Tag: joy

Apr 1 Envy to Praise!

car-160343_640Sometimes it is hard to be in this world, Lord.

There are times I look around and it sure seems like the evil, immoral, prideful, arrogant people are prospering.  They seem to have lives of ease and problems that are fixed by money and power.  It is hard not to be envious when I see their beautiful bodies, homes and cars and it seems every need they have is met.

You are so good to me!  In 1990 You gave me a song to sing when I feel this way.  It always lifts my spirit.  And reminds me that You are the strength of my heart and my portion forever!

Has a Reggae – Calypso kind of 4/4 feel…

Some times I look at my life, I don’t like what I see:

I’m not rich, I’m not famous – my glass is lookin’ half empty!

I don’t live in a mansion, I don’t drive a brand new car

Sometimes I look at the rich and want to be where they are!

 

Then I look at my Savior, and what He’s given to me:

Gave me love, gave me salvation, He gave me life eter-nally

He has to-tally cleansed me and washed me white as snow

And He taught me a very good lesson “Man does not – live by bread alone”

 

Chorus:

Je-sus  Je-e-sus  You are everything

Je-sus Je-e-sus praises to You I sing

Lord Jehovah watches over me

that is why I sing praises to Thee

 

Some people think that their life is just for collecting toys

They stockpile cars, boats and money and hope it will bring them joy but

That’s not the reason for livin’  No that’s not why He came

Jesus died, is now glorified and we can call on His name

 

Chorus

 

Now I look at my life – I’m happy with what I see

I’ve got peace, I’ve got contentment – My Lord Jehovah cares for me

I got a mansion in Heaven I know one day I’ll see

And I know my cup overflows with blessing poured out on me – from

fernando-brasil-103271Je-sus  Je-e-sus  You are everything

Je-sus Je-e-sus praises to You I sing

Lord Jehovah watches over me

that is why I sing praises to Thee

Amen

Psalm 73:1-28

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Jan 23 What a ride! Here I am

fun-937105_640

O Lord, I think of all You allowed Jacob (renamed Israel) to go through, and I wonder how difficult his life must have been. He was a twin, compared from birth to a brother who was very different from him.

His father chose a favorite son, not him. His mother schemed for him to receive his father’s blessing, resulting in his exile from home to a place far away.

He worked happily for seven years to earn a bride, but was deceived on his wedding night with a different woman. He worked another seven years and still had nothing to call his own.

Then, things started coming together. He gains large flocks, gets away from his manipulative father-in-law, reconciles with his brother, returns to his father, has many children, including two sons by his beloved wife Rachel. But then she dies in childbirth. And later, her older son is taken from him, presumed dead. His life falls apart again. Talk about ups and downs!

My life has had its ups and downs. There have been times of delirious joy as well as disappointment and sorrow. I feel sometimes as if I am barely able to get up for a new day. And I have Your Holy Spirit in me from whom I can draw strength! I have scriptures I can read to be encouraged. I have praise music I can play or sit at the piano and sing.

How did Jacob do it? How did Israel get through one more day of grieving his beloved wife Rachel, missing his son Joseph; managing his large family with misbehaving sons Simeon, Reuben, Judah and Levi; all in a day and time of famine, with hunger and need all around him?

Yet when You called him in a time of famine, to relocate to a foreign land, he still didn’t give up. Whatever You had in store for him, he simply answered “Here I am”.

O God, help me be that resilient.

Help me get through dark times and be ready to say “Here I am” when You call. Help me hear Your voice above whatever else is going on in my life. Tune my ears so I will hear You and recognize Your call.

Lord, let me hear clearly, and be obedient to all You reveal to me. Open my ears to the message of Your words that bring personal meaning and conviction to my life.

Prune away any misunderstanding I have been living by. Cut away the dead and unproductive parts. Revive me and make me fruitful again. I long to honor and glorify You.

“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands.”

How can I do any less?

Genesis 46:2 (and Jacob’s life); Psalm 19:1

Dec 18 Rejoice…always

rejoice-1-1148146

Father, Habakkuk sees the injustice of the wicked prospering and succeeding in their treachery.  He prays: “Lord, I have heard of Your fame; I stand in awe of Your deeds, Lord.  Repeat them in our day, in our time make them known…”

I echo his words, Father.  How I long for You to make such a display of Your power that none can deny You.  That everyone in the world would see what I see in You!  Then all would worship You as You deserve.

