Devotion, Fasting, Inspiration, Uncategorized

Day 5: “Everyone Experiences Sadness.”

sow-tears-reap-songs-of-joyGod knows your most intimate thoughts, fears, and desires. He loves you with an everlasting love and he never likes to see you suffer. Unfortunately, until you get to heaven, this world includes hardship. Sorrow over a death brings a time of bereavement. You grieve when you lose relationships due to disagreements or distance. When marriages break up, hearts are broken.

What makes you melancholy? Everyone experiences sadness. The pain of regret causes remorse. Maybe you bury your pain so much, you can hardly admit it’s there. As you continue to fast and seek the Lord more intimately, don’t be surprised if these emotions come to the surface. Sow your tears before the Lord and watch him turn them into joy.

This miracle is hardly logical. But you serve a supernatural God.

Only your Heavenly Father can come through on a promise to bring laughter to you who weep. Isaiah prophesies a phenomenon to those who grieve – you will receive the oil of joy instead of mourning. Even in your darkest hour, God hasn’t forgotten you. Continue to seek him with every part of you and watch him come through.

“And now, God, do it again—
    bring rains to our drought-stricken lives
So those who planted their crops in despair
    will shout hurrahs at the harvest,
So those who went off with heavy hearts
    will come home laughing, with armloads of blessing” (Psalm 126:4-6).

Fasting, Series, Uncategorized

Fasting Devotion, Day Fifteen

Galatians 5:13-26

Have you ever seen someone who looks absolutely miserable and then spoken to them and realise they are actually quite enjoyable and happy? I used to have a friend who would say, “Are you happy? Then, tell your face!”

Sometimes our outside isn’t a true reflection of what’s happening on our inside. Remember the kids’ song, “If you’re happy and you know it, then your face will surely show it…?” Our countenance SHOULD reflect the joy of the Lord. People SHOULD notice something different about the way we carry ourselves as Christians. Negative Facebook posts, complaining, gossiping, and an overall grim outlook on life are oxymoronic for Christ-followers.

We all have bad days! We all have moments when we just feel we need to “VENT!’ But let us not forget our body language and faces reflect the beauty of Christ. The fruit of the Spirit is:

LOVE, JOY, PEACE, PATIENCE, KINDNESS, GOODNESS, FAITHFULNESS, GENTLENESS, and SELF-CONTROL.

Those traits LOOK like something! Just like you can pick an apple from an apple tree because there are apples growing on it, people can pick what sort of person we are by what comes out of our lives. As we continue to press into all God has for us in 2014, let’s focus on the fruit in our lives and reap a plentiful harvest by which everyone around us can partake!

God, you are so magnificent and wonderful. Thank you for creating me in your image. I ask that every area of my life reflect the fruit of the spirit so others will be drawn to you through my actions, words, and expressions. Forgive me for the times I fall short of displaying your glory. Give me courage and strength to trust you and remain joyful despite difficult circumstances I may be facing. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

church, Church planting, Contentment, Inspiration, Uncategorized

Shrug Your Shoulders!

sam_shrug

Discouragement is something we all face at varying times in our lives.  Having unmet expectations can lead to disappointment and sadness.  I would be lying if I told you this last year moving across the world didn’t hold moments of true discouragement for me personally and for my family.

We had a local pastor who questioned our coming with strong statements like, “are you sure you’re called to Newcastle?  We already have a lot of great churches here.”  Great people have visited our church and didn’t return for whatever reason.  That’s always discouraging for me because I think everyone should love our church and want to be a part of it!

I’m sure you all have the regular letdowns of your spouse not meeting certain expectations (is mine the only one who leaves socks all over the house) and/or kids disobeying or deceiving you despite all your good efforts at instilling morals and molding their character.

It’s not “IF” we are going to be discouraged, it’s “WHEN” and the bigger question becomes “HOW” do we deal with it?  At times, I have had big fat pity parties for myself becoming the victim in my own mind about how life isn’t fair and usually blaming others.  If everyone would just “do things my way” life would be so much easier!  That’s not a good approach… it’s self-centered and a set up for more disappointment because I have yet to master the art of controlling other people!  It’s a losing battle that will bring casualties every time.

In the book of Acts, Luke writes the story of the beginnings of the church and many experiences of the first followers of Christ.  It’s like an exciting action movie in parts and if we read the passages carefully, we see extraordinary accounts of persecution and trials that these early church leaders came up against.  Discouragement unlike any most of us have or will ever encounter.

Paul and Barnabas were going about telling people the good news of Jesus and lives were being changed.  Practically the whole city turned up one Sabbath to hear Paul preach.  The message of salvation spread like wildfire all through the region.  You could say these guys were building the first “mega-church” with great success!  Week after week, the numbers were growing and people were coming their way.

Then, towards the end of Chapter 13, something interesting happens: “Some of the Jews convinced the most respected women and leading men of the town that their precious way of life was about to be destroyed. Alarmed, they turned on Paul and Barnabas and forced them to leave. Paul and Barnabas

shrugged their shoulders

and went on to the next town, Iconium, brimming with joy and the Holy Spirit, two happy disciples.” (vs 50 – 52 MSG).

How many times do we have difficult situations (usually involving people) that keep us up at night?  Stomach ulcers ensue from the difficult co-worker who seems out to get us.  Pastors who let financial stress or a conflict in the church cause them to question their call.  Major stress from family members can bring on depression and sadness.

How did Paul and Barnabas seem to move on quickly from this major setback in their ministry?  Momentum was going their way with influence in the city among leaders; momentum that was building the church was suddenly thwarted by some negativity and bad influence.

I believe they shrugged their shoulders (one version says they “dusted off their feet”) and kept moving on the same way we can all move beyond discouragement – by staying full of the Holy Spirit!  Staying in close proximity to our Heavenly Father who loves us no matter what our circumstances.  Keeping a heavenly perspective throughout trials knowing that this world is not our home.  Making sure we aren’t setting people up as our Gods in order to gain approval or fulfillment.

I want to remain FULL OF JOY as ONE HAPPY DISCIPLE no matter what comes my way.  What about you?  How do you stay encouraged?  Feel free to share in the comments section so “that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith” (Romans 1:12).