Love In Action

romans121913

Continuing on with our theme of “Godly Relationships” here at MOHL, I wanted to write a little bit on some of the practical ways we can show love to others.

Romans 12:9-13 reads as follows:

“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor 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. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.”

Wow… there are a lot of things written to us as believers just in that short passage.

Something I really want to point out from those scriptures is that a lot of those commands relate directly to the attitude in our hearts. It says that we ought to:

1. Honor others before yourself. This could mean a few different things, but I think mainly, it is really seeking to put the needs or wants of others above your own. Do you know of someone who is struggling with finances and they have no way to keep warm? Give them a coat to wear. Do you know of someone who is hungry? Bring them some food! Even giving a bright and cheery smile to the cashier in the store who has had a long day can bring some sunshine into their lives. You might be the only bit of happiness and joy that enters their life that day. You never know how God can use even the smallest things to encourage others. This goes into point #2.

2. Never be lacking in zeal and spiritual fervor for the Lord. As we continue on the paths the Lord has placed in our lives, He will lead us through the valley and the desert both. Sometimes, it feels like we have never been closer to the Lord, and everything is “going our way”. We’re in the valley…joy-filled, at peace, and excitedly going down the path of the Lord’s will. Then, He may choose to bring us through a dry, desert time. It seems as if everything is a struggle, like the Lord is far away and doesn’t hear our desperate pleas of asking for peace from the conflict, whatever it might be. Having walked through a time like this recently, I can’t even begin to tell you what a blessing it was to have dear sisters constantly sending me scripture verses and praying for me. Do you know someone who is struggling in their spiritual life? The Lord may be calling you to be a witness to them as they walk through this time in the desert. Diligently seek to pray for them, look for little ways you can encourage them. Perhaps a note in the mail or some favorite scriptures written out on notecards and given to them will help them on their journey.

3. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. This part speaks for itself in many ways. Be joyful in hope… We have a great hope in the knowledge that one day, the Lord will return to take us home to be with Him for all eternity. We have a great hope because He chose, in His divine providence, to take on the weight of our sins and wash them clean. He took the punishment, that we rightly deserve, that we might be white as snow, and have this great hope! What a mighty, faithful and loving God we serve.  Patient in affliction… Our pastor was just teaching this past Sunday about how trials are brought into our lives for our good. We often do the most growing as we learn to further rely on the Lord, and less on our own efforts. When we are completely broken, we realize just how small we are, and just how mighty our Lord is. We may not understand in this life why He sent specific trials into our lives, but we can rest once again in the greater Hope- that the Lord works together all things for the good of those who are His own according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28) Faithful in prayer… once again, this part speaks for itself, but in many ways, how often are we guilty of telling someone that we will pray for them and then forgetting or never getting around to doing so? *raises hand* One way that we can really seek to show love to others is remembering to be faithful in praying for them, or over specific requests they may have shared with us. For myself, I’ve found that keeping a prayer request journal is a great way to specifically list out folks or requests that I am praying for during that time. It’s also neat to look back through and see exactly how God answered those prayers!

4. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Building somewhat on #1, sharing with fellow believers who are in need is one of the greatest ways that we can show love to others. One specific way my church tries to do this is by taking meals to families who have recently had a baby, lost a family member, are sick, etc. Having been on both ends of this, I can say that it is a blessing to both parties. Taking a meal to someone is a way of acknowledging to them that you know they are struggling with something at the time, and it is a very practical way of showing love to them. It truly blesses you knowing that you are lending them a helping hand in their time of need. When my family has been on the receiving end, it is so nice to not have to worry about cooking on top of everything else going on at the time, no matter what the circumstance is. There are obviously several other ways to help folks in need…I just used food as an example because here in the South, food is a big deal. :) As far as showing hospitality, the definition of hospitality means: “The friendly reception and treatment of guests or strangers.” What better way to show hospitality to believers and non-believers alike than to host them in your home? Whether just for a meal or for an extended stay, oftentimes, one of the best ways we can be a witness to others is to have them in our homes, so that they can see the way we live, and Lord willing, to see the love of Christ in us and through us.

What are some different ways you can show “love in action” to others around you?

