Monday, September 20, 2021
Today, I want to talk to you about the most famous verse in Philippians, the most well known verse, the most popular verse in the whole book of Philippians.
Monday, September 20, 2021
Neither does it say I can do all things, and Jesus will help me do all things. That's another myth. It's not that YOU can do all things. Neither is it that you can do ALL things. You can't do everything. You have to do all things through Christ, which means that not everything that you want to do is something you are going to do, unless it is through Christ. So that's the balance. And here's what I want to say: I'm really joyful, that I can do all things through Christ, who gives me the strength. I'm really glad I can't do all things through myself, because then I'd work a steadfastly independent life of God. I wouldn't want that. And I'm sure glad it's not "I can do all things by using Christ to do anything I want," because some of the stuff I really want, I don't really need. The beautiful balance is this: you can do all things through Christ. This means two things. Number one, I can do all things only through Jesus Christ. Number two, since it comes through Jesus Christ, he only strengthens us for what is good for us. I find joy in that. Aren't you glad for that?
Friday, September 17, 2021
Today, I want to talk to you about something that every commercial will find aggravating, every advertiser will be upset with, and every company that's trying to sell you something will not like.
Friday, September 17, 2021
I get that from Philippians 4:10-12. Take what the Apostle Paul has to say to heart, because this man knew contentment. He says, "I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you have renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you have been concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.
Let me summarize. Apparently, the Philippians hadn't expressed concern for Paul. Well, they at least lost touch for whatever reason. They reconnected and then they were able to express to Paul the concern that they always had. Paul was not saying to them, "I'm glad you're concerned about me because I have a need, and now I need to leverage you for some of my need to be met." Not that that would be wrong, but he's saying that that wasn't even the purpose. Rather he, he says that he has learned to be content, at ease inside, at peace inside with what he has.
Paul said, "I have learned the secret of contentment." What is the secret of contentment? It is that whatever you have before God is enough. You might say, "Oh, but God doesn't understand. I need this." God does understand. You don't need this. "Yeah, but if I had that I'd be happier." God says that will not make you happier. You and I must remember that whatever God gives us is right, and whatever we have, if we're living right and we're not squandering away through sinful living (That's a whole 'nother subject), but for striving to live for God, whatever we have is what God wants us to have. In that we should be content.
Father, help me, help all of us reading this life lifter to remember that our contentment is in you. Help us to learn the secret of contentment when we have, and when we don't have. When we're in need, and when we have plenty. Whatever it is, help us to learn contentment, that our contentment is found in seeing life through your eyes and remembering that Jesus Christ is enough. I pray that for me and for all my friends reading this life lifter in Jesus' name, amen.
Wednesday, September 15, 2021
Have you ever heard the old saying, garbage in garbage out? It's true. Whatever garbage is in your head is going to come out of your life. What are the right thoughts?
Wednesday, September 15, 2021
What are the right thoughts? I'm so glad you asked. Philippians 4:8 gives us eight thought filters. These are the eight things you should allow in your mind only, and everything else you should not. Paul tells us that we can find joy through right thinking. He says, "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things." What is Paul saying? I don't know that it's exactly limited to these eight things, but these are eight filters. Paul is saying we should only think about these things, and not the opposite of them. Not ignoble things, but noble things. Not impure things, but pure things. Not things that are horrible, but things that are excellent. Not things that are praise-un-worthy, but praise worthy. Think on these things. What's he saying? You have to filter your mind and make sure you're thinking the right thoughts.
If you want to have joy in your life, it starts right here, it's the battle of the mind. You have to filter out the things that are going to tilt your life in a negative direction. Only allow yourself to think about things that tilt it in a positive direction. I'm not talking about the name-it-claim-it stuff, because they take that crazily. What I'm talking about is the right kind of holy, godly thinking through these eight metaphors, and having that shape how you think about God, yourself, and life. Do you do that? Can you do that? For some of you, you may need to write down these eight things. You just need to get an index card and write down, "true, noble right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, praiseworthy." Then, you need to say, "Am I thinking these things?" It's going to take time because guess what? It took you as many years as you're alive to start and keep thinking the way you're thinking. But if you think the way God wants you to think with these eight filters, it will slowly but surely change your life. You'll have more joy in your life. Filter your thinking with these eight great filters.
