“Rejoice Anyhow!”

 

Walking through life, sometimes it is hard to find joy in the midst of all we are going through.  When our eyes take in all that is around us, it is so easy for despair to take over and leave us with the feeling of dread for the days ahead.

But, as a child of God, we don’t have to dread what we see or what’s ahead.  Our Lord is always in charge even when our circumstances seem awry.  And, He is always our reason to rejoice when we see nothing better and when we can’t figure how all this will turn out.

The Bible is replete with the stories of real-life characters who faced challenging times and still had a praise on their lips and worship in their hearts.  People who found it in themselves to still rejoice in spite of.  Job, a man who’s suffering we are well acquainted with, after finding out he lost everything, still found it within him to bless the name of the Lord, saying, “Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord, ” (Job 1:21).  When David’s son died, he rose from that heart-wrenching circumstance, went into the house of the LORD, and worshipped (2 Samuel 12:20).   When Paul and Silas found themselves beaten and put into prison for proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Rather than sulk about all they were going through, at midnight, the Bible tells us, they “prayed, and sang praises unto God,” (Acts 16:25).  

We may, at times, feel down, but our circumstances do not determine our praise.  We can still rejoice regardless of what we are experiencing and what we see before us.

Beginning in chapter 3 of Habakkuk, we find him praying, “O Lord, I have heard thy speech, and was afraid: O Lord, revive thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known; in wrath remember mercy” (Hab. 3:2), regarding deserved judgment and yet, praying for mercy in the midst of it all.  As he continues to pray he also notes God’s greatness and His mighty deeds; stating everything from “His glory covered the heavens,” (Hab” 3:3) to “The mountains saw thee, and they trembled,” (Hab. 3:10).  He also prayed and noted, “Thou didst march through the land in indignation, thou didst thresh the heathen in anger.  Thou wentest forth for the salvation of thy people, even for salvation with thine anointed…” (Hab. 3:12-13a).

As Habakkuk prayed, he noted all the greatness of God, not only in what He does in the earth but also in what He does for His people and their salvation and deliverance.

With that, he settled in his soul, “Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines: the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation,” (Habakkuk 3:17-18).

In other words, “I may not see the fruit of it right now, but I will rejoice anyhow!” The situation may look like a failure according to human standards, “But, I still find a reason to praise!”  When there seems to be no profit coming from the work and the land seems barren before me, they are not my source.  God is my source and I say,  “Yet, I still glory in my God!”  When my house seems empty and without,  as long and I have Him, I have everything my soul and my life needs, therefore, “I will rejoice!”

I still have to lift His name on high!  I still stand in awe of who He is in my life.  I can still “joy in the God of my salvation!”  My situation may not look right, but my God does! He is the same today, yesterday and forevermore, (Heb. 13:8).  His Word declares, “They shall perish, but thou shalt endure… But thou art the same, and thy years shall have no end. The children of thy servants shall continue, and their seed shall be established before thee,” (Psalm 102:26-28, emphasis mine).  Man may change.  Circumstances may change.  This world may change, but God never changes.  He is from everlasting to everlasting and He has His children in the palm of His hands!

So yes, we have a reason to rejoice.   Each of us has a reason to joy in the God of our salvation!  God is for His people! He establishes His people.  He is keeping His people.  Even if it doesn’t look like we think it should look, we know that He has us and we can rejoice!

Put a praise on it! Show your confidence in God through your praise!  Though it may look messed up, get with the psalmist and say, “I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth,” (Ps. 34:1).  Rejoice anyhow!

If they’re talking about you, scorning you, and treating you bad because you live the just lifestyle, because you are determined to go with God until the end, that’s okay!  Jesus said, “Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven…” (Lk. 6:23).  Rejoice anyhow!

If it seems your world is spinning out of control, rejoice anyhow!

If things aren’t working the way you planned, rejoice anyhow!

If contentions seem to be too common in your day, rejoice anyhow!

