Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Philippians 4:4 NIV
Rejoicing is the theme of the book of Philippians, even though the circumstances with which it was written seems to hold no reason to rejoice.
The Apostle Paul is under house arrest in Rome waiting to go before Caesar. He is cut off from his friends and chained to a guard 24 hours a day. He is not comfortable and knows that he will probably be executed.
As Jesus’ followers, joy is not contingent on circumstances, it bursts through in spite of them.
Are you missing out on joy today because you are waiting for your circumstances to warrant it?
Don’t wait one second more, joy is a fruit of the Spirit, not the fruit of your circumstances (Galatians 5:22).
Receive the gift, invite some friends over and throw a joy party!
“Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.”
2 Peter 1:2-3
All relationships have to be give and take in order to be healthy.
This includes your relationship with God.
Your “give” to God: to journey with Him and hold nothing back.
So what is your “take”?
Your “take” is to partake of God’s promises, dwell in His presence and walk in His power in every area of your life.
This taking is not a selfish act, it is a trusting one.
“For this reason, I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God,which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love, and self-discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:6-7 NIV
In California, we had a fireplace in our little living room that we would use to warm the house during the few cold, damp winter months. I loved the warmth but what I really loved was the ambiance that it created. I loved how it looked but had a terrible time keeping it going. My husband was fabulous at it. I would watch him carefully build it, pay attention to it, poke at it, feed it and adjust it until it was a blazing fire warming the whole house. There were days when he would get the fire started for me in the morning and then leave. I would gaze into the flames for a few minutes and then get engrossed in writing. I would forget about the fire until I realized it was only a smoldering pile of half-burnt wood. It gave me an appreciation of what “fanning the flame” means.
When God gives you a gift, it comes as a spark. A small light with great potential but will not grow unless it is fed, prodded, poked and paid attention to.
Jesus gives your gifts to you.
He expects you to fan it into a fire.
God gives you the gift but you grow it.
God knows that fear is the number one reason we don’t step out in faith and use the gifts He has given us, so He gives us something more powerful than fear: He gives us Himself.
His gives us His presence.
And with His presence comes:
Don’t focus on your fear, my friend.
Focus on the wonderful Spirit of God within you to help you fan the flame of what has been given to you.
“Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.”
Philippians 4:6-7 MSG
Worry is not meant to be the center of your life.
Worry will keep you distracted and you will miss the small moments of joy that are sent by God to let you know He loves you.
His love for you is better than worry.
Love is a better way to make decisions than fear.
Instead of worrying, pray.
Put it in God’s capable hands.
Hand over what you are worrying about to Jesus right now.
Then allow a sense of God’s wholeness to fill your soul.
Then get busy loving the people He has placed in your life.
Years ago on our way out of Disneyland our youngest son, Kyle, was intently looking at his new stuffed animal and got lost in the surging crowd. One moment he was there and next he wasn’t. I immediately stopped, told my husband and began the search. We went back to the last spot we saw him and began calling his name. Within a few minutes, we found him. Kyle was shaken up. Big tears welled up in his eyes and he said, “I couldn’t see you, I couldn’t find you.” I gave him a big hug and I heard Bobby say, “You did the right thing- you stopped right where you were. We will always find you, always come back and get you.” Kyle stuck close to me for a while after that and didn’t let go of my hand. I wanted my child close and I didn’t let go of his hand either.
“For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.” Luke 19:10
Jesus said that he came to seek and save the lost.
He came for the ones that got distracted, swallowed up by the crowd and blinded by those around them. For the ones who panic and don’t know who or where they are.
Jesus came to:
Seek and save.
Find and hold.
Reclaim and restore.
Many things can cause that terrible “I’m lost” feeling. It’s a scary feeling.
Stop wherever you are and let Jesus find you. He loves you and has crossed the boundary of heaven and earth to embrace you with His love. Let Him guide you through the crushing crowd of fears and failures. He can see more than you can, is stronger than you are and knows how to direct you out of it.
“Go out into the world uncorrupted, a breath of fresh air in this squalid and polluted society. Provide people with a glimpse of good living and of the living God.”
Philippians 2:14 MSG
You are here to be a light.
A glimpse of God living through you.
A glimpse of grace-living.
A breath of fresh love-laced air in the sin-stained world.
That is why you are here.
Don’t get so caught up in yourself or in the present circumstances that you miss your God-empowered purpose for today: SHINE.
My prayer for you is that you are so filled with the Light of Christ and that it spills out of you in every way possible, to every person you meet, in every moment of darkness or discouragement or overwhelming circumstance, in spite of the current crisis, through the present obstacle. May the Light of His Love be uncontainable and contagious through you today.
Don’t believe me? Think back to a time when you were in love with somebody. How bold were you? How much hope did you have for the future? Did you do any crazy things with them because you were in love with them?
Right this minute, you are loved with a perfect love from a sinless Savior who came so that you could live unhindered by fear.
“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment.”
1 John 4:18 (NIV)
The word perfect here doesn’t mean flawless, it means complete. It means complete love. Not a temporary infatuation but a deep developed love that stands the test of time and eternity.
His was a love that bled when the lash tore open His back and the splintered wood of the cross dug into it. A love that persevered through the unendurable physical and spiritual pain of the cross until He could utter the truth, “it is finished.”
When fear rises up to dismantle your faith or weave it’s tentacles around your feet to trip you up, you must remember this fact: You have nothing to fear. You are in love.
Jesus walked the earth, spoke truth to all who would listen, healed broken bodies and restored broken souls to God. It was His love that breathed life into the first lungs of man and His word that drove the darkness and chaos back before that and it is His love that sets you free to love as freely and completely as you are loved.
What drives fear out? Love.
The love of Jesus.
Hang your hat on it and get down to the business of loving others with the confident abandon that comes with it.