Finding Joy Through Hardship

Hi,

I was reading this article, and today especially it hits close to home because we all go through hardships and difficulties, we all go through trials and tribulations; what is always hard is finding the Joy through it all.

Finding Joy Through Hardship

Courtnaye Richard

 

www.insideoutwithcourtnaye.org

I’ll be the first to admit that maintaining your joy is not easy when life’s disappointments, tests and trials beat up against you. A part of you wants to go into isolation, be angry, depressed, and sad, but God doesn’t want us to go into those dark emotions. Instead, He wants us to renew our focus and trust Him for the overall outcome when we face hardships in life.

Most of us know that “joy” is one of the fruits of the Spirit, and it’s defined as a very glad feeling, a shout, triumph, cheerful, and a calm delight. I like that last definition – a calm delight. Because that’s what we need when we’re going through difficult and trying times. Now, what it doesn’t mean is that you’ll be smiling ear-to-ear or laughing when you hit a hard place in your life. Not at all. It just means that your mindset has to shift into a new gear.

In other words, a gear of having a better attitude and being thankful that no matter what, God is still faithful, sovereign, and loving. He is working things out for our good. It’s also about keeping our eyes on Jesus. Hebrews 12:2 says, “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising its shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

 

I would say endurance is a highlighting factor, here. Think about it. Without it, Jesus could have jumped off the cross and said, “I can’t do this. It hurts too bad! Father, I don’t know where you are. I’m done.” But instead, He endured the hardship. He didn’t give up. He didn’t allow the trial of His life to sidestep God’s plan for salvation. He focused on the purpose and the joy that awaited Him. He endured it and then it was finished. And thank God He pressed through the pain – for us.

I want to take a minute to share with you a few practical things that you can do to find joy in the midst of hardship…

  • Pray (cry, talk to God about what you’re going through – He’s listening)
  • Renew your mind (change your attitude – try to think about good things and what God could be doing through it)
  • Put on a pot of coffee or tea and read on joy, getting through trials, let God minister to you through His Word regarding your particular situation, and journal what’s happening (pen your thoughts, prayers, and verses)
  • Call a friend to talk to and help you carry the heavy burden and then pray together
  • Do something that you enjoy to help take your mind off of the hardship as you wait on God to move in the situation
  • Look around and find something to be grateful for in the midst of it (1 Thessalonians 5:18 says, “Give thanks in all things, for this is the will of God concerning you in Christ Jesus.”)
  • Be intentional about finding joy
  • Trust Him

Listen sis, Scripture tells us to count it all joy when we fall into divers temptations (meaning various trials). That’s what the King James Version of James 1:2-4 says. Again, this doesn’t mean that you have to go around faking happiness. Because when hard things hit, it does hurt and sometimes you do have to cry, and sometimes you do wonder where is God in all of it. We are human. But what God is saying through this verse is that He wants us to see the bigger picture. He’s doing something greater – even though we can’t see it. And that is where the joy comes from.

He’s building character. He’s making you stronger. He’s increasing your faith. He’s maturing you. He’s building endurance for your good and for a later testimony.

So when things go wrong in your life or when your day just isn’t the best, choose to kick into another gear and say, “Lord, I need help down here. I need supernatural joy. I need help shifting my mindset.” Like I said earlier, I know it’s not easy. But don’t allow the situation to make you go crazy, act out of character, or cause you to lose faith, sis.

With that being said, I want to give you the verse in full from James 1:2-4. It states, “Dear brothers and sisters, whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy. For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character and ready for anything.”

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Now that you too have read this article, don’t you feel that this hits close to home?

Always remember that we are tested in our faith.

Everything that we face is meant for us to grow in our faith and trust in GOd more.

Trouble will always come our way, as mentioned in the book of James, but this should be an opportunity for us to still find that glimmer of joy within the problems.

 

Thank you Lord for all that you do. Thank you for the challenges that I face, the hardships, because they bring me closer to you.  I thank you for the good days, for I can appreciate all that  I have lived and experienced to be where I am today.  AMEN.

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Finding Confident Faith in the Face of Fear

We all have moments where we struggle with our faith in hardships, or when we are scared.
I read this article entitled: Finding Confident Faith in the Face of Fear (listed below).  The author spoke of her fears and finding confidence within her faith.  We have all had moments where we have felt we have failed.

Here is the Article:

#faith #failure

Author: Karly Grant

All of my life I’ve been a worrier. I still remember the prayer that I prayed every night before I went to sleep as a child, “Dear God, thank you for another day. Please help my family to sleep well and to stay safe. Please don’t let there be any fires, earthquakes, or anyone breaking into our house while we sleep. In Jesus name, Amen.”

As I’ve grown up, and grown in my faith, most of my fears have lessened and my prayers have become less rote (although I’m definitely not one to skimp on the “Help me, Jesus!” prayers that I often need). While most of these childish fears only return if I’m in real danger, there is one that has stuck with me from childhood—the fear of failure. God desires for his children to live in freedom, and as he guides me through my current struggles, I am taken back to my childhood where this fear rooted long ago.

Karly Grant FearI revealed the litany I ran through nightly as a child, but once a year, on New Year’s Eve, I would also ask God not to let Jesus return that year. One of my earliest memories is accepting Christ at four or five years old. While I fully believe that I was saved that day, I didn’t automatically have all the answers and that scared me. I cried to my mom one day when I was about six because I was terrified of Jesus returning. I didn’t have the Bible memorized, and in my mind, I was going to get to Heaven and there would be a test. I was afraid I would fail God. My mom lovingly explained the truth to me, but for many years, I thought God would find I failed, and if I could just postpone a little longer surely I would get there. I still haven’t found perfection, but I have found grace.