God is not blind to what His people are going through.  He is faithful, and He is our confidence in the midst of it all.  As long as God is on the throne (and He always will be), His people will always have a reason to find joy regardless of everything they are going through.  Our circumstances are never the last word of authority when it comes to the child of God.  It’s His greatness and His glory that we praised earlier.  It’s because of Him that mountains tremble and enemies are subdued.  He is our trust, even in the hardest times.  He is our hope, even if all looks hopeless.  He is our source of all the joy we feel on the inside because, by Him, we are saved.  Through Him, we are held forevermore and our salvation is secured.  And He is ALWAYS for His people!

Therefore, Rejoice anyhow!

“Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines: the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation.” Habakkuk 3:17-18

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Devotion – “Making it Home Safely”

When you’ve been traveling on the highway for hours the journey gets daunting.  You see people lose patience with one another and make reckless moves to avoid adding extra minutes in traffic.

Witnessing this over and over again, in my head I thought to myself, “I’m just trying to make it home safely.”  Yes, it’s hard and my body aches from the hours of sitting.  Yes, I want to get through the jumbled mess of cars just as bad as anybody else but if carelessness and not paying attention while driving distract me or anyone else from the task at hand, it may prevent me from getting to where I want to be.

Our daily lives and decisions mark the path for us more than we know.  If we are rushing about, handling life haphazardly, distractions and reckless behavior may cause major upsets in the flow of the ride, preventing us from our desired destination.

Jesus said, “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (Mark 8:36).  What amount of distractions and desires are worth missing out on heaven for?  What reckless lifestyle will cause you to trade off what awaits you up ahead in glory?

I don’t know about you, but I’m just trying to make it home safely.  There are many things that the enemy will use to take our affection and focus off of our heavenly home.  But, my friends, the promise that lies before us is too great to miss out on.  Imagine when that day comes to stand before God face to face.  Imagine if you will, there we will be sitting at the feast table and sharing in a heavenly celebration with noted characters from God’s Holy Word.  Can you imagine seeing Jesus for yourself?!

Oh, there is something so special about that holy destination that words from the human tongue fail to give it it’s proper due.  But, in my heart and in my mind I long for that place too much to let things down here stand in the way.

Do you have a yearning for heaven?  Do you desire to bask in the glory of God as His countenance shines down on you?   Do you long for peace and joy inexpressible which will fill your being at knowing you have made it over?  The Holy Scriptures encourages us of that eternal dwelling, stating, “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him,” (1 Corinthians 2:9).

The journey may be rough at times, but the destination is sweet and, “I’m just trying to make it home safely.”

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“God’s Voice Over All!”

Faith has never been about or worked by seeing what it is believing for first. Faith works independently of the visible. What true faith does is it grabs hold of and grounds itself with confidence that says, if God said it, that’s what I choose to believe. If His Word promotes something as true, then it must be true. End of discussion.

And yet, a discussion is often what we deal with. It comes through voices and ideas that speak contrary to what faith was hoping for. It speaks against what faith was believing for.

Today, refuse to enter those discussions. If “faith is the substance of things hoped for” then we must be mindful of what conversations are feeding our faith.  Communications with others, or even within one’s own self that speak doubt will sow seeds of discord against what God’s Word has already spoken to be true.

Refuse their arguments and hold on to that pull of God, that drawing of His voice that says, to just trust Him.  Trust what He says. Trust that His conversation, written in His Holy Book, is the one we need to draw an attentive ear to.  

If they could, many conversations of this world will pull you from His conversation of truth. But, hold on to what God says, dear friend, as if it is your life preserver in these tumultuous waves. Because it is.

If you keep your heart steadfastly focused on Him you will not soon be moved. Just as sure as He is, so are the beautiful things His Word promises us.

Where have you placed your confidence today? From upon what have you built your foundation of faith? Whose conversation is your ear giving more time to? And, whose words are feeding and supporting all that you believe?

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for.” Conversations contrary to that supporting faith – turn a deaf ear to, for they are not nourishing you where you need to be nourished. Those words are not building you where you need to be built.

