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This blog is simply meant to bring God the glory; no more and no less. I'd love to hear from you! Comments, questions, conversation. rebecca.labriola@gmail.com

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Joy in Suffering. Thursday, August 28. 2014.

“For to you has been granted, for the sake of Christ,
not only to believe in Him but also to suffer for Him.”
Philippians 1:29

Paul is so great.
I find myself giddy when reading something he wrote.
He doesn’t quite understand the whole concept of
run-on sentences,
but I love him nonetheless.

The word grant has two meanings.
As a noun it is generally ‘a sum of money given’.
As a verb it means to ‘agree to give’ or ‘to allow’.
Both are concepts of giving to some extent.
Both seem to fit well in this verse.

‘For to you has been granted…’
Paul is reminding us that whatever follows that first part of the sentence,
is a gift.
It has been given to us.
Granted to us.
And should be appreciated by us.

We are given the opportunity to believe in Him.
We were graced with free will.
It is upon us to decide if we believe in Him or not.

This is a gift taken for granted so much.
We are blessed with so many freedoms
that we forget they are freedoms in the first place.
We just expect them.

The freedom to choose Christ,
to choose to believe in Him,
is one of the greatest gifts we could ever ask for.

A gift granted.
One that should never be taken for granted.

It’s easy to understand that free will is a gift.
It’s not nearly as easy to understand that suffering is a gift.

Along with free will,
we are also granted the joy of suffering for Him.

Yes, the JOY.
We reciprocate without a second thought.
I’ll get the tab this time,
you grab it next time.

But when it comes to reciprocating at our own expense?
All bets are off.

Jesus did more than just pick up the tab.

He paid more than any monetary tab.
He sacrificed His own life.

Not for the purpose of a decent meal
but that we might not face eternal death.

It should be a downright joy for all Christians to suffer for Christ.

He laid down His life.
Where is the rule of reciprocation here?

If we live because of His sacrifice,
then whose are our lives but His?

Next time it feel like you’re going through hell,
or you’re stuck in traffic,
or your heart seems to be shattered on the floor,
or you have too much cleaning to do…
offer it up.

Unite your suffering to His.
Suffer for Christ.

Not because you have to,
not because it is a rule,

but because you have been granted the joyous opportunity to suffer for the Savior of the World. 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Courage Dear Heart. Wednesday, August 20. 2014.

“I would a thousand times rather have a persecuted Church 
than a compromised Church.”
Fr. Elijah

Too often I tend to lean on the side of compromise.
Who wants to be persecuted?

Too often we shy away from what is right
because of what others might think or say.

It’s easier to bend or tilt the popular way.
It’s easier to be ‘meh’ about something.
It’s easier to be lukewarm.

But what merit is there in a compromised Church?
Can there be glory found in a compromised Church?

Isn’t the glory found in a Church persecuted for standing Her ground?
Isn’t there merit in Christians choosing the less traveled road despite the fear of persecution?

Persecution might mean a strange look.
It might mean losing friends.
It might mean losing one’s life.

Whatever your persecution might look like,
there is glory to be found there.

Compromise is popular.
Persecution is not.

Are you willing to suffer?
To be persecuted?
To give up compromise?
To be put on the unpopular list?

“Moral principles do not depend on a majority vote. Wrong is wrong, even if everybody is wrong. Right is right, even if nobody is right.”
Fulton Sheen

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Question is Irrelevant. Wednesday, August 13. 2014.

It seems as though there has been a constant stream of breaking news.
Breaking news is almost never good.
It’s the bad that has people reading articles or watching TV.

The constant shootings,
the suicides,
the homelessness,
the drownings,
the unrest,
and the war.

We are constantly reminded of all this evil in the world.
It’s depressing.

It begs the questions:
Where is the hope?
Where are we to find joy?
What can we do?
What went wrong?

What went wrong was sin.
Adam and Eve were created as sinless beings.
When God created man,
He intended for us to be good,
free from sin,
and in full communion with Him.

We ruined that plan via free will.
We brought sin into the world.
We can blame it all on Adam and Eve
and say we would have done differently,
but we don’t.

We still bring sin into the world.
We still hate.
We still judge.
We still sin.
We still turn away from God.

Eve may have eaten the original apple
but we are still farmers planting those seeds of sin,
whether we want to admit it or not.

we are going to continue messing up.
We are sinners.
But we still have free will.
We can still choose.

This world needs love.
In two forms.

All the hurt and pain and sin in the world
might be put at ease if we let Love in.

And if we could learn to love others,
simply for the love of God.

We have become so good at pushing Love Himself away.
It is very clear that whatever we say,
whatever we do,
whatever we think,
is either for Christ or against Christ.
There is no grey.
There is no in between.
No maybe, kinda, sorta.

We have become very good at
pushing Love away,
subtly and not so subtly.

We have also become good at not loving as we should.
We are more concerned with ourselves than our neighbor.
We spend time caring for ourselves when others around us are literally dying due to pain.

Until we step up to the plate
and bring Love Himself back into our lives
and love like the Christ-like Christians we claim to be
nothing is going to change.  

Love is the answer.
It always has been.
It always will be.

No point in putting the square in the circle hole.
No point in filling our lives with anything other than love when love answer.  

So where is the hope?
Where is the joy?

Our hope lies in Christ.
In Love Himself.

The joy comes from serving Him.
The joy comes from learning to love
and letting ourselves be loved.

Know you are loved.
Know you have the ability to love.
Know that love can change this world.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Going for the Goal. Thursday, August 7. 2014.

I like ice cream.
When I get ice cream,
I’m satisfied.
When someone else gets ice cream and I don’t,
I might be a bit jealous,
but I still want ice cream.
I don’t shy away from that desire because someone else obtained it first.

I also really want to go to Heaven,
far more than I like ice cream.

I know well that this place is not my home.
I know that there is something better.
I know that we were made for more.

One of the members of the young adult group at my church passed away recently.
Suddenly and unexpectedly.

Part of me is so sad to not be able to see him.
Part of me is so excited for him that, God-willing, he’s in Heaven.
But part of me begins to shy away and fear the concept of death.

If Heaven is the ultimate goal,
we should never shy away from it.

If we were created to ultimately end up in Heaven,
why would we fear getting there?

Most of the things we want in life,
we want no matter who gets it before us.

Most of us want Heaven,
but once we see the way people get there,
we look the other direction.

We shouldn’t seek out death
but we should always be open to Eternal Life.

As we continue to pray for those who have gone before us,
let us also pray for the grace for ourselves to desire Heaven
and be at peace with the Lord’s timing.

“I hope you stare just long enough to see
The heart that's beating here inside of me
Beyond all the things you may think you know
I'm just a kid trying to make it home, that's it
No more, no less
Lord, I want to go home
Nothing more, nothing less”

No More No Less
Mercy Me