 

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Little Ways

This month, our topical theme here at Meditations of His Love is Experience Produces Character. Melinda asked that we share some of the different experiences that we have had through the years as we have walked with Christ.

This past year, my grandmother was diagnosed with and died from cancer. I wrote the following blog post shortly after she passed away, sharing about one of the unique and special ways the Lord encouraged my family and I through His word, as we walked through what was *undoubtedly* one of the hardest times in our lives. Perhaps you, dear friend, are walking through a struggle of your own. I pray that this testimony of the Lord providing encouragement to me during that time will be a blessing and encouragement to you. May we always trust in the Lord and seek to stay faithful to Him, even when it is hard. <3

~Miss C

————————-

From June 10th, 2013:

 

It has been interesting to look back at many of the ways the LORD has sent encouragement to us over the past several weeks.

When I look back over the past few months, I can see where the LORD really spoke to my heart through very specific Bible verses. During the weeks following after we learned about my grandmother’s cancer, and then continuing on as we cared for her until her homecoming, the LORD revealed scriptural truths  to me as I sought comfort in His word. As they were laid on my heart, I felt led to write down those verses and hang them beside the sink, so that I could work on memorizing them while doing dishes or cooking during the day.

“The day we found out she had cancer, February 14th, the verse that came to mind after much prayer was James 1:2-4 :

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

While it was hard to see at the time of my grandmother’s cancer diagnosis, and admittedly, is still very hard to see at times now, we are to completely and totally rely on God and trust in Him. Even when situations seem to be at their absolute worst, we are to TRUST Him. Really, really trust Him- with our whole heart. God never sends us trials or situations greater than what His grace will allow us to bear. Never will He leave us or desert us in our time of need. We are to REJOICE when He sends trials to us. We should always seek to rejoice in the sanctification that comes from bearing burdens here on earth and know that working through those difficult situations in a godly manner is ultimately a manner or refining for us. A way of making us more like our beloved Saviour. It is so hard to rejoice in the midst of troubles….of worries…. of burdens that feel too large to bear, but through God’s grace, I pray that we all weary not of doing right and seeking to consider even the largest of burdens a JOY.

The second verse that God placed on my heart was Ecclesiastes 3:1-8:

“There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.”

I believe God was continuing to reveal to me that this season of my grandmother struggling with cancer wouldn’t last forever. Like many other things in life, this was a season and it too would pass. There were days when it was all I could do not to weep as the enormity of situation began to sink in. There were many nights when I cried myself to sleep thinking over all of the what-ifs and possible scenarios…

And that is when God laid Psalm 27:13-14 on my heart:

“I remain confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the Lord.”

At this time, as we were approaching the second chemo treatment, we were watching my grandmother begin to slip away as the cancer began to take its toll. I can’t even begin to explain what it is like to watch someone suffer the way she was beginning to suffer. The pain that began to show itself on her face… watching the difficulty she was beginning to have just walking around our home. I found myself constantly praying the second part of that verse: “Be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.. Lord, please help me to wait for you- please help me to be strong and take heart and wait for you.

The next verse that was laid on my heart was 1st Thessalonians 5:18:

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

The day I felt led to write out this verse and add it to the others beside the sink was the day before my grandmother passed away.

God’s timing in things is always perfect. Oftentimes, we can’t see why He directs things a certain way or puts specific situations in our paths, but we can rest in the fact that HE does know and that His ways are always perfect! What an amazing peace it is to know God directs all and that He has already numbered our every step here on this earth! I believe His timing in revealing that verse to me was perfect. I certainly didn’t know that God would take my grandmother home the next day, but God was telling me to rejoice in my circumstances whatever they might be. While my family and I are still suffering the loss of my precious grandmother, we can rejoice in the fact that she is no longer suffering- no longer in pain. She is in the joyous presence of our heavenly Father, and what a blessed thought that is!

Which leads me to the last verse I wrote out and hung beside the sink- Jeremiah 17:14:

“Heal me, Lord, and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved, for you are the one I praise.”

