Choose Joy

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                  “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” – Philippians.4:4

In most cases, even us Christians have fluctuating feelings depending on our situations. These are God given feelings. God has given us all these feelings of happiness, sadness, love, empathy and even anger and hatred. It’s just a matter of how we use them, that makes it a holy/unholy behaviour. For example, we are meant to hate sin, we are meant to be angry when we see injustice or something wrong. It’s also about what we do with those feelings; whether we act on them or just feel them and stay quiet. 

Today’s subject however, focuses on joy and happiness. This is what God has been teaching me. For the major part of my life, in fact right up to recently, i didn’t understand the difference. 

Now as the Holy Spirit taught me to meditate on this, I learnt that happiness is conditional, but rejoicing is a decision. Situations determine whether we feel happy or sad. For example, if something bad happens, you’re bound to feel sad or upset and something great happens, like meeting a long lost family or friend, you are bound to be happy. 🙂 

Joy however, does not fluctuate with situations. It’s anchored deep in the heart as a founded truth. As Christians, Paul is reminding us in the above verse that we are to rejoice at all times. All times?? Even when we are going through tough time? I know a friend who’s going through a grieving time due to a loss of a family member. Am I to tell her, ‘you need to rejoice’? 

Paul the apostle of Jesus Christ, wrote this while he himself was in prison. He sure knows what pain and suffering is, because he says,

“Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked. I spent a night and a day in the open sea. In my frequent journeys, I have been in danger from rivers and from bandits, in danger from my countrymen and from the Gentiles, in danger in the city and in the country, in danger on the sea and among false brothers, in labor and toil and often without sleep, in hunger and thirst and often without food, in cold and exposure. Apart from these external trials, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches.” – 2 Corinthians.11: 24-28

To the outside world, it seems madness to say I rejoice in my suffering, for they see no reason to rejoice for in their moments of despair. But, as followers of the Risen Christ, as children of the Almighty, as a nation waiting for the establishment of God’s Kingdom, we have so much to rejoice for!! 

The Bible says: “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, yet our inner self is being renewed day by day. For our light and temporary affliction is producing for us an eternal glory that far outweighs our troubles. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” – 2 Corinthians.4:16-18

There is so much joy in that, don’t you agree?! This great gift of salvation we have received, this everlasting love we have been loved, this mercy we have received, and this hope of His 2nd coming that’s placed in us… Don’t these make our temporary troubles minute? When we think of all that’s been done for us and all the promises that are yet to come, when we take our eyes off what surrounds and look up to that mount  to see the glory and peace and everlasting worship looking to the face of our Beloved, wouldn’t we jump for joy, raise our hands in praise and smile?

Dear reader, we all have our own struggles and pains in life, and we all have moments of unhappiness, but let us not allow those situations and the enemy to steal our inner joy – that is only found in Christ. 

Rejoice brother/sister, rejoice… for your King reigns high above all,

                                                          for you are a child of the King, 

                                                          for your God is Sovereign,

                                                        for you are honoured in His sight and the apple of His eye,

                                                         for you are engraved in the palms of His hands,

                                                         for you are carried on His wings,  

                                                         for your Lover’s life gave you eternity with Him. 

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Christ is my…

Image result for Jesus and his lambI may be poor, but Christ is my greatest riches

I may be weak, but Christ is my strength and shield

I may be naive to the ways of the world, but Christ is my wisdom

I may be small and insignificant, but I’m the apple of His eye

I may feel like a shadow in the dark, but He knows me from my mother’s womb

I may be one person among billions, but God knows me by name! 🙂

I may be a lost sheep, but Christ has found me

I may be dead in my sins, but in Christ I’m raised to a new life

 

I’m loved, I’m known and I’m cared for

In the loving arms of my Father

 

Rest assured my soul

God’s got it all together when you feel lost

Praise to the God of my life and my Father forever

Hallelujah, Amen! 

 

What about me?

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Over the past few years I have had the joy of watching the Spirit-driven and well versed videos of this man, Nabeel Qureshi. He was a former Muslim who converted to Christianity through careful investigation of the truth of the Bible alongside the Quran with his best friend David Wood (pictured with him above). In the end, He concluded that Jesus is who He claims to be in the Bible – the Son of God and that life and true freedom are only found in Him.

