Do nice guys finish last?

I used to wake up every morning and ask the Lord to help me to be “nice”. You see I worked in the customer service department and well, if you work with customers you have to put on your “nice” face. And some of the individuals that worked with me were not the easiest to get along with either. So I just wanted to be able to be nice to those around me, and learn to be nice in general.

I thought I was getting one step ahead as I began each day. It was all good until I mentioned it to someone— interchanging the words nice and kind. The individual casually mentioned that being nice and being kind are two different actions. Apparently they weren’t synonyms like I assumed. I was stumped and decided that I would do some of my own research on the subject.

I started in the dictionary and found that a couple of the definitions for the word nice are pleasant and agreeable. Hmm. That seems right. But I cannot be agreeable on all things with all people. A few sites explained nice as being polite with good manners.

If you look at the life of Jesus you would find that he wasn’t pleasant or agreeable all the time. Truth was far more important to him than simply being pleasant or agreeable or even polite. What happened when Jesus found the money changers in the temple?

“So he made a whip out of cords and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their table. To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!” His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me.”  John 2:14-17 (NIV)

Wow, that wasn’t very nice!

Nor was he nice when he told the Pharisees that they were hypocrites or whitewashed tombs. Nor was he nice when he looked at Peter and said, “Get away from me, Satan! You are a dangerous trap to me. You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s.” Matthew 16:23 (NLT)  There were many other occasions when he did things that may not have seemed polite, agreeable or pleasant.

Why?

Because he didn’t come to this earth to be pleasant. He is not Santa Claus, trying to spread Christmas cheer.  He came to bring truth. Many people DON’T want to be told truth. They just want to hear wonderful things.

“For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. they will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear.” 2 Timothy 4:3 (NLV)

There are a lot of NICE Christians and NICE churches. I have heard it said that we should just accept people the way they are PERIOD. Churches are being consumed with fun activities to draw in the lost– all the while sin is  being ignored.

If a baker chooses not to make a cake for an event that bothers his conscience he is considered intolerant or to put is simply — “not nice” and can be sued. We shouldn’t talk about conviction, about sin, about changing our hearts, about sacrifice or eternity. Someone might get offended and that isn’t nice.

Why can’t we all just be NICE?

The problem with just being nice is that it is a facade. There is no substance in it. So when you are having a bad day niceness can turn into ugliness in a minute flat. I’ve had people be nice to me one minute and the very next want to claw out my eyeballs. On the flip side, I’ve been the nice person, biting my tongue, becoming a push over so I could appear pleasant and yet squirming inside.

I continued my research, this time from the Bible. Of course I didn’t find the actual word nice, but I knew the word kind or kindness was there. Most believers are aware that kindness is one of the attributes of the fruit of the Spirit. (Galatians 5:22-23)

Nice on the other hand, not being part of the fruit of the Spirit, has no strength or foundation. It is like building your house on the sand and not on the rock of Christ. (Matthew 7:24-27) When a storm comes, nice will not suffice.

Kindness led by the Holy Spirit is a God-given quality of compassion, generosity and understanding. It is considerate, not expecting anything in return. It far exceeds the act of just being nice.

Jesus showed these qualities. He forgave the adulteress but warned her to sin no more. He wasn’t just being nice, telling her that he accepted her lifestyle. But he was filled with kindness and forgiveness.

He showed kindness to the lost, kindness to the broken, kindness towards the sick and even the lepers (which was unheard of), kindness towards the tax collectors and those that were rejected by the world. He gathered the little children around him and showed them love and acceptance when the disciples were telling them to leave him alone.

Yet people wanted him dead! Why? He had healed the sick and even brought some back to life. But they wanted him dead because he had disrupted their lives. He had offended them by speaking truth. Truth STILL offends people today because sometimes it isn’t NICE.

People want to shut down the voice of truth.