The prophet Habakkuk reminds me of Job in the final assessment of his condition.  Job said “Though He slay me, yet I will hope in Him.”  Amazing! 

Habakkuk was just as steadfast in his statement of faith.  He painted a dire picture of possible conditions, then restated that he would still “rejoice in the Lord” and “be joyful in God my Savior.”

Habakkuk proposed “Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails  and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls.”  This would have been a dire circumstance in deed. 

As I learned before, a fig tree takes longer to mature and produce fruit than most fruit trees.  So no buds means no figs!  This would mean that years of effort and care had come to nothing.

Also, as they are the last fruit to appear, at the end of the summer, they would have been the last hope of food to get them through winter.  Figs can be eaten fresh, or dried and pressed into cakes to store for later use.  No figs would mean no food stores to last till the next year’s crops came in.

With no grapes on the vine, there would be no wine!  Wine and bread were the staples of the diet.  And wine was also instrumental in celebrations.  So no celebrations!  Drying the grapes produced raisins that, again, could be eaten or pressed into cakes and stored.

Olives were a crop that had many uses.  Besides eating olives, the oil was pressed and used in soaps, cosmetics, cooking and medicines.  It was also used for fuel in their lamps.  So no olives meant literally, dark times indeed.

In Habakkuk’s time people depended on the crops they planted to provide food for their tables.  Without these crops, there would be none.  The only meat in their diet was from the sheep and cattle in the stalls.  Without them, famine and starvation were in their future.

This picture Habakkuk paints is one of complete failure of his basic needs for life.  Yet he is willing to accept it all and still rejoice in You!

Father, give me a steadfastness of faith like Habakkuk had.  Help me in all circumstances to “rejoice in the Lord”! 

Help me, when there seems no hope by earthly standards, to “be joyful in God my Savior.”  I praise You Father, and I stand in awe!  Amen

Habakkuk 3:1-19

Nov 17 Persevere with God’s perspective

Father, help me “consider it pure joy whenever [I] face trials of many kinds.”

road-sign-940630_640 (1)Even though I know You tell me that these trials produce good things in my life: “perseverance”, making me “mature and complete, not lacking anything”; I do not always rejoice when difficulties come my way.  And I don’t feel like I am being made “complete.”  I often feel just the opposite, as if I am being broken down.

Father, give me Your perspective on these events and circumstances when they happen.   Let my first thoughts be to come to You to ask for what I need.  Often what I need is wisdom.  So remind me to “ask You, who gives generously to all without finding fault.”   Help me recognize Your wisdom when I hear it.  And then be bold enough to act on what You tell me.

Lord, I want to persevere under trials because You say I will receive a blessing when I endure.  Part of that blessing comes simply from my turning to You.   By being in relationship with You, hearing from You, and seeing Your deliverance, whatever that looks like.

Thank You for the times You have been there for me in the past.  It builds my faith in Your ability and in Your desire to help me in the future.

I can identify with the Psalmist, who says: “I love the Lord, for He heard my voice; He heard my cry for mercy.  Because He turned His ear to me, I will call on Him as long as I live.”  Like the Psalmist, I have felt “overcome by trouble and sorrow.”

There have been times when I did not see a way that anything good could come from my situation.  But You, who are “gracious and righteous…and full of compassion” saved me, delivered me, showed me a way to redeem the situation.  And it was usually in the most unique way, that no one else I had gone to had thought of.

How can I thank You?  “How can I repay the Lord for His goodness to me?”  I cannot ever repay the debt I owe You, Father.  But I can sing my praises to You.  I can tell others of Your great goodness.  I can tell others of Your faithfulness to me.  I can live joyfully in Your deliverance, and live faithfully as Your servant.

No matter what happens, I will rest in You.  I will rejoice in You.  I will live my life to bring glory to Your name.  Amen

James 1:1-8; Psalm 116:1-19

 

 

Oct 28 Joy in the midst

h-40pu5qr8a-david-marcu

“Shout for joy…

Worship with gladness…

Come before Him with joyful songs…

Enter …with thanksgiving”

 

Psalm 100 says this is how I am to approach You, Father.  And some days it is easy.  When the weather is good, my home is clean and in repair, when my family is healthy and getting along, when there are no disasters in the news, or storms, or shootings.

But other days, I am so affected by negative things, that it is hard to muster glad and joyful worship.  It is more likely I sit and pour my heart out to You.

There are days when everywhere I look in my home, I see only piles of stuff that need sorting or cleaning or some kind of attention I don’t have the energy for.  And when the plumbing backs up or the fence blows down, or critters take up residence in the chimney, it creates stress and worry about the time and money and energy it will take to fix things.