God revealed this verse to me through a Bible study I was doing a few weeks ago. I felt very strongly God was showing me that verse specifically as a balm for our wounds. An encouragement that healing would indeed come. We serve such a faithful and merciful God- it is so true that His mercies are anew each morning! As we continue through both of these seasons of mourning and healing, I know that through His mercies, our hearts will be restored. I am so thankful He continues to whisper His truths to us each day, in the most amazing of ways. What a mighty God we serve!”

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Joy in Suffering?

By Rose H.

Joy and suffering. They seem like polar opposites. When we are in pain it stands to reason the last thing that we should have is joy.

But our joy doesn’t come from reason. Or it doesn’t come from the reasons that the world thinks joy should come from.

Think about it. Paul had joy in a prison. Disciples had joy after being flogged. Even coming into this centenary Joni Erickson Tada shows great joy even though she is confined to a wheelchair and suffers incredible pain.

For the follower of Christ, joy doesn’t come from the outside. It comes from Christ and what He is doing in us. Paul was happy that God had given him breath so that he could share the message of God’s love with others, even if it meant being chained in prison. The disciples were ecstatic that God had chosen them to suffer for Him. Joni lives in the joy of what God is doing every day, because she chooses to look passed the present and to the eternal.

Joy comes from God. Joy comes from within and works its way out in the midst of our most painful circumstances. Joy isn’t a happy feeling (although sometimes it can express itself that way), joy is deep and abiding. Joy is knowing that God is working out His greater plan, and being content to rest in Him. Joy transcends circumstances and lives in us every day. It puts a smile of the face of a prisoner, cancer patient, and abused friend. Knowing God is loving and at work in their life.

Joy is still something I’m working on. There are still times when I fall into self-pity. But God is helping me to look to Him. To trust Him even in the midst of hard times. He’s helping me to have joy even in the midst of some of the hardest things in my life.

And I have wonderful people to encourage me onward. Joni singing from a wheelchair. Paul writing joyfully from prison. The disciples excitedly praising God having just been beaten. These followers of Christ encourage me onward. They invite me into draw closer to God and have joy no matter what.  
  

What kind of joy is this
That counts it a blessing to suffer
What kind of joy is this
That gives the prisoner his song
What kind of joy could stare death in the face
And see it as sweet victory
This is the joy of a soul that’s forgiven and free

By Steven Curtis Chapman

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My Heart Sings for Joy

    Do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.   
(Nehemiah 8:10 ESV)

    Trials slams us in the face.  Grief overwhelms our life.  Pain and hurt, rejection and sorrow fill our heart with a longing.

     Jesus promised something so foreign to our nature; He promised to fill our hearts with His joy in all of life, even the bad times.  Joy isn’t the attitude that we fleshly, selfish creatures react with in our flesh.  How do we get that joy?

     It’s found in His presence.  Seeking His face. And telling your cares and anxieties to the best Listener.  Have you read Psalm 84?  I’m sure you have…but it’s worth a review.

    How lovely is your dwelling place,
        O LORD of hosts!
    My soul longs, yes, faints
        for the courts of the LORD;
    my heart and flesh sing for joy
        to the living God.

   
(Psalm 84:1-2 ESV)

     When our heart longs for something, when it tears and dashes to pieces, when it pines for something deeper, going to Christ should be our first reaction.  The longing in our heart, the yearning of our soul, is ultimately a call for us to turn to Christ.  Because He is the enough. He only will fill our void and fill us with joy.

“We will never ultimately find the happiness we seek in anything this world offers – even the good things – because we have been wired to find it in God alone.  Joy is found in God’s ‘place’, wherever and however He leads us deeper into His fellowship.”

- Lydia Brownback   

    Even the sparrow finds a home,
        and the swallow a nest for herself,
        where she may lay her young,
    at your altars, O LORD of hosts,
        my King and my God.
    Blessed are those who dwell in your house,
        ever singing your praise!
(Psalm 84:3-4 ESV)

     The silliness of our worries.  God cares about the sparrows!  He knows when they fall.  How much more does He care about those created in His image, called by His name and set apart for His keeping!

    Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
        in whose heart are the highways to Zion.
    As they go through the Valley of Baca
        they make it a place of springs;
        the early rain also covers it with pools.
    They go from strength to strength;
        each one appears before God in Zion.

