Tag Archives: hope

A Matter of Perspective

sw2004_2_06aEvery so often, I feel a little out of place or disjointed. I wonder if I am where I am supposed to be, doing what I am supposed to do. At first, scrolling through the articles of my fellow partners didn’t help. There are several articles concerning leadership. While those are helpful to an employer, a pastor or even a deacon, what about the rest of us? You can find articles, news, seminars, self-help books or even take classes on how to lead. But what about how to follow? More importantly, what about how to follow non-Christian leaders?

In order to provide for our families, we work more hours or more jobs. We spend more time at work or looking for work knowing good and well our family needs the husband and father around more. But something occurred to me a while ago; the large company I work for doesn’t want me working more. In fact, the company doesn’t want me at all. If they could automate my job today and let me go – they would. I have worked there for seventeen years and they see me as a liability, not an asset.

Now I know the general biblical response to such feelings or situations; we treat those around us the way we would like to be treated. We respect the authority set over us. We try to be a light in the workplace so those non-Christians will hopefully see Christ in us. But that brought me to another problem. I read and/or study my Bible or meditate on a scripture daily in order to help me lead my family. From Genesis on, there is an amazing theme happening through the Bible – God is sovereign. He cannot be stopped. His plans cannot be thwarted. Even when the fathers of Israel didn’t have enough faith, enough courage, or enough brains, God still achieved His eternal plan. That made me realize something else entirely; God doesn’t need me. If He worked around the saints of old, then His will is still going to be done today, with or without me.

I stewed on these thoughts for a few days and then posed a question to a dear friend: If you spend the majority of your day working and reading/studying the Bible so you can provide for and lead your family, what are you left with when you realize you work for a company that doesn’t want you and serve a God that doesn’t need you?

Remember when I said God can’t be thwarted?

Through my friend, God gently twisted my perspective. The truth of the matter is – I was right. God doesn’t need me at all. In the grand scheme of His plan and the universe He created, I am a grain of sand. He will reclaim what is His. Satan will be cast into the lake of fire and there will be a new Heaven and new Earth. And God doesn’t need me for one bit of it. But He wants me to be there to see it! You see, this grain of sand means something to its Creator. In the vastness of all the stars, moons, and planets of the universe, God named a grain of sand. In Jeremiah 29:11, He says: For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. He doesn’t need me – – He wants me! The thought of being separated from His Creation, even the sand, bothered Him. So much so, that He sent His Son to pay our ransom for sin and bring us home. He wants every last one of us.

As for the company I work for, I was right about that too. They don’t want me at all. But they need me. For seventeen years, I have honed my skills to do the best job I can. They are working as we speak at automating my job, and they will…eventually. But God has this grain of sand right where He wants me. 1Corinthians 15:58 says, Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

Out of love, I was created. By faith in Jesus Christ, I was saved. By grace, I am wanted by the King of Kings.

 

Article by C.S. Depew

email

Articles

3 Things I Learned from Joel Osteen

osteenA wise man once said that he could learn from anyone… did you catch that?  He was wise… because he didn’t let anyone stand in his way of growth.  Not their successes or their failures. Not their preferences, their convictions, their methods, their mannerisms, their eccentricities.  We would be wise to learn from this as well… everyone can teach you something!  Some might teach you WHAT to do, HOW to live, WHY, WHEN – but others might teach you why, how, and what NOT to do!

Here are three lessons that I learned from the pastor of the world’s largest church:

I learned that a smile goes a lot further than a shout

Osteen is known for his trademark smile (it’s almost creepy how much he grins, isn’t it!?).  But the fact is – warm joy takes truth further into the soul than the cold call of duty.  Happy creatures are magnetic while negative ones polarize.  The good news is truly that — good news!  How tragic when the good news is delivered with a frown or a tone of judgment.  I realize that the gospel incorporates ‘negative’ elements of sin and God’s wrath, of blood and death… but it’s overarching message is one of hope and grace.  Share His love with a smile.

Warm joy takes truth further into the soul than the cold call of duty.

I learned that hope is a powerful thing

In his book, Osteen challenges the reader to believe in himself because of the ‘Champion’ within.  He convinces his audience that he believes in them, that they need to believe that things will not always be the same as they are right now, that they don’t have to live under the circumstances, and that they should take action to change their lives right now.  This is powerful because it offers people hope and a promise.  Personally, I believe that the source of hope needs to be more than just believing in yourself; it should be sourced in the great truth that God believes in you (although Osteen might see this as semantics / splitting hairs).  How might God use you to give hope to someone who is struggling today?  Believe in them because God does!

