Take 5 (December 12-16, 2016)

Robert Ballard • Pastor of Worship Ministries

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Joy to the World: Finding Joy in the Midst of Circumstances

One of the most famous Christmas carols is “Joy to the World.” Yes, Christmas is a time of joy for most; however, many find this time of year difficult. It is important to know that, as long as we are living in this depraved world, discouragement is going to occur from life events that didn’t go as planned or from people who have let us down. However, as believers, let us remain focused on Jesus so we can be joyful in the face of discouragement.

MONDAY: Circumstances and Our Contentment

Psalm 103:5

Too many times, the cause of our disappointment is placed on someone or something that did not meet our expectations. Getting that new job, house, or friendship didn’t quite satisfy us the way we had expected it to. Psalm 103:5 talks about how the Lord is the only One who can truly satisfy us. As much as we want to allow people, promotions, or possessions to satisfy us, we need to realize that if we expect to find satisfaction in these things, we are certainly going to be disappointed. God never promised us that we wouldn’t face disappointments, but He does promise us that we will be satisfied if we seek Him first. Psalm 16:11 reminds us that in God’s presence, there is fullness of joy, and at His right hand are pleasures forevermore. Our circumstances will not provide true joy or contentment–only Jesus can satisfy!

What areas of my life am I using to satisfy my soul other than God?

TUESDAY: Circumstances Give Us Opportunities

Acts 20:35

When you are facing discouragement, sometimes the last thing you want to do is give. Most times, you are tired and weary and would rather be left alone. The solution to our disappointment is an act that goes contrary to what our flesh wants. God wants us to take our eyes off ourselves and our circumstances and help those who cannot help themselves. Maybe God wants you to make a meal for your elderly neighbor, buy diapers for the single mom you saw at the store, or send a card to someone you know is ill or hurting. Actions such as these help us to clear our minds from thoughts that are centered on ourselves and gain a more Christ-like mindset.

Ask the Lord to show you someone to whom you could be a blessing today.

WEDNESDAY: Circumstances Change Our Perspective

Philippians 4:4

When disappointments occur, it is so easy to fix our eyes solely on ourselves and our situation. Sometimes, we so desperately want to sit and have a pity-party. It is during these moments, however, that God intervenes in our lives and allows someone to cross our path in order to help us gain perspective on our own situation. Philippians 4:4 says “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.” For me, those moments were very eye-opening and allowed me to say, “God, this situation might be difficult, but I am going to make it through one day at a time. And I am going to thank you for it.” For example, money is tight, and it would be easier to complain about what you don’t have. However, God could send someone to cross your path that has far less than you, but is joyful and content. Keep your eyes open for these moments.

How might this trial help you see your circumstance from another viewpoint?

THURSDAY: Circumstances Are Teachable Moments

1 Samuel 17:34-35

I can remember the work it took for me to succeed in college. It seemed like all I was doing throughout the semester was studying. However, when it came time for finals, I felt prepared because I had learned a lot during those late hours of cramming and completing projects in the preceding weeks. This is kind of how our life can be. God uses small trials in our lives to prepare us for larger ones. We learn what it is that God is trying to show us during these trials through reading His Word, praying, and seeking godly counsel. When we do this, our minds and thoughts are more prepared when the larger issues of life come our way. This reminds me of when David said to Saul, “Your servant was tending his father’s sheep when a bear came and took a lamb from the flock, I went out after him and attacked him, and rescued it from his mouth; and when he rose up against me, I seized him by his beard and struck him and killed him…” This small trial helped David prepare for battle against Goliath. Rest assured, God is using your present circumstance to prepare you for greater victory ahead!

Consider the small trials you have overcome in your life that have prepared you to face the larger ones to come.

FRIDAY: Circumstances Are Temporary

Psalm 27:14

In a society that wants everything immediately, the last thing we want to hear is “wait.” Yet, sometimes that is exactly what God wants us to do. In the midst of difficult situations, you might sometimes begin to wonder if this trial will ever end. The nights can be long and lonely, while the days are difficult to face. Psalm 30:5 encourages those in the midst of a trial when it says, “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” God has not forsaken you. There is soon coming a day–maybe tomorrow, maybe next week, or maybe even when God Himself returns–in which this trial will be over. Rest assured, child of God, that this situation will not last forever. As believers, we can always say that our best days are to come!

Write down Psalm 30:5 and place it in a prominent place in your home or office. Be encouraged!