I know sometimes our little ones make it VERY clear that we need to stop whatever we are doing and listen to them. Sometimes it’s super sweet and they just want you to stop and cuddle them. Do you ever feel like there are times when God is CLEARLY saying stop and listen to me? We are in a little season of life where we have some conflict occurring.We are currently dealing with multiple tough situations and feel a tad bit overwhelmed with it all being thrown at us at once.
My human instinct says, “RUN!!!” but God says something else. Today I took some time, in the midst of the hustle and bustle of the holidays, to stop and try to understand why the Lord is putting this in our life right now. I feel like He has clearly said, “STOP AND LISTEN!” so I did just that.
At church we have been in Philippians for the past few weeks so I naturally turned there. I have the She Reads Truth bible and every few pages there are short one-page devotionals. The devotional I flipped to was titled “Unconventional Joy” referencing Philippians 1:12-26 and Philippians 4:1 (this was taught on Sunday at Watermark and the link to the sermon is here) . This was so fitting today because I was really starting to “feel sorry for myself” with everything that is going on and was really needing to be reminded of joy.
There are 4 simple points:
- Paul’s joy came only from Christ
- Christ gives joy in community
- Christ gives joy in persecution
- Christ gives joy in humility
Paul’s joy came only from Christ. Paul wrote this letter as he sat in prison with no freedom and bound by chains. He knew the gospel was true and that was enough for him. As I reflect on this today I think about my circumstances and man I have so much to be joyful for, most of all Christ. What is going on in your life right now? Remember that Christ was born and died for you and at the end of the day find joy in that. I am not saying that if life is tough right now you need to be all “hearts and rainbows” but just remember Christ
Philippians 1:21 “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”
Christ gives joy in community. Paul went as far as to say that his people were his joy.
Philippians 4: 1 “So then, my dearly loved and longed for brothers and sister, my joy and crown, in this manner stand firm in the Lord, dear friends.”
Sometimes people, event God’s people, can be “a lot”. We all have those people in our life that just seem to make things more difficult than they need to be. Paul reminds us that every person is valuable and has a place, even in the hard times. So, what is the Lord trying to teach me with these difficult people and these difficult situations right now? I am not 100% sure. I wish He would shoot me a quick email with all the answers but since that doesn’t happen I kept flipping through the bible. I ended up in Romans, specifically Romans 12: 9-21.
Romans 12:9-12 “9 Let love be without hypocrisy. Detest evil; cling to what is good. 10 Love one another deeply as brothers and sisters.Outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not lack diligence in zeal; be fervent in the Spirit; serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in hope; be patient in affliction; be persistent in prayer. 13 Share with the saints in their needs; pursue hospitality. 14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud;instead, associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own estimation. 17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Give careful thought to do what is honorable in everyone’s eyes. 18 If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Friends, do not avenge yourselves; instead, leave room for God’s wrath, because it is written, Vengeance belongs to me;I will repay, says the Lord. 20 But If your enemy is hungry, feed him. If he is thirsty, give him something to drink. For in so doing you will be heaping fiery coals on his head. 21 Do not be conquered by evil, but conquer evil with good.
Well, this was super clear. Love one another deeply as brothers and sisters. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. DO NOT BE CONQUERED BY EVIL, BUT CONQUER EVIL WITH GOOD.
Christ gives joy in persecution. Again, Paul was able to find joy while being persecuted in prison. He even rejoiced in suffering for the sake of Christ. I personally find it SO hard to find joy in persecution. It’s easy to say, “This isn’t fair” or “I don’t deserve this. But, Paul didn’t deserve to be in prison and Jesus didn’t deserve to be hung on a cross.
Christ gives joy in humility. Paul forces us to think about the fact that joy comes from humility, not glory.
Philippians 2: 5-11 “5 Adopt the same attitude as that of Christ Jesus,
6 who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be exploited. 7 Instead he emptied himself by assuming the form of a servant, taking on the likeness of humanity. And when he had come as a man, 8 he humbled himself by becoming obedient
to the point of death —even to death on across. 9 For this reason God highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow —in heaven and on earth and under the earth —11 and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.”
This was all so helpful for me today as we walk through a little bit of rough terrain. I can still find joy in the midst of a seemingly difficult season. So, no matter what you are walking through today or this week or this year, how can you find joy through Christ?