Friday Devotion with Kim Wu
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” This verse from Philippians was the basis of our first week’s discussion of the Max Lucado study, “Anxious for Nothing.”
The author assures us this is not a call to be in a continual state of happiness and celebration, or to put on a fake smile when your heart inside doesn’t feel it. No, rejoicing in the Lord is “about a deep remembering. Remembering that the Lord is here, always. Remembering that the Lord is in control, always. Remembering that the Lord is not only the giver of your day but also the ordainer of every minute inside of it, always. Remembering that amidst the pressures, pain, and anxiety in life, he is sovereign, always.”
Rejoicing in the Lord is not about a feeling; it is a decision we make each moment of every day. A decision to believe in the existence of a good God. In the words of a prayer by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, to “above all, trust in the slow work of God”.
In the sixth chapter of 2 Corinthians, Paul calls us as servants of God to be “sorrowful, yet always rejoicing" when we experience hardships. We can be both. We can be full of the hope of our faith, yet still feel sadness and grief.
This call to rejoice in spite of difficult circumstances is clearly illustrated in the book of Habakkuk. Habakkuk was a prophet who wrestled with how a good and holy God could allow the ruthless Babylonian empire to overrun Judah. Yet in the third and final chapter of this book, Habakkuk declares “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, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.”
Habakkuk is choosing to walk by faith in trusting the promises of God, focusing on the greatness and the glory of God, rather than on the gap between his expectations of what should happen to Judah and what God in his sovereignty would allow to happen to Judah.
Trust in God and rejoice in Him, even when your heart is heavy. Remember what He has done in your life in the past, and remember the promises of God in scripture to know what he will do in your future. Gather them up and write them down. Memorize God’s promises, calling them to mind when you need them. Here are a few verses that I hold close: Romans 5:1-5, Proverbs 3:5-6, Deut 31:8, Isaiah 43:18-19, Zephaniah 3:17. What promises of God do you hold firm to?
Thursday Devotion with Pastor Ellen
Tuesday Devotion with Pastor Will
Monday Devotion with Kitty Stapleton
Discernment, as it pertains to Christian life, has always been a puzzle to me. It has occurred to me,that during this time of crisis and amid the “stay at home” requirement, this might be a good time to reflect on discernment and what it means in my life. I have been considering discernment as to what actions or paths God is leading me toward rather than the discernment of an answer to a situation or problem.
First, I looked up discernment in an online dictionary where it describes the meaning as “the ability to judge well.” The dictionary continues with the meaning in Christian context as, “perception in the absence of judgment with a view to obtaining spiritual guidance and understanding.” Then, I was faced with the dilemma of how to obtain “spiritual guidance and understanding.”
One of the ways that I have “seen” my path in the past was by responding to a “nudge” or as my brother puts it, “Godincident”. Admittedly, some hints or “nudges” are not readily “readable” so what should we do? Here are some of my ideas:
- Pray for the awareness of what God wants you to do
- Be aware of the “nudges”
- Pay attention to what newspaper/magazine articles you tend to read and look for a pattern
- Notice what TV shows, movies, etc. you are drawn to and see if they have anything in common
- Read Matthew 25:35-36 and ask yourself, Which of these touch my heart?”
- If you don’t feel a defined concern or immediate idea of what to do, then
- Go to: https://mycumc.ccbchurch.com/
- Click on: http://www.umc.org/what-we-believe/spiritual-gifts-online-assessment
- After you find your Spiritual Gifts, see which of them matches one of the directives in Matthew
These are just some of my ideas. I’m sure that other people may have different or better suggestions or “what works” ideas. If so, try to be aware of someone struggling with discerning God’s plans for their lives and offer your “what works”.
Prayer: Dear Lord, we want to follow your plans for our lives but sometimes we can’t see those plans due to the clouds of our everyday lives. Please open our eyes, warm our hearts, and feel your presence to help us discern your will for us. Amen