Thursday, June 2, 2016

Grace That Leads to Joy - Part 5

Friday, June 3, 2016
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.  Philippians 4:23(NLT)
This week we are under the influence of grace that changes us while leading us to joy.  So far we’ve seen that grace can help us see the joy in the midst of tragedy, that it will make you joyfully-grateful, and help you become a joyful giver. 
And now…how grace disciples you:

Grace makes you grow joyfully

Give my greetings to each of God’s holy people—all who belong to Christ Jesus.  The brothers who are with me send you their greetings.  And all the rest of God’s people send you greetings, too, especially those in Caesar’s household.   May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.    Philippians 4:21-23 (NIV)
Notice the innocuous little reference to Caesar's household?  Paul had been a prisoner.  While most people would view that as the screeching, grinding halt to his ministry, it was the very thing that defined the ministry of Paul. 
While others were mourning his circumstances – even the brethren at Philippi – Paul was winning soldier-souls to Christ.  What else would a Christian do with a soldier chained to him 24 hours a day? 
It is like dog-sitting our neighbor was doing for their daughter and son-in-law.  She took the dog out for a walk every day, but she got walked (or pulled) wherever that huge hound, Stormin' Shelby wanted to go! 
Who had whom? 
The Romans may have imagined they had captured Paul, but, as William Barclay put it, The crucified Galilaean carpenter had already begun to rule those who ruled the greatest empire in the world."[2]
Now, what are your circumstances?  Are you joyful over the impact Christ is making on your part of the world because of what is happening in your life?  Or are you groaning and griping every day because of the circumstances?  Multiplied thousands of so-called unfulfilled, unhappy people would see their world and circumstances differently if they would transfer their hearts to Jesus.
Is there a need for grace?  Years ago our little fur-baby Kiwi, the wonder-dog had really long hair, that is, what was left of it after she just about made herself an entirely unique species, Keeshond Hairless.  That mutt had bitten and scratched the hair off one part of her back, attempting to get at an itch that just wouldn't be scratched. 
Day and night she made a droning thumping sound as her leg hit the floor trying to satisfy her craving.  Whenever I’d yell, STOP she would look up as if to say, Easy for you to say, fella. Then she’d go right on, digging-in again.  She was trapped in an itchy, downward-spiral
So we finally bought the right stuff, a powder that cost enough to pay most of the national debt.  But at least we could sleep through the night without that thumping.  She still scratches on occasion (remember she's a dog), but she has gotten some relief! 

From whence cometh your relief?

The songwriter has it:
When we have exhausted our store of endurance;
When our strength has failed 'ere the day is half done;
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources;
Our Father's forgiveness is only begun.
His love has no limit; His grace has no measure,
His power has no boundary known unto man;
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus, He giveth and giveth and giveth again.[3]

For You Today

Circumstances are not a choice.  Sometimes it is the Devil, sometimes the Lord's design; sometimes it is just stuff happening.  But joy IS a matter of choice.  You can choose to have God scratch that unreachable human itch; that need to know Him, His power, and His salvation.  It is available by grace, through faith (Ephesians 2:8,9). 
You chew on that as you hit the Rocky Road today…have a blessed day!


[1] Title Image: By Meghana Kulkarni from Pune, India (Happiness), via Wikimedia Commons
[2]Barclay, William, THE DAILY STUDY BIBLE, 87
[3]HE GIVETH MORE GRACE,  Composer: H. Mitchell, Arr T. Fetke (Lillenas Publishers), 1983

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