Saturday, May 28, 2011

"Count it all Joy"

Some thoughts of mine from a study I'm doing with my homeschooling Mom friends on James.

James 1:1-11 (New King James Version)

1 James, a bondservant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ,

 To the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad: 

Greetings.2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. 6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. 

9 Let the lowly brother glory in his exaltation, 10 but the rich in his humiliation, because as a flower of the field he will pass away. 11 For no sooner has the sun risen with a burning heat than it withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beautiful appearance perishes. So the rich man also will fade away in his pursuits.
 
 I find these verses tremendously encouraging.  Trials are a part of this sinful world we find ourselves in, and yet, God uses them to not only make us "perfect" in Him, but to bless us and teach us and take us to our knees, where we should be anyway, to seek Him for direction and wisdom and yes, blessings.   

While I was reading this passage and the comments, I couldn't help thinking of these verses in Matthew 7:7-11

 " Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.  Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone?  Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!"

I especially think about how God is our loving Father, who only wants the very best for us. 

I also think about how, as I pray, God moves in my heart to trust Him and not doubt Him.  It often takes time in prayer, and God seems to fill me with confidence.  Even if I don't get the "outcome" I am looking for. 

I have also been thinking about the verses in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18,

"Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. "

These seem to go with the "count it all joy" idea.  I can think of no time in my life that this was harder than when we lost our daughter.  I don't talk about it much, but it seems appropriate here.  She died the Saturday before Thanksgiving several years ago.  While, of course, it was incredibly hard, I am so thankful that God planned events the way he did.  When Thanksgiving day rolled around, and I knew the above verses, and knowing that joy and rejoicing were a choice, not a "happy" emotion, I spent time in the bathroom, on the floor, crying and just verbally thanking God for every little thing that had happened.  In so doing, God was able to minister to me and remind me that he has a plan and is in control.  It brought me great comfort and freedom.

While this is a severe situation, sometimes I think I forget to chose to be thankful in the little trials.  I get irritated, etc., instead of "counting it all joy".  And, somehow, by counting it all joy, I think that helps take away the doubt, freeing me to ask God with sincerity.  It is a process and it is difficult, and yet, therein my faith is renewed and God is able to bless freely...even in the midst of a trial....

Would that I would ALWAYS count it all joy!

Monday, May 9, 2011

"Listen to the Sound"

A friend on facebook shared this today and it encouraged me...so, passing it on..
may it encourage you too!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xx0rznLvYUo&feature=player_embedded

Are you in over your head
Are you in water so deep you're drowning
Do you think you've been left
And there is no one to feel your hurting
Well, everybody has been there
...And everybody's felt lost
If you're in over your head
Lift it up, lift it up

Oh, listen to the sound of hope that's rising
Up over your horizon
Listen to the sound, listen to the sound
And listen to the sound of a new beginning
Oh, this is where the old is ending
Listen to the sound, listen to the sound

I hear you say you're alone
I hear you saying that you'll never make it
I've got to tell you you're wrong
'Cause I have been down this path you're taking
You never know what faith is
'Til you don't understand
Sometimes it takes a silence
To finally hear His plan

Oh, listen to the sound of hope that's rising
Up over your horizon
Listen to the sound, listen to the sound
And listen to the sound of a new beginning
Oh, this is where the old is ending
Listen to the sound, listen to the sound

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound
I once was lost, but now I'm found
Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound
I once was lost, but now I'm found

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound
I once was lost, but now I'm found
Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound
I once was lost, but now I'm found

Oh, listen to the sound of hope that's rising
Up over your horizon
Listen to the sound, listen to the sound
And listen to the sound of a new beginning
Oh, this is where the old is ending
Listen to the sound, listen to the sound

His Grace is reaching for us
His Grace is reaching out
Listen to the sound, listen to the sound
Wherever you are

His Grace is reaching for us
His Grace is reaching out
Listen to the sound, listen to the sound
Wherever you are

Sunday, May 8, 2011

"Sweet Hour of Prayer"

I've been honored to be able to study the book of Habakkuk with a group of online friends that has become quite a community.  Anyway, I was particularily encouraged by this week's study on Habakkuk 3 and thought I would share my thoughts with you all as well.  I also want to preface it with the following verse from Habakkuk 1:5.  Hoping you all enjoy the relationship we have  or can have with our creator!

"Look among the nations! Observe!
Be astonished! Wonder!
Because I am doing something in your days--
You would not believe if you were told."



Habakkuk 3



As I read the following verses, I was thrilled and filled with excitement
and expectancy...looking forward to the future!

3God comes from Teman,
And the Holy One from Mount Paran Selah
His splendor covers the heavens,
And the earth is full of His praise.
4His radiance is like the sunlight;
He has rays flashing from His hand,
And there is the hiding of His power.

These verses encouraged my heart once again...surely the Word of God is
living and active, seeing how the same verses can move my heart, emotions, being..

17Though the fig tree should not blossom
And there be no fruit on the vines,
Though the yield of the olive should fail
And the fields produce no food,
Though the flock should be cut off from the fold
And there be no cattle in the stalls,
18Yet I will exult in the LORD,
I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.
19The Lord GOD is my strength,
And He has made my feet like hinds' feet,
And makes me walk on my high places.

I think the book of Habakkuk is so exciting because it shows the human process in response to life. It show how he struggles with the things that God allows, but I think one of the important things is that he brings it to the Lord. As he does, we see how God brings truths to mind and reassures Habakkuk of who God is, that He (the Lord) is in charge, that He is trustworthy, that He has a bigger plan. Sometimes, I "know" these things, but, until I labor in prayer, wrestle even, I think I often miss God and His gentle words to me, His spirit reassuring me.

I am reminded of the old hymn, which I just read through again, and it seems so applicable:

Sweet hour of prayer! sweet hour of prayer!
That calls me from a world of care,
And bids me at my Father’s throne
Make all my wants and wishes known.
In seasons of distress and grief,
My soul has often found relief,
And oft escaped the tempter’s snare,
By thy return, sweet hour of prayer!

Sweet hour of prayer! sweet hour of prayer!
The joys I feel, the bliss I share,
Of those whose anxious spirits burn
With strong desires for thy return!
With such I hasten to the place
Where God my Savior shows His face,
And gladly take my station there,
And wait for thee, sweet hour of prayer!

Sweet hour of prayer! sweet hour of prayer!
Thy wings shall my petition bear
To Him whose truth and faithfulness
Engage the waiting soul to bless.
And since He bids me seek His face,
Believe His Word and trust His grace,
I’ll cast on Him my every care,
And wait for thee, sweet hour of prayer!

Sweet hour of prayer! sweet hour of prayer!
May I thy consolation share,
Till, from Mount Pisgah’s lofty height,
I view my home and take my flight.
This robe of flesh I’ll drop, and rise
To seize the everlasting prize,
And shout, while passing through the air,
“Farewell, farewell, sweet hour of prayer!”
www.youtube.com/watch?v=K7KEntVbaCY&feature=related