 

God was on his own level but this fear seeped down to my relationships with family as well. There was a time when I was about eight that my family was visiting friends overnight. I woke up the next morning and the lady we were staying with told me that my parents were at the hospital because my mom had been struck with a migraine. This was a semi-common occurrence during this stage of my life, but somehow, being in a different city made it seem different. I, being the oldest of three kids at that time, felt the pressure of telling my sisters and comforting them. What if something happened to my mom? Would I know what to do? I piled unnecessary pressure on myself as a child, and I was afraid I would fail them all as I reached for my self-imposed unrealistic expectations.

_On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate._ -Psalm 145_5

Now I fear failing at life in general. I took some huge steps of faith in a direction that I felt God calling me and it looks nothing like what I thought it would. I can’t help but wonder am I failing those who supported me? I am currently unemployed and still living in a place that I am prepared to say goodbye to. My timeline has failed me, and the enemy is quick to step into this area of my life and hiss lies.

Here in the waiting is where God and I are camping. I’ve been fighting against the enemy and speaking truth about who God is and who He says I am, going from fear of failure to confidence that can only be found through God. Scripture and music have been key to remaining saturated in truth. My times of musical worship at home are anything but pretty. I often cry, sing horribly, and pound on the keys of my keyboard. While I may look miserable to an onlooker, these are sweet times with my Savior and some of the strongest points of warfare against our enemy. Michael W. Smith has a song that I’ve been listening to often these days called Surrounded. Some of the lyrics are “This is how I fight my battles… It may look like I’m surrounded, but I’m surrounded by You.

I’ve been doing a Bible study called Psalms for Prayer. While I read these Psalms that I’ve read many times before, they have been hitting me anew.

“On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.” -Psalm 145:5

I find that reading scripture out loud and declaring the goodness of God is life-changing. God is so good. I realize in these times that I can be confident in Him. I don’t have to fear failure. He has a plan. He is with me. He never fails.


Karly is a single 30-something who is striving to follow Jesus and trust Him in every situation. She can be found with a cup of tea or a good beer in hand while cozied up with a good book or enjoying a laugh with family or friends. God has her on a wild journey. In the last year, she has quit her job of 15+ years and gone back to school full-time to pursue a career/ministry in the realm of adoption. She is both terrified and excited to see how God moves and what opportunities He provides in this adventure.

 

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Praise God for our failures should not be feared.  Sometimes our failures are apart of his plan.  Praise God for his word, for we should always find comfort in them.  We should read articles such as these for they the offer testimonies of struggles individuals undergo and how they have over come them. Testimonies such as these help us put into perspective our struggles, our fears, out doubts, our experiences and gives us hope in to seeing how we too can overcome our tribulations.

 

As a mom I have plenty of fears, most of them involve my family and their well being.  I pray ever so often  for their safety, well being, health and lives.  I have to trust that God will always cover them and protect them from harm in this world we are living in.  We are living in times where their safe havens (schools, churches) are no longer safe havens.  A random person with a vendetta can easily walk into these safe havens and…well we have all been watching the news, we know what has been happening.  It is sad.  Yet despite all that his been going on in our schools in America, Despite all the fight for gun control, despite all the prayers, yes there are times I want to pull my kids out of school and home school.  Fear, does that to us.  We cannot make rash decisions based off our fears.  Fear means giving in to the enemy, fear means rescinding our faith, fear means doubting our prayers we proclaim heavily to God.  SO what do I do? I pray harder, I pray firmer, Like this author I pray aloud his words so that his holy words can be used to anoint my family and loved ones for protection.  Do not let fear overcome you.  Do not let your fear replenish your faith, let your faith overcome and overpower your fear.  Let your faith grow stronger.  Let your faith guide you in protecting your family.

 

Father I thank you today for this article.  I thank you for these words and the scripture you have provided via this vessel.  Thank you for the opportunity to have those reading be able to relate to these situations, to our please, our fears, so they too can find use in our testimonies and find guidance within these articles.  May these articles be of hope, blessings and a path for others to grow in their faith and in their individual walks with you. Amen

 

 

Back To Life

Back To Life is the 7th & final Devotional from the Mandisa devotional series.

Scripture.

“The tongue can speak words that bring life or death. Those who love to talk must be ready to accept what it brings.” Proverbs 18:21 ERV

 

“The Lord ’S power came on me. The Spirit of the Lord carried me out of the city and put me down in the middle of the valley. The valley was full of dead men’s bones. There were many bones lying on the ground in the valley. The Lord made me walk all around among the bones. I saw the bones were very dry. Then the Lord said to me, “Son of man, can these bones come to life?” I answered, “Lord GOD, only you know the answer to that question.” Then he said to me, “Speak to these bones for me. Tell them, ‘Dry bones, listen to the word of the Lord! This is what the Lord GOD says to you: I will cause breath to come into you, and you will come to life! I will put sinew and muscles on you, and I will cover you with skin. Then I will put breath in you, and you will come back to life! Then you will know that I am the Lord.’” So I spoke to the bones for the Lord, as he said. I was still speaking, when I heard the loud noise. The bones began to rattle, and bone joined together with bone! There before my eyes, I saw sinew and muscles begin to cover the bones. Skin began to cover them, but there was no breath in them. Then the Lord said to me, “Speak to the wind for me. Son of man, speak to the wind for me. Tell the wind that this is what the Lord GOD says: ‘Wind, come from every direction and breathe air into these dead bodies! Breathe into them and they will come to life again!’” So I spoke to the wind for the Lord, as he said, and the breath came into the dead bodies. They came to life and stood up. There were many men—a very large army!” Ezekiel 37:1-10 ERV

