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

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

Here’s a guarantee you can count on!

ephesians 1 13-14Today’s verses are some of the most precious in the New Testament and I refer to them often in my writing and speaking.  They tell of our wonderful inheritance of salvation through faith in Christ and inclusion in God’s family through the power of the Holy Spirit.  His power within us is our guarantee of God’s hope and promises to come.  Be encouraged as you read, Ephesians 1:13-14 “And now you Gentiles have also heard the truth, the Good News that God saves you. And when you believed in Christ, he identified you as his own by giving you the Holy Spirit, whom he promised long ago. 14 The Spirit is God’s guarantee that he will give us the inheritance he promised and that he has purchased us to be his own people. He did this so we would praise and glorify him.”

I love that God knew us so well.  He knew that our finite minds would need a guarantee to confirm our faith and help us cling to His promises.  Praise God for the Holy Spirit that He has placed within us through faith.  The Holy Spirit confirms and testifies with our spirit giving us hope and assurance in Him.  For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children.”  Romans 8:16

romans 8 16Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, May you be encouraged by God’s love, the redemption plan made perfect in Christ and the hope you now have in Him.  Praise God!  Thank you Jesus!

Linda

Christmas with Eternity in Focus!

Merry-Christmas

Today we celebrate the birth of the Christ.  His birth was foretold by the ancient prophet Isaiah in Isaiah 9:6 “For unto us a child is born…”   The place was foretold in Micah 5:3  “But you Bethlehem…”.    He came to earth that day born as a human child, yet one who would lead a sinless life and die to save us from our sins.  We believe that only God’s Son, Jesus, could satisfy Holy God and bring us back into relationship with God.  Isaiah foretold in Isaiah 53:5 “But He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him.”   So where does that leave us?  If we believe He was born miraculously as a man who was both fully human and fully God, and He was able to die to save us from our sins, what more is there for us to believe?   return-of-christHe is coming again1 Thessalonians 4:16-18  “For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.  After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.  And so we will be with the Lord forever.  Therefore encourage each other with these words.” 

As we celebrate Jesus’ birth, we need to remember the story does not end in the manger or at the cross.  The story of the redemption of mankind will end with us living with God for eternity.  Just as His first coming was heralded by angels so will His second coming.  Just as His first coming was miraculous, awesome and breathtaking so will His second coming be worthy of King Jesus when we meet Him in the air.

God eternalWhat do these events say about God?  God is eternalGod exists outside of time.  He is not measured by anything.  We measure time by the movement of the planets and stars, which God created.  God has always been and always will be.  No one is like Him.  We are not eternal because we have a beginning and an end.  Because God is eternal, He can give us eternal life.  David described God in Psalm 90:2 “Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the earth and the world, form everlasting to everlasting you are God.”  John wrote in Revelation 4:8 “Holy, holy, holy is he Lord God Almighty, who was, and is and is to come.”

With our finite minds, the eternality of God is difficult to grasp.  However, we can be assured that God is who He says He is and will do as He has planned for eternity. Jesus is the one who holds the key to our eternal life. john-4-14 John 4:13-14  Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst.  Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”   Come to Him this Christmas and be filled with His eternal blessing.  Look  past the manger, past the cross and look forward to His return!

Linda   

 

 

Lessons learned this month-did you get it too?

A lesson and truth I received from the scriptures we studies this month on cultivating a habit of thankfulness in our lives is this:  Thankfulness has a powerful affect on me and all those around me.

contagious thanksHow have you seen this to be true this season of thanksgiving?  Is your mindset towards thanks contagious?  “How we thank God for you! Because of you we have great joy as we enter God’s presence.” 1 Thessalonians 1:9  Paul felt that the thanks he had for his fellow believers, for their faith and love for God, caused him to rejoice.  He saw God working in their lives and this brought joy and thankfulness to his own worship.  I would call that contagious thanks.  Have you ever been thankful for someone or something and it caused you to give thanks to God?  As we live our lives, we need to look for those things that God gives us that create ‘contagious thanks’ within our hearts.  As we give thanks to Him in these situations, God will faithfully create in us a thanks that will be contagious and will result in our being in a constant state of thankfulness and joy.  Paul left the Thessalonians with these words in 5:16-18  “ Always be joyful.  Never stop praying.  Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.”  

blessings jarDevelop that attitude of gratitude and watch it grow in your own life and then watch it rub off into the lives of those around you.

Linda