Rejoicing Over You


rejoiceBelieve it or not, I get an uncanny pleasure by waking my children up for school each morning. I know that may sound crazy to some, but I enjoy rousing them from their sleepiness with kisses and singing.  I know, funny right? Typically they don’t seem to mind, but occasionally I will get a moan or a groan as they fight to wake up from their sleep.

I think I secretly derive enjoyment from waking them up, because they all took turns waking me up in the night for so many years. But seriously, the reason I enjoy waking them up, is because it’s a new day, and I’m just so happy to see them. The funny thing is, I really get a sense that is exactly how our Heavenly Father feels about us too! He delights in us, and wants communion with us. He wants us to come to him and to share our thoughts and desires for the day.

But honestly, how many of us actually wake up feeling completely loved and lovely in the morning? Not me, I know it sometimes takes great work to get me to that place. Like my children, I sometimes wake up with a moan and a groan. Sometimes I’ll be in a fog or feel anxious or sad about something going on. The amazing thing is, spending time with Jesus in the morning has the power to change all of that.

God’s Word helps me to align my thoughts with His thoughts. God doesn’t necessarily change my circumstances, but he helps me change my attitude about them. God’s Word helps me to refocus my thoughts for the day and helps me to gain a clearer perspective so that I can handle whatever comes at me throughout the day.

A verse I was reading yesterday morning was found in Zephaniah 3:17 which reads:  For the LORD your God is living among you. He is a mighty Savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs. Zephaniah 3:17

This verse is a wonderful reminder of God’s great love for us. I think some people have an incomplete picture of what God is really like. He doesn’t stand continually condemning us (that’s what Satan does) but God actually rejoices over us. We are his beloved. He paid a high price for a relationship with us.  He wants us to rest in Him and his finished work on the cross.

When we are His, we can rejoice because we know God has saved us from our sins.  Because of the hope we have In Him, we can rest in His love for us. The bible says that nothing can separate us from His love (Romans 8:39). That is a comforting promise to rest in. It doesn’t mean that we will no longer sin or struggle with hardships, but that God is with us in our struggles and is working in and through our lives, molding and transforming us as we daily submit ourselves to Him and walk in obedience to His Word.

When we are His children, God delights in us. He rejoices over us. It’s not because of anything we have done, but because of what Christ has done for us. He clothes us in His righteousness (Isaiah 61:10) and is long-suffering towards us (Romans 2:4), meaning that he is ever so patient with us in spiritual growth process which will continue till the day we die.

God doesn’t want us living defeated, but calls us to a victorious life because of the victory He has already won for us on Calvary. Victorious living, means is that we rest in him, by knowing who we are as his children and living in the new identity that comes from knowing Him as our Savior.

Often the enemy of our souls seeks to steal, kill and destroy, leaving us feeling defeated or trying to steal our worth, but knowing who we are in Christ Jesus makes all the difference. Instead of believing the lies of the enemy, let’s choose today to live in the truth of His Word. Know that Jesus is Rejoicing Over You. You are His beloved!

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 8:39

I delight greatly in the LORD; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. Isaiah 61:10

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Finding His strength in Your Weakness


thecrossBut 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

When I was first married, I worked at a local ambulance company as their bookkeeper.  I  had my own little office in one corner of the building we worked in. All of the clerical offices were separate, but close enough to each other so that us ladies could easily carry on conversations from within our own little offices.

Often times my co-workers would tease me, and say that I was a good fit for the job because I was a very focused person. When they were talking, I often wouldn’t hear a word they said.  If they really wanted to get my attention they would pipe up the tone of their voice and say, “Jennifer’s focused again.”

Funny thing is, I’ve always seen “being focused” as a weakness. I get easily distracted and therefore I am forced to focus to get anything accomplished. The truth is, I can’t cook spaghetti and garlic bread at the same without burning one or the other.

