Going Deeper with the Message:
by: Barb Barnhart
This week, as we are studying the book of Philippians, Pastor Tim shared with us that our relationships can be a source of great joy. I have been struggling with writing this devotional because I have been focused on the words great joy. You see, I am not feeling it, great joy. Some of you may be in the same boat. In life, we are imprisoned by unforeseen circumstances—unplanned repairs to your home, illness, or loss of relationships, just to name a few. These things are anything but joyful. We can’t see the forest for the trees.
Consider the circumstance from which Paul is writing the letter to the church at Philippi. Paul is a prisoner. That is not my idea of a joyful place. But joy is not in the place where we are at the moment. Paul’s joy was found in his relationship with God. This has to be our starting point. When we focus on God, He turns our focus from inward to outward. We can begin to see others’ needs and concerns rather than being consumed by our own.
Philippians 2:1-4 says:
If then there is any encouragement in Christ, if any consolation of love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, 2 fulfill my joy by thinking the same way, having the same love, sharing the same feelings, focusing on one goal. 3 Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. 4 Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.
I love that Pastor Tim uses an alliteration of the letter “u” to help illustrate his points. We must pursue unity and be unselfish in meeting the needs of others. We all struggle, but as we look to the needs of others, our focus on them returns our joy. United, we care for each other, putting others first.
This week, as you live out your relationship with God and others, ask yourself, “How can I meet their needs?” Soon, your circumstances will be put into perspective and your joy will be made complete.
As a reminder, please read through the book of Philippians, noting what impacts your heart. As you prepare yourself for Sunday’s teaching, God will begin to speak to you and the impact will bring you joy in uncertain times.