 

Back To Life

Devotional by Mandisa

I have read, meditated on, and heard messages on Ezekiel 37, the valley of dry bones, for as long as I can remember. It’s one of those passages that I’ve heard so many times, I wasn’t sure what else I could possibly get out of it! But after experiencing my own valley of dry bones, and inhabiting a pit of despair for several years, God has illuminated this familiar passage for me.

God very easily could have spoken to the dry bones Himself and seen them come to life. Instead, He commanded Ezekiel to listen to His words, then repeat them to the bones. It was only when Ezekiel obeyed and spoke life that the bones responded.

Similarly, I find that this is how God lifted me out of the dark. Rather than experiencing immediate deliverance, God lifted me out bit by bit, allowing me to learn valuable lessons in the process. He taught me how to prophesy His words over myself:

• I breathed out shame, and breathed in grace

• I breathed out fear, and breathed in peace

• I breathed out weakness, and breathed in strength

This is not to say that I felt these things immediately. But in the beginning of this process, I knew I needed to do what Ezekiel did—prophesy God’s truth over what felt dead. As my friend TobyMac says, I needed to speak life!

I ended the deluxe edition of my ‘Out of the Dark’ album with a worship song that illustrates this process perfectly.

“Shame and depression And all anxieties They have no power over me Addiction and strongholds And every disease They have no power over me”

Even as I recorded those words, I felt shame. But as I repeated those words over and over, the shame lifted. Sometimes our behavior follows our acts of faith. For reasons we may not fully understand, there is great power in God’s Word, and in worship. When I least feel like opening my mouth to praise or proclaim Truth is when it is most important for me to do so. By magnifying Jesus, our circumstances grow smaller in comparison. In those moments when we feel like all signs of life are gone, proclaim the breath of heaven into that situation, and watch God bring those dry bones back to life.

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This series touched my life to the core. I know it can and will touch you reading this. We all go through different experiences in our lives, these experiences and how we handle them tells us alot about our faith, where we are and how much we have grown with each encounter.

Father God today I ask you to help us speak things into life.  Teach us to rebuke negative energy and in the midst of our storms to always count on you.  Amen.

 

Good News

Good News is the 4th devotional from Mandisa’s series.  As I stated yesterday I will post the remaining of her devotional series. some with a narrative some, as is.

 

the word:

 “The Lord is not being slow in doing what he promised—the way some people understand slowness. But God is being patient with you. He doesn’t want anyone to be lost. He wants everyone to change their ways and stop sinning.” 2 Peter 3:9 ERV

 

 

“We can come to God with no doubts. This means that when we ask God for things (and those things agree with what God wants for us), God cares about what we say.” 1 John 5:14 ERV

 

 

“The apostles did not stop teaching the people. They continued to tell the Good News—that Jesus is the Messiah. They did this every day in the Temple area and in people’s homes.”Acts 5:42 ERV

 

Good News

 

Devotional by Mandisa

I prayed for my brother John’s salvation for decades. I even wrote a song about it on my ‘Overcomer’ album. The bridge of “Dear John” says,

“It’s not a list of do’s and don’ts
Not a record of your faults
He gave His life to pay it all
He loves you just the way you are
You are forgiven by His scars
Just open up your heart”

There were days when I would pray with boldness and authority concerning John. Then, there were days when I wondered if my prayers were falling on deaf ears. I knew that God desired for my brother to have hope for eternity even more than I longed for it. But at times, I wavered in unbelief. After my friend Lakisha died from cancer, I stopped praying for anything.

I figured that God had His own plans, so He could just leave me out of it. It was in that season of dark hopelessness that my brother called me up and essentially asked, “What must I do to be saved?” On July 13, 2016 I led my brother in the prayer of salvation, and in an instant, John became your brother too! I immediately recorded a video and posted it on all of my social media sites proclaiming the good news that he who was lost had been found!

That’s the thing about good news—we can’t wait to share it. And somehow, hearing it shouted from the rooftops encourages those of us walking a similar road. My prayer is that, by sharing John’s story, it will build the hope of many of you who are standing in the gap for your loved one whose salvation you are interceding for.

As your sister in Christ, I want to assure you that your heavenly Father hears your prayers and is working beyond what your human eyes can see. Keep asking. Keep seeking. Keep knocking. Keep loving. Keep sharing. Keep believing. And when that day comes where your faith becomes sight, tell the world all about your “Good News”!

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We all have those loved one’s we pray for their “Good News”.  I always share the good news of when my husband accepted Christ.  What I couldn’t do in 12 years being with him, God used a tragedy and our children to take care of that in 12 months.  During those 12 years I prayed for him, but I rejoiced and shared the good news when he did finally take that step.  When someone you love takes this path, its a blessing for that person, but also for the person who spent many moons praying over that person.  It is not easy, it is hard work.  sometimes we wonder what if….but when it happens boy oh boy do we celebrate and feel blessed as well.

