the joy set before us


Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising its shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

(Hebrews 12:1 – 2)

For many of us, 2012 has been a difficult and wonderful year. We have gone through a variety of trials, joys, failures, triumphs. I doubt any of us have had a perfect year, and I also doubt that any of us have seen a completely joyless year. Nevertheless, we all hope for a good 2013.

The year of 2013 is certain to have its ups and downs as well, but we need not be afraid. We have our Lord with us. The One who made us, the One who has performed endless miracles and victories, the One who made the universe – He is on our side. He will protect us, stand by us, hide us in Himself, save us.

Paul says that we are surrounded by “so great a cloud of witnesses,” angels. Angels aren’t delicate creatures with wings that fly around with halos. They’re heavenly warriors, soldiers; strong and mighty to fight Satan’s forces for us. We are not alone in this world! Since we are surrounded by this great cloud of warriors fighting for us, we shouldn’t be afraid to go forth in the name of Jesus Christ! We can throw aside our sin in His name and run with endurance the race ahead of us. Although we do not yet know what 2013 holds for us, we can already declare victory in the name of our Lord and Saviour because He is always victorious.

Jesus was hung on a cross and He went to it willingly because He knew that from this, greater joy would come. We ought to have this attitude with us too in the year ahead. We know that there will be struggles, pain, things we don’t (and maybe never will) understand. The Christian life is not a life of roses. There are temptations, burdens, valleys and battles. But if we go forth knowing that, if we turn to God in every circumstance and say “yes” to Him, He will turn our sorrow into joy, our burdens into blessings and our valleys into conquered mountains.

Jesus underwent a horrible experience out of love—love for us and love for His Father. As a result, He “sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” If we say “yes” to God in the difficulties, trials, pains—when God doesn’t even seem there—we will be richly blessed and we will grow in our faith in Him. God uses trials to strengthen us, but only if we let Him. Will you commit to allowing Him to work in your life and help you grow this year, no matter how painful it is?

I know Who goes before me
I know Who stands behind
The God of angel armies
Is always by my side.

The One who reigns forever
He is a friend of mine
The God of angel armies
Is always by my side.

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enough


All of You is more than enough

For all of me, for every thirst and every need

You satisfy me with Your love and all I have in You

Is more than enough.

(Enough, Chris Tomlin)

 

Have you ever tried to survive by just drinking water?  You can have as much water as you want, but you can only have water.  Nothing else—no food or other drinks.  Just water.  Or have you tried to survive by living off of only one specific food?  Like only bread, or only rice?  Probably not, unless you’re doing a 30-hour famine.  We know that it’s nearly impossible to eat or drink only one thing and be healthy.  The human body needs a variety of nutrients in order to be healthy.

The same is true for our souls.  Have you been trying to live off of only one aspect of God?  Maybe you’ve only accepted the part of God that forgives.  Maybe you only accept God if you forget about the side of Him that says to honor Him in everything you do—not just Sundays and youth group.  Or maybe you are okay with God in everything except loving your enemies.

But the truth is that we need all of God to be spiritually healthy.  True, some things about God don’t look appealing at first glance; such as we need to actively serve Him otherwise we aren’t truly following Him.  Or that we need to have faith when everything is falling apart and God seems to be nowhere close because He is faithful even when we can’t see Him.  Or those who are “good people” but haven’t accepted Jesus as their Lord and Saviour won’t receive the eternal reward.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

(2 Corinthians 12:9a)

God says that His grace is sufficient for us.  It’s enough for us to live our spiritual lives off of.

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus

(Romans 3:23 – 24)

We are all justified by the grace of God.  We are made whole through Him.  If we accept all of God, He will accept all of us, just as we are.  It’s not enough to just accept a part of God.  It’s all or nothing:

 I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot.  Would that you were either cold or hot!  So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.

(Revelation 3:15 – 16)

God requires the whole of us and He requires that we put our faith in all of Him, not just the areas that suit our needs.  He is enough for us.  Is that true in your life?

rapture ruckus: all things new


This weekend, I was introduced to the band Rapture  Ruckus. They’re from New Zealand and they’re kinda awesome. : ) Here’s two of their amazing songs from their new album, Open Your Eyes. The first one, All Things New, has  a really upbeat verse but I love the chorus. And the second one, “Hold On,” is really good too. Enjoy! : )