From Think to Know

After Victoria and I had been dating for about nine months, a friend called me and said, "Joel, I just talked to Victoria. Don't tell her that I called, but she told me she thinks she loves you!" My friend was so excited, but I had a problem with two words—"she thinks." That could mean she loves me…or she doesn't. It could go either way. "She thinks" didn't give me any confidence at all. In fact, it made me think, "I need to do more and try to really impress her, or I might not be good enough." "She thinks" put me under more pressure. Eventually, Victoria went from "I think" to "I know," and that was over thirty-one years ago.

When you know that somebody loves you, you don't have to try to perform, to impress, to be good enough. You can relax and be yourself. But a lot of people live with an "I think He loves me" mentality when it comes to God because they base it on their performance. "I went to church. I resisted temptation. I did good. I think He loves me." The problem with this approach is that when we make mistakes and don't perform perfectly, we think God changes His mind about us. After all, people often love us conditionally. If you do right, perform right and treat them right, they will love you. If you let them down, they'll go find somebody else. But God is not like that. If you run away from God, instead of turning the other way, God will come running toward you. Quit trying to earn His love. There's nothing you can do to make God love you any more or any less. It's a gift. Just receive it by faith.

Sometimes we're trying to clean ourselves up, trying hard to be good enough, and then we'll believe that God really loves us, but God loves you right now. He loved you when you were doing wrong and were off course. The apostle Paul says that "nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God" (Romans 8:39). God put His love on you. You are permanently loved. Nothing you've done has changed God's love for you.

God loves you because you are His child. He breathed His life into you. When you receive His love, you'll live with a confidence. When you go from "I think" to "I know," you'll quit trying to earn His love. You'll live securely, knowing that your heavenly Father loves you.


Bring God Pleasure

It's easy to praise God when everything is going good and people are being nice to us. You got that promotion at work. The kids are doing great. You're full of health. But what about when you're facing a challenge, when it doesn't look like you're going to have enough? What about when the kids are off course, things are not good at work, and you just don't feel grateful? That's exactly when to put into practice the words of Hebrews 13:15: "Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name." A "sacrifice of praise" is something you don't necessarily feel like doing, but it's always the right thing to do.

However, the writer of Hebrews didn't stop there. He added, "Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God." You might look at your bank account and think you don't have enough, but that's when God says, "I know how you operate. I've designed you. No matter how you feel, if you will continually offer up this sacrifice of praise and not neglect passing on this gratitude to someone else, that's when you'll live a life that is fulfilled. That's when you will please Me." When you please God, the Scripture says that He will do things for you that you cannot do for yourself. When you please God, He'll make even your enemies be at peace with you. When you make pleasing God your highest priority, you'll see your life go to new levels.

The Bible states that we are blessed to be a blessing like Abraham was (Genesis 12:2). It says that "the one who blesses others is abundantly blessed; those who help others are helped" (Proverbs 11:25). We are blessed by Almighty God so that we can go out and express our blessings through our actions, not just through our words. I'm not talking merely about material blessings. Yes, God wants you to have more than enough. But I'm talking about those blessings of His favor, influence, peace, joy, fulfillment and purpose—the things that God gives us when we praise Him and show our praise through our actions.

We all need to go out every single day and say, "God, I offer You my sacrifice of praise, and I want to show You my gratitude through loving expressions toward others. Show me how I can bless others today." That's what pleases the heart of God.


The Power of a Father’s Love

All around our country this weekend we celebrate Father's Day. I can't begin to tell all of you dads just how important you are. Your words are important. Your love is important, and your children need your strength and godly example.

Many years ago a good friend's daughter, who was in her late teens, got off course and was living a partying lifestyle. Her father, who has a worldwide ministry, was always waiting up for her, trying to correct her, but it wasn't getting better. One day he was praying and said, "God, when are You ever going to help me with my daughter?" He felt God speak to his heart and say, "Just as soon as you start loving her." He replied, "God, what do you mean? I love her with all my heart." God said, "Well then, quit harping on her, quit threatening to punish her, and start showing her that you love her."

From that day forward, this father never said another harsh word to his daughter. He started telling her, "Honey, I love you. I believe in you. I'm proud of you. I know God has something great in store for you." He started speaking words of blessing over her life, and when he changed his approach, she changed her response. It didn't happen overnight, but over several months his daughter totally turned her life around. She rose to the level of what he spoke over her. By doing things God's way, he brought change into their relationship and set the stage for a miracle.

Do you need to see change in your relationships today? Let it start with you. Fathers, ask God to show you how your words and actions influence your children. Your words of blessing and love are especially important to your children, no matter how old they are, and no matter whether they act like it or not. Because of the power of God the Father's love for us, in us and through us, we can make a difference in our families and leave a legacy of faith for future generations!

To all the fathers who have invested so much in the lives of their children, may you be blessed, strengthened and empowered by His Spirit, and may you know the greatness of the gift that you are to them. Please know we love you and pray for you every day. Have a happy and blessed Father's Day!