During the 13th century, one individual wrote down the words to what would soon become a beloved Christmas carol, “O Come All Ye Faithful.” While it is believed that John Francis Wade is the one responsible for bringing these lyrics to the Christian church, uncertainty remains as to who is primarily responsible for the accompanying tune. Still, one thing will always remain crystal clear: this song is a call for all Christians to adore the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Every time I hear this song, I can’t help but feel overwhelmed with a renewed joy due to the gratefulness in my heart for the love that He has shown to me every day of my life. That is why I do not see this song as a Christmas carol, but instead, as an anthem for all Christians everywhere. We should give praise and adoration to Jesus Christ 365 days a year. He is so worthy of our praise. So I invite you to join me. Come, let us adore Him!
The year was 1745. John Francis Wade found himself in the midst of a battle between the Church of England and the Church of Rome. During this time, many Catholics were forced to hide their faith from those around them. Others fled the country, seeking religious freedom. John Francis Wade was one of these individuals who chose to leave everything behind on a desperate quest for freedom to worship the one true and living God. Having found refuge in France, he worked diligently to preserve documents of the church and to transcribe sacred music that otherwise may have been lost forever. God rewarded his persistence by giving him the ability to write many songs, including the beloved Christmas carol, “Adeste Fideles,” also known as “O Come All Ye Faithful.”
Just imagine. John Francis Wade was surrounded by trouble on every side, being persecuted for his faith and eventually having to flee his home country. Yet, in the midst of this turmoil, He kept the faith and stood firm in his walk with God. He knew that giving God praise and adoration was the key to having a meaningful and happy life, in spite of what was going on around him. In the third verse of this cherished hymn, the lyrics state, “O Jesus! Forevermore be Thy name adored.” He did not write, at Christmastime be Thy name adored. Instead, he wrote “Forevermore.” Most assuredly, John Francis Wade knew that we should adore the name of Jesus continually, every moment of the day, every day of the year. Despite the many trials and tribulations in his own life, he remained faithful.
Is there something in your life that is preventing you from praising the name of Jesus Christ continually? Are you discouraged, due to a failed marriage, difficult financial circumstances, or wayward children? Is there something at work that just doesn’t feel right and causes you to be stressed or even depressed? Or is there a dark secret deep inside your heart that no one knows about but God? No matter what you are going through, Jesus Christ cares about you. He loves you more than you could ever imagine. Don’t let the trials of this life weigh you down. Talk to Jesus and tell Him all of your worries, cares, and fears. He wants to help you. He will bear your burdens. You don't have to do it alone. Wherever you are, just lift your hands and praise Him for the blessings He has given you. Ask Him to give you wisdom to handle all of life's twists and turns. Stand amazed at how God works in your life when you are in tune with His still, small voice. Listen to Him. Trust Him. Worship Him. Give praise and adoration to the Lord, for He is worthy to be praised! Don’t wait until Christmas or even until Easter. Let us adore Him today! O come, let us adore Him, Christ the Lord!
In Christ’s Love,
Some days, prayer is the only thing that gets me through challenging circumstances or life’s tragic disappointments. Whether I am having an awesome day or a not-so-perfect day, I have come to realize that each day only gets better the more I pray. Because the more I talk to Jesus, the more my mind is focused on things above as opposed to things on this earth. The Bible says to set our sights on Heavenly things. When I pray, my mind is fixed on Jesus, our Lord and Savior. When I am not praying, my mind is scattered among the many tasks that must be completed each day. This is the reason why we need to not only pray before we sit down to eat, or before we go to bed at night, but throughout every minute of every day. I want to challenge you today to make it a daily priority to pray continually!
Paul gives sound advice when he writes to the church at Thessalonica. He writes, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (I Thessalonians 5:16-18 NIV). Paul doesn’t say that we should pray once in a while. He doesn’t say we should pray when we get up or before we go to bed. He says that we should pray continually. Once again, he writes, “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful” (Colossians 4:2 NIV). Paul is encouraging us to pray throughout our day, without stopping.
