Joy for the brooding

Philippians

The book I keep coming back to.

It’s theme is Joy.

It is my wife’s favorite book. (But that’s like asking her what her favorite flower is. Her answer is, yes. “My favorite flower? Yes.” “My favorite book of the Bible? Yes. “)

What if you don’t have it? What if you don’t have joy?

Joy, it’s everywhere in this Little book. What if I’m not joy full? Is this another one of those Christian virtues I’m supposed to have and be? Love joy peace patience kindness gentleness, it is on the list. What if I’m not? What if I’m dark and serious and brooding and worry a lot? Should I fake it till I make it? Put on a happy face? Or is this book telling me joy isn’t a have to but a possibility?

Is it telling me I should be joyful? Or is it telling me I may be, I can be joyful?

Paul wrote the book from prison. He had finally arrived in Rome after a harrowing disaster riddled trip from jail in Judea to a jail in Rome and yet he was unharmed.

Reading this book can be challenging to a dark and brooding person such as myself, but life affirming to someone like my wife who is light and joy filled and who refuses to contemplate anything bad or ugly.

Her favorite verse are at the end of this section. “Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon. Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.

Philippians 4:4-8 –

It is a good way to live. It’s like having a flashlight that turns on when life gets dark, or my mind gets dark. Is this thought true? Is it honorable? Is it right? Is it pure? Is it lovely? Is it excellent? Is it praiseworthy?

The word Joy or rejoice is written something like 16 times in this book. Why? I think Because if we know Jesus as savior, we can.

I seem to be stuck in the Philippians loop. Read this book with me and tell me about what treasures you find there.

He will return

He’s coming back.

He left to prepare a place for us. When that is ready and the full number of people who will believe in Him do believe in him, he will come back.

Matthew 21 records Jesus’ triumphal entry in Jerusalem before his death on the cross.

“21 As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, 2 saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. 3 If anyone says anything to you, say that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.”

4 This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet:

5 “Say to Daughter Zion,

‘See, your king comes to you,

gentle and riding on a donkey,

and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’”[a]

6 The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. 7 They brought the donkey and the colt and placed their cloaks on them for Jesus to sit on. 8 A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted,

“Hosanna[b] to the Son of David!”

“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”[c]

“Hosanna[d] in the highest heaven!”

10 When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?”

11 The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”’

We who are alive today have an opportunity to ask the same question about Jesus.

Who is this guy?

Eternity is balancing on our answer.

He is coming back and it won’t be the same. I’m not trying to scare anyone. It is just the truth about his return. Will you be one of his followers? Or will you be one of his enemies? If you are a follower then you are one of God’s kids and are safe but as God’s kid, I am one too, we bear the responsibility of sharing the good news of Jesus’ and forgiveness to a world that either doesn’t know or doesn’t care.

“11 I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war. 12 His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. 13 He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. 14 The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. 15 Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.”[a] He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written:

king of kings and lord of lords.”

I ask, do you know him?

If you know him, will you share him with others?

#matthew21, #yesjesuslovesme, #yesjesuslovesyoutoo

Light in the darkness

In the first chapter of the Gospel of Luke we read the story of Zechariah and Elizabeth and their baby who they named John.

John was a miracle baby. Zechariah and Elizabeth were both old and Elizabeth was barren but Zechariah while on duty serving God in the temple (he was a priest) the angel Gabriel visited him and gave him the promise that his prayers had been answered and he and his wife would have a son, a son with a special role in God’s plan to save the world. Gabriel said “he will prepare the people for the coming of the Lord. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children and he will cause those who are rebellious to accept the wisdom of the godly”.

Zechariah doubted the angel and was struck dumb.

The baby was born and on his eighth day as he was about to be circumcised and named, because Zechariah was obedient to insist on his name being John, he, (Zechariah) was suddenly able to speak again. As he spoke, he prophesied about what John would do and what God was doing through his, as of yet, unrevealed servant, Jesus.

““And you, my little son, will be called the prophet of the Most High, because you will prepare the way for the Lord. You will tell his people how to find salvation through forgiveness of their sins. Because of God’s tender mercy, the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, and to guide us to the path of peace.”

Luke 1:76-79

I need this. I need God’s mercy. I need forgiveness. I need rescue and salvation. I need light to illuminate the darkness in the world and in my own heart, mind and soul. Thank you Zechariah for being a faithful follower of God and being instrumental in ushering in our savior Jesus.

Zechariah, He was just a guy showing up for work. Because he was a faithful man God used him in his plan to save the world. Maybe God has plans for my day today, maybe our day today? Lord will you use us today to expand your kingdom?

Stop bothering God!

Has anyone ever told you to shut up?

How about while publicly praying?

“Shut up, God is busy! Leave him alone!”

Basically that’s what happens in Matthew 20.

“29 As Jesus and his disciples were leaving Jericho, a large crowd followed him. 30 Two blind men were sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was going by, they shouted, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!”

31 The crowd rebuked them and told them to be quiet, but they shouted all the louder, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!”

32 Jesus stopped and called them. “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked.

33 “Lord,” they answered, “we want our sight.”

34 Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him.”