When my children have some unidentified blood disease, or their appendix ruptures with complications, or they become depressed and unmotivated, or rebel against the way they were raised, I feel such a sense of loss and helplessness.  When I visit with my friends and hear how they are coping (or not) with disabled children, or cancer, or divorce, or unrelenting disease and death, I am overwhelmed by my own inability to help.

When I turn on the tv and hear of destruction by natural disasters: floods, storms, earthquakes; or see evidence of man’s inhumanity towards man in attacks of arson, terrorism or murder, my heart is hardly filled with joy and thanks.

But within each of these, if I change my focus, I can see opportunities for You to be at work.

Because I know that “You are good and Your love endures forever” I can rejoice in that.   I rejoice that You are my God!  That I can call on You and You will answer me in whatever circumstances I find myself or the world in!

I thank You that You have given me friends.  And that I can pray with them and for them.  I praise You that there are no circumstances that You are overwhelmed by.  Thank You that You can give perspective and wisdom and healing to those who need it.

Thank You that You can turn a prodigal’s heart to You and bring them home.  Thank You that You can reach around the world, where I cannot, to bring healing and help.

I praise You that Your power supersedes any other.  And that Your faithfulness allows me to have hope that whatever the circumstances, I can choose to focus on You.  I can still worship with gladness and have joy!  Amen

Psalm 100:1-5

Aug 29 The veil is torn

06_GNPI_098_Jesus_Dies_1024“But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away”!   What joyful words! Father, there was a curtain, a veil in front of the Holy of Holies in the tabernacle and in the Temple. It separated the people from Your personal presence.   Only the High Priest went inside the veil, and only once a year, to make atonement for all Your people.

But when You died on the cross in Jerusalem, the actual veil in the Temple there was literally torn. It was ripped in half from top to bottom, forever giving access, through the cross, to the Holy of Holies. To Your presence.

Where You are “there is freedom”.   But the world and the evil one seek to take that freedom away. The philosophies of man say there is no absolute truth, and that morality is relative to the times and accepted behaviors of whatever society I live in.

The world would have me walk around veiled by falsehoods that deny Your existence, Your power and Your authority on this earth. They deny You are the Creator, and encourage me to worship false idols, or even myself as “god.”

Father, help me see clearly, and not “drink the kool-aid” of these false beliefs. Do not let me be veiled by anything that would keep me from You. But let me “with unveiled face, reflect the Lord’s glory, being transformed into His likeness …”. So that others around me also see You through me.

Rid me of those things that are not of You: selfishness, greed, pride. Let me produce the Fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, faithfulness…

“Send forth Your light and Your truth, let them guide me; let them bring me to Your holy mountain. To the place where You dwell.” Father, let me know Your truth, from Your Word, so well, that I recognize any falsehood. That way I will not be led astray by anything counterfeit. Keep me securely established and living in Your presence. For there is “my joy and my delight”. And I will praise You. Amen

II Corinthians 3:11-18; Psalm 43:3-4

Aug 11 Building with God

picture by Sweet publishingNehemiah wall built

Father, I remember a time You put in my heart to have a women’s Bible Study for our church. Without a building, we needed a location. Other times, other churches and places had said no, so our people told me it would be impossible. Adding there would never be enough workers to come and do all the tasks needed to run it. A prior study began with 25 women but dwindled down to only three by the end.

Undaunted, I prayed, seeking Your wisdom to know if I should give up in response to my own church’s “wisdom”. Knowing You would have to open the doors, I went forward.

Believing You were leading me, I went first to the church where our boys were in a Scout Troop. They said yes! When I asked, they told me they believed the blessing of the building You had given them should be shared with the community!

Obviously, You had gone before me and prepared the way. They gave us access to a large meeting hall, the kitchen and their nursery! Including all the toys, beds and changing tables!

That very day, a woman from our church called and said if I found a location, she would love to run the nursery to care for the children who came, and make nametags! She helped me get other volunteers for the children’s’ area and brought refreshments that first week. By the time we started, we had a greeter, a setup person, a clean up person, kitchen and children’s workers, and beautiful ribbon nametags.

It was an amazing victory! And the most successful study we had for several years! You provided an amazing answer to prayer and response to obedience in going forward. Remembering Your faithfulness has encouraged me often.

