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Rejoicing Always, Praying Without Ceasing, Being Thankful in Everything

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says:

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

As I write this, I’m sitting in my office in my home. My children are home from school because we had an ice storm last night and school was closed. It is dry and warm in our house and I have bread rising in the kitchen. My husband has a good job.

It’s easy to read that verse today. Rejoice ALWAYS. Pray WITHOUT CEASING. IN EVERYTHING give thanks.

But the fact is, there are times in life when this verse is impossible to comprehend. Some of you are reading this now thinking, “No way.”

I understand. I’ve been there.

My dear friend’s parents lost their entire town to a terrible fire this week. Flooding has killed dozens and destroyed communities in Italy. School shootings, house of worship shootings, bar shootings are becoming normal words. We’ve been at war for 17 years.

I don’t think this passage is intended to admonish those who don’t always rejoice, who don’t always pray, and who aren’t thankful in everything. In fact, Solomon, the man whom 1 Kings tells us that God gave him “wisdom and exceedingly great understanding, and largeness of heart like the sand on the seashore”, who was “wiser than all men”, (1 Kings 4:29-30) tells us in Ecclesiastes 3 that there’s a time to hate, a time to mourn, a time to weep, a time to break down — that there is a time for everything under the sun (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8).

I think this passage of verses in the letter to the church in Thessalonica is intended to encourage us, to give us the smallest glimpse into what life will be like in our perfected bodies. It’s something to which we’re to strive to achieve and to know that one day we won’t even have to try.

When things are dim and scary, when life is hard and feels impossible, I say these verses out loud. The Bible tells us that the word of God is our weapon – our sword – to use to battle the enemies of God (Ephesians 6:7). Speaking the words out loud even in the midst of grief, pain, and fear, reminds me of the fruit of the Spirit that dwells inside of me. That no weapon formed against me shall prosper (Isaiah 54:7), and that I am not alone (Deuteronomy 31:6).

It gives my heart and mind peace to know that I have the power of the Holy Spirit inside of me to draw upon and then find that I can start rejoicing, despite the circumstances. That I can pray through good times and bad, and keep a constant line of communication open. That I can be thankful in all circumstances because I know the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6).

Be encouraged during this time of Thanksgiving. As you ponder that which you can easily give thanks, remember that even if your time is to weep, or your time is to mourn, you can draw upon that same power.

halleeLOGOspinefinal

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The Beauty of the Brown Eyed Susan

This is a Brown-Eyed Susan. This is one of my favorite flowers. It is so simple in its beauty but looks strong and certain. The shape of the flower makes me think that it’s lifting its head and charging forward on a mission, embracing whatever the world is going to throw at it.

As I was walking with my dogs the other morning, I noticed they were blooming. I stopped to take a picture of them because I wanted to share with you my favorite flower. Then I came around a corner and saw another batch of them and something else occurred to me.

This is a simple flower. Golden-rod petals surrounding a brown center. It should be boring. It should be nothing special. But look at this picture. What do you see? Among a field of wildflowers, delicate white Irish lace, Purple Phacelia, White Violets, and other beautiful greenery, what stands out the most with its bold and bright colors, with its face lifted to the sky?

To me, the Brown-Eyed Susan shines from this little patch of beauty.

We all have been given something very special by God, something that He has endowed upon us to use to serve Him, to serve our neighbor, to take care of those who are in need, to encourage others, to teach others — something given to us to use as God needs it used.

Oftentimes, we feel unimportant, plain, boring, less than that person or this person. Not as beautiful, not as delicate, not as smart, not as graceful. Our brains get flooded with less than thoughts that bring us down and make us afraid to use this gift from God because we’re afraid we’re not good enough.

Let me tell you something – that’s a lie straight from the master deceiver who tricked Eve with the words, “Did God really say…?”

Every single one of us called by God have EXACTLY what we need to succeed for HIS  purposes. I know that I am tone def and cannot sing, read music, or play an instrument. That doesn’t mean that I feel less than capable of serving God than my talented musician friends. It simply means that He didn’t give me the gift of song! If I compare myself to them, of course I fall short. Their ministries are not my ministries, and mine are not theirs.

