Saturday, June 17, 2006

Let Us Rejoice!

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

This is my prayer today. Rejoicing is often difficult for many. Many people have a tendency to dwell on the negative. I am certainly no exception. This is a human weakness that is used by the enemy to keep God's people in bondage. God does not get any glory when we are living a defeated Christian life. So many of us fall into this snare. It's so easy to love ourselves to the point of wallowing in self-pity when things aren't going the way we want them to.

I rejoice that God's word is so perfect! His first and greatest commandment is to love Him and next to love others as we love ourselves (see Mark 12:30-31). Notice that the scripture doesn't say that we should to love ourselves, but to love as we love ourselves. That's because people have no problem loving themselves. There is so much hype today in regards to people having a "low self-esteem". It seems apparant that everybody has it in one form or another. This doesn't mean a person doesn't love himself. In fact, just the opposite is true. People do love themselves very much! We want to be prettier, we want nicer clothes, we want greater popularity, we want a more comfortable life. Some of us, like me, just want to find a place to "fit".Katie in the cotton fields

A person may hate their nose, feet, hair, or teeth. They may hate that they can't sing, or that they are clumsy. But, people don't hate themselves even if they think or act like they do. The fact of the matter is that we hate the things that keep us from being happy, beautiful, popular, etc... The reason we hate these things is because they keep us from having the life we want to have. This is because we love ourselves. There may be an issue with pride, or in the case of a low self-esteem, reverse pride, but it's all about loving self (1 Corinthians 13 could take us in another direction altogether because love isn't selfish or prideful, but let's try to stay on track).

The way we "rejoice always, and in everything give thanks", is by placing our focus where it should always be....on God. We don't necessarily rejoice because of our circumstances, (I seriously can't see being happy about a migraine headache), but we can rejoice in our circumstances. We simply need to adjust our focus a away from our circumstances and toward the One who is Lord over them. We can always rejoice in salvation, eternity in heaving with Christ, the promises of God, His love for us. These things are a constant through the worst of trials and suffering. We can rejoice knowing that "God works everything for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28)"!

I am my beloved's and He is mine! If I could practice living this word from God in Thessolonians, I think I could find joy to spread even in the worst of circumstances!
"Pray without ceasing"....that is something else to rejoice about! No matter how bad things get, God is in the middle of it and we can pray. Even if we don't think He is listening, we can know that when we humble ourselves and pray, He will hear us and heal us (see 2 Chronicles 7:14). We can know that we will find peace just by presenting our requests to Him (Phil. 4:6)!

"In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you"...Why? Should I thank God for a headache? Not necessarily. But, I can thank God that He is bigger than my headache! I can thank God that even in the midst of my pain...His promises still hold true and I am still His beloved (Eph. 1:5-7)! I have God's inheritance...His Kingdom awaits! My salvation is secure!

So, when life gets hard, we don't need to just remember this verse in 1 Thessolonians, we need to believe it and live like we do (even if we don't feel like it)! We need to remember to count it all (trials) as joy (James1:2), such a sweet fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22)! Remember also that "...the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit (Romans 14:17)", and we are to seek first His Kingdom and his righteousness...(Matt. 6:33).

Finally beloved, I would like to encourage you to "...walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorius power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy; giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light (Colossians 1:10-12, italics added)".

Remember Also....
God is Who He says He is!
He can do what He says He can do!
You are who God says you are!
You can do all things through Christ who gives you strength!
Believe God!

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