Monday Moment of Joy in His Word

teaching joyfully

One of the things I’m thankful for in the summer is the slower schedule and the time to slowly savor God’s Word in the morning. This morning I was reading 1 Thessalonians and was encouraged.

Over the last few days, I’ve been thinking about the phrase “Relentless Positivity” that I got from the conference.  I’ve ALSO been thinking, though, about how much I want to enjoy this week and make it go slow because I am a bit nervous about how the new school year is going to go.

Change is hard.  I know it’s part of life, though, so I’ve been praying that I would find the joy even when things change.  This morning as I read 1 Thessalonians, I was reminded, once again that the joy comes from our God and Savior.

“We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Thess 1:3 NIV

Look at that!!  Our endurance comes from hope in Him!  I don’t have to trust in my own strength to make it through life but I can trust in Him and find joy and hope in Him.  He is my Savior and Lord, and I can find strength and endurance in that.  Paul also was encouraging the Thessalonians because their labor was prompted by love.  That love comes from Him as well.  Is my labor prompted by the love of Christ?

I don’t have to go into this year stressed about all the change.  I can trust that He knows me and loves me and has a plan for me.  I pray that as you start this year that God would remind you to find hope and joy in Him and not in circumstances of life.

Finding HOPE by moving towards PEOPLE

Today, we’re going to look at how moving towards PEOPLE in the body of Christ can help us find HOPE during the joyful times and during the dark times in our life.

When you’re in pain, do you usually want to be around people or would you rather hide out somewhere by yourself?

We’ve already talked about how we have to start living in a new kind of way. We have to be HONEST  about our pain AND believe God’s truths-particularly the truth that He is OMNIPRESENT– to help us move through the pain. Many times, when we’re in the midst of pain, we can’t take hold of God’s truths without the help of other people.

Who do you have in your life? Who do you trust? Can you think of 5 people that you trust? Write their names down in a journal. Think about your family, your friends, your coworkers, your youth leader, people at church, neighbors, teachers, etc.

I’m going to ask you to take a risk and share some things with at least one of them. Remember when we talked about how we each have a story?  We need to share those stories with each other. God has put us in the body of Christ for a reason. He knows that we need each other!  We need to be connected with people who can
share truth with us and who can help us move towards hope.

Remember God has also given us a story to tell.

Get out that journal again and that cup of coffee.  Take some time to think through your life story.

Who are the characters in your story?

What’s the setting?

What’s the problem or conflict? (There might more than one).

What are some resolutions you’ve seen? (Are you still waiting for resolution for some things?)

You might want to focus on the last few days or weeks or months, or you may want to go back further than that. Create a plot diagram or a just write down the answers to those questions.  You can draw pictures too if you’d like.

Then think about……

How have the CHARACTERS in your life impacted you? How have the people in your life made a difference to you?

Name ONE PERSON who has made a large impact on your life. Also tell HOW they have made a difference in your life.

How have YOU made a difference in someone else’s life?

What do you LOVE about your story?

What do you HATE about your story?

Now, take a minute to think about God’s story. Even though His story is much bigger than yours, guess what? Although He is the King of the Universe, He has YOU in the palm of His hand.  Your story fits into the bigger story of God’s story.

Sometimes we can’t see where our story is going, but He knows and He has a plan that is much bigger than our plan. Take a minute to think about how big God is. Can you even fathom it? There are more than 7 million people on this planet, and yet He has the whole world in His hand. He knows each person, and He has control over each and every one of those people’s stories-that includes YOUR story. He knows what is best for you, AND He has the power to make sure the best happens.

How do you think your story fits into the bigger picture of God’s story?

How have you seen God at work in your story?

NOW, here’s your challenge.  How much of your story have you shared with those people you listed before?   Some of us don’t like to share our stories with others.  Now the truth is that we don’t have to share our story with everyone we meet, but remember that God has put us in fellowship with others for a reason. He knows that we need each other people.   What part of your story do you think you could share with one of those people?

Think about those same people. How much of THEIR story do you know? Which one of those people do you feel comfortable asking more about their story?

Christmas Week: Monday Moment of Joy or Disappointment

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This is the week for joy-right??? It’s the week we get to spend time with family and see people we haven’t seen in forever.

It’s the week we get to eat good food and open presents.

It’s the week we look forward to because those gifts we’ve spent so much time on will finally be opened. We picture the joy on those family member’s faces as they open that much anticipated gift.

We look forward to some slower down time as many of us have off work. We may even have time to pop popcorn and watch those Christmas movies-you know those movies that are SO predictable? Yep-they’re predictable, but that’s why I love them! I know what’s going to happen-unlike real life where I’m never sure what the next act is going to bring.

