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Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:4-7

Rejoice in the Lord always [delight, gladden yourselves in Him]; again I say, Rejoice!Let all men know and perceive and recognize your unselfishness (your considerateness, your forbearing spirit). The Lord is near [He is coming soon].Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition (definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God.And God’s peace [shall be yours, that tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and being content with its earthly lot of whatever sort that is, that peace] which transcends all understanding shall garrison and mount guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.  AMP

rejoice in the Lord when it suits you.

rejoice in the Lord when its all happy joy joy times.

rejoice in the Lord when the sun shines.

NO that’s not what the bible says!

rejoice always.  rejoice at all times.

celebrate God all day, every day.

Delight in Him, worship Him.

Be thankful for His loving-kindness and goodness at all times and in all ways.

an easy thing to write on paper, but a challenge to live out in our every day ordinary lives, with all its obstacles and difficulties, bad hair days and valleys.

and paul says it again.  REJOICE!

rejoicing unlocks something within our heart.  for me it unlocks trust and hope.  i CHOOSE to rejoice and i CHOOSE to see God’s hand at work even in the trial and test.  i CHOOSE to acknowledge Him as my loving Father and because of His love and grace i CAN rejoice.

 

Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.

Rejoicing should manifest itself in the way i live my life.  With gentleness, not worry and anxiousness.  With a peace that surpasses the situation and limited understanding.   With a grace that extends itself to others instead of unleashing our burdens and anxiety on those around us. 

God is near.  With us.  Always.

And the return of Jesus is near.  we should live with a holy expectation and expectant trust that God is powerful and that He will make all things new and that Jesus reigns.

 

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

the remedy to anxiety is prayer.  in prayer we find peace which guards us from a downward spiral into doubt and fear and anxiety.  as we continue to pray and worship God we meet Him and are changed and have renewed peace and perspective. 

Jesus is the answer to every problem we have. 

need peace?  Jesus is the prince of peace.

need hope?  He is the God of all hope

need comfort?  the Holy Spirit is called our Comforter

there have been many times when circumstance screams at me to give up and lose hope and rail against God, to get stressed and burned out… but i know that in all things God is my heavenly Father and that He will work out all things for my good and His glory and that He is at work intentionally in my life.  I know He is the giver of peace and that though the valley may be dark, He is the light of the world and with me.  This gives me confidence to walk forward and to keep trusting.

 

Celebrate God all day, every day. I mean, revel in him! Make it as clear as you can to all you meet that you’re on their side, working with them and not against them. Help them see that the Master is about to arrive. He could show up any minute! Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the centre of your life.  MSG

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Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.  2 Corinthians 1:3-4

on the day before we came home from our recent holiday, we arrived back at our holiday home, to find that it had being broken into.  some precious things were gone and our things touched, our sanctuary away from home invaded.

once some of the formalities were done with, manager informed (message on the answerphone), police phoned

we began the process of comfort.

i made dinner.  the kids favourite.  we turned on tv (we became addicted to icarly and it was the final ever episode!  yay for skytv)

we got blankets.  we snuggled.  we prayed.  we thanked God for His angels who were keeping guard of us and keeping guard of our things.  we asked Him to help us to sleep well and to protect us.

then once the kids were a bit more settled, i did what i do in times like this.

i went to the bedroom and i phoned my dad.

my mum and dad live in the South Island (of New Zealand) and we live in the North Island, so practically, there is nothing they could do.  some advice yes.  but there is just something about ringing my dad that does it for me.

about 5 years ago one of our housegroup guys died in a car accident.  i had to ring round his church friends, my housegroup, to inform them.  we all gravitated to church, where i began the process of helping to plan his funeral and liaison with his family as our pastor was away on a mission trip, due back in a few days.  i had to make breakfast for my kids, pack lunches, take my son to school and then go to church, to be there, to talk, to find hope, to find comfort.  before anyone arrived, i shut myself in an office and made that phone call.  i phoned my dad.

when tony’s dad died, my dad was the first one i called.

 

and with each of these phone calls i make, i know its something more.  i know its also a physical representation of how i find comfort, not only in my earthly dad, but in my Heavenly Father.  the phone call is like the symbolic outworking of what i am doing on the inside.  calling my  Heavenly Dad.  the God of all comfort.  the Father of compassion.  as i dial, i am really praying.  as i dial, i am really turning my heart to God, finding hope in His hands.

 

just like i need to hear the voice of my earthly dad, in those moments, i need to hear the voice of my heavenly Father.

 

sometimes it comes in a bible verse, or a page of a book, a blog post, an email.

sometimes it comes in a song.  or a timely hug from someone at church.

but i know He speaks.  i know He is with me.  He is the God of ALL comfort.