Just like You brought workers from many places to rebuild the wall in Jerusalem, each doing a small part; You brought people to support the work You wanted to do in our church. Both jobs were too big for one person. But You are bigger than any job. And You have the resources to accomplish anything in Your plan.

Father, I believe You place in each believer a desire to be part of something bigger than themselves. I know during that time I felt completely empowered.

I can’t describe the joy it gave me to feel, to know, I was in the center of Your will. You had opened doors.   You brought people to help. You brought women to attend. What a blessing to be part of something You were doing!

Father, show me what comes next. Give me that blessing again.  Amen

Nehemiah 1:1-3:14

Apr 1 Envy -> Joy

car-160343_640

Sometimes it is hard to be in this world, Lord.

There are times I look around and it sure seems like the evil, immoral, prideful, arrogant people are prospering. They seem to have lives of ease and problems that are fixed by money and power. It is hard not to be envious when I see their beautiful bodies, homes and cars and it seems every need they have is met.

You are so good to me! In 1990 You gave me a song to sing when I feel this way. It always lifts my spirit. And reminds me that You are the strength of my heart and my portion forever!

Has a Reggae – Calypso kind of 4/4 feel…

 

Some times I look at my life, I don’t like what I see:

I’m not rich, I’m not famous – my glass is lookin’ half empty!

I don’t live in a mansion, I don’t drive a brand new car

Sometimes I look at the rich and want to be where they are!

 

Then I look at my Savior, and what He’s given to me:

Gave me love, gave me salvation, He gave me life eter-nally

He has to-tally cleansed me and washed me white as snow

And He taught me a very good lesson “Man does not – live by bread alone”

 

Chorus:

Je-sus Je-e-sus You are everything

Je-sus Je-e-sus praises to You I sing

Lord Jehovah watches over me

that is why I sing praises to Thee

 

Some people think that their life is just for collecting toys

They stockpile cars, boats and money and hope it will bring them joy but

That’s not the reason for livin’ No that’s not why He came

Jesus died, is now glorified and we can call on His name

 

Chorus

 

Now I look at my life – I’m happy with what I see

I’ve got peace, I’ve got contentment – My Lord Jehovah cares for me

I got a mansion in Heaven I know one day I’ll see

And I know my cup overflows with blessing poured out on me – from

 

Je-sus Je-e-sus You are everything

Je-sus Je-e-sus praises to You I sing

Lord Jehovah watches over me

that is why I sing praises to Thee

 

Amen

fernando-brasil-103271Psalm 73:1-28

Mar 18 Heaven or Earth?

heaven or earth

 

O Lord, what a wonderful and confusing prayer here from David. I’m not exactly sure of his meaning; but like many prayers, it shows the divided interests and longings of many believers.

 

On one hand, I have been through a lot. Life has been challenging, and sometimes I want to just give up: “my heart grows faint”. I feel anxious to be done with this earthly life and all its problems. “I long to dwell in Your tent forever”. Thinking about that, all pain and suffering would be over. No more battles to fight. I would be in the presence of my Lord and Savior. What could possibly be better!

On the other hand, You have given me blessings here, Lord. I desire to fulfill all that You have planned for me, and bring glory and honor to Your name here on earth. And hopefully bring many to a saving knowledge of You while doing it. So I echo “increase the days of my life, my years for many generations”. How awesome would it be to see my children grown and serving the Lord, and grandchildren, and great grand children!

Bottom line, I trust You with all my days Lord; whether here on earth or with You in heaven. I rely on You and Your perfect will to know the length of my days, and prepare me for them. I thank You that You knew all my days before even one of them came to be. And that no power can take away even one hour You have promised me. I trust in, and rest in, Your power and Your wisdom, Your mercy, and Your plan. Amen

Psalm 61:1-8

 

Dec 18 Rejoice…always

rejoice-1-1148146Father, Habakkuk sees the injustice of the wicked prospering and succeeding in their treachery. He prays: “Lord, I have heard of Your fame; I stand in awe of Your deeds, Lord. Repeat them in our day, in our time make them known…”. I would echo his words, Father. How I long for You to make such a display of Your power that none can deny You. That everyone in the world would see what I see in You! Then all would worship You as You deserve.

This prophet Habakkuk reminds me of Job in the final assessment of his condition. Job said “Though He slay me, yet I will hope in Him”. Amazing! Habakkuk was just as steadfast in his statement of faith. He painted a dire picture of possible conditions, then restated that he would still “rejoice in the Lord” and “be joyful in God my Savior”.

