Joy in Being Like Minded…

The portion of Philippians for today’s blog has caused me to think and then rethink what it means for my life.  Paul starts out with a statement that should cause us to pause and evaluate our life experiences.  I like the New Living Translation as I think it makes it  Philippians 2-2clearer.  Philippians 2:1-2 “Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose.”   It seems Paul is saying if we have experienced Christ in our life through His love and compassion or felt the indwelling Holy Spirit within us then we should be able to work together with other believers having Christ and His gospel ministry as our priority.  Being like minded does not mean uniformity like we are clones of one another.  God made us to be individuals and gave us uniquely different gifts.  We are to use them in working together striving to be joined in Christlike attitude.  When we digress into petty arguments or oppose one another for the sake of opposition then we are not practicing God’s love towards one another and are hindering the spread of the gospel.  Paul is saying that being like minded brings him complete joy or makes him truly happy.   Seeing fellow believers working together in unity makes him glad!    Paul goes on to admonish us to watch our “self” attitudes and motives and humbly look out for others. Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.”  Sobering thoughts.

Paul’s words are as applicable today as they were to the believers of ancient Phillipi.  People digress and desire to look out for themselves and their own interests rather than seeking to look out for the interest of others.  Jesus wants us to have godly priorities:  God first then man.  He gave this as a command in Matthew 22:38-39 “Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  Take some time today and reexamine your priorities- who are you putting first in your life?  What is motivating you-love of God or love of self? Do, like Paul, find joy in seeing people work together in love and commitment to Christ?

helping othersMy Joy is increased: 

  • I can be like-minded in and through Christ with other believers. (vs 2)
  • I can experience joy as I focus on Christ and not worldly self-interests. (vs 3)
  • I can have a loving and compassionate attitude towards others because of Christ in me. (vs 4)

Do these truths bring you joy?  Hopefully, they will cause you to meditate and pray asking God to infuse you with His Holy Spirit and cause you to walk humbly before Him.  That will surely  bring you joy!!

Linda

Joy in Standing with Christ

Paul knows by experience that the truth of Christ bring opposition.  He is trying to encourage the Philippian believers by stating the facts about their shared work for Jesus. Telling others about salvation, redemption, eternal life, heaven…. are all things in which the believer rejoices.   The unbeliever sees them as a pronouncement of coming destruction and fights against those who proclaim these gospel truths.   In Philippians Philippians 1 271:27-30, Paul says we need to stand up for Christ and walk in a manner worthy of His calling.  This is a life lived fearlessly for Christ knowing He alone is Savior, Redeemer, and Sovereign over all things.

27 “Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ. Then, whether I come and see you again or only hear about you, I will know that you are standing together with one spirit and one purpose, fighting together for the faith, which is the Good News. 28 Don’t be intimidated in any way by your enemies. This will be a sign to them that they are going to be destroyed, but that you are going to be saved, even by God himself. 29 For you have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for him. 30 We are in this struggle together. You have seen my struggle in the past, and you know that I am still in the midst of it.”

philippians 1 29Paul’s conclusion is that knowing and walking with Christ each day is a privilege entrusted to us by faith and with that comes suffering.  Know it, accept it and then lean on Him.  Remember you can take strength in and from fellow believers as you stand together in the cause of Christ.  Here are a few verses that help with the concept of suffering and why it comes with the job of being a believer.  (I have printed them at the bottom.)  I pray they help you to put in perspective what a privilege we have to suffer with Christ and the bigger purpose He has for us in suffering.  James 1:2-4, 1 Peter 4:14 and Acts 5:40-41.

My joy is increased:

  • I do not need to be fearful in my daily walk.   Deuteronomy 31:6 “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
  • I am in this with life with victorious Christ and fellow believers are at my side.
  • Remembering Christ sacrifice for me, it is a privilege to suffer for Him.

Let your joy in serving Christ fill you today.

philippians 1 28Linda

James 1:2-4  “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.”

