When we praise our heavenly Father and glorify His holy name, the focus of our attention is removed from our own anxiety, limited life and petty predicaments. It gives balance to all we say and do. God Himself knows the immense benefits that we enjoy, when we turn our eyes away from ourselves onto the Lord Jesus, and look full into His wonderful face – which is why Paul reminds us, in first Thessalonians, to rejoice evermore. When we turn the attention of our inner heart onto Christ – the Author and Finisher of our faith; the Sustainer of our life and our Blessed Hope, circumstances of life and matters of living, fall into their correct perspective. When the inner focus of our heart and soul, and mind is on the Lord Jesus, there is no room for a self-centered attitude of mind, or the petty preening of our own individual wants.
John Donne, one of England’s greatest poets and a renown minister of the Church of England, once wrote in his “Meditation 17” that “affliction is a treasure.” This sounds like a contradiction in terms, but it is really a reminder to “rejoice in our sufferings.” He goes on to explain that every affliction, or tribulation, we endure can be a treasure–if we learn from it. Our sufferings–afflictions–make us more like Christ, who suffered for us. When we go through tribulations–sickness, rejection, loss–we have a choice to make. We can either wallow in self-pity and give ourselves over to the misery, or we can find strength in our pain. We don’t go through hard times in vain. If we can keep our eyes on God, we will see Him through the pain. Some of the most valuable lessons are learned in the darkest times of our lives. When we rise from the ashes of our suffering, we learn to persevere. We learn to give hope to others. Our scars make us tougher and give us a powerful testimony. We become more valuable to the kingdom. We become true warriors of God and our scars become our badges of honor.
“And he went into all the region around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins, as it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet, saying: “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; Make His paths straight. Every valley shall be filled And every mountain and hill brought low; The crooked places shall be made straight And the rough ways smooth; And all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’”
Luke 3:1-6 (NKJV)
Love. Our culture uses this word a lot, doesn’t it? Advertisers promise that we will “love” their latest gizmo and gadget, twitter is filled with professions of “love” for every possible activity.
I know I have used that word often enough myself this week alone.
Yet, love is much greater than mere sentiment, and its worth is greater than a tweet can convey.
Today, I’d like to share with you what Christ’s birth reveals about God’s love. I believe that the more we understand His indescribable love, the better we will be able to love one another.
Heavenly Father, thank You for Your Word and the truths it contains. I pray that like David I would bless You at all times and in all circumstances. I pray that I may develop an attitude of grateful thanks and worshipful praise, in every area of my life – no matter how mundane the task may be. I will let go of my own anxiety and I pray that in all things and at all times I would seek to glorify You – in Jesus name,
Father, I know that I will have to go through suffering in my life. I know that I will have to endure unpleasantness and sometimes pain. I ask, Father, that in those times, You will remind me that You are with me. Give me strength in the midst of my suffering. Turn my afflictions into treasure. In those times of suffering, teach me to persevere. I want to be a warrior for you, God. I want to be valuable to Your kingdom. Father, Help me to be humble in all my ways. Let me not be arrogant and full of myself, but let serve You in humility. I trust that You will raise me up according to Your will and exalt me according to Your timeline. Amen Amen AMEN.