 

Can I tell you something….In the bible we see this as well…. When Mary went to share her news to Elizabeth, Elizabeth also celebrated Mary’s good news.

Luke 1:42-44 Easy-to-Read Version (ERV)

42 In a loud voice she said to Mary, “God has blessed you more than any other woman. And God has blessed the baby you will have. 43 You are the mother of my Lord, and you have come to me! Why has something so good happened to me? 44 When I heard your voice, the baby inside me jumped with joy.

Not only did she acknowledge how Mary has been blessed, her baby (John the Baptist) from the womb also rejoiced.

Sometimes when other people receive a blessing, we get happy and their blessing blesses us. Just like in this case where Mandisa’s brother salvation was a blessing to her, my husband’s seeking salvation was also a blessing to my self…. the very things you are praying for for someone else, or even when someone shares a blessing with you can be a blessing to you as well.

 

I enjoy the children’s services in our church, not because we (my co teacher and I)  are the ones in charge now, or because my kids (all of the students in the class ) are actively involved, but because we can see your joy, your passion in your worship and praise.  Every Sunday I watch from my seat the boys play the instruments alongside the musicians.  My heart fills me up with joy.  They are so moved, worshiping God with their instruments they make me feel blessed.  Not just the boys, every service I see some of the girls singing and dancing along, I see some of the students playing their percussion  instruments, singing along worshiping God.  That is a blessing to even want to praise and worship the lord.  Their blessings get me excited and become my blessings.  I can relate to Elizabeth’s reaction to Mary’s blessings.  Sometimes it’s not your own blessing that can bless you, it is someone else’s blessings that moves you.

 

Father today I thank you for my blessings.  I also thank you for the blessings you give others.  For those blessings also brings joy to my soul, even though those blessings are not my own, but the joy of knowing that you still answer, you still move, you still hear us, you still respond, you still bless us, blesses me.  Thank you. Amen.

Bleed The Same

I’m reading the @YouVersion plan ‘Mandisa – Out Of The Dark Devotional’. Today’s devotional is entitled Bleed The Same.  I have recently posted 2 of the 7 day devotions from this plan.  the next few days i will post the remaining 5 Devotionals.

This third Devotional is really deep. I want you to read Mandisa’s words, and I will follow up with a recap at the end.

 

But first the scriptures:

““Now, our God, hear your servant’s prayer. Listen to my prayer for mercy. For your own sake, do good things for your holy place. My God, listen to me! Open your eyes and see all the terrible things that have happened to us. See what has happened to the city that is called by your name. I am not saying we are good people. That is not why I am asking these things. I am asking these things because I know you are kind. Lord, listen to me! Forgive us! Lord, pay attention, and then do something! Don’t wait! Do something now! Do it for your own good! My God, do something now, for your city and your people who are called by your name.””

Daniel 9:17-19 ERV

 

 

““I pray not only for these followers but also for those who will believe in me because of their teaching. Father, I pray that all who believe in me can be one. You are in me and I am in you. I pray that they can also be one in us. Then the world will believe that you sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me. I gave them this glory so that they can be one, just as you and I are one. I will be in them, and you will be in me. So they will be completely one. Then the world will know that you sent me and that you loved them just as you loved me.”

John 17:20-23 ERV

 

 

“and if my people who are called by my name become humble and pray, and look for me, and turn away from their evil ways, then I will hear them from heaven. I will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

2 Chronicles 7:14 ERV

 

 

Bleed The Same

Devotional by Mandisa

I’ll never forget July 4-7, 2016. July 4th was Independence Day in America. I recall that because the events that transpired the rest of that week made me question just how free we truly were. There was a fatal shooting of a Black man by police officers in Louisiana on July 5th. There was a fatal shooting of another Black man by police officers in Minnesota on July 6th. Finally, there was a fatal shooting of five police officers by a Black man in Texas on July 7th.

Can I be honest with you? As a follower of Jesus, and a woman with Black nephews, as well as a brother who is a police officer, I’m a little scared to speak freely here. I remember the fear that hovered over our country then. I remember the hate being spewed on social media that week. I remember wanting to say something, and knowing I would offend someone either way. I didn’t say much on social media that week. I did, however, say a lot to God.

I’m a big believer in praying scripture. Here’s how I turned a very familiar verse into a prayer that week:

“Father, I come to you now on behalf of my beloved country, and pray according to 2 Chronicles 7:14. There are many people in the USA who call ourselves by Your name. So on behalf of Your children here in America, I pray that we would humble ourselves before You, and our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. Holy Spirit, give us a burden to turn our arguments into prayers, and rather than seeking our agendas, help us to seek Your face. We have turned away from your ways, God. Would You forgive us, and supernaturally empower us to turn from our wicked ways? Then, I stand on Your promise that You will hear from heaven, forgive our sins, and restore our land. I ask this in Jesus’ Name…Amen.”

Shortly after the events of that week in July, my songwriters and I wrote “Bleed the Same.” My brothers, Toby-Mac and Kirk Franklin, share a similar heart for unity and love in the Body of Christ. Our prayer is that God would use our song to truly make us an undivided, holy nation, under God.

 

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God bless Mandisa with these moving words. I too know all to well of the scrutiny social media has when one is impacted by a movement, by an incident, by a crisis, by a tragedy and when we speak our hearts and soul on said subject, someone has someone to say, or you accidentally offended someone. I grew up in a Christian home, I also grew up in a politically active home. Politics and the love For God runs deep in these veins. A servant and an activist. I can vocalize and fight for those by circumstance are unable to or do not have the knowledge on how they can fight for themselves. I also pray…. for those the spirit calls on me to pray, for those who ask me to pray for them.

