Count it All Joy

You can have a melody down in your heart,

when it’s aching, almost breaking,

Even though the sorrow makes the teardrops start,

You can have a melody down in your heart.

James 1:2-4 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

This is the Word of God, for the people of God.

Thanks be to God.

Let us pray: Father God, we acknowledge that You alone are the Giver of joy. May our joy be complete as we look to You, and You alone, as the source of every good thing. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

This is a strange time in which we live. 2020 had barely begun when we started hearing of a new virus called the novel coronavirus which soon gained pandemic status. Then, just as it seemed normalcy was returning, the news of the senseless death of a man named George Floyd ignited literal firestorms in cities around the world. In places like Little Rock, where I live, we were under an 8 pm curfew.

I am old, yet there are many things I still do not understand. But, there is one thing I know, understand and believe. When words fail, when understanding is limited, just say Jesus. You see, joy does not come as a result of our circumstances but in spite of our circumstances. James wrote in his letter to the universal church that our faith will be tested, but the test is not what matters. It is the way we react to this testing that reveals our character.

The word joy appears over and over again in the Scriptures. The psalmists write, “Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning” (Ps. 30:5b) and “Shout for joy to God, all the earth” (Ps. 66:1). Likewise, in the New Testament, we read that joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:22).

 Joy is not a fleeting emotion, but instead it is a gift from the Holy Spirit and as our relationship with Christ grows, so does our joy. Life is full of choices.  In the midst of the fear over a pandemic, the anger due to injustice, the many things we encounter in this life, I encourage you to choose joy.

Receive now this blessing: Joy is one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Allow the Holy Spirit to flood your heart and soul with the joy that only He can give.  Take the name of Jesus with you, and share Him with all you meet.


Till the Storm Passes By

Song: Peace, Peace Wonderful Peace

Far away in the depths of my spirit tonight
Rolls a melody sweeter than psalm;
In celestial-like strains it unceasingly falls
O’er my soul like an infinite calm.

  • Refrain:
    Peace, peace, wonderful peace,
    Coming down from the Father above!
    Sweep over my spirit forever, I pray
    In fathomless billows of love!

There are two storms I think of in the Bible that help me to put life’s difficulties into perspective. First, I am reminded of the storm in which Jonah found himself. You remember the story.  Jonah was a prophet of God, but he had received only one word from God, and it had been a long time ago. When God finally spoke to Jonah again, giving him the mission to take the word of repentance to the Ninevites, Jonah was not happy. Who would want to save the Ninevites? They were horrible people. Yet, because Jonah knew if he took God’s word to them, they would receive it and be saved, he ran.

Jonah ran down to Joppa where he found a boat and ran and hid in the bottom of the boat. But you can’t hide from God. A storm came, and the sailors realized this was a storm of supernatural origin. So, they ran down to the hold of the boat, woke Jonah up, and said, Please, pray to your God to stop this storm so that we might be saved.  At Jonah’s instruction, the men threw him into the waters and the storm immediately stopped.

Then there was the storm in Matthew 8:23-26 (NRSV)

23 And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. 24 A windstorm arose on the sea, so great that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. 25 And they went and woke him up, saying, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!” 26 And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, you of little faith?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a dead calm.

This is the word of God for the people of God.

Thanks be to God.

 Let us pray: Father God, today may we learn from the storms to find safety in You. May our faith be strengthened and our hope grow large within us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Jonah’s storm was a storm of Jonah’s own making, and it existed to point Jonah to God. The storm told about in the gospel of Matthew was one that came from nature, and it existed to point the disciples toward God.

Notice how in both stories, Jonah and Jesus were asleep in the bottom of the boat while the storm raged. I would imagine Jonah slept because he was exhausted from all of his running. Jonah was able to appease the storm by ending up in the belly of a fish, where he spent three days and three nights reflecting upon his situation and becoming obedient to God. Jesus, fully man and fully God, slept because He knew the wind and the seas were no danger to him, and when he said, Peace, be still, the storm had no choice other than to obey.

We are living in the storms of a pandemic which we cannot seem to control. And in the midst of the fear and disruption over this disease, we have come face to face with the injustice against our fellow man that still exists in the 21st Century. Both of these storms threaten to capsize the boat, but it is only Jesus who can calm the troubled seas.

Let us allow Jesus to speak peace over our situation, understanding that sometimes relief is immediate, but at other times we need to rely on God’s peace to go with us and bring us comfort and assurance, even in the midst of the storm.

Receive now this blessing: There is no storm so severe that God will not be with you. Take shelter in the God who is larger than the storm, larger than your problems. Take the name of Jesus you, and share Him with all you meet. In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Yet, I WILL Rejoice in the Lord

Give thanks with a grateful heart

Give thanks to the Holy One

Give thanks because He’s given

Jesus Christ, His Son (Repeat)

And now, let the poor say, “I am rich,

Let the weak say I am strong,

because of what the Lord has done for us”

Give Thanks

The book of Habakkuk is located between Nahum and Zephaniah near the back of the Old Testament.

