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Despite Your Circumstances

“And I want you to know, my dear brothers and sisters, that everything that has happened to me here has helped to spread the Good News.”
Philippians 1:12 NLT

As we sat around the tables in Bible study class sharing prayer requests, it was almost depressing. Health issues resulting from disease, trauma, or unknown reasons; loved ones who needed Jesus in their lives; job and financial woes; relationship issues; a need for more affordable housing; personal struggles; ministry opportunities. The needs were real and sobering.

The apostle Paul was certainly a man who understood the hard stuff of life. Imprisoned for his faith in God, many scholars believe Paul was literally chained to a guard 24/7. Despite his chains, his letter to the Philippian church was filled with encouragement and joy; it revealed his great love and constant prayers for the believers.

While in confinement, Paul is not found whining and complaining about his bonds. Instead, his letter records him giving thanks to God because people are hearing about Jesus. Even the new believers were finding courage to speak out about Christ because of Paul’s example while in prison.

As Jesus followers, we are never promised a life of ease. We certainly see that all through the Bible and specifically in Paul’s life. Hardships are going to come sooner or later. Like Paul, will we use those circumstances to advance the gospel of Jesus Christ?

As we learn from the examples of others in the Scriptures, we should ask ourselves, “What are others learning through my example?” Are they seeing the love, peace, hope, and deep joy of Jesus regardless of my difficulty, or are they seeing worry, fear, anger, and anxiety instead? Our lives and situations influence others one way or the other depending on our actions and reactions to adversity. Only with God’s help can our lives bring support and encouragement to others.

May the following prayer be a source of strength during the tough times as we seek to proclaim the message of Christ despite our circumstances.

            “I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in             knowledge and understanding. For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you             may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return. May you always be filled with     the fruit of your salvation – the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ – for       this will bring much glory and praise to God.” Philippians 1:9-11 NLT

[Digging deeper – Philippians 1:12-30]

Proclaiming Him in all things,

Beverly <><

 

 

Photo Credit: http://thebiblerevival.com/clipart69.htm;

The House on the Rock

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.”
Matthew 7:24-25 NIV

My husband is active duty Army, and we have lived in many places. In 2004 we moved to Okinawa Japan, which was one of the most memorable. Okinawa is a tropical island where farmers grow sugar cane and pineapples; there are beautiful parks with flowers, and beaches where the ocean is turquoise and filled with reefs. However, the cities are made up of square concrete buildings as far as the eye can see. These buildings were such a contrast to the beautiful nature that we were surrounded by, that it made us wonder why houses would be built like this. When we finally received our assigned address and drove into the military post housing, we noticed that our house was the same square concrete. Even the shed in the back was concrete.

We discovered the answer to this mystery the first time there was a typhoon (the western Pacific is the most active area for tropical cyclones in the world). The island uses a colored flag system to let everyone know how close a storm is, and when the flags turn black, everyone goes into their homes. There is no panic, no evacuations, and not even any debris because everything outside goes into those backyard sheds. Even the trees are tied down. Everyone already has their groceries because the flag system told them to prepare, and and no one goes outside. During a typhoon I was able to relax with my coffee and play with my young children in the living room because even though the storm was raging outside (the wind roared like a train around the house), I knew that my concrete walls would stand strong.

Those wise people of Okinawa know how to build a solid house that will withstand a storm. In Matthew 7:24-25 Jesus said that “everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.” If we put our trust in God and do his will, we will keep standing no matter how strong the storms of this world are, because our foundation is on the rock.

Standing with you on God’s promises,

Erin Tabor

 

 

 

Photo Credit: https://unsplash.com/photos/aSmLcO3-dbk

Joy to the World, The Lord is Come

“Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises!” Psalm 98:4 ESV 

Isaac Watts was born in 1674 in Southampton England. As a child he loved creating rhymes (and was even reprimanded for it in church). He lived at a time when it was believed that only the Psalms should be sung in solemn services. Outside in the streets people merrily sang carols during the Christmas season, but inside the church the songs were serious and traditional. When he was a teenager, Isaac complained that the Psalms were too stagnant. He thought that people should be singing with joy and passion and that the songs should reflect Christian lives, not the Old Testament before Christ returned. Later in life, he was quoted as saying “To see the dull indifference, the negligent and thoughtless air that sits upon the faces fo a whole assembly, while the psalm is upon their lips, might even tempt a charitable observer to suspect the fervency of their inward religion.” His father eventually got so tired of his teenage son’s complaining that he challenged young Isaac to write something better. This began a lifetime of hymn writing.

In 1719 he wrote Psalms of David imitated in the language of the New Testament. These hymns were based on the words of David in the Old Testament but included the gospel of the New Testament. Many traditionalists were, not surprisingly, against his new music, and called his songs “whims and flights of fancy,” but on the other hand, many prominent people supported him, such as Samuel Johnson, Benjamin Franklin, Cotton Mather, and John Wesley.

Isaac Watts is considered The godfather of modern hymn writing and many of his songs are still recognizable to us today, such as “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross” and “This is the Day that the Lord hath Made.” His most famous Christmas carol is “Joy to the World” based on the joy David sang about in Psalm 98:4 (ESV). “Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises!” However, his words also reflect the good news that the angels sang to the shepherds the night Jesus was born. “The Lord is come, Let earth receive her king! Let every heart prepare him room and heaven and nature sing.” Even though this song was written in 1719, the message of it is timeless. In fact, it was the most popular hymn of the 20th century (based on how many hymnals it was printed in).

I think the popularity is because the message is so simple yet so profound. The angel in Luke 2:10 (ESV) said “I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.” The angels rejoiced and the good news of the birth of Christ was for all people of all time and for the whole world, so I agree with Isaac Watts. We should be singing with joy and passion about the miraculous entrance of our savior on the earth. “Joy to the world! The Lord is come!”

Sharing your joy in Christ,

Erin Tabor 

Photo Credit: Image courtesy of https://www.freeimages.com/photo/angel-christmas-ornament-1442351