It’s hard to be passionate about something when no matter what someone will be offended. We are living in times where black lives matter, Brown lives matter, blue lives matter, all lives matter.

Society needs to be prayed for more and more so we shouldn’t have to pick a side per say. I too am a woman of color. I too have family in law enforcement. I too have family whom have served this country on every platform imaginable from civic service, law enforcement, military and government. I feel Mandisa pain. In my shoes the ones I may be offending are my own blood, forget about the rest of social media.

 

I too have opted out of vocalizing my political views and have instead gone on m knees to pray.  To pray for my family. To pray for the victims, to pray for the nation, to pray for respect, to pray for love, to pray that people killing people regardless of ones status is no longer a norm.  To pray like Martin Luther King Jr for a day where people of color and people not of color could all get along, living side by side in peace and harmony.

I love listening to Christian songs about empowerment, breaking chains, growth, unity. I love the words by Kirk Franklin especially in his latest album, we see this in his song “My World Needs You”. We need a revolution in our hearts, we need peace, we need love.  Most importantly we need God.

“Every heart in the world, God, needs you to rescue
Storms have come and torn our hearts in two
We need you

Show me your face
Fill up this space
My world needs you right now
My world needs you right now”

 

If the above lyric quote doesn’t remind you; maybe this one will.

 

Storms may come but when we call your name all things change
Kingdoms fall, one thing
Forever reigns is your name
Oh how sweet to know that your great name
Will never change
It’s stays the same

Show me your face
Come fill this space
My world needs you right now
My world needs you right now

 

As is the title of this devotion, we all bleed the same.  We all are made in the image of God.  Our exterior may differ, but our interior are one in the same.

Thank you Lord, for all that you do in our lives.  Thank you lord for showing us that we need to support one another.  Thank you Lord for reminding us that Getting down on our knees to pray can still be a impact as physically standing up for someone. Amen.

 

 

Tikkun Olam: Repairing the World

Tikkun Olam is Hebrew for repairing the world.

It’s Holy Week, Holy Saturday in fact. Yesterday Jesus died at the cross of Calvary. Tomorrow he will ride and leave his tomb empty.

Tikkun Olam. This is all I can think of. Why is this lil old Christian girl citing Hebrew words?

Tikkun Olam began as a verb “to make straight” in the Hebrew scripture. Rabbis have used this phrase, this saying in their legal discussions in the Talmud.

I am currently moved and inspire to write about how Jesus came in to my life in order to Tikkun Olam me. He set me straight, he saved me, he repaired me when I was broken, weak and in need. Thank you ABBA Padre.

Kaballist followers referred to Tikkun Olam as a concept of cosmic repair in the Middle Ages.

Today, some use the term Tikkun Olam in reference to social activism – to heal the world.

The Hebrew verb TKN (Tikkun Olam) is only found four times in the Scripture. Which means to make straight, establish, arrange, or repair.

In the book of Ecclesiastes, we see the verb TKN mentioned 3 out of the four times mentioned in scripture.

Before we get into those scripture let’s speak about the book of Ecclesiastes.

Purpose and Teaching:

The author of Ecclesiastes puts his powers of wisdom to work to examine the human experience and assess the human situation. His perspective is limited to what happens “under the sun” (as is that of all the wisdom teachers). He considers life as he has experienced and observed it between the horizons of birth and death — life within the boundaries of this visible world. His wisdom cannot penetrate beyond that last horizon; he can only observe the phenomenon of death and perceive the limits it places on human beings. Within the limits of human experience and observation, he is concerned to spell out what is “good” for people to do. And he represents a devout wisdom. Life in the world is under God — for all its enigmas. Hence what begins with “Meaningless! Meaningless!” (1:2) ends with “Remember your Creator” (12:1) and “Fear God and keep his commandments” (12:13).

With a wisdom matured by many years, he takes the measure of human beings, examining their limits and their lot. He has attempted to see what human wisdom can do (1:13,16-18; 7:24; 8:16), and he has discovered that human wisdom, even when it has its beginning in “the fear of the Lord” (Pr 1:7), has limits to its powers when it attempts to go it alone — limits that circumscribe its perspectives and relativize its counsel. Most significantly, it cannot find out the larger purposes of God or the ultimate meaning of human existence. With respect to these it can only pose questions.

Nevertheless, he does take a hard look at the human enterprise — an enterprise in which he himself has fully participated. He sees a busy, busy human ant hill in mad pursuit of many things, trying now this, now that, laboring away as if by dint of effort humans could master the world, lay bare its deepest secrets, change its fundamental structures, somehow burst through the bounds of human limitations, build for themselves enduring monuments, control their destiny, achieve a state of secure and lasting happiness — people laboring at life with an overblown conception of human powers and consequently pursuing unrealistic hopes and aspirations.

He takes a hard look and concludes that human life in this mode is “meaningless,” its efforts all futile.

What, then, does wisdom teach him?

1. Humans cannot by all their striving achieve anything of ultimate or enduring significance. Nothing appears to be going anywhere (1:5-11), and people cannot by all their efforts break out of this caged treadmill (1:2-4;2:1-11); they cannot fundamentally change anything (1:12-15;6:10;7:13). Hence they often toil foolishly (4:4,7-8;5:10-17;6:7-9). All their striving “under the sun” (1:3) after unreal goals leads only to disillusionment.