I learned that God can use anyone

Although Osteen was a PK (preacher’s kid), he has readily admitted that he didn’t see himself in the pulpit.  He avoided the spotlight and felt much more comfortable behind the camera than in front of it.  But, in spite of my many critiques of his methods and quirkiness, I believe that God is bigger than my level of tolerance or acceptance of his ministry.  I should admit that God IS using him to share the gospel and bring glory to His name.  God’s grace is bigger than anyone can imagine.  Don’t get me wrong… I’ll not soon throw the baby out with the bathwater. I would never deny hell or the sinfulness of sin on national TV (like he did on Larry King Live) – but then I’ll not answer to God for what Joel Osteen has done, will I?  I’ll try to keep my eyes on my own life and keep myself in check.  Aren’t you glad God uses us all in different people in different ways?  To think… Wow, God can even use me (and you)!

Article by Patrick Nix

@patchnix

Other Articles  |  Bio

The Promise

“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life:
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.” Ps. 23:6

The Shepherd has taken us on quite a journey. We have lain in green pastures, drank from still water, walked righteous paths, and gone through the valley of the shadow of death. He has fed us, bound our wounds, and overfilled our cups. Now He wants to leave us with a promise to hold onto as we continue on our journey.

The first word “Surely” is the Shepherd’s way of telling us that we can count on this… just as surely as we can count on every thing else He has said. For the rest of my life — no matter the pain, sorrow, good times, or bad times — His goodness and His mercy will follow me. Oh, if we could only understand this concept. He is not ever going to leave you in need. He has walked the trail before many times with many sheep. He knows the danger and trials that you will face. He has provided His goodness as a gift to help us as we walk. He knows that we will struggle so He reminds us that He will always be there to provide good things for us.

It is so easy in the midst of a trial to think that God is taking a board and hitting you just for good measure. In our pain, we lash out and think that He no longer cares. Yes, the Shepherd will chastise a disobedient sheep, but He never strikes us for His pleasure. Our Shepherd is good and wants us to know His goodness is always there. We must go through trials and testing to strengthen and grow our faith. We tend to expect a Christian life in a bubble of protection; however, if you take a baby and place him in a bubble with no germs, nothing to learn, and nothing to stimulate him, he will die. As humans we need to get sick to build our immunity. We need to learn how to walk, talk, and live on our own. We need difficulty to stimulate us to persist and try again. The Christian life is no different. Just as we would provide goodness and encouragement to a child who is growing the Shepherd provides us that same goodness.

 Our Shepherd is good and He wants us to know that His goodness is always there!

As if it was not enough to have his goodness, He also provides His mercy. The Shepherd knows that we will fail Him. We were born falling short of His Glory, and salvation does not change the fact that we will fall short. Knowing this, the Shepherd has provided His mercy; not as a license to sin, but as a way to continue the journey. If not for His mercy He would strike us down on our first offense. We live our life each day in His mercy and with that mercy comes responsibility. We must rise after we have fallen. (Proverbs 24:16) “For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again: but the wicked shall fall into mischief.” His mercy demands that we get up and go on. Satan will use your falling and tempt you to remain down. The Shepherd never intended you to fall and not get up. If He did, He would never have given His mercy.

Some may ask: “Can I run out of this mercy?” According to the verse, not until He takes you home. I do believe that some sheep go home early, but as long as He gives you breath you have His mercy. In my opinion, for what it is worth, I think that many Christians who quit do so over guilt of their sin. Satan uses past failures as burdens to hold us down, but His mercy allows us to stand again.

To close it all off and finish this journey the Shepherd has taken us on, He has one more thing to say. “and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.” After the journey is complete and when the path has ended – Heaven awaits. The pain of today leads to the joy of tomorrow. The trials made us able to reach more people for Christ. Our faith in the Shepherd was built to its ultimate purpose: He awaits us with nail scared hands. No longer stretched out for our sin, but now stretched our to welcome us home.

I leave Psalms 23 with some words that Paul gave those Christians at Ephesus … and having done all, to stand. Stand…
(Ephesians 6:13,14)

Article by David Wagner

email

Articles  |  Bio

Greater Things

metamorphosis-monarch-butterflyChange is uncomfortable.  Transitions aren’t usually enjoyable – but they are absolutely necessary … if we intend on growing.  Passing the baton, moving from one stage to another, rising to another level, turning the page into a new chapter.  These are all metaphors we use to describe transitions.

