Do Not Lose Heart

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Therefore we do not lose heart. Through outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is light,thanks,thankfeternal.                                                     2 Corinthians 4:16-18

You are being transformed into God’s image from Glory to Glory. Trust  His Spirit to do this massive work in you. Yield to his ways, wisdom, and will. When life gets tough, don’t waste those hard circumstances. Instead, ask God to use them to transform you more and more into His likeness, helping you to become your true self. You must be willing to share in Christ sufferings so that you may also share in His Glory.

Though your troubles may seem heavy and endless, they are actually light and momentary, compared to the eternal Glory they are achieving for you. This is why it is reasonable and right to thank God for hard times, to praise him for ongoing troubles. This serves a dual purpose. When you give thanks in the midst of adversity, because of who God is, and for what He has done for you, God is glorified. And your thankfulness helps you make progress in your transformation from Glory to Glory. 

Grace and Peace to You My Friends

We Can Find Joy

1 Thessalonians 5.pngAs you recalled this past Sunday we lite the third candle for Advent which is called Joy. This week, we have heard from the Apostle Paul, writing in his very first letter to the Thessalonians—the earliest piece of writing in the New Testament. What is the subject of Paul’s letter to the earliest Christian community? Joy. Specifically, joy in the midst of difficult nights. The Psalmist writes,
Sing praises to the LORD, O you his faithful ones,
and give thanks to his holy name.
For his anger is but for a moment;
his favor is for a lifetime.
Weeping may linger for the night,
but joy comes with the morning. (Psalm 30:4-5, NRSV)
Weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes with the morning! As I think about the season of Advent, and read from Thessalonians on this third week into our journey, I can’t help but hear traces of the Psalmist in Paul’s words:

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing,
give thanks in all circumstances;
for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
Do not quench the Spirit.
Do not despise the words of prophets,
but test everything.
Hold fast to what is good; abstain from every form of evil.
May the God of peace himself sanctify you entirely;
and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless
at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do this.
(1 Thessalonians 5:16-24, NRSV)My friends, nobody said the journey was going to be easy. Maybe it is for the best that Advent always starts off with a hard dose of reality. But as we enter into the homestretch of the season and begin final preparations not only to celebrate the birth of Christ into the world and his coming again in final glory, but also to welcome friends and family members who are coming down home, some of whom might not be gathering with good intentions, let us not quench the Spirit. Let it be in a spirit of grace that we acknowledge that for many of us, welcoming guests or going home will never resemble in any way the pictures of perfect familial bliss that we see in the constant holiday barrage of Photo shopped advertisements, holiday television specials, and Christmas movies. Nevertheless, let us enter into this time with rejoicing, prayer, and giving thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for us. For no matter how hard the journey may be some days, we know that joy is our true home, and our true home is with our Savior Jesus Christ.

Grace and Peace to You My Friends

 

Hope

Romans 12.pngLove must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Hope at times we humans have when trouble comes our way, but God wants us to stay hopefully and always in prayer even in the difficult times. When painful circumstances are weighing you down, God wants us to continue to Rejoice in him, “The Great I Am”, to exalt in hope, to leap joyously upward. Although physical jumping is sometimes impossible or inappropriate, your soul can leap upward at any time. As you life your soul up to God in hopeful anticipation. God showers of joy falls upon and within you. The longer and more expectantly you wait in his presence, the more abundantly he can bless you. One way to enhance this transaction is to lift your wide open arms up towards God, as if you were celebrating a triumphant moment in your life. This posture expresses great joy, and God respond by filling your soul with more joy. This puts you on an upward spiral of rejoicing. If you want to verbalize your jubilation, one of the best ways is to speak, sing, or shout, for me I rejoice in singing Praises the Father in Heaven for who he is and for all he has done for me, because everyday is a blessing that comes from him. When some days become difficult for me to move forward I continue to praise him and be in prayer, and the Spirit will speak on my behalf when I cannot find the words.

Rejoice the soul of Your servant, for to You, O Lord, I lift up my soul.

