September 19, Saturday

REPOST Today’s Spiritual Food for Thought, provided by Pastor Barry Kang who heads Symphony Church in Boston, was first posted on April 20, 2013.  He is a graduate of Stanford University (BA), Fuller Theological Seminary (M.Div.) and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (D.Min.). 

Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend

1 Thessalonians 5:16-17

“Be joyful always; 17 pray continually.” 

I confess that this has been a difficult week to be “joyful always”.  The events of this past Monday (Boston Marathon bombing) have left many of my friends, brothers and sisters in Christ confused and dismayed.  How does one find joy in the midst of tragedy?  The reality of course is that even when personal circumstances make joy easier, there is still brokenness and pain all around us of which we are unaware of.  Yet, Paul commands us to be joyful in every circumstance.  

Why?  Because God is still the same!  In every circumstance, the cross still stands for us.  In every circumstance, there is the promise of salvation and redemption.  In every circumstance, we have God with us, and the power which raised Christ from the grave within us (the Holy Spirit).  God’s kingdom will come; His will be done on earth just as it is done in heaven.  Biblical joy cannot be dependent upon the absence of pain and suffering because there is always pain and suffering around us, BUT one day that will not be the case!

And so we discipline our hearts and minds to be joyful in each and every circumstance (and it is a discipline because this isn’t natural to us) by focusing not on the circumstances alone, but on God!  And this is where the discipline of prayer comes in.  Without continual prayer, there cannot be continual joy.  Only through prayer – through our conscious focusing on the person of God, through directing our thoughts upon and toward him – will our hearts recognize the joyful reality of who God is.  

It is not an accident that the most prayerful Christians I know are also the most joyful.  We can think of prayer of being a fruit of joy.  It is true that when we are joyful, our hearts are more inclined to turn toward God.  But it is just as true that when we are prayerful, we recognize all the reasons we have for joy.  

By the way, today we are reading 2 Chronicles 14-15 as part of our daily readings.  Let us read this portion of Scripture prayerfully and joyfully! 

Prayer: Father, I thank You that You forgive my sins anew every morning.  I thank You that the blood of Jesus covers every one of my sins.  Therefore, I rejoice.  Help me to live this day in the freedom that comes from being forgiven and in a right relationship with you. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: 2 Chronicles 14-15

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