Certain seasons are more wondrous than others… but the season of transition isn’t generally one of them.  As many of you know, I’ve been in transition mode for the last few months (read more).  My family-life looks very different, we have changed addresses, we travel different paths, and we work different jobs.  A lot has changed in the last few months which is probably why Phillip Phillips’ Home (listen here) resonated with me the first time I heard it:

Hold on, to me as we go
As we roll down this unfamiliar road
And although this wave is stringing us along
Just know you’re not alone
Cause I’m going to make this place your home

Settle down, it’ll all be clear
Don’t pay no mind to the demons
They fill you with fear
The trouble it might drag you down
If you get lost, you can always be found

Not only is the Lord using this transition to grow Joy and I – but he is also using this to help others through us as He teaches us the principles of transition… (from Numbers 27:18-23). We are learning of “Greater Things” that Christ referred to in John 14.

picture-7

Greater Things begin with the Word of God

You can call it what you want: a prompting, a calling, a gut-feeling, a burden, a ‘spirit’ – just be sure that your move begins with God’s will and not your own.  God is sovereign and His choices should and must supersede yours.  Affirm that your decision to move – or that the transition that you’re in – is based upon truth – because it’s only the truth that truly transforms (Romans 12:1-2).

Faith is taking the first step – the next step –
without knowing where the rests of the steps will take you.

Duncan Campbell’s account of the Lewis Awakening has always challenged me to be a better listener of God’s still, small voice.  In recent years, Mark Batterson’s Wild Goose Chase has done much the same to stir my heart to the grand adventure of truly trusting Christ with audacious faith.

Greater Things come when we follow a Biblical process

We can’t circumvent the system. There are no shortcuts to following God.  For example, Jesus was clear about discipleship: Take up your cross, deny yourself, forsake this world, and follow Him.  Even though I’m way out of my routine and habits, I can’t neglect those spiritual disciplines that brought me this far: Scripture reading and meditation, prayer, faithful worship in church, being a good steward, sharing my faith with others… It does no good to try to cheat the transition [waiting] process.  It takes time – that’s part of it. In fact, that’s not just part of it – that’s it… Slow down and allow your heart to connect more fully to His.  So be patient and stick it out.  Right now, I’m preaching to myself.  I’m still up in the air, literally, in a holding pattern.  We’ve lifted off by faith and left our comfortable place of 14 years.  It’s a daily process of crying out to the Lord to take care of us and not let us fall flat on our faces.  And in the midst of this painful process, I’m still amazed at how easily I’m distracted from my spiritual quests.

Greater Things happen in the Presence of God

As the great general, Joshua, was about to nervously lead Israel into victory (although he didn’t know the end of the story yet), God gave him the greatest promise a leader could have:

Be strong and of a good courage;
be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed:
for the Lord thy God is with thee…  Joshua 1:9

Joshua would have the courage and zeal that Moses never had.  He would experience opportunities Moses was never afforded, because He trusted in the presence of God like Moses never could.  I need the presence of the Lord in order to have this kind of courage.  I know better than to trust in my self (been there, done that).  Christ’s presence in us – as believers – makes it possible for us to see and experience Greater Things.  He planted the seed, and now we get to see it blossom and bear fruit.  He hid the yeast in the dough, and now we get to see it rise… In this difficult transition, yet with great expectation, I look ahead, confident that He which began the good work in me will keep completing it until the day He calls me home!  [Phil. 1:6]

Article by Patrick Nix

@patchnix

Other Articles  |  Bio

The Practical Ministry of Presence

Galatians 6:2 Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

This verse’s specific context speaks of believers helping one another with the oppressive weight of temptation and the effects of yielding to it. However, there is a broader principle that can be applied to all burdens.

FriendshipsSo why is this principle important?

Today, it seems as though everyone you meet is carrying a burden, and Christians are not exempt. Though we can and should have joy in the midst of our difficulty, this doesn’t mean that we are to be dishonest about our difficulties. If we act like we never have problems then what does our ability to have joy prove? However, if we are honest about our lives and still find Jesus sufficient in all things, even when we are clearly at the end of ourselves—that can be winsome. If we, by faith, find some hope even when things seem hopeless, that is a powerful apologetic! By the way, the hope that we find isn’t pie in the sky or foundation-less hope; we hope in the real person who has already rescued us! It is the height of arrogance to think that he can’t overcome some issue in our lives when he has already overcome our depravity. If we minimize our sinful condition or magnify our role in salvation, we are much less likely to hope in Jesus! We hope because of his record! A Christian who has gotten caught up in a sinful cycle must be honest with himself and with others to get out. In the same way, a Christian who is bearing a burden that isn’t tainted by sin must be honest with himself and others to find help and hope. Christian, stop acting, it’s ok to need help!