1 Peter 4:14 “If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.”

Acts 5:40-41 “and when they had called in the apostles, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. 41 Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name.”

 

Assurances that bring Joy!

Paul had just stated in Philippians 1:21 “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”  However, in today’s passage he goes on to explain these words in verses 1:22-26.  “If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. 23 I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. 24 But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. 25 Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, 26 so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again.”  

heavenPaul is torn between the desire to be with Jesus and the desire to be with believers working to spread the gospel and for Christ.  Paul doesn’t know what the future holds for him but he rejoices in the assurance that God holds the future!  (Sounds like today huh!) He knows that God’s plans can be trusted and are good for him. Jeremiah 29:11 “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.”   Paul also knows how the fellowshipfellowship with other believers, the work of preaching, disciplining and proclaiming Christ is also good.  He loves his fellow co-workers and loves seeing their joy in Christ and the glory they all bring to God.

Therefore, Paul is good with either way the future unfolds.  He knows he will have joy in either case- death and moving into the presence of God (remember Paul is imprisoned at this point awaiting Caesar’s judgement)  or life and continued fellowship and spread of the gospel here on earth.

What about you?   Do you trust God with your future?  Are you assured of eternal life with Christ as Paul was?  I have listed the following verses below for you to mediate upon and claim their truths in your life.    I pray they will bring you reassurance:  John 3:16,  John 3:36, John 6:47, Romans 6:23,  1 John 2:25, 1 John 5:11.   (Printed out below)

Today my joy is increased as I know:

  • In death I will be with Jesus (verse 23)
  • The life I now have in Christ, in faith, is cause for joy. (25)
  • Fellowshipping with other believers, working in the cause of Christ brings me joy. (26)

Faith-JoyMay your joy be solidly rooted in Jesus as you walk in faith and trust in Almighty God.

Linda

John 3:16 ““For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

John 3:36 “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.”

John 6:47 “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life.”

Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

1 John 2:25 “And this is the promise that he made to us—eternal life.”

1 John 5:11  “And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.”

Eternal life with Jesus is a sure thing for the believer.  Live like you believe it today!

Joy, Knowing God is Sovereign

In Philippians 1:15-21 Paul expresses the facts of ministry as he sees them.  He sees some preaching the gospel to win souls.  He calls that good will and says their preaching is out of love, desiring that all would be saved and be eternally free in Christ.   He also sees those who preach the gospel out of love of self, for self-gratification, self-gain, and self-glory.  He calls that selfish ambition  and realizes that they can, by their words, stir up trouble for him even as he sits in prison.  However, Paul does not hold their actions against them as he rejoices that the name of Christ is proclaimed and trusts in God’s plan and sovereign control over all circumstances.   Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. 16 The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. 17 The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment. 18 What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice.”

Paul’s continues reasoning that though the prayers of fellow believers and the power of the Holy Spirit, he knows God will be victorious and his place with Jesus is philippians_1_18assured. Yes, and I will rejoice, 19 for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, 20 as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”  Paul knew no matter what, he belonged to Jesus!   He knew the support of fellow believers through their powerful prayers and the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit were essential to his surviving in his Roman prison.  Either in death or in life,  he would be victorious in and through Christ. 

 How is it that Paul was so assured?   Paul relied upon the character of God and His Word.   He undoubtedly remembered Joseph’s statement of God’s principle in Genesis genesis-50 2050:20 “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.”  Or perhaps his own words given by the Holy Spirit in Romans 8:28 “ And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”  Or Jeremiah’s words in Jeremiah 29:11-12 “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. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you.”   Paul was a  student of scripture and knew for a fact the truths about God’s character revealed throughout the Bible.  He had learned to draw upon them for strength, clarity and assurance.   We too need to open His Word and dig deep to replenish our joy, see our hope clearly, and gain strength and assurance. Our Sovereign God is bigger than Covid 19 or any other circumstance we face right now or in the future.  Be assured like Paul that no matter what, you and I will be victorious in Christ!

