Upon our repentance

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

For his anger lasts only a brief moment, and his good favor restores one’s life. One may experience sorrow during the night, but joy arrives in the morning. Psalm 30.5

This is a psalm written by David. David had experienced the Lord’s anger first hand. In 2 Samuel 24, we read where the Lord’s anger raged against Israel. He incited David against them, telling him to count both Israel and Judah to know the size of their armies. Joab goes to do the bidding of the king much against his own better judgment.

After nine months, Joab returned from counting the armies. David felt guilty for having ordered the count. In 24.10, David confessed his sin to God asking him to remove his guilt. God sent Gad, the prophet, to present him with three options of punishment to remove his guilt. David chose to be attacked by the Lord through a plague rather than to be attacked by men, 24.14.

David felt the Lord’s anger in the plague that lasted for three days. It lasted for a brief moment. In 24.25, David built an altar for the Lord and offered burnt sacrifices and peace offerings. The Lord accepted them and the plague was removed from the land.

Upon our repentance, God restores our lives. While we are reaping the consequences of our sins, we may experience sorrow, but joy arrives with the realization that our sins have been removed and forgiven.

#risingjoy #Psalms #repentance

Two paths we can choose

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

You lead me in the path of life; I experience absolute joy in your presence; you always give me sheer delight. Psalm 16.11

There are basically two paths that we can choose to take in this life: the path that enters through the narrow gate which is a difficult way that leads to life and the path that enters through the wide gate which is a spacious way that leads to destruction, Matthew 7.13-14. The psalmist teaches that God leads us in the path of life if we choose to follow him.

The path of life might be difficult, but 1 John 1.7 says that as long as we are walking in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin. We are not in this alone. We have the presence of God and his Son with us as well as other Christians.

The psalmist states that he experiences absolute joy and sheer delight in God’s presence. I can experience that same joy and delight today knowing that my soul is prepared to live with the Lord.

#risingjoy #Psalms #life

Full of positive thoughts

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

But may all who take shelter in you be happy! May they continually shout for joy! Shelter them so that those who are loyal to you may rejoice! Psalm 5.11

This psalm was written by David who was once king of Israel. One of the meanings of to “take shelter” is to go somewhere for cover or protection from danger or bad weather. The life of David was turbulent many times, but almost without exception, we can read of his trust in God to see him through the difficult times.

This verse is full of positive thoughts. We can be happy when we take shelter in the Lord. This does not mean that bad things will not happen. Even David experienced many bad things in his life. But in the midst of the trial, our soul is protected and secure. It brings a joy to our lives that is continuous. David asks that God shelter those who are loyal to him so that they may rejoice. God is our protection. It is a protection that brings joy to the heart!

#risingjoy #Psalms #shelter

Imitate what is good

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

Dear friend, do not imitate what is bad but what is good. The one who does good is of God; the one who does what is bad has not seen God. 3 John 1.11

John is writing to Gaius, a faithful brother in the church. In the congregation where he participated, it would appear that Diotrephes was trying to control people by telling them who to receive and who not to receive.

John tells Gaius not to imitate what is bad, but what is good. There are two choices in life: good and bad. It is not man that determines what is good and what is bad. It is God who determines what is good or bad. We find this written in his word.

It is interesting to note that both men were a part of the same congregation, but Diotrephes had allowed sinful attitudes to take over in his life.

In every congregation, there will be those who are worthy of imitating and those who are not. We will know by their fruits. The question each one needs to consider is if I am worthy of imitating. Paul said that we should be imitators of him just as he is of Christ, 1 Corinthians 11.1. Would John encourage someone to imitate me?

#risingjoy #3-John #imitation

You do not have God

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

Everyone who goes on ahead and does not remain in the teaching of Christ does not have God. The one who remains in this teaching has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house and do not give him any greeting, because the person who gives him a greeting shares in his evil deeds. 2 John 1.9-11

If you have ever had friends that were faithful to the Lord, but have left the truth behind and followed other teachings, this passage calls for some serious reflection. Somehow we seem to get the idea that if we go on ahead and add things to make the gospel more “attractive” to people, God will be pleased. After all, the changes that we tweaked have brought more people into the fold.

John, the apostle who wrote this letter, could not disagree more. When we add things, we do not remain in the teaching of Christ. If you do not remain in the teaching of Christ, you do not have God.

The rest of the message is also hard for us. If someone comes to your house, even that long-time friend that has fallen away, and does not bring this teaching, I should not receive this person or even greet them. By greeting him, I share in his evil deeds. It sounds so hard, even cruel, to our ears. But John has more wisdom that we have. If we reject the friendship that was once precious to us, perhaps it will cause them to stop and think about what they are doing and repent before it is eternally too late.

#risingjoy #2-John #doctrine

Clear explanation

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

(See what sort of love the Father has given to us: that we should be called God’s children – and indeed we are! For this reason the world does not know us: because it did not know him. (…) 1 John 3.1

Is there anything in a name? I think we would agree that there is identity in a name. So often, adopted children are forever changed when they take on the name of the family with whom they are living. They are wanted by their adoptive parents!

