REJOICING

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Philippians 4:4 (NIV)

Are you always rejoicing or do you sometimes find it difficult to follow through on Paul’s instructions? He doesn’t tell the Philippians to rejoice sometimes, but it’s always. And he repeated himself.

The rejoicing Paul speaks about is not emotionally oriented. Like everything else we receive from God, it comes from a much deeper place that knows satisfaction and contentment in Jesus. Dependence on emotions can make us fluctuate up and down with the change of circumstance. Rejoicing in the Lord is something that we can do no matter how we feel.

Just begin with thanksgiving. Think of God’s faithfulness in everyday life. Look around at his creation. Remember all the ways he has rescued you, even when you didn’t know you needed him. Thank him for the prayers he didn’t answer according to your short-sighted vision. Before long, you’ll begin to rejoice.

Father, in your presence is fullness of joy. Cause us to relish companionship with you and give us a heart of rejoicing. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.

DISAPPOINTMENTS

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

How many times have you heard or read the above words and yet crumble at the first sign that the hoped-for raise isn’t coming? Or that the proposal you expected is nowhere in sight? Or that the dream that seemed almost within your grasp has failed to materialize—again?

Could it be that what we call “disappointments” are really “his appointments”? That he has something even better that you had planned or expected? Look back at the times in your life when a door was closed, one that you’d really wanted to enter. Do you remember that later God presented an opportunity that you’d never imagined but that was definitely his doing and his gift? Stir up your memory to remember God’s faithfulness during those times you felt let down, when your plans didn’t materialize.

During times of disappointment, we need to do three things: remember God’s faithfulness, trust him, and wait. Disappointments are really excellent opportunities to simply WAIT to see God has coming. It’s going to be good because God is good. All the time.

Father, sometimes we bend and sway with the slightest breeze when you want us to grow into oaks of righteousness. Use our disappointments to turn our eyes and hearts to you in trust. We commit ourselves to waiting on you. In our Lord’s name. AMEN.

GRATITUDE

In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. I Thessalonians 5:18 (KJV)

That day we had vaccinated 155 dogs and 17 cats as part of a vet team in another country. The hours had been long and intense, but, happily, we had been working in shade with a cool breeze.

We had been told not to expect gratitude, but still something troubled me. Only one person of all the people whose animals we had treated said thank you. That wonderful team of 28 people had given their time and expertise and had spent money to leave their comfort zone to come to help. And only one person was thankful.

The week went by as we moved to various locations with much the same response. On the final night, a local business that had provided transportation, drivers, and warehousing for the medications gave a lavish fiesta for the team complete with delicious local cuisine, entertainment, and gifts for us all. When it came time for me to receive my gift, how did I respond? I forgot to say thank you. All week long I had quizzed myself over the failure of so many who had received so much, and when I was in the same spot, I forgot.

It was easy for me to see something troubling in someone else, but when the same shoe was on my foot, I saw how easy it was to take generosity for granted. God’s standard is higher: “…to whomsoever much is given, of him shall much be required…”

Father, you have given us all so much. Forgive me for forgetting to say thank you. Work gratitude into my heart so that I remember the Source of every good gift and always express thanksgiving. In Jesus’ name. Amen.