My joy is increased:

  • I know God is Sovereign and will use all things (people, places, circumstances- yes even the Corona virus) to achieve His will.
  • I know God has my back and has good plans for me as I serve Him, therefore, I will trust in Him.
  • I know that prayer is essential for survival and brings encouragement and resolve to believers.

joy in sovereignty of GodLet your joy be in our Sovereign God today.     Trust in Him!

Linda

Joy- Right Where You Are!

I really identified with Paul’s message to the Philippians in Philippians in 1:12-14.  He was in jail because of his faith in Christ and his desire to tell others about Jesus. God had prepared him for this journey to Rome through years of persecution where Christ faithfully walked beside him, blessed him and gave him fellow co-workers to share in his struggles.  I see all of us as being imprisoned, too,  during this time of Covid-19 throughout the world.   God has prepared us for just such a time and given us resources to continue His work in the world.  Here are Paul’s words:  I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, 13 so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. 14 And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.”    Paul knew God was able to use any and all situations- even his being imprisoned, to further the gospel.  Paul was fearless in telling other about Jesus and his imprisonment had even increased his boldness.

Philippians 1-14How has Covid-19 affected your witness?   Are you more bold like Paul?  Do you readily tell others about Jesus in emails, in Zoom meetings, on the phone, etc?  Paul was amazed by what God could do with him during his isolation.  What about you?  How has God amazed you?  Has He given you people to contact you haven’t seen in a long time, friends you did not seem to have time to connect with because of your busy schedule that you can take time now to reach out to?

joy (1)Seeking to live with joy during this time-

  • I feel joy when I see God working in this difficult time in my life and the lives of fellow believers.
  • I feel joy to see that I am being used by God right where I am.  Praise God!

May you look for joy today and see it right where you are!

Linda

Praying with Heart motivated by Joy

Today I am soaking in the joy Paul felt as he describes his fellow coworkers in the cause of Christ in Philippians 1:7-11.

philippians 1 7“So it is right that I should feel as I do about all of you, for you have a special place in my heart. You share with me the special favor of God, both in my imprisonment and in defending and confirming the truth of the Good News. God knows how much I love you and long for you with the tender compassion of Christ Jesus.”

Do you love those you work with when serving Christ?  I have felt like Paul and have a special bond with brothers and sisters in faith as we work together for the Lord.  Those friendships are lasting and are firmly rooted in the love of Christ.  Whether you are near or far from them you always hold them dear and can’t wait to be with them again.   Why is that?  I think the shared love and spirit of Christ permeates the friendship and links us for eternity.   We know that time and place may separate us, but we are and will always be together in the Lord.  I can only imagine that this is part of what Paul was expressing to the Philippians.  He then explains how he prays for them.

Philippians 1-9“9 I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding. 10 For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return. 11 May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation—the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ—for this will bring much glory and praise to God.”    He prays that they will abound in love, continue to grow in the Lord, walk with Him and live a productive life for Christ that will bring glory and honor to the Lord.  What beautiful words with power and conviction.  He loves his co-laborers in the cause of Christ and desires to see them grow and flourish.  Is that what you desire for your brothers and sisters in Christ?  Do you pray for their growth, their walk and witness in the world?  These are tangible ways  we can support each other.  Seek God on behalf of your friends and ask Him to grow and develop them for His purposes. 

My joy is greater as I stand with others in the cause of Christ.

My joy increases as I walk with Christ.  As I seek to grow and serve Him, I am uplifted and encouraged by others in faith.

Philippians joyJoy is renewed and kindled as we work, pray, and serve together!  Paul knew that- how about you?  Mediate today on your friendships in the Lord and pray for them with a heart filled with love.

Linda

What byproduct of Joy are you experiencing?