If you’re like me, your mind is suddenly aflutter with all of the things you have to get done. You’re thinking, how in the world can I possibly pray continually if I have to go to work, make dinner, wash the dishes, do the laundry, take your son or daughter to soccer practice, visit someone in the hospital, make cookies for your child’s class party tomorrow, take the cat to the vet, and shop for groceries. Not to mention the dentist appointment you forgot to reschedule because of the conflict with your other appointment to have your tires balanced and rotated on your new car, compounded by the fact that you desperately needed a haircut over a month ago. Needless to say, life is hectic and schedules are inevitably going to be busy.
Nonetheless, we can still pray continually. While it is wonderful to have time to kneel at the altar at church and cry out to God, or to spend time alone with God at home, we can still talk to Him throughout our day. I often find myself praying while washing dishes, driving down the road, or taking a shower. That’s the beauty of prayer. There is no set way to pray. Jesus gives us the Lord’s Prayer as a guideline, but we can talk to Him just like we would talk to our best friend. You know why? Because Jesus Christ is the best friend you will ever have. He loves you with a love that is unchanging, unconditional, and everlasting. He wants to hear your voice, whether you are asking Him to intervene in a particular situation or if you are praising Him for the good things He has done in your life. He longs to hear from you.
I want to introduce you to a man named Epaphras. Paul vouched for Epaphras, saying that he was a hard worker. But the most important thing Paul said about this man is that he knew how to pray. He writes, “Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured” (Colossians 4:12 NIV). Epaphras didn’t just pray. He wrestled in prayer. And he didn’t just do it whenever it struck his fancy. He did it always. Epaphras knew the value in praying continually and he was faithful in prayer, despite his busy work schedule and in spite of those who may have persecuted him for the time he spent in prayer. Why? Because he knew that prayer was the key to living a life in God’s perfect and divine will. Epaphras knew that the only way to be truly happy and content with his life was to be in tune with what God had called him to do.
What about you? Is there something in your life that is preventing you from praying continually? Perhaps you are facing a difficult time in your life with the loss of a loved one, a diagnosis of cancer in your family, or a son or daughter who has gone astray. I want to encourage you today. Jesus cares about you. Tell Him all of your cares. Pour out to Him all of your fears. Jesus told His disciples that they should always pray and never give up (Luke 18:1 NIV). He is telling you the same thing today. Do not give up. No matter what is going on in your life, there is hope in Christ. Take hold of Jesus’ hand and never let go. Talk to Him today, whether out loud or silently. Every day will seem brighter if you give your burdens to Jesus. So be sure to cast your worries aside, talk to Jesus daily, and stand amazed as He transforms your life! From sunrise to sunset, don’t let a minute slip by without praying continually!
In Christ’s Love,
When was the last time you stepped outside of your comfort zone? Was it something simple, like trying a new hairstyle or going to the mall without wearing any makeup? Or was it something more profound, such as taking a trip into the mission field or witnessing to a homeless person on the street? Sometimes, the things that make us the most uneasy can be the most memorable. God often uses these uncomfortable experiences to serve as defining moments in our lives. Sometimes, all it takes is a step outside of your comfort zone to find that you have an even great purpose on this earth than you could have ever imagined. So don’t stand there stagnant, get on the move and jump out of your comfort zone!
When I think of being outside of one’s comfort zone, I am immediately reminded of Jonah. God called Jonah to preach to the Ninevites. But one of the last things Jonah wanted to do was to go to Ninevah and speak to them. Instead of stepping outside of his comfort zone, he attempted to hide from God. Jonah ran away, thinking that he could avoid this uncomfortable situation entirely. He didn’t want anything to do with these people and he was not going to obey the Lord’s command. Jonah wanted to do what Jonah wanted to do. So, he did what people commonly do in uneasy circumstances. He fled the scene.