Now I know that  women are supposed to be natural multi-taskers right? Well I’ve come to admit that multi-tasking is not my thing. It’s an area of weakness for me. When it comes to getting a single task completed, I can usually get the job done quickly and efficiently, but give me multiple things to do at one time, and I can easily become quite frazzled.

Lately, the topic of boasting in weakness has been something that the Lord keeps showing me. As Paul states in the above verses of 2 Corinthians, he gladly boasted in his weakness. So what does it actually mean to boast in our weaknesses? Well, when we boast in our weakness we are not pointing to ourselves, but rather to Christ who works in and through our weakness. Christ uses our weakness to manifest His grace to us.

Our natural human tendency can be to hide or be embarrassed about our weakness or to pretend that we are strong, but God wants the opposite from us. He wants us to admit (even brag) about our weakness because as Paul states in 2 Corinthians verse 10, “When I am weak, then am I is strong.” God shows Himself strong in our weaknesses!

Another prime example for me is writing this blog. Some of you may think that because I have a blog, that I love to write.  In all reality, quite the opposite is true. I had difficulty learning to read and was horrible at English and writing in school.  Writing is not something that comes easily or naturally for me, but yet I feel that this is something God want’s me to do. What this means for me is having to bring my weakness before God, and in obedience trust Him to meet and accomplish what I feel He is calling me to do.

Admitting our weakness requires humility, honesty and fosters God dependency. Verse 9 says, “My Grace is sufficient for you, My power is made perfect in weakness.” Our weaknesses keep us humble before God and show us the power of Christ at work for us.

Sometimes we think that God cannot use us because of our limitations or weaknesses. That is a total lie of the enemy who wants to keep us from doing anything that is worthwhile for God’s Kingdom. The opposite is true. When we admit our weaknesses and give God our limitations, we in essence surrender our own self-sufficiency and rely on His all-sufficiency. Rather than struggling in our own energy, effort or talent, we rely on God’s strength and grace to help us in our weakness. We can therefore step out in faith and do what God is calling us to do.

Because of original sin, we are all broken and flawed individuals, and we all have areas of weakness. The amazing thing is, we have an awesome God who loves us, pursues a relationship with us and redeems us from ourselves and our sinfulness. He has a purpose and a plan for each of us and wants to use us to accomplish His purposes.  All He asks is that we step out in faith and surrender ourselves to Him. He can take the good, the bad and the ugly of our lives and transform it into something beautiful for His glory. Our limitations can become limitless in the hands of our all-powerful God!

Father God, thank you for dying for our sin so that we can be made right with You. You see us in our flaws and our weakness and love us just the same. Help us to surrender those things to You so that they can be used by You and for Your glory. Help us to realize that you don’t need us, but You desire us. Thank you for Your amazing love and grace towards us.  To You be the glory both now and forever. AMEN

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us. Ephesians 3:20

I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13

That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:10

 

Rejoicing in Difficulties


adversityAnd we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. Roman 8:28

I was reading Romans eight this morning and was greatly encouraged by the Word. I absolutely love how God’s Word has the power to do that! So often in our day-to-day life we tend to let circumstances get the best of us. Satan when given the opportunity, loves to rob us of our joy and suck the life right out of us.

Let’s face it, life is not always easy or pleasant. We often have to endure difficulties or adversity which tests our faith. When difficulties arise, do we truly believe that God is good and is working all things for our good?

The way we learn to deal with difficulties can truly make all the difference between walking in victory versus giving in to defeat.  As followers of Christ Jesus, it is a necessity that we make God’s Word our standard for living and to do so we must spend adequate time with Him and in the Word.

When we know what God’s Word says about any given circumstance, we don’t have to rely on our feelings, which tend to ebb and flow from minute to minute. When we learn to trust God and take Him at his Word it brings forth the peace of God which surpasses understanding regardless of the circumstance.

I know when hard things happen in life, we in our humanness tend to reflect that humanness upon God and question why He would allow such things if he truly loves us. But that’s just it, God allows difficulties and adversity because He loves us. He uses them to mold and shape our character and to make us more like Him. 

