Sunday, October 28, 2012

Rejoice in Suffering?

“Not only so, but we rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character hope.” (Romans 5:3-4)

Who in their right mind ever rejoices and finds joy in their suffering? Whenever troubles come our way most of us have the tendency to think “why me”? or “it’s not fair”. Life has its ups and downs, good times and bad times, discomforts and times of achievements. Can we really find joy in the suffering? Evidently, joy of some sort, to some amount, can be found in suffering. We know that we should have this joy, but how do we find it? We have to find some comfort in knowing that our suffering is not without a purpose, and even though we may not be able to rejoice right at the moment of our pain and suffering, it soon should follow.

“We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.” (2 Corinthians 4:8-10)

It’s not that we enjoy suffering, but when we allow ourselves to express joyfulness even in times of pain, anguish, and sorrow, we gain strength and endurance; we rejoice in spite of our grief and the end result is greater spiritual power and strength. Even when we become impatient and frustrated, and can’t see an end to our discomfort, we can be confident in our God who loves us and gives us joy and restful peace.

“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 have received from God.” (2 Corinthians 1:3)

Where do we find our joy as we travel the road of agony and sorrow? We will find it in God’s Word as we apply it to our circumstances; He has promised us that our suffering is not in vain or without a purpose. God allows us to go through trials so that He can comfort us and know the true joy of His peace and assurance during any situation. And through every trial that we endure, we are blessed with the ability to comfort other people who are suffering similar troubles. Being a comfort to others makes us feel useful and good and glorifies God.  

“And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” (1 Peter 5:10)

Going through the rivers of difficulty can either cause us to drown or force us to grow stronger, and if we don’t look beyond suffering and see the light of its eternal values, it will breed resentment and bitterness rather than joy. Suffering is a necessary pain that supplements divine growth, and God uses it to develop and shape us into better Christians. It produces endurance which in turn produces Christian character, and our Christian character produces hope!  

Linking up on Spiritual Sundays, Sharing His Beauty, and Winsome Wednesday! 

Beauty in His Grip Button

Monday, October 22, 2012

Our Will or God's Will?

“Everything is permissible-but not everything is beneficial. Everything is permissible-but not everything is constructive. Nobody should seek His own good, but the good of others.” (1 Corinthians 10:23)

What is free will?

Free will grants us enormous control, influence and potential. However there are certainly consequences to choices that we make that do not fall in line with God’s will. Just because we possess the ability and/or liberty to do or say something doesn’t always mean that we should do or say it. Everything is permissible…but not everything is constructive! Therefore, you’re either being constructive or destructive, honest or dishonest by your free will of choice; there is no in-between. And making disparaging decisions or making wrong choices can separate us from God and be considered destructive…but when our free will leads us to seeking the good of God and others we are building a life that is fruitful. Life is full of choices, judgments, and decisions and we must constantly be aware of the choices we make. We must ask ourselves if what we are about to do builds others up and brings integrity and honor to God…

Is my choice or what I am about to do going to benefit others?

When confronted, is the issue dealt with in Scripture?

Am I stepping out in faith and being obedient?

Is what I am doing going to build a constructive relationship with God?

“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” (Luke 22:42)

How many times has God asked you to do something that you just don’t want to do? I am pretty sure that there are times when the Lord places us all in situations that we do not want, desire, or understand. This is the battle of “our” will vs. God’s; do we desire to know His will, or are we more interested in making our own plans? If we settle for following our own will rather than His will we may end up getting less than what we imagined and possibly more than we ever wanted. God allows us to do what we want and has designed us with a heart and wisdom to make decisions and right choices, however there are consequences when we stray from His plan. He allows us to fail, but He also leaves a way to do what is right. He is always willing to help us if we pray and get our hearts in alignment with His own perfect will.

“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2)

As Christians, we are not left to our own resources to cope with problems and decisions, and the great thing is that when we mess up God will forgive us as long as we choose to seek His will in all that we do with a willing heart. Asking God to restructure our desires awakens our minds to making constructive choices that bring glory to Him and stirs our will. God has given us the ability to choose how we live our life; we make choices every minute of every day. Choosing to follow the will of God is the most important choice we will ever make!
Linking up on Spiritual Sundays and Sharing His Beauty!
Beauty in His Grip Button

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Finding Joy; Giving Joy

Share the Joy

“Happiness is not dependent on happenings, but on relationships in the happenings.” (Corrie Ten Boom”)

When you are looking for happiness or you want to spread some happiness, it’s pretty hard to find it or share it by yourself. Even the most skillful, independent, or liberated people have a desire to share life’s experiences with others. Think about it! There are all kinds of moments we want to celebrate, or accomplishments that we want to share with others in a spirit of joy and festivity. Joy is a state of being that enters your heart when you are open to giving happiness to others and receiving it from them too; it can’t enter a closed, protected heart! We are created for community and to connect with others to share our joys, goings-on, and experiences. We are all brothers and sisters in Christ, and we all have the same needs for communion and partnership. God wants us to accept and share with each other no matter where we are in life, with love, patience, kindness, and joy.