But God had placed a calling on his life. It wasn’t a feeling or an emotion either. God literally spoke to Jonah. Jonah 1:2-3 (NIV) says, “The word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai: “‘Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.’” The Bible says that “the word of the Lord came to Jonah.” It doesn’t say that someone prophesied and said that this is what he ought to do. It doesn’t say that he had a dream or saw a great flash of light. It says that the Lord Himself called Jonah to this ministry. Jonah was called to be a preacher, a missionary to the city of Ninevah.
Jonah has this amazing calling on his life. Yet the next words in the book of Jonah read, “But Jonah ran away from the Lord” (Jonah 1:3). Isn’t that just the way we often react to unsettling situations? God may call us to do something, but we are often afraid to walk through the door that He has opened. Instead of walking through this door, Jonah attempts to run away. Still, God knew where Jonah was headed before he even took his first step toward the ship in Joppa. And God knew that He was going to have to take some drastic measures in order to get Jonah out of his comfort zone.
Shortly after he had been on the ship, the Lord sends a violent storm upon them. Jonah tells the sailors that he is running from the Lord. He also knows that this is no ordinary storm and that it is meant to get his attention. He tells the men to throw him into the sea, so that the seas will become calm and spare their lives. He says, “‘I know that it is my fault that this great storm has come upon you’” (Jonah 1:12 NIV). You see, Jonah knew that God had called him to do something important and instead of embracing this challenge, he tries to avoid God. When you try to get away from God, though, He is still standing right beside you, every step of the way. Jonah began to realize the error of his ways right here, which is why he told them to cast his body into the sea. Of course, Jonah likely thought that this would result in his death, meaning that he could still find a way out of this call on His life.
Nevertheless, God had other plans. God sends a huge fish to swallow Jonah. Jonah spends three days and three nights in the belly of a whale. Jonah didn’t want to go preach to other human beings, so God puts him inside of a sea creature instead. Talk about being outside of your comfort zone! God knew that Jonah needed a wakeup call. He knew that it would take drastic measures to get through to this individual who was supposed to be traveling to Ninevah, instead of sailing on a ship toward Tarshish. During the time inside the whale, Jonah realized his mistake. He called out to the Lord. He said, “‘What I have vowed I will make good. I will say, Salvation comes from the Lord’” (Jonah 2:9 NIV).
After spending three days and three nights far outside of his comfort zone, Jonah tells the Lord that he will make things right. The Lord commands the fish to spit Jonah out onto dry land and then He calls Jonah to Ninevah a second time. This time, Jonah obeyed the Lord, despite his apprehension. I’m sure he realized that God could place him in more anxiety-ridden places than he had ever dreamed, so he knew the best course of action was to do what he should have done in the beginning: obey the Lord’s command.
What about you? Has God called you to step outside your comfort zone? If He has, have you responded with a resounding “yes,” or have you tried to hide from God? Often times, we may try to run from God because we feel inadequate. While our first inclination may be to insert a “But” after God asks us to do something, we need to trust Him to work out all of the details. We all have doubts and fears. But we cannot let these shortcomings prevent us from living in the perfect will of God. God doesn’t tell us that we have to be everything and have everything. He just calls us to be willing vessels. Whatever we need, He will provide. Even if it means providing a fish to swallow us first in order to convince us that we need to step outside of our comfort zone!
God can use us to change lives, if we are only willing to follow the path that He has set before us. Jonah’s ministry saved the city of Ninevah from complete and utter destruction. If Jonah had said no a second time, thousands of people would possibly have perished without knowing the saving grace of Jesus Christ. When God calls you to tell someone about Jesus, don’t run away. Follow His leading and answer the call. You may be the willing vessel He needs to share the love of Jesus with someone who is broken, hurting, or lost. Don’t wait for the whale to swallow you whole. Step outside your comfort zone today and stand amazed as God uses you in ways beyond your imagination!
In Christ’s Love,