How can I help bear burdens?

There are many ways that Christians can and should bear each other’s burdens, but this is a blog post, so I would just like to focus on one of them. Be there! I know it’s simple, but your presence can make a difference. Often, in the difficult seasons of life, friends and family don’t know how to help or what to say. Sometimes the one who is hurting doesn’t know what they need and wouldn’t know what to ask for if they did ask. Often this hurting individual carries on an internal dialogue that goes something like this: “I don’t physically need anything.” “No one could possiblysay anything that could help me right now.” “If someone were here with me they may feel some of my pain.” “I wouldn’t wish this on anyone.” “If someone else hurts, that will not help me in any way.” This hurting person then decides to bottle it up and go through their pain alone. Isolation is not the answer.

You are created in the image of God, and part of that imago dei illustrates that you are a relational being made to live within community. Your emotions are as real as you are.  People don’t have to say anything. Those that love you most are already feeling your pain. There are some weights too great for anyone to go through alone. Whether you are the one carrying a burden or the friend of someone carrying a burden, your presence can make a difference!

Article by Brian Norris

@BrianNorris

Articles  |  Bio

Responding to the Sandy Hook Tragedy

FEATURED: We’re Praying for Newtown (Join the Prayer Effort)
by P4G Partner: Brian Norris
http://briannorris.info/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/Newtown.mp3

ARTICLE: Weeping with Those Who Weep – A First-Hand Response from Newtown
from the Cripplegate
http://thecripplegate.com/weeping-with-those-who-weep-a-first-hand-response-from-newtown/

ARTICLE: The Massacre in Connecticut
by Albert Mohler
http://www.albertmohler.com/2012/12/14/rachel-weeping-for-her-children-the-massacre-in-connecticut/

ARTICLE: Trusting God in Tragedy
by Cary Schmidt
http://caryschmidt.com/trusting-god-in-tragedy/

ARTICLE: Another Tragic School Shooting; How Should We React
from The Christian Post
http://www.christianpost.com/news/another-tragic-school-shooting-how-should-we-react-86707/cpt

VIDEO: “Where was God?”
from Mike Huckabee
http://video.foxnews.com/v/2038135300001/

VIDEO: A Father Speaks Out, Memorializing his 6-year old daughter [YouTube]
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oYt4T201Lrw&feature=youtu.be

PRAYER: A Prayer for Sandy Hook and for Us All
by Kevin DeYoung, The Gospel Coalition
http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/kevindeyoung/2012/12/16/a-prayer-for-sandy-hook-and-for-us-all/

The Valley

depression_by_thirsty5As I have been sitting these past few weeks thinking about the next verse my heart has struggled with how God would want this post to go. I know what my trips through the valley have been like. Each individual faces a different darkness in the valley. Let me begin by saying that the valley is a test. A test that covers a lifetime of lessons that the Shepherd has taught us. Lessons learned on the green pastures, and along still waters. Lessons taught while our soul was restored, and as we learned the right path to take. It is the ultimate test of our faith. Depending on what the Shepherd is preparing your life to accomplish you may be tested with the valley more than once.

God has never seemed so close than in the valley.

As we look at the verse there are some important things to notice. “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,” First of all it is the Shepherds will that you walk through the valley if His path leads through it. This means that avoiding the valley will take you out of the Will of God. We need not fear the valleys, and our Shepherd is so wise that He anticipated our fear. “I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.“ Psalms 23:4 It is important to know that the valley contains evil. I am reminded of when Satan went to God over Job. What the Shepherd wants us to understand is that we need not to fear the evil. “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.” 1 John 4:18 His love for us allows us to understand the Shepherd is there even if we do not see Him. Although in the valley, God may seem distant, this is a test of our faith. The same rod and staff He used to guide us in the storms on the pastures, and alongside still waters is there to comfort us. How much comfort we receive is directly connected to how well we learned the lessons of the pasture and waters.

There are some amazing blessings to be found in the valley. “Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.“ Psalms 23:5 The first blessing is a table set before the enemy. Understand that we are at our most relaxed and vulnerable while we are sitting at a table. Soldiers do not pack a table in their backpack. We however in the valley have a table of blessings prepared for us. It is not the Will of the Shepherd to test you, and then leave you vulnerable to the enemy. So while the enemy watches the Shepherd feeds us. That is the power of the Shepherd; He can stop the trial at any time. Notice also in this valley our heads are anointed with oil. This is done to refresh us from the trial we have experienced.