2. Wisdom is better than folly (2:13-14; 7:1-6,11-12,19; 8:1,5; 9:17-18; 10:1-3,12-15; 12:11) — it is God’s gift to those who please him (2:26). But it is unwarranted to expect too much even from such wisdom — to expect that human wisdom is capable of solving all problems (1:16-18) or of securing for itself enduring rewards or advantages (2:12-17;4:13-16;9:13-16).

3. Experience confronts humans with many apparent disharmonies and anomalies that wisdom cannot unravel. Of these the greatest of all is this: Human life comes to the same end as that of the animals — death (2:15; 3:16-17; 7:15; 8:14; 9:1-3; 10:5-7).

4. Although God made humankind upright, people have gone in search of many “schemes” (for getting ahead by taking advantage of others; see 7:29; cf. Ps 10:2; 36:4; 140:2). So even humans are a disappointment (7:24-29).

5. People cannot know or control what will come after them, or even what lies in the more immediate future; therefore all their efforts remain balanced on the razor’s edge of uncertainty (2:18;6:12;7:14;9:2).

6. God keeps humans in their place (3:16-22).

7. God has ordered all things (3:1-15;5:19;6:1-6;9:1), and a human being cannot change God’s appointments or fully understand them or anticipate them (3:1;7;11:1-6). But the world is not fundamentally chaotic or irrational. It is ordered by God, and it is for humans to accept matters as they are by God’s appointments, including their own limitations. Everything has its “time” and is good in its time (ch. 3).

Therefore wisdom counsels:

1. Accept the human state as it is shaped by God’s appointments and enjoy the life you have been given as fully as you can.

2. Don’t trouble yourself with unrealistic goals — know the measure of human capabilities.

3. Be prudent in all your ways — follow wisdom’s leading.

4. “Fear God and keep his commandments” (12:13), beginning already in your youth before the fleeting days of life’s enjoyments are gone and “the days of trouble” (12:1) come when the infirmities of advanced age vex you and hinder you from tasting, seeing and feeling the good things of life.

To sum up, Ecclesiastes provides instruction on how to live meaningfully, purposefully and joyfully within the theocratic arrangement — primarily by placing God at the center of one’s life, work and activities, by contentedly accepting one’s divinely appointed lot in life, and by reverently trusting in and obeying the Creator-King. Note particularly 2:24-26; 3:11-14,22; 5:18-20; 8:15; 9:7-10; 11:712:1; 12:9-14 (see also any pertinent notes on these passagoes link can be found in footnotes)

Outline of Ecclesiastes:

• Author (1:1)

• Theme: The meaninglessness of human efforts on earth apart from God (1:2)

• Introduction: The profitlessness of human toil to accumulate things in order to achieve happiness (1:3-11)

• Discourse, Part 1: In spite of life’s apparent enigmas and meaninglessness, it is to be enjoyed as a gift from God (1:12;11:6)

• Since human wisdom and endeavors are meaningless, people should enjoy their life and work and its fruits as gifts from God (1:12;6:9)

1. Introduction (1:12-18)

1. Human endeavors are meaningless (1:12-15)

2. Pursuing human wisdom is meaningless (1:16-18)

2. Seeking pleasure is meaningless (2:1-11)

3. Human wisdom is meaningless (2:12-17)

4. Toiling to accumulate things is meaningless (2:18;6:9)

1. Because people must leave the fruits of their labor to others (2:18-26)

2. Because all human efforts remain under the government of God’s sovereign appointments, which people cannot fully know and which all their toil cannot change (3:1;4:3)

3. Because there are things better for people than the envy, greed and amibition that motivate such toil (4:4-16)

4. Because the fruits of human labor can be lost, resulting in frustration (5:1;6:9)

• Since people cannot fully know what is best to do or what the future holds for them, they should enjoy now the life and work God has given them (6:10;11:6)

1. Introduction: What is predetermined by God is inalterable, and people cannot fully know what is best or what the future holds (6:10-12)

2. People cannot fully know what is best to do (chs. 78)

3. People cannot fully know what the future holds (9:1;11:6)

• Discourse, Part 2: Since old age and death will soon come, people should enjoy life in their youth, remembering that God will judge (11:7;12:7)

• People should enjoy their life on earth because their future after death is mysterious, and in that sense is meaningless for their present life (11:7-8)

• People should enjoy the fleeting joys of youth, but remember that God will judge (11:9-10)

• People should remember their Creator (and his gifts) in their youth, before the deteriorations of old age and the dissolution of the body come (12:1-7)

• Theme Repeated (12:8)

• Conclusion: Reverently trust in and obey God (12:9-14)

Now that we have an overview on Ecclesiastes, back to references of TKN:

Human endeavors are meaningless:

“What is wrong cannot be made right. What is missing cannot be recovered.”

Ecclesiastes 1:15 NLT

The author has described that we humans do not have authority to fully make things right, make things new, or repair. We are limited.

“Accept the way God does things, for who can straighten what he has made crooked?”

Ecclesiastes 7:13 NLT

Who are we? Can we really fix something that God has made, created? Allowed to happen? God has his reasons for why things go the way they do. We have to accept what we cannot change, we have to accept in our limited abilities and capabilities of the flesh. We do not have the power God has. We do not have God’s abilities.

“Keep this in mind: The Teacher was considered wise, and he taught the people everything he knew. He listened carefully to many proverbs, studying and classifying them.”