(Psalm 84:5-7 ESV)

   Our strength, our joy is in the Lord!  Even though we go through our “Valleys of Baca” (Baca means weeping or tears in Hebrew), may our soul be springing forth with God’s joy and may we praise the Lord.  I love how it says that those who go through the Valley of Weeping make it a place of springs.  Think of that for a minute. Our pain and sorrow and grief may wring forth many tears, but if we draw closer to Jesus through those tears, the springs of joy we leave behind will be water refreshing to our heart in future years.

       Weeping may tarry for the night,
        but joy comes with the morning.

   
(Psalm 30:5 ESV)

 

    O LORD God of hosts, hear my prayer;
        give ear, O God of Jacob! Selah
    Behold our shield, O God;
        look on the face of your anointed!
    For a day in your courts is better
        than a thousand elsewhere.
    I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
        than dwell in the tents of wickedness.
(Psalm 84:8-10 ESV)

   A day in the courts of Jesus is better than a thousand elsewhere.  Amen! If we truly spend our days seeking the face of Jesus instead of whining and wallowing in self-pity, what joy fills our hearts!

    For the LORD God is a sun and shield;
        the LORD bestows favor and honor.
    No good thing does he withhold
        from those who walk uprightly.
    O LORD of hosts,
        blessed is the one who trusts in you!

(Psalm 84:11-12 ESV)

   The Lord our God is a sun and a shield.  All things will work for our good.  Happy, joyful, delighted are those who fully trust in Him in their pain and sorrow.

   You make known to me the path of life;
        in your presence there is fullness of joy;
        at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

(Psalm 16:11 ESV)

 

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A Recipe for Joy

written by Rachelle

J :     Jesus  
O :     Others
Y :      You
Jesus first, others second, yourself last.
That’s a tried-and-true recipe for joy.
When Jesus heard of it, he departed thence by ship into a desert place apart: and when the people had heard thereof, they followed him on foot out of the cities. And Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and he healed their sick.”
Matthew 14:13-14
Jesus had just heard that John the Baptist had been beheaded by Herod. All he wanted was a quiet place where he could be alone with His Father, pray, and pour out his grief. His cousin! John! The one who had baptised him! Gone now forever…
So Jesus got into a boat, seeking privacy, hungering for communion with His Abba.
But what does He find when the boat arrives at what He had thought would be a solitary place, a desert place apart?
People.
Not exactly what He was hoping for. I would have seen more people to pull at His clothes, more people to look at Him with skepticism or confusion, more people to surround Him while He talked until He was hoarse.
But that’s not what Jesus saw.
Jesus saw people who were hurting, people who were sick and longed to be healed, people who had sinned and sought to be set free, people who would follow Him just to hear one more word about the Kingdom of God.
Jesus saw them and had compassion on them.
I can hardly fathom Jesus’ kind of compassion in this moment. He dug deep into His grieving heart and unearthed agape love for those who were populating His solitary place.
He had compassion on them.
He healed them (verse 14). He fed them (verse 19).
Even when He was grieving, torn apart by the news that John had died, Jesus still saw the people around Him. That is the heart of true joy. The joyful heart serves Jesus, even when it is suffering. The joyful heart serves others, even when that means setting aside the day’s agenda. The joyful heart makes time for solitude and stillness, just as Jesus did once the people left for home.
“And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone.”
Matthew 14:23
When your heart is suffering, grieving, hurting, it’s okay to desire to be alone with the One who knows your pain. Sometimes it will work out that we can shut the door and fall apart.
And sometimes God calls us to put our plans on hold and experience the joy of serving others in our suffering.
Will you have compassion for them?
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One More Breath

I have issues with the story of Job.

Or, well, had issues. They’re slowly smoothing out as I dare a little more, reach a little farther, relax a little deeper into the love the Lord holds for me.
The story of Job made me squirm. Literally. It’s a troubling thought that a person who had done nothing wrong and was as righteous as possible could be so attacked, tried, and tempted by the enemy.
But the enemy could not take his life.
The circle of trials could only tighten so much around Job before it hit the invisible barrier guarding the area that only God had control over.
Job’s soul.
This song has helped me come to grips with the story of Job. The heart-impacting lyrics are written by Nichole Nordeman (one of my favorite songwriters) and the orchestration and music really captures the raw emotion and strong feelings… and love for God… that I believe Job had.
Listen. Please.