Many sheep miss the blessings of the valley because they become weary in well doing.

Then we have my favorite part. Our cups are filled till running over. One of the things I have found in the valley is our cups seem to get drained. Not only of the blessings of the Shepherd, but also from the unclean things we have put into it. The valley tends to clean out my cup. Into this empty cup He fills Himself till it is overflowing. What would you rather that the Shepherd pour his blessings on top of your cup filled with yourself, or that He fills your empty cup up with Himself.

Notice here that with no valley there is no table, no oil, and no cup. The refining fire of trials makes room for all of these things. It is sad however that so many sheep enter the valley, but do not continue through it. It is the Shepherd’s will that you go all the way through the valley. Many sheep miss the blessings of the valley because they become weary in well doing. They faint before the blessings. They take an event the Shepherd intended to make them stronger, and walk out of the fold.

It is true that the valley hurts. It is lonely. It is tiring. It can seem never ending. Let me say however from personal experience: the table of blessing is worth it, the refreshing oil is worth it, and the cup overflowing is worth it. God has never seemed so close than in the valley. There are a lot of things I may never do again on this Earth. I will however continue to walk on green pastures and along still waters down paths of righteousness that lead through valleys to blessings.

Article by David Wagner

email

Articles  |  Bio

Do We Need a Bigger Boat?

 But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary.  And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, it is a spirit; and they cried out for fear.  But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid. And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.  And he said, Come.  And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.  But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.  And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?  Matthew 14:24-31

Isn’t it amazing how far God will lead us if we are willing?!  In my previous post, we can imagine Peter launching out into the deep almost as a kind gesture.  “Okay, I’ll do it, but I’m telling you we’re not going to catch anything.”  He was not only willing to fail, but probably expecting it just to appease Jesus’ request and prove he knew what he was talking about.  It was the obedience we discussed earlier with little faith to speak of.

Now we see a very different Peter who is still willing to fail, but this time he is willing to fail with a faith few have ever possessed. 

In both cases he found himself in the midst of the sea.  In both cases there were people watching.  But now it didn’t matter.  He was willing to do something no one had done before; something that couldn’t be done just to be where Jesus was.  We don’t know how far Peter got.  To be honest, it doesn’t matter.  If only for a moment, Peter proved to everyone on that boat at God’s command, if we keep our eyes on Him, He will do things through us and with us that can’t be done.  But we have to be willing to get out of the boat.

I could tell you that I have spent most of my life on the boat, but that would be a lie.  Most of my life has been spent on the dock watching the boat go by.  Getting past what people thought just to get on the boat was a big step.  But I have seen God’s power.  At times I have felt His love and Spirit consume me.  I have wept at the thought of what He has done for me.  And now it doesn’t matter what anyone thinks or says; I don’t care if I fail.

I want to get off the boat and be where Jesus is.  How ‘bout you?

Article by C.S. Depew

email

Articles

Believe It or Not!

I recently had an opportunity to share the Gospel with a co-worker.  When I asked if he was a Christian, his response was, “No.”  As we continued talking he shared that he did not believe in God, Heaven or Hell.  The cliff-notes version of what he said was evolution explained our presence here, though no one knows how evolution started (meaning no one can answer how the first organism came into existence.)  When we die, he simply believes nothing happens…we die and that is it.  I did not attack his beliefs, but rather sat and listened trying to understand his point of view.  That only seemed fair since I was hoping he would do the same when I voiced my beliefs.

Although I was praying fervently throughout our trip, few answers came to me.  In sharing the Gospel and using Scripture as support, he commented that he believed many Bible stories to be historically true, but by no means believed all of it.  He viewed it as he would any other piece of literature.

I felt completely inadequate because, without the Bible,
I had nothing to stand on. 

Later that evening, as I pondered our discussion, I realized the true difference between a believer and non-believer; Faith and hope.  Perhaps the truest statement I made to him was that I did not have enough faith to believe in evolution.  To believe this world just came to be from an explosion or some other event with no order whatsoever takes a big leap of faith.  Then to believe a single-celled organism somehow appeared and evolved into everything around us is…well, as I said, I don’t have that much faith.  My faith is rooted in the Word of God.  The only thing I accepted from the start is the Bible is the inspired Word of God.  It is true, it is real, and it is without error…that’s it.  From that one belief, everything else is explained.  I can show you when the earth was created and in who’s image we are created.  I can explain the relationship between a man and woman.  I can even tell you why there is great evil in the world today and who we have to thank for our constructive nature, tools and music.  Those are just in the first four chapters of the first Book in the Bible.

