Sunday, February 14, 2016

Patience and Perseverance

Hello, bloggy friends!
How was your week? I experienced a few pleasant events, with some very difficult days in between. I think I'm finding this to be my perpetual answer to that question for several weeks, now. Even when there are a few positive times, these weeks can seem long and arduous. I'm guessing that is why the Bible has so many verses about being patient and persevering.(I was reminded of a post I wrote back in September of last year called "Prayer, Patience, and Perseverance" ) So, I apologize if it seems like I start to repeat myself in my posts. I think God has a reason for re-hashing the same subject into my heart and I feel led to post about it.

My week began with having some major dental work done (I spent 2 1/2 hours at the dentist on Monday). Of course, my mouth had been sore and quite sensitive all week. On Tuesday and Wedneday, we had major snowstorms that left roads icy and drifting snow across them. So, I was homebound for 2 days. Thursday and Friday I spent with my mother and visiting with a friend. Those were better days, even though I still struggled with ongoing back pain and hormonal issues. Saturday, the hubby and I stayed in most of the day, due to freezing temps, but went out to dinner and a (very dumb)movie later on. On Sunday, I wasn't feeling up to par, as my tooth was still causing me some discomfort. We did end up going out for a few hours, but stayed home most of the day. The best part of the week, my hubby cooked me a wonderful Valentine's Day breakfast in bed!! 

As I review the week, I know that there were times of pain and suffering, but there were also moments that I found joy and felt God's presence. A few of those times included me taking time with the Lord - when I wasn't feeling well or when the weather kept me inside - and I truly began enjoying time with Him, writing in my new prayer journal, reading the Word and some pages from books I have been reading... Oh, how God uses even those difficult, frustrating, and sometimes painful moments to draw us closer to Him! 

Maybe, like me, you can look back on the past week (or month, or even year.) and see the times of struggling, persevering, and patiently waiting to get through them, times that are not pleasant at all. But, in the process, God continues to fit into our lives moments, days, or even sometimes longer periods of time where we can see God's loving hand reaching down to help us, guide us, draw us to Him. Those are awesome moments!! We tend to pay less attention to them, but they are still there in our lives.

Here are just a few verses that really stuck out to me as reminders and encouragement that patience and perseverance are sometimes difficult, but always produce a positive result.
  •  2 Peter 1:5-7 For this reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control,perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love.
  • Romans 5:4 We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.
  • James 1:12 God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.
  • Luke 11:9  “And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you."
  • James 5:11 As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.
  • Hebrews 12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
  • James 1:3-4 Because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
  • Colossians 1:10-12 So that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God Being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience. And, giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his people in the kingdom of light.

It's been a few weeks since I last shared from my gratitude list. I wanted to share those here, as well.

#1791 - Continuing to pray with my hubby each night together. What a wonderful blessing!!

#1792 - starting to write in my prayer journal and loving it, as it also draws me closer to the Lord!(A few samples below)

#1793 - my mom - I love spending time with her, now that I am not working.

#1794 - the sun shining in the window on a cold, snowy day.

#1795 - an unexpected phone call from a friend, just to say 'hi' and that she was thinking of me.

#1796 - My (usually) romantic husband, who cooked a wonderful breakfast for me!

#1797 - God's amazing love for me!!(Thinking about the greatest love on Valentines Day.)

#1798 - My son, who has made me understand how to truly love (a mother's love) unconditionally!!

As we look to the Lord in the coming week for our strength, love, joy, and peace, always remember that we:
"should ask God, who gives to all generously and without reprimand, and it will be given to him." James 1:5

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Sunday, February 7, 2016

The Joy of the Lord is Your STRENGTH!

Hello, friends! 
I definitely have felt like the past week just flew by! How about you?
Between having to get over an illness and going through more emotional upheavals with family issues, I'm almost glad for a new start of a new week!!(Except, I'd love to skip tomorrow, as I have an appointment to have crown work done on my teeth! ) I definitely needed God's strength to get me through this past week.

Because of this, though, I have found myself digging into the Word and spending lots of time reading -- I've been currently working on getting through 2 different books.

