Isaiah 60:19 “No longer will you need the sun to shine by day, nor the moon to give its light by night, for the LORD your God will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory.
When we put up our tree and decorations earlier this month, I went to bed thinking about how much I love light! The next morning, I opened my devotional and was immediately pointed to this verse. It got me thinking about why I pay so much attention to lighting.
As the seasons change in our home, I often adjust the lights. Candles get changed to seasonal colors, floor lamps move to a different corner, lower wattage bulbs are put in strategic places, the fireplace and fire pit get used. Even motion-sensitive night lights find special spots.
I’ve been known to follow my husband around turning lights off before he’s ready to be done with them too. As you might imagine, he doesn’t always appreciate that! I’m learning.
I’m frequently thinking about optimizing the function of each light source. But I’m particularly passionate about establishing atmosphere. My moods are often influenced by things like the colors, orderliness (or lack thereof) and lighting around me.
I just love creating atmosphere!
I love to see people enjoying a beautiful atmosphere too. Atmosphere helps to shape moods, flavors conversations and guides our point of focus. I always like to put a small battery-operated candle in the stable of our manger scene to draw attention to the display in our hallway at Christmastime.
So, as I carefully set lights in their places for Christmas this year and then read this verse a few hours later, I got to thinking about how the light of God’s presence changes the atmosphere of my heart and life!
Unfortunately, things in my heart and mind are not always light and bright during the holidays. Caregiver fatigue is among the things that I let influence my mood.
I want to be more dependent on God to define and refine the atmosphere of my heart and life. I want to be so filled by and reflective of His light, character, presence and peace in me that I don’t rely so much on things or people in this world to keep me out of heavy moods and the darkness of sin.
Jesus came to light up our world, after all!
God is everything we need. We won’t always have a friend or a spouse, a parent or that favorite self-care option. Apparently, we won’t even have the sun or the moon forever. But we will, always and forever, have Jesus to keep the atmosphere of our hearts and lives lit.
Holy Spirit, I need nothing but YOU to establish or shift atmosphere in my life. Emmanuel, please light up my heart in an increasingly personal and intimate relationship between us. Help me carry the glow of Your presence and power within me into the people and spaces around me this week and in the coming year. Thank you for pouring light, love, joy, peace and hope into the atmosphere of our lives!
LISA JAMIESON is a special needs family advocate and co-founder of Walk Right In Ministries where she serves as a caregiver coach and licensed pastoral counsellor. Lisa and her husband, Larry, live in Minnesota with the youngest of their three grown daughters, Carly, who has Angelman Syndrome. Lisa’s books and Bible studies include Finding Glory in the Thorns and the picture book Jesus, Let’s Talk.
My family has learned that we communicate a lot nonverbally. Carly, my sister who has Angelman Syndrome, is (for the most part) nonverbal. So we’ve learned to read the people and situations around us without needing to say much. The problem with that is that we often find ourselves frustrated and even resentful when the people around us are not “reading” what we are not saying.
Hear this loud and clear. It is okay to have needs and to express them.
Did you hear me? It’s okay. It’s good.
We were created to need each other. And that is a blessing!
Caring for one another’s needs is a currency by which we exchange love! If you are a caregiver, you know this full well! We show the one we are caring for that we love them by taking care of their needs! But how do we take that currency of love to all the relationships around us and also let people love us?
As special needs families, we spend much of our lives putting aside our own needs for the more pressing needs of our family member. There is something very beautiful and even noble about the ability to do that for someone else. What an act of service and love!
However, if we completely neglect our own needs, we will slowly wear down our own ability to care well for the very one(s) we are trying to protect.
We can tend to neglect what is going on inside of ourselves in favor of what we have to do to care for others. Then we allow moments of stress to give us permission to unleash all of the negative emotions we’ve got stored up in there. But if we can process our emotions as they come, not every stressful situation will feel like the sky is falling.
I’m as guilty of this as anyone. But I’m learning. If you can catch your emotions early, take time to process them and evaluate what you need before the pent up emotions start creating negative behavior, anger and even resentment towards the people around you (i.e. your family), you’ll find you have much healthier and satisfying interactions them. In turn, you’ll enjoy much better relationships long term. To me, that’s well worth the effort of knowing myself and my emotions — giving them the time of day when they need it!
