Friday, 19 September 2014
The serious business of heaven
We moms tend to repeat ourselves. “Drive carefully!” “Call when you get home!” “Look both ways before you cross the street!” “Don’t talk to strangers!” “Be careful!” “Don’t fall!” Mostly we warn our kids of danger. At our age, we see danger everywhere. At their age, they don’t. We may argue that our warnings come from our love. But our love seems to speak in mostly negative terms.
I think we assume this is how God would speak to us, his children. Warnings of danger, mostly things to avoid. But God apparently has other priorities. He prompted Paul to nag the Philippians into…joy. “Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you is no trouble to me and is safe for you.” Safety is God’s concern for us, too. But instead of instilling fear and proclaiming caution, he prescribes JOY! Imagine being kept safe through rejoicing!
As we study this week’s passage, Philippians 3:1-11, let’s take joy as our topic. What has Paul said about joy so far in this book? Why would joy be his final exhortation? (3:1 and 4:4) What could be stealing their joy (and ours)? What will bring them true joy?
Discussion question of the week: We are pressing on to our second application question, #6 How does Jesus change how I see my life this week? One of the ways the gospel powerfully changes our lives is my turning our perspective upside down. The fact that Paul considers joy important enough to have it as his parting exhortation is already a paradigm buster. I admit I do not think this way. CS Lewis calls joy “the serious business of heaven.” As we study and apply this passage this week, let’s help each other see why joy is important and where true joy comes from. Be sure to let us know how your life looks through those glasses.
Jump starting my quiet time. Some mornings it’s hard for me to settle down and study the passage of the day. I find myself either falling asleep in my chair (hence the title “quiet time”) or I catch my mind wandering as I reread the same verse for the fifteenth time. Desperate times call for desperate measures. Sometimes I need to “jump start” my quiet time.
That means that when I feel sleepy, I need to jump start my body. This involves accepting my physical state without undue condemnation. Sleepiness is not sin. So instead of sitting down right away, I empty the dishwasher or fold a load of laundry. Common sense…and a practical way to acknowledge that the Lord is with me during the tasks as well as in the word.
Other days I need to jump start my soul. When I am disinterested in the word or am struggling with feelings of condemnation, a sweet taste of the gospel served by one of my favorite preachers is so helpful. Rather than go straight to my Bible, I may take a detour through Spurgeon’s Beside Still Waters or Paul David Tripp’s Whiter Than Snow or John Piper’s Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ. Some writers have a way of bottling the goodness of the gospel and pouring it out for our refreshment. I need their help. This gospel, tasted again, is just the antidote I need. It soothes my troubled conscience or awakens my disinterested spirit. Then I am ready to hear directly from the Lord.
Does anyone else have a “jump start” idea to share?