Habakkuk 3:17-19 (NRSV) 17 Though the fig tree does not blossom,

and no fruit is on the vines;

though the produce of the olive fails,

and the fields yield no food;

though the flock is cut off from the fold,

and there is no herd in the stalls,

18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord;

I will exult in the God of my salvation.

19 God, the Lord, is my strength;

he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,

and makes me tread upon the heights.

This is the Word of God for the people of God.

Thanks be to God.

 Let us pray: Father God, you alone are the source of every good thing in our lives. Help us today to know, understand and believe that all of our hope is in You. May we have the joy that comes in knowing you and trusting in you. Amen.

How many of you have never even heard of Habakkuk? For some reason, there are not many sermons or Bible studies on Habakkuk, who was a prophet in Jerusalem, probably around 609-598 B.C. since he spoke of events that would occur around the time the Babylonians defeated the Northern Kingdom.

Called the questioning prophet, it is easy to see where he got his name.  Habakkuk constantly questioned God, not with “are you really God?” but instead, “why are you making me see these horrible things”, and ultimately, “why will you use a people even more wicked than we are to bring us to judgment?”

Habakkuk reminds us of Jonah, except while Jonah ran from God’s words, Habakkuk began to pray. And notice that when Habakkuk prayed, he didn’t do all of the talking. He listened. Habakkuk was asking the same questions many of us are asking today. “Why do you allow evil to continue upon this earth? Where is justice?  And, reading this scripture  reminds us that while God may seem silent and uninvolved in our world, He always has a plan.

After years of questioning God, Habakkuk finally came to know the One, True, and the Living God. With that knowledge came the understanding that, even in the midst of turmoil, we can learn to praise the Creator of the Universe, the One Who gave His only Son for our salvation, and the One Who waits to embrace us when our journey here has ended.

Habakkuk shows us that we should not just praise God only for what He has done, but for who He is.  We were created to have relationship with God, and part of that relationship is the desire to praise Him. What has happened to that desire to give God the glory, not just for the great things He has done, but for His very nature?

Where is God in all of this chaos in which we now live? God has not changed, and God has not moved. God is the one constant in each of our lives.

One of my favorite books is “Hinds Feet on High Places,” by Hannah Hurnard. Written in allegorical form, it is the story of a little deer who was afraid of everything. But she heard the sound of the Good Shepherd, who beckoned her to join him in the High Places. It was a treacherous journey, and when she finally reached the peaks of the mountains, she looked down and saw a cross that would have made her journey so much easier.

Today, I encourage you to turn off the news for even one day, turn away from the world, and turn toward Jesus and just give thanks. Allow Jesus Christ to make your feet like the feet of deer, swift and sure, so that you can climb above the cares of this world.

Receive now this blessing: Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Be thankful and take the name of Jesus with you and share Him with all you meet.




There’s Something Wonderful About Today

Today we are quarantined from a virus

We are not living our normal days

Yet we can still lift our eyes to the King of all Kings

We can still lift high our praise.


We witness anger and chaos

It chills us to our bones

Yet because Jesus said, “I will never leave you,”

We can be assured we are not alone.


Today is unlike any other,

do not let it slip away.

Rejoice in the minutes and the hours,

There is something wonderful about today.

©2020 Carol J. Grace

Ripe unto harvest

John 4:30-38 (NRSV) 30 They left the city and were on their way to him.
31 Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, “Rabbi, eat something.” 32 But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.” 33 So the disciples said to one another, “Surely no one has brought him something to eat?” 34 Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to complete his work. 35 Do you not say, ‘Four months more, then comes the harvest’? But I tell you, look around you, and see how the fields are ripe for harvesting. 36 The reaper is already receiving wages and is gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. 37 For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ 38 I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.”

A few months ago I retired from preaching due to my health. But, may I tell you I did not retire from ministry. There are people all around us who need help. Some need healing, others need to know that someone cares, and still others need to hear about Jesus.

In today’s Scripture, Jesus was with His disciples and they were concerned about His well-being. How could He continue His ministry if He did not take care of Himself. Surely He needed to stop long enough to eat. But Jesus told them that doing His Father’s will was “food” for Him.

Jesus went on to say that the time to bring people into the Kingdom was not in the future, but it was at that very time. You see, there are many things in our life where we can say, “I’ll do this or that tomorrow.” Sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ is not one of those things that can be put off.

As Christ followers we should be more serious than ever before about ministering to others in Jesus’ name. We should ask Jesus every day to send someone across our paths that we can help, whether physically or spiritually. Then, we need to have the presence of  mind to help the people we meet. Let us not get so caught up in our own lives that when God sends someone for us to help that we miss the opportunity. In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Father God, we pray today that You will make us aware of the opportunities You provide for helping others. May we have Kingdom understanding and may we always see others through Your eyes. In Jesus’ name, Amen.


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