aim at me, I shielded my head with my arms and hands.

When I was a teenager, I tortured my two younger brothers with the same game I was tortured with by lining them up on the edge of our open carport and throwing balls at them. They, too, used their arms and hands as shields, but doing so didn’t stop them from cascading from the ledge to the ground below when I hit them.

David was a warrior and very familiar with a shield. While he didn’t use one against Goliath, the giant he fought, he did in many battles after that as he protected his nation against their enemies.

Thousands of years into the future, the apostle Paul would say faith is the believer’s shield. As my hands shielded me from slams by the dodgeballs, so my faith shields me from the darts of my soul’s enemy. When I believed in and accepted Christ as my Savior, God gave me the righteousness of Christ. Though I take many hits in life, that body armor of righteousness—along with my shield of faith, keeps me from being defeated.

Faith helps me move forward, even when I can’t see the way. Faith prompts me to obey God’s plan, even when it appears illogical. Faith keeps me determined in my walk with the Lord, even when I sometimes want to give up. Faith shields me from persistent and uncontrollable doubt, anger, frustration, anxiety, worry, depression, and fear.

God gives all His children a shield. Take your so you can fight life’s battle with a guarantee of success.