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Displaying items by tag: joy
Saturday, 28 February 2009 14:31

Joy Despite Economic Turmoil

The Lord actually wants us to have a better quality of life. Jesus said in John 10:10, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” This abundant life, this joyful life, only comes when our soul is brought to Life with Christ’s life—that Christ Himself abides in us. It is a profound truth that until a person’s dead heart and soul are brought to life by Christ, they will not truly know what true, lasting and enduring joy and peace can be. That certainly was the case for me. Perhaps the breaking of people’s hearts in these harsh economic times demonstrates that for some, their spirituality was not truly a work of Christ, but of their own mind/childhood/upbringing/culture.

Paul talks about this growing abundant life in Philippians 1:9-10 where he says, “And it is my prayer that your love may about more and more with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ.” We see from these verses that 1) Our love must grow 2) Our love will grow in knowledge 3) Our love will also grow in discernment 4) Application of that growing knowledge and discernment leads to a growing recognition of that which is morally right (and by extension also that which is morally wrong) 5) Recognition of that which is right leads to purity and blamelessness as God’s Spirit directs our way. This purity and blamelessness here is not the groaning of a killjoy, but rather, as Hebrews 12:11 says, it is the peaceful fruit of righteousness. The fruit of blamelessness is an increasing sense of peace and joy, even if life’s trials come our way.

Some folks might find these concepts elusive, and at many times they have been out of my own grasp. But I have learned, in my own walk with Christ, that diligence and faithfulness in these fields does in fact yield the harvest of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. When there has been a famine of these in my life, it has always been because I have stopped breaking up the hard ground of my own soul and have stopped planting the seeds of the Word of God and stopped growing in knowledge/discernment and stopped applying that knowledge and discernment to life, that my life might turn and align with the ways of God, the ways of His purity and His blamelessness. Psalm 16:11 says of God, “In your presence is fullness of joy.” Life can be joyful and abundant, but that joy and abundance is not found along the paths of the world, but rather in the sphere of God and His holiness.

Have I arrived in all of this? Not at all, I write as a learner, not a master. These are just some reflections from my time with the Lord this morning. And I’m trying out this “facebook note” thing.

Grace and peace,

Russ
Published in Blog
Tuesday, 03 March 2009 14:30

Total Transformation to Joy

When a person comes to Christ, their life is radically and permanently changed. They have been transferred from the domain of darkness, to the kingdom of light. This is more than just a positional change; it is the beginning of a total transformation of a person’s heart/mind and soul. This change is evident in Colossians 1:9-14 which we will be studying soon at our Tuesday Night Shore Café (http://www.thegracetabernacle.org/GraceLife/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=91&Itemid=374).

Five times in three verses, Paul uses the word “all” or “every” (Greek ‘pan’ or ‘pas’) to speak of the total impact of the Gospel upon a person’s life. Just as marriage totally transforms every aspect of a person’s life, likewise our relationship with Christ transforms every aspect of our lives.

Colossians 1:9-14 recounts Paul’s prayer for this young Colossian church that has relatively recently embarked upon the path of Christ. Paul, the faithful shepherd, cares for this young flock and has been burdened for them in prayer. These verses reveal the content of his prayers which is all about total transformation.

Paul prays that they would gain the knowledge of God’s will for their lives with “all” spiritual wisdom and understanding (1:9). He prays that their walk with Christ would please Him in “all” respects (1:10). And since this transformation cannot hope to happen in our own strength, Paul adds in verse 11 that he’s been praying that they would find God’s strength, that He might grant them “all” power by His glorious might that they might attain to “all” steadfastness, patience and joy.

The Gospel has a total impact of Christ. In another place in scripture, Paul says that we ought to “work out” our salvation (Philippians 2:12)—not with the sense of working ‘for’ salvation (for salvation can only come by the grace of God through faith in Christ’s death on our behalf – Ephesians 2:8-9) but rather the Greek wording behind Philippians 2:12 speaks to how our salvation impacts every aspect of our lives. Thus, Colossians 1:9-14 unpacks what Philippians 2:12 says in brief = the Gospel is to have a totally transformational impact upon our lives.

And all of this is where the joy in Colossians 1:11 comes in. What robs our joy? It’s when we live by our law, the world, or our own flesh. While these paths may have a temporary sense of fun, ultimately they are paths which draw us away from Christ and the source of joy (Psalm 16:11). Thus, as we are transformed by Christ, we have the inner light of His joy within us as we abide in fellowship with Him.

Okay, well at this point, my daughter has joined me on the bed with a bowl of Chicken Noodle Soup (I’m still recovering from yesterday’s outreach and apparently got a bit sick). Plus, there’s a foot of snow outside, I should go and enjoy it with my kids. We’ll leave the contradiction between me being sick and playing in the snow for another day!

Grace and peace,

Russ
Published in Blog