What He Was Missing…

It sounds funny doesn’t it; a Christian not having much faith?  But there is something at the core of what I believe that I think my co-worker is missing – HOPE.  I find hope in the fact that there is a God and He is the creator of everything.  I find peace in the fact that God gave His creation free will to sin or rebel against Him only to provide a way to overcome that sin through His son Jesus Christ.  And most importantly, I have hope in the fact that this if not the end.  I do not have to endure the horrors in this world just to have it end when I die.  I can look forward to spending eternity with my Creator and Savior.  It makes the time I spend on this rock a little more bearable.  (All of that is in the Bible too.)  But then there is the question of how can I believe the Bible is true?  It may have started with a small amount of faith, but believing God’s word gives us true, eternal, awe inspiring hope.  God showed me so.

But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:
1 Peter 3:15

Article by C.S. Depew

email

Articles

Joy Story

If you were to ask me to stop and recall one of my happiest times as a child, I would have to bring up the Toy Story era. Now before you laugh, whenToy Story came out it was well ahead of its time, not because it was the first successful computer generated movie, but because it solidified what all little kids were thinking: MY TOYS CAN TALK!

As an adult, life is little more complicated now isn’t it? It almost seems that the older you get, the more grumpy and sour you become. Why? Because simply put, life can suck the JOY right out of you. Remember when you actually enjoyed your job? How long has it been since you enjoyed your marriage? Being pointed, remember when you ENJOYED coming to church and seeing everyone?

We are foolish to think that God planned for your life to just putter along in misery. Thankfully, through Paul writing to the Philippians, we can truly find our JOY STORY and get back to loving life again!

Paul, under Holy Ghost inspiration, is careful to send a strong message to this first European congregation in Philippi. Depending on how you look at it, 16 times some derivative of JOY is pumped into this congregation. One of those words, REJOICE, is the ACTION of the emotion of joy. Throughout the book of Philippians, Paul gives us 5 FACTS to help us find our JOY STORY! (This post was from a message I preached recently, if you would like to watch it, click HERE)

What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice. (Philippians 1:18)

1. Take JOY in the FACT the Gospel Is Preached

A few verses earlier, Paul was saying that the Gospel was being preached FOR THE WRONG REASON (envy, strife, etc.) and because of the POWER that it had he still rejoiced in that fact! No doubt there is coming day that the glorious Gospel WILL NOT be able to be preached; let us be busy and find joy in the fact that it still can.

Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain. (Philippians 2:16)

2. Take JOY in The FACT that Your “Race” is Not in Vain

If there is anything that makes a Christ follower want to bail out on “Christianity” it is the question of, “IS IT WORTH IT”. We sacrifice, we struggle, we seemingly tread water … but it IS for a purpose. The situations we face are all specifically for our benefit, but the payoff (at times) takes FOREVER to be manifested. Paul goes so far as to say, “I’m content and have JOY in the fact that my suffering will make sense when I see Jesus!”

I sent him therefore the more carefully, that, when ye see him again, ye may rejoice, and that I may be the less sorrowful. (Philippians 2:28)

3. Take JOY in the FACT that Your “Race” is Not Run Alone

As was mentioned earlier, the reasoning behind some of our circumstances may not be understood until we reach Heaven. With that being the case, God has given us “co-laborers” that are in the fight as well. We should REJOICE, Paul tells us, simply because we do not have to carry our burdens alone.

Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord…  (Philippians 3:1)

4. Take JOY in the FACT of Who God IS

If there was no other reason to have joy, we should rejoice simply in who God is! He is your creator, sustainer, deliverer, redeemer, and FRIEND! Through Christ’s sacrifice your are ACCEPTED before God; take joy in that fact — Why wouldn’t you?

In Philippians 4:1, Paul starts off by saying, “Therefore” — (or in other words, because of everything that was just said) — we should take steps to insure that the fifth fact in intact:

I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord. And I intreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellowlabourers, whose names are in the book of life. Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice. (Philippians 4:2-4)

5. Take JOY in the FACT of Strength in a UNIFIED Body

We need to understand that quarrels and strife have no place in the Body of Christ. There is nothing that steals joy and destroys churches more than disunity. When everyone is on the same page, a unified assembly of Christ followers can truly change the world!

 

Article by Kevin Crozier

@kevcrozier

Articles  |  Bio