Tag Archives: joy

30 Days of Thankful: Day 14

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).

When we’re struggling, it’s hard to be thankful. Sometimes it helps to refocus on God’s big picture. My friend Kris shows how—even in the middle of pain—a shift in perspective can inspire a thankful heart.

GUEST BLOG: Kris McBride

About three weeks ago I received an urgent text requesting prayer for my friend’s 24 year old son who fell 30 feet from a tree. Although he was alive the doctors feared his back was broken. The tests confirmed their fear. He was paralyzed from the waist down. In one brief second his life changed forever.

As my friend delivered the devastating news I was surprised by what she shared. Instead of focusing on all that her son had loss she was thanking God that he did not have any head trauma, had no other broken bones, and the fact that he was alive! She sounded hopeful and optimistic in spite of the difficult circumstances. Instead of focusing on what was wrong she made an intentional effort to shift her perspective to thanking God for the blessings in the situation. This resulted in feelings of gratitude and hope instead of anger and bitterness.

I have found this to be true in my own life. Giving thanks is a proven way to change the attitude of your heart.  When my mom was dying of cancer I was almost overcome by grief. In desperation I called out to God for help. He gave me this thought, “You’ve had a wonderful mom for 26 years, some people never experience that even for a day.” Almost immediately I began thanking God for my mom. It still wasn’t easy to see her pass from this life, but mingled with grief was a peace and joy that came from a heart focused on gratitude.

Giving thanks works well with small issues too. I’m not a fan of housework. I know people who find great joy in keeping their house in order but that is not my natural bent. However, I’ve found that instead of grumbling about the things I don’t like to do I can take the opportunity to use them as triggers to thank God for all the blessings He has given me. It’s amazing how giving thanks shifts my perspective and lifts my spirit.

At times I realize it is quite difficult to give thanks. However, Paul gives us a plan to follow:

  1. Rejoice always
  2. Pray continually

Incorporating these two items into your daily routine helps cultivate a heart of gratitude which gives us the ability to thank God no matter what we are experiencing.

Praying God helps you to see the many things you can thank Him for in your life, no matter your circumstances.

 


30 Days of Thankful: Day 13

You will fill me with joy in your presence (Acts 2:28).

As we continue 30 Days of Thankful here’s a question for you: Can practicing thankfulness actually improve your health? Some seem to think so.  I once read about a study in which the participants were asked to list the things for which they were thankful—kind of like our thank you book They were instructed to sustain their gratitude for exactly five minutes. Sounds like weight lifting doesn’t it?  The results of the study showed that those who practiced sustained gratitude for five minutes experienced a sharp rise in their disease fighting antibodies—and these  antibodies remained elevated for several hours.

A thankful heart is also a joyful heart. The Bible teaches us that true joy comes from Jesus: “You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence” (Acts 2:28). The Greek word for “joy” in this verse is euphrosyne and comes from two words that mean “well, or good” and “mind.”   So joy—along with a well mind—come when we’re stay connected to Jesus.  Such good news!

As we practice being thankful, we naturally become more aware of Jesus Himself.  This gives us joy.  And who doesn’t want more joy?  It’s a language anyone can understand.

The story is told of missionaries who went to a tiny village in some faraway place. Even before they became fluent in the native language, some villagers approached them wanting to hear more about “this Jesus” after hearing the sounds of joy and laughter coming from the missionaries’ hut.

So let’s keep working out those “thank you muscles.”  This, in turn, will help us be filled with joy.  And let’s pray now that thirsty  people–who may not even know what they’re thirsty for–will be drawn to our joy, and to our Jesus who gives us this joy!

 


Day Twenty: Share His Joy

This is Day Twenty of our 21 Day Watch.  I hope you’ve noticed God in ways you may have missed if you hadn’t been watching.  I’ve become more aware His tiny whispers and answers to my prayers.  And it’s made me wonder.  How many times have I missed seeing God simply because I wasn’t watching? Watching takes energy. It requires alertness.  But it’s so worth the effort.

We become more watchful when alert to danger. For Christians in many parts of the world, these are dangerous times. Kenya is still reeling from the Somali terrorist attacks on Christian college students that claimed over 150 innocent lives. Reports continue to pour in from Iraq and Syria where Christian communities suffer at the hands of ISIS. We’re tempted to become anxious when overwhelmed with so much bad news.

