The Bible tells us to rejoice always (1 Thessalonians 5:16, Philippians 4:4). This is very difficult, because we often find ourselves in circumstances that are not so delightful. Nonetheless, no matter what is going on in our lives, our heavenly Father is always deserving of honor, glory, and praise. This does not change with circumstances. Whatever happens – rejoice in the Lord!
Today, remind yourself to rejoice in the Lord. Take time to praise Him for what He has done, what He is doing, and what He has promised. “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and strength belong to our God forever and ever! Amen” (Revelation 7:12 NLT).
“Whatever happens, my dear brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord. I never get tired of telling you these things, and I do it to safeguard your faith.” – Philippians 3:1 [NLT]
It is hard to be committed to something. In life, we must be committed to something. For those who are married, you should be committed to your marriage. For those who are employed, you should be committed to your work. If you have children, you should be committed to raising the children. When we look at commitments to God, we must look at a wholehearted commitment.
What does it mean to be wholeheartedly committed? It means that you are not waking up one day ready to serve Jesus and then serving yourself the next day. Wholehearted commitment is about consistency. It is about sacrifice. It is about being all in, without holding anything back.
Today, ask if you are wholeheartedly committed. Do you love God with all your heart? Do you love the God with all your soul? Do you love God with all your strength? Are you committed to the Lord? Are you holding something back? Could you just step away from serving Him tomorrow, like nothing would change? Are you blown from place to place without any roots, or are you wholeheartedly committed?
“And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today.” – Deuteronomy 6:5-6 [NLT]
I am not too keen on waking up early for the Cross Country season. As I get older, I appreciate extra sleep. Even so, I love the drives to school for practice. I especially enjoy the moment alone when I’m driving the back road and witnessing all of the beauty around me. God never ceases to amaze me.
This morning, as I drove home, I looked before me and praised God for the beautiful farmland. I rejoiced in the amazing sunrise I was experiencing as I sang along to a praise song on the radio. Before I knew it, I was even more amazed. Three deer were prancing along. I slowed down the van as they crossed the road. They continued to leap through the corn field, and then they crossed the road again. For a moment, everything around me stopped. All the noise. All the busyness. All eyes focused on God’s creation doing the simplest of things—leaping along through the corn field.
I was reminded this morning of the great promise written in Isaiah, the promise that “the lame will leap like a deer.” God heals. God restores. God alone qualifies us. He is our strength. Praise Him and Him alone. Continue to press forward and tread on the heights He places before you. Leap like a deer today!
“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 3:19a [NIV]
“The lame will leap like a deer, and those who cannot speak will sing for joy! Springs will gush forth in the wilderness, and streams will water the wasteland.” – Isaiah 35:6 [NLT]
Yesterday I attended a family picnic and I got ketchup in my hair. My uncle made me a cheeseburger and I topped it with all the fixings – lettuce, tomato, onions, and ketchup. The wind was crazy. I believe what happened was ketchup dripped to my plate and the plate flew into my hair. I remember having to catch it a few times. When that ketchup was in my hair, I could not stop messing with my hair. It became my primary focus. I wanted so badly to get it out of my hair, though I’m sure if I didn’t know it was there I would have been none the wiser.
When we have problems in life we do the same thing too often. We know about the problem and we focus on the problem. We continue to think about the problem. We continue to consider the need to fix the problem. It almost becomes an obsession. If the problem is small, we spend our time figuring out how we will resolve the issue. If it is a bigger issue or something we do not have the means to fix alone, we continue to look at the problem as an impossible hurdle and depression sets in soon after. Sometimes we make ourselves sick as we continue to fixate on our current circumstances.
Just as I should not have been so focused on the ketchup in my hair (it was only a little ketchup and there is a thing called shampoo), we cannot be problem focused. We have a God Who is a God of the impossible. Our focus, whether we have no pressing problems or we are buried knee deep in problems, should always be on God. When He is our focus, when He is first in our life, then our circumstances, our struggles, our problems won’t control us, depress us, or weaken us. Remember, in our weakness, He is strong (see 2 Corinthians 12:9).
In Isaiah 26:3 we read, “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in You, all whose thoughts are fixed on You!” Do you know what is so awesome about that verse? The word keep is “natsar” which means “to watch” or “guard.” The word for peace is “Shalom,” which means “completeness” or “peace.” The word for perfect is also “Shalom.” This verse says if we are fixed on God, if we trust in Him, we will be kept (watched, guarded) so that we are in completeness and peace.
During our morning walk there was quite a lot of water puddles to make our way around because of the crazy weather during the night. Being a Labrador, Max has no issue making his way through the puddles. I try to encourage him to walk around but sometimes he just walks right on through. With Marci it is a different story. She is a Shih Tzu. Some of the puddles we encountered this morning were like lakes to her.
As we made our way home, Max went ahead and Marci found herself right in front of a large puddle. She was frightened. She tried to run in the other direction but could not get far as she was attached to Max’s leash. I reached down to grab her and save her from the puddle. She did not know what was going on. She ran away from my hands because I think she feared we would start giving her a bath right there in the puddle. I tried to calm her. Finally I was able to get a good hold on her and I carried her over the puddle and placed her safely on dry ground.
We often reach puddles in our own lives. We are fearful to go through. We don’t know what direction to go and we can’t get very far no matter which way we turn. Sometimes we just need to walk up to the water’s edge in faith, understanding that God is right there. Our loving Father is always there. He reaches out and carries us across the turbulent waters in life. He holds us with His great strength. He guides us through the deepest waters and the darkest valleys. There is no safest place to be than in the hands of our Father. Stop squirming. Rest in Him. Let yourself be carried where He made you to be—to a place beyond our understanding. Step forward. It’s time.
“When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.” – Isaiah 43:2 [NLT]
Every day I am in pain but some days are worse than others. Today was a really high pain day because there was an incident that occurred when I was walking the dogs. A loose dog came after Max and Marci. My daughter held Marci and continued onward but this loose dog kept after Max and he wasn’t too keen on this new acquaintance. Somehow I got my hand twisted inside his harness and the more movement from Max meant my hand was being squeezed until it could not be squeezed anymore. Finally someone nearby made a grab for the loose dog and my hand was free. It was a great feeling to have my hand free—but the pain has been lingering ever since. That was my bad hand already; I’m not sure what to call it now.
On days like these, days when the pain brings tears to my eyes, I cling to God’s Word. You can page through your Bible and read about people suffering, about people in pain, about people in anguish. This morning I turned to Psalm 73. But as you page through God’s Word, you also read about His promises. Psalm 91 says “’If you’ll hold on to me for dear life,’ says God, ‘I’ll get you out of any trouble. I’ll give you the best of care if you’ll only get to know and trust me. Call me and I’ll answer, be at your side in bad times; I’ll rescue you, then throw you a party. I’ll give you a long life, give you a long drink of salvation!’” (v.14-16 MSG)
I am very blessed. Each day, I am grateful for another day—another opportunity to serve. I know there’s a purpose. I know He has a great plan. I know that one day I won’t have to wear braces on my knees, ankles, or anywhere else. I won’t walk with a limp. Things will be different for me and for you. No more pain. No more tears. No more struggles. Think about the party God is going to throw. Yes, there will be a day—oh what a day!
“Whom have I in heaven but You?
And besides You, I desire nothing on earth.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
For, behold, those who are far from You will perish;
You have destroyed all those who are unfaithful to You.
But as for me, the nearness of God is my good;
I have made the Lord GOD my refuge,
That I may tell of all Your works.”
Psalm 73:25-28 [NASB]