Here are the lyrics, if you’re like me and don’t like playing every Youtube video you run across. ;)
I really recommend that you listen to the song though.

If one more person takes my hand and tries to say they understand
Tells me there’s a bigger plan that I’m not meant to see
If one more person dares suggest that I held something unconfessed
Tries to make the dots connect from righteousness to easy street
Well I, I won’t deny I’ve relied on some assumptions
A man’s honest life entitles him to something

But who am I to make demands of the God of Abraham?
And who are You that You would choose to answer me with mercy new
How many more will wander past to find me here among the ashes
Will you hold me? Will you stay?
So I can raise this broken praise to You
Who else will see my suffering as one more opportunity
To educate; to help me see all my flawed theology
If one more well intentioned friend tries to tie up my loose ends
Hoping to, with rug and broom, sweep awkward moments from the room
But I, I can’t forget, I have begged just like a madman
For my chance to die and never have to face the morning

But who am I to make demands of the God of Abraham?
And who are You that You would choose to answer me with mercy new
How many more will wander past to find me sitting in this ash
Will you hold me? Will you stay?
So I can raise this broken praise to You
But You were the One who filled my cup
And You were the One who let it spill
So blessed be your Holy name if you never fill it up again
If this is where my story ends,

just give me one more breath
to say… Hallelujah!
 
 
I had chills running up and down my arms the first time I heard that song and it got to the part where the singer cried out “Hallelujah!”.
Job rejoiced in the midst of his incredible suffering. He praised God, even though he thought he was at his last breath.
What an inspiration!
But his story did not end with that “last” Hallelujah.
When God saw that Job refused to curse him and continued to believe in his Lord… He blessed him. The blessings poured out until everything Job had lost was restored, and more.
I hope this post has encouraged you today that it is possible to have joy inside you, no matter what. 
Because it is.

Love & Hugs!
~Julia

P.S.
This post was part of the “Joy in Suffering” series. I am really in awe of the fact that us authors at MOHL are starting to tackle the difficult topics like this one, and wanted to say “Bravo!” to our fearless leaders who chose them. :)

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When God??…Steals Your Joy.

Written by Miss Rachel

“My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations.”
~ James 1:2 ~

* * *


“God, why have you allowed this to happen?”, you may ask. It’s happened…the thing you’ve feared the most. Your father lost his job and now your family will be hard pressed to pay the bills this month….will you lose your home?

“God, I don’t understand!”, you say as tears stream down your face. Why did you take my baby brother away…couldn’t you have healed him?

“God, I am so angry right now!! I am just so tired of the cruel things that happen in this wretched world!”

* * *

Have you ever felt like any of the above? I know I have. This life is TOUGH! :( Sometimes it’s very hard to keep a godly perspective isn’t it?

Speaking from experience here…it’s very difficult for me to have the attitude God wants me to have when trials and hardships come into my life. The first thing I may want to do is scream, or burst into tears, or just sit and glare at the wall. Sometimes, I may even get angry at God for letting the bad things happen. But through the years God has shown me some things that I want to now share with you, in the hopes that God will use it to encourage you and bring you…JOY. :)

Sin

First we as Christians need to recognize why there are so many hardships and evils in this world. That is because of sin. Our own sin. You may know the story of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden (Genesis 3); how satan disguised as a serpent came a long and tempted Adam and his wife, Eve into sin. They listened; they disobeyed God; sin entered the world. Sin is hurtful, unloving, unjust, unkind, a home-wrecker. It destroys everything it touches.

This is the first reason why “bad things happen”. But Jesus Christ has given us the victory, if we have accepted Him as our Saviour. The bad things of this world will one day pass away. Sin will not win. We have “a blessed hope”. :) But for now God allows sin in this world to show others that they desperately need Him - a good and loving, mighty to save, God. :)

God brings trials

We know from the Bible that God is in control over this world. He is a loving, gracious, and good God. So why then does He allow the bad things to happen? Why does He allow trials and hardships? This verse below gives us a clue:

“My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience… Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.” ~ James 1:2-3, 12

God allows us to go through trials to mold and shape us into the women (or men) He wants us to be. :) The Bible says He tries us as gold (1 Peter 1:7; Job 23:10)…and the refining process sometimes hurts more than we’d like. Besides that, God has taught me that He can use *any* circumstance to bring Him glory and honor…to show others His love so they will come to know Him.