Looking at his picture of possibility, he included “Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails  and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls.” This would have been a dire circumstance in deed. 

As I learned before, a fig tree takes longer to mature and produce fruit than most fruit trees. So no buds means no figs! This would mean that years of effort and care had come to nothing. Also, as they are the last fruit to appear, at the end of the summer, they would have been the last hope of food to get them through winter. Figs can be eaten fresh, or dried and pressed into cakes to store for later use. No figs would mean no food stores to last till the next year’s crops came in.

With no grapes on the vine, there would be no wine! Wine and bread were the staples of the diet. And wine was also instrumental in celebrations. So no celebrations! Drying the grapes produced raisins that, again, could be eaten or pressed into cakes and stored.

Olives were a crop that had many uses. Besides eating olives, the oil was pressed and used in soaps, cosmetics, cooking and medicines. It was also used for fuel in their lamps. So no olives meant literally, dark times indeed.

In Habakkuk’s time people depended on the crops they planted to provide food for their tables. Without these crops, there would simply be no food. The only meat in their diet was from the sheep and cattle in the stalls. Without them, famine and starvation were in their future.

This picture Habakkuk paints is one of complete failure of his basic needs for life. Yet he is willing to accept it all and still rejoice in You! It would be as I see some families in the news today who lose everything to a flood or storm.   Father, give me a steadfastness of faith like Habakkuk had. Help me in all circumstances to “rejoice in the Lord”! Help me, when there seems no hope by earthly standards, to “be joyful in God my Savior”. I praise You Father, and I stand in awe! Amen

Habakkuk 3:1-19

Nov 26 Teach me

aec-1782427_640

Father, thank You for Peter’s reminder that as the end approaches, believers must be earnest in prayer, share Your deep love with others, and use our Spiritual gifts. Some of these sound so easy. None of them are. I can’t do any of them without Your help.

What I can do is come to You in prayer. You help me in so many ways. I love my conversations with You! Sometimes I feel closer to You when I walk around the lake, or through the trees, or can see the mountains. When I am surrounded by Your amazing creation, You often give me a word of instruction or encouragement. You have taught me things by watching geese flying above, or ducks feeding in the pond, or sunlight shining through dark clouds. You have shown me how to be humble through the faces of blossoms that track the sunlight across the sky, or sunflowers that have heads so heavy with seed that they bend low.

It is so easy to praise You in the presence of the beauty of Your creation, and when things are going well. But rejoicing in suffering is harder to do. Sometimes, my side of the conversation is sobbing and tears. It is anxious pleading with pain. You reach out to me then too. There is nothing You cannot handle. There is nothing too big or too small to bring to You. Thank You for this life-saving and life-giving privilege of prayer.

Father, teach me how to show Your great love to others. It feels easy to do with strangers. Kindness to a stranger is short-lived. Help me to be loving and forgiving and hospitable to those I know. Show me how to be humble, and not grumble.   And especially to those I know well, give me perseverance to act and speak in love for the long haul.

Lord, lead me in seeking out ways to join You where You are already at work, in ways that will use my Spiritual gifts. Give me the energy and stamina to serve.   Show me how to serve humbly so You get the credit. And let me recognize when to step back so another can use their gifts.

In all these things, let me also be aware of “[my] enemy the devil” who “prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour”. Help me see through his lies and deceptions. Help me avoid his traps and temptations.  Strengthen me to resist him in all his cunning ways. Make me strong, firm and steadfast. Yours is the power forever. I know You will never fail me. Thank You. Amen

I Peter 4:7-5:14

Oct 28 Joy in the midst

“Shout for joy…Worship with gladness…Come before Him with joyful songs…Enter …with thanksgiving.”

h-40pu5qr8a-david-marcu.jpg

Psalm 100 says this is how I am to approach You, Father. And some days it is easy. When the weather is good, my home is clean and in repair, when my family is healthy and getting along, when there are no disasters in the news, or storms, or shootings. But other days, I am so affected by negative things, that it is hard to muster glad and joyful worship. It is more likely I sit and pour my heart out to You.

There are days when everywhere I look in my home, I see only piles of stuff that need sorting or cleaning or some kind of attention I don’t have the energy for. And when the plumbing backs up or the fence blows down, or critters take up residence in the chimney, it creates stress and worry about the time and money and energy it will take to fix things. When my children have some unidentified blood disease, or their appendix ruptures with complications, or they become depressed and unmotivated, or rebel against the way they were raised, I feel such a sense of loss and helplessness. When I visit with my friends and hear how they are coping (or not) with disabled children, or cancer, or divorce, or unrelenting disease and death, I am overwhelmed by my own inability to help. When I turn on the tv and hear of destruction by natural disasters: floods, storms, earthquakes; or see evidence of man’s inhumanity towards man in attacks of arson, terrorism or murder, my heart is hardly filled with joy and thanks.

