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People Who Enjoy Life…Praise Jesus

 

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“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4).
Praise and gratitude lead to joy.

I originally wrote and shared this devotional/study while working at Focus on the Family (about 20 years ago now).  I think it may be useful in teaching our children/grandchildren to depend fully upon Jesus in all circumstances.

For the Apostle Paul, rejoicing was not a periodic exercise but a perpetual attitude of the heart. His penned words recorded in Philippians 3:1 and 4:4 call Christians to “keep on rejoicing in the Lord.”
Q. Who wants to prevent us from rejoicing in the Lord?
A. Satan, who “prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” 1 Peter 5: 8.
But praise be to God, Jesus said “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” John 10:10.
Q. How does Satan try to accomplish his plan, to rob us from joy and abundant life?
A. By creating unhappy circumstances to occur in our lives.
Note: Sometimes we are responsible for our own unhappy circumstances, other times we are not. Either way, it is our choice on how we will respond to these circumstances.
I love the true story of Joni Earekson Tada. Joni was paralyzed from the shoulders down at the tender age of 17, resulting from a diving accident while swimming with some friends. After a lengthy journey of rehabilitation, which included overcoming thoughts of suicide, Joni chose to trust God to fill her and use her fully for His glory, in spite of her disability.
See Joni’s website: http://www.joniearecksontadastory.com/ for inspiration and help for those who suffer from paralyzation. Not just physical paralysis, but emotional and mental. For you see, Satan also attempts to paralyze people through fear.
Definition: Paralyze
1. To affect with paralysis; cause to be paralytic.
2. To make unable to move or act: paralyzed by fear.
3. To impair the progress or functioning of; make inoperative or powerless: strict regulations that paralyze economic activity

Our circumstances are sometimes joyful and other times they are disappointing, discouraging, and sometimes extremely painful.
If we gauge our rejoicing on the ups and downs of our circumstances, we will never fulfill Paul’s command to rejoice continually.
Paul declares that in order to be joyful there is a prerequisite: being or having a thankful heart and attitude, toward God and for others. (Phil. 1:3, 4)
Thankfulness produces joyfulness and joyfulness produces thankfulness.
These two qualities are interdependent or interchangeable. They go hand in hand.
Q. Can we be joyful when our focus is on “grumbling” about our unfortunate circumstance(s)?
In the book, How to Be a Christian and Still Enjoy Life, the author, Fritz Ridenour states:
“We aren’t made happy by what we have but by what we are thankful for.”
Paul learned how to experience thankfulness and joy in all circumstances…and then was able to share this unexplainable joy to others. His letter to the Philippians was written while imprisoned in a Roman jail, with the threat of execution facing him.
Q. How can Paul’s letter to the Philippians encourage us today?
A. First and foremost, I believe:
1. We must all come to terms with the fact that we are all going to face many trials and sufferings throughout our lives.
2. If we enter the trap (of Satan or the world): that our joy is based on our circumstances, we will live sad defeated lives, with little or no hope.
3. But,…if we, like Paul, learn (through God’s Word) that our joy/thanksgiving is based on our relationship with the Lord and His purpose for our lives, and not by the ups and downs of life, then we will experience true and meaningful joy, and an everlasting hope that no one or any circumstance can rob us from.

 Acts 16:25-34

Passing on the joy of salvation to others even in the midst of our sufferings

Paul and Silas responded to their imprisonment with praise, rejoicing, and thankfulness.
Results: They drew attention from the other prisoners. A miracle took place:
1. An earthquake occurred…opening the cell door and unlocking the shackles.
2. The conversion of the jailer and his entire family.
3. Fellow prisoners became charter members of the Philippian Church.
Share personal testimonies of how you have allowed God to use your sufferings for the glory of God and the witness to others.
Pathway to Joy and Thankfulness
Q. How can we (as Christians) develop a pattern in our lives, which emulates Paul’s positive attitude in the midst of negative circumstances?
1. Stay close to other believers. (Phil. 1:4, 5) Paul was not a spiritual lone ranger. He relied on his involvement with other believers to help maintain his joy. He was in partnership with other believers. The Greek word Koinonia – means “to have in common”). I.E.: fellowship through Bible studies, small groups, corporate worship, mentorship
Joy results committing ourselves to others–even at a cost. (Outreach to others!)
2. Be confident in God’s faithfulness. (Phil. 1:6)
It’s easy to have joy when things are going well, but when the bottom falls out, we (the flesh) can feel that God has deserted us, thereby shutting off our joyful praise.
Paul reminds us that God always finishes what He starts. Circumstances are not a barometer to qualify our response to God. We rejoice in the Lord…because no matter what the circumstances look like, God has promised to complete a good work in and through us. (Phil. 1:3-6)
3. Practice forbearance. (Phil. 4:5) “Let your gentleness be evident to all.” “Love does not demand its own way!”
Gentleness means being more content to let another win than to selfishly fight for our own rights. (See Corinthians 6:1-7)
I won’t ask how many of us need growth in this area. Being first to raise my hand!
Paul was so full of praise and gratitude, his life was one big experience of reaching out to others.
4. Pray instead of worrying. (Phil. 4:6-7) A life Scripture for me.
When we learn to let go of our anxieties and thank God for what He will do, we reap the peace of God which transcends all understanding. Endless joy!
5. Think positively.
Q. How often do we miss out on inner joy because we direct all our focus on our problems?
Paul instructs believers to replace negative thoughts with positive thoughts. (Phil. 4:8)
6. Put your faith into practice. (Phil. 4:9)
Believers marked by rejoicing and thanksgiving are busy doing God things—growing, serving, and working out their faith in everyday life or circumstances.
The more involved we become with those around us and in God’s “program” (rather than our own program), the more we will enjoy life.