Spread the Joy

“Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works” (Hebrews 10:24)

True joy comes only when we are focused on walking with the Lord and cherishing others. Our joy is contagious, and I think that we would all agree that the more joy we spread around, the more joy that will come back to us at the end of the day! When we are around someone who is cheerful, upbeat, and enthusiastic, we automatically catch the mood, and as a result we feel good too. There are times when we all need encouragement, and encouraging others on a daily basis inspires us too. There are days when God will send us a special person to build us up in faith and lift our spirits, and likewise there are days that He may send us someone to encourage and enrich.  Our joy serves as a witness to others of the promises and love of God, and we should demonstrate and uplift others with the joy that Christ has given us.

“Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:16)

Joy focuses all of its attention on positive and good things, and is the reward for the life that God desires for us; this indescribable joy can easily be observed (and shared) by others!
Linking up on Spiritual Sunday and with Joan to "Share His Beauty"!
Beauty in His Grip Button

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Fall Harvest

"Praise be to the name of God forever and ever; wisdom and power are His. He changes times and seasons; He sets up kings and deposed them. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning, He reveals deep and hidden things; He knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells with him." (Daniel 2:20-22)

I always love and appreciate the changing of the seasons, and marvel at God's beautiful works; however fall is my favorite time of the year when the brilliance of the colors and the gradual cooling of the weather make everything fascinating! I anxiously wait for its arrival after the hot summer season, when beautiful colors of yellow, orange, and red make their appearance. It is the time of the year for me to slow down from all the seeds that have been planted during the busy summer season, and produce from the seeds (my talents and passions) what God has given me. I have the ability and the free will to choose when and how to cultivate those seeds. Unfortunately, I get so engaged in the abundance of activities during the summer, that I don't always focus on maturing and bearing my fruit.

"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." (Galations 6:9)

Just as there are four seasons of nature, there are four seasons of life. Timing is important for each of these seasons, and I believe each season represents a different phase in our life to discover, accept, and appreciate God's perfect timing. Winter is a time for dreaming and making plans for our new year. Spring is the time to start planting and executing these plans. Summer is when we must prepare and mature our harvest. Finally, fall is when we gather and distribute our harvest. The book of Ecclesiastes reminds us that there is a time to be born, a time to die, a time to plant, a time to reap, a time to laugh, and a time to weep. There is a time for every purpose under heaven.

“But other seeds were planted on good ground and produced grain. They produced one hundred, sixty, or thirty times as much as was planted.” (Matthew 13:8)
We all want a good harvest; right? And seed placed in good soil will produce fruit; it will bear fruit that produces a good harvest. When we abide in Christ, we are producing the very fruit God wants us to produce and the harvest is sure to be abundant! As we engage in the coming fall season, our passions and desires should be to bear an abundance of fruit and distribute a harvest that satisfies not only our need for personal fulfillment, but glorifies our Heavenly Father.
"Sow an act...reap a habit;

Sow a habit...reap a character;

Sow a character...reap a destiny."


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Strength in Weakness

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” (Matthew 5:5)

It seems to me that in our modern and aggressive world, meekness is often misunderstood as a weakness. It is difficult for a person to be gentle and have a humble heart, and it is just simply not a part of someone’s nature to be meek and lowly in heart. Sadly, meekness is misinterpreted and often associated with being disadvantaged, fearful, and cowardly. It’s often much easier to be proud, influential, and strong. So if meekness isn’t weakness, then what is it? Even the dictionary defines meekness as “one without strength or courage”. I don’t know about you, but it’s not always easy to walk gently through life, not jump ahead or out of turn, and turn away from angry and aggressive behavior!

“But the meek shall inherit the land and delight themselves in abundant peace.” (Psalm 37:11)

The Bible on the other hand says that we are called to be meek, to practice spirit-control. Only the meek can be saved, and therefore as the children of God, they inherit the new earth.  We are called upon to practice meekness and to allow God’s peace to guard our heart and our mind. When we demonstrate meekness, we also demonstrate worshipful dependence, faith and self-assurance that we are letting God lead and direct our lives. Instead of despising our weakness, we are invited to embrace it knowing that God has a holy purpose for our weakness. And when we find ourselves weak we acknowledge that we are not powerful or strong, but instead we have a mighty savior to carry us through.

“Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am meek and humble at heart; and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:29)

Peace comes from our heart because our confidence is in Christ. Jesus asks us to learn from Him to be weak and humble in heart, because He will be strong for us in our weakest state. We experience a settled quietness about us when we understand meekness; our pride melts and our strength goes beyond words and actions. That’s when we find little need to exert extra strength if we find ourselves under pressure. There is nothing more beautiful than a meek heart; one that knows Jesus is lovingly paying attention as we submit to our pride.

“But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)

Boast about our weaknesses instead of our strengths? Yes, because being weak is really a source of our strength! In our weakness , His strength is made perfect; when we are lesser, He is greater!