Psalm 86:4

Grace and Peace to You My Friends

Giving Thanks

1 Chronicles 16.pngLet the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let them say among the nations, “The Lord reigns!” Let the sea resound and all that is in it; let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them! Let the trees of the forest sing, let them sing for joy before the Lord, for he comes to judge the earth. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, his love endures forever. Cry out, “Save us, God our Savior, gather is and deliver us from the nations, that we may give thanks to your holy name, and glory in your praise.” Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. Then all the people said, “Amen” and “Praise the Lord.”                                                       1 Chronicles 16:31-36

Every time you and I take the time to thank the Lord, we acknowledge that he is our Lord and Provider. And every time you receive with thanksgiving, we demonstrate our kinship with God.  Yet even thro we are his children and we know we are suppose to give thanks in all circumstances, sometimes our words ring hollow. We can say them without feeling the least bit thankful. It’s especially hard for either you or me to be grateful in the midst of a difficult time in our lives, when everything seems to be going wrong. God knows what goes on in our hearts far better than we do. He knows when we feel thankful, and when we don’t. However, God can also see in the depths of our heart, a desire to please him by offering thanks even when we truly don’t feel like it. When we struggle to be grateful, we need to stop and remember who he is God, our Creator, and the “Great I Am”, and he is the author of our lives and of our faith. We are utterly dependent on him for everything, including our next breath. Every good gift comes from above. When we thank God during a difficult day or a period in our lives, we are assuming the proper stance for a child of God. If we persevere in this thankfulness, resisting the temptation to grumble, we can find joy and peace in the midst of our struggles.

 

Grace and Peace to You My Friends

God Is Know as El Roi

Genesis.pngAbram’s wife Sarai had a servant girl named Hagar, and Sarai told her to laid with her husband because Sarai was unable to have a child. Sarai grew impatience waiting for God to bless her and her husband with a child. After Hagar did what she was told to do Sarai grew angry at her and her husband Abram, so Hagar ran away from her.

The angel of the Lord found Hagar near a spring in the desert, it was the spring that is beside the road to Shur. And he said, Hagar, slave of Sarai, where have you come from, and where are you going? I’m running away from my mistress Sarai, she answered. Then the angel of the Lord told her,.”Go back to your mistress and submit to her. The angel added, I will increase your descendants so much that they will be too numerous to count.” The angel of the Lord also said to her. You are now pregnant and you will give birth to a son. You shall name him Ishmael, for the Lord has heard of your misery. He will be a wild donkey of a man, his hand will be against everyone and everyone’s hand against him, and he will live in hostility towards all his brothers. She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her, ” You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have seen the One who sees me.” This is why the well was called Beer Lahai Roi, it is still there, between Kadesh and Bered.                                                  (Genesis 16: 7-14)

No matter how difficult our circumstances, we never solve life’s problem by running away. God will find us, God knows us by name, God sees and hears our cries, God is concerned about our burdens and our cares, God knows our future.  In the book by Wendy Blight she ask this: Are you, like Hagar in a place of wildness today? Take a moment and reflect on your own life right now, right this very moment. We find El Roi throughout the pages of Scriptures. Today we can find him in one of the favorite chapter in the book of Psalm, and it is Psalm 23 The Lord is My Shepherd, and he can be your today. El Roi is also Elohim our Creator. He knows us inside and out. Nothing is hidden. Our every hurt, doubt, fear, and need is on display before him. So when our Creator El Roe “sees” our need. He will come to us, meet us, feed us, refresh us, and renew us, just as He did Hagar.

In the midst of his suffering, David wrote your road and your staff, comfort me. (Psalm 23:4) The rod and staff are tools of the shepherd’s trade. The shepherd wielded the rod to protect his sheep by driving off wild animals. Clearly, the rod and staff in the hands God gave David comfort and should give us assurance as well. God never slumbers. He never takes a catnap. His eyes are always upon His kingdom.

 

Grace  and Peace to You My Friends

Trials

Galatians 5aConsider it all joy when you encounter various trials. You can consider something a joyful opportunity even when you are feeling quite joyless. Some definitions of “consider” are: to think about seriously: to regard  as to believe after deliberation. You may need to ponder your circumstances at length before you can view them in positive light. You need to give yourself time for your feelings to settle down. It’s hard to think clearly with the high levels of emotions surging through your brain. Once you have calmed down, you will be able to think seriously about your situation. Invite Jesus into the process of deliberation and His presence will improve your perspective helping you see your trials in the light of eternity. As you look at your circumstances from Jesus perspective you come to understand that these multiple problems are testing your faith. As you endure your trials through your life remember to share your trials and problems with others so that you can go to God in prayer and by doing so your burdens feel so much lighter than before.

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Jesus wants you to experience more fully the greatness of his overflowing love. A you open yourself to his compassionate presence, this love of his flows into you more freely.

 

Grace and Peace to You My Friends