I don’t care if you’re a delicate flower with petals that look like intricate lace, or if you’re sturdy and strong with golden petals around a brown center – lift your face to God, embrace the gifts He’s given you, and use them to His glory. That’s all He wants from you, and that’s what your soul needs you to do.

Do it, and you’ll learn that you are worthy, you are beautiful, you are important, you are interesting, you are a piece of the intricate perfection that is God’s church, and you are on a mission that He KNOWS you can accomplish, because He’s the one who has prepared you.

halleeLOGOspinefinal


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Today’s Word of Promise: Zephaniah 3:17

Do you feel worthless? Do you feel unloved? Do you think that you have no value in this life? Do voices whisper in your ear the lies that you’re ugly and unappreciated?

Beloved, The Mighty One loves you! He is in your midst. Think about that! The Creator of the Universe, who knows the placement of every speck of sand of every beach in every planet in every galaxy is in YOUR midst. You are not alone and He KNOWS you! He will save. And He will rejoice with you!

We were made in His image, and He has gifted us and equipped each of us in abundance so that we can grow even closer to Him. Throughout scripture we can see ourselves reflected back the way God sees us!

You are:

Beautifully and wonderfully made
Saved
Forgiven
Born again
Reconciled
Justified
Redeemed
New creation in Christ
God’s own possession
Free from sin
Joint heir with Jesus
Ambassador of Christ
Sealed by His Spirit
Temple of the living God
Created in His image and Likeness
Holy and blameless
Dearly beloved

Take those truths forward and let them speak to you and drown out the lies of worthlessness and insignificance. Cling to this knowledge and rise from the ashes to see your true beauty and refinement.

halleeLOGOspinefinal


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Word of Promise: 2 Chronicles 8

Many days a week, I do a 4-mile aerobic walk. It takes me one hour. I listen to my Word of Promise Bible while I walk. Today, among other chapters, I listened to 2 Chronicles chapter 9.

As I was listening, I thought about all of the questionnaires that have gone around since the invention of the internet. Often, in the series of questions, there will inevitably be, “What event would you wish you could witness?”

Listening to this chapter, all I could think is how amazing Jerusalem must have been in the prime of Solomon’s rule! Think of the ornateness of these descriptions — think of the exoticness of the environment. Think of the rule of a man who is described in 1 Kings 4:  And God gave Solomon wisdom and exceedingly great understanding, and largeness of heart like the sand on the seashore.

I would love to travel back in time and stand in Solomon’s courts – to witness this grandeur that was built as a way to glorify God.

Moreover the king made a great throne of ivory, and overlaid it with pure gold. The throne had six steps, with a footstool of gold, which were fastened to the throne; there were armrests on either side of the place of the seat, and two lions stood beside the armrests. Twelve lions stood there, one on each side of the six steps; nothing like this had been made for any other kingdom.

All King Solomon’s drinking vessels were gold, and all the vessels of the House of the Forest of Lebanon were pure gold. Not one was silver, for this was accounted as nothing in the days of Solomon. For the king’s ships went to Tarshish with the servants of Hiram. Once every three years the merchant ships came, bringing gold, silver, ivory, apes, and monkeys.

So King Solomon surpassed all the kings of the earth in riches and wisdom. And all the kings of the earth sought the presence of Solomon to hear his wisdom, which God had put in his heart. Each man brought his present: articles of silver and gold, garments, armor, spices, horses, and mules, at a set rate year by year.

Solomon had four thousand stalls for horses and chariots, and twelve thousand horsemen whom he stationed in the chariot cities and with the king at Jerusalem.

So he reigned over all the kings from the River to the land of the Philistines, as far as the border of Egypt. The king made silver as common in Jerusalem as stones, and he made cedar trees as abundant as the sycamores which are in the lowland. And they brought horses to Solomon from Egypt and from all lands.

halleeLOGOspinefinal


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