Digging deeper I discovered this on wordcentral.com:

Main Entry: nice
Pronunciation: primarystressnimacrs
Function: adjective
Etymology: Middle English nice “foolish, stupid,” from early French nice (same meaning), from Latin nescius “ignorant,” from nescire “not to know,” from ne- “not” and scire “to know” –related to SCIENCE
1 : finicky in tastes or habits
2 a : not obvious : SUBTLE <a nice distinction> b : having the ability to notice small differences <a nice ear for music>
3 : PLEASING, AGREEABLE <a nice time> <a nice person>
4 : well behaved : RESPECTABLE <wasn’t a nice thing to do>
nice·ly adverb
nice·ness noun
Word History Five hundred years ago, when nice was first used in English, it meant “foolish or stupid.” This is not as surprising as it may seem, since it came through early French from the Latin nescius, meaning “ignorant.” By the 16th century, the sense of being “very particular” or “finicky” had developed. In the 19th century, nice came to mean “pleasant or agreeable” and then “respectable,” a sense quite unlike its original meaning.

After reading the word history I realized that every morning when I was asking the Lord to make me nice, maybe I was really asking him to make me foolish, stupid, ignorant or perhaps finicky and at best agreeable or pleasant. Blah.

It makes me think about Garth Brook’s song, “Unanswered Prayers”. Anyway God knew my heart. He knew what I really wanted was to learn to be kind.  And he allowed me to go through circumstances that would help me to understand what kindness vs niceness was really all about.

So back to the question from the title: Do nice guys finish last? I would say, yes they do UNLESS they walk in the fruit of the Spirit of kindness, as well. Don’t get me wrong I believe that being polite, having manners and being pleasant are fine qualities and should be part of our lives. But just being nice will not sustain you in this world. It will gobble you up.

“Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?” Romans 2:4 (NLT)

“Instead, be kind to each other, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, just as God has forgiven you because you belong to Christ.” Ephesians 4:32 (TLB)

Lord, teach me to be kind.

Amen and God bless.

 

 

 

How can I love?

LOVE is a strong word yet used so freely in our society. Young girls think they LOVE a pop star, little kids think they LOVE candy, a tired employee thinks he LOVES a vacation. (Well that one might be true to an extent. LOL). Expressions and explanations of  LOVE could fill a book. Even website meanings are slightly different as the word seems to evolve and conform to different circumstances. It is like it is alive and takes on many forms.

When I attended a Sunday school class in my junior high years our teacher read the “love chapter” from the Bible. If you have been a follower of the Lord for any amount of time you have probably read it or at least heard about it. It lists what love is supposed to look like and what it is not. The love message is found in the book of 1 Corinthians, chapter 13. The explanation goes from verse 4 through the first part of 8.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails.  (NIV)

After my teacher finished reading the material she asked us to insert our names in the place of love. Well, that was disappointing. I suppose she was trying to prove how far we are from loving others. She did a good job because I fell extremely short.

Eons later and that message has never left my mind. Still whenever I read that chapter I tend to put my name in it and again it seems to have the same effect. I suppose it is similar to the commandments. It shows our humanity and our need for a savior.

The message of love is obviously not contained in that one chapter. It is riddle throughout the Word of God. It is the purpose God created us and sent his son to this earth. (John 3:16) It is the purpose Jesus died for our sins–stole the keys of sin and death from satan– and THEN came back to LIFE. It is the purpose for our lives.

In the gospels we find one of the teachers of the time wanting to test Jesus and asked him what the greatest commandment was. Again the word LOVE appears.

Jesus answered him, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important commandment. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” Matt.22:37-39 (GWT)

What struck me was AS you love yourself. Hmm. How much do I love myself? I mean, I take care of myself, right? The question is: do I take GOOD care of myself? Do I want what is best for me–not selfishly– but do I actually feed myself what is healthy, am I careful what I watch, what I agree with, or who I hang out with? I think the thought of loving oneself has been considered selfish at times. But how can we really love others IF we don’t even love ourselves.

In Ephesians we read that husbands should love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself for the church. It continues by stating that husbands are to love their wives as they love THEMSELVES.

A man who loves his wife loves HIMSELF. Eph 5:28b (GWT)

So to love others really we must begin by loving God. Then continue the process by loving ourselves. Out of that will flow love for others. So I regress to the “love chapter”.  Instead of putting my name in place of LOVE, I actually checked to see if I even love myself. I began by stating, “I am patient with myself, I am kind to myself.”  It is obviously important to the Lord to learn to love ourselves so that we can love others.

But back to the greatest commandment: to love God with ALL our heart, soul and mind. That sounds wonderful. And I want to love him. But really even that is a gift from God. We can’t even love without him giving us the ability to do so in the first place.