Would we wish away our trials if God would bring someone to know Him better or strengthen their faith? Or if He would use this difficult time to teach me to rest in Him and draw me to Himself? No my friend…I know I would not. :) So I will try to be thankful for the hard times and try to have the right attitude so that God can use it for His glory.

“…weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” ~ Psalm 30:5b


“Blessings”
by Laura Story
“…What if Your blessings come through raindrops?
What if your healing comes through tears?
And what if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know Your near?
And what if the trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise?”


Choosing Joy

If you look, you will find God’s Word flooded with verses of praise to God, verses encouraging us to be joyful, and verses of His faithful promises. :) The best way to have joy is to choose it! We don’t have to go around with our heads in our hands, my dear sisters in Christ…no, God has given us the victory through His Son, Jesus Christ! So why then do we walk around in a sad and pitiful state? As His daughters we are secure and nothing that happens in this life will ever change that! :D

God wants us to choose JOY!!! :D

“Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” ~ Psalm 16:11

So the next time you are facing difficult trial, whether that be just fighting temptations like disobeying your mother…or something much more difficult like job loss or the loss of a loved one - remember that God is in control and has allowed this trial to come to teach you, and others, something about Himself. :) Listen and choose to have a godly attitude (pray and God will help you with this!). Seek God’s word…spending time with Him each day (and even many times a day!) helps us to remember that we serve a loving God who knows all our struggles and trials and knows our hearts. We can trust that He knows what He is doing with us.

“But let all those that put their trust in thee rejoice: let them ever shout for joy, because thou defendest them: let them also that love thy name be joyful in thee.” ~ Psalm 5:11
~ ~ ~

“You Are God Alone”

“…and right now, in the good times and bad
You are on Your throne!
You are God alone!”

“As Long As You Are Glorified”

“…You still reign in the deepest valley,
You’re still God in the darkest night…
Oh, I long for nothing else as long as You are glorified!”

* ~ * ~ * ~

So my friends, it is not *GOD* that robs you of your joy, but instead, it is that of allowing yourself to dwell on all the bad in this world and losing focus from our good, great, ALMIGHTY GOD! Don’t allow *satan* and your flesh to rob you of your joy! Focus on the mighty power and love of Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour and His faithful promises that He’s given us in His Word! :)

Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.” (Romans 15:13)
~Rachel~

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Joy is Suffering: Where?

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.” James 1:2&3 NIV


Whenever my family was going through a hard time, my dad loved to quote James 1:2&3.  As a kid, I found this highly irritating and sometimes maddening.  How could there be any joy in a friend turning on you, a nasty church split, being sickly, being tired all the time, having an emergency bone scan because you might have a tumor, or facing the loss of your three year old sister.

When these things happened and my dad quoted the verse I wanted to scream.  How could there be anything in this pain, fear, and heartache to be happy about? And there was my problem.  Like many other people I confused joy and rejoicing with a happy feeling.  I wasn’t until the recent few years that I truly came to understand what joy really was.

Joy is not a happy feeling, and rejoicing does not always stem from feeling great about life.  Joy is knowing that good will triumph in the end, a sense that I am going through this hard time for a purpose.  Rejoicing and praising God out of my pain and brokenness, knowing that his master plan is at work.

Dear sisters and brothers in Christ; We will all suffer in different ways and to different degrees.  You may live with unbelieving parents and/or siblings, you may have a co-worker that makes your job miserable, you may have a friend who deserted you in a time of need, you may be dealing with the loss of a loved one, or your life may feel like it is not worth living but there is joy to be found.

Every challenge I face now, I can now quote with my dad the verse from James, because I know that there is a reason and purpose.

”In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith-of greater worth than gold…may be proved genuine and may result in praise… Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy…” 1 Peter 1:6-8 NIV (selected sections) 

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