Let's pray. Father, help us to think along the lines that you want us to think. Help us to think through these eight things in our life so that they become filters. Let them filter out everything that's not that and filter in only what these are. We'll find more joy there. Our world always wants to bring us down. Like crabs in a bucket, people want to bring us down with them into the bucket. We want to crawl out and we can crawl out of the bucket when we practice the right kind of thinking. Biblical thinking. Help us to find joy in that, God. Help us to not give up if it doesn't work in one day, because it takes a long time to change your stinking thinking. And I ask this in Jesus' name. Amen.
Monday, September 13, 2021
The Bible says you can find joy through your anxious times. Whatever times you're going through that are leading to anxiety, you can replace your anxiety with joy.
Monday, September 13, 2021
So, he says, "Do not be anxious about anything." It's like, "Oh, thanks. Just don't be anxious." But then Paul explains, "but in everything, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God." What's Paul saying? The way you avoid being anxious about anything is to pray about everything. Whenever you feel anxiety, pray on it. Whenever you feel anxious about this, that, or the other, pray for this, that or the other. Anxiety and prayer to God cannot coexist. Prayer will always bring a defeat of anxiety. Why? Because of the rest of the verse. Paul says, "And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." That's the result. When you are anxious about anything. You pray about everything, and the peace of God will guard your hearts and mind in Christ Jesus. First, it'll guard your hearts. The word guard means to establish a century guard, a powerful protective guard that is virtually impenetrable. He'll guard your heart. What is your heart? It is your emotions, the seat of your emotions. In the Hebrew Old Testament, the heart was considered a seat of the human emotional system. It will guard your emotions.
Let's pray. Father, I pray right now that whatever is bothering me and whatever is bothering anybody watching this life lifter, I pray that they would lift it up to you, God. I pray right now to just give it to God. Say, "God, I'm anxious about such and such. I'm anxious about this. I'm anxious about that." Tell him tell him in your own words. Pour out your heart to him. He's a God of refuge. God, as they pour out their prayers to you now and throughout the day, week, month, year, and throughout the rest of their life, give us the answer to this promise that you'll give us a peace that guards our heart and our minds in your son Jesus Christ. I claim this for them. I claim this for me, in Jesus' name, amen.
Friday, September 10, 2021
You can't always be happy... but you can always be joyful. Joy is a choice.
Friday, September 10, 2021
I want to look at a passage of scripture from the book of Philippians. Philippians is the letter of joy, and I want to read a blunt statement in Philippians 4:4 and unpack it because it seems like it's impossible. It says, "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!" Why does he say it again? Because I don't think we believe him. Sometimes we don't believe what God says. Even though we know it's intellectually true, sometimes it needs to soak into our total being so that we live it out. So, I think he repeats it, "I say it again: rejoice," so that we remember it. But the key word, the word that we struggle with in that verse is "always." It's not rejoice in the Lord when you're at church on Sunday morning, or when you read the Bible, or when you pray, but rejoice in the Lord always. It doesn't mean you rejoice in your problems, but you rejoice in the Lord always.
You say, "Vince, that's impossible. I can't always be happy." I would agree, you can't always be happy... but you can always be joyful. Joy is a choice. Happiness is conditioned upon your emotions. Whatever your emotions are feeling like, that's usually what will dictate your level of happiness. But when you have joy, it's unshakable and impossible to take away. But how do you have joy always? Well, joy isn't based on circumstances. Happiness is. well okay, But then, how do you find joy? Paul said, "Rejoice in the Lord." You have to be in the Lord. Not necessarily in church, though that's helpful. Not necessarily in Bible reading. That's very helpful. Not necessarily in prayer. That's also very helpful. All three of those are very helpful. But you have to be in the Lord. You could be in the Lord at work, you can be in the Lord in your car, you could be in the Lord in your golf game - although if you've seen my golf game, I'm not in the Lord in terms of performance all the time. The point is, it's focusing on the Lord and saying, "I don't like this situation., but I'm in the Lord. God, you're in control of it. I don't like what's happening in my family, but I'm in the Lord, I'm going to do my best to contribute to making it right. I can't stand what's happening at work, but I'm in the Lord and I'm going to continue to focus on God, and, and work hard as unto the Lord, not of the people."
