Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Saturday, 11 April 20:
Psalm 43:5 — “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.”
In hard times, have you ever felt like God had rejected you, had abandoned you, and had forgotten about you? Take note and comfort that, as the Bible purposefully reveals to us in Psalms, David often felt this way and, like us, had to remind himself to “hope in God,” to “praise Him,” and to rejoice in salvation, even when he didn’t really feel like it. “Rejoice” is a command in the Bible because sometimes we need to be reminded, even commanded, to do it. Rejoice basically means “Joy again” – when you lose your joy, find it again – just do it! Pray in thanksgiving, force yourself to count your blessings, praise God, recite memory verses on God’s love and faithfulness, sing hymns, replace your negative thoughts with positive thoughts, think only on good things, keep your eyes on Jesus, trust Him, and keep following Him.
– Philippians 4:4-9 — Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
– Philippians 4:11 — I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.
Take note that remaining joyful and content through hard times is an ability that must be practiced (Philippians 4:9) before you learn to really do it (Philippians 4:11). You don’t get good at anything without practice, and it usually takes consistency over time. Make your practices each day count.
Sometimes we all need to counsel and coach ourselves not to lose hope in God. This is a normal part of the spiritual walk and is part of our spiritual development. However, we also need the good coaching of Christian friends. Part of a Christian’s spiritual development is learning interdependence (rather than independence or dependence), learning to be mutually caring and supportive, and learning to practice the “one-anothers” with each other. God doesn’t intend for you to go through life alone. God’s greatest command for us is love, and we grow in love when God gives us the opportunity to love others and receive love from others – some people have a hard time caring for others when they need it, but also some people, stuck in pride (and shame), have a hard time receiving care from others. God wants you to have strong Christian friends and family who will gird you up while you are weak and vice versa. If you find yourself saying, “Nobody cares,” perhaps some of the problem is you have put up barriers to relationships; and the way we treat others is usually a reflection of our relationship with God. If you aren’t receptive to God, you probably are not very receptive to other Christians.
– Proverbs 18:1 — Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment.
– Philippians 2:4 — Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
– Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 — Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
– Matthew 18:20 — For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.
– Proverbs 27:17 — Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.
– Galatians 6:2 — Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
Sometimes, when you feel like you need Him the most, God is silent — He is building your faith, trust, and hope. “During a test, the teacher is silent.” Trust God in His silence as He teaches you, and rest in faith and hope. For the true and faithful follower of Christ, God’s silence always ends in a greater revelation and a greater relationship with Him than previously known. Consider what happened to Mary and Martha when they petitioned Jesus to heal their brother Lazarus — in Jesus’ deliberate delay, Lazarus died. This “silence” from Jesus was in fact Jesus preparing to respond to Mary, Martha, and Lazarus in a way that they never could have imagined; Jesus intended to take them to a new place in their relationship with Him, to reveal to them something about Himself that they did not previously grasp: Jesus is the Resurrection! God’s silence is not absence. Quite the contrary, God is preparing you for greater things.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 11 Apr 20: Today, practice rejoicing and being gratefully content in the Lord.