1 John 4:19 ” We love BECAUSE God loved us first.”

In fact, though we state we love others, things or events those statements are just a show of affection towards something else. Perhaps LOVE is not just a show of affection. Perhaps it just is. Perhaps instead of a verb or even a common noun it is a proper noun.

LOVE = GOD. God isn’t just showing affection. But he IS the affection. It isn’t JUST one of his attributes, but WHO he is. The Word states as much in 1 John 4 :8b and 16b.

“GOD is LOVE.”

So back to “love chapter”. Replace love with GOD.

GOD is patient.
GOD is kind.
GOD is not envious, nor boastful or proud.
GOD does not dishonor others, nor is self-seeking.
GOD is not easily angered, nor keeps record of wrongs.
GOD does not delight in evil, but rejoices with truth.
GOD always protects
GOD always trusts.
GOD always hopes.
GOD always perseveres.

GOD NEVER FAILS.

I know I fall short of the above description of LOVE but I also know that when I surrender myself to my heavenly Father he covers the area of my failures and begins a beautiful work in me. We are always being changed into his image as we allow God to work in our lives. It is a process. (2 Corinthians 3:18)

Lord,
Thank you for your love. Teach me to love as you do. Teach me to love myself. Teach me to love others. And ultimately teach me to love you with all of my heart, soul and mind. Amen.

God bless.

And, now these three things remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is LOVE. 1 Corinthians 13:13 (NIV)

 

The Light

As the holidays approach I am reminded of so many people who have faced tragedy this year. There are several people I know personally who lost loved ones — not to mention the national tragedies that plagued our land.

This poem is for them:

The Christmas season is upon us.
There are gifts tucked safe under a tree.
Little hearts anxiously wait
For what seems like eternity.

People are rushing; excitement is bustling
All is merry and bright.
But someone is mourning this season
Because everything is not cheery or right.

Perhaps you lost a child this year.
Perhaps you lost your dad.
Perhaps you lost your home
Or everything you had.

The world didn’t stop
Because tragedy struck.
It spun in its cycle without care.

And Christmas arrived
Though you are broken inside
With hurt that’s incredibly hard to bear.

It is for you that the Christ child
Came from heaven above.
It is for you that He still opens
His arms with mercy and with love.

It’s okay to weep over heartache.
It’s okay to weep over loss.
That is why God sent his son-
To take your pain upon the cross.

He longs to give you hope
In a world full of fear and despair.
To give you peace unlike the world
That doesn’t remember or care.

And in the midst of your chaos
I pray that God holds your hand.
That you find the comfort you long for.
That you know HE still has a plan.

The merriment of the holidays are blaring
You may want to ignore it all.
But I pray that you feel God’s presence instead.
And He answers your heart when you call.

The Christmas season is upon us
All may not be merry or bright
But He can shine in the midst of your mourning.
Follow the star, He’ll be your LIGHT.

Amen and God bless.

 

 

 

 

 

To those that are broken

Twisted – broken,
Out of control.
Spiraling- falling
Deep in a hole.

Confused – Bewildered
Not sure what to do.
Lost – Alone
Can all this be true?

The life I shared
Is now in the ground.
The joy that we had
Has turned upside down.

I cried to the Lord
In my despair.
Did you not know?
Do you not care?

I cried to the Lord
Did you not see?
There was nowhere to run
To hide or to flee.

Why all the hurt?
Why all the fears?
Why all the sadness?
And constant new tears?

I heard him reply:

Dear Child
What you say is true
I know of your anguish
It hurts through and through.

I know there is hurt.
I know there is fear.
I want to hold you close
I won’t abandon you; I’m still here.

This world is broken
Chaotic and lost.
I know the pain.
I know what it cost.

It cost the life
Of my son on the cross
To break all the sin
To heal all the loss.

It wasn’t me
That took the life
It was evil consumed
With hate and with strife

When this world’s sins
Meets its final hour,
The demons that kill
Will flee and will cower.

Until that time comes
My arms will remain open
Its a safe place to heal
A heart that is broken.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

 

.

 

What are your plans?

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

I love plans. I thrive off plans. They give me peace and a sense of direction.  I am not really a “spur of the moment” type of person. Now my husband is completely the opposite.  He floats through life, catching the wind as it blows, excited for where he might land.