Refuse their invitation to get involved with them, because when you are a child of God, what the Father speaks is what I need to hear the most. The best support system one can find, who is truly trying to live a life of faith, is going to be found in what God affirms as true in His Word. Get into agreement with Him.  Get into agreement with what He declares for your life and over your life, and avoid all other toxic discussions, for they will not profit you or your spiritual journey. 

Draw near to what God says.  Take every bit of it to heart and build your faith upon it.  In His Word resides the confirmation of everything you need. In His speaking, your faith will be made strong.   

~Blessings!

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“Spotlighting God!”

The construction of the temple had been completed. Years of preparation and work have finally seen the fruit of its success. The dedicated things were brought in. The ark of the covenant of the LORD is put in its proper place. And, the trumpets and singers are making one joyful sound of praise and thanksgiving.

King Solomon then turns to the people and says, “Blessed be the LORD God of Israel, who hath with his hands fulfilled that which he spake with his mouth to my father David,” (2 Chronicles 6:4).

Friends, in all that we do from day to day. In our grand successes, or daily, mundane jobs, it is so important to recognize that it is God’s hands, it is His moving in our lives that allow us to do what we do.

The Bible tells us, “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God,” (1 Corinthians 10:31). In everything He has privileged us to do and be, we are to be magnifiers of His glory. We are to make sure the spotlight is on our Heavenly Father. All the activities of our lives are to bring glory to God.

“And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him,” (Colossians 3:17). Bless God. In all your works and deeds, say, “Lord, I thank You!” Recognize that He has honored us with the privilege, power, and strength to do what we do, taking no glory for our own.

King Solomon could have erroneously made the dreadful mistake of many in great authority, and he could have attributed the success of building the temple, and all that he performed and acquired to his own glory. He could have praised himself and pumped up his own name for a job well done.  But, he didn’t.

In all the trumpeting. In all the singing. In all the celebrating, he celebrated God. He knew that it was God’s hands on his life that allowed him to do what he did. He knew it was nothing he could have accomplished on his own.

In everything we do, the greatest thing we can do is bring the focus where it rightfully belongs: on God the Father. Make His praises known. Acknowledge His hand and work in what you do. Bless His name for He is the one who has allowed to us do what we do, whether it be of meager beginnings or great successes.

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One day, this will all be over!

Your tears matter to God and we have a promise that they’ll all be gone! In this day of ours, tears may be your meat day and night (see Psalm 42:3) and they may be remembered and recorded as precious cries in a bottle (Psalm 56:8), but in that day, all vestiges of sorrow will be humbled before the Divine. No evidence left; no, not a trace, of what once afflicted your soul when He comes with His loving touch and brushes them all away. It won’t be in our new heavenly destination!  One day, this will all be over!

“And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” Revelation 21:4

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“Yet Again!”

There is something special about the word again.  It can be a word that adds to your life or takes away.  It can be a word of blessing, or it can also become annoying and tiresome when used in a certain way.  For instance, pushing a child on a swing or giving them a horsey-back ride.   While it is all fun and games, and as parents and grandparents we love the joy filled with their pleas for “again”, after so many times of hearing it, that child has more energy than you do and you are tired and don’t want to hear the word “again”, again.  The repetition of the plea wears you down.

In other areas of our lives, there are repetitions of “again” that wear us down as well.  Unwelcoming feelings of disappointment and hurt keep invading your life like waves crashing on the seashore.  Coming again and again – like the very erosion you witness on beaches because of the constant pounding of waves – we feel that eat away at us and we are bewildered, scratching our heads and questioning “again?”.

The year 2020 has left many people scratching their heads, wondering in their minds “again?”  It seemed like every month that went by some new tragedy or national, and even global event was transpiring that shook the foundation of many people, making them question, “What now?” and “Where do we go from here?”

If you have ever seen those demonstrations of a mouse in a maze you get a sense of how frustrating it is for the animal.  It feels like it is going through all these different channels and passageways only to come to another blocked exit, another place that says you are not getting out of this.  That’s a trapped feeling.  One of hopelessness. 