Ecclesiastes 12:9 NLT

We have to reverently trust and obey God.

““When my sanity returned to me, so did my honor and glory and kingdom. My advisers and nobles sought me out, and I was restored as head of my kingdom, with even greater honor than before.”

Daniel 4:36 NLT

In Daniel 4, Nebuchadnezzar has a dream, Daniel interprets it and Nebuchadnezzar‘s dream came to pass., he then exalted and glorified the lords name. Nebuchadnezzar was restored, straightened and renewed. TKN.

Consider what God has done: Who can straighten [Takkan] what he has made crooked?”

In the book of Deuteronomy we see where the concept of Justice and moral duty to society originates:

“Let true justice prevail, so you may live and occupy the land that the Lord your God is giving you.”

Deuteronomy 16:20 NLT

In the book of Amos we find a Hebrew prophet who condemned Israel’s disregard to Widows, orphans and foreigners in his time. Here he uses this reference towards doing what is rightness, to denounce Evelin, to love what is good, to turn towards justice for all the living.

“Do what is good and run from evil so that you may live! Then the Lord God of Heaven’s Armies will be your helper, just as you have claimed. Hate evil and love what is good; turn your courts into true halls of justice. Perhaps even yet the Lord God of Heaven’s Armies will have mercy on the remnant of his people. Instead, I want to see a mighty flood of justice, an endless river of righteous living.”

Amos 5:14-15, 24 NLT

Now that we have see. Peace, and setting things right or repairing with the Hebrew word Tikkun Olam, then came the concept of repairing the world peace. The Zohar, a book of Jewish mysticism, first appeared in Spain in the late thirteenth century. The author used tikkun olam to describe the cosmic benefits of when a Jew performs mitzvot.

A mitzvot is a commandment, referring to precepts and commandments commanded by God. According to the Torah there are 613 commandments. In the Bible we have 10.

Now back to the book Zohar, out of this book and cosmic benefits of following the commandments a new philosphy of thought emerged called kabbalah.

This new philosophy is birthed in the concept of how through the fall of Adam, the universe was “ruptured” in both the physical and spiritual realms.When a Jew carries out the mitzvot cosmic repairs are made in the invisible spiritual world. The benefits then “flow down” into the physical world and slowly repair the damage done on earth by the sin of Adam.

We know that through the fall of man in genesis, sin was born. Satan became the prince of this world. Willing and able to deter, destroy, manipulate all of God’s creation.

Kabbalist state with their philosophy of cosmic destruction due to the fall of man that God’s presence was scattered in the same way a clay pot is shattered and the shards scattered. These pieces were called “divine sparks.” Famed Kabbalist Isaac Luria (1534-1572) explained that the Jews were dispersed throughout the world in order to “elevate” these sparks and restore the unity of God’s presence.

As Christians we know that yes the fall of Adam and Eve birthed sin, yet the death of Jesus restore us, heals us, Tikkun Olam: Repairing the World, not the physical world but spiritual world.

For centuries Jews waited the arrival of the messiah, so a new Jerusalem can be formed, Where their king can ride up and rule for all eternity. The prophecy has been mentioned throughout the scriptures of hour our savior would come, live, be mistreated, pay for our sins and ride back up. (Isaiah 53).

Jesus did just that. The spiritual world is saved. Jesus repairs our hearts. Jesus repairs our souls, Jesus repairs our mind, Jesus repairs where we will spend our eternity…. as long as we believe in him, follow him, trust in him.

“The fact is, it was our suffering he took on himself; he bore our pain. But we thought that God was punishing him, that God was beating him for something he did. But he was being punished for what we did. He was crushed because of our guilt. He took the punishment we deserved, and this brought us peace. We were healed because of his pain.”

Isaiah 53:4-5 ERV

The phrase “tikkun olam” remains connected with human responsibility for fixing what is wrong with the world. It’s a trait that comes from within. People whom are passionate about fixing this world are invested in grassroot initiatives, working for the people, to stand up against anyone whom do not do right by the people. These people do community activism, work in social justice, some go into politics, go into health care, the legal system and even ministry, so that in the areas they believe and are passionate about they too can do right for the people. The problems of this world can be jeweled and mended if we all take the appropriate steps towards salvation. To love each other wholly they say the Bible reaches us. To respect one another as the Bible reaches us.

Jesus came to this world mend our hearts, save this world, to repair this world from the sin caused by the down fall of mankind. Jesus came by dying in our place for our wrongdoing, thereby wiping our slate clean and giving us shalom (peace)with God. Jesus is our Tikkun Olam, but what he comes to repair, is not this physical world but the spiritual world. Our battle is a spiritual battle. Our journey here on earth determines our spiritual journey.

Yet here we are today, Holy Saturday, and you are probably wondering where I am going with all of this.

When Jesus died at Calvary, his followers, his disciples were mourning, they felt broken, they were in pain. Some were probably questioning was this really the son of God? Some were probably questioning will he return? Some were just in pain. Loosing a friend, especially at a young age is never easy. They had to silently wait for what was to come next, while they mourned.

Put yourself in the place of Jesus ‘ disciples.

‘I just lost my teacher. I just lost my mentor. I just lost my friend. I just lost my best friend. I just lost my brother. I just lost my son, he was only 33.’

Let those words sink in for just a few seconds.

Have you ever lost a teacher you highly regarded and respected? A mentor who guided you? A close friend? Your best friend? Your brother or sister? Your son?