Journey towards joy!  Today’s passage is from Philippians 1:1-6.  Paul and Timothy are greeting the Philippians and thanking them for their love ministry there in Phillipi.  They were thankful for all the good memories they had about them, their service, their love towards each other and for faithfully giving out the gospel message.

Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus,

To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Thanksgiving and Prayer

I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

philippians 1 4This passage reminds me to pray for my fellow believers as they serve in the cause of Christ.  They are a blessing to me and those around them.  Paul is thankful for these friends and fellow coworkers in Philippi.  He gives thanks for their love for Jesus and diligence in spreading the good news of Christ.   He is prompted to pray a prayer of thanksgiving for them,  and it fills him with joy whenever he does.  Paul states emphatically that he knows God will continue this good work in them, using them, keeping them and moving them forward because it is God’s work in them.  God is doing the work!  All God’s work is good and God will see all things to completion.  God does not give up, change His mind or let us down in any way.  James 1:17 promises, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change”.  

Who do you need to pray for today?  Tap into the joy of thankfulness as you pray.

Then mediate on verse 6 and consider God’s promise a source of joy:

  • joy in your salvation– God loves you and has provided a secure future for you.
  • joy in God’s work within you through the power of the Holy Spirit.  He is leading you to be more and more like Jesus.
  • joy in His ability to finish what He has started in you by faith.  God is sovereign and He will not fail.  His victory = joy and hope within us, no matter what the circumstance look like.

philippians 1 6JOY is a byproduct of thankfulness, prayer, salvation and God working within us.  Thank you Lord that I can experience these even in the midst of a pandemic.   God you are good.  Here is a favorite verse of mine- Nahum 1:7 ‘The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him,”   Walk with Jesus and He will restore your joy because He is in control and He cares for you in His goodness!

Linda

Remembering why we celebrate the 4th

This year as we are held in bondage by a world wide pandemic, I am holding my freedoms more closely and cherishing them even more.  I am thankful for breath, life and freedom from oppression.  I am thankful for our country, flawed as it is, where I am free to worship and live.  I am thankful for family and friends- even if I’m not able to be with them, I know they are there.  Has the pandemic led you to greater thankfulness?

4th of julyI want to wish each of you a Happy 4th.  The 4th of July is a favorite holiday filled with family BBQ’s, games, swimming, picnicking, corn on the cob, apple pie and fireworks. Even if we are not able to celebrate like we have in the past, we know that the 4th is more than that to each of us.  America and the freedom it represents and holds for each of us was bought with a price- sacrifice, hope and struggle by those that went before us and those that labored to secure our freedom.  Our struggle over the centuries has been to secure,defend and maintain freedom of religion, peace, prosperity and hope for us and our children.  We desire to live in an unbiased, loving and accepting society.  Is this possible? Actually I believe it is not possible without Christ.  He is the one who can make all things right and gives us the power to love and live in harmony with others.

Today’s thoughts of freedom bring me to Galatians 5:1.  Paul was reminding the Galatians about the precious freedom they held in Christ.  “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.  Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves by burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”  Christ  died for us so that we might be free from sin and its bondage and have the ability to live lives that honor Him.  The cross was the ultimate sacrifice for us.  Mark 10:45 “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”  He bought our freedom with a price, his life.  He redeemed us from sin’s ultimate consequence-death.  My freedom in Christ is due to His sacrifice on the cross for me.

I have FREEDOM in Christ- freedom from my sins, freedom to live for Him, freedom from eternal death and freedom to live with Him for eternity.   Just as we are thankful for those who died to secure the freedom we have in America, we need to be eternally grateful for the freedom we have in Christ alone.  He is the one who secured it all and brings us to the place where we can enjoy freedom.

freedomToday as you are thankful for America, think also of the greater freedom you have though Christ and say a prayer of Thanks to Jesus.

Thankful today for my Savior and my country,

Linda

Finding Joy- come journey with me!

