[CF Devotionals] 2003-09-27 - Philippians

Part 22

  1. The Submissive Mind - Cont'd.

    One of the reasons so few Christians experience joy is because they are trying so hard to find it. Sounds clear, right? What I mean is that implicit in our desire for joy, something which we should want because God wants it for us, is that we are striving to live our lives to bring ourselves something. "I want joy because I’m tired of life being such a struggle," and certainly that is understandable. But this can be a trap.

    We need to give up the focus on how we can make our lives better, whatever that means, even on joy. Instead, we must focus on how we can make life better for others. We do this first, by giving them the opportunity to come to a relationship with the Lord and second, by looking to meeting other needs. As we do, this then we will be free to experience the joy that comes from seeing God working.

    Now I grant you, this is not easy. And frequently, we have a natural reaction to be concerned about how we can put others first, without going "overboard." We fall into the trap of thinking that putting others first means letting others get away with everything, and then we become doormats or wimps. Hopefully, we have come to realize the true need of others is first salvation, and second, to grow in their relationship with the Lord.

    This may mean calling them to account for their actions.

    But we can’t be concerned with how others perceive us. This too is giving them the authority over our lives to affect our joy experience. Jesus wants us to be free from the effects of circumstances and people. And this can only be the case when we have given total control of our lives over to Him, the will of the Father, and the leading of the Holy Spirit. He will provide us with the resources, the focus and therefore the Joy. He provides us the model.

    With this section of the chapter, we also see to say that using Christ as our model can be frustrating because He is God, and therefore there is no way we can live up to His example.

    Paul has provided three totally human examples, including himself. We are to strive to live out these example.

    For that matter, the goal of the Christian life is to become more Christ-like. This is to be our central focus. And with this purpose, we will find joy, because joy comes through the quality of our relationship to the Lord, not the "quality of our life."

    It seems as we depend on the Holy Spirit to carry out the directives of the Christian life, loving God, loving others and making disciples that we may one day stop, take stock and find that we are experiencing the joy of God.

    Joyful, joyful, we adore Thee,
    God of glory, Lord of Love;
    All Thy works with joy surround Thee,
    Earth and heaven reflect Thy rays,
    Hearts unfold like flowers before Thee,
    Stars and angels sing around Thee,
    Opening to the sun above.
    Center of unbroken praise.

    Melt the clouds of sin and sadness,
    Field and forest, vale and mountain,
    Drive the dark of doubt away;
    Flowery meadow, flashing sea,
    Giver of immortal gladness,
    Chanting bird and flowing fountain,
    Fill us with the light of day.
    Call us to rejoice in Thee.

    Thou art giving and forgiving,
    Mortals, join the happy chorus
    Ever blessing, ever blest,
    Which the morning stars began;
    Well-spring of the joy of living,
    Father love is reigning o’er us,
    Ocean depth of happy rest!
    Brother love binds man to man.

    Thou our Father Christ, our Brother
    Ever singing, march we onward,
    All who live in love are Thine;
    Victors in the midst of strife,
    Teach us how to love each other,
    Joyful music leads us sunward
    Lift us to the joy divine.
    In the triumph song of life. 3

    1. Van Dyke, Henry, text, "Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee," The Celebration Hymnal, Word Music, 1997, # 90.

    Personal Application: Paul gives us examples of believers. Who have been some of the examples of your life? How have these examples benefited you? We also need to remember we ourselves have been called to be an example to other believers.

    Prayer for the Week: Thank you God, for those who have been godly examples in my life. May Your Holy Spirit empower me to be a servant to those You have placed in my life.

Questions or Comments?

[email geoff] gkragen@aol.com