As I read Nabeel’s biography, ‘Seeking Allah, finding Jesus’ 2 years ago, I understood the deep conviction He received from the Lord that He indeed is “The Way, The Truth and The Life”. One of the things he wrote that I will never forget is, when he decided to follow Jesus and sat down to count the cost. He asked God to give him few days to mourn his family, because he knew that when he tells them this news that he has become a new man in Christ, he may be as good as dead to them. 

In the years that followed, Nabeel became a great Christian teacher, apologetic and writer, amongst many of the things he served the Lord. Yet, last year at the age of 33 he got diagnosed with stage 4 stomach cancer and after a year long battle with the disease, he passed into the eternal rest of His loving Father on 16th September 2017. Since he got diagnosed, Nabeel posted regular vlogs, sharing genuinely and honestly what he felt, what God taught him and progress of his treatment right up to the week before he died. I was one of thousands of Christians across the globe who followed his progress through his vlogs and joined in prayer for healing. However, we know God is Sovereign and it was His good will that Nabeel goes home to be with his Heavenly Father.  

There are many brothers and sisters around the world, some that I know personally and some that I hear about with my ears only, who are facing similar trials as Nabeel or risking their lives everyday to advance the work of the Gospel. 

Although Nabeel died at such a young age, his life and the lives of those who risk everything to follow Jesus, who endure all by looking to the joy that is set before them, has and is making me consider my life. 

What about me? What about you dear reader? Are we living a surrendered life? May God help us to know our purpose and live a life worthy of our calling! 

“Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.” – Hebrews.13:7

His story can be found here: http://www.nabeelqureshi.com/ 

His vlogs & lectures: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCepxnLs6GWAxAyI8m2U9s7A 

Just my heart

A few days ago, while I was doing some shopping, I happened to listen to a line in a song that was on the radio. The guy was singing something along the lines, “I’m in love with what you can give me”.  The world and all its associates are just interested in what they can take from us, as the Bible calls them, they are “ravenous beasts” (Psalm.57:4)

Our mindset sometimes follows that worldly pattern where we think that Christ is after what we can offer, so we run around making all sorts of sin, burnt, peace and praise offerings. We think that we have to do something to please Him. 

“All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.” – Isaiah.64:6

“But Samuel replied: “Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.” – 1 Samuel.15:22

Here’s God saying, “I’m not interested in all the stuff you do, I just want your heart, your devotion…” and us thinking there’s got to be more than that… 

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord replied, “you are worried and upset about many things. But only one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, and it will not be taken away from her.” – Luke.10:42

Mary chose to sit at the foot of Jesus, while Martha run around trying to juggle many things. 

He simply just wants our heart, then everything else will fall in to place. 

This song by Casting Crowns summarises it well…

Christmas – the shadow of Easter

95_3380Happy holidays everyone! 

It’s that time of year that gives everyone that buzz of joy and jubilant celebration. Yes – CHRISTmas! The lights, the exchange of cards and gifts, it just brings the goodness out of people. 

I have been thinking about the kind of activities and symbols that Christmas is associated with these days. Of course it has become so commercialised that it’s the time when the most amount of money is spent and the time when families are reunited. It’s also become about the Christmas tree, Mr Santa Claus and having some expensive gifts. More lavish and more indulgent. 

But what about the real meaning of Christmas? The light of the world entering the darkness of our world to give us the joy that we enjoy at Christmas time.

Funnily enough, the current symbols of Christmas have a lot of similarity to the Gospel message as revealed in Easter time. The Christmas tree that we glorify with various decorations is but a shadow of the tree which was beautified by our Saviour’s precious blood. The old man that children love (though they never met him) because each year he brings them presents, is incomparable to the gift of salvation we received by our Lord and though we don’t see Him we love Him so. The gifts placed under the Christmas tree… well you will have to wake up early on Christmas morning and kneel under the tree to open your present. You have your own unique one and only you are allowed to open it. So it is with the Gospel, mercy and grace are found when we humble ourselves at the foot of the cross and only we can open (accept) that present – Jesus into our hearts. 

In this beautiful season, let us invite into our hearts the servant King born in a manger to give us hope and light. 

Merry Christmas to you and your loved ones. 

The Star of Bethlehem

Greater treasures

When God asks us to give Him the gold we hold so tightly in our hands, our immediate response is often regret; as freed hands are not used to such liberty, we stretch them out trying to grab what may come in our path. Thus, that sweet surrender turns us to an even deeper bondage.