It’s the week we anticipate to be full of delight and joy….how’s that going for you today??? Is it all that you anticipated?? or is it full of disappointments?

Today, my moment of joy, came in spending time with a friend. We both had SOOO many things to do today, but we both decided that we needed to take a little bit of time away from all that craziness. So we drove around and got coffee and chatted while her kids slept in the back seat. As we talked, we listed many things that we looked forward to this week but also many things that had not gone the way we planned (and it’s only Monday!)

Maybe you are like us and your Christmas week doesn’t look perfect. Maybe it looks more like this….
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full of messines or muddy relationships or disappointments.

When I got home, I began to think about all those things on my to do list and very quickly became overwhelmed.
Then I was reminded that, yes, this is a week full of anticipation-a week that we look forward to joy. But…..that joy needs to come from remembering why Christ came.

What if our work schedules don’t work out and we don’t get to see all those family members/friends that we wanted to see? What if our family member doesn’t get all excited about that present that we spent so much time on?

What if our “downtime” is spent fixing the plumbing or caring for sick kids or working out health insurance for next year? What if the food doesn’t turn out the way we expect it to? What if our plan doesn’t work?

What if our family time gets “ruined” by a fight or an accident? What if we’re grieving over the loss of a family member or good friend?

How do we find joy in all those disappointments? How will we respond when things don’t go the way we think they should?

Taking some time tonight to find a holy night/a silent night and to bask in God’s love for me. He loves me so much that He would send His only Son into a world full of sin and messiness in order to save me. Wow!!

Hoping you can find some time to slow down this week and reflect on what He’s done for us. Praying for you that you’d find peace in this season-not because everything is calm and has gone the way you want it to, but because God is good and has come to meet us in this mess.

How are you looking for peace during this week?

Joy to the World

What a wonderful season Christmas is!  I love all the lights and the trees and the music, but most of all I love the time we have to stop and think about our Savior.  I love the hymn “Joy to the World.”

As we sing that song in church, though, I have to admit that sometimes I’m more concerned about how my alto part sounds than what those words actually mean.

Sadly that happens often in life too.  God reminds us that our joy comes only from Him, and yet we constantly try to do things to bring that joy back to ourselves.  I do love it when harmony in a song comes together well, but that doesn’t bring lasting joy:).   Recognizing that our Savior reigns is what brings true joy.  “He comes to make His blessings flow….far as the curse is found.”  Man has brought sin into this world, but Christ has conquered it!  His blessings flow “far as the curse is found.”  No matter what we’ve done.  No matter how many times we’ve walked away from Him, He still calls us back.  His death covers all those sins so that we can be seen as blameless before God.  He is our righteousness!  What an amazing gift.  That’s why Christ came to earth-to become our righteousness.  Have we received our King?  Have we trusted Him?  That’s where our joy comes from.

“He rules the earth with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of his righteousnes
And wonders of his love.”

Let’s make time to wonder in His love this Christmas!

As you’re baking those cookies or hanging the ornaments on the tree or shopping for that perfect gift, stop and take time to remember the PERFECT gift of Jesus.  Because of His death and resurrection, we have His perfect life credited to us.  What JOY because of His amazing love for us!

Preview of Hope Booklet is here!

Here’s the link to the preview of the hope booklet. You do have to create an account on teacherspayteachers.com, but this preview is free once you make an account.

Enjoy!

http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Journey-to-Hope-a-booklet-for-teens-looking-for-hope-880167

Hope

Stay tuned for a preview of a new booklet geared towards teens who are dealing with hopelessness or grief.  The booklet walks through the acronym HOPE that I’ve described below-putting the finishing touches on it now!

Honesty

Name what you’re feeling.   Name your sin. Think about your story-where have you been?  Where are you now?  Where do you hope to go?

Omnipresence

Remember God’s constant presence with you. He promises to NEVER leave us!   Thank Him that your story is a part of His bigger story.

People

Move towards other people in the body of Christ.  We need each other!  Listen to them.  Be honest with them.  Ask for help.  Allow others to remind you of God’s truth.

Eternal Perspective

Remember that this world is not all there is.  Christ died for us so that we could live eternally.  2 Corinthians 4

Hope in the Journey

Enjoy this free bookmark:)

http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/HOPE-bookmark-a-reminder-to-hope-in-Christ-823517

In those tough times, I need to remember to….

Be HONEST with my feelings.
Trust in God’s OMNIPRESENCE.
Move towards other PEOPLE in the body of Christ and
Live with an ETERNAL perspective.

Enjoy your weekend!