Let me give you an example: on our honeymoon I made “plans” and got us into the bridal suite. We stayed there the first night but my husband thought it would be fun to take a ferry to the nearby islands the next day. It was fun. But since he didn’t get a motel reservation we ended up spending the night in our car on the ferry because there were zero rooms available. A convention was in the area. That went over well.

It is also the same with directions. I use to constantly have to do everything exactly by the book. As the years have slipped by I have realized that not everything has to be done according to some unseen book. Yet, general directions are given for a purpose. Without reading the directions my husband decided to build a swing set in the backyard. After he was done he realized that a couple of pieces were not connected properly and that there were extra parts he wasn’t sure what to do with. He looked at me with a sheepish grin and said, “Perhaps I should have read the directions.”

Throughout the adventures of our lives together we have seen the importance of both aspects. And we have changed some viewpoints that we thought were cemented in our personalities.

When I was a little girl my parents moved many times. I didn’t question their purpose or decisions; I just went for the ride. I never knew that there were occasions when they didn’t have definite plans or that they were not always sure about the future. I was just a happy child and simply trusted that whatever they decided to do would be in my best interest. (Of course I didn’t analyze it at the time.) Later in life I discovered that there were times that their only option was to trust God and not themselves, as they entered into the next chapter of their lives.

Unfortunately we are not given a map for every choice we make in life. We are not told to go here for 2 years, then take this job, marry this person, put your kids in this school and perhaps go on a mission trip during this season…blah, blah, blah…

In fact James 4: 13-15 states, ” Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit. Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you out to say, “If the Lord WILLS we will live and do this or that.” (ESV)

We often ask “Lord what is your will?” God says that HE has a plan for us. HE holds the plans for each of our lives. And he states that HIS plans are for our good. There are times I have mentioned to God that I just wish he would hand over those plans. It would be so much easier to navigate through my life if I could simply look at the plans.

Instead he desires for us to trust him and relax in his goodness just like I trusted my parents. I didn’t have a care in the world, except maybe what my new school would be like or who my new friends would be.

He doesn’t always give us a complete picture regarding our future. Sometimes it might start as a desire that begins to stir in our hearts, a thought that crosses our mind, a dream that we had the night before or a longing that cannot be quenched. As soon as we pray about a decision and take a step in that direction, the stirring becomes more evident and doors of opportunity begin to open to make the desire a reality.

The Psalmist states, ” The steps of good men are directed by the Lord. He delights in each step they take.” Psalm 37:23 (TLB) 

He delights in OUR steps! It is like parents that watches their toddler take his first step. They watch him with eagerness and anticipation. And when the child falls they pick him back up and encourage him in his next step.

If God gave us everything at once we wouldn’t need his hand of guidance. We would become self-sufficient and may not seek his advise for direction. We would lose communication with the one that loves us more than anyone can. He created us in his image. He desires that we seek him. He desires that we commune with him. He desires that we dig into his Word (the directions for this life) and get to know him, personally.

He doesn’t give us a bunch of dos and don’ts. He gives us relationship and guidance and comfort and peace and direction. And as much as he delights in our steps he asks us to learn to delight in him. Like I mentioned earlier, he created us in his image. He wants a two-way relationship with us.

“Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord: trust in him, and he will act.” Psalm 37: 4-5 (ESV)

Do you recall the game, Marco Polo? One person closes his eyes and says, “Marco”.  The others say, “Polo”. Even though the person who is “it” cannot see the other players he follows the voices until he is able to tag another player.

Though not completely the same, it is what we are doing. We may have a blindfold on in life, yet we listen for the voice of the Holy Spirit and follow his lead. When we come to the place where the Holy Spirit leads doors begin to open for us. As we fellowship with the Lord we learn the sound of his voice. He may call us down another path as we enter our next chapter in life.

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them and they follow me.” John 10:27 (NIV)

It is similar to the children of Israel that wandered in the wilderness for 40 years. The spirit of God led them by a pillar of cloud during the day and fire by night. (Exodus 13:21) That same God leads each of us in our lives, as well.

Listen. What is the Holy Spirit saying to you? Is he calling your name? Is he leading you in a new direction? You can trust that what he starts in you he will surely complete. (Philippians 1:6)

One day as we look into our past we will see the many doors we traveled through that led us directly into God’s arms. We will be thankful for the doors the Lord opened and the doors that sometimes felt slammed in our faces. We will be grateful that the Lord in his goodness, ordered our steps and grateful that we obeyed his calling; and extremely grateful that he picked us up when we fell.

