• Jason Wade


16 Rejoice always,17 pray continually,18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

As we walk into another day, how do any of us continue to rejoice in the Lord ALWAYS? You know. I know that we all struggle in thinking that we have to rejoice each and every day and give thanks to God for His many blessings. BUT, and yes there is really a but in all of our lives, but sometimes it really gets hard. It causes us to really to step back and question a lot of things that we are doing in our lives. We continue to allow doubt, frustration and the outside world to enter into our hearts, our minds, and our souls. We allow the doubt to step into the place that God created for joy. We allow desperation to fill the void that God created conversation, and we allow blindness to replace the vision that God has placed in our eyes to move forward and step out in trust and passion.

We have already talked about the importance of the word persistence. To be able to step into the struggle and to continue to be stretched beyond what we really think that we can withstand. But see, it is in these moments when we finally realize that we cannot do anything on our own. It is at this point to where we are stretched beyond our boundaries that we let down our guards and finally allow God into the story to show us just how much more we really can go. I just want to remind you of one of my favorite scriptures, "I can do ALL things through Christ who gives me strength." It is not in my safe decisions that have allowed me to

learn the difficult lessons that have stretched me into the person I am today. It is in the fullness of us letting everything go and watching as God will pick up the pieces and redesign the picture for our lives that we have messed up. We have the wrong pieces all over the place. We struggle to rejoice because it seems as though we are never getting any closer to God but that we are really just feeling so distant from God, and I have to tell you, that is part of the stripping down of the layers that provides the moment where we begin the conversations that need to happen with God through prayer. Rejoice ALWAYS... because whatever the moment or situation, it could lead us into a point to where we are truly humbled and have open and honest conversations with God.

It allows us to let go and let God pick us up and truly give thanks. It gives us the ability to see everything thing that we do from a totally different lens than the one we have been looking through from the world. We are once again returning to the mindset of a child in full trust and belief that God is exactly who God says He is. See as we look at the Scriptures today, we see Paul's realness come to life. He has been beaten, imprisoned, threatened, starved, ridiculed, ran out of town and yet he still encourages us to rejoice and give thanks for the lessons that we have learned. I have told many people that the lessons that we learn in this life is all for the final test that comes at the end of this life. And there is nothing we can do at the end to change the answers. See our lives are the test. Every day is another opportunity to be examined about how we were able to learn and apply the life lessons from the day before. It would almost be like answering a word problem about 2 trains that leave from separate stations at different times and traveling at different rates of speed. It really does not matter to us which one will reach the station first until we have to choose the train to get us to the job on time. Then all of the information becomes relevant. Same is true in our daily scenarios. Every day is a chance for us to personally grow in our faith and apply it in the lives of others. Every day is a chance to help not only learn but also to teach others about the value of their lives as well.

So we step into today... the sun is shining, the birds are singing, and there is another chance to stretch, rejoice and give thanks. There is another day to change the world. There is another day to be the hands and feet of God and the only person that will know if you have given your best is you. The only one that will know if you cheated your self out of a chance to grow more is you... well and God. But the rest of the world will see what you allow them to see. Paul puts everything into a really simple model... Step 1: Rejoice Always- If you are alive, God still has a plan for you today. It may be painful, it may be a mountain top experience, but remember God has a purpose for you. Step 2: Pray continually. Strive to move into such an intimate relationship with God that you are in the moment of discernment with God in all things. It becomes a part of a fluid state and you don't have to pause and stop everything

just to have a conversation. You just start talking and you already know God is listening. And finally, Step 3: Give Thanks. Give thanks for the moments that God has led you to and from each day. Give thanks for the blessings you see and the blessings you don't even realize happen around you all day. Give thanks because your heart is full of God's grace, love and mercy and you begin to realize that every day is a gift. When you are finally able to push through all of the muck... when you are able to finally find a way to stop swimming upstream and fighting God's call, then you will realize that the persistence was not just yours. But the persistence was part of God's prevenient grace that has been surrounding you all of your life. It's not just the idea that we are persistently pursuing God, but the real reality is that God NEVER stops persistently pursuing His creation.

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