 

 

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.’  Matthew 11:28-29

 

The Lord is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.  Psalm 34:18

 

Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. Psalm 23:4

 

Five Minute Friday is a feature over at Lisa-Jo Bakers TALES FROM A GYPSY MAMA blog.  i first read about it on my friend Fee’s blog and thought it sounded fun!

So, let’s do this thing. Let’s write.

Set your timer, clear your head, for five minutes of free writing without worrying about getting it right.

1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.
2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
3. And then absolutely, no ifs, ands or buts about it, you need to visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is, like, the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community..

OK, are you ready?

#FiveMinuteFriday —>Click to Tweet that.

david wilkerson

 

 

"To those going through the valley and shadow of death, hear this word: Weeping will last through some dark, awful nights, and in that darkness you will soon hear the Father whisper, "I am with you," Beloved, God has never failed to act but in goodness and love. When all means fail-his love prevails. Hold fast to your faith. Stand fast in his Word. There is no other hope in this world." David Wilkerson

” The same God who craeted the entire universe also created you and has a purpose for your life.  You no longer have to carry your burdens alone.  You can lay down your weariness, your sorrw, your suffering, your regret, your frustration.  because one day you’re gonig to be made new!  you will be whole, healthy, complete and 100 percent satisfied.  and until that day Christ promises to walk with you each and every day, carrying your burdens for you, offering direction toward a significant life, giving substance to your hours and years and life.”  Bill Hybels in Just Walk Across The Room

“Come To God often just to sit in His presence and renew yourself. Nothing is as important as lowliness of heart and detachment from our own opinion and will.” Fenelon in 100 days in the secret place

I lay in bed last night thinking about this segment of my devotional book. Often when we are going through a hard time sitting down to pray and read the bible and talk to God is soooo the last thing we want to do or do full stop. We can get angry with God – when will this stop? Why wont you intervine? Pleeeese God come? You know… all of those things are valid. David was a big stomp ya feet say how he really felt kind of guy. His psalms are filled with WOE IS ME and emotions that I read as angry and depressed (its all in the tone of voice…) but then he also gets it in perspective and remembers God and His ways and that gives him peace and strength to carry on.

Psalm 73:16-17 When I thought deeply in order to understand this, it was painful for me, until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I understood their end.

In this Psalm David is going through a really hard time on all fronts. His understanding came when he went and spent time with God. Likewise for us – we may look at our circumstances and go “da wah?” and throw our hands up in despair. We need to remember to come and sit and pray and read the Bible. Sometimes just even putting on a good worship CD can bring us into the presence of God.

Hebrews 4:16 Therefore let us come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Psalm 23:1-6 A Psalm of David. Jehovah is my Shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table for me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I shall dwell in the house of Jehovah forever.

We may not get any answers from God. We may come away from a prayer time with no firm understanding. But we need to UNDERSTAND that God is God and God is good and loves us and is at work in our lives, to work ALL things for good for His glory and purposes. Your hard times may give you the experience that is able to help others.

2 Corinthians 1:4 He comforting us in all our trouble, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in every trouble, through the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

The value of spending time with God is that we hear His voice, we can feel His presence –we can remind ourselves of WHO he is and draw closer, knowing that as we draw near to Him he draws near to us. Even if God is silent the time is not a waste. It is relationship building. It can bring comfort when we drop the walls. It changes us whether we feel like it or not.

the challenge for us to to be still and know God, to be still from our own efforts and to recognise who God is – the one who loves us and cares for us and is at work and is also refining us.  he is our strong tower, our refuge, our Father.   he cares for us so much.  he is with us.

when we stop and take time to pray and read the Word we are fixing our eyes upon him, not upon the cirucmstances of our life and not upon the hard times.  we fix our eyes on the rock that is greater than us, greater than all things.  we build our faith.

there is one key aspect of prayer that we sometimes forget, esp if we are going through the flood and fire.  that is to listen.  to listen to what God is saying IN that time.  God is with us, he promises to walk with us in the flame and flood and though we feel scorched and drowned  we are not.  we need to be encouraged by God.  just a glimpse of him makes it all worth it.  makes life do-able.  just a glimpse of him gives us hope.

keep coming and pressing in untill you get that glimpse and that hope.  dont give up.  dont stop for a minute and then give up because “God didnt come right then.”  sometimes part of the challenge of a hard time is that we need to persist and press in and seek God and not give up.  the Word of God is truth and right.  we need to trust it and live by it and have faith in it.

we need to be like the woman who had the issue of blood who did not give up on her miracle because of the circumstances.   did you know that because of Levitical Law that she was unclean and had to live in isolation and that everyone she touched was also made unclean.  she was not allowed to be near people let alone in a crowd!  but she had heard about Jesus and his power and said to herself, encouraging herself, building faith in herself, if only i touch his cloak i will be healed.  she went into the crowd.  and she touched Jesus.  she graspedthe edge of his cloadk and was healed by the power of God.  She did not allow her circumstances to limit her.  she pressed through.

in our own lives we face obstacles and hard times.  have faith that God can use them to shape your character and conform you into the image of Jesus.

know also that he loves you and that as you draw near to him he DOES draw near to you.

be encouraged that he is with you as he promises in isaiah 43:1-2

have faith in God.

dont give up.