But we can learn to calm anxiety by enlarging our view of God. That’s why we’re asking God to open our eyes to His Word, His work, and His big picture.  I remind you: God is not caught off guard by troubling world events. Nor is persecution of Christians a new thing.  As Paul tells Timothy about the many hardships he’s endured for his faith, he reminds him:  Everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted (2 Timothy 3:12) NIV).  Now that’s a Bible promise we don’t often hear often quoted.

I have traveled to many countries where Christians are persecuted and I’ve noticed a curious thing. In places where believers suffer most intensely, their joy seems to be the most vibrant.  For example, I was talking to a friend from another country whose ministry takes him throughout the Middle East.  I wondered how he dealt with fear, since he faces danger daily. He was rather nonchalant as he answered, saying simply, “Oh, I’ve just learned to trust God for protection.”  Then he went on to talk about his absolute joy at seeing so many in his part of the world who are meeting Jesus for the first time.  I noticed the same joy and lack of fear among evangelists I met recently in India.  These men and women were so filled with excitement as they watch the growing number of new believers, despite growing persecution.  Do you suppose their joy in sharing the Gospel makes anxiety about personal issues seem small in comparison?

Their example has inspired me to become more watchful for opportunities to share God’s love with others.   I have a friend who is getting to know Jesus for the first time, and I must admit. Seeing her faith spring to life gives me incredible joy.  I suspect Jesus is especially close by when we’re telling others how much He loves them.  After all, it’s what He’s called us to do.  And as we’re faithful to His Great Commission, He promises to be with us.  He gives us His Presence.  We share in His joy. What on Earth could be better than that?

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age (Matthew 28:18-20 NIV).

 

 

 

 


patience!

We consider blessed those who have persevered.  James 5:11

Patience!  “Better not pray for patience,”  a friend once cautioned me. “The Lord will send tough circumstances when you ask for patience!”   I’m not sure I agree with her theology.  We live in a fallen world where hardship and pain are simply a reality.  Jesus himself warns,”In this world you will have trouble…” (John 16:33).  “But take heart,” he adds, “I have overcome the world.”   James reminds that if we persevere, holding up patiently under trial, we are blessed.   The word means happy.  Fortunate.  Even joyful. Continue reading


trials!

James 1:2:  Consider it pure joy…when you face trials of many kinds.

Trials!  The Olympic Trials in Omaha last summer were a spectacular event, with young athletes competing from all over the United States for the few coveted spots on the 2012 US Olympic team.

One of our sons is a swimmer.  A number of his teammates qualified to compete in the Olympic trials, and six even made it to the Olympics. “Training for trials” became familiar jargon around here.

Swimmers endure riduculous training regimens, early mornings, sacrificing a “normal life”… all for the chance to make it to the Olympic Trials.  Every swimmer wants to achieve that magic time, the “trial cut,” so they can compete in Omaha.

As believers, we, too, train for our trials.  Have you thought about how your daily routine of prayer, reading God’s Word, listening, and obedience, day after day after day,  prepares you to stand strong when faced with a trial?  Training for trials prepares you in advance to fight the fight of faith.

Friends, do you love the fight?  Paul calls the fight of faith a “good fight.” It’s been said that we should love the contest of faith in the way an  athelete loves his sport.

I don’t know if I’d say I love trials.  But there is something invigorating about approaching each day on the offensive, strengthening myself in God’s Word and intentional about prayer.

I should walk away from my devotional time armed and ready.  Expectant and watchful.  Alert to both signs of God at work and opportunities to step out in faith.  Ready to share the Gospel, to meet a need, to take back territory from the enemy.  And prepared to stand strong in the inevitable trials that are part of life on a fallen planet.

The book of James has 108 verses in its five chapters.  Here’s my watchword for today:

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 (James 1:2-4).

Meditate for a few minutes on these verses.  Notice that James takes us a step further.  We are to consider trials as an opportunity for  joy. What if the same kind of joy awaits us when we prevail in our trial as the swimmer winning his race?  Now that’s a new vantage point.  Let’s agree to train for our trials today….something to ponder.