I have been struggling as this pandemic has continued with finding and holding onto my joy.  The Holy Spirit has been leading me to seek the joy I have in the Lord.  Nehemiah speak of the joy of the Lord that comes from hearing His Word, worshiping and praising Him and being repentant.  The exiles had returned to Jerusalem and he gathered them together to hear the Word of God read aloud.  The people were called to repentance and gave praises upon hearing the Word.  In Nehemiah 8:10, he encouraged the people to rejoice in being there after years in Babylon and told them, “Go your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved,for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”    Nehemiah told them not to grieve over the condition of their beloved city but to look beyond the present circumstances and find their joy in the Lord.  I need the same today.

So… I am going in search of my joy- seeking restoration, joy filled living and complete joy that can only be found in Christ.   God is pointing me to Paul’s letter to the Philippians.  Since I have been to Philippi, I can visualize Paul’s discussions there, the friends he made in that city and how he developed a love for them.  Come journey with me through the book of Philippians and see what joys we find together in the Lord.

A key verse with a gigantic promise as we begin our seeking His joy comes from John 15:11 where Jesus said, “I have told you this (of our need to abide in Him) so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”   God desires that we have complete joy that is found in Him alone.  Let us tap into that joy, especially in these troubled times, and feel His restoration within us.  That joy will bubble up and spill over in every area of our lives.   Let the joy of the Lord lead you, and me, today and bring you peace within your soul.

nehemiah 8 10Let’s seek joy this summer together in Him!

Linda

Praying, you are in great company!

Paul reminds us in Ephesians 1:15-16 that he considered it a privilege to pray for his ephesians 1 15fellow believers.   Do you feel that way too? For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, 16 I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.”  He knew he could go directly to God and was assured that God would hear his prayers!   

As I contemplated God’s accessibility to me through prayer, I reflected some of the people in the Bible that prayed and why they sought an audience with God.  Have you talked with God about similar situations in faith?  If so you are in good company.  Isaac prayed for his wife to conceive a child, Genesis 25:21, Moses and the people prayed for God to remove the serpents because they had greatly sinned Numbers 21:7.  Hannah prayed for a child in 1 Samuel 1:11, Solomon prayed for wisdom in 1 Kings 3:9,  Ezra prayed for protection and safe journey in Ezra 8:21, David prayed when in danger and distress Psalm 55, for grace in Psalm 86, for peace in Psalm 122,  Jeremiah prayed for mercy and direction in Jeremiah 42:2-4, Daniel prayed for mercy in Daniel 9:3 and 17,  Jonah prayed for salvation and mercy in Jonah 2 and 4, Jesus prayed for God’s will to be done Matthew 26:39 and 42,   the disciples prayed for deliverance of Peter in Acts 12:5. and the letters are filled with prayers for salvation, thanksgiving, restoration, for the needs of others, godly behavior, healing and forgiveness.   We have a mighty cloud of witnesses in the Bible that attest to the fact that God will listen to our prayers and will answer.  In all the ones listed above, Jesus is the only one who prayed for God’s will.  He knew that God’s will is perfect and will provide the perfect answer to prayer.

prayer for-strength-faith-fear-power-powerlessness-trusting-amenBe encouraged and keep on praying.  Give you requests to God and He will answer. If you don’t exactly know how to pray?  Ask the Holy Spirit to do it for you.   Romans 8:27 “And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.”     God is faithful and will answer in His time and in His way.  This requires faith, trust and patience as we wait upon God for His perfect answer.

Let me encourage you with these final verses:  Hebrews 4:16 “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find prayer alonegrace to help us in our time of need.”   Hebrews 7:25 “Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.” James 4:8 “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.”

Pray continually and be assured that God hears your prayers.

Linda

** Need a fun exercise?  Look up the above prayers and see how God answered each of them in His way in His time.  God is good, all the time.  “The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble.  He cares for those who trust in Him.”  Nahum 1:7