October 3, 2018
JOY OR HAPPINESS?
While imprisoned in Rome, the apostle Paul writes this command, “Rejoice in the Lord always!” He then repeats it for emphasis. What state of mind is this that even chains can’t remove its smile, nor imprisonment stop its song? It is the joy that comes from the Lord as a “fruit of the Spirit” (Gal. 5:22). It is the gladness that always fills those who abide in the Lord (See John 15:11).
Everyone wants to be happy. But happiness is fleeting for it depends on favorable happenings. When circumstances are good, happiness is possible. External conditions affect happiness. But joy comes from within, where the Spirit of Christ dwells in those who believe. It is not affected by changing circumstance, but rests in the unchanging presence and promises of the Lord.
So, those who are in Christ can choose where to set their minds–– on the temporal things of this world, or on the eternal things we have in Christ. What will you choose today? God’s Word teaches us to always choose joy!
October 2, 2018
MADE RIGHT WITH GOD BY FAITH
Paul told the Philippians that before he trusted Christ, he had worked to earn righteousness through obeying the law. But when he encountered Christ, he saw his attempts at righteousness as worthless in comparison to Christ’s infinite worth. As a result, he stopped counting on his own law-keeping efforts and gladly received the righteousness of Christ by faith.
The law was not given that we might earn righteousness, but that we might recognize the depth of our unrighteousness. But Christ was given that we might be made right with God by faith.
October 1, 2018
THE FELLOWSHIP OF CARING FOR BELIEVERS FAR AWAY
Paul wrote this epistle to the believers in Philippi while imprisoned in Rome (See Phil. 1:13-14). The epistle is like a love letter, filled with affection and joy for the members of the church at Philippi. Paul was longing for an update on them, so he sent this letter to let them know that Timothy was coming on his behalf. He wanted them to know that in sending Timothy, he was sending one who was like his own son, who cared for them as he did.
Have you ever gone on a mission trip to some distant land? I have had the privilege of going on many short term trips and I always leave part of my heart in every place. When the mission team returns home, we give a report to our church, and hopefully our members are inspired. Yet, there is a certain frustration in trying to explain to them the depth of our experience. They see the photos and hear the stories, but they didn’t go with us, so they can’t fully share our “genuine care” for those we’ve visited. But those who have gone with us, share a special fellowship of love for those believers we have formed a bond with in lands far away.
October 2, 2016
Like an olympic runner stretching for the finish line, the apostle Paul “strained forward” towards the future “goal” in Christ. He didn’t let his past predict his future, but focused on the goal of Christ. Some live in the past, living a life of regret or remembering past glories or failures. Others live as dreamers, always searching for the gold at the end of some distant rainbow. But Paul had a singular focus to follow and be with Christ. Have you yet made Jesus the object of your faith, the one you worship and follow, your all in all?
October 3, 2015
The apostle Paul described the secret to a life of contentment to the believers at Philippi, namely, Christ. This verse, although a favorite on posters with captions of athletic prowess depicted, was descriptive not of success against overwhelming odds, but contentment under all circumstances. Paul taught that the secret to true joy and contentment is not based on the ever-changing circumstances of life, but in our dependence on the unchanging presence of Christ in us.
October 2, 2015
Paul listed the personal achievements that he had attained before following Christ and then described them as “loss” in comparison. Paul had quite an impressive resume, if anyone had reason to boast, he did. Yet, he chose to count it as nothing compared to knowing and following Jesus. He understood that following Jesus meant leaving your former life behind. What have you left to follow Jesus? What have you “counted loss for Christ?”
September 29, 2015
Writing while imprisoned in Rome, Paul expressed his readiness to die and be with Christ, while recognizing the need to remain for the sake of sharing the gospel. In chains or not, living or dying, the apostle wanted the believers at Philippi to know that he trusted Christ in all things and wanted Him to be glorified in all ways. The indomitable joy of Christ was his. He may have been in chains, but the gospel was unchained and so was his soul. Paul was not suicidal. He did not have a death wish. He was merely expressing the reality for one whose old life had already died with Christ and whose new life was risen with Christ. What could the Romans do to Paul? They could kill his body. But they couldn’t touch his soul. His life was already hidden in Christ.