Here's the point. You can always be joyful, but you have to do it in the Lord. If you try to find your joy in circumstances, they'll come and go. If you try to find your joy in other people, that'll be great, but they can't always deliver. You can always find your joy in the Lord, in the Lord's goodness, in the Lord's grace, in the Lord's control of all the events that you're experiencing, in the Lord's love for you, in the Lord's promises during your tough, difficult trials. You can rejoice in the Lord. Rejoice, always. You can't always be happy, but you can always be joyful. You must make the choice to rejoice. And how do you make the choice to rejoice? You must rejoice in the Lord. Find something about the Lord to give you the joy you need. If nothing else, the joy that you're forgiven, the joy that you're going to heaven.
Father, this life will rob our joy. People can rob our joy, circumstances can rob our joy if we let them. But they never have to, because if we rejoice in you always, we can have joy no matter what. We may not be happy, but we can be joyful. Inspire somebody today who needs a pick-me-up, who needs joy in their life, who needs to see life from a different perspective, from your perspective, to find this joy that Paul encourages us to pursue. We ask this in Jesus' name, amen.
Wednesday, September 8, 2021
One day, we will have bodies that don't ache, we will have bodies that don't get sick, bodies that are pain free, sin free, disease free, and problem free. In fact, they will be like Jesus Christ, and that brings me joy.
Wednesday, September 8, 2021
I've been working really, really hard. I have been trying to work out, lose a little weight, work on my conditioning, get my heart rate up for a healthy heart, and work on what I affectionately call Uncle Eddie. Uncle Eddie has gotten bigger, and I don't like how Uncle Eddie is growing. I've been doing a lot of different things, including some core work and some brisk walking. I walk about a mile and a half to two miles every morning. I'll tell you what, it's harder to lose weight as you get older. Those of you who are like me, in your 40s (and who lie), as we get older I get more sore. I mean, I do brisk walks and the next morning I get up and every joint is creaky and old. I've had some stents put in me, I've had health things, you've had health things. Your body just breaks down. Even if you're on the TB12 Tom Brady health plan, or if you don't eat meat, or some other type of diet - those things are really good, I applaud all of that, and I'm going to fight tooth and nail to stay healthy. But at the end of the day, our bodies will lose and our life will be over. We should fight it all we can, but we should also remember that that's how life goes. One day we will not have that problem. One day, we will have bodies that don't ache, we will have bodies that don't get sick, will have bodies that don't have an Uncle Eddie, bodies that are pain free, sin free, disease free, and problem free. In fact, they will be like Jesus Christ, and that brings me joy.
So, I want to tell you about joy and our future bodies. When your body is hurting today, remember that one day you'll have a future body that will never hurt if you are a Christian. I get that from Philippians 3:21. I want to start in the previous verse and explain the context. It says, "But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so they will be like his glorious body." So, Christ will transform our lowly bodies, our broken-down bodies, our sin-stained bodies, our disease-potential bodies, so they will be like his glorious body. That's a fascinating thought. When Jesus Christ rose from the dead, he put on what theologians call a "glorified body." Jesus Christ is God in His essence, but he took on a human body that was tempted in every way, yet never sinned, as Hebrews tells us.Then, that human body was crucified on the cross, put into a tomb, and, if you know the Easter story, three days later rose again. When Jesus Christ rose again, he rose in what is called a glorified body. That means he could teleport to different places, he no longer feels disease, sickness or any of that. The Bible says we will have a body like that in heaven.
What a fascinating thought. We'll have a body that's never sick, never sin-laden, never diseased, and never dies. It will be a glorified body like Jesus Christ's body. Some of you are hurting right now. Some of you are in pain, some of you hate the aging process (I think we all do unless you're young), some of you have the Battle of the Bulge that I have with Uncle Eddie. But here's the thing, one day our bodies will be like Jesus Christ's: glorified and pain free. I hope that brings you joy and encouragement to know that the body we have now will one day be replaced with a glorified body. People ask me, "Vince, when a person dies do they get the glorified body then?" No, we don't get the glorified body until the rapture of the church, the next great event in the future. We'll talk more about that at Lakeshore in our series How It All Ends in October of 2021. I hope you'll check that out. But here's the thing, you will get that new body. Then you ask, "What happens when a Christian dies now?" Their soul and spirit, their immaterial being, goes to heaven. Their body goes to the ground, and one day that body will be resurrected and reconstituted into the glorified body that will never feel pain. I hope that encourages you.
Father, whoever is hurting physically, I pray that you would help them and heal them. Whoever is struggling with health things, I pray that you will help their bodies recover. In the meantime, give us the joy that one day we'll have a new body to replace this lowly body. Encourage us with that thought. In Jesus' name, amen.
