Choose Joy

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. 

© Shannon Elizabeth Grabrick and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

…for the joy of the Lord is your strength. – Nehemiah 8:10

Out With the Old Self

The rhododendron on the side of our house is an interesting illustration of death and new life. It seems that perhaps it is two plants growing Out With the Old Self 1so closely together, that their branches are intertwined. Last week, there were fuchsia-colored blooms. Now, those formerly lovely bursts of color, hang lifeless and void of color. However, this week there are new blooms in a pretty pink, beginning to open.

 

Our old life may have seemed appealing, until we discovered just how lifeless and void of color it really was without Christ. Being stuck in the bonds of sin, we had no hope to escape our patterns, without Christ coming in. Yet, while we were still stuck in that space, He pursued us, and brought people around us to present the truth. As we opened our hearts and lives to all that He had to offer, we were set free from our sin and given new life. For we know that our old self was crucified with Him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin. – (Romans 6:6)

 

He took all of our sin upon Himself as He hung on the cross, so that we would be set free from our sinful nature and given a helper (the Holy Spirit) to lead us into a new life, free from the bondage of sin. Though we will still make mistakes, and fall short, we may go to God and ask for His forgiveness, as He grants us grace anew. Knowing what He has done, propels us to seek to live a life that honors Him who has set us free. May we be slaves to righteousness, as we are united with Him.

 

Gone are the old ways,Out With the Old Self 2

they’ve been crucified;

the sin, scorn and shame,

with Jesus, they died.

And just as He rose,

His life was restored;

in Him we shall find,

His grace is outpoured.

If we choose to seek,

we surely shall find;

freedom from our sin,

the hope for mankind.

Let’s give Him our chains,

for in Him, we’re free;

all honor to Christ,

the King of Glory.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You bore all of our sin and shame, so that we would no longer be slaves to our sinful nature, but that we could instead, live unto You. Thank You that this is not something that we are meant to do on our own, but rather You gave us Your Holy Spirit to be our help. Thank You too, that You call us to be a body, supporting one another in community, so that each can be challenged, encouraged and held up as we pursue You with our whole hearts. Forgive us for taking lightly the enormity of Your sacrifice, and help us to recognize in awe, the magnitude of Your grace. Let us live and love in such a way, that our gratitude is evident to all whom we encounter. May many come to know Your amazing grace, and enter into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified, O God. Amen.

© Shannon Elizabeth Moreno and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present.

Father, I thank You that You have heard me. – John 11:41