Join us in praying during the final weeks before our retreat.
That which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed, our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.” 1 John 1:3-4 (ESV)
Try and recall a time when you were attending a prayer vigil, Bible study, conference, retreat, revival, game night, dinner, or any other social event, meeting or group outing in your church. Did you feel a sense of happiness, excitement and joyful anticipation at being with others? If so, perhaps it could be attributed in part, to the comfort of knowing that you will be amongst people who are like mind.
When we partake of God’s Word – His truth – together and we all confess and proclaim that our fellowship stems from God, our Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord and savior; we find our complete joy as we share and fellowship in this truth.
Dear Father, we thank you for your Word, we ask that you give us inner, spiritual joy to share with our fellow believers when we are walking in spirit and truth together.
We thank you for Jesus Christ who is the Word of life and by whom we have eternal life and ask that we remain in fellowship with Him also.
We continue to pray for the upcoming women’s retreat, that we may be in step with the Holy Spirit each day. We ask that the participants come to the retreat with joyful anticipation in the succor of being amongst fellow believers during this time. We pray for your protection over all attendees and helpers and for our overall safety. We ask that you cover the event with your spiritual and divine anointing. In the name of Jesus – Amen
Recently, I have been meditating on joy and specifically joy through service. Some of my first memories of service are things like volunteering at Vacation Bible School and my first mission trip. My crazy parents allowed their thirteen-year-old daughter to go on a mission trip to Peru. We learned a drama and presented it in children’s schools and churches. I learned so much about God, prayer, my personal faith in God, and I experienced joy serving in Peru. The first service opportunities are those that are fun and exciting. Some kinds of service may be easy and even fun. I think God made us each to have individual spiritual gifts and thus we enjoy different kinds of service. You may have read my story about traveling abroad to share the love of Christ in the form of drama, and thought “that is SO NOT ME”! Luckily, you have your own gifts that make certain service opportunities an easy yes.
The next kind of service that came to mind is cleaning my house. I am right in the middle of the struggles of motherhood. I work full-time and my husband and I balance childcare with both of our full-time jobs. Our lives are just a little chaotic, and the daily chores of our house are a sort of service to each other. It is mundane, it is boring, but also it must be done. There is not a lot of joy in these tasks, but there could be. I could begin to choose joy in the midst of these very real and necessary tasks of my life. My daughter does not thank me for doing her laundry, but God has called me to care for my daughter. And so God has called me to do these acts of service. God calls us to do things that are boring but necessary. And I think, if we shift our perspective to see that mundane household tasks can be an act of worship, it can make it easier. Recently, I’ve seen this in putting my daughter down for a nap. I have literally no patience for putting her down for a nap. I would like to be able to throw her in the crib and then run off to go do the things on my to do list. Of course, she does not fall asleep if I throw her in the bed (note, I do not actually throw her in the bed). I watch Margaret’s Grandmothers rock her and sing to her and she falls asleep. It takes a little bit longer, but it is effective. This week I’ve been trying this, I sing a hymn or worship song and rock her and it works! Grandmas are smart, they also are not in a rush to get to something else, I think they know the snuggles don’t last and so they take their time putting my little one to bed. I have changed my perspective, to think this is a moment of worship, I don’t want to help Margaret fall asleep, but it is much more effective.
