For the joy set before Him [Jesus] endured the cross.
What would it take in your life to cause you to give up on God? The death of a child? Termination from a job? The infidelity of your mate? A bad report from your doctor? Are you able to retain your joy in life in spite of insurmountable losses, difficult people, and adverse circumstances? Jesus Christ was no Pollyanna. He had His share of troubles in life. Yet as He faced the most difficult hour of His existence, Hebrews 12:2 says He did so with joy–not some superficial giddiness, but a calm assurance that God was in control.
As our inheritance, Christ has left that same joy for us to experience. In John 15:11, He said, “These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.” Is that joy in you? And if not, how can you regain that joy in spite of what is swirling around you? Paul answered that question in the book of Philippians. In these four short chapters, Paul mentioned “joy” or “rejoicing” at least nineteen times. When he wrote these words, Paul was in prison facing what could have been his own execution. Yet he talked about rejoicing over and over again.
The lobby of Love Field Airport features a mosaic of the entire world on the floor. As children, whenever we were leaving on a trip, we would stand on that mosaic. First, we would locate the big star and stand on Dallas. Then we would find wherever we were traveling to and walk all the way over to that location. Seeing the big picture helped us understand the trip we were about to take. It is the same way with the Bible. Before we start navigating the chapters and verses, it helps to see the big picture.
The book of Philippians is a letter. In Philippians 1:1, Paul identified himself as the sender: “Paul and Timothy, bond-servants of Christ Jesus.” Paul was formerly Saul of Tarsus, who made it his life’s mission to stamp out this heresy called Christianity. Paul was persecuting the church out of love for God–but it was a misguided love. His example reminds us that it is possible to be sincere, but to be sincerely wrong. On the road to Damascus, the Lord Jesus appeared to him. Jesus not only saved Paul, but He also called him to be a light to the Gentiles. So Paul spent the rest of his life proclaiming the gospel.
Who are the recipients of this letter? Paul wrote “to all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi.” When we read that word “saints,” we think of Mother Teresa or super spiritual Christians. But the Greek word for “saint” simply means “to be set apart.” In the New Testament, a saint is anybody God has set apart for a special purpose. If you are a Christian, you have been set apart for a special purpose. So in that sense, every Christian is a saint.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Living above Your Circumstances” 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.