There is a darkness that God allows within our inward part in order to establish and settle virtue. This is a happy darkness because it illuminates your inward spirit, strengthens it and gives it greater light.

Consequently you ought not to be grieved and upset when your way is obscure and there is darkness around you. Nor are you to suppose that you are lacking in the presence of God, that He has left you or does not love you.

I would have you see these times of darkness as happy darkness, a darkness in which you should persevere in your inward pursuit. It is a manifest sign that God, in His infinite mercy, is seeking to bring you into the inward path. How good will be the results if you will but simply embrace these times with peace and resignation. Such times are for your spiritual good. These times of darkness do not slow you down in your journey toward Him! They may seem to but in fact they hasten you toward the final point of your journey.

Michael Molinos from 100 Days in the Secret Place

Often we can look at hard times as darkness and feel that we are far away from God. The Bible promises that God is with us, and that He is near to us. Jesus said he would never forsake us or abandon us. But he does sometimes lead us along a dark path as we grow to know Him more and love Him more and be more obedient children.

Matthew 16:24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me.

Denying ourselves is not easy most (any of the time???) of the time. On one hand we want to do one thing, yet we know that it isn’t right or good in the eyes of God. This struggle within can cause darkness sometimes as we undergo a process of change and growth to maturity. It can seem that God is working against us, or that the world is against us through this process. God is working in us – He is at work in us to transform us and shape us and He uses the difficult people and situations in our lives in this time.

It has been said that the making of the man is not in the things life hands him, but in how they react to them. That is such truth. God truth too. It is our reaction that shows and develops our maturity. It is our reaction that shows the inward heart of the matter. Do we react with confidence and faith? Or hopeless dejection? Do we cast our cares upon God or try to carry them on our own shoulders? Do we encourage others or dwell in discouragement? Do we bring light to those around us or carry a cloud of darkness?

Hard times can also happen in our lives so we can learn how God brings light to the darkness.

2 Corinthians 1:4 He helps us in all our troubles, so that we are able to help others who have all kinds of troubles, using the same help that we ourselves have received from God.

Suffering can give us a unique perspective on the heart and comfort of God. It can then be used for good in walking beside others going through similar things. There is nothing more comforting than someone saying, “I’ve been there and I get you.” God allows us to go through darkness so we can be used to bring light to those who are in darkness themselves. He allows us to go through pain so we can be used by Him to bring healing.

We need to have a heart that embraces the plans and purposes of God, even the darkness which can be used for His glory in us and through us. We need to surrender to God and allow His hand to guide us down whatever road He sees as the best road. When we embrace the work of God and surrender we have the peace of walking in the way God has lead us, not fighting against the tide. We can face anything if we continue to keep our eyes focused on God, knowing he is good and gracious and that his strength carrys us through all things. God can use these times for us to draw near to Him, not to isolate ourselves in our sorrow and pain.

“Come To God often just to sit in His presence and renew yourself. Nothing is as important as lowliness of heart and detachment from our own opinion and will.” Fenelon in 100 days in the secret place

I lay in bed last night thinking about this segment of my devotional book. Often when we are going through a hard time sitting down to pray and read the bible and talk to God is soooo the last thing we want to do or do full stop. We can get angry with God – when will this stop? Why wont you intervine? Pleeeese God come? You know… all of those things are valid. David was a big stomp ya feet say how he really felt kind of guy. His psalms are filled with WOE IS ME and emotions that I read as angry and depressed (its all in the tone of voice…) but then he also gets it in perspective and remembers God and His ways and that gives him peace and strength to carry on.

Psalm 73:16-17 When I thought deeply in order to understand this, it was painful for me, until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I understood their end.

In this Psalm David is going through a really hard time on all fronts. His understanding came when he went and spent time with God. Likewise for us – we may look at our circumstances and go “da wah?” and throw our hands up in despair. We need to remember to come and sit and pray and read the Bible. Sometimes just even putting on a good worship CD can bring us into the presence of God.

Hebrews 4:16 Therefore let us come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Psalm 23:1-6 A Psalm of David. Jehovah is my Shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table for me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I shall dwell in the house of Jehovah forever.

We may not get any answers from God. We may come away from a prayer time with no firm understanding. But we need to UNDERSTAND that God is God and God is good and loves us and is at work in our lives, to work ALL things for good for His glory and purposes. Your hard times may give you the experience that is able to help others.