The best thing you can do for your sibling, parents, kids, family members and friends is to practice self-awareness and be proactive in communicating. There is enormous positive potential in sharing your own needs and asking others to share what they need. Especially in a season where most of us are experiencing more time in close quarters with those around us than ever, it’s important to learn tools for communicating well so everyone remains in good spirits!
We need practice being aware of our own needs and then learn good ways to communicate those needs.
“I’m so busy today, I’m never going to get everything done.”
“You never wash the dishes!”
“I wish the laundry would just wash itself!”
Believe it or not, these are not the best ways to ask for help. In fact, they’re not asking at all. Statements like this may feel like an obvious hint to those around us about what we need. But they don’t actually give effective information about how we would like to be helped! In fact, they can even communicate criticism or disappointment in others and their lack of ability to meet our needs. You’ve essentially told your loved one, even if inadvertently, that they have already lost the battle in trying to help you or love you.
Why would they try now?
How do we take the currency of love to all the relationships around us and also let people love us?
Let me clarify that it is totally okay to express frustrations and disappointments to your loved ones. However, it is important to check our own motives as we do so that we are not trying to send a subtle message behind our words. (We’re all guilty of it, I promise).
Ask yourself what you are feeling and why you are feeling that way.
Ask yourself what would make it better or how others around you can help. (This sounds simple, but for most of us this is actually very difficult and might take a little soul searching, but trust me, it’s worth it.)
Directly ask those around you for what you need!
It sounds profoundly simple, I know. And it is. But once you start thinking about it, and if you’re anything like me, you’ll notice yourself trying to give subliminal messages to those around you without actually saying what you really want or need.
I know, I know, it feels like cheating if you have to ask for it — even selfish! But the truth is, we are asking a lot of the people around us if we are expecting them to read our minds. We are caregivers! We know how to help the person we are caring for. Possibly the people we know least how to help are our other family members — and yes, ourselves.
If you’ve ever been in school, you know the best kind of test is an open book test. When we expect our loved ones to know what we are asking for without us outright saying it, we are asking them to take a test on a textbook they’ve never read! The reality is, they don’t know what you need because your needs are as unique as you are.
Let’s do ourselves and our loved ones a favor this Holiday season (and all year round). Let’s give each other the gift of the answer key to us.
Let’s give each other the information we need to win in relationship with one another!
Erin is a singer-songwriter and worship leader. Her songwriting, blogging, and speaking is often inspired by challenges and insights she experienced growing up in a family affected by disability. Erin serves with Walk Right In Ministries speaking on special sibling issues and assisting with social media. She has also served frequently in her community and home church as a worship leader.
Erin earned her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Songwriting at Belmont University in Nashville and currently lives in California where she completed three years of study at the Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry. Her latest CD Come Alive (released 2018) and is available on iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, YouTube and other streaming services.
Hello, hello my friends! As we make the final stretch toward Christmas, I wanted to share some tips, tricks and listening tools that are helping me through exhaustion and loneliness. They might seem simple but they have been game changers for me.
Start your day with the Lord — through a worship playlist.
I have not been sleeping well. Families impacted by disability and other special needs will surely understand this. For the past couple weeks the glaring alarm clock has become the bane of my existence. When I succumb back into sleep (I’m trying to get up on the first alarm!), I’ve started to play my worship playlist so I wake up to it four minutes later. It has really helped me start the day in a better mood and grounds me into the day to come.
Upon listening to the songs on my list throughout my morning routine, I’m realizing how deeply personal the songs are to my prayer life and relationship with Christ. And in my relationships with others too. I’ve been praying about what has hurt me and what I take to the Lord every day.
I have searched for songs that speak into those things. I’m finding that the words of others can be borrowed for a time to help heal and shape some of my deepest hurts. Some songs included, but not absolutely limited to, are Holy Water by We The Kingdom, Good Good Father by Housefires, Hallelujah Even Here by Lydia Laird and Whole Heart by Hillsong United.
