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Posted By Nan

Philippians 2

The two references to Joy in this chapter of Philippians are about the joy of fellowship in Jesus. 

The first is about Paul experiencing Joy at the believers in Philippi worshipping God and seeking to be faithful servants of God. In doing this they are being like him. He expresses that he feels Joy at their belief and their faithfulness to God.

Paul’s passion was to bring people to faith in God through Jesus. He experienced joy at seeing people step into that faith. He felt joy at all who were saved, but I also think he experienced joy at being able to fulfil the task God had set him to do.

The second reference to Joy is when Paul speaks of Epaphroditus. The people of Philippi sent him to help Paul, now Paul is sending him back. Paul speaks of the joy the people will feel when Epaphroditus is back with them. Joy because one of their own is returned home and joy because he nearly died of illness when assisting Paul but now he is returned safely.

What these two references tell us is that as a community of believers we can experience joy in each other and in the faith of each other. That love for fellow believers is an important aspect of our lives and an important reason for joy.

This chapter challenges us to rejoice in the faith of our fellow believers (without bringing “church” connection into it) and rejoice in the opportunities we have to be together.

Posted By Nan

Philippians 1

This book covers Paul’s letter to the faithful in Philippi. As Paul wrote to the Philippians he expressed great Joy on a number of occasions in this chapter alone.

The first was the joy he felt whenever he thought about their faith in Jesus. His heart overflowed with Joy and he prayed with great joy to God.

He loved their faith. And he knew there were many who were preaching the good news about Jesus out of love and joy. Sadly he also knew there were those who preached the good news because they wanted to harm Paul. Paul had decided he was not going to become upset by these bad motives. Instead he was choosing to rejoice that Jesus was preached. And for the bad motive preachers he prayed that the people would hear the good news and turn to Jesus. 

Finally Paul felt great joy at seeing these people come to know God more and more. As he witnessed their increasing love and faith, he also saw them being transformed and experiencing and overflowing, exuberant joy in that journey.

This chapter is very much one that teaches us about the many different ways we experience the Joy of God.

Posted By Nan

Galatians 5

In this chapter of Galatians, Paul warns the people of Galatia of the dangers of legalism.

For Paul, choosing to harness yourself to legalism is giving up the freedom of Christ and putting on a harness of slavery.

One of the biggest issues with this was circumcision. There was a group that was insisting that followers of Christ had to be circumcised. Yet this was not what Jesus commanded people to do.

Paul argues that living by their own religious plans and projects cut the people off from Christ. 

Paul continued to argue this matter. He pointed out to the people that the freedom Jesus won on the cross is intended to be used to serve each other according to God’s Word. To love each other as you love yourself.

To live any other way but in love introduces the sin of self-interest into our lives. To live a life of self interest is the antithesis of a life lived in God. 

Paul described the life of self interest as one where you seek to get your own way always, a repetitive and loveless life, full of cheap sex, a lot of mental and emotional garbage, a hedonistic lifestyle marked by frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness, the pursuit of the “trendy” gods, religion marked by fancy lighting, bells and mirrors and smokescreens, a deep loneliness, paranoia, cut throat competition, endless desires that are never satisfied, uncontrolled anger, an inability to love or be loved, separations in home and life, pursuits that are self seeking, turning everyone into a rival, addictions, dysfunctional and toxic communities, and so on.

He compared this way of life to the way of God through the Holy Spirit. This is the way of demonstrating the fruit of the Spirit. This is the way of love, joy, peace, patience, compassion, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. It is easy to be committed to our tasks and to honour our commitments. We do not need to force our way through life, treading on the toes of others and pushing others aside. We can summon our energy and direct it wisely in service to God and His way.

Legalism has no place in the life of Joy. It cuts us off from God. 

In Mark 7 v6-8 Jesus speaks of Isaiah’s prophesy about the hypocrites who honour God with their lips while their hears are far from God. They do not connect with God so cannot worship Him. All they know is rules imposed by humans.

Jesus told these people they had let go of the commands of God and were holding on to human traditions.

When we choose the life of the Spirit, we have true Joy in our hearts and in our lives.

Paul warns the people to live that kind of life, not one where they have an idea they should live that way, or a sentiment that is a good way to live, but to consider what living in the Spirit means in their entire lives. 

When we do that we stop comparing ourselves to others and accept our uniqueness in God and our unique journey in Him.

So often I see people who walk piously into church on a Sunday and leave in an hour or so then go back to their lives of self seeking, harshness and judgementalism. These are not lives lived in the Spirit. They are lives lived in the flesh.

Your love of and following of God should permeate every aspect of your life. It should be there on Monday through Saturday, not just Sunday.

So remember that true Joy is a fruit of living a life in the Spirit.

Following Jesus is that simple.

Stop making it complicated. Follow Jesus and worship Him in the truth and simplicity of a spirit led life. That is freedom. Freedom won on the cross.

Posted By Nan

Galatians 4

As we explore through the New Testament, we come to more detailed information about the Joy of God. 

This chapter of Galatians covers Paul speaking of the people slipping away as they are preached to by false prophets who try to enslave them in the Law, instead of the truth about Jesus.

It is important we are careful in our faith journey to not fall for the legalism that is present in many churches.

Worshiping God is not complicated. 

Following Jesus is not complicated.

Why do we make it so?

Why do we think we have to jump through so many hoops in order to follow Jesus?

This is what was happening to the Galatians. They were being told they had to observe a number of holy days. But Paul was telling them they were not required to do so.

To illustrate his point, Paul likened the legalism the people were following to the legalism the people before Jesus’s birth were slaves to.

He spoke of the childless woman who could feel Joy because she had no children to be enslaved by the legalism of the time.

When Jesus came to dwell on earth He taught us about God. So we became known to God.

When Jesus died on the cross, having taken on our sin and paying the price to redeem us, we were no longer slaves to the law.

We were adopted as children of God.

We are not enslaved any more.

We are able to experience the Joy of God.

Be careful not to get trapped by legalism. 

Love God and follow Jesus in the purity and simplicity of faith.

Posted By Nan

2 Corinthians 8

Today’s reading covers the joy experienced by the Macedonian churches who were being persecuted and facing extreme poverty. Yet they continued to praise God and feel great Joy.

Paul credits the people of Macedonia as having surrendered themselves totally to God. Even to the point of Jesus being an all-consuming part of their lives. Instead of seeing their terrible circumstances they completely trusted in God and submitted completely to His will. The people gave to the work of God and gave more than they could afford. 

In their difficulties they focused, not on their hardships, but on Jesus and the work of praising God for the gift of Jesus. 

The result of their focus and total reliance on and faith in God was an overflowing of Joy for the people of Macedonia.

This is the example of how we experience Joy. By putting God first. By seeking His Kingdom and His advancement. By trusting God to meet our needs.



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