God Bless.

 

 

 

 

Water and Fire

The howl of the wind, the rush of the water, the urgency in the air causing anxiety in the south. Or the roar of the fire, the sunless sky, the smell of smoke in the backyard, causing panic in the north. Our nation has seen so much anger, violence and hostility and now it seems mother-nature is as angry as the political unrest. There seems to be a shaking in our country; a shaking in our world.

Are these incidences just coincidences? Is it “climate change”? Is it just life in a planet that is forever changing? Or is it a compassionate wake-up call to a nation from an Almighty God, reminding people that he is ultimately in control? Or perhaps an “end time” announcement?

We have seen horrific earthquakes, tsunamis, mudslides and famines in other countries from a safe place. In fact we have experienced our own earthquakes that rocked the land plus horrific hurricanes and tornadoes and even volcanos that have affected personal lives. Life on this earth, inclusive of weather anomalies and change have occurred since the beginning of time. Yet it seems, from my perspective and others I have spoken with, that our nation is being bombarded by mother nature.

Was the solar eclipse that was nicknamed  “The Great American Eclipse” that crossed the contiguous United States a sign of things to come for America? You might ask why one would think this?  The Bible mentions signs in the heavens. Jesus warned of the days before his return.

Luke 21: 25-26 states: “There will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth dismay among nations, in perplexity at the roaring of the seas and the waves, men fainting from fear and the expectation of the things which are coming upon the world; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.” (NASV)

Also in Acts 2:20 “The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.” ( NIV)

If you have grown up in church you may have heard it preached that we are living in the “last days”.  In fact you might remember the “Left Behind” series by Tim LaHaye that became popular videos in the Christian communities in the early 2000s.  Before that there were many street prophets. Some stood with signs on the street corners that stated that the end was near.  Often you see these type of people portrayed in movies labeled as crazy or mentally unstable.

But calling out to masses about coming events is not a new concept. John the Baptist could have been considered one of those crazy people. He wore garments of camel-hair with a leather belt around his waist. His food was locust and honey. He often was heard saying, “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Matthew 3:2 (ESV) Yet he was actually sent by God to announce the coming of Jesus and was humbled that he was allowed to baptize Jesus before he started his ministry.

Science fiction thriller movies have taken end time theories and made millions at the box office. In these movies the entire world is almost destroyed by some kind of climate change or world war 3 or a massive nuclear bomb or aliens that attack. But just at the last moment a hero saves the day or the world  People leave the theater thankful that it was just a movie.  And they carry on with their lives.

The concept of “end times” is old and perhaps heard so many times that it is portrayed as ridiculous. That message can get to the point of being overdone. Eventually people get tired of hearing it and roll their eyes. It took so long for Noah to build the Ark that people became weary of the sight of the ark or his lunatic racings, as well, and simply mocked him. They lived as they had always done, eating, drinking and getting married. Suddenly destruction came upon them.

Today people have become immune to the possibility of any truth those words may hold. “Seriously? We have been hearing those “end times” warnings for so long.” And then they will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from beginning of creation.” 2 Peter 3:4 (ESV)

Some people have gone as far as try to predict the return of the Lord. I remember a book in the 80s that was titled “88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will be in 1988” by Edgar Whisenant.  When it didn’t occur the way he assumed, the author continued writing more books that expanded on his explanation. He died without seeing the “rapture” take place in his lifetime.

But Jesus warned, “But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son but only the Father.” Mark 13:32 (ESV)

Still Jesus forewarns that though we do not know the hour, there will be events that occur before that time. His message was to always be prepared. He even told a parable (or story) that has since been titled “The Parable of the 10 Virgins”. Five people were ready for the coming of the bridegroom, while five others had not been prepared. (Matthew  25:1-13)

Today we have many scoffers, even in the Christian community. In fact the Christian community is divided in many areas. I viewed some testimonies online from individuals that have shared dreams regarding what is taking place in America. Some said that they had already seen these events taking place in those dreams. One that really caught my attention was the proclamation that someone made regarding these two hurricanes. Afterwards they state that there will be a huge earthquake that will rock our nation. All these catastrophic events will devestate the American economy.