The last kind of service is the kind of service that you don’t want to do. This is going to be different for every person. When I was in college, I went to a small church and I remember the pastor asking our small congregation to all volunteer to help with children’s Sunday school. I remember indignantly thinking, “I am not called to that and I don’t have small children,” and so I did not help with children’s Sunday school. Recently, I was convicted when a close friend explained that when we participate in the Baptism of the children at our church, we are promising to help in the upbringing of these children. This means participating in their discipleship from a young age including helping in the nursery. I realized I am called to help in the nursery, now, today. Let me be honest, I do not feel like helping in the nursery especially now that I have my own little one. Children are often snotty and some of them don’t listen! As my own daughter gets bigger I am realizing that the nursery is not just a place that people drop their kids off during church, it is a ministry. Serving in the nursery is an opportunity to love parents and give them time to listen, as well as teaching even babies. I believe that while my daughter might not totally understand, she can still be taught basic principles of faith. And so I have signed up to volunteer in the nursery, even though it is NOT my calling and even though volunteering will mean changes to my relaxing Sunday morning schedule. Some kinds of service are a sacrifice. They are not my favorite things to do, however, when I have chosen to serve God and his people even when I did NOT want to, I have found joy. I am expecting that God will show up in the nursery. It may not be the exciting joy of my youth mission trips. It is a more persistent and quieter joy, but it is a beautiful kind of joy.
May God show you all the joy in all types of service, both the kind you love and the kind you don’t!
Rachel Schwandt and her husband Fr Michael disciple and love at St Timothy’s Anglican Church in Spring. Rachel also serves at Texas Children’s Hospital as a nurse. Rachel and Michael have one tiny human named Margaret who is a professional funny face maker.
Join us in praying for our hearts, minds and spirits as we prepare for the retreat. Ask the Lord today, what am I seeking?
“But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness.” 1 Timothy 6:11 (ESV)
In the preceding verses of this chapter, Paul was admonishing against letting riches and love of money become the root of temptation and ungodliness. (1 Timothy 6:9-10) Instead Paul encourages us to seek the attributes of righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness and gentleness.
These attributes are the same or very similar, to the fruits of the spirit stated in Galatians 5. It could be inferred that wherever these attributes are found, God’s love abides also. When we are obeying God by seeking these attributes, his pleasure will rest over us. True and inner joy (not just happiness), which is found only in the Lord and not in possessions or worldly pleasures, will be our reward.
Let us seek this glorious joy!
Our Heavenly Father, we thank you for these teachings from Paul in your Word. We understand that you request us to be joyful always. You want us to be grateful for the gift of the Holy Spirit dwelling in us to help us seek all the fruits of the spirit.
Thank you for the example left for us by your son Jesus, and for your Word to guide and lead us to obey you.
We pray for all clergy, within our diocese and beyond, and all Christian ministers who lead and teach your earthly Church worldwide. We pray they will remain true to your Word, just like Paul. We pray protection over them and their loved ones.
Dear Lord, we also lift up the women’s retreat to you and ask that your will be done. We ask that this year’s theme of divine “Joy” will resonate throughout the event, including the worship, prayers, fellowships and workshops. We pray all attendees will find true joy in your Word to the glory of your name – Amen
We are now less than three weeks away from coming together for JOY 2020. Do you have questions about the retreat? Please feel free to contact Anthea Kotlan at email@example.com.
This week on the blog, please join us in prayerfully preparing for JOY 2020.
Monday, February 17th
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23 (ESV)
Joy is the natural response to a gracious gift. It is even more significant that in this context, joy is one of the fruits or rewards of our yielding to the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives because we obey and believe in God. In God we will always have joy, even when the storms of life come our way.
James 1:2-4 says: “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
Perhaps being joyful is a choice? We can choose to be joyful by the grace of the Holy Spirit that rewarded us with this joy, and if we constantly look to the Lord and love and serve and obey Him, it will become deeply rooted in us. Joy will become our second nature.
Our Father and our God, we thank you for giving us joy as one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit. We thank you for providing us with the ability to choose joy, no matter the circumstances because we have faith in you and your Word.
We pray that believers all over the world would be filled with the Holy Spirit, and that your church here on earth will become known for its infectious joy. Lord, fill each of us today with joy and all the other fruits of the Spirit. Help us to lead by example, bring others into a relationship with you.
We continue to pray for the upcoming women’s retreat, for all attendees, workshop leaders, our worship leader, the MC, the hospitality team, food service providers, and all logistics.
We pray that you shield us from all danger and mishaps, keep us safe and give us all journey mercies as we travel to and from the event each day and for your protection over us beginning from now, up to and during the event and beyond.
“Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory.”
1 Peter 1:8 (ESV)
In the Bible we read that Thomas needed to see and feel Jesus’s wounds before he would believe He had risen from the dead and that was just a few days after Jesus had walked among them.
More than two thousand years later, we are expected to not only believe but rejoice in Him and the knowledge that He came to die for our sins and to give us the free gift of salvation through His ultimate sacrifice.
We do this because we have faith in Christ through the Word of God. Our hope is alive and brings with it such joy that even in the middle of our trials we should rejoice. We do not need to see or touch Him.
Remember that Jesus had answered Thomas by saying, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:29) Thank you Lord!
Our Father and our God, thank you that we are believers in the unseen. We thank you that the mystery of your plan for us has been revealed to us in Christ by our salvation.
Only you can see the innermost thoughts of our hearts as we seek you and strive to do your will. Let the love we have in our savior, Jesus Christ and his sacrifice for our sins, give us untold joy as we look towards eventually being with you Lord, at the end of our days here on earth.
We humbly ask that you continue to bless us as we prepare our hearts and minds for our upcoming women’s retreat and time of prayer, worship and fellowship, with our sisters in Christ.
We pray that all logistics of the agenda and outstanding preparations be finalized smoothly, and that you should take control of the arrangements and let the event run as you divinely see fit according to your will, so that at the end of the retreat, we will give glory and honor to your name. Amen
Week 3 of 6 Weeks of Prayer and Devotions for JOY 2020 Retreat
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” Romans 15:13 (ESV)
Countless times I have prayed about something, eagerly anticipating the answers to my prayers. After all, I know God has heard me, so why is it that after months or even years of praying some of my prayers may remain unanswered or so it seems. How can I be joyful and continue having faith or hope when I feel a sense of abandonment, hopelessness and dejection begin to creep into my thoughts?
At those times, I try to recall the countless testimonies from the Bible as well as from people all around me, who called upon the Lord ceaselessly, with unwavering faith and hope in the encompassing peace of knowing that their prayers would be answered according to God’s will and purpose. Yes, they had faith. They had hope, but they could not have that type of peace and joy without believing in God’s promises.
The lyrics of the fourth verse of “Amazing Grace” by John Newton reads, “The Lord has promised good to me. His word my hope secures. He will my shield and portion be, as long as life endures.”
Dear Father, please help us to keep believing in you so that our faith in you and in your Word will bring joy and peace to our hearts. We often cannot do it by ourselves, so we ask you to send us the power of the Holy Spirit, so that by His power we will have divine and supernatural hope always.
We pray for all participants coming for the women’s retreat, we ask that you will fill each and every one of us anew with the peace and joy of knowing that if we put our trust in you, as we present our supplications to you during that time, we will overflow with the hope that you will answer our prayers.
We also ask for peace and joy in faith in you, for all of the organizers and facilitators of the retreat, that Your will be done, and that the retreat will be successful to Your glory.
In Jesus name, Amen.
Thank you for prayerfully preparing with us for the this year’s retreat.
Jeremiah 15:16 says, ”Your Words were found and I ate them, and your Words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart; For I have been called by your name, O LORD God of hosts.”
In the verses preceding this, we read about Jeremiah’s anguish and dilemma, because God had asked him to tell the people of Judah that they would face untold horror and devastation for not repenting. He was terrified of the people’s reaction to this message and cried out against the curses that would be rained down on him. Yet, Jeremiah chose to believe and depend totally in the word of God as if he had imbibed them, because of God’s promise to him, that if he obeyed and delivered the message to the people, God would rescue him and deliver him from his enemies. (Jeremiah 15: 20-21).
Sometimes when we feel God’s pull on our hearts to share His Word or invite someone to church, it often becomes the last thing we want to do for fear of reproach or rebuke, or even being labeled within our social community. Joy in God’s Word and his promises to us can help us overcome these fears.
