A Fellowship with God’s People

A Fellowship with God’s People

It is only right for me to feel this way about you all, because I have you in my heart.
–Philippians 1:7

If we want to maintain outrageous joy in life, we must be connected with God’s people. Look at how Paul expressed his close connection and relationship with the Christians in Philippi: “It is only right for me to feel this way about you all, because I have you in my heart, since both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers of grace with me. For God is my witness, how I long for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:7-8).

Writing this love letter from his prison cell in Rome, Paul was saying that even though he was separated from the congregation in Philippi by eight hundred miles, Paul had them on his heart. Paul was using a great Old Testament picture in this passage. In Exodus 28, God instructed the high priest to wear a garment called an ephod over his heart, and on the ephod were twelve stones representing the twelve tribes of Israel. Each time the high priest entered the temple, he wore these twelve stones over his heart, symbolizing that he was representing the people to God. So Paul was saying to the Philippian Christians, “Even though I’m in prison, I have you in my heart. And it gives me joy to know I’m also in your hearts. That helps me maintain my joy.”

Similarly, we will never be able to maintain consistent joy without being connected to a group of other believers in a local church. It was Paul’s connection to the Philippian Christians in their church that kept his joy alive. And it’s the same way with us.

Satan’s favorite tactic is to isolate you from other Christians and then attack. As a pastor, I’ve seen it over and over. For some reason Christians get disconnected from a church. They don’t like what the pastor did or said. Or somebody in the church upset them. Or they just flit here and there, never really connecting to a local group. Satan isolates these Christians and then he unloads on them. And they have no support system to help them when adversity comes into their lives. There is a strength that comes from fellowship with other believers that helps us maintain our joy despite difficult circumstances.

Recently, we had a wonderful family in our church who suffered a tremendous tragedy. Is that family grieving? Of course they are. But I watched as hundreds of our members surrounded them, prayed for them, comforted them, and provided for them. One of those family members said to me, “Pastor, I just don’t know how people make it without a church like this.” The answer is they don’t. Believers get mowed down by the enemy when they don’t have other Christians to strengthen them. We all need the fellowship and connection that comes from other believers. That’s what kept Paul’s joy alive.

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Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Outrageous Joy” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2007.

Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.