His disciples were in pain. Yes they believed his teachings. Yes they lived, breathed, witness and spoke of the miracles of Jesus, yet here, in this world, in this flesh, they were still in pain.

When someone dies, no matter how they die, at first it’s hard to accept that they are no longer with us in the flesh.

Recently I lost a dear friend. It was a freak accident in my eyes. In the eyes of the Lord, it was time. I do not need to know the why, the reason, no matter how much I question what did happen, how come he died, I have to accept that God has his reason, and his reason is not mine to know. Yet this death, hurt me, shook me to the core. This death shattered my home to a million pieces. This death caused pain we didn’t know exist. We lost a friend, a brother, a best friend, a teacher.

The pain was raw.

The pain was real.

The emotions were indescribable.

We have all lost someone.

Take these feelings and apply them to the disciples.

I was broken with my losses.

They too were broken.

We also become broken when we sin.

The day after the crucifixtuon of Christ , they too mourned. Their pain, their feelings were raw. Their anguish was real. They were broken. Despite their faith, despite knowing that the prophesy needed to be fulfilled, they were broken and in real pain, the same pain you and I feel when we loose a loved one.

Today, I can think of Tikkun Olam, Jesus repairing the spiritual world. Today in mourning, broken, in pain over the loss of our savior, channeling the pain the disciples must have felt today, I find hope, comfort and peace knowing tomorrow he will rise. Tomorrow he fulfills the prophesy. That tomorrow he proves that he is the messiah, that my sins have been forgiven, that he paid my debts. That I shall praise and worship his name because he has allowed me to have an opportunity to enter the gates of heaven. I have found the Golden Ticket…. my ticket is Jesus. He has repaired my world, he has repaired my spiritual battles, he has healed everything that was broken in me.

Jesus repairs. Jesus heals. Jesus mends. Jesus is my Tikkun Olam: he has repaired, straightened and healed me.

Thank you Lord for sending your only son to be our sacrificial lamb. Thank you for having him take my sins upon the cross. Thank you for allowing me salvation through your son. Lord this act has allowed us salvation. Allowed us a bridge and relationship with you. To be able to feel your spirit. To be touched by the Holy Spirit. To be loved and inspired by the Holy Spirit. To grow with you in our spiritual journey so we can join you when our time comes. Lord I know things will happen, temptations and test will come, the enemy will try to break me, but you have already repaired me. Today over two thousand years ago, the disciples mourned the passing of Jesus, tomorrow we shall rejoice and celebrate that we worship the one true living God. Amen

References:

https://jewsforjesus.org/publications/issues/issues-v20-n03/tikkun-olam-repairing-the-world/

https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/tikkun-olam-repairing-the-world/

http://bible.com/116/ecc.1.15.nlt

http://bible.com/116/ecc.7.13.nlt

http://bible.com/116/ecc.12.9.nlt

http://bible.com/116/dan.4.36.nlt

http://bible.com/116/deu.16.20.nlt

http://bible.com/116/amo.5.14-15,24.nlt

http://bible.com/406/isa.53.4-5.erv

https://www.biblestudytools.com/ecclesiastes/

While we were still sinners….

bible.com/406/rom.5.8.erv

Think about the ultimate sacrifice God has made for you. He sent his son, to pay for our sins, even before you and I were born. Jesus was our sacrificial lamb. He has redeemed us. He died so we too can join his father our lord one day in heaven. He died so we too can receive salvation.

He rose from the grave to fulfill a prophesy, a promise from God. To show God’s love, compassion and grace. To show that God wants all his children with him, saved in heaven. Not subject to be lost in the catacombs of hell, not to be destroyed by the enemy. The lord gave us free Will, we freely choose whether we want to accept him or not. Our choices determine if we can achieve salvation.

Jesus death at the cross of Calvary is not something to be taken lightly. His whole experience, the torment he had to undergo, the suffering, the beatings, the tears, the agony of his flesh, the name calling, the shouts, the hatred that many had towards him. He went through all this so we, you and I shouldn’t. He paid our debts, so when you make it to judgement day, you can go debt free. All you have to do is believe and accept our lord as your lord and savior.

All you have to do is start anew. Repent, believe, follow Jesus. Follow him with all your heart and soul.

Pray with me.

Father, I know that I have broken your laws and my sins have separated me from you. I am truly sorry, and now I want to turn away from my past sinful life toward you. Please forgive me, and help me avoid sinning again. I believe that your son, Jesus Christ died for my sins, was resurrected from the dead, is alive, and hears my prayer. I invite Jesus to become the Lord of my life, to rule and reign in my heart from this day forward. Please send your Holy Spirit to help me obey You, and to do Your will for the rest of my life. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.”

If you decided to repeat this prayer and repent of your sins and receive Christ today, welcome to God’s family. You are now my brother or sister in Christ.

Now, there are a few things you need to know to grow closer to Christ. Build your relationship with God. As a way to grow closer to Him, the Bible tells us to follow up on our commitment.

• Get baptized as Christ has commanded us.

• Tell someone else about your new faith in Christ.

• Spend time with God each day. It does not have to be a long period of time. Just develop the daily habit of praying to Him and reading His Word. Ask God to increase your faith and your understanding of the Bible.

• Seek fellowship with other followers of Jesus. Develop a group of believing friends to answer your questions and support you.

• Find a local church where you can worship God.

Good luck on your spiritual journey.

May God Bless you.