Monday, September 6, 2021
If the world is in fact falling apart (it is), and if the world is going to continue to fall apart (it will), what are we supposed to do? Just be miserable?
Monday, September 6, 2021
If you are a Christian, meaning you put your faith alone in Jesus Christ alone, you have an option. That's this, to remember your ultimate citizenship. See, as a Christian, your ultimate citizenship is not as an American, I'm extremely proud to be an American. There's no other country I would rather live in and I'm extremely proud of my American citizenship. If you're from another country watching this, then you should be very proud of your nation. That is, unless it's a totally corrupt nation and you're watching this underground. But I am even more proud of the fact that as a Christian, I am a citizen of heaven. My citizenship is in heaven. That's how you cope with all that's happening in our world. If our citizenship was just in the world, the world will collapse, and it will all end. But our citizenship is in somewhere eternal. It's in heaven.
Our citizenship is in heaven because a savior will come from there. Lord Jesus Christ, verse 21, "who by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly body, so that will be like Him in His glorious body." I'll cover that verse 21, in just a moment, but all I want to say is this: Paul says, if you focus on the world you're going to be depressed, you're going to be morally bankrupt. But if you're a Christian, you need to focus on heaven. One day, we'll be in heaven. One day, all the wrongs will be made right. One day, there'll be no more tears, no more pain. One day, all our sin will be taken away in the presence of the Sin-Taker-Awayer, Jesus Christ. That's why he's called our Savior. He saves us from sin.
I don't know what's got you down about this world doesn't take much five minutes of the news, we'll do it. But I'm telling you right now, your citizenship in heaven ought to remind you that Earth is not your home. You're just passing through, as the old Negro spiritual sang. So, I hope you'll be focused on citizenship in heaven, and I hope you'll know Jesus Christ because that will give you the confidence that you'll be there. Father, thanks for citizenship in heaven. We do pray "on earth as it is in heaven," but we know that's not going to be fully answered until you come back. So help us to remember when times are tough and our life is really really hard, we find joy in our citizenship in heaven one day. It's promised and you'll never take it away. Thank you, in Jesus' name, amen.
Friday, August 27, 2021
I don't know about you, but whenever it comes to getting better at something, I'll read the Bible, and I'll seek the Bible, but the Bible even says there is something else that is helpful.
Friday, August 27, 2021
I don't know about you, but whenever it comes to getting better at something, I'll read the Bible, and I'll seek the Bible, but the Bible even says there is something else that is helpful. While the Bible is essential to grow, God also says that in addition you want to see people who model the Bible. If I want to get better at something I need models. So, I can have somebody say, "Well, if you want to get better at golf, do this," and I can try to do that, but I have to watch them do it. I have this guy named Lenny. He's a really nice friend. I just met him earlier this year, and he has taken a liking to me and he's giving me golf lessons. We played golf earlier this week, and I played as good as I ever have. I mean, I'm hitting the ball with this new lag technique to get more clubhead speed. My short game is getting better, and Lenny has just modeled it for me. He's giving me lessons, we've played together, I've watched him swing and do his thing, and it's a model for me. When it comes to parenting, I've looked to others to help me. With marriage, models have helped me. When it comes to the Christian life, some discipline of the Christian life, models have helped me. When I'm around people that are living a successful Christian life, I'm trying to learn something so they can be a model.
The apostle Paul says that you should do the same thing. Look at Philippians 3:17, where the Apostle Paul says this, "Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you." Paul said, "I should be a model for you." He wasn't saying that braggadociously. He is saying that confidently because of Christ's work in him, and Paul was a godly man. Then he tells the Philippians to live according to the pattern he gave them. What is that? It's the Bible. Take note of people who are living out the Bible. It's not that the Bible isn't enough, the Bible is enough. But you want people living out the Bible - models - and you want to look to them. It's not that you need more than the truth of the Bible, but we are learning to express it and live it out. The practical aspect of living that out, that is seen in models. In fact, Paul even says, "Imitate me as I imitate Christ." And the word imitate is the word mimetes in Greek. Guess what English word we get from that. Mimic. You have to find people to mimic. They don't have to be one person in every area of life. You might say, "I'm going to follow your model for what a patient person you are." To someone else, "I'm going to follow your model because you're really good in how you live out the 80/10/10 plan. Give 10% to God and His Church, 10% to a retirement plan, 80% is what I live on." To someone else, "I'm going to follow your model because you're a really good husband, or parent, or because you're very faithful and you you whatever you say you do."
