A Prayer for the Strength to be Joyful

“Be joyful always.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16 (GLT)

The Bible commands us to “be joyful always,”(1Thessalonians 5:16) but it takes strength to hold onto joy when life threatens to snatch it from our hands. How do we recognize a threat to our joy, employ a strategy to refute it, and come out stronger on the other side of it …still gripping our God-given joy?

The misconception of Biblical joy is that it feels like happiness. Even though “always”encompasses happy times and feelings of bliss, true Christian joy can endure through extreme hardship and pain. Happy feelings aren’t a requirement to be “cheerful no matter what,” as the Message paraphrase of 1 Thessalonians 5:16reads.

“Be full of joy all of the time,” the New Life Version translates. “Always be joyful,”reads the New Living Translation. “Celebrate always,” the VOICE paraphrases, and“Rejoice always,” the New International Version states. Joy is an emotion of great delight. Praise expresses approval. Worship regards something as sacred. Celebration makes something known! (dictionary.com) Where do we find the strength to rejoice in the middle of trials, frustrations, and heartbreak …sickness, death, and despair …loneliness, fatigue, and unfairness? The NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible states that “rejoicing might be associated with praise.”

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A Prayer for the Winter Blues

You have fixed all the boundaries of the earth; you have made summer and winter. – Psalm 74:17

Winter pops up in the Bible as early as Genesis 8:1. The literal Hebrew translation of the word means,“harvest time” or“autumn,” but the when I dug a little deeper into the word origin I found that winter has been associated with feelings of disdain dating back to ancient times! “Charaph,” the root word, also carries a definition relating back to harvest time, but also this one: “to reproach, taunt, blaspheme, defy, jeopardize, rail, upbraid.” Our modern-day definition of winter links the season to cold temperatures, but there’s no denying the depressive state of the Winter blues that can set in months of under gray skies and dead trees.

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A Prayer for Those Mourning Loss this Winter

A Prayer for Those Mourning A Loss this Winter
By Meg Bucher

It takes a strength that we don’t humanly possess to move through a season of sadness and despair. The Winter months can carry a blue perspective, especially when the snap of gray winter skies extends beyond our ability to cope without sun-light. God’s Spirit rests upon the frigid air, to comfort those saying earthly good-byes and facing the impossible return to life as usual without someone they held dear.

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” Psalm 46:1

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7 Proven Steps for Overcoming Resentment & Letting Go of Bitterness

“Apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5 (NIV)

Hurt tempts us to comply with a variety of unreasonable emotions. We don’t aim to become bitter people in our relationships, but life happens. Scripture warns in Ephesians 4:26“In your anger, do not sin.” Bitterness is characterized by intense cynicism, antagonism or hostility. (dictionary.com) “Most of our bitterness and anger towards others is rooted in an inability to be profoundly amazed at Christ’s love for us in our sin.” (John Piper)  It interferes with forgiveness too and makes it hard to accept certain realities.

Resentment is the byproduct of bitterness and unchecked anger within relationships, most often marriage. Colossians 3:8 warns, “But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.” Resentment can transform from a behavioral reaction to a personality trait. However, when Christ stitches our wounds together, the bleeding stops and peace is restored.

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4 Christian Principles for Making New Year’s Resolutions

Resolutions are strategic reminders for our repentant hearts. As Christians, they should be set in place to progress of the will of God in our lives. Before compiling a new list of goals, celebrate each step of progress that was made in the last year. Pay homage to the work God has done in our lives, before surging onto the next stage of growth. Giving God glory in worship for the accomplishments we achieve is a necessary element in the Christian attribute of fostering a grateful heart. Taking our failures into account, as well, shines light into the areas of our lives where prayer for clarity is needed. 

Through it all, God is guiding us. Jesus is walking with us, promising never to leave us. Prayerful consideration of the counsel of our good Father prevents needless brain-wracking and unreasonable goal-setting. His will is always in our best interest. The Voice paraphrase of Ephesians 3:20 reminds us that He promises to do more than we can ask or imagine in our lives. He can not only help us with our resolutions, but holds the key to the progress that will usher His peace into our lives.

“Now to the God who can do so many awe-inspiring things, immeasurable things, things greater than we ever could ask or imagine through the power at work in us, to Him be all glory…” (Ephesians 3:20-21). 

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