16 Rejoice always – 1 Thess. 5:16 NKJV
One of the reasons I love Paul’s letters is the fact that right in the middle of telling us how bad it is and how much worse it could be, he suddenly stops, (and I believe) he just shouts it out. REJOICE! If our laboring for the Lord does not bring us joy, we need to realign our priorities. One of the ways we quench the Spirit is to refuse to be joyful in our walk with God. We should test everything we hear, Does your pastor’s sermons always line up with the Word of God? You should check every comment I make and see if it really fits the with the Scriptures. The more we study God’s Word, the more we will see why Paul was always content regardless of his situation. God will give us His peace, and we are blameless in God’s eyes because of the blood of Jesus Christ. Fear not, God is faithful, He will do what He says He will do. If we remain faithful, we will reap our crowns (rewards) in heaven.
Hebrews 10:19-23 NKJV
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous
15 “I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish that you were one or the other! –Revelation 3:15 NLT
God wants each of us to be totally committed to Him. Our lifestyles should reflect that commitment. We have to look inside ourselves and allow God’s Holy Spirit to show us where the problem lies. What is keeping us from being totally committed to Jesus? Are temporary physical pleasures more important than eternal life in heaven? Eternal life with Jesus is a free gift, so earning more money is not going to get you there. The only true peace and contentment we have is in Jesus. He knows our hearts and He knows the solution to not only the sins we try to hide, but to any situation we are facing. He is waiting to share that information with You.
If you do, He will speak to You.
3 ‘Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.’ — Jeremiah 33:3 NKJV
3 Then he said,“I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. — Matt. 18:3 NLT
When some hear this passage, they think of the innocence of a little child who has not yet learned the difference between right and wrong. Perhaps that’s what Jesus was referring to but I am not so sure. I think in the context of His remark about humility, He may very well have been referring to something deeper than that. After all, small children who truly do not know the difference in right and wrong would not need forgiveness, would they? No, I believe Jesus is referring to us becoming as dependent on Him for everything we need as a small child is dependent on his/her parent for everything they need to survive. We have to come to Jesus in such humbleness and humility because we realize that we can do nothing about our situation. We are lost and will stay lost without his mercy and grace. But I believe He is reaching even deeper than that. We must humble ourselves to the point that we really and truly understand that we can do nothing in any situation without Him. Just like a little child comes to us and says “Daddy, tie my shoestrings because I can’t”, so must we humble ourselves before our Daddy and confess that we can’t.
8 He may have a great army, but they are merely men. We have the Lord our God to help us and to fight our battles for us!” Hezekiah’s words greatly encouraged the people.
— 2 Chronicles 32:8 NLT
When Hezekiah became king of Judah, he tore down false idol and restored the Temple. He brought back the priests and the Levites and re-established the worship services according to the words that Moses had recorded. The people had joined in and given their tithes and gift offerings with joy and celebration. It was a time of restoration in the land of Judah. Hezekiah had faithfully carried out his work. As we know, satan does not like to see the work of God carried out successfully. The only plan satan has is to see what God is doing and react to it. So, God allows him to bring Sennacherib and the Assyrian army to attack Judah and Jerusalem. Sennacherib had been successful in taking some of the walled cities of Judah and now his army had arrived at Jerusalem. Hezekiah continued his work of restoration by completing the walls of Jerusalem and building an outer wall as well. He encouraged all of the inhabitants of Jerusalem to continue in their work and worship of the true God of Israel. Hezekiah had faith that God would deliver the city from danger. He understood that it was God that had made his efforts successful and not the power of man. So, when he saw a great army of “mere men” arrayed against him, he trusted his God to deliver him and he was right in doing so. Hezekiah and the priests cried out to God and God delivered them by sending an angel to destroy the Assyrian army. When we are obedient to God we do not have to fear regardless of what the situation looks like from a human standpoint. “Trust and obey, there’s no other way”.
11 Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against a brother or sister or judges them speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it.12 There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor? — James 4:11, 12 NIV
If there is an area in the life of a Christian where we sin daily, and shall I dare say it, deliberately, it is in our thoughts and our words. It is hard to look at someone and not immediately form some sort of opinion of that person before we even get to know them. We are told over and over how important first impressions are in this world. As Chritsians, we need to pray for discernment and patience before forming opinions of others. We need to predetermine that we are going to love the people we meet every day. When we love someone, we usually give them the advantage of any doubts we have about their goodness. We need to assume that they are good and show them the same respect we want them to show to us. We should look at every person, regardless of their station or situation, with the assumption that they are innocent until proven guilty. We should assume everyone is worthy of our love and affection until they prove by their words and actions that they are not. We need to pray that we will see others with the eyes of Jesus, hear their words with the ears of Jesus and above all, filter every thought through the love of Jesus.
3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. 5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: — Phil. 2:3, 4 NIV
What a wonderful world it could be, if each of us, each day, strived to have the same attitude toward others that Jesus has for us.
1 In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son,whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. 3 The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. — Hebrews 1:1-3 NIV
Jesus provided purification for our sins when He hung on a cross. From that cross, He announced that “it is finished”. His work here on earth was completed. God gloriously raised Jesus from the dead and He ascended into heaven. He is there now, at the right hand of the Father, interceding for us.
