A Rejoicing Attitude

Rejoice Always

A Rejoicing Attitude!

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.                                                 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (ESV)

Celebrate always, pray constantly, and give thanks to God no matter what circumstances you find yourself in.  This is God’s will for all of you in Jesus the Anointed.   1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (The Voice)

Attitude!

It all begins with our focus, our perspective, which in turn affects our attitude.

 Rejoice Always!

In the original language of the Bible, rejoice is the word chairo.

rejoicechairo – to be cheerful, calmly happy, to rejoice exceedingly, be well and thrive.

Rejoice or celebrate always is the command. I love this!  I’m always up for a celebration. I love gathering with friends and family to fellowship together.  At our house it usually involves food, lots of conversation, laughter, singing and sharing of stories.  But we all know that life isn’t always a celebration.

  • Sometimes life is hard.
  • Sometimes life hurts.
  • Sometimes life is harried.

But we are still called to rejoice and celebrate!  So how do we do that in the hard, hurting and harried times of life? 

“Rejoicing is a way of praising God until the heart is sweetened and rested, releasing its grip on anything else it thinks it needs.” —Tim Keller

How do we change our perspective & attitude to rejoice always?  

Continue reading “A Rejoicing Attitude”

A Prickly Shield?

Faithfulness Shield Ps 91_4

I was reading through one of my favorite Psalms the other morning, when one verse in particular struck me.  I love when the Lord does that —when He takes the highlighter to my life  through His Word, especially when it’s a familiar and well-read passage!  This morning it was Psalm 91:4, “His faithfulness will be a protective shield.”

Faithfulness…stability, certainty, reliable and trustworthiness, truth.

 

There’s a big difference between His faithfulness and mine.  Mine is flawed and fickle —often mood and circumstance-dependent.

His faithfulness is certain, steadfast, trustworthy and eternal.

 

In this verse there are two words that make up this word picture of God being our shield.  One means to surround and encompass, which is exactly what God’s faithfulness does in my life.  He surrounds and protects me.

Yes, His faithfulness is my protective shield.

 

But one of the definitions for this word in the original language described it as meaning, prickliness, a prickly shield.

I thought, how odd, a prickly shield?  But as I pondered this longer, I realized there are times when I am just so worn out and weary or when life has just beat me down and I just can’t seem to rise above. I just need some refuge, rest and renewal.  He is my prickly shield!  I got the image in my mind of a porcupine whose quills pop out at the sign of danger or attack as his defensive shield.  As I find refuge under the shadow of His wings, as I find my refuge in His presence, He is my prickly shield.  He guards against anything that might be coming against me, while I — weary and worn — find rest and renewal in His presence.

Yes, His faithfulness is my prickly shield.

 

There is another word picture of God’s faithfulness as my shield.  A shield can also be something used in battle to protect and defend.  And God’s faithfulness is not only stable, reliable, certain and trustworthy, but it is also truth!  There are times when His faithfulness is my protective shield in the battles of life.  Often for me the battle is in my own mind, and this is when I need the shield of His truth.  His Word shield surrounds, protects and defends my thoughts with what is true instead of the lies assailing my thoughts.  The truth of God’s Word is not only my weapon to wield in battle, but also my powerful shield against the enemy.

Yes, His faithfulness is the truth of His Word, my powerful shield.

 

I can face my day knowing and walking out the truth that, His faithfulness will be my protective shield!

 

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Love Unconditionally

Beauty & Truth

Love Unconditionally

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God. 1 John 4:7

 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Ephesians 5:1-2

 

In the midst of Lori’s experience with Blair’s illness and their lives being turned upside down, she asked the Lord, “What does it mean for me to really LIVE?” The Lord gave Lori three statements: embrace beauty, walk without fear and love unconditionally.  This week we look at what it means to love unconditionally regardless of our circumstances and how others treat us.

 

Why did God tell me that loving unconditionally would be something I needed to do in order to “really live?”  This is what I have learned:

      Love unconditionally because that’s how I [The Lord] love.

      Love unconditionally because that’s what My children desperately need in order to live whole and productive lives. 

      Love unconditionally because loving others freely and without strings attached will set you free.

—Lori Fink

 

Loving unconditionally does not come naturally.  Our flesh rails against it. It requires some effort, diligence and forethought. But the good news is God does not leave us to ourselves in our efforts to love unconditionally.

 

First and foremost, the motivation and help is found in the word “beloved” in verse one of Ephesians. As a Christ- follower, I am the beloved of the Father. He provides all that is needed to love others unconditionally because God IS love. Love is central to God’s character.  His love for us is unfailing and not dependent upon anything we have done, are doing or will ever do.

 

But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness. Psalm 86:15

Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds. Psalm 36:5

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God. 1 John 4:7

 

In Scripture God’s unfailing love is known as His “hesed”, a Hebrew word meaning, to be faithful and merciful; love; goodness; an act of kindness shown towards someone.  The quality of the kindness shown is usually like that reserved for close family or friends.  “Hesed” implies personal involvement and it is covenantal with those God has chosen and redeemed.  It implies reciprocity but since God’s “hesed” is ultimately beyond the covenant, it will not be abandoned even when the human partner is unfaithful.  God’s “hesed” is everlasting (Isaiah 54:8).  “Hesed”, unfailing love, is often found and paired with instances of God’s strength and steadfastness in Scripture.

 

Secondly, we have been given the example of Christ to imitate and the gift of the presence and power of the Holy Spirit to instruct us.

