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Rejoice Always with Free Printable!

ACS_0007Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

Rejoice always?  But sometimes I don’t feel joyful!  Why does the writer of this passage say to rejoice at all times?  Does he mean to always be happy?  No, I don’t think so.  There will be times when we struggle and even face persecution–spiritually, emotionally, perhaps even physically.  That’s what was happening to the church in Thessalonica.  Paul had visited them, but had to leave abruptly, with many of the new converts feeling discouraged and alone. Paul is encouraging them to depend on each other rather than on him, and even more, to depend on God for encouragement.  He reminds them to rejoice always, even when times are tough.

Rejoicing is a matter of choice, not a feeling.  We must choose to rejoice.  But how?  fullsizeoutput_497

Paul gives the answer in the next passage, verse 17.  He says, “…in everything give thanks…”  No matter the circumstances, find something to be thankful for.  Rather than focusing on the bad things around you, focus on the good things in your life, the blessings in your past, and what God has already done for you.  That’s how to readjust your thinking.

Maybe all you can find to be thankful for is that you woke up this morning–but that is better than the alternative!  How about the food you have to eat?  The clothes you have to wear?  The shelter over your head?  Sometimes we have to look at the very basic things first.  Then there are the relationships you enjoy, the job that pays you money (even if it not’s the best of jobs), the beautiful sunrise or rainbow that you saw this morning.  Perhaps you only had one tire to go flat instead of two.  We can train ourselves to have an “attitude of gratitude,” but it takes practice to always look for the good in all circumstances.

One thing that should consume your thankfulness is the fact that Jesus loves YOU, died for YOU, and wants to be in a relationship with YOU!  When nothing else can cheer you up, choose to think on that simple–yet profound–fact, and be thankful.  As you go about your day, remind yourself to whisper up a “thank you” to God.  It could be for anything, but when offered up regularly and earnestly, it brings joy and peace into your heart.  In other words, you begin to rejoice always.  That my, friend, is the will of God in Christ for you (verse 18).

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I created this Bible Journaling page as a reminder to rejoice always.  You can see the entire process video here, or using the link below.  Since this video is my 100th upload on my YouTube channel, I wanted to show my appreciation to my followers and subscribers who have helped to support my ministry.  I’ve uploaded a Rejoice Lily that you can use in your journaling as well.  You can use it as a tip-in or an alternative page by just printing it on card stock and coloring the image.  Or you could use it as a traceable.  I’ve shown you both of these options in the video.  You could also choose to print it on a clear sticker sheet and just slap it in your Bible or notebook.  (You could add color to the page with any medium before or after you do this, but beware that water may cause your printed ink to smear.)  Use this file as you wish.  If you do create something with it, I would LOVE to see it, so please tag me on instagram (@julesk.jewels) or Facebook (Julie Bragg Cassell).

I’m thankful for you.  And being thankful helps me to REJOICE ALWAYS!

PRODUCTS USED:

Rejoice Lily Printable

Watercolor Pencil Set

Illustrated Faith Watercolor Paint set

Distress Sprayer 2 oz. Bottle

Ranger Heat Tool

Aquabrushes

Speedball Rubber Brayer

Zig Dual-Tip Writer Marker

Stencil – July Documented Faith Stamp/Stencil Subscription

Broken China Distress Oxide Ink

Ranger Blending Tool

Illustrated Faith Basics Tool Kit

Tab Punch

IF Black and White Criss Cross Washi

Avery Clear Sticker Sheets

Barbour Personal Reflections Bible 

Stand Tall and Stand Out

“Do not be conformed to this world,but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

(Romans 12:2)

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Paul tells the church in Rome to not conform to the world.  Rome was the center of the Roman Empire, and at that time, a very pagan and secular place.  What does it mean to “conform”?  The definition of conform that applies here is to “be similar in form or type; to agree with.”  Paul emphasized that the Christians in Rome should NOT be similar in type or form with the pagan, secular world.  Rather, they should stand out and be dissimilar from the crowd and the rest of the world.

This timely message applies to us today too.  God was speaking to us through Paul’s letter.  Today, our culture is completely void of godliness and righteousness.  Movies and shows, music, fashion, social media, etc.  It all screams self-preservation and self-glorification, which is the opposite of God’s self-sacrificing love.  Of course, there are some glimpses of goodness in this world, and we should cling to those things (Phil. 4:8).