You must find models in your life, and you must read the Bible to know what models to find. Then, find them in your life and have some models. It's one of the great reasons why we have church, you get to see hundreds of people every week. You get to connect with some of them in small groups, or at Midweek Bible Study where we have, X number of people here. It's a lot smaller than Sunday, and you get to meet people, and then you get to say, "Man, how can you be a mentor or model to me in this area, that area, or another area?" Some of you you have the truth, but you're just learning how to live it out. A model will help you. Do you have a model? Like the Apostle Paul, do you have a model? Like Timothy, do you have a model in your life? It'll help you live out the Christian life. We'll help you to have models here. You have to come here regularly. Get to know people because I can't tell you who should be your model in every area of life. But I can tell you some great people in my life We have a ton of great people at Lakeshore Community Church that will love you. You never know who could be your model. But here's the point, Paul says to look for models in your life, who live out the Christian life, the biblical truth of Christianity effectively in a way that inspires you. It will help you have a lot of joy in your life.
Father, I pray that all of us will have our models and maybe 2, 3, 4, or even 10 people that inspire us to find joy in living out the biblical truth of Christianity. Help us all to find models. It may take days, it may take weeks, it may take months. But if we're determined, we'll find them and they'll bring us joy as we live out our lives more effectively for your pleasure and your purposes. We ask this in Jesus' name, amen.
Wednesday, August 25, 2021
When life gets hard you have to press on. Sometimes you have to put one foot ahead of the next, can't worry about one mile down the road, three blocks down the road, all you can worry about is your next step.
Wednesday, August 25, 2021
Sometimes life gets hard, and sometimes you just have to remind yourself to press on. When life gets hard you have to press on. Sometimes you have to put one foot ahead of the next, can't worry about one mile down the road, three blocks down the road, all you can worry about is your next step. You ask, "What's God going to do? This is so hard. How am I ever going to get out of this?" And sometimes you just have to say, "You know what, I'm just going to take the next step." I get that from a very powerful passage that the Apostle Paul shares in Philippians 3:12-14. Paul says, "Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."
Let me break that down. The "all this" that Paul has not yet obtained is knowing Jesus Christ perfectly. He also says he has not yet been made perfect, which is pretty obvious for all of us, and if it's true of the Apostle Paul, it'll always be true of us, too. He continues, "but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me." In other words, he says, "Things get up, things get down, things get high, things get low, but I'm pressing on to take hold of the prize that Christ took a hold of me for." What he's saying is when you became a Christian Christ took a hold of you. He took a hold of you so that you will want to take a hold of the prize, which is knowing Jesus Christ perfectly. That is only going to happen in heaven, but we want to get as close as possible to that here during our days on earth.
Paul goes on to say, "Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize, for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." See that? That's the goal. God took a hold of you so you'll take hold of the prize of getting to heaven and acting like it. How do you do it? He says you have to forget what is behind. You have to stop thinking about the negative things of your past. Learn from it, grow from it, forget it. Then, you have to have a vision for the future. Press on toward the goal. Then, you have to do it by taking one step at a time. See how he covers the past, (forget about it), the future (have a vision for heaven), and the present (perservere, press on)? Sometimes, when the past is so painful you have to focus on the future, which is so glorious, to help you in the present, which is taking one step at a time. Have you had a bad day, had a bad month, had a bad year, had a bad 18 months with COVID and everything else going on in our world? Sometimes, you have to focus on the vision of heaven. And you just have to put one step ahead of the other. Sometimes, when I don't like what has happened in the past days, I have to think about what's going to happen in future days. That will help me in present days to press on.
What is it in your past that's holding you back that you need to forget? What is it in your future that you forgot is in your future, if you're a Christian? Like going to heaven, like having no more problems, like being in the presence of Jesus Christ nonstop, forever in his house, his glorious mansion, heaven. Press on with those thoughts. Forget about this, focus on that. And right now, today, take the next step. What do I mean by that, take the next step? Do what you're supposed to do, step by step. Do what God wants. Read the Bible, serve other people, come to church, get involved in a ministry, get in a small group, be a witness to your friends, invite people to church, do the kinds of things to help you press on. Press on today. You can do it through Christ who gives you the strength.