While I know introspection and worship can be deeply personal, this music has been a fun and interesting way for me to be reminded daily of the goodness of God. I’d love to hear some of your favorite songs that help get you through the day!
Set intentional time aside with the Lord.
I’ve had the Holy Bible app downloaded on my phone for has long as I’ve had a smartphone. But I recently discovered a whole new way to use it. I may be late to the party but I usually use it to look up scripture when I’m creating an Instagram post or when I’m trying to think of a new email signature. Little did I know that they have hundreds of devotionals!
You can browse the numerous categories they have or you can search by keyword. It can read the content to you alongside any task you tackle in the day (much like listening to an audiobook or your favorite podcast). I’ve added a video below to show you how to find a study you like and how fast it can be.
The app also provides interactive bible study stories for our friends who are young and young at heart. The devotionals can range from just a few days to several months long. It will keep track of your progress and even send you reminders everyday if you want it to. You can do studies privately or with friends to keep each other accountable. And you can save plans for later if you stumble on one that looks intriguing but you’re not ready to get started.
Sometimes I get so intimidated by guilt or obligation to do my quiet times and therefore don’t do them. This has made it easy to commit and make space in my day.
Lighten up and laugh with others.
Since this month’s Resource Corner seems to be all about listening, I think I’ll round it out with the Mama Bear Podcast. Sean and Mary Susan McConnell adopted their daughter Abiella, who has cerebral palsy and microcephaly. As the host of the show, Mary Susan shares any and all stories of their lives.
Upon bring Abi home, Mary Susan was pursuing her Masters in Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment and has since completed her Doctorate in Special Education. She is one smart mama and is so raw and real I believe that I am friends with her when I am listening to her stories. She brings intimate insight into struggles and solutions that only a special parent would know and she makes this big world feel so much simpler when she talks about Abi and the joy she feels and brings.
One of my favorite episodes is #108 where Mary Susan and Sean talk about the parenting goals they did and did not meet in 2019 and what they want to accomplish in 2020. Another one that caught my attention is #82 as Mary Susan shares a list of ten tiny things that can help in the chaos. I found it to be extremely encouraging and inspiring.
The McConnell’s make me laugh a lot I look forward to her new weekly episodes.
As we celebrate Christmas and enjoy listening to the sounds of the season, we can be assured that God hears us too. Jesus came. He knows our heart cries and our needs intimately. And He came to offer us the best of all possible gifts on the ultimate of all rescue missions.
Lo’ He is with us always — from manger babe to risen King!
Claire Krantz is a blogger, reader, hiker, camper, game-player, puzzle nut, music fan and general lover-of-people. She speaks in exclamations points — which is her friends’ way of saying she exudes cheer, encouragement, hope and fun. She grew up and lives in the Midwest where she is personally and professionally dedicated to living among friends of all abilities and celebrating God’s unique and purposeful design of every person.
Follow more of Claire’s reading adventures on Instagram @readingwithcb.
I think I can speak for all of us when I say the last year has been riddled with difficult decisions and the experience of being stuck between a rock and a hard place. There have been very few (if any) easy solutions in this season of life. It’s overwhelming to say the least. There are so many layers to the ways this pandemic has affected each of us.
For me, when the shelter in place was ordered in my state back in March of this year, it marked an unexpected and abrupt ending to my last year of ministry school. It was a frustrating and disappointing loss. My family had planned a trip to California for my graduation complete with a caregiver for my sister Carly so we could all enjoy ourselves through the festivities. (Carly is 22 years old and has Angelman Syndrome.) I certainly missed the opportunity to celebrate such a monumental moment alongside my family whom I hadn’t seen since Christmas 2019.
Of course at that point in time, none of us knew the extent to which this pandemic would encroach on our plans, and our lives.
I knew when I moved across the country from my family that there would be times we would have to go long periods of time without seeing one another. But I never imagined having such a barrier between my family and me. I never imagined a world where I would have to protect my sister by staying away from her.
For most of the fall it looked like I wouldn’t be coming home for the holidays this year. Trying to navigate travel and figuring out how to adequately quarantine and protect my family while limiting my time away from my commitments back in California was a feat.
I never imagined a world where I would have to protect my sister by staying away from her.