Regardless if these events are from the hand of God for judgement or if we are in the “last days” these events can transform each of our lives to help us to grow, if we allow them. They can cause us to trust God in the midst of chaos, create a greater prayer life, grow in our faith and relationship with our Savior and teach us compassion for those around us. Remember 9-11? It drew our nation together. Of course in the midst of positive transformation there will always be the scoffers and those who continue to harden their hearts, becoming bitter. And there will always be those that are bent on the destruction of others and themselves.

Yet heartaches can be used for good. The verse “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28 NASB) becomes even more clear. It is the through the hardest times in our lives that God’s grace and the glory can shine.

Still I join with the disciples who waited earnestly for Jesus’ return in their days and know that the day of his ultimate return grows closer. And I pray for those who have been affected by the latest hurricanes, those who have lost their property and lost loved ones. And I pray for those who are being affected by the fires that still rage. So many hurts and so many loses in this world. God have mercy on each of us.

To each of you I leave this verse:

“When you pass through the water, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” Isaiah 43:2 (NIV)

 

 

Laughter of the Lord

You read about God’s judgements. You read about his glory. You know that he is all-powerful, but does he laugh?

We’ve had so much conflict in our great land. Racism has been fed by angry souls and taken an embodiment of hostility. The earth itself seems angry as it is spurring raging storms and floods in our nation. Laugher –that is accompanied with joy –seems foreign.

The writer of Psalm 37 explains that we are not to worry or fret about evil people but to trust God. (Good advise during the times we are experiencing right now–a must read). He continues to explain that as we commit everything to the Lord he will help us. He encourages his readers to let go of anger and trust God. The Psalmist sees that madness (wicked people with evil schemes) is surrounding him, but he is reminded that God will take care of those that put their hope and trust in Him.

Despite what we he sees with his eyes the writer continues in verse 13: “But the Lord just laughs for he sees their day of judgement coming”. (NLT) In other words those that are fighting the Lord, those that are putting up their fists in anger and trying to destroy his goodness do not phase him. It would be like a toddler arguing with his parent. His parent looks at him smiling as he knows that no matter what the child does or says, he is ultimately in control of the situation.

Psalm 2:4 is another example, “But the one who rules in heaven laughs. The Lord scoffs at them.” ((NLT) Again people think that they have the power to destroy his plans and destroy those he has anointed but God is ultimately in control.  David explains in Psalm 59, that Saul and his men are trying to attack and destroy him. But he trusts in his Lord and knows that the Lord laughs at those who think they’re stronger and more mighty than his plans. That is why David is able to trust in his God.

It’s like being in 1st grade and another 1st grader comes over to bully you. Suddenly your Dad walks up behind you and shakes his head and laughs. He knows he can protect you. The bully sees your father and quickly shrinks away. We have a God that is our refuge and strength. He delights in his people. He delights in us individually. And we actually bring him joy because we are his children.

Zephaniah 3:17 states, “For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fear. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.” (NLT)

God desires to give us that same laugher in the midst of our trials. When Job was going through so much excruciating struggles his friends actually said something positive to him.  They told him that God would fill his mouth with laughter once again and his lips with shouts of joy.  When Sara was told that she would have a child in her old age, she laughed in unbelief but God fulfilled her desire and she named her child Isaac, which means laugher.

There is power in joy. That is why James states to count it all joy when trouble of any kind comes your way; because when your faith is tested, it will give you an opportunity to grow.  (James 1:1)

In the days of Nehemiah the people of the land wept as they heard the law of Moses being read. But Nehemiah encouraged them and said, “This is a sacred day before our Lord. Don’t be dejected and sad, for the JOY of the Lord is your strength!” -Nehemiah 8:10 (NLT)

So the question is, does God laugh? I believe he does. He is consumed with joy and expresses it with laughter. On a personal note:  When I was younger I remember calling out to the Lord to meet my needs and wondered if he cared. Deep inside the very depths of my being I heard a deep and jolly chuckle. Then I heard the words, “I will always take care of you!” I hold on to those word still in this hour knowing HE WILL take care of each of us.

He is a God of judgement, a God of strength and power and yet a God of joy and laughter.  Amen.

“Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again — rejoice!” Philippians 4:4