Let's pray. Father, I don't know who I'm speaking to and I don't know where they're at. But I know all of us need this exhortation, some maybe more than others, to press on. Help us to press on, God. Help us forget what's behind. Let us remember our glorious future, if we have a relationship with you by faith alone in Jesus Christ alone, and to persevere because of that. Help anybody who's discouraged to be encouraged to press on in you. Give them that courage. I know you will if they seek it with a whole heart, and a honest, true, seeking, open heart. We ask this in Jesus' name, amen.
Monday, August 23, 2021
If you're always going to wait to get to the destination to experience joy, you're going to have a lot of dry seasons of joy.
Monday, August 23, 2021
There's an old saying, and I believe it's true, that there's just as much joy in the journey as in the destination. This is true if you will pay attention to the journey, you know, smelling the roses along the way. It's not just the kill, but it's the chase that brings excitement, right? The getting there is just as much fun as arriving. There's a lot of truth to that. So many times we're waiting to get to a destination to find joy and not experiencing joy in the journey. I want to tell you that if you're always going to wait to get to the destination to experience joy, you're going to have a lot of dry seasons of joy. You have to learn to enjoy the journey, enjoy the process, enjoy the getting to wherever you want to go. If it's building a house, the joy of making the selections; if it's rising in your career, the joy of working where you're at right now; if it's making a friendship or a dating relationship, the joy of working toward where that relationship is going. And if it's a closer walk with Jesus Christ, which we'll never get to the destination of until we're in heaven, you have to find joy in striving to get closer to Jesus Christ.
I get that from Philippians 3:10-11, Paul's letter of joy. Look at what he says, "I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead." What does he mean by "the power of his resurrection"? The Bible says that the same Spirit that raised Jesus Christ from the dead dwells in every Christian. Like Paul, I want to know those great, powerful moments where God works, and I want to know the fellowship of his suffering. When Jesus Christ suffered, which he suffered so much in his life, not only on the cross which was the ultimate sacrifice, but during all 33 to 35 years, whatever it was, of Christ's life putting up with us. He suffered. And the Apostle Paul said he wants to know the resurrection-power moments of Christ, and he wants to know Christ through the suffering.
What's he saying? He's saying, "I want to know Christ through the ups and the downs." What is life? It's a series of ups and downs. Life is the journey of the ups and downs. And guess what? God wants you to get closer to him through the ups just as much as he wants you to get closer to him through the downs. Look again at what he says in verse 11, "becoming like him in his death, and so somehow to attain to the resurrection from the dead." The Apostle Paul was not questioning whether he's going to make it to the end. Once you're a Christian, you're always a Christian. What he was saying is, "I will make it and the question is, what will that journey be, or what will the ups and the downs be?" So, he's not questioning if he'll rise from the dead because every true Christian will. He's questioning the journey. No matter what the ups and downs are, somehow through this journey of ups and downs, he'll rise from the dead. Here's what I want to say: Jesus Christ and the journey with Jesus Christ must be enjoyed every day. Not, "Well I had a good day so I can enjoy Jesus," or, "I had a bad day, he didn't do what I want and I'm not going to enjoy him today." Good luck with that life. That's called a yo-yo life, and you're never going to make it. You're going to be up and down. You're going to be bipolar, a spiritually bipolar person. Don't do that. Enjoy the journey. One person said, "Wherever God leads me, I will follow. Whatever God feeds me, I will swallow." All I want to say is that God has you on a journey, a custom made journey for you, and the whole purpose is to draw you closer to him on this spiritual journey. Will you find joy no matter what? Will you find joy in the ups when it's easy? And in the downs when it's hard?
It's up to you. Do you want to live a joyful life all the time? Or do you want to live a joyful life only when everything lines up? Joy has nothing to do with your circumstances. Joy has everything to do with your spiritual relationship with Jesus Christ. If you're close to Jesus Christ, you will feel joy no matter what. But you have to enjoy the journey as much as the destination, the chase as much as the kill. Let's pray. Father, help us to enjoy the journey you have us on. Every one of us are on a different journey. right at this moment, every one of us is at a different place. And I pray, Almighty God, that we will see joy in our circumstances, whether it's the ups, the downs, the Midlands, whatever it is. Help us to see joy because we are on a journey you've created for our life. And we ask this in Jesus' name, amen.