John wrote this letter to Christians. He looked at the love that God had for them and had given to them. That love made adoption possible. We are God’s children through adoption. That adoption comes through obedience to his word. Christians are called God’s children because that is who we are.

The world is a dark place where sin reigns on the throne. The world does not know God because it is separated from him due to sin. Since it does not know God, it does not know his children. At times, Christians are shocked by something that the world does or supports and we might ask the question of how it is possible that such things happen. The explanation is clear. The world does not know God.

#risingjoy #1-John #adoption

Identity and purpose

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

“Before I formed you in your mother’s womb I chose you. Before you were born I set you apart. I appointed you to be a prophet to the nations.” Jeremiah 1.5

How awe-inspiring is the formation of a baby in the womb! When our first child was born, the nurse brought him to our room. He was crying and was not very happy at all. However, upon hearing his father’s voice, he calmed down immediately and quit crying. He recognized his father’s voice from when he was in the womb.

In Jeremiah 1.5, God is speaking to Jeremiah. He was set apart before birth to be a prophet to the nations. It was his identity.

What is our identity today? If you are a Christian, your identity is in Jesus Christ. Just as Jeremiah’s identity gave him a purpose, our identity has a purpose. We are to proclaim the virtues of the one who called us out of darkness into light, 1 Peter 2.9. We are to go to all the world to share the good news about salvation, Matthew 28.19-20. Are you fulfilling your purpose?

#risingjoy #Jeremiah #identity #purpose

If your lightbulb is working

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

Do not become partners with those who do not believe, for what partnership is there between righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship does light have with darkness? 2 Corinthians 6.14

You arrive home after dark. You unlock your door and walk into your home. What is the first thing that you are likely to do? Turn on the light! After you turn on the light, do you see a room filled with light or dark? Well, as long as your lightbulb is still working, you will see a room that is lighted. Light and darkness do not exist side by side.

Yet, many people who profess to be Christians (light) try to exist side by side with people in the world (darkness). Paul writes to the Corinthians using several opposites that express this contrast vividly in chapter 6, verses 14-16: righteousness, lawlessness; light, darkness; Christ, Beliar; believer, unbeliever; God, idols. When we look at these terms, we see that they have nothing in common.

However, in life, we fail many times to give these partnerships the concern and caution that they require. So often, the Christian’s faith is weakened by the daily barrage of Satan’s darts and the soul is lost eternally because of the partnerships that were unwisely formed here on earth.

#risingjoy #2-Corinthians #light #righteousness

He is in you

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price. Therefore glorify God with your body. 1 Corinthians 6.19-20

When God was busy creating this universe, he saved his best creation for last. Man was the last thing created. At that time, God pronounced that everything he had made was very good! But man did not stay very good for long. He sinned and was separated from his Creator.

In Acts 2.38, we read that upon our baptism into Christ we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. In John 14.15-17, we read that those who have obeyed the commandments of Jesus will receive the Spirit of truth.

The Corinthians were having problems with immorality in the church. Paul reminds them in 6.17 that the one united with the Lord is one spirit with him. The same union occurs when a man and woman are married. They become one. Our bodies are members of Christ and we should never unite members of Christ with a prostitute. Paul tells the Corinthians to flee sexual immorality! Let us use our bodies to bring glory to God and not shame.

#risingjoy #1-Corinthians #Holy-Spirit

Part of Christ’s team

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female – for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3.27-28

Whose team are you on? With which team do you identify? Do you cheer for a certain team?

If we are Christians, we have professed allegiance to a team. Jesus is the captain of our team. He is the one who gives the directions and orders such as where to go and what to do. Anyone who has been baptized into Christ makes up a part of his team. It does not matter what race we are, nor what gender we are. We are all one team that works together to win the prize.

Baptism is the rite of passage for this team. We have to meet the conditions already set down for qualifying for this passage. It takes us from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light. Of which kingdom are you a citizen? It is your choice. Whose team are you on?

#risingjoy #Galatians #unity

Are you a Christian?

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

“(…)I am not praying only on their behalf, but also on behalf of those who believe in me through their testimony, that they will all be one, just as you, Father, are in me and I am in you. I pray that they will be in us, so that the world will believe that you sent me.(…) ” John 17.20-21

Did you ever ask someone to pray for you? How did it make you feel?

In John 17, Jesus was praying to God right before his betrayal. He prayed that God would glorify him. Next he prayed for his disciples that would be left to continue teaching after he returned to God. The last thing for which Jesus prayed was the unity of the believers that would follow through the teaching of his disciples.

Are you a Christian? Are you a part of the church that Jesus talked about building in Matthew 16 and then established in Acts 2? If you are a part of the church, then Jesus prayed for you. His prayer was that we would all be one. Just as God and Jesus are one, his disciples or followers are to be one.

How can that be? It is actually pretty simple. We must follow the Bible in all that we do. There is one message. Do you know what it is? If not, dust off your Bible and read. If you do know what the message is, have you obeyed it? Do you continue to obey it? Imagine. Jesus prayed for you!