But within each of these, if I change my focus, I can see opportunities for You to be at work. Because I know that “You are good and Your love endures forever” I can rejoice in that. I rejoice that You are my God! That I can call on You and You will answer me in whatever circumstances I find myself or the world in! I thank You that You have given me friends. And that I can pray with them and for them. I praise You that there are no circumstances that You are overwhelmed by. Thank You that You can give perspective and wisdom and healing to those who need it. Thank You that You can turn a prodigal’s heart to You and bring them home. Thank You that You can reach around the world, where I cannot, to bring healing and help.

I thank You and praise You that You have made me a “sheep of Your pasture”. As Your sheep, I can ask for my Shepherd’s help for my home issues, for my family, for my friends, and for any in need due to natural disasters or violence. I praise You that Your power supersedes any other. And that Your faithfulness allows me to have hope that whatever the circumstances, I can choose to focus on You. I can still worship with gladness and have joy! Amen

Psalm 100:1-5

Oct 25 Worship for me

Father, I can come to You alone and pour out my heart. I can see beautiful pieces of Your amazing creation, and be filled with awe and wonder at Your power and creativity, and imagination.   I can read Your Word and know I am in touch with You as You open my eyes and mind to understanding something new I haven’t seen before.

choir-306900_640And although all of these are ways I connect with You, I feel a more complete sense of worship and abandonment when I raise my voice and sing to You. Even better if I am playing the guitar or piano too, because it involves more of my body participating in the rejoicing. Or if I use my hands and arms to do sign language as I sing, the motions make me feel as if my whole body is involved in worship. And when I can do this with other believers, the harmony and volume become a majestic symphony of adoration, filling my senses and pouring them back out to You.

“Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord…Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker…Sing to the Lord a new song…sing to the Lord; praise His Name…”

When You fill my heart, whether with joy, or thanksgiving, or pain, I write down what I hear You singing to me, and sing it back to You. It opens a door between us. Here’s one song You gave me that expresses just that:

When I sing to You I can feel Your Holiness

When I sing to You I can feel Your love

When I sing to You I can feel Your power in my life

God I know You hear me

I can feel You near me

When I sing to You

 

Amen

Psalm 95:1-96:13

 

Oct 12 Rejoice and Pray

Father, two of today’s verses have saved me when I needed to recite Bible verses as a child. As far as I know, they are two of only three verses that contain only two words. I Thessalonians 5:16 “Rejoice always” and 5:17 “Pray continually”. Because they contain only two words, (making them easy to memorize and remember) and are so straightforward and to the point, I’ve always considered them important.

I loved English in school, and learned that when no subject is present, like these verses, the subject ‘you’ is understood. So whomever the speaker is speaking to is commanded to do the verb that follows. A command is stronger than a simple statement. When given by someone with authority it means to obey immediately, without further thought or discussion. In these cases, I am to “rejoice” and “pray”.

sunset-1012477_640Rejoice means to feel or show great joy or delight. It is the opposite of showing sadness.   It is not whining or complaining. It is not arguing or showing anger. I don’t think it means I can never have a negative emotion or express my feelings, but I should be looking to see the good side of what is going on in my life. I should be watching for things to be joyful about, and then let others see why I am joyful.

people-850097_640

Pray, very simply, means to talk to You. The adverbs that follow each verb tell me how to do the action the verb specifies. So when it comes to “rejoice”, the word is “always”. In other words (or in the same words) in ‘all ways’, in all things, in all circumstances, I need to be looking for the joy You bring me.

And the adverb for “pray” is “continually”, meaning ‘all the time, repeated frequently, constantly, without interruption’.

So, at all times, in all situations, in all things, I should strive to show my joy and be in communication with You. Along with “give thanks in all circumstances”, “this is God’s will for you”, these directives tell me it is Your desire to hear from me. And to hear my gratefulness.

Paul said these words to believers who were enduring hardship and persecution. How much more should I be able to find things in my easy, twenty-first century life of freedom to be thankful and joyful about? These are convicting Words, Father. And Words of instruction and encouragement! Thank You for making them so easy to remember! Amen

I Thessalonians 5:16-17