I love reading how Jesus always brought out the least of those in His society. In today’s reading, Jesus made it a point to lift women up from their low status in their society to the point of experiencing joy in fellowship and service with other believers. In today’s reading, Luke even mentions some of them by name. Luke 8:2-3 2 and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out; 3 Joanna the wife of Cuza, the manager of Herod’s household; Susanna; and many others. These women were helping to support them out of their own means. By allowing these women to travel with Him and be a part of His ministry, Jesus showed that all people are equal under God. These women owed a great debt of gratitude to Jesus because he had healed many and even drove out demons from many of them.
Call me sappy, but I just love watching videos of family members being surprised by the return of military service men and women. The joy they experience when they encounter their loved ones after a long time away. Similarly, as we read John 20, I cannot help but imagine the emotions going through Mary’s mind as she realizes it really is Jesus. John 20:16, Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). The picture of this scene reminds me of what our first moments in heaven will be like. We hang on tightly to the things of this world because we simply cannot imagine what is waiting for us when we see Jesus for the first time.
In todays reading we are in Psalm 137. The overall chapter comes from the weeping of the people in captivity and while no one verse specifically jumped out at me, this reading reminded me of how difficult it can be to find joy when we are going through struggles. However, God is still in control even when everything feels completely out of control. God never promised to make it easy, but He did promise to never leave us.
Today we begin the book of Philippians which is another letter written by Paul. The purpose of the letter is to strengthen these believers in Philippi by showing them how true joy comes only through Jesus Christ. Each of the four chapters shows a different way we can experience joy despite our circumstances. Chapter 1 talks about finding joy in suffering; Chapter 2 is about finding joy in serving; Chapter 3 talks about finding joy in believing; Chapter 4 is about finding joy in giving. As Philippians 1 talks through finding joy in suffering, Paul says in verses 27-28, 27 Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel 28 without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved—and that by God. We can find joy in knowing that despite our suffering, in the end, we are saved by the blood of Christ.
Joy, Hope, and Peace are all things God wants for us. They are not always easy to have in our lives depending on our circumstances, but through the Holy Spirit we are capable of not only having enough for us, but to overflow to others. Romans 15:13 says, May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit has power which is sufficient to sustain us and to overflow through us to others. Let us all strive to be a vessel that is filled with Joy and Peace that gives hope to others through Him.
Let me apologize for not posting this yesterday. Today I will post both yesterday and today’s reading separately.
Today we begin the book of James. James was the brother of Jesus and a leader of the Jerusalem church. The main purpose of the book was to expose hypocritical practices among believers and teach right Christian behavior.
The book begins with a powerful statement in verses 2-3, 2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. While trials are never fun, we are to consider it joy to can use them as an opportunity to learn. God is always with us and He wants to guide us to learning through these trials. It’s not the only way He teaches, but it is effective.
Through Christ we can thrive under pressure. When we realize our weakness, we look to Christ for our strength. I hope this video encourages you and helps you see how God’s strength can give us everything we need in our weakness.
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I love reading Romans 15:13, May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. The more we trust in God, the more we can have peace and joy in our lives. I have often thought about how different my life would be without God in my life. I honestly do not know what my life would be like without Him. He has given me comfort through some of the worst times in my life. When I felt all alone I always knew He was right there beside me with His arms wrapped around me and telling me it would be ok. May we always feel God’s presence in our lives no matter how alone we may be.
There is some very good contrast in Psalm 71. First with verse 2, where David asks God to bring confusion and shame to his enemies, May those who seek my life be put to shame and confusion; may all who desire my ruin be turned back in disgrace. Then in verse 4, where David now asks God to bring joy to those who seek Him, But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who love your salvation always say, “Let God be exalted!”