- Published: Wednesday, 04 November 2020 04:52
- Written by Bethany Elle
The book of Philippians is the book of Joy! It’s our joy manual, and, really, who doesn’t want a joy manual? The Bible as a whole celebrates joy and joy words; they are found over 840 times in the Bible! Wow, that is a lot. Paul wrote the book of Philippians, and he was full of joy. He experienced joy in some of the worst circumstances, really bad times, yet he was singing out with joy. How the heck did he do that?
It seems to me that Paul was able to determine his joy stealers, so even while he was in prison, he did not let the joy stealers invade his space. He created a sacred space of joy all around him; he was able to allow joy to break through. When he wrote Philippians he was actually chained to a Roman soldier, and because of the perspective he had developed in his life he was able to share his joy with the soldiers that chained him. Pauls perspective completely focused on a lens of passion for Jesus. No matter what was going on in his life, he saw it through the eyes of Jesus, the lover of his soul.
Pauls lens of passion for Jesus influenced his thoughts. He figured out that thoughts will steal joy instantly. Our thoughts must be based on the love of Jesus and who he has created us to be. If you struggle with worry, then you know about joy stealers. Worry will sap the joy right out of your system and leave you drained and discouraged. When your mind is set on the things that bring joy you will find the cure for worry. When thoughts live in a place of excellence and truth; joy manifests a fruit beyond measure. One of the fruits you will see is unity. Unity within yourself. Unity with Jesus. Unity with others. Pauls prayer is this: “My prayers for you are full of praise to God as I give him thanks for you with great joy! I’m so grateful for our union and our enduring partnership that began the first time I presented to you the gospel.” Philippians 1:3-4
A unified Christian Body entails everyone, not just the leaders, the one group of church goers, or the one denomination. No, unity is every believer in your city who make up the the Body of Christ. All believers are as one. Paul stressed the importance of being wrapped into Christ. We are not wrapped into the current movement, the hip church, the latest leader. Our standing position must be wrapped into Christ Jesus and then we are able to set our mind on excellence which in turn produces joy!
This is kind of weird, but I have a joy spot in our home. Every time I walk down our hallway I feel a deep abiding joy. I always have, and I am starting to believe that angels reside there. They have positions down our hallway that exude a sense of joy in Jesus. It is an unexplainable feeling in most ways. It’s not like I hang out in the hallway, but I do walk it frequently. One thing I learn from this, as well as Paul’s experience is that Joy is found in unexpected places, like prisons and hallways. If we can learn to think outside the box of where we believe joy is found, and open our hearts to the unexpected surprises of Jesus, joy will invade our spaces. The best part of this? It will spread as praise flows from our lips for the unexpected joy.
This reminds me of another time when I was in the hospital delivering our child that had died in the womb. It was devastating. But, somewhere in the experience as my husband lay next to me with his arms around me I felt an incredible sense of peace and joy. I knew God was in that room wrapping me with an unexpected gift. My mind was able to focus more on this gift than the loss, at least momentarily. To me, that is wondrous.
Is there a particular place that you feel joy? Is there a moment that stands out for you in which joy was