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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Rejoice with Habakkuk

 53627-dance-in-the-rainBe joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” – Romans.12:12

Consider your bad days, what do they consist of? The shower goes cold, the kettle doesn’t boil, you miss the bus or your car breaks down, you’ve made some silly mistakes at work (unintentionally), customers are not happy with you, it starts to rain and you haven’t got a coat… your life seems nothing but a mess! Sometimes right from the start till the end you may experience things that annoy you, upset or stress you.

Yet despite all this, we are asked to be joyful, patient and prayerful? How can you be joyful and your day is all gloomy and nothing seems to go right?  How can you be patient when all you are experiencing is bad thing after another?

The prophet with a funny name, Habakkuk once said:

“17 Though the fig tree does not bud
    and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
    and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
    and no cattle in the stalls,
18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
    I will be joyful in God my Savior.

19 The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
    he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
    he enables me to tread on the heights.” – Habakkuk.3:17-19

I often asked myself the question why do such things happen and there could be a lot of reasons. But it seems that Habakkuk knew a secret that allowed him to ‘dance in the rain’ of misery as it were. Despite all the discouraging problems that he described, he said he “will rejoice in the Lord and be joyful in God my Saviour”. Why? There is nothing to be joyful about losing your crops and your animals! He answers it in the following verse; Habakkuk knew who God was to him. God was His strength that enabled him to tread on the heights, so he can see past the gloomy present situation.

Praise or thankfulness has a way of lifting us up to the higher grounds to see things beyond the momentary mess, because it reveals to us the greatness of our God and who we are in Him. Only then can we find the joy that Habakkuk described, the kind of joy that makes you dance in the rain. Praise is also a massive declaration of faith in God’s sovereignty.

God’s beautiful art work

Our life is a blank canvas upon which God can pnew_flowers_small_daisies_copy_wmaint a picture as only He sees fit. 14 years ago today, I accepted Jesus in to my heart and not a day has passed where I regretted that decision. That day, I received the most beautiful gift I could ever have and joy unspeakable filled my heart.

Today, as I pondered upon the Lord’s work in my life, it was orchestrated in such a way that only He could have done it. I noticed God’s hand at work in every step of my life. Before I was born and even before the world begun, He called me by my name and said that His Son should die for me that I may find this beautiful life that’s found in Him. When it was finally time for me to enter the world, God rejoiced over my birth and was so patient to wait for me until the day when I said, “YES!” (by the grace of the Holy Spirit) to His calling of salvation. Yes there were some dark shades on that picture and at the time, but God used those to beautify and brighten up even more the lovely  flowers that He was painting. He is the greatest Artist, giving beauty for ashes and a faithful God.

16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts,[a] God!
    How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them,
    they would outnumber the grains of sand—
    when I awake, I am still with you.  ~ Psalm.139:16-18

Now an artist requires the canvas to remain still so he can paint the picture properly. There were times when this canvas of my life moved about and shook, distorting the painting that He’d started, yet God being the patient Artist that He is, He made sure these little smudges were turned into little leaves that support the beautiful petals. He has a way for everything and He is faithful.

“Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” ~ Psalm.46:10

This little art work is not yet complete but seeing what’s been painted so far, makes me want to see what it will look like in the end, but I have to remain still. Yet, I know God is faithful and He will finish this beautiful thing He has started.  

 

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

New year, renewed hope

2015-01-01 00.20.39-1“Behold, I will do a new thing,
Now it shall spring forth;
Shall you not know it?
I will even make a road in the wilderness
And rivers in the desert.” – ISAIAH.43:19

Its such a blessing to look back at the end of a year and ponder on the goodness of the Lord in your life. I could definitely say that without His love, care and providence I would not have made it to 2015 with a smile on my face. Yes there were many trials and failures and weakness but what I saw more brightly than them all is how God saw me through those times and how faithful He is. It’s also a time to rekindle a flickering hope. A time to trust again that perhaps issues being long prayed for will finally be answered.

Now as we enter this new year 2015, I know that there will be a lot of changes in my life. End of one chapter (uni) and beginning of another (work). One of my biggest weaknesses is worrying. This year I want to fully trust God, not just a head knowledge of His promises but believing with all my heart that whatever I ask in His name, He will do. 

And I pray the same for you dear fellow bloggers. I wish you all a blessed and peaceful new-year where you see all your prayers being answered. 

PS – thank you all for the encouragements in 2014 either by commenting or by the things you write in your blogs. They are a blessing to me and others. 

Happy New Year 2015! 🙂 

“Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” – Mark.11:24

 And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” – John.14:13

I see You!

~Jesus~

“I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”
C. S. Lewis

This quote is very powerful! I love to wake up in the morning and witness the sun rising, it’s just the best feeling. But not uncommon to the unpredictable weather that the UK has, I woke up to the cold cloudy day. 😦 Its amazing how the weather sometimes determines how I feel, I was about to get quite depressed.

Then The Lord reminded me of this quote above. Just because I wasn’t able to see the sun didn’t mean the sun didn’t rise, because the day did get brighter and I was able to see things more clearly despite of the cloudy sky. In the same way in our lives we struggle to see God clearly and say “God where are You in this?”, but if we look back, the marks that God had left in our past are true witnesses of His presence in our lives. Through them we see God and His greatness and might! He might just be working undercover that we are unable to see Him, but that doesn’t change the reality that He is at work in our lives.

So let us look at those marks again and remind ourselves of how blessed we are to have this God of the whole universe, dwelling among us His people.

“My ears had heard of you, but now my eyes have seen you.” ~Job.42:5~