[CF Devotionals] 2003-07-27 - Philippians

Part 5

  1. The Single Mind - Cont'd.

    There have been many attacks on the Christian community over the last years. One of the foundation stones for the justification for this has been the behavior of some so-called "televangelists." Now I don't care for the description itself, because of the negative connotation it carries and how it is used to taint those who are serving the Lord, such as Billy Graham.

    Unfortunately though, there are individuals who have made "televangelist" a four-letter word. They have made a mockery and a joke of faith. We find it easy to criticize them and hold them up to ridicule ourselves. But even these individuals sometimes tell the truth. From their pulpits and over the airwaves, in the midst of appeals for money, teaching positive confession and a whole plethora of heresies, may be buried the gospel message. And where the word is given out we can rejoice, because there is also the opportunity for some unbeliever to come to a saving knowledge of the Lord.

    So, even as we justly criticize the abuses and heresies of some of these so-called televangelists, we can also rejoice that God can save in spite of people, in spite of circumstances. And as we come to understand this truth, we will become free from the joy-stealer circumstances, and free to praise the Lord for the advancement of the gospel regardless of the instruments He may use. After all He, can use even us.

    Previously, we saw there are essentially four things that steal our joy, the joy God intends us to experience. The stealers are circumstances, people, things and worry. In chapter 1 of Paul's letter, we see how he deals with circumstances as a joy stealer. Paul's joy can't be stolen by circumstances, because he chooses to see circumstances only in the light of God's truth. He has essentially one focus in his life, that of serving the Lord - and specifically the dissemination of the Gospel. He sees all that he experiences in light of this work.

    Also implicit in Paul's life is the confidence that God is in control. "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose" (Romans 8:28). As a result of these factors, he is able to rejoice in his relationship and unity with the Philippians, even in the midst of his imprisonment.

    Paul's attention isn't given over to his own troubles; instead he rejoices in his fellowship with these believers. He holds them in his mind. As he prays they are always in the forefront of his thoughts. And so he experiences joy, as he thinks on how God has blessed them. Paul holds the Philippians in his heart. They are part of the body of Christ with him, and had experienced the same gift of God's grace. As he thinks on how blessed they are, he also experiences God's love for them.

    Finally, He holds them in his prayers. The only way to maintain a unity of focus and purpose is to hold a unity of prayer and fellowship. He prays for them, that they would continue to grow in their love and spiritual wisdom. And rejoices in the confidence "that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." (vs. 3)

    Paul is joyful because of who his God is. Paul sets an example that we could do well to imitate. He clearly experiences God's joy even in the midst of great difficulties. How is it we can't taste this same joy in the midst of our circumstances? In the future, we will expand on what we already discovered, that an intensity of focus, of purpose, affects how we respond to all that occurs.

Questions or Comments?

[email geoff] gkragen@aol.com