Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Philippians 4:4 NIV
Rejoicing is the theme of the book of Philippians, even though the circumstances with which it was written seems to hold no reason to rejoice.
The Apostle Paul is under house arrest in Rome waiting to go before Caesar. He is cut off from his friends and chained to a guard 24 hours a day. He is not comfortable and knows that he will probably be executed.
As Jesus’ followers, joy is not contingent on circumstances, it bursts through in spite of them.
Are you missing out on joy today because you are waiting for your circumstances to warrant it?
Don’t wait one second more, joy is a fruit of the Spirit, not the fruit of your circumstances (Galatians 5:22).
Receive the gift, invite some friends over and throw a joy party!
“For this reason, I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God,which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love, and self-discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:6-7 NIV
In California, we had a fireplace in our little living room that we would use to warm the house during the few cold, damp winter months. I loved the warmth but what I really loved was the ambiance that it created. I loved how it looked but had a terrible time keeping it going. My husband was fabulous at it. I would watch him carefully build it, pay attention to it, poke at it, feed it and adjust it until it was a blazing fire warming the whole house. There were days when he would get the fire started for me in the morning and then leave. I would gaze into the flames for a few minutes and then get engrossed in writing. I would forget about the fire until I realized it was only a smoldering pile of half-burnt wood. It gave me an appreciation of what “fanning the flame” means.
When God gives you a gift, it comes as a spark. A small light with great potential but will not grow unless it is fed, prodded, poked and paid attention to.
Jesus gives your gifts to you.
He expects you to fan it into a fire.
God gives you the gift but you grow it.
God knows that fear is the number one reason we don’t step out in faith and use the gifts He has given us, so He gives us something more powerful than fear: He gives us Himself.
His gives us His presence.
And with His presence comes:
Don’t focus on your fear, my friend.
Focus on the wonderful Spirit of God within you to help you fan the flame of what has been given to you.
“But the angel reassured them, saying, “Don’t be afraid. For I have come to bring you good news, the most joyous news the world has ever heard! And it is for everyone everywhere! For today in Bethlehem a rescuer was born for you. He is the Lord Yahweh, the Messiah. – Luke 2:10-11 TPT
I imagine that the morning after Jesus’ birth was quiet for Mary and Joseph.
I’m sure they were tired.
They probably didn’t sleep well.
How long did it take for the shepherds to find them?
Did they come before or after dawn?
What did Mary and Joseph think as the shepherds told them of the angels who couldn’t keep the news to themselves? What did they think of heaven’s declaration that a rescuer was born and he was the Lord Yahweh, Messiah?
I don’t know what your Christmas Morning has looked like today but I pray that hope steals it’s way into your heart like the light broken through the darkness when the multitude of angels burst into celebration the night Jesus was born.
Jesus came to bring you hope.
To love you, to know you, to save you, to heal you.
Today ask for His help when you need it.
Jesus will never run out of grace and mercy – He is the eternal supply.
The world looks so different this year than it did last year and no matter what your Christmas Eve happens to be, my prayer for you is that you will celebrate the deep joy of being a redeemed child of God with full access to His presence.
I am so thankful that God’s presence is not limited to a location, a time or a place.
He is not limited by anything and nothing can separate you from Him.
“So now I live with the confidence that there is nothing in the universe with the power to separate us from God’s love. I’m convinced that his love will triumph over death, life’s troubles, fallen angels, or dark rulers in the heavens. There is nothing in our present or future circumstances that can weaken his love. There is no power above us or beneath us—no power that could ever be found in the universe that can distance us from God’s passionate love, which is lavished upon us through our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One!”
Romans 8:38-39 TPT
The great orator of a century past, Charles Spurgeon, says it well, “Let gladness rule the hour” as we celebrate the great gift of the Savior born in a manger tonight:
“We esteem every day alike, but still, as the season suggests thoughts of Jesus, let us joyfully remember our dear Redeemer’s glorious birth. Who but He was ever longed for by such a multitude of hearts? When did angels indulge in midnight songs, or did God hang a new star in the sky? To whose, cradle did rich and poor make so willing a pilgrimage, and offer such hearty and unsought oblations? Well, may earth rejoice; well may all men cease their labor to celebrate “the great birthday” of Jesus. Let gladness rule the hour; let the holy song and sweet heart music accompany our soul in the raptures of joy.
There is far more to your life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body. Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God. And you count far more to him than birds.”
Matthew 6:25, 26 MSG
Life with God is about being filled with His love and then pouring it out on all those around you.
It is worshipping Him when we wake, when we walk, when we clean, when we work, when we eat, when we get dressed.
It is knowing you are saved by grace and reconciled to Him because of the sacrifice of Jesus.
It is knowing He loves you because you are His kid and He enjoys spending time with you.
My friend, you are a child of God who is cherished, chosen and provided for.
Live in the freedom of His love.
Live care-less in the care of God.
Live more in this truth and less in the lie that you are valued because of what you look like, eat, wear or do.
This life, this love, this security comes from Jesus and is unshakable.
I remember a time a few years ago when I was discouraged and heartbroken.
My hopes had been swept away by a flood of circumstances fueled by other people’s choices and actions. I chose integrity but no one else saw it that way. My character was questioned. My reputation was shredded and I could do nothing about it.
I could only walk forward into a future that I had not anticipated or imagined.
I clung to Jesus. I grabbed hold of the promise that He would never leave me or forsake me. I tried to trust that He could redeem the circumstances as I watched everything we had built crumble around us. I tried and failed. I couldn’t find trust or hope within my soul, only heartbreak and fear.
Psalm 119:116 became the words I held onto:
“Sustain me, my God, according to your promise, and I will live; do not let my hopes be dashed.”
One morning I got up early and took a walk. We were living in Las Vegas and my neighborhood edged the desert by the Red Rock. With worship music loaded on my iPod, I set out to pray and breathe in the presence of God.
As I turned the corner out of my neighborhood and onto the desert road behind it the song “Great is Thy Faithfulness” began. The sun was just rising over Red Rock Canyon and it was so beautiful that I almost dropped to my knees. I heard God’s whisper in my heart, “Hold on. Your hopes are not lost. I am faithful to complete what I have started in you. I will sustain you through this and strengthen you in it. My faithfulness knows no end.”
It was a turning point for me. I carried that promise through a time that got harder long before it got better.
Hold on, my friend, your hopes are not lost.
Jesus is faithful to complete what He started in you.