Georges River Congregational Church Devotion from Pastor Haydn –
Significant in Christ: We Can Do All Things
As a younger Christian, I used to read the ‘-Ians’ books of the New Testament (1-2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians , 1-2 Thessalonians) … I’d read them, but they never gripped me and it was just dry ‘data’ written in an old, funny language. My able Bible teachers had taught me how to process those wonderful books in an intellectual manner, but rarely did it make its way into my heart.
This really changed when I began reading Desiring God by Dr. John Piper. In that book, Piper demonstrated time and again that the Christian life is meant to be one of joy, where we find our greatest and ultimate satisfaction in our salvation by Jesus Christ. In order to divorce ourselves from sin (which is finding joy in something other than God), the solution, as demonstrated from the Bible, is finding ultimate joy in God.
Interestingly, Piper showed that the one letter where the words of ‘joy’ are the most frequent in the New Testament is Philippians. This is ironic, because it’s the one letter where Paul’s circumstances are the most difficult – he’s in gaol! That being the case, how could he be so joyful in such a horrible environment? Paul was no fool: he understood his persecution, and he was not one to detach himself from his emotions (e.g. Galatians 1:6, 2 Corinth. 11:2).
So how did Paul accomplish joy in such circumstances? He says in Philippians 4:13 that he can do ‘all things’ through Him who strengthens him. But how? Chapter 4:11b-12 provides some clues: I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. What he can accomplish in ‘all things’ is not just anything (like becoming a millionaire by the time he’s 27), but how to be content in all things, how to be brought low. In times of surplus and times of scant, his joy is intact.
Are we willing to let Him strengthens us to stay the course of joy? If not, then our joy will sadly be connected to our circumstances, and we will sink. We cannot accomplish this in any of our meager strength. Let us pray that God will divorce us from our environment so that no matter what our surroundings are like, our ultimate joy is in Him alone.
God bless, Pastor Haydn.