Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! – (Philippians 4:4, NIV)
Always be filled with joy in the Lord. I will say it again. Be filled with joy. – (Philippians 4:4, ERV)
Be cheerful with joyous celebration in every season of life. Let joy overflow, for you are united with the Anointed One! – (Philippians 4:4, TPT)
After navigating the first week of school, despite all of the challenges and adjustments to an entirely new way of teaching, I find myself with a heart full of joy. God is good, all the time. Even when things are tough, He is still good. When we seek Him and look to Him to be our joy, we discover the countless ways that He is good. For me, the best thing about remote learning is my new group of kids. These sixth graders are sweet, polite, engaged, and have wonderful senses of humor. There is something to be said about keeping these great kids from too much exposure to the older kids, as they too quickly attempt to change who they are to fit in, during a “normal” school year. As I began to read the surveys that I had my students submit, my joy multiplied. From favorite family traditions to things that inspire them to do their best, these young people blessed my heart to overflowing, and joy abounds. I am reminded again and again, that God grants me joy, and fills my heart to overflowing. May we rejoice in the Lord, always, for He plants His joy deep within us, and fills our days with reason to praise.
Be cheerful. Find joy,
In each circumstance;
For the Lord grants us,
Hope and second chance.
Even in trials,
The Lord’s always good;
Grants silver lining,
His hope understood.
Each day we’re given,
Help us to rejoice;
Joy on the journey,
Is truly a choice.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You love us and bless us with Your deep-rooted joy as we seek You. Thank You that there is always a reason to rejoice in You. Forgive us for our frustration and grumbling when things become difficult. Teach us to rejoice in the hope we have in You. Show us how to love those around us in ways that spread joy in all things and all seasons. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You and rejoice in You, always. Amen.
Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. – (Ephesians 3:20-21, NIV)
With God’s power working in us, He can do much, much more than anything we can ask or think of. To Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus for all time, forever and ever. Amen. – (Ephesians 3:20-21, ERV)
Never doubt God’s mighty power to work in you and accomplish all this. He will achieve infinitely more than your greatest request, your most unbelievable dream, and exceed your wildest imagination! He will outdo them all, for His miraculous power constantly energizes you. Now we offer up to God all the glorious praise that rises from every church in every generation through Jesus Christ – and all that will yet be manifest through time and eternity. Amen! – (Ephesians 3:20-21, TPT)
There is so much to this passage. First, it is an incredible exhortation, reminding us of the infinite power that is found in Christ and His ability to work in and through us. The part of this that baffles me is that Paul wrote this letter to the church in Ephesus from prison. He had seen and continued to know and experience the amazing power of God at work in and through both himself and fellow followers of Jesus. Additionally, as Paul recognized all that God was doing, and all that He would continue to do, He was intentional to point out where all praise is due. When Paul speaks of the church, he is referring to every body of believers. The church is not a building, but rather those who join together for the common purpose of loving God and loving people. Through the love of God, so much more than we could hope or imagine, becomes possible.
In my life, after my first marriage ended, I did not think that sort of love was for me. My focus was on God and my boys, and that was all that mattered. Family and friends surrounded us, and God was faithful to be present and provide all that was needed and more. As I grew in a much deeper understanding of who He had created me to be, I did begin to hope, to dream, and to imagine what might be possible. Now, more than six years later, I am preparing to celebrate my second anniversary with the man that God knew I needed. In our nearly two years of marriage, we have had to navigate some crazy and difficult things; all of which God brought us through, by His strength – together. Each of us needed one another, as God had intended. Grace, support, encouragement and unconditional love have been tangible reminders of what God will do that extend far beyond what either of us could have hoped or imagined. That does not mean that it is all easy or smooth sailing, but we do have each other with God in the center, as He has shown us again and again how He works in and through us, and is worthy of all of our praise forever.
No matter where you find yourself, God is faithful to do exceedingly more than we could hope or imagine, especially in the midst of the difficult. May we ever lean into the Lord and give Him all of our praise, for He is faithful to strengthen, encourage, and carry us from start to finish in all situations. God can do infinitely more than we could hope or imagine, and that is reason to praise.
The power of God,
Is beyond compare;
He’s faithful always,
Love He freely shares.
A love that strengthens,
When we’re feeling weak;
As all things feel bleak.
For He’s ever near;
To carry us through,
Heartaches and our fear.
All glory to God,
Let our lives give praise;
To He who’s worthy,
For all of our days.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are our help and our hope, our strength and supply. Thank You that You are faithful to do exceedingly more than we could hope or imagine as we depend on You. Forgive us for our lack of trust, as You are faithful forever and worthy of all of our trust and praise. Continue to teach us how incredibly faithful You are, as we seek You with our lives. Show us how to love those around in ways that encourage hopes and dreams in You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we give You all glory, honor and praise forever. Amen.
