Gains, Losses, And Making The Cut

Sometimes we have to choose joy, even if we don’t feel like it. In the same way we love our family although some days we may not feel like liking them. Joy is found in knowing Christ. It isn’t dependent on emotions the same way happiness is.

When I was young, my aunt and uncle had a family of gospel singers stay at their house while they were singing at our church. I got to spend some time with them. I remember being overwhelmed with a sense of being near to the Spirit (for lack of a better way to put it). They just seemed like everything was right with the world and their interactions with each other was so positive. Really unlike any family I’d ever been around. That feeling has always stayed with me. I thought, that’s how I want to be with my family.

Our sermon this week was about turning our backs on everything else that we could find our identity in and focusing on the joy we find in Christ.

1 Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord! It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you.

2 Watch out for those dogs, those men who do evil, those mutilators of the flesh. 3 For it is we who are the circumcision, we who worship by the Spirit of God, who glory in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh…

Philippians 3:1-3

Start your day rejoicing, even if you don’t want to. When we give up everything else, besides God, that we think will bring us joy, there will be an abrupt change in the way we view our value. Things that were important to us before will not be so important any more.

God doesn’t promise us that we won’t have hard time. Even during those times we need to give him praise. Their will be good days even in the bad times. God is near. He has it under control. Praise him always!

There is a difference in true faith and fake Christianity. Faith starts with joy in Christ. Faith comes with realizing the power of grace, despite the circumstances. The promise that God is in control even when it seems that he’s not in the picture.

Happiness can be easy to find, but it’s fleeting, never lasting. When the Oreos are gone so is the happiness…

C.S. Lewis was an unlikely convert to Christianity. He actually set out to disprove that God existed. But in his search, he actually found God and came to accept Christ as his Savior.

The Philippians may have been a bit the same way. They were tired of hearing about joy. It’s hard to see when things aren’t right in the world. (Kind of like now, huh?) I guess that’s why Paul wrote,

“It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you.”

He loved these people. They were the church in Philippi that he started. Making sure that they don’t forget about having joy in the Lord is important to him. And he continues in verse 2 telling them to watch out for the people who want to do evil. Those dogs, the vicious ones who mutilate and destroy! Watch out for those joy stealers.

Dogs was a term that the Hebrews called the gentiles – evil men, dogs. He was telling them to consider the character of the people the hang out with, their tribe. Paul warned them to stay away from the false teachers. Guard ourselves from those who would never let us rise above being a mongrel. By calling them “dogs” that was saying there was no way God could love those temple.

People who don’t have joy don’t want you to have joy either. The Pandemic caused people to steal your joy. Some of us were in a dark place and were easily caused to question their faith.

If people use grace as a means to let you sin, BEWARE!!! Yes God gives us grace, but you can’t go against what you know God wants for you in the name of Jesus.

We can’t speak the word of God and live as the world wants us to live.

If people want you to behave a certain way to belong, that’s not the way God works. We need to believe that we are created by God. He gives grace which leads to belief. It’s a gift that you can’t earn. He gives it freely.

The Jews wanted everyone to look like them. They were required to be circumcised, but when Jesus was resurrected, that wasn’t required. We can’t make up God’s rules for inclusion into his Kingdom. False gospel mutilates the Gospel.

God works from the inside out with little cuts. External ceremonies don’t matter to him. It’s the heart that matters.

Paul had all of the right bloodlines to be pure in his heritage. He followed the law ferociously as far as the “law” was concerned. When he met Jesus, he realized heritage didn’t earn a person a place in heaven. Jesus is all about love for everyone. Murdering anyone who was not of pure bloodlines was wrong. He was doing all of the “right” things, but had it all wrong.

No one compares to Jesus. His real followers are transformed on the inside.

Remember who you are. Worship is to be done in reverence, expectation, and awe.

He still pursues you.

The unexamined life in not worth living.


Have you examined your life to see what you put before God? What gets your attention more than God? This is not a comfortable thing to ponder. I don’t want to find something that I put in front of God. What is it that I have to have my own way about? Give some time to meditation and see what God opens your eyes to.

In Faith,


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