Conclusion: Pray for God’s help to remove any hindrances that prevent you from receiving His everlasting joy. Be mindful when praying this prayer that God may or may not choose to remove your unfortunate circumstance(s), but He will be faithful to complete your joy even in the midst of it.

Memory Verse:

  “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” Philippians 4:4. Read the rest of this entry »

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Building a Legacy of Faith ~ Autumn Leaves — Jesus Never Does!

The purpose of this weekly blog entry, titled: Building a Legacy of Faith, is to share practical and biblical ideas with parents/grandparents who are passionate about intentionally passing down their faith in Christ to their children/grandchildren. I would also like to receive other tried and true spiritual formation ideas from parents and grandparents. These may be sent to my email address at: covenantheirs@gmail.com, and from time to time, I will publish some. Please mention in your email, consent to publish (with potential edits) of your submission.

Volume 1, Issue 2 (October 3, 2013)

Building a Legacy of Faith

2 Timothy 1:5

For parents who are passionate about passing down their faith in Christ to their children.

Autumn Leaves — Jesus Never Does!

falling leaves   Summer has come to an end, but thankfully, here in the Mid-West, we are continuing to enjoy picture-perfect warm sunny days. The cooling off at dusk as daylight quickly dwindles, tells me that autumn has arrived. Even though I am more of a summer person, there’s something very captivating about fall. For me, it’s the changing colors of the leaves and bright orange pumpkins arriving on neighbors’ doorsteps, that draws me into the pleasantry of the season. Whether you have toddlers or teens, this is a great time of year to experience God’s amazing creation together as a family. Here are few suggestions:

♦  Take a Sunday afternoon drive into the country. Have everyone point out the “colors of fall” ranging from freshly cut cornstalks to blazing burnt-orange leaves. End up at a pumpkin patch or an apple orchard.

♦  Choose a day that offers a little breeze. Provide small containers for each family member. Find a location (a park, backyard), where there are plenty of trees. And as the breeze blows, chase the falling leaves, catching as many as possible. Award a small prize to the one who catches the most leaves. (Little ones can simply collect leaves from the ground.)

♦  Bake pumpkin pies or cookies and deliver them to someone who could use a sweet treat (a lonely neighbor, your pastor, a friend, a shut-in). Make a leaf-shaped card from construction paper and attach it to the treat.

After experiencing these intentional family fall moments, build in some extra time to discuss the process of dying and new life. Begin by talking about the changing seasons. For instance, summer is a time of vibrancy and life, which then surrenders itself to fall, when leaves on the trees die and fall away and many plants appear to die. Winter arrives and with it the frost and chill seem to halt all growth and life. Following winter, when it seemed as if everything had died away, spring comes forth. New life surrounds us. Daffodils, crocuses, and tulips begin to push through the once-frozen ground. The bare tree branches begin to show signs of new leaves. Talk about the New Life that is found in Jesus alone. Use these Scriptures, along with others to describe our new life in Christ. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” 2 Corinthians 5:17; 1 Corinthians 15:22; Ephesians 2:4-5; Colossians 2:13-14; 1 Peter 3:18; (Romans 3:23 & Romans 6:23); John 12:24; John 14:6

Recommended book for toddlers and preschoolers:  The Pumpkin Patch Parable, by Liz Curtis Higgs

Covenant Heirs 10/03/2013

 

 

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Building a Legacy of Faith – Devotions On-the-Go

Volume 1, Issue 1 (Sept. 25, 2013)
Building a Legacy of Faith

2 Timothy 1:5

For parents who are passionate about passing down their faith in Christ to their children.

Devotions On-the-Go

I remember the hectic days of preparing for pastoral ministry with my husband, Jeff. We were raising three teenagers at the time, and I worked full-time at Focus on the Family, which required a rather lengthy commute to and from our home each day. I was going to have to be creative if I wanted to have meaningful devotions/Bible reading with my kids before leaving for work in the mornings. I vividly remember the daily routine (fondly, now). Get up at the crack of dawn, exercise, shower before our two daughters “took over” the bathroom, and grab a quick breakfast (cereal has always been the Fletcher favorite). Somewhere during this time, I found a few moments to have my own personal time with God, and then out the door we went. While driving our daughters to school, I had them take turns reading a daily devotional in the car. Fast forward fifteen plus years…both of our daughters, now moms, have told me that this was a meaningful time in their spiritual development. My son-in-law once shared, his dad would never let him or his siblings leave for school until he had read the Bible/devotional with them at the breakfast table each morning. I am now seeing the results of making devotional time with God a high priority in our home(s) when our kids were growing up. Our daughters and their husbands now have meaningful devotions with their children (my grandchildren!), sometimes on-the-go.

 Life is busy, but let’s remember…“you must think constantly about these commandments I am giving you today. You must teach them to your children and talk about them when you are at home or out for a walk; at bedtime and the first thing in the morning” Deuteronomy 6:6-7 (TLB).

Suggested Resource: Anytime family devotional – http://www.nph.com/nphweb/html/nph/search.jsp?q=anytime

Covenant Heirs 9/25/2013

 

 
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Posted by on September 25, 2013 9: 32 am - in Building a Legacy of Faith

 

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