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Joy
Posted By Nan

Romans 16:17-19

In the middle of this chapter that praises the people of Cenchrea in Corinth, people strong in faith and dedicated to following Jesus, Paul has this message of concern.

One thing that Paul is concerned about is that there are some among them that are taking some things Jesus taught, taking them out of context and using them to create divisions amongst the believers. These people know how to lead others astray. They flatter, and talk smoothly and convincingly. Those who are not strong in their relationship with God are being led astray by these people. And these people are serving themselves, not the God. 

Paul feels great joy at the faith of the people, but he is concerned that they are being led astray. He wants them to be more discerning. To not fall for those who would corrupt God’s word and use it to lead them astray.

You may think this is not a problem for you but the Christian word has been watered down and corrupted frequently through that time by those who serve themselves and not God. It is as important now to spend time with God, to get to know Him, to read His word in context and with His discernment as it was at the time Paul wrote this letter. 

It is very easy to not seek God, to not read your Bible and to just rely on your Sunday service to give you time with God and some instruction. But that is not a relationship with God. And the people instructing may not be instructing you according to God’s directions. I am not saying that you should never trust anyone who preaches God’s word. I am saying you should use discernment in hearing what other’s say about God. Test everything you hear, including this blog. Seek God. Seek to have a relationship with Him. Read your Bible daily. Spend time with God. Get to know Him. Then it is easier to discern what other people teach about God.

 
Joy
Posted By Nan

Romans 15

Paul is now making plans to continue his work. He admonishes his followers in Rome to support one another, especially those who are weak, and not judge or criticise. Rather, he asks them to consider the good they can do to one another. He admonishes them to accept one another.

He prays for God, the God of hope, to fill them with joy and peace. So often joy and peace are paired together. We have joy in God and that brings peace. Paul feels that the people have reached a point in their faith where both joy and peace are attainable.

He also asks the people of Rome to pray for him, that he may also be able to return to them. He notes that he wants to return to them with joy. He wants to feel he has been able to fulfil God’s plan for him in Jerusalem. When he is able to fulfil that plan then he will feel the joy of God at having achieved the task God set him to do.

So in this chapter there are two aspects of joy. That the people would feel joy and peace as a reward for their faith. The other aspect of joy is that Paul would feel joy at having fulfilled God’s task for him. 

God gives us joy in many forms. He gives it to us as a result of His work in us. And He gives it to us as a result of our faithfulness in carrying out His work.

 
Joy
Posted By Nan

Romans 14

As I read this chapter, I was awestruck by its simplicity and power. Here is a command to accept others. To not judge. To not criticise. To not stand with the harpies and find fault with others. To accept. To see the faith of the other, even if it seems weak, and to celebrate that. 

This chapter, as written by Paul, was written about the different camps of believers. Some ate all food and thanked God for it. Some ate only some food and thanked God for it. Between the two there seemed to be conflict. Paul was telling them there was no right or wrong in this. Both groups were thanking God for what they ate and believed with all their hearts they were serving God. 

Paul’s instruction in this was to leave the other group alone. To not judge them.

As Paul stated in verses 17-18 in the Message:

“God’s kingdom isn’t a matter of what you put in your stomach, for goodness’ sake. It’s what God does with your life as he sets it right, puts it together, and completes it with joy. Your task is to single-mindedly serve Christ. Do that and you’ll kill two birds with one stone: pleasing the God above you and proving your worth to the people around you.”

Such powerful words. 

Here Paul describes God’s kingdom as being about God, not the things we think are important to observe. The things we argue about and judge others over. God’s kingdom is about God setting our lives on the right path, changing us and completing it all with Joy.

Our task is to be single minded in our service to Jesus. Our task is to serve. If we feel uncomfortable doing something because we feel it is wrong in God’s eyes, even if God allows it, then we shouldn’t do it. But if we feel something we are called to do is right in God’s eyes, even if others feel it isn’t, then we should do it. 

Doing something we think is wrong means we are choosing to do a wrong thing. But someone else who does the same thing they believe is right in God’s eyes is doing the right thing. Doing something we think is right in God’s eyes means we are obeying God. 

It is wonderful to note that in this chapter Joy is the completion of God’s work in us.

 
Joy
Posted By Nan

Acts 16

This story of Paul and Silas in Macedonia. In the town of Phillipi they shared the good news about Jesus with the people. At this time there was a slave girl who was possessed by a spirit. This spirit prophesied through her and her owners made a lot of money out of charging for her services. She followed Paul and Silas telling everyone they were to listen to them because they were telling them the truth about God. Eventually Paul became fed up with her constant announcements and ordered the spirit to leave her. 

I am sure the slave girl was happy to be freed of the spirit that inhabited her, but her owners were not. They had lost their lucrative income. So they stirred up the people against them. Spread throughout the Bible, particularly the New Testament, are accounts of people being stirred up against Jesus or those sharing the messages of God. It is sad that people are so easily manipulated but we see this all the time. People do not change.

Of course we can see that satan was behind this. He would stop at nothing to prevent people hearing the good news. But God is greater than that.

As Paul and Silas, having been beaten then placed in uncomfortable chains in an inner cell, were there in the dark they chose to focus on God. They knew their work for God was effective because of the reaction of the people. So they praised God. They praised Him despite their circumstances. They praised Him despite their pain. They praised Him and felt great Joy.

They witnessed to the other prisoners and they gave thanks to God.

God’s response was to send a mighty earthquake that opened all the doors to the prison and released them from their chains.

Now was the jailor’s time to be frightened. He was sure the prisoners had escaped and he would be killed for that. So he decided to kill himself. Paul and Silas however called to him and he realised they were still there.

This man was so overwhelmed at the circumstances that had released them and at their commitment in staying there. He wanted to know God too. So Paul and Silas preached the good news to him and all his household. So there was great Joy in the prison and this man’s household.

The message in this chapter is the power of Joy. Paul and Silas chose to praise God and accept Joy. And God redeemed the situation. In addition to this, the jailor and his family became followers of Jesus and experience the Joy of knowing God and His Son and our Saviour Jesus.

Such is the power of Joy.

 
Joy
Posted By Nan

Acts 14

Paul and Barnabas are preaching along the road from Antioch. Initially they make many converts amongst the Jews and the Gentiles, but the Jews in Iconium who do not believe in Jesus stir up trouble. So they leave and move on.

In Lystra they heal a man who cannot walk. The people are so amazed at this they interpret it in the only way they know. They decide Barnabas is Zeus and Paul Hermes. They believe they are gods who have come to earth. The followers of Zeus, led by their priest, prepare a grand procession and sacrifices to Barnabas and Paul. This horrifies the men and they hasten to convince the people they are only human. Paul urges them to recognise the hand of God in their lives. It is God who sends the rain to water crops and the sun and warmth to grow them. It is God who gives them good things and places Joy in their hearts. 

Although they manage to stop the people sacrificing to them, they are not able to convince them. They are then easily stirred up by the opposition from the Jews of Antioch and Iconium and Paul and Barnabas have to leave.

What this passage tells us about Joy is that God pours undeserved blessings out on all of us. Whether we believe in Him or not. We even feel joy at these blessings. But not all will recognise them as from God. Instead joy has become something non believers see as an emotional state of their own making, instead of a blessing from God.

It is important we remember that about Joy. All may experience it, but not all will recognise its source and significance.

 


 
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Nan
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