For better or worse, the lockdowns in my state actually allowed me the flexibility to come home for the holidays. However, in order to limit travel, coming home for Thanksgiving meant staying through the New Year—a break I would have been used to in my college years, but a long time to be away from your own home when you’re 25 years old.
Bittersweet. It’s all bittersweet. Opportunities borne out of frustrating circumstances.
One of the gifts of being away for long periods of time is that I come back seeing things from a different perspective. I’ve been able to encourage my parents and Carly’s caregiver by sharing progress I see that they don’t always fully recognize when they are with her every day. It’s also hard to see, up close, the ways this pandemic has challenged them all. Carly is extremely adventurous and social. It is heartbreaking to see her working so hard to cope with the changes and navigate what is going on. I have been encouraged to see her doing so well despite how immensely difficult this season must be for her.
One of the gifts of being away for long periods of time is that I come back seeing things from a different perspective.
Carly’s favorite times seem to be when everyone is together. I know that my presence brings a certain amount of peace to Carly. But I also know the confusion and grief she will feel when I again leave for another unknown period of time.
Through it all, I am feeling so thankful to get to be with my family this Holiday season, knowing it could easily have gone differently.
As a sister, it’s wonderful to know that bringing myself back into Carly’s world can bring some normalcy and joy to this chaotic season of her life.
And I know that some Carly snuggles will do me worlds of good too.
Erin is a singer-songwriter and worship leader. Her songwriting, blogging, and speaking is often inspired by challenges and insights she experienced growing up in a family affected by disability. Erin serves with Walk Right In Ministries speaking on special sibling issues and assisting with social media. She has also served frequently in her community and home church as a worship leader. Erin earned her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Songwriting at Belmont University in Nashville and currently lives in California where she completed three years of study at the Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry. Her latest CD Come Alive (released 2018) and is available on iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, YouTube and other streaming services.
Philippians 2:4 Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.
“How are you really doing?”
Oh, how I love to be asked that question, in that way!
On a regular basis, I hear words of longing expressed by parents caring for children with special needs. There is an aching to have their bittersweet situation acknowledged. They need to be overtly asked. And they need to know the person asking really does want to know the answer — that they’re not simply throwing out a casual greeting or just trying to be polite.
For me it’s like a warm hug to be asked for a personal update, and about my family’s wellbeing. To be honest, people didn’t ask very often before Covid-19. In the midst of these prolonged weeks and months of pandemic isolation (and lack of hugs), they ask even less. Yet Covid has intensified the need to be asked.
I’ll admit, I haven’t always made it easy for people to ask. Sometimes I overshare. Sometimes people assume the answer and skip the question. Sometimes my situation is complicated and intimidates or overwhelms people. They feel lost about how to help. What they don’t seem to understand is that I don’t expect anyone to fix or change our situation. What I need most is to feel heard, seen and cared about.
Does this surprise you? Does it seem strange to you that no one is asking? Have you felt the distance too? After all, we’re all Covid-weary. We’re all struggling to think outside of our own heads and needs these days, aren’t we? Maybe we think we already know the answer to the question. Picking up the phone, coordinating a video call or meandering into a room on the House Party app should be simple enough. Yet, most of us are on autopilot or in “survival mode” trying to make the most of days that look very different than we expected or hoped.
In years past, I had one friend who asked the question another way. We would go for a walk together once a month or so and she would say, “how is your heart?” I would chuckle at the predictability of it but felt grateful it reflected the heart of someone who really cared to slow down and listen to my answer.
I had a telehealth visit earlier this fall as I’ve been recovering from an Achilles injury. My doctor who appreciates my broader life situation started the visit asking about more than just my leg. Her “how are you doing?” was intended broadly and she responded warmly to my long sigh. She smiled knowingly and explained that another of her patients replied to that question earlier in the day saying, “we’re Covid fine.” We both laughed and nodded knowingly. We might all use the phrase “Covid fine” at this point. Life isn’t terrific, that’s for sure. But we seem to be getting by somehow. There are good days and hard days, holy moments and horrible moments.
