Joy

Joy is a curious thing. Cannot be manufactured, bought or borrowed. Does not come from the number of friends one has on Face book, Instagram or Twitter.

Joy is not influenced by external circumstances like wealth, large houses or luxury cars.

Joy is said to appear 300 times in the Bible. One such place is found in the book of James where we are encouraged to “count it all joy when you meet trials of various kinds,…(James 1:2 ESV).

When things go wrong is not normally the time I feel particularly joyful.

But can I choose joy? Can I choose to focus on something, rather Someone bigger than my current circumstances? Yes, I can…

Or I can choose to feel sorry for myself, check out emotionally, get stinking mad none of which solves anything.

Rather, if I choose joy, realizing that this test of my faith will produce the glorious fruit of steadfastness (reliability, loyalty, dependability, trustworthy).  Much better than lemon face. Kind of like the way exercise makes me stronger even when it is hard.

Instead of lemon face, I get to walk around with smily face.

So then it’s a no brainier, I choose joy!

 

 

Philippians 1:1-6

Philippians 1:1-6

Background (Zondervan Handbook to the Bible)

Philippi in Northern Greece was the first church established by Paul in Europe. It was founded in 50 AD during his second missionary tour (Acts 16:12-20).

When Paul, Silas and Timothy left, Luke the doctor stayed on.

Philippi was a medical center and may possible have been Luke’s home. He no doubt did much to put the group on its feet and continue the evangelistic outreach.

The letter reveals a church taking it’s share of suffering (1:29) and in some danger of division (1:27, 2:2)

This letter was written to encourage progress rather than to solve problems.

The Letter:          Paul was in chains when he wrote this letter (1:12)

                           The condition he describes seem harsher in Acts,

                           Judgment is imminent, and there is real possibility      

                           of death.

                          The Romans did not sentence people to prison they simply held them in custody awaiting judgment.

Paul writes: to explain why he was sending Epahproditus back; he wanted to thank them for their gift and he had news for them

The letter starts out with a greeting: Paul and Timothy bondservants of Jesus Christ. It demonstrates the same servant like attitude of Christ.

Paul is addressing all of the saints (Christians in Philippi) along with the overseers and deacons (deacons were charged with serving the congregation by handling the physical and material concerns of the church; while the bishops (overseers) were responsible for the spiritual welfare of the local church. The office of bishops is sometimes exchanged for the term elders.

Paul addresses this church with (joy v4). He gives thanks for them to God every time he thinks of them and prays for them continuously.

It is evident that the church in Philippi was a blessing to the Apostle. The same way that a parent is filled with joy when they hear that their children are doing well.

Paul was convinced that the work that the LORD began in this church will be completed and his confidence remained unshaken.

On a personal note I happen to love (v6) as well. …that He that began a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ. It fills me with joy to know that God is the One who began this good work in me. God and not me so that I don’t have to worry about whether or not it will continue, how is it going to turn out or when is it going to be completed.

The One who knows the end from the beginning will complete His work in me.

  1. It was indeed a good work begun in the Philippians and in all believers. “The work of grace has its root in the divine goodness of the Father, it is planted by the self-denying goodness of the Son, and it is daily watered by the goodness of the Holy Sprit; it springs from good and leads to good, and so is altogether good.” (Spurgeon)

ii.          Because this good work was begun, Paul was confident of its completion. God is a worker who completes His works. “Where is there an instance of God’s beginning any work and leaving it incomplete? Show me for once a world abandoned and thrown aside half formed; show me a universe cast off from the Great Potter’s wheel, with the design in outline, the clay half hardened, and the form unshapely from incompleteness.” (Spurgeon) 

iii. This work in the believer will not be finally complete until the day of Jesus Christ, which in context has the idea of the second coming of Jesus and our resurrection with Him. “Holy Scripture does not regard a man as perfect when the soul is perfected, it regards his body as being a part of himself; and as the body will not rise again from the grave till the coming of the Lord Jesus, when we shall be revealed in the perfection of our manhood, even as he will be revealed, that day of the second coming is set as the day of the finished work which God hath begun.” (Spurgeon)

Amen, what a marvelous promise.

Soli Deo Gloria

 

 

 

Walk in Truth III John

III John
The Apostle is writing to his friend Gaius. Whom he declares walks in truth. Further he describes Gaius as being generous, faithful in caring for others, loving the church, supporting the brethren and encouraging others in their missionary work. Wow, what a commendation.
Gaius is contrasted with Diotrephes whom The Apostle describes as loving to have preeminence in the church and refuses to receive the brethren or provide them with shelter, food or other necessities. Diotrephes also forbids others from the receiving the brethren (visiting missionaries) by putting them out of the church. The Apostle declares this to be evil.
Gaius is cautioned to practice only those deeds that are good. For he who does good is of God (11)
Demetrius is another person mentioned in this epistle. Demetrius has a good testimony to all.
John ends this letter with the hope that he will see his friend soon face to face.
My takeaway is to walk in truth and practice those things that are good and not evil.

Walk in Truth II John 2

Truth, we hear a lot of talk about it today and everyone seems to have their own version of it.  It appears that our society teaches that truth is relative and that the “ends justify the means”.  So just do what is right for you. As far as a belief that Truth can be ascertained by belief in the “Son of God” is to take away one’s freedom.

The early church had similar challenges.  Many false teachings abounded causing many to question and some to walk away.  The Apostle John starts out the letter with the word truth being repeated five times in the first four verses.  But what false teaching was the Apostle John trying to contradict. Well,  One such teaching asserted that Jesus Christ did not come in the flesh; did not die on the cross as a man but instead was a spirit and seemed to have a body and to suffer and die on the cross.  So what’s the big deal?  If Christ did not come in the flesh and die and rose again on the third day; we are all still in our sins.  You see “under the law everything is purified with blood and without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins” (Hebrews 9:22).  Which law?  God’s Law.

Further John instructs them to make sure that they do not endorse these false teachers.  This is a departure from John’s usual teachings about love;  but the ramifications of those false doctrines would be detrimental  if followed.

And Jesus said to him I am the way, the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through Me (John 14:6).

 

His Commandments are not Burdesome (I John 5)

Psalm 119:130 The entrance of Your Words, gives light (understanding)

In the Epistle of I John chapter 5, the author speaks of the love of God, is that we keep His commandments, and he quickly follows with “and His commandments are not burdensome.”

It made me wonder why the author so quickly followed up with that statement. Did the audience that he was writing to have questions about loving God? Were they challenged with keeping God’s commandments? Did they feel that His commandments were a burden? If so, what challenges were they facing in their daily lives that caused them to view His commandments in this way? Perhaps they were growing weary. Hmmmmm.

History teaches us that during the time that this Epistle was written, there was rampant persecution of believers and many false teachers were polluting the church; causing them to question whether or not Jesus Christ really did come in the flesh. Resulting in little faith, lack of trust in God and disunity among believers.

Sounds like today. The evidence is clear; the church is experiencing major persecution, many false teachers abound teaching deceitful doctrines and as far as unity in the body of believers; there is little of that.

But God sent us His “only begotten Son” and preserved His Word so that we may know that He gives us life and that life is in His Son. Instead of a burden, His commandments are faithful (Psalm 119:86), are better than gold (Psalm 119: 127) is a lamp and a light (Psalm 6:23) and reading His word gives me immediate understanding (Psalm 119:130

Soli Deo Gloria