God calls us to stand out and show others His beautiful character in this ugly world.   We have to make choices that reflect what God would want for us, even when we feel like we are going against the crowd.  We have to stand tall and stand out, even if this world doesn’t agree with our choices.  Even when we feel like we are all alone.  But we aren’t alone–He is standing there with us, to help us stand tall and stand out.  Like a beautiful flamingo standing tall.

I used the new Be a Flamingo stamp set from Sweet ‘N Sassy Stamps, as well the Bitty Minnie Alpha set and the Beach Blessings Printable.  You can see how I masked the leaves and flowers to create the tropical background.  I tried out the Jane Davenport brights watercolor set to paint the images and loved the vibrancy.

How is God calling you to stand out?  How has He helped you stand tall, even when you had to stand alone?

Flourish Like Palms | Bible Journaling

fullsizeoutput_46a12  The righteous flourish like the palm tree

and grow like a cedar in Lebanon.

13  They are planted in the house of the LORD;

they flourish in the courts of our God.

Psalm 92:12-13

I’ve always loved  this Bible verse in Psalm 92 where it says that the righteous will flourish like palms and cedars because it reminds me of my children and my role as a parent.  Every Christian parent wants their children to be righteous and to flourish in the Lord. To “flourish” means to grow or develop in a healthy or vigorous way, especially as the result of a particularly favorable environment.  We as parents need to provide the environment for them to flourish into a righteous follower of Christ. But why does the psalmist use the imagery of a palm and a cedar tree to represent righteousness?fullsizeoutput_46aI moved to Florida almost eight years ago.  I can say in all honesty that I’ve never seen storms like I’ve seen here in Florida.  This past summer we endured Hurricane Irma.  I’ve come to understand one of the significant reasons why the palm is used in this psalm.  During these incredible storms, with torrential winds and rain, a palm tree will blow and fold and bend, but it will rarely break.  God designed the palm tree in such a way, with its spread-out roots, foldable fronds, and wiry trunk, to survive the storms of life.  And not only do these beautiful palm trees just survive, but they thrive in this climate!  They grow tall and stately, and historically they represent victory and celebration.  Palm trees flourish in adversity!

Now, on to cedar trees.  These aren’t just any cedar trees, though.  The Lebanon Cedar is a magnificent and massive tree.  Its wood is strong and has a pleasant odor, and is resistant to rot and insects.  Many Biblical woodworkers desired this wood, including Solomon for his Temple.

If you’ve met my three teenage boys, you might understand why I’ve always said that they were like Cedars of Lebanon.  They are BIG boys!  They eat me out of house and home, especially my youngest.  They are massive and strong like cedar trees.  Plus, we used to live in Lebanon, Pennsylvania (not the same as the Mediterranean Lebanon), and two of our three boys were born there.  So they are strong and big like the cedar trees of Lebanon (PA).

Perhaps this passage is saying that the righteous will flourish physically, like my boys have grown strong and healthy; but it is more likely to be saying that they will flourish spiritually.  Since it uses the palm and cedar analogies, we can understand more specifically how they will flourish.  They will be resilient in adversity, they will have a strong faith, they will be resistant to temptation, and they will be foundational in building God’s kingdom.  In order to truly flourish like this, I need to provide the environment for my children to grow, to plant them in God’s court.  That is my responsibility as their parent!fullsizeoutput_46aFor this page, I journaled in my Little Psalm Book, and I used several Sweet ‘N Sassy Stamps sets:  Brotherly Love, Be a Flamingo, and Bitty Minnie Alpha.  I stamped them with black ink and colored the images with Intense Blocks.  The Brotherly Love set is so much fun because you can individualize the finished look.  Two of my boys saw this and couldn’t believe how much it looked like them! (The other was indifferent.) I finished it off with some washi tape, a tab, a date stamp, and journaling.  (Affiliate links within the hyperlinks will take you to the products I used.  This week, through June 22, 20% off site-wide Sweet ‘N Sassy Stamps with code THANKS.)

What are some ways that you are helping your children flourish in a righteous environment?