An Oklahoma Sky- Rejoice In The Lord Always

credit David Schweitzer

credit David Schweitzer

As the Oklahoma sun sets incredible in beauty, my heart floats over the last week.

Mental synapses skim over the last 50 years and beyond.

No, I haven’t seen more than 57 years.

No, I can’t remember all I’ve touched and felt and heard.

But, through the face of a father or a grandfather or an aunt or some other, I have been there.

But, through the face of a mother or grandmother or uncle or some other, they have been there.

We have been there.  With pain and joy and defeat and victory, we have been there.

As a nation, as a people, as a unity of many heritages, we have been there.

And we will be there again.

This week had no predictability.  No week does.

A quiet Monday explodes into a horrendous and murderous Monday. All held breath and wept.  Children’s bodies were dug from rubble.

Some live.  Some don’t.

It isn’t over.

In Joplin it isn’t over.  On the Jersey shores, it isn’t over.  In Japan it isn’t over.  In cities across a world, the torrent and recovery of natural impact will never be over until the world is over.  It is our experience.

War isn’t over.  WWII and Korea and Vietnam and Iraq and Afghanistan and beyond leave our families with lessened strength and battered men.  We have been there, and we are wounded.

Greed isn’t over.  Selfish business decisions leave scars and death.  It isn’t over.  We live here, and we are wounded.

But.  There is a but.  There is an however.  There is a yet.

This morning I prayed with friends in unison.  We cried out to a good God.   The God of Another Chance.

“Give us joy in the morning, God.  Let us see goodness in this land of the living.  We are still here.  Show us joy and gladness for as many days as we have seen pain.”  We agreed.  We stood together and decreed.  Pain will not stop us.  We will have joy.

Then the preacher, a friend, Pastor Jeff, took us deeper.  “Rejoice in all.  Rejoice in The Lord.  Get your focus on Him.  Rejoice in Him when nothing else has joy.  And in case you did not get it the first time.  Again, I say, “Rejoice.””

He is right.  We are right.

We are on our feet.  We are defiant.  We are shouting to the pain. “I will rejoice! You can’t defeat me.”

As the Oklahoma sun sets incredible in beauty, my heart floats over the last week.

Mental synapses skim over the last 50 years and beyond.

No, I haven’t seen more than 57 years.

No, I can’t remember all I’ve touched and felt and heard.

But, through the face of a father or a grandfather or an aunt or some other, I have been there.

But, through the face of a mother or grandmother or uncle or some other, they have been there.

We have been there.  With pain and joy and defeat and victory, we have been there.

As a nation, as a people, as a unity of many heritages, we have been there.

And we will be there again.

And the Joy of The Lord will be our strength each and every time.  For Thine is the Kingdom and The Power and The Glory, Forever and Ever.  Amen.

 

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Meet Jesus: Persecuted To Life Matthew 5:10

When you are truly persecuted because you represent a higher standard of living and love than another, you can triumph.  The kingdom of heaven is about living in love in this world regardless of circumstance.

 Matthew 5: 10-12 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.unshakeable

Persecution is a tough concept. Persecution because you represent a higher frame of living than your persecutors is not as common as some think.  But it is more common than we want to believe.  There are people convicted by their own selfishness that will trap those living in love and service.  Love is the higher standard.  Service is the higher standard.   Reward comes.

Maybe an employer toughens your work and restricts your freedom because you live to a higher standard.   It is common.  There is no law enforceable against it.  It happens.   Reward comes.

Persecution does not mean having a hard life.  Persecution is specific restriction and abuse.   Some persecute because they have been persecuted.  They live out their pain against others.  Some persecute because they want control. They enslave others to do their bidding.  Some persecute out of ignorance and socialization to please another in some warped sense of reality.

Maybe the legal system toughens your expression and strangles your voice because you choose to serve.  It is common.  The law supports it.  Law may not be fair.  Reward comes.

Persecution because you represent a higher standard of love and service is what Jesus represents.   Sure those that wanted control came against him.  Some were just ignorant. Some were serving their own misguided belief systems.  But some attacked because Jesus dared to love and serve.  They just could not stand to see love and acceptance that was not based on fear and control.

Maybe family sneers and scoffs and questions your motives.  It happens.   Live and love them anyway.  You may have to stand alone.  Reward comes.

Jesus stood above His persecutors.   That is where the kingdom survives.  Persecutors can’t take it away.  It is a matter of the heart.  The kingdom of love and service survives persecution and lives for another day and hour.  The reward comes.

Persecuted?  Keep loving.  Keep serving.  Live through it to the next hour.  Tough?  You bet it is.  The kingdom is in you.  There is reward ahead.

Father, what a day in which You have placed us.  There are so many sources of power and control that want to restrict and contain love and service. It should not be this way.

But, Father, You know this world acts this way.  You have seen nations abuse nations.  You see ideals squash love and acceptance.  You witness the inhumanity of people against those they cannot understand and do not wish to accept because of a higher law of love that they live in You.

Relieve those that are persecuted for righteousness and those persecuted for love and those persecuted for service. Restore their fortunes and their heart and loose restrictions.  Bring reward in this life, Father. Let them see Your hand in this life, Father.

For these specifically persecuted I pray, Father.  Release their love and service that they might be a blessing to the rest of us.  For that is what these are, Father.  They are meant to be a blessing.  Release their joy to bless us.  Deliver us from such evil.  For Yours is the kingdom.