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Posts Tagged ‘rejoice’

Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes

James 4:13-14

Life is short. Yet we don’t live like it is. We act like it’s all about us – that everything revolves around us. We go to funerals and we say things like – “he/she had a good life”. But do we really mean that? Can we really say that person lived their life fully for the Kingdom? We make life all about our goals and accomplishments. We treat relationships as they are disposable and don’t mend them. We spend our time making a name for ourselves and gathering attention to us. I like how the book describes how we make mini-kingdoms for ourselves. But do we think about how we can vanish from this world at any time? Years after your life is over, no one will probably care.

You know, I used to have a huge struggle with what people think about me. It’s still a struggle here and there, but God has really worked in this area of my life. I would please people, defend myself, brag about my accomplishments – anything to make myself look good to people. It makes me sick that this was how I spent most of ministry life. I’m not saying I didn’t do anything for God, but a lot of it was for my glory as well. God and I were this tag team. I no longer desire a life like this – I want to live a life worthy of God’s glory. I want an epic life that reflects God’s character and how amazing He is.

Last year I took a long look at my retirement savings and decided that I wasn’t putting enough into it to live off of when I retire. I decided to restructure my budget to put more money into it. Now I feel I’m in a better place for retirement if I stay on course and make it to my late 60’s. I laugh at this statement – If I make it to my 60’s. That’s just it – there’s no guarantee that I will make it to my 60’s. I could die today. And can I say that I lived my life fully for the Kingdom? These are the questions I want to continue to ask myself as I move forward in life.

It is better to go to a house of mourning
    than to go to a house of feasting,
for death is the destiny of everyone;
    the living should take this to heart.

Ecclesiastes 7:2

This part of the book really convicted me. It made me look at how busy I can make my life.

WORRY implies that we don’t quite trust that God is big enough, powerful enough, or loving enough to take of what’s happening in our lives. 

STRESS says that the things we are involved in are important enough to merit our impatience, our lack of grace toward others, or our tight grip of control.

Basically, these two behaviors communicate that it’s okay to sin and not trust God because the stuff in my life is somehow exceptional. Both worry and stress reek of arrogance. They declare our tendency to forget that we’ve been forgiven, that our lives here are brief, that we are headed to a place where we won’t be lonely, afraid, or hurt ever again, and that in the context of God’s strength, our problems are small, indeed.

Why are we so quick to forget God? Who do we think we are?

Philippians 4:4 says to Rejoice in the Lord always. We are to obey God and follow His ways. He doesn’t expect us to change the world or try as hard as we can. We need to trust that He is in control and depend on Him.

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Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Matthew 5:10-12

Here are some facts about this Beatitude. It is the last and longest Beatitude. Jesus gets personal with it because He is directing it to a particular audience. He doesn’t downplay it at all and repeats it. It has a commandment and it goes from third person to second. Jesus states the inedible – if you follow Him, you will get persecuted. But He also says that if we are persecuted, we are blessed.

I love this quote from Keith Stewart “If you want to follow Jesus, you better look good on wood.”

 “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also.

John 15:18-20

Persecution comes from following Jesus, not from making irresponsible choices – there is a difference. Meek people choose their response, not by reacting to their circumstances. People will always push our buttons and we have a choice to respond in the way Christ would. When we are persecuted, we are persecuted because the world hates Christ, not us. Understand that Jesus feels our pain (Acts 9:9 – Jesus asks Saul why he is persecuting Him, not Christians). When we take matters in our own hands, we take them out of God’s hands. We can never get ahead by getting even (Romans 12:21). Just know that no one can take away our God-honoring response.

Jesus never enjoyed His sufferings. Rejoice in your sufferings doesn’t mean to enjoy them. Rejoice goes back to the source of joy despite what is going on. We can hate pain, but like the results it brings us. 1 Peter 4:14 asked the question if the world sees God in us and through our trials. Remember – all the disciples died of persecution.

Cassie Bernall was killed in the Columbine massacre for her faith. Here is a poem she wrote before she died:

Now I have given up on everything else
I have found it to be the only way
To really know Christ and to experience
The mighty power that brought
Him back to life again, and to find
Out what it means to suffer and to
Die with him. So, whatever it takes
I will be the one who lives in the fresh
Newness of life of those who are
Alive from the dead
– Cassie Bernall

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