Many today are dealing with those same feelings.  Feelings that make it seem no matter which way one turns, there is a hand held up, signaling for you to stop, suggesting you are not allowed beyond this point.  Turning toward another path or another decision, and there’s another sign saying access denied.  Over and over again, running into these blockades is frustrating, feeling there’s no way out, and left wondering “again?”.

In 2 Kings 19 and its parallel chapter located in 2 Chronicles 32, we see King Hezekiah dealing with some of these “again?” moments when Sennacherib, king of Assyria, comes against Jerusalem to besiege it. 

Being besieged is when you are trapped on all sides.  It is being totally surrounded, and like that mouse in a maze, there is no way out.

This was a part of warfare.  They would totally enclose a city giving little to no options of recuperating on their own.  Either the people could stay walled up in the city and eventually starve because there’s no way in and no way out for goods to be transported.  They could be killed in the city when the enemy broke through.  Or they could come out with their hands up and accept a life of captivity in the enemy’s land. 

None of these options were very appealing.  And for Hezekiah, after initiating great spiritual reforms for his people, after demolishing all the evil practices in the land, after re-establishing true worship of the one and only true God – this all must have been very confusing of why this?  Why now?  Why him?  Why again?

Did you know that even when you do right, sometimes things can still go wrong (at least according to how we see it)?  There are too many Bible verses that let us know that we, as God’s people, are not exempt from trouble.  Jesus said, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world,” (John 16:33).  1 Peter says, “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:” (4:12). 

What was happening with Hezekiah wasn’t strange either.  When you work to detach your life and people from the enemy’s clutches, there is always going to be resistance. 

What do you do when you’ve done all that you know to be right and the enemy is still persisting?

Hezekiah did what we all should do.  When faced with the challenge before him, he sought the LORD for help (2 Kings 19:1, 14-19; 2 Chronicles 32:20).

God’s response is recorded in 2 Kings 19:29-34.  What the enemy put his hands on to destroy, God was bringing a “yet again” moment.  2 Kings 19:30 records, “And the remnant that is escaped of the house of Judah shall yet again take root downward, and bear fruit upward” (bold emphasis added).  This “remnant” had current, future, and future, future inspirations attached to it.  

When God is involved, “again” doesn’t come with anxiety attached to it.  “Again” wasn’t coming with heartache involved in it.  “Again” wasn’t a signal for more despair and a more wearing out of His people.

“Again” was coming with promise!  Again, was coming, telling you what you see today is not how your story will end.  Again, was coming to let you know that not only are you coming out of this siege – not only is the trap that has been holding you in going to let you go – but there is also going to be some re-rooting and regrowing taking place among God’s people (2 Kings 19:30).

“Yet again.”  God saw past the circumstances that currently surrounded His people.  Not only did and does He see past the current stuff, but He sees past the future stuff.  He knew everything they were dealing with and would deal with in the future, and what He spoke over them and to them was for a time of restoration.  A time of being re-rooted.  And a time of new growth upwards.

Although we can sometimes associate the word “again” in some of those tiresome ways previously discussed, with God, “again” brings with it a breath of new hope.

As we begin this new year many need to hear that breath of new hope breathing “yet again.”  We have crossed over into 2021, and that means not only are we in a new day, but we are in a new year.  And while we are here, we have hope for a new “again”. 

I have recognized in my own life areas where I need to be re-rooted that so that new growth can begin growing upwards.  As with the beginning of any new year, the idea of new and restoration and beginning again speaks something special to me personally.  I feel new energy, a new awakening within me to do more, to reinitiate some stuff in some areas, and to seek new growth in other areas.  To, all in all, do more and do better in the year to come.

I thank God for His “again” moments He has given me.  With His new graces and mercies, and with this new year, we can begin again right where we are.  Our circumstances may not be perfect according to some, but as long as we are walking with Him, and His Spirit is guiding our life, our “yet again” can be something unbelievably beautiful to behold.

Ultimately, these moments we take to walk with Him and realign our lives to His purposes will lead us to live in eternity with God forever.  Until then, let your “yet again” work something beautiful in the time He has given us today, and for this year. 

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