Category Archives: grace

What Difference Does Jesus Make?

I occupy a lot of different roles. When I was born, I became the son of David and Martha Jo Harvell. Eventually I became know as Michael Joe to most folks, that is until I got married and then I became Joy’s Husband. I have been known as the chubby blond headed guy with blue eyes, a pretty good cook, a decent teacher, a not bad writer and a host of others things. When I went to Pastor my first church, I became known as Pastor, Preacher or Rev. After Joy and I were married for several years, we had our daughters Gracie and eventually Hope and I became Gracie & Hope’s Dad. To some folks I am a friend, to some an encourager and to some, just a goofy guy that loves Jesus. I’ve actually have more roles and titles than I have time to write about. I remember when I was younger hearing a Preacher preach a message and he asked the question: “Do you want a title or a testimony?” As a young kid, I thought: “Why not both???”

I hear people all the time say: “I love Jesus” or “I know Jesus as my Lord and Savior.” And that sounds really good, but I can’t help but wonder: “DO WE REALLY KNOW WHO JESUS IS AND IF WE DO, SHOULDN’T THAT MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE?”

What Do You Think Of When You Think of Jesus?

There Are Many Different Pictures of Jesus! A lot of different beliefs, many of them in conflict with one another. For us to be so sure that we know Jesus and have a relationship with him, we should be able to articulate from personal experience who he is and what he has done in our lives, but often, we just repeat what we have heard or been taught, because the truth is: We know about Jesus, but we don’t really know Jesus.

Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God.” -I John 4:15

Some people don’t see Jesus at all. Out of all the ones that do see Jesus, many only see him as a good man or an interesting teacher. When we see Jesus, we need to see him as he really is, in all of his glory and splendor. We need to see him as the humble, loving and faithful teacher that taught and teaches us a better way to do this thing called life. We need to not just say we believe, but prove we believe with the way we live our life, in the things we say and do. When we accept Jesus as God’s son and the perfect sacrifice for our sin, the evidence that it (he) is real is that our relationship with Jesus begins to change, develop and grow us into something more magnificent than we could ever dream or imagine.

We Know That We Know Jesus When:

We see Jesus as God’s Son! Jesus is not just a man. Jesus is the God/Man. Jesus is God come to earth, to live in the flesh, to show us through a living, breathing, physical example how to live, grow and be blessed in this life and for all eternity. And Jesus gives us the way and will to reclaim our rightful place as God’s special creation, made in God’s image and all that comes with that amazing truth. We know that Jesus is God’s son, but we have to do more than know it, we have to believe it and believe it in such a way that it changes our life from the inside-out.

We see Jesus as our Savior! The realization that I can open up my life to God and know Him in a real and personal way is amazing. The belief that I can have my very own personal connection with the supernatural power of the Almighty is incredible. And to think that all of this blessing is found in and through God’s Son Jesus, who made a way for us where there was no way is the icing on the cake. There is nothing we can do to make our messed up selves right with our God, but if we will accept and believe in the gift of His son, Jesus will become our Savior, cleanse us from all unrighteousness and restore us to a real and right relationship with Him that allows His blessing of forgiveness and power to flow to and through our lives.

We see Jesus as… Who or what do you need to see Jesus as today? Stop playing pretend games, get dissatisfied with just barely getting by and get to know Jesus and all the roles He can fulfill in your life by helping you to fulfill all the roles you were created for. Jesus is everything we need him to be and so much more, we just simply have to receive and believe…

Running On Empty!

One of the things I began to notice in my life as I got older was how often I allowed myself to get to the place where I was “running on empty”. I started to understand that I wasn’t trying to run on empty, in fact, I was trying to fill myself up, but was using the wrong fuel. Often while we are busy filling our ego, we are emptying our spirit and this is no way to live, not if you want to live the life of blessing you were created for.

The old saying: “What you feed will grow!” is more true than ever and if we are honest, a lot of us have been feeding the wrong animal, while neglecting what really matters. This is why the Scriptures are so important to our figuring out this thing called life and why we need to read them and seek to put them into practice everyday. Even baby steps in the right direction produce progress.