 God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 5:5b

 

It is only as God’s Spirit floods our hearts with love that we, in turn, can love one another.

The Spirit of God makes the commandment “love one another” into a new and exciting day-by-day experience.  It is a matter of the will rather than an emotion—an affection for and attraction to certain persons. It is a matter of determining—of making up your mind—that you will allow God’s love to reach others through you, and then of acting toward them in loving ways.

 

 The question I have to continually ask and answer is:  

How will the fact that I am beloved by the Father motivate my reaction in this moment?

 

Here are just a few reminders of reality of being beloved of the Father:

“In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.” 1 John 4:9

 “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

 “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ — by grace you have been saved — and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” Ephesians 2:4-7

 

And these barely scratch the surface of the depth, breadth, length and height of His love!  His Word is resplendent with so many more examples of His love for us.

 

Finally, when we love unconditionally it is a practical thing; it applies in the everyday affairs of life. Just consider some of the “one another” statements in the New Testament and you will see how practical it is to love one another.

Bear with one another. Ephesians 4:2

Build one another up. Ephesians 4:7-16

Be kind to one another and forgive one another. Ephesians 4:32

Live in harmony with one another. Romans 12:16

Encourage and build one another up. 1 Thessalonians 5:11-15

Bear one another’s burdens. Galatians 6:2

Teach and admonish one another. Colossians 3:16

Show hospitality to one another. 1 Peter 4:9

Serve one another. 1 Peter 4:10

Pray for one another. James 5:16

Seek to do good to one another. 1 Thessalonians 5:15

Love one another earnestly. 1 Peter 4:8

 

If you’d like to study these “one anothers” in greater depth, click here to find a previous series titled Walking in Love.

 

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God!

 

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Walking Without Fear

Beauty & Truth

Beauty & Truth: Walk Without Fear

Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:6

What does it mean to walk without fear?  

As Lori and I have sat at the kitchen table (literal and virtual) to discuss this concept of fear and how it can consume our lives, we have been reminded of the lessons God had taught us through our experiences. Seeing those through the perspective of His Word and our relationship with Him has been a great reminder and personal encouragement for us both as we seek to walk forward facing our fears. I am hoping it will encourage you as well!

Fearphobeo to frighten, terrify, alarm; to be seized with fear; to fear to do something, hesitate; in regard to the Lord, meaning to reverence God, to stand in awe of God.

Here are some of Lori’s insights on walking without fear learned during her experience with Blair’s illness:

“For me, it means that I will not waste time worrying about the “what ifs.”  What if my child is in an auto accident?  What if my spouse is diagnosed with a life threatening illness?  What if one of us loses their job and we can’t pay our bills?

This doesn’t mean I never worry, but I have to consciously take every thought captive and replace lies with the truth.  The Enemy of our souls would like us to think that the sky is falling and we are weak and defenseless victims, but the truth is, those things probably won’t happen, but if they do, my God is there, He is able, and He is everything I need.

I read an article last week titled Top 5 Regrets of the Dying by Bronnie Ware.  I’d like to share two of the five with you.

  •  I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

“This was the most common regret of all. When people realise that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honoured even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made. Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no longer have it.”

  • I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.

“Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result.”

Walking without fear also means that I will not allow fear to keep me from stepping out and doing the things I want and need to do.” Lori Fink

 

There are so many verses and passages in God’s Word that speak to fear. To be honest with you, I’m still knee deep in my study on fear in God’s Word.  And even at this point I can tell you it could be an eight-week study all on its own!  But I’ll share a few insights on what I’ve observed and learned so far.

Reading through Scripture we find people who were fearful.  Fearful of their current circumstances, fearful of an uncertain future, fearful of approaching enemies, fearful of a daunting task to which God had called them. There is not enough room to share all those stories in this devotion. However, I did discover a common thread running through them all —God’s response to their fear:

Then He replied, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest. Exodus 33:14

Be strong and courageous; don’t be terrified or afraid of them. For it is the Lord your God who goes with you; He will not leave you or forsake you. Deut. 31:6

Don’t be terrified of them, for the Lord your God, a great and awesome God, is among you. Deut. 7:19

Haven’t I commanded you:be strong and courageous? Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9

This is what the Lord says: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast number, for the battle is not yours, but God’s. You do not have to fight this battle. Position yourselves, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord. He is with you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid or discouraged. Tomorrow, go out to face them, for Yahweh is with you.’ 2 Chronicles 20:15-17

But immediately he [Jesus] spoke to them and said, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” And he got into the boat with them, and the wind ceased. Mark 6:50-51

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. John 14:27

Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we can confidently say,  “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me. Hebrews 13:5-6

 

God’s presence is with us always. He will never leave or forsake us.  His presence will give us rest and peace.  God does not desire nor intend for us to walk through our days in bondage to fear, whether it be fear of the future, uncertain circumstances, other people’s opinions or trying something new.  In Christ Jesus we have been set free to live fully for the glory of God knowing that He is with us every step of the way and we are secure for eternity in Him! 

 

Our part? Believing and placing our trust in Him day by day, moment by moment.  Whenever fear strikes, we call out to the One who brings us security and peace. Whenever I find myself paralyzed by fear, I will often quote God’s Word and remind myself of Who He is and that I am His!  It’s amazing the peace that floods my soul.

When I am afraid, I will trust in You. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not fear. What can man do to me?  Psalm 56:3-4

Fill your minds with beauty and truth and Walk Free!

 

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