How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God! – Hebrews 9:14
For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, and I know that full well. – (Psalm 139:13-14, NIV)
You formed the way I think and feel. You put me together in my mother’s womb. I praise You because You made me in such a wonderful way. I know how amazing that was! – (Psalm 139:13-14, ERV)
For You shaped me, inside and out. You knitted me together in my mother’s womb long before I took my first breath. I will offer You my grateful heart, for I am Your unique creation, filled with wonder and awe. You have approached even the smallest details with excellence; Your works are wonderful; I carry this knowledge deep within my soul. – (Psalm 139:13-14, VOICE)
I love the Psalms, as they are a space where I find much comfort. There is much raw and real in the calling out to God, followed by the recognition of who God is and how He loves. This passage is no exception, as it reminds us all that we were created intentionally, uniquely, and with purpose; down to the way that we think and feel. Perhaps I needed the reminder this morning, or maybe, it is for you. We, collectively, are known and loved and intentionally made. Our existence is for a purpose, on purpose. Each day that we draw breath, there is reason to praise; for even that is a gift not all are afforded. The way we take in our surroundings and interact with those around us, is an individual design, that has no duplicate. There is only one you, and your contributions to your surroundings are irreplaceable. It is not about being the “greatest” or the “best”, but rather embracing the beauty of God’s design as we discover we are called to be who He made us to be; nothing more, nothing less. The more that we seek and know Him, the more clearly, we come to know and understand His design for us, individually. May we take time today to thank the Lord for His intentional creation – in us, our loved ones, and for everyone with whom we interact; every work is wonderful and made with a purpose.
Designed with purpose,
Each one, fully known;
Before our first breath,
He called us His own.
Unique in design;
There’s only one you,
You’re one of a kind.
The way that you think,
Look, talk, touch and feel;
There’s no other you,
His love is for real.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You knit us together in our mother’s wombs with intentional design and purpose. Thank You that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. Forgive us for the times that we have questioned our purpose or worth. Teach us to lean into You, even in our moments of frustration or feeling lost. Show us how to love those around us well, so that they might recognize the beauty of their unique, wonderful and purposeful design, as they understand that they are loved and valued as they are. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we thank You and praise You that You know us and that You designed us each with purpose, on purpose. Amen.
But let all who take refuge in You be glad; let them sing for joy. Spread Your protection over them, that those who love Your Name may rejoice in You. – (Psalm 5:11, NIV)
But let those who trust in You be happy forever. Protect and strengthen those who love Your Name. – (Psalm 5:11, ERV)
But let those who run to You for safety be glad they did; let them break out in joyful song. May You keep them safe – their love for You resounding in their hearts. – (Psalm 5:11, VOICE)
Having a refuge, a space of safety, grants us reason to rejoice and be glad. Just as there is nothing quite so sweet at the end of a long day as going home and relaxing in the comfort of one’s own space with the people who love them best, there is peace that comes when we run to our Redeemer to be our Comforter, Protector and Provider. He protects and strengthens those who seek Him, and His loving kindness grants reason to rejoice. May we ever take refuge in the Lord, for He is our strength and our salvation; and as we seek Him, we are filled with gladness by His love.
Mom is still working hard at her new outpatient therapies. Her favorite is when she has all three therapies (physical, occupational and speech), on the same day. When that trifecta of tough is on her day’s schedule, she tends to sleep really well at night. The most challenging therapy for mom is speech, as they have narrowed down the area most affected by the stroke, and are specifically focused on such. She is embracing the challenge, and we are all looking forward to gathering to celebrate Christmas together soon. It is a joy to pick up on the little things, as when I called yesterday morning, mom was walking around the house, opening window shades, and was able to pause and answer the phone. I was incredibly impressed, as that is a bit of a juggling act with a walker and one uncooperative arm. Yet another testament to her resilience and determination as she keeps working to regain her strength.
Seek safety in God,
For He is our strength;
A refuge in storms,
Who’ll go to great lengths.
For there is no place,
That God cannot go;
To bring peace and joy,
Make His great grace known.
Sing of His goodness,
With thanks, let us raise;
Throughout all our days.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are our refuge and our strength. Thank You that You are our joy and reason to praise. Forgive us for not seeking You in the storms, or for not giving praise where praise is due. Teach us to run to You, always. Show us how to love those around us in ways that extend Your safety, peace, strength, and blessing. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for Your loving kindness that loves, protects and blesses us throughout all our days. Amen.