2 Corinthians 1:4 He comforting us in all our trouble, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in every trouble, through the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

The value of spending time with God is that we hear His voice, we can feel His presence –we can remind ourselves of WHO he is and draw closer, knowing that as we draw near to Him he draws near to us. Even if God is silent the time is not a waste. It is relationship building. It can bring comfort when we drop the walls. It changes us…

Life is life isn’t it. There is the good, the bad and the ugly. We have moments of pure joy and also circumstances that threaten to wrench our hearts out. That is life. If you’re breathing you know this.

As Christians I believe that we live our lives as demonstrations of God’s love and grace. In the good, the bad and the ugly. We face battles. And yet in this battle time God is with us and for us and calls us to overcome. He gives us hope and peace, no matter what we face. In these battle times he calls us to keep our eyes on him, to hold to faith in Him, and to overcome.

Isaiah 60:1-4 says “Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of Jehovah has risen on you. For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the peoples; but Jehovah shall rise on you, and His glory shall be seen on you. And the nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawning. Lift up your eyes all around, and see. All of them gather themselves; they come to you.”

“Isaiah challenges me every time I read what he wrote: He said that we are to arise from the depression in which circumstances have kept us – rise to a new life. In face we are supposed to shine! He said that darkness is covering the earth (boy, isn’t that the truth?), but that the glory of our God will be visible in you and me so that people who are hurting can come to us for answers.”

Warrior Chicks by Holly Wagner

2 Corinthians 1:4 says “He comforting us in all our trouble, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in every trouble, through the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” And this is something I totally subscribe to. God comforts us in our battles and hard times so we in turn can demonstrate God to them, giving hope and comfort and the Gospel.

We can often feel that life’s hard times knock us about and discredit us. We can feel like we are damaged because of the things we face. Disqualified because we are in a hard time.

”Once when my husband visited an antique coin dealer the owner told him that most people make the mistake of cleaning all of their old coins before bringing them to sell. They think that if the coins are clean they will be more valuable. They are wrong. Rather than calling the black stuff on old coins “tarnish” we should call it “being toned”. Toning actually makes them worth MORE.

So, if you’re feeling tarnished, I would like to suggest that we are merely toned – and thus growing in value. The battle you are in is toning you. It can be your ceiling in life or a stepping-stone to your future.

Your choice.”

Warrior Chicks by Holly Wagner

Let me repeat that. In a way we are not responsible for the battles we face. We don’t choose cancer or illness. We often have no choice in a job loss, financial issues, relationship difficulties (though we contribute perhaps…). We are however responsible for how we respond and react. Are we reacting in a “shinning” way – are we holding onto hope with God, do we trust Him that he will be with us??? or do we want to go to the bottom of the garden and eat worms? I’m serious! The battles we face can shape and transform us in positive ways if we allow it to. The life experiences we gain can make us more compassionate, stronger, more faith-filled, more faithful, more wise. Or they can make us grumpy and bitter. Our choice.

In Warrior Chicks Holly Wagner shares the powerful life testimony of Ernest Shackleton – who from 1914 to 1916 survived the wreck of their ship in the crushing Antarctic ice. They were shipwrecked 1,200 miles away from the nearest people – in 1914 – with all the limitations of the technology. No communication. No cell phones. No sat phones. No rescue beacons. No hope of rescue from the outside. If they were to survive it was their choice. Their ship began to be broken up by the crushing ice and they had to trek out – on the ice – in the cold – to be rescued. They survived, most of them, and did it with style. One of the reasons for the success of their self rescue was that Ernest Shackleton was remarkable man who refused to let this battle destroy them… He remembered and celebrated birthdays. They sang. They performed skits.

”Ernest was not blind to the challenge before them – he just knew that if they were going to survive, he had not only to rise, to have joy, but also to give it away. It was more than a feeling. It was a decision.”

Warrior Chicks by Holly Wagner

We are called to be light to those around us. People ARE watching. Lets show them, lets demonstrate how God works and upholds us. People need answers, they have questions. All of us face battles. All of us have circumstances beyond our control. Life happens. We make a choice in how to react. We can feel the pain and grieve and be worried and all those normal responses… but in this we must shine. We don’t paint happy faces on – we must be authentic. God can use pain and shine through that. He DOES use hard times. We can be assured that he is with us. we can be assured he sees us and knows the pressure. We can be confident that he loves us. we are not just flesh and blood – not “just human” – we are children of God and are his ambassadors and witnesses here on earth – in the good, the bad ad the ugly… It isn’t about being real but about having faith in our Father God… Faith is demonstrated in our actions… Arise and shine, remember for such a time as this you were called and live. Remember those around you need to know the hope you have… and remember Romans 8:37-39 “But in all these things we more than conquer through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

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Worship Wednesday

1000 Things

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