The reflex mechanism of the human mind immediately followed by letting go is quite interesting. We have to have something! How can God ask that of us? But His promise was never to leave us with empty, bare hands. As we open our clenched fists and give whatever we held so tightly, it is so that He can give us greater treasures, more precious than what we held so dear. Open hands can hold more than clenched fists.

May God help us to trust Him more and more as we face at our insecurities and questions each day. Amen!

The Golgotha battle

Perhaps you heard of great battles that had been won, but do you know the greatest battle ever won?

2000 years ago, it occurred upon Golgotha’s hill where heaven and hell, justice and mercy, sin and forgiveness met. In that battle, the Saviour took our pain and punishment of death and nailed them to the cross making a public display of His triumphant sacrifice and love that embraced even the worst of sinners.

There on the cross, our certificate of sentence to death was cancelled, erased because it was paid by the precious blood of the innocent Lamb, because of His immeasurable love.

How do I know who won the battle, for it seemed that for a moment He had lost when He said, “it is finished!” and breathed what seemed His last? Because upon the third day, He concurred the grave, He broke the chains of hell and death and now reigns victorious – forever.

“having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him. Colossians 2:14-15

The 21st Century Book of Acts

If there was a book to be written 

Of the plight, pain and persecution 

That my brothers and sisters are facing

Who has the gut to read from start to end

Who would reward them the crown of a saint?

 

They seem so ordinary or even less

Despised by all declared as fools

Why pay such a high price

Why waste your only life?

 

Tortured, beaten and crushed

Orphaned, despised and chained

With years of hard labour and ultimately death

 

It may be hard to imagine

From the comfort of our homes

But we are one body of Christ

Joint and knit together, we have a bond

 

If all their stories were to be told

And all their plight in detail

The fearful dark nights

The tears of losing loved ones

And the unity and love the Spirit provides

Would you read that book??

“There was once a fiddler who played so beautifully that everybody danced. A deaf man who could not hear the music considered them all insane. Those who are with Jesus in suffering hear this music to which other men are deaf. They dance and do not care if they are considered insane.” – Richard Wurmbrand, Victorious Faith 

NB- Richard Wurmbrand suffered severe persecution under the communist regime and once released started organisations to help Christians facing persecution around the world. 

For more information, visit: www.releaseinternational.org 

Called into Royalty

I had been thinking about the story of Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge and how she came into royalty. 

Although she is not of royal decent, because she was loved by Prince William, she became worthy to join the royal family. Now she has a special place in Prince William’s heart, because she is his wife. To him, who many people long to even get a glimpse of, she gained the privilege to spend all her life time with. 

Why? Did she earn her way to make him love her? Did she ask others to speak to him on her behalf? No it was as simple as, love. Love broke the barriers between the lay woman and royalty. 

And now that she belongs to him, she can speak to him all her concerns and feelings with out fear. It would be very strange if she started to ask him for something she needed using the queen or any of the royal officials. 

And in our Christian walk, it is exactly the same thing. Many so called Christians forget that they have this wonderful relationship with Christ and spend their lifetime seeking Him and asking for mercy via saints and angels. Yet the Bible says that “the angels long to look into these things” (1Peter.1:12). We have a wonderful privilege that we try and reject with “humility” that we are not worthy to come before this great King, but that is grace (Hebrew.4:14-16).

My Light

Even when the steps ahead are blurred

The road is dark and my torch flickering

Light of the world, I know You will lead

 

Even when the enemy whisper in my ears

And deafen me with condemnations

You are not worth the cost of His blood

You are not worth the price

For this very reason, I know Christ died

 

Even when my heart is confused

Trying to find a breakthrough

By attempting to figure out

The meaning of this life

And what I’m supposed to be

Here I am to live for His glory

 

Even when questions linger on my mind

When the answers seem mysteries to find

I know one thing today

Though He died for my sins

That old, wretched, blood stained cross

Is the reason of my existence

 

Even when my identity is just on a card

And my sense of belonging has been gone far

Feeling so out of place in this foreign land

Now I found a place to hide

A sanctuary for my soul to abide 

 

Now He lives, the King of Kings

Seated on the throne

To lead His children home

I don’t deserve it at all

But to His free gift of grace to say no?

Is foolishness, as though I can please Him on my own

 

Jesus will lead the way, oh yes He will

To those who trust Him

No matter how deaf or blind

No matter how slow or fast the steps

Willingness of a broken heart is all He asks.