Archives For Rejoice

Consistently Thankful

December 2, 2014 — 1 Comment
Photo Credit: https://openclipart.org/detail/204505/thanksgiving-dinner-family-by-j4p4n-204505

Photo Credit: Link

Thanksgiving has come and gone. All that remains are the leftovers sitting in the fridge (and the added weight from all the desserts).  I am sure that many of you spent time reflecting over the weekend about what you are thankful for.

My list is extensive. I am thankful for my amazing family. I am thankful for my wife who constantly supports and encourages me. I am thankful for our beautiful Son – a proof that God does do miracles! And, I am particularly grateful for all of the hard seasons in my life that have led me to where I am.

That last statement might sound absurd to some. Why on earth would I be thankful for hardships? Simply put, they have developed my faith and strengthened my resolve allowing me to constantly focus on the fact that God is in control – my life, after all, is His story, not mine.

This concept of rejoicing in our sufferings is one that was all too familiar to the apostles. I have read the book of Acts countless times, and somehow I always breeze past the verses like that of Acts 5:41 “So they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name.”

This was not their first time being arrested and threatened.  A chapter earlier, Peter and John were arrested and released being strictly forbidden to ever speak the name of Jesus. Most people would either take heed the stern warning and follow instructions or flee from this persecution and go elsewhere. They however, pray for boldness and go about their mission. Shortly after, they are back in the temple preaching and subsequently were arrested again – although freed by an Angel in the night, they were again back in the temple teaching the next morning. They were a persistent group of people!

Acts 5 tells us of their trial and how at the conclusion they were beaten, threatened and released. We read in Acts 5:41-42

So they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name. 42 And daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ

Persecution did not immobilize the apostles – it fueled them. Their version of a “bad day” was one that I hope many of us never have to endure – yet they chose to rejoice amidst their suffering. They chose Jesus over self-pity, they chose the greater story over their own story.

The realization of what Jesus has done for you should change not just your perception but your behavior. You walk away from troubles unscathed and motivated to turn any issues into testimonies for Him.

He is our All in All – He is our peace, provision, joy, strength, healing – our Everything.

So take some time to be Thankful this season for all He has brought you through – reflect on what you have become because of His greatness.

Let the trials be fuel to the burning fire inside of you to tell the story of Him this Season.

Question: How have you turned trials into rejoicing? 

A Gift That Changes All

September 20, 2012 — Leave a comment

Field

Sometimes it is hard to define the gift that God has given us.  The gift of His grace, His mercy, His forgiveness.  Truly the list goes on and on.  Have you ever tried to define it?  To put words to it?  I appreciate Jesus’ unique way of getting His point across.  He always packaged a life impacting lesson into a short story that even the youngest of children could understand.  This is one of my favorite short parables:

The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.  Matthew 13:44 NIV

Two simple sentences, but one impactful point.  Jesus is drawing a great analogy to what the Kingdom of Heaven is like…which by the way is something we get to experience NOW, not later.  We, as believers, experience the benefits of Kingdom living today.  It is not something we have to wait for…but let’s save that conversation for a future post.

Pull out one thing from this verse: what this man found was so great, so grand that he released everything else he had.  Once he experienced this great treasure, everything else paled in comparison.  Nothing else was worth having.  Nothing else was worth experiencing.

The gift we have been given in Jesus should have the same impact on us.  The verse says that in his joy he sold everything – he abandoned all else for this gift, the Kingdom of God.

Is Jesus advocating for us to sell our homes, all of our possessions, and abandon our responsibilities?  I don’t believe so.  But, I do think He is telling us two things:

1. The gift He has provided should bring us overwhelming joy – that nothing of this world should overshadow that gift.

2. We need to set aside and get rid of anything that might be holding us back from experiencing this joy.

This might be something material, or something you are dealing with internally like pride.  We must make whatever sacrifice is needed to protect this amazing gift.  Don’t let anything stand between you and it!

Francis Chan in his book, Crazy Love, asked two very pointed questions (which I will leave as my closing thoughts) that I think are very applicable after reading Matthew 13:44 and the reaction (you might even think extreme reaction) that this man goes to when he finds this gift:

1. Has your relationship with God actually changed the way you live?

2. Do you see evidence of God’s Kingdom in your life?

I Will Find You

September 18, 2012 — Leave a comment

I heard this song recently by Kari Jobe, and just had to find the video to post here.  Such a great word in this song.  Essentially, I will find you, God, in all things.  In my last post, I discussed the “Even If mentality“, and this song seems to just sum it up so nicely.  No matter what, I will find God when I surrender and listen to Him.

Instead of writing, I am going to let the song speak for itself today:

 

Question: What do you take from this song?

 

Leaving Self-Pity Behind

August 14, 2012 — 2 Comments

Mamertine Prison, Rome

I took this picture on a recent visit to Rome.  This is the Mamertine Prison located adjacent to the Roman Forum.  It is believed that both Paul and Peter were imprisoned here.  Compared to the hustle and bustle of Rome, this was a quiet and humbling spot to visit.

As we walked down the narrow stone stairway into the prison itself, I became speechless.  It is hard to find words to describe the experience.  The fact that anyone could be imprisoned in this environment and survive is stunning – but what is even more impressive are the words that the Apostle Paul wrote while being imprisoned for his Faith:

Rejoice in the Lord always [delight, gladden yourselves in Him]; again I say, Rejoice! (Philippians 4:4 AMP)

The fact that Paul could find it in him to Rejoice, even when in a prison like this, should simply inspire us to do the same.  I think it is safe to assume that none of us have experienced some of the trials and tribulations that Paul did.  I know that I have personally never been shipwrecked, tortured, stoned like he was.  But yet, we can get so caught up in our problems that we forget to stop and rejoice.  Notice, Paul said it twice – Rejoice and again Rejoice.  If anything is mentioned twice (in the same sentence mind you) I think it is worth heeding attention too.

I have said it more then once, we are not promised an easy life – and Paul telling us to rejoice is not meaning we ignore our troubles like some feeling-less robot, numb to the world.  Even Jesus showed deep emotion, weeping for Lazarus – but we must keep our eyes focused on Him.

When you read a bit further into Philippians, Paul goes on to tell us:

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

I have gone through trials.  I have been anxious.  I have been stressed.  This week alone I have experienced personal trials and disappointments that could easily cause me to retreat and fall into a cloud of self pity – but that is not an option for me.  The Word tells me above, to paraphrase in my own translation, give all your troubles, your issues, your sadness, your disappointments to God – and peace that doesn’t make any sense will overcome you.

In Francis Chan’s book, Crazy Love, he sums it up quite well:

When I am consumed by my problems – stressed out about my life, my family, my job – I actually convey the belief that I think the circumstances are more important than God’s command to always rejoice.  In other words, that I have a “right” to disobey God because of the magnitude of my responsibilities.  Worry implies that we don’t trust that God is big enough, powerful enough, or loving enough to take care of what’s happening in our lives.

There have been things that I have been standing in faith for for many years now that have still not come to pass.  Circumstances that are beyond my control.  But I know that I serve a God who is big enough to provide.  Do I know how?  No.  But, I know His Word promises it.  I know that when I come to Him with thanksgiving and prayer – He will hear me.

No matter where things stand in my life, I know that there is truly no better option then to Rejoice.

Question: Do you find sometimes it is easier to retreat in self-pity than it is to Rejoice through the trials?