In Mark 10 one of these guys is named, Bartimaeus. Luke also records the story with one guy. (Mentioning one guy doesn’t say that there wasn’t two guys).

Keep quiet and don’t bother God.

Who would say something like that? Would they be a friend or an enemy?

Mary and I were praying together last night and I got so distracted by a disturbing thought that I stopped praying mid sentence.

It wasn’t “shut up! Stop bothering God!” But it did stop me.

God will never say “shut up”. He will never say “stop bothering me with this”.

He will say, “what do you want me to do for you?”

Would these guys have been healed if they weren’t persistent?

In Luke 18 Jesus gives us a parable.

“18 Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. 2 He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. 3 And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’

4 “For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, 5 yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’”

6 And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. 7 And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? 8 I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”’

We should not let anyone or anything silence our prayers. We will Pray, keep on praying for healing and for salvation for our friends and family and for protection and for provision and for guidance.

I will not be shut up.

Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me……

Praying for us.

John 17

Jesus prays for me and everyone else who will believe in him.

“20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

24 “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.

25 “Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. 26 I have made you[e] known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”’

Jesus prayed for me. He knew about me, about us. We were on his mind and in his heart as he was preparing to go to the cross. In less than 24 hours he would be dead. Crucified. A form of killing that kills with pain. Knowing how and why he would die, he prayed for us.

Earlier in this chapter Jesus says something that’s very important and I don’t want to skip over it.

“After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed:

“Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. 2 For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. 3 Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. 4 I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do. 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.”

Eternal life is gained by knowing God, and knowing Jesus, God in the flesh.

“Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”

I don’t get it right all of the time. I fail, I stumble but I keep coming back to Jesus and ask for forgiveness and the weird thing is, he does. He forgives me.

He knew about me and prayed for me. He knows about you too. He longs for all those who will believe to jump in and do it.

Following our leader

“Following the leader, the leader, the leader, we’re following the leader wherever he may go”🎼.

As I was typing this I could hear the tune in my head. I can’t remember what it’s from. Peter Pan?

Jesus actually said something like this in Matthew 20.

“20 Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Jesus with her sons and, kneeling down, asked a favor of him.

21 “What is it you want?” he asked.

She said, “Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom.”

22 “You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said to them. “Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?”

“We can,” they answered.

23 Jesus said to them, “You will indeed drink from my cup, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared by my Father.”

24 When the ten heard about this, they were indignant with the two brothers. 25 Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 26 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”’

Where is our leader? Right now? He is in heaven, preparing a place for us. What else is he doing? He is interceding for us. What was he doing before that? Before that the greatest man that ever lived was dying for our sins.

Philippians 2 Paul stayed this principle in a more practical way.

“2 Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

6 Who, being in very nature[a] God,

did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;

7 rather, he made himself nothing

by taking the very nature[b] of a servant,

being made in human likeness.

8 And being found in appearance as a man,

he humbled himself

by becoming obedient to death—

even death on a cross!

9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place

and gave him the name that is above every name,

10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,

in heaven and on earth and under the earth,

11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,

to the glory of God the Father.”

Christians, those of us who follow Jesus, should be the servants of all

And as I was typing this I was imagining a CEO leaving a boardroom to unstop a toilet, a nasty toilet, filled to rim.

As a Christian, There should be no job beneath our dignity. “What do you need? How can I help? Child care? Diaper duty? Dog doody duty? Teaching in Sunday school? Janitorial? Visiting shut ins? Visiting the hospital? Visiting the jail? Cleaning? Gardening? Cooking?

As I’m writing this it feels very flannel graph ish. Disconnected from life and pretend. The main truth, that no job is beneath me is there but my approach and how I’m saying falls short of honesty.

The reality, Jesus served us, following him we must strive to serve. Humility for the sake of humanity, to care about other people and care for other people. To do what needs to be done.

As Christians, how are we doing? Does being a follower of Jesus change how we act? Change what we do and how we do it? Does it change why we do it? Does Love compel us to serve?

Jesus make me more gooder at being good and doing good and serving and loving.

How far will love take Him?

He knew what was coming and and he did it anyway.

He was innocent and he did it anyway.

Jesus knew how and when and what was coming to him and for him in Jerusalem and yet he went there willingly.

Matthew 20.

“17 Now Jesus was going up to Jerusalem. On the way, he took the Twelve aside and said to them, 18 “We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death 19 and will hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life!”’

Why? What prompted him to continue on into Jerusalem knowing he was about to die in the cruelest, most painful way that mankind had ever invented?

Obligation?

Duty?

Compulsion?

No.

It was love.

In Isaiah we read this:

“4 Surely he took up our pain

and bore our suffering,

yet we considered him punished by God,

stricken by him, and afflicted.

5 But he was pierced for our transgressions,

he was crushed for our iniquities;

the punishment that brought us peace was on him,

and by his wounds we are healed.

6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray,

each of us has turned to our own way;

and the Lord has laid on him

the iniquity of us all.”

Jesus knew we needed him to die in our place so he suffered the death we deserved. Then he was raised to life that we can live forever with him, this man who willingly walked into Jerusalem, knowing it would kill him.

He did it for us.

He did it for me.

He did it for you.

Today, what will we do about this?

Today.