As my own family limps along toward Christmas creating ways to adapt, enjoy and appreciate the meaning of life along the way, we are also experiencing waves of grief. The grief has little or nothing to do with Covid actually, or even the loss of a loved one. It is just the typical chronic experience of sorrow we feel around the holidays because of how disability impacts activities and fellowship for us at this time of year.
Triggers are everywhere and often come up unexpectedly. I used to grieve every time I pulled out the Christmas stockings because I couldn’t hang them where I wanted them on the fireplace mantel because they were a safety hazard to Carly. Thankfully, I’ve grown to love them hanging along the stairway railing in our front entryway. But there are plenty of other triggers of grief ranging from disappointment that a simple church service, family game night or puzzle time needs to be carefully orchestrated like some major production.
These days, “how are you doing?” feels like a rhetorical question. Still, it helps to talk about it. Most of us benefit from having our grief feelings articulated and acknowledged.
Grief needs space to breathe.
Entering into deeper conversations can be hard. There might be tears. Emotions tend to be messy when they ooze out sideways, so it’s better to give them room to breathe in a safe and regular way. (I wrote a couple of years ago about creating safe spaces to process life, especially with special siblings.)
My prayer in these early days of December is already for something very simple. I’m asking the Lord to sink deep into our souls this lesson about slowing down and paying attention to each other. There may be no greater gift to share this year.
May our relationships become richer by resisting assumptions, courageously and intentionally entering into conversations, and taking time to really listen to each other. I’ve been reminded that I need to be more direct with my loved ones about what I need and hope for this year (not expecting them to read my mind or between the lines of my words). I’m also asking the Lord to help me listen to the spirit of what others are saying and not be distracted by the tone of their voice or their choice of words. Many of us are under a lot of stress right now. Our messages aren’t always coming across the way we want them to or even the way we think they are.
For Christmas 2020, we’ll need more grace for others and for ourselves.
Let’s give each other the gift of heart-reaching conversations. That will be music to our ears this holiday season.
Colossians 3:12 So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
Next week, Walk Right In Ministries has a musical Christmas treat for you. We’re going to do a Real Talk Livestream featuring Christmas music with Regie Hamm. He’ll read an excerpt from his Christmas story One Silent Night and share personal stories from life as a special needs dad. We hope you’ll feel pampered in the resonance and enjoy some literal music for your ears.
We’ll also take questions LIVE in the Facebook comments as well as ahead of time and privately via email to firstname.lastname@example.org or Instant Messenger.
Find us here on Thursday, December 10th at Noon (CDT).
Regie Hamm is an author, blogger, hit songwriter, artist, and producer who has penned over twenty #1 hits, earned multiple Grammy and Dove nominations, and won SESAC’s Songwriter of the Year award four times. His solo-written song “Time Of My Life” (sung by 2008 American Idol winner David Cook) stayed at #1 for four months on the pop charts. The amazing story is chronicled in his book, Angels & Idols.
Regie has written for Clay Aiken, Backstreet Boys, Rascal Flatts, Jaci Velasquez, Rebecca St. James, Mercy Me, Clay Cross, Gaither Vocal Band, Point of Grace, Mark Schultz, Bob Carlisle, Dallas Holm, Joy Williams, Avalon and more!
Regie and Yolanda’s have two adopted children. Their daughter Bella was born in China and adopted in 2003, then later diagnosed with Angelman Syndrome.
I made two batches of Christmas cookies yesterday and found myself reminiscing over how the process makes me feel connected to loved ones of Christmases past. For example, I remembered the special way my grandma stored her cookies. She kept them in tins on the floor of her front coat closet. The cookies stayed cold there because she had a mail slot in the wall that let the winter chill leak inside. I shuddered to go in there but the reward was worth a hundred shivers! As I flipped through old cookbooks, I found a note from 1994 showing we made 75 dozen cookies that year. Four families gathered with our little ones for a whole afternoon and made nine different kinds. As the kids got older, we got even more productive but the pizza bill in the evenings also got quite a bit larger.
Baking, in general, makes me feel more connected to my roots. As I considered which traditional cookies to make this Christmas and imagined the similarities of my process to other women in my family, I found myself cherishing those relationships and generations.