Let us share the Word of God with those around us with hearts full of joy as we ourselves take delight in His promises to us. He will deliver us.
Dear Father, we ask that we find joy in your Word and that you continue to bless us as we prepare our hearts and minds for our upcoming women’s retreat and time of prayer, worship and fellowship, with our sisters in Christ. Father, fill us with your Word. Show us your ways so that we can boldly go and proclaim your Word to others.
We pray for keynote speaker: Misty Phillip and that you speak to us through her during the retreat. We pray that at the end of the retreat, we will give glory and honor to your name.
Thank you, Solape Delano, our prayer coordinator for providing prayers twice weekly for us to pray in this remaining month before the retreat. Join us this week as we continue to prayerfully prepare for JOY 2020. God has some amazing things in store for everyone. May we pray with boldness for hearts afire for Him.
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
My husband and I just recently returned from a trip to the UK where we celebrated our 35th wedding anniversary. There is something very special about England and Scotland for us, and we love to go whenever we can. One of our favorite things to do there is hike, taking advantage of all the public land and the numerous walking paths.
The Lord speaks continually on these walks and hikes—whether it is reminding me of my great dependence on Him as my Good Shepherd, as I gaze at the countless sheep we encounter, or His constancy, His unchanging faithfulness throughout history, as we walk through various ruins of what were once grand churches, abbeys, or castles. For whatever reason, maybe because the distractions of daily life are suspended, when He speaks or points something out during these times, I am more attentive, more able to listen and receive.
On this last trip, as we hiked through the Derbyshire area, I was much focused on the mud. Yep. Mud. Lots. Of. It. This part of England, even for the UK, had experienced an unusually wet December, hence, the mud. We had not packed wellies (they take up a lot of space on one’s suitcase), simply hiking shoes. So, much of the adventure of these hikes was in avoiding the mud. We found if we stayed off the main paths, we might skirt much of the wet, sloppy, sticky mess. We walked through mushy fields and meadows, went around trees, climbed over rocks, constantly eying the best path with the least resistance.
And for the most part, we avoided a lot of mud. However, it didn’t matter how skilled we became in our “Man vs. Mud” conflict, going through the mud was inevitable. You see, in order to continue down whatever path we were following there was always a gate, or a pass-through, or some other sort of transition from one area into the next. We could not go around these; we had to go through them. And guess what? They were muddy! Really muddy! So, bottom line, we learned we couldn’t avoid the mud. Every hike involved some sort of direct encounter with it.
So what does this have to do with joy?
In the midst of these hikes, I kept thinking about the mud in our lives, that we are promised in Scripture that suffering, trials, and hard times are not an “if,” but a “when.” We can try and avoid them, but inevitably, there will come times when we must walk through them. So, not because of the mud but in spite of it, how are we able to “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, and give thanks in all circumstances?”
We go back to what we know to be true—what we know to be true about God and who He is—and what we know to be true about who we are in Him. This is exactly what Paul does with the Thessalonians in this passage. Right before this encouragement to rejoice always, he reminds them what had been accomplished for them through Christ:
“For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him. Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” (1 Thess. 5:9-11)
The Lord, in the words of the Prophet Isaiah, comforts us with the truth that He will always be with us during the muddy times of life:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. 2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. 3 For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. (Isaiah 43:1-3)
Lives of true joy are not dependent on circumstances. They well up from a deep abiding faith in the One who is completing our joy. And that deep abiding faith is a gift from Him, through His Spirit. We live in the tension as His people of trusting Him through the muddy times of our lives, all the while focused on Him and His promises. We rest in Him, our good and sovereign God, knowing that for whatever reason, He has allowed the mud, for His good purposes. And rejoice. And we pray. And we give thanks.
Deacon Lisa Schwandt serves as Dean of the College of Deacons in the Diocese of the Western Gulf Coast. She also serves as one of the associate pastors at HopePointe Anglican Church in The Woodlands, TX. But her most important claim to fame is being “Lulu” to her grandchildren, Chip and Margaret.