In walking with Him and by his Spirit we have the ability to walk in love vs. hate, joy vs. sorrow, peace vs. anger, patience vs. impatience and so forth. His spirit living within us helps us to overcome our flesh and produces in us the fruit of a life abiding with Him.

I have seen many believers go through very difficult circumstances and when asked in retrospect, most would say that, “Yes, they now see how God used their difficulty or adversity for good in their lives.” That is the power and testimony of God’s grace working in us and through us. It’s an amazing thing! God doesn’t call us to comfortable lives, rather he calls us to purposeful lives!

In Romans 5:3 it says . . . that we can rejoice in our sufferings. Now I don’t know anyone in there right mind who wants to rejoice in suffering. But what it means is rather that we can trust God and learn to praise him despite difficulties and adversity. We do this because we know that He is always working on our behalf bringing about good even when it may not look or feel like it. This is the kind of faith God rewards because it is trusting beyond what we can see in the natural world.

God loves us and wants what is best for us. When we are His child,  He is continually in the process of making and molding into the image of his Son. This is a lifelong process that happens as we submit to His Lordship in our lives. We can trust in His love and goodness and know that he is working all things for our good and that even through difficulties and adversity there is purpose. Let the the difficulties your facing today to drive you to the feet of Jesus!

Romans 5:3-5 We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. 

II Corinthians 1:3-7  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 receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.

 II Corinthians 4:17 For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.

Worshipful Living


worshipfulGrowing up in a Roman Catholic household, today (Ash Wednesday) marked the beginning of a season of Lent. Lent as observed by Catholic faith is the 40 days preceding Easter Sunday. During Lent, we would in essence make a sacrifice (by giving up of something we particularly enjoyed or liked) as an offering to God as a reminder of the many sacrifices God made for us.

As a child in a practicing Catholic family, we were always encouraged to give something up for lent as well as not to eat meat on Friday’s. I would often choose to give up things like watching television, eating ice cream or candy, and one time my cousins and I even gave up talking between certain hours of the day. Reflecting back on that time, it had no real spiritual significance in my life other than I thought that I was being a really good “religious person” because I was making this sacrifice for God. It also gave me bragging rights with my friends (which explains exactly where my heart was at the time).

Today as a follower of Christ, who I thought God was back then, is so very different from who I now know God to be. I used to believe I had to earn my way to God, but now I know that is an impossible feat (Ephesians 5:8-9). Because of God’s great love for me, He paid a debt he didn’t owe, because I had a debt I couldn’t pay. Salvation from my sin is a free gift from God, based purely on God’s finished work on the cross. Because Jesus shed his blood on the cross for my sin, I no longer have to sacrifice (as they did in the Old Testament) for my sins. Praise God! Jesus’ blood sacrifice paid my sin debt once and for all.

When we personally encounter God’s great love for us and His amazing grace towards us, it forever changes us. As children of the living God, he wants us to live in abandon to Him and all that He has for us. God no longer wants our sacrifice, he wants our hearts (Psalm 40:6). He wants us to offer ourselves as living sacrifices by daily laying aside our own wants and desires and for us to take up our cross and to daily follow him. In doing so we learn to daily trust Him to guide and direct us as we walk in obedience to Him. God’s great love for us compels our daily worshipful living for Him! 

Thank you Lord Jesus for your amazing love for me and for paying the price for my sins so that I didn’t have to. Thank you for your sacrifice on the cross that cancelled my sin debt. Help me to daily surrender all to you, so that I may live fully for you. Thank you for who you are and for all you do. To you be the Glory both now and forever. AMEN

First he said, “Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them”—though they were offered in accordance with the law. Then he said, “Here I am, I have come to do your will.” He sets aside the first to establish the second. And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. Hebrews 10:8-10

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God–this is your true and proper worship. Romans 12:1