Monday, March 2, 2009

Words of Encouragement

My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. – James 1:2

Count it all joy. When do I count it joy? I was listening to a song by BeBe and CeCe Winans’ called, count it all joy and I began to think about this scripture. Sometimes when we are in some situations it is easy to count it all you, but what about those times when you cannot see anything joyful about it? What about those difficult times, those hard times, those times of lack and need? When do we count it joy?

James says, “Count it all”. So how do we do that? How can I be joyful in a time that has no joy? It first must start with where we are. Are we holding so tightly to things that if something comes along and bothers it we will be affected? Are the cares of this world so foremost that we have tied our emotional stability on them? Then first we have to let go of it ALL. We have to let things go and stop trying to fix them and give away our joy in the process.

Our true joy cannot come from what we have: relationships, money stability, health, etc. Our true joy must come from the pleasure we derive from having a relationship with God. It does not mean we do not find happiness in our marriages, families, etc., but it means they cannot be the total source of our joy.

In this life we must look at our circumstances and situations as opportunities for God to show himself even greater to us. I can count all that I go through joy even when I am feeling down because those circumstances and situations do not have the final say on where I will find my pleasure. I’ll look for that trace of sunlight (or better yet SON’S Light) so that I can see clearly.

My prayer for us today is this, Lord everything may not be ours to understand so help us let go and let you take care of us. Help us to rest in you so that we can allow you to use our situations and circumstances to grow us in the midst of what seems like it would hurt us or destroy us. You are not a “wound waster”. You take even our wounds and use them to make us better. Today we pledge to give you control. Do your perfect work so that we will be lacking in nothing. Help me today, COUNT IT ALL JOY!!! We can count it all joy because you promise never to leave us or forsake us, you are right there in the midst of my storms and no circumstances or situations can move me from your love.

When the Lord turned again the captivity of Zion, we were like them that dream. Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing: then said they among the heathen, The LORD hath done great things for them. The LORD hath done great things for us; wherefore we are glad. Turn again our captivity, O LORD, as the streams in the south. They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him. – Psalm 126

Count it all joy. When you receive God’s forgiveness. The children of Israel through scripture have shown us what the patience and mercy of God really looks like. He forgives them and again they would turn to sin. In this scripture the psalmist talks about receiving the forgiveness of God.

When God releases them from the captivity caused by their sins the people have much to rejoice about. Where there was once no dream, now there is a dream to be had. When their mouths were once filled with weeping, now laughter and singing is found. Even the unsaved marveled at the good things that God did for his people. Those that were in tears receive joy for those tears. God has exchanged those seeds of bitterness for a crop of plenty. No more weeping but rejoicing.

There is something important to notice about this scripture and that is we don’t hear complaining about the punishment of the sin, but the rejoicing of forgiveness. It is important that we understand that we sometimes find ourselves in captivity or bondage because of our disobedience to God. When we do, we have to seek God’s mercy but we also have to understand we very well may have to go through the process of coming from that bondage. And when we come out of that thing, we should count it all joy because God in his mercy did not allow us to stay in the bondage but released us. We cannot be angry because our actions have causes us to be in difficult situations. I’ve heard people say when faced with financial difficulty, marital difficulty or issues with the law, “why has God allowed this to happen to me?” It is not always that God has allowed it, but that we refused to move in his direction and therefore we brought the bondage upon ourselves. Whatever the case, we should count it all joy because of the relationship we have with God. His love for us is so great that he willingly comes to get us and restore us, even if we got where we were out of our own disobedience.

I pray for us today that we rejoice in the grace extended to us. Let us be thankful for God’s forgiveness that he freely offers to us. Let us also rejoice in knowing that whatever situation we find ourselves in (our doing or not) God will not leave us there alone. He will take those tears and turn them into rejoicing. He will take the wounds and bind them up. Count it all joy; you have received the forgiveness of God.

And again he saith, Rejoice, ye Gentiles, with his people. And again, Praise the Lord, all ye Gentiles, and laud him all ye people. And again, Esaias saith, There shall be a root of Jesse, and he that shall rise to reign over the Gentiles; in him shall the Gentiles trust. Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost. Now the God of hope fill you will all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost. – Romans 14:10-13

Count it all joy. Gift of Salvation. Paul admonishes the Gentiles to rejoice in the great gift they have been given. Paul speaks the words that the prophet Isaiah spoke when he said there would be a root of Jesse that would rise and reign over the Gentiles. Jesse was king David’s father and this is the lineage of the savior. The savior came for the people of God, the Jews, but salvation was made available to everyone. Those that would accept Christ as savior would be grafted into the family of God to become the people of God.

Because of this opening up of salvation to all mankind, we can now have the joy that comes only from God. I like what the scripture says the “God of Hope”. The God of expectation, the God of trust, the God of looking forward are all titles that come from this understanding of the God of hope. We now have an expected end that we can joyfully look forward to. We can trust in God’s word and his promises because he is trustworthy. We can look forward to this new life he has given and what it entails. That which was behind, the sin and disobedience has been forgiven and now we can be filled with the joy and peace of the Lord.

Oh what a glorious future we have! We can continue to abound in hope, joy and peace through the working of the Holy Spirit within our lives. Today I pray for us to continue forward with the God that takes us forward. God does not take us backwards, so we should stop trying to go back into that which we have been delivered from. Stop trying to go back in to “Egypt” because the wilderness seems too hard and we have forgotten just how difficult our bondage was. Stop trying to turn back to what you had and like Lot’s wife turn into a pillar of salt. We surely can get “salty” when we think about what we have to let go of at times. So instead today Lord we ask you to help us look forward and count all things joy because we have been given a new chance, a new life and a new start.