I also thought of friends. One of my girlfriends made a traditional British cookie. It was only her third Christmas in the US at the time. Another friend used salt in place of sugar in a recipe one year and we still laugh about those first confused bites of recognition. Another friend made huge monster cookies when the rest of us were making dainty and fancy Christmas morsels. She grew up on a farm with six kids. I’m sure that situation played a significant part in forming her family’s tradition. It was fun to see our unique histories reflected in the variety when everything got plated up.
The way I feel connected to my fellow bakers during cookie baking is much like the connection I feel to other special needs moms at holiday time.
When my stressors are high because Carly’s routines are out of whack or when family games are interrupted by a diaper catastrophe, I’m tempted to feel sorry for myself. Holidays have a way of shining a spotlight on the many ways my life is vastly different — more complicated and more demanding — than it is for most of those around me. I long for more freedom to experience the ease and spontaneous joys of festive seasons. And those thoughts can make me feel emotional, depressed, frustrated, guilty and different or isolated from the rest of the world.
Reality is I am not alone. There is a world
full of special needs parents who know a great deal about challenges just like
mine. They are in their own homes, often feeling very alone amidst the
merriment too. That’s why one of my favorite go-to verses during holidays and
vacations is 1 Peter 5:8-11. I am comforted that others understand my
challenges and I find great reassurance that God is a warrior advocate for me.
Cast all your anxieties on God, because he cares for you. The Devil is poised to pounce, and would like nothing better than to catch you napping. Keep your guard up and resist him. You’re not the only ones plunged into these hard times. It’s the same with Christians all over the world. So keep a firm grip on your faith in Jesus Christ. The suffering won’t last. It won’t be long before this generous God who has great plans for us in Christ—eternal and glorious plans they are! — will have you put together and on your feet for good. God has you on a firm foundation.
He holds dominion and He gets the last word. Yes, he does.
1 Peter 5:8-11 (paraphrased)
Friends, let’s praise God we are interconnected around the world and through the generations! I’ll be praying for you while I bake.
Jesus said “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 (NLT)
We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. Romans 5:3-5 (NLT)
2. God remains your most faithful advocate.
The Israelites continued to groan under their burden of slavery. They cried out for help, and their cry rose up to God. God heard their groaning, and he remembered his covenant promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He looked down on the people of Israel and knew it was time to act. Yes, I am aware of their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them.”Exodus 2:23-25, 3:7-8 (NLT)
So Jesus told them this story: 4 “If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it? 5 And when he has found it, he will joyfully carry it home on his shoulders. 6 When he arrives, he will call together his friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’ 7 In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away! Luke 15:3-7 (NLT)
And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will.Romans 8:26-27 (NLT)
3. You are never alone.
So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your family of believers all over the world is going through the same kind of suffering you are. In his kindness God called you to share in his eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation. 1 Peter 5:6-10 (NLT)
Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you.” Deuteronomy 31:8 (NLT)
4. When you suffer, God’s comfort will be multiplied to you and through you.
All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ. 2 Corinthians 1:3-5 (NLT)
One definition of worship is “to express reverence or adoration of someone or some thing.” By this definition we have all been guilty, at one time or another, of showing more affection, appreciation and priority for other people, places, objects and activities in our lives than we have shown toward God Himself. Jesus knew that true children of God would make it their priority to follow Him into the world proclaiming the Kingdom of God (Luke 9:57-62). People who are awakened to the joy of their salvation want everything about their lives to reflect the One who has rescued them.
“But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:7-14
Jesus Himself often told people to go tell their friends and family what God had done for them (Mark 5:18-20, Luke 8:39). But there were also many times when Jesus didn’t specifically instruct someone to go and tell. They just did. They did because they were so moved by Jesus’ compassion toward them and His power of transformation in their lives that they couldn’t stop talking about Him! And the passion of their testimony paired with the evidence seen in their renovated lives caused people to be amazed and worship God (Mark 2:11-12). Oh, that our enthusiasm and gratitude would overflow as worship (Psalm 23:5, Romans 15:13, 2 Corinthians 4:15, 2 Corinthians 8:2, 2 Corinthians 9:12, Colossians 2:7)!
“As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him—you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” 1 Peter 2:4-5, 9