10 Ways Jesus Showed Us How to “Rejoice Always” (Even in the Trials)

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

This verse has evolved in my heart like a fine wine over time. What used to be a handy Biblical version of my childhood motto, “Don’t worry, be happy,” now drifts through my tired-mom soul like the aroma of freshly-ground. Joyful takes on new meaning when I am striding through life with Jesus. The more I run with Him, the deeper into the concept of joy I go. 

The NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible states that “rejoicing might be associated with praise,” and it references some of the following verses: 

“I will be filled with joy because of you. I will sing praises to your name, O Most High.” Psalm 9:2 (NLT)

“Sing praises to God and to his name! Sing sound praises to him who rides the clouds. His name is the Lord- rejoice in his presence!” Psalm 68:4 (NLT)

Joy is more than giddy happiness. It’s praise. Rejoicing. The Strong’s definition of the original Greek word for “rejoice” includes: “to be well, thrive; and in salutations, hail!” 

We see how to thrive, be well, and rejoice exceedingly (regardless of our circumstances) when we observe how Jesus maintained joy though He knew the cross was coming.

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The Bucket. (#jammed daily devo, day 364)

December #jammed: Free Grace.

Day 364: Empty Buckets

“The Lord is near.” Philippians 4:5

“What if I never actually surf,” I joked, “It’s a possibility!”DECJAM30

Monday morning Bible study prepares and leads me.

“What if God just wants to teach me something through the process of preparation?”

It’s a possibility. And it wouldn’t be the first time.

I’ve trained for a marathon before, making it through the last training run, but never to the starting line. The pain of injury, embarrassment, and discouragement was miraculously never able to overtake the lessons God laced into those faithful strides and Jesus-partnered miles.

Today’s verse reminds us what our buckets should be full of …Him.

Keep your gentle nature so that all people will know what it looks like to walk in His footsteps. The Lord is ever present with us. Don’t be anxious about things; instead, pray. Pray about everything. He longs to hear your requests, so talk to God about your needs and be thankful for what has come.” Philippians 4:5-6 (VOICE)

It’s hard to keep our “gentle nature” when things are not going our way. There are things we want to be able to do, and when we can’t it’s frustrating. How do we attempt that seemingly impossible smile in the face of defeat?

“The Lord is ever present with us.”

Somehow we forget that He is there in our failed attempts, too. The discouragement we feel when we fail  is hard. But that’s not what it looks like from God’s point of view. We get so caught up in what we think it will look like to achieve the task He’s given us, that we forget to throw our timeline.

“Don’t be anxious about things; instead, pray. Pray about everything.”

How often do we do that? Stop and spin on our heals to pray. That’s not our natural reaction to failure. We limp due to our fractured state, and immediately melt down in self defeat. It can cause us to question everything about our dedication to God.

“Was I just a wimp?”

“Did I just quit …again?”

“Am I a quitter?”

“Maybe …” might be the response. “But I love you anyway, and I’m not worried about it.”

“He longs to hear your requests, so talk to God about your needs and be thankful for what has come.”

When we set new resolutions and goals every year, none are goals we don’t intend on achieving. If talk to God about our goals before rushing to fill in our brand new planners and calendars, He’s able to readjust our perception of what the deadline should be. A goal could linger on for a long time without a check mark or a line through it …but that doesn’t mean we’re not getting a little closer to it with each passing year.

The key to joy in this life is know that “the Lord is near.” To our victories and our failures. Through our pain and our celebration. Every time we check something off of our bucket list, He adds something else. The point of life isn’t to check everything off and then just sit around and wait to go to heaven. The creator of time is not in the business of wasting any of it.

WE are to be good stewards of our time, not looking forward to nothing left to do …but finding joy in the pursuit of holiness.

Each day He has something for us to do. If we do the best we can to see Him in it and to bring Him along on our daily journey, we’ll never look back and wonder what the purpose for any of it was. We may not understand it …but Jesus died for us to believe in Him …not to be perfect. He’s got that covered.

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Father, Praise You for bucket lists, and thank You for growing us through every goal an aspiration You plant in our hearts to achieve. We love You. Forgive for days when we feel like the cross isn’t enough. Bless us to live lives that reflect Your love, and Your Son. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

 Get the conversation started by commenting below, and let’s encourage one another as we face life in 2017 armed with grace! 

#greatgrace17

Happy Bucket Listing,

Megs

Get the #jammed Daily Devo sent straight to your inbox each morning, by subscribing to Sunny&80. 

The Child Among His Children (#jammed daily devo, day 362)

December #jammed: Grace, gifted.

Day 362: His arrival.

Suddenly a messenger of the Lord stood in front of them, and the darkness was replaced by a glorious light—the shining light of God’s glory. They were terrified! Luke 2:9 (VOICE)

The tickets were paid for long in advance, but I had mentally ducked out of the plans I DECJAM28had spun into existence several times as the date crept up.  What’s the point of standing in worship under bright lights, as opposed to at church on a Sunday or in my ears-buds walking down the pier?

When “God is in this place,” as He promises to be when we gather to worship Him together, He’s omnipotently arranged something. We can pretty much count on that. God calls us to “go,” and walking with Jesus will illuminate the purpose of every chance experience.

For the shepherds in the field that witnessed God’s angels, purpose was layered into the very thread of who God knew they were.  Let’s look at the feelings the shepherds felt.