34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. — Romans 8:34 NIV
There are times in our lives when we become so frustrated or burdened that we do not how or what to pray. Those can be the times that our prayers are the most fervent and the most effective. God, in His great mercy and love for us, has made a way for us to pray at any time in any situation. When we reach the place where we are at a loss as to what to say or pray. the Holy Spirit prays through us and for us.
26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. — Romans 8:26,27 NIV
When we are praying and we literally run out of words to say, we should stop and consider this fact: The complete Trinity is involved in every prayer we pray. The Holy Spirit takes our stumbling, bumbling mutterings and groans. He cleans them up and presents them to the Father as Jesus watches and intercedes on our behalf. A simple prayer is sufficient since God already knows what we need. Peter’s prayer “Lord, save Me!” moved Jesus to save him from the angry waves and those three words are still enough to bring salvation.
4 Always be joyful in the Lord! I’ll say it again: Be joyful! 5 Let everyone know how considerate you are. The Lord is near. 6 Never worry about anything. But in every situation let God know what you need in prayers and requests while giving thanks. 7 Then God’s peace, which goes beyond anything we can imagine, will guard your thoughts and emotions through Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brothers and sisters, keep your thoughts on whatever is right or deserves praise: things that are true, honorable, fair, pure, acceptable, or commendable. 9 Practice what you’ve learned and received from me, what you heard and saw me do. Then the God who gives this peace will be with you.–Phil. 3:4-9 (God’s Word)
God is waiting to show you the way.
Over the past few days we have been looking at how we should act as Christians. We have looked at what God expects of us. Now, we need to practice those things daily and they will bring joy to our hearts. We will be able to rejoice and praise God in any situation. Not because of the situation but because we are learning that He will be there with us and carry us through every situation. Praying and giving thanks will keep us from worrying because we will have the peace of God in our lives. We must focus on the things that are true, honorable, fair, pure, acceptable, and commendable. We must be diligent in our practice because it is so easy to stop if we are not consistent in our habits.
35 Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? 36 (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.” 37 No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. 38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.–Romans 8:35-39 (NLT)
God is waiting to show you the way.
Each of us goes through a myriad of situations in our lifetime. Hardly a day goes by, (probably none) that we don’t have some sort of frustration in our lives. Does this mean that we have lost our salvation or that God no longer loves us? No, God hates sins, but He does not hate the sinner, His heart is set on forgiveness and restoration. Our fellowship with Him can be broken and interrupted, but the very second we repent, He is waiting with open arms to receive us back into fellowship with Himself. If we don’t have this assurance of salvation and forgiveness, then as Paul said, “we, of all people, are most miserable”. But we do have it because it is dependent on the faithfulness of God, not on our faithfulness. So, “rejoice and be glad, this is the day the Lord has made”.
1 Timothy 2:1-6 (NLT) 1. I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. 2 Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. 3 This is good and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth. 5 For there is only one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus. 6 He gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone. This is the message God gave to the world at just the right time
God is waiting to show you the way.
Jesus willingly gave His life for each of us. He gave it for those who cursed and persecuted Him as well as for those who followed Him. He did it because of His great love for humanity of all religions and nationalities. It is His desire that everyone be saved. Will everyone accept Jesus as their Savior and Lord? No, but that does not change what Jesus did for us. Once any person accepts Jesus as their Savior and Lord, should they decide to do that, the Holy Spirit indwells that person. As we progress in following the example of Jesus there is a change in our hearts’ desires and our actions. We are to attempt to live at peace with everyone around us, even with those who curse and persecute us. Is this possible? Yes, or Jesus would not have asked us to do it. When we are mistreated for the sake of Jesus Christ and His Kingdom, our response is to love and pray for those that commit the acts. Praying for our persecutors pleases God because we are following the example that Jesus set for us. How they respond to that love and our prayers for them is not in our control. It is ultimately between them and God. If revenge of any sort is necessary, God says that is His responsibility, not ours. So pray for everyone, family, friends, neighbors, cults, religious people, anyone in authority over you in any situation. You can be assured that your flesh is not going to want to pray for some of these people, but God’s Holy Spirit will draw you, teach you, and even do the praying for you if you choose to be obedient.
James 1:2-4 (NIV) 2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
God is waiting to show you the way.
How are we supposed to be joyful when we are in unpleasant situations? We need to look at the situation through the eyes of Jesus. Why has God allowed this to happen? God is always with us, but he has a view of the whole situation. Yes, He lives in us, but He also lives outside the box we try to fit Him into. He knows where we are in our Christian walk, the tests are to let us know. So, if we look at these trials and mild tribulations as stepping stones to know Jesus better, they can be productive times in our lives.
Paul is a great example of this.
Philippians 4:12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength. (NIV)
Paul understood that we are not defined by our situation, but rather our attitude about the situation. Numerous modern day Christians that are imprisoned in filthy cells testify that some of their greatest joys came when they learned to focus on Jesus and not on their external conditions. As the hymn says “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face, and the things of this world will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace”.