I believe joy is built into the Christian life. So why aren't more Christians smiling? The answer is tragically simple... the joy-stealers! Philippians tells us simply how to overcome these nasty thieves and how to have true joy every day! This post serves as the series review & recap of our 8-session study of Philippians.
Certainly Paul’s circumstances were anything but joyful! He had been arrested illegally, taken to Rome, and was now awaiting trial. How was he able to have such joy in the midst of uncomfortable circumstances? Because happiness is based on our happenings while joy is based in Jesus! He had the “single mind”—his concern was not for Paul, but for Christ and the Gospel.
Let me begin by saying that the valley is a test. A test that covers a lifetime of lessons that the Shepherd has taught us. Lessons learned on the green pastures, and along still waters. Lessons taught while our soul was restored, and as we learned the right path to take. It is the ultimate test of our faith. Depending on what the Shepherd is preparing your life to accomplish you may be tested with the valley more than once.
I recently had the opportunity to attend a 1-day conference in Middle Tennessee at GVBC called 'Stuck.' This was not their first rodeo and you could tell. They knew how to encourage pastors and church ministry leaders. It was well-worth the 400 miles! Kudos to Pastor Locke, the staff, worship team, and the church ladies who took care of the eats! I feel compelled to pass on what I got out of the keynote session.
There is absolutely NOTHING that creates a greater sense of despair and hopelessness than feeling that God has quit listening or speaking to you. Everyone has felt it — and if we were to be honest, most people LIVE with that feeling. Is that what God wants? How can that be possible when Hebrews 13:5, which is referencing Joshua 1:5, says, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee….”? Was He lying? Does He take pleasure in seeing His children squirm, hurt, and cry? The Psalmist asked that exact same question in Psalm 102:1-2
Experts predict that depression will be the second-most common health problem in the world by 2020. Some will look for hope in relationships, in accomplishments, in more wealth, in better health. Some will seek for it in pills or in a bottle, while others will try to find it through fantasy and escapism. But all of these just leave us more empty, more broken, more hopeless…