Suddenly –happening or coming unexpectedly; changing angle or character all at once. (Merriam-Webster)

The shepherds were instantly changed when the sky lit-up. They couldn’t unsee what they saw, un-feel what they felt, or un-hear what they heard. Jesus doesn’t need to prep our hearts for His arrival. In an instant admission of belief, we are changed forever. Suddenly, we see. In fact, we’re blinded. There’s no going back.

front- facing forward; directed forward. (dictionary.com)

The shepherds weren’t startled because the angels crept up behind them. They were right in front of them. Do we know that God faces us? That we can face Him? Christ Jesus, the child among His people. The ones He choose to die for …to look at, face to face.

light- something that makes things visible or affords illumination (dictionary.com)

Light allows us to see where we are going, but the light of the Lord Jesus allows us to see who we are. In a dark world, Christians can be joyful because He allows us to see His light. The light came to us on Christmas, when God’s glory came to earth.

terrified- to fill with terror or alarm; to make greatly afraid.

In order to understand the awe, coupled with the fight-or-flight shock that accompanied the shepherds reaction, here is terror defined:

terror- intense, sharp, overmastering fear

Sometimes our greatest terror is sprung from a fight within us and around us. Knowing and being able to feel and witness God’s glory in that moment in the field announcing Jesus’ birth, the shepherds felt the overwhelming awesomeness of God. Yet, something in them told them to be afraid. When we experience fear, we can determine where to steer it by remembering who God is. The shepherds choose to obey. They headed the angels and went to see Jesus, and told everyone about His birth.

How often do we let our fear fuel our self-doubt? But if we let our awe of God drive us to obedience, we get to experience Jesus.

The shepherds witnessed the Son of God. The very glory that turned the darkness of night into shocking brightness, come to earth.

The Child among His children.

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Father, Praise You for the obedience of the shepherds. Thank You for choosing those of simple stature in society to witness the Savior of the world lying in a manger. Forgive us for overlooking the circle of light that took place on Christmas, as Jesus’ glory came to earth. Bless us to appreciate and obey the awe-striking moments of opportunity You illuminate in our lives. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 Get the conversation started by commenting below, and let’s encourage one another as we face life in 2017 armed with grace! 

#greatgrace17

Happy Shimmering,

Megs

Get the #jammed Daily Devo sent straight to your inbox each morning, by subscribing to Sunny&80. 

Why Christmas is Even Better than You Think

I clutched the New Testament pages of my worn and highlighted Bible, as I read through the gospel of Mark. Matter of fact and quickly moving, I sped through the life of my Savior morning after morning, miracle after miracle. We so commonly know of Him, even if we don’t fully understand who He is. Those in His own hometown, including His family, thought He was crazy when He stepped out of the simple life He was born into and into His earthly ministry of miracles. 

Christmas can make us feel like we’re crazy. We abide in an ever-increasing “PC” society that refuses to give the holiday’s namesake it’s greeting. Commercialism threatens to cheapen the man that raised people from the dead and healed them miraculously. Disheartenment can drown out our holiday cheer, leaving us to feel like the kid in Home Alone …”is this a joke?” 

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The Wreath (#jammed daily devo, day 359)

December #jammed: Grace, gifted.

Day 359, Merry Christmas!

 And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born.” Luke 2:6

Merry Christmas, readers! On this morning, how can we not reflect upon the beautiful DECJAM25baby Jesus? For, as today’s verse celebrates, “the time came for her baby to be born.”

The time came! In the book of Ecclesiastes, Solomon lists that there is time for every human emotion and activity under the sun. But what we cannot ever get a grip on is God’s timing. The Author of time will reveal everything in His time.

The Christmas wreath that hangs on my door each Christmas season welcomes everyone at my doorstep into Christmas wonderland. There are baby Jesus’ and Santa’s everywhere! The Halls are Decked! But the intriguing thing about that wreath is it’s circular shape.

It’s a circle.

Christmas kicks off the biggest celebration of the circle of life in all of history. Finally, after an entire Biblical testament of prophesy, Jesus splashes onto the page in the flesh. Right on schedule. Right where God said He’d be. Just how it was supposed to be. We could study the Bible our entire lives and God would never run out of new things to reveal to us through it.

That circular wreath symbolizes everlasting life. In a circle. Whether we are running around on earth or skipping happily through heaven, life since Jesus’ birth means death isn’t the end for Christians. It’s, in fact, only the beginning.

Maybe this is the first time you’ve looked at Christmas this way. Commercialism has had you in it’s grip and you’ve succumbed to the “why are we skipping Thanksgiving for a retail holiday” hum drum. Don’t. Don’t let anything steal away from Christmas. It only can if you allow it to. Because Christmas is Christmas. It’s Jesus. It’s Him coming to earth to live and die for our sins so that we can go to heaven. It’s all about gifts. His gifts. The gifts He gave us. Grace, Heaven, to be in the presence of God, and to live with the power of the Holy Spirit inside of us.

Yes …freak out a little. It’s cool!

The Gospels of Luke and Matthew record Jesus’ birth. You can read them here (LUKE  MATTHEW) if you’re not familiar with the story. Welcome Him in to your Christmas story. Welcome Him into your life. The magic of Christmas never fades when Jesus takes up residence in our hearts.

I’d like to pray for you, specifically, today.

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Father, Praise You for Christmas, and the miraculous circle of new life that began when Jesus came down to earth. His birth means everything to us, and we thank You for sending Your one and only Son to us. Father, there are people reading this today who have never heard or read the Christmas story before. Ignite their hearts as they discover who You are through the birth of Your Son. Help them to ease into conversation with You, asking Jesus to come in and take over their lives …vowing to follow Him all the days of their lives and onto heaven. We praise You, God. Thank you for loving us for who we are, right now, and always. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

 Get the conversation started by commenting below, and let’s encourage one another as we face life in 2017 armed with grace! 

#greatgrace17

Merry Christmas!!!

Megs

Get the #jammed Daily Devo sent straight to your inbox each morning, by subscribing to Sunny&80.