Posts tagged ‘encouragement’

Blue Skies and Rainbows?

Back when I was in youth group (during the Carter administration), we would sing a song at devotionals and at Sierra Bible Camp called “Blue Skies and Rainbows”. It was and is a happy song about what the world around us is like when we have Jesus in our hearts. The verse and chorus went like this:

“Blue skies and rainbows
And sunbeams from heaven
Are what I can see
When my Lord is living in me

Jesus is well and alive today
He makes his home in my heart
Never more will I be all alone since he
Promised me that we never will part.”

The song was light hearted and fun, and we just assumed that with Jesus in our hearts life would be wonderful. But then life actually happened. There was loss, failed relationships, the death of a loved one, or even of a child. Life didn’t turn out to be full of blue skies and rainbows after all. For awhile, I resented this song because I saw it as one giving a false promise that Jesus was going to guarantee us a carefree life. But that has changed as time went on.

One thing I saw, after carefully reading the lyrics, was that there was no such false promise in this song. There would be trials and pain in this life, but what the words say is that even in the hardest and most trying of times, we will be able to see the blue skies and rainbows that are there above us. You see, you can’t look at blue skies and rainbows when you are looking down or at yourself. Want this song says is that, by virtue of the fact that Jesus lives in our heart, we will have the strength to look up and see the blessings that are still around us and persevere in hope. Yes, we would be able to “count it all joy when [we] go through various trials” (James 1) and endure to the end.

But what is the basis of that promise? How is the reality of that strength ensured for us? The chorus is the key. “Jesus is well and alive today”. Our guarantor of hope is that this same Jesus who died for our sins did not stay dead, but is alive and well today. This same Jesus ever lives and makes intercession for us at the throne of God!

Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God. (Romans 8:26, 27 NKJV)

And not only that, “He makes his home in my heart.” This is not a temporary residence, where he makes an occasional visit. As the lyric promises, “never more will I be all alone since He promised me that we never will part.” What a glorious promise, and yet it is just a reminder of what the Word has already spoken.

Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. (Hebrews 13:5 KJV)

So now I can sing this song, in spite of all I have been through, or will ever go through. I can look up to the One who loves me and will never forsake me. I can look to the one who makes His home in my heart, and see the witness of nature around me that He is indeed “well and alive today.”

(In case you don’t know the song or haven’t heard it in a long time: Blue Skies and Rainbows )

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The Fellowship of the Refreshed

Have you ever been around someone who left you feeling refreshed? A special brother or sister in the Lord whose name instantly brings a warm smile to your face? Wouldn’t we all want to be thought of that way? Paul had a brother like that in the church at Colossae named Philemon. At the beginning of this little epistle, Paul puts it this way:

I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers, because I hear of your love and of the faith that you have toward the Lord Jesus and for all the saints, and I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ. For I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you. (Philemon 1:4-7 ESV)

There are a couple of keys to living like Philemon that I would like to bring to your attention in hopes that we can emulate them.

1. Philemon’s love and faith were first of all in God. The priority in his life was his vertical relationship with God, and because of that, his relationships with his fellows believers were right, too.

2. Philemon made a point of sharing his faith. We should not jump to the conclusion that this just means telling others about Jesus, although that is a part of it. His faith, according to the context here, was also shared with his fellow believers. He was living out Hebrews 10:25 and not just showing up for each assembly, but never missing the opportunity to provoke others to love and good works. The word for “sharing” in the original Greek is koinonia, and is translated in other verses as “fellowship” or “communion” and speaks of a mutual interchange of encouragement.

3. Because of the first two things, Philemon was a joy and a comfort to others. He was truly a refreshing man to be around. That sort of lifestyle is contagious and benefitted the rest of the church.

So why are we told about this particular brother? Because I believe we need to be reminded that, while attendance at assemblies of the congregation are important, it is not enough to just show up. It is also not our aim to show up in order to see what we can get out of them. Rather we are to be motivated by love for God and our brothers and sisters in Christ to come and refresh one another. We are to live out our faith in fellowship with one another, in true koinonia fashion, and so build each other up in Christ.

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