#risingjoy #John #unity

Not a pick-and-choose attitude

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

I am praying on behalf of them. I am not praying on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those you have given me, because they belong to you. Everything I have belongs to you, and everything you have belongs to me, and I have been glorified by them. I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them safe in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one just as we are one. John 17.9-11

This is a prayer of Jesus right before he was handed over to be crucified. He is praying for the disciples which will be his apostles and will take the message out to the world. There is a principle here that Jesus makes clear for those who want to see it.

Jesus does not pray for the world. Perhaps this is because the world must submit to God to be accepted by him. The world is not one with the Father. The opposite is true. The world is in rebellion to God, Romans 5.10. The death of Jesus on the cross made redemption possible for every person, but it is not a given. One can refuse to obey and accept God’s grace.

Jesus prays for his disciples because they belong to the Father. Jesus states that everything he has belongs to God and vice versa. Jesus prays that God will keep them safe. He then asks that they may be one just as Jesus and God are one. Paul wrote that he taught the same message in all the churches, 1 Corinthians 7.17.

The religious world has missed this message of unity that is based upon the word of God. The Bible is not to be translated to fit my desires. If that were true, we could all have a pick-and-choose attitude. The Bible is like any document in that God has one message that he wants to share, not hundreds. When we take the message in context, remembering to whom it was written and when, the content should be the same. We do not see the same freedom of division in the Bible that we see in the religious world. We need to be one in the Lord having the same mind, Philippians 2.2.

#risingjoy #John #unity

Is everything relative today?

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

I have given them your word, and the world has hated them, because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but that you keep them safe from the evil one. They do not belong to the world just as I do not belong to the world. Set them apart in the truth; your word is truth. Just as you sent me into the world, so I sent them into the world. John 17.14-18

Everything is relative today. Whether something affects me or not is relative to my situation and the circumstances surrounding it. So something considered to be true may or may not be relative to my situation. Are you confused yet?

Jesus states clearly what truth is. God’s word is truth. It is not relative. It is applicable to everyone. He first gave that word to his disciples who became his apostles. They went out teaching the word and many times were rejected and mistreated because of what they taught. Generally, it is not the message that the world wants to hear. The world does not want to submit to God, therefore obedience is considered absurd.

Jesus did not call the apostles back from spreading the word of truth. He did not pray that they be taken out of the world, but that they be kept safe from the evil one. When we have problems today, we often pray that the Lord will remove the problem. Perhaps a better response would be to pray for protection from the evil one and wisdom and strength to continue standing for our faith in the midst of the storm.

#risingjoy #John #truth

Something better

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all people. It trains us to reject godless ways and worldly desires and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, as we wait for the happy fulfillment of our hope in the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. He gave himself for us to set us free from every kind of lawlessness and to purify for himself a people who are truly his, who are eager to do good. Titus 2.11-14

The grace of God is multifaceted, 1 Peter 4.10, and we can see two facets of it here in Titus 2. Paul is reminding Titus that God’s grace trains us both to reject certain behaviors and to add certain characteristics to our lives.

Grace trains us to reject godless ways and worldly desires. Many times while studying with people about the gospel, a person is struggling with the decision to become a Christian and will have a misconception that they can get their life right and then obey the gospel. There is only one problem. Without God’s grace, it is impossible to get your life right. You do not have the power within you to accomplish such a task no matter how hard you try.

Grace also trains us to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives now in the present. With all of the problems going on in the world today, one is tempted to give in to the daily battles with sin that is experienced. But, grace trains us to be self-controlled. No matter how bad things get, God’s grace is sufficient to see me through whatever situation.

Jesus died for us to have freedom from every form of lawlessness. Not that it will not exist, but we do not have to give in to it. He calls us to something better, something purer. He calls us to share his good news and to be eager to do good.

#risingjoy #Titus #grace

Be useful

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

So if someone cleanses himself of such behavior, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart, useful for the Master, prepared for every good work. But keep away from youthful passions, and pursue righteousness, faithfulness, love, and peace, in company with others who call on the Lord from a pure heart. 2 Timothy 2.21-22

Paul is talking of repentance here. The behavior that he refers to is that of profane chatter which leads to ungodliness. The influence of ungodliness can spread through the body like gangrene. It can lead to the undermining of a person’s faith from which they might not recover. However, if someone cleanses himself of such behavior, through repentance, he can be used by the Master for good.

Profane chatter is not the only thing that we should avoid. Paul encourages Timothy to keep away from youthful passions. Maintain control of your actions and your emotions. Think through the situations in which you find yourself.

Now only does Paul tell Timothy what to avoid; he tells him what to pursue. We are to pursue righteousness, faithfulness, love and peace. We are not to pursue these things on our own, all alone. It is so important that we be in the company of other Christians who are faithful to the Lord. If we need help to overcome temptation, it is there that we will find it, as well as encouragement to continue toward the goal.

For the Lord knows those who are his.

#risingjoy #2-Timothy #repentance