5 Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. 6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. -Philippians 4:5-7

We’ve already learned that God does not promise us happiness, but He does promise us joy and if we will allow the joy of the Lord to be our strength, it will help us to live blessed lives that produce happiness. So the goal then, is to fill up your “JOY TANK!”

Filling Up Your Joy Tank!

The first strip to filling up your Joy Tank: Become Known As A “Take It Easy” Person! A take it easy person is gentle, reasonable, wise and able to handle whatever life throws their way! It is important to remember that gentleness is not the absence of strength, but strength that is disciplined and under control. This is the goal for this life and is a work in progress until when Christ returns!

The second step to filling up your Joy Tank: Don’t Worry About Anything & Pray About Everything! It is very important to remind ourselves that worry is present when faith is absent! Let me say that again, because we usually miss it. WORRY IS PRESENT WHEN FAITH IS ABSENT! If you have worry in your life, then you are not exercising belief/faith/trust in God and His promises. The key to your success lies in you being able to replace your worry with faith and the best way I know to do this is by taking time to have conversation with our Creator. Remember: Prayer is conversation and conversation involves speaking and listening! So, talk to God and tell God what is on your heart and mind and then make sure that you are listening for His instruction, guidance and wisdom.

The Third Step To Filling Your Joy Tank: Let God’s Peace Guard Your Heart And Mind! It is very important to remember one of the major life truths that we often forget: “You are in charge of you!” Whatever you are – you have made the choice! Wherever you find yourself, chances are it is because of decisions you have made. We can waste our time blaming everyone and everything else, but that will not change who or what we are. What will change the who and where is our making the choice and decision to do something about it! Here’s a simple question that can help to clear things up: Are you what you want to be and are you who God created you to be??? If not, join God in creating a better, new and improved version of yourself. It will be an amazing journey and you will find that it is amazing where you can go on a full tank!

Get On The Joy Bus!

Joy is more than just a happy word. Joy is a spiritual principle, a process of growing and maturing in your faith that allows you to not just survive life, but to thrive in the living of it. Joy can be found in the simplest of things, such as recognizing and feeling the warmth of the sun on your skin, seeing the smiling face of a cute baby or hearing the words “I love you!” Joy is so much more than just a feeling, it is a deep down assurance that you are okay and life is good.

I have found that the greatest sense of joy flows into and through my life, when I move beyond myself and begin to consider others. Serving others opens up my physical, mental and spiritual life, so that joy can flow to and through me. I am discovering that joy is not the result of a life well lived, but the cause. In other words: Joy helps me to live the life of blessing I was created to live.

Live life long enough and you are going to do battle with worry. If we are not careful, worry will act as a weed and grow all over the place before we know it. Just like we have to get rid of weeds are they get out of control, we must get rid of worry or it will take control. We cannot simply ignore it and wish that it would go away.

6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. -Philippians 4:6-7

So we need to eradicate the weed of worry and cultivate the growth of joy in our hearts and lives. This does not happen by accident, but by our intentional effort to create the right circumstances uses the tools God has given us.

The Solution To Worry Is Joy!

Joy is not something we manufacture, joy is something we discover. We find Joy when we find God. We grow joy, when we grow our relationship with our Creator. We should have joy in who God is & what He has done! God is our loving Heavenly Creator. He wants to walk with us, talk with us and guide us to blessings in this life and the everlasting life to come. God has made a way where there was no way, because He love us and genuinely desires to have a personal and meaningful relationship with us.

Real joy praises, thanks and talks openly! It is easy to pretend you have joy, but real joy is not something you make yourself feel. It is something that bubbles up from deep inside of you. Real joy flows from our relationship with our Creator and focuses on what is right over what is wrong and creates more of the good stuff. Real joy is grateful for everything that life brings our way, knowing that God uses is all for the blessing of those that love Him and who are called according to His purposes. Real joy is honest, real and able to take on and take out anything that does not belong.

Real joy is ours because: God can and will hear and answer our prayers! God loves you, has an amazing plan for your life and wants to give you more and better than the desires of your heart. Instead of focusing on your problems and suffering the loss of joy, focus on God and His goodness and joy will find you. Once joy finds you, allow it to flow to and through you and it will grow into something truly special – a gift that keeps on giving…