The book I've been posting on at different times is called "Happiness" - I've been reading it to help me learn more about this subject, as it is my word for 2016.
I'm learning so much about the true meaning of happiness. As I read chapters 5 (What's the Difference Between Joy and Happiness?) and 6 (Modern Studies that Confirm Biblical Happiness), there are two things that grabbed me the hardest.
1. Most Christians have grossly mis-interpreted the meaning of happiness.
2. We so often miss out on great happiness because we think it is sinful, but is happiness really that much different than joy? A dictionary definition of joy...
Watch the video below, that is a summary of these chapters by author, Randy Alcorn:

Happiness or Joy? from Randy Alcorn on Vimeo.

Another Biblical teacher and author, John Piper, writes
“If you have nice little categories for ‘joy is what Christians have’ and ‘happiness is what the world has,’ you can scrap those when you go to the Bible, because the Bible is indiscriminate in its uses of the language of happiness and joy and contentment and satisfaction.”  source

The idea that “joy is not an emotion” (a statement that unbelievably  appears online more than 17,000 times) promotes an unbiblical myth, as seen in just a few examples of Scripture:

Psalms 126:5,6

"Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy. He who continually goes forth weeping, bearing seed for sowing, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him."
 Esther 8:16 (NIV)
For the Jews it was a time of happiness and joy, gladness and honor.
Jeremiah 31:13 (HCSB)
I will turn their mourning intojoy. . . and bring happiness out of grief.
Nehemiah 8:10-11 And Nehemiah continued, “Go and celebrate with a feast of rich foods and sweet drinks, and share gifts of food with people who have nothing prepared. This is a sacred day before our Lord. Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!So the people went away to eat and drink at a festive meal, to share gifts of food, and to celebrate with great joy because they had heard God’s words and understood them.
In a previous post I wrote back in 2012, I actually wrote that I even believed that there was a difference between happiness and joy:

“We can make a distinction between joy and happiness: happiness being dependent on external circumstances, while joy is internal, a result of being controlled by the Spirit. Some people consider happiness to be a feeling dependent on circumstances and usually restricted to moments when life is going well. Joy is an inner serenity of the soul, rooted not in circumstances but in a choice to trust God’s faithfulness, regardless of what is happening externally.”(Joy is a Choice and a Decision)
Since I have been reading this book and going through many Scriptures, I'm really seeing happiness in a whole different light. Happiness is not just for the "worldly" and unsaved to enjoy. God truly wants us, His people, to be happy in our lives.

What can we be happy about?

  1. We have the gospel (the good news!) of salvation through Christ.
  2. God created us not only to glorify Him, but to also have a personal relationship with Him that is deep, satisfying, and everlasting!
  3. When we put our faith in God and let Him lead us, we can experience a supernatural peace, the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, and often have adventures that we would not seek on our own.
  4.   The human, God-given pleasures that God has provided for us here on earth - the beauty of nature, good and satisfying food to eat, the enjoyment of a loving spouse and family, fellowship with other brothers and sisters in Christ, and so much more!!
  5. Strength in Integrity (from God) - verses from a blog post by Randy Alcorn
“Whoever walks in integrity walks securely.” (Proverbs 10:9) -- What is integrity? This Hebrew word suggests completeness, wholeness, fullness. So, no compromises, and no breaches or gaps or refusals in the face of duty, but rather, saying Yes to the Lord moment by moment. 
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.  Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. . . . Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.” (Ephesians 6:10-13) -- Walking in this integrity, I walk securely, fully armed against the schemes of the devil, entirely equipped to serve my family, my church, my community in a full-hearted way.
As I thought about the past week and how weak and tired I felt...I think I will remember to seek the 'Joy of the Lord' first next time, for it is written that this is our strength (Neh. 8:10)

Randy shares his biblical definition of happiness as: 
“A state of pleasure or joy experienced both by people and by God. . . . True happiness derives from a secure and settled knowledge of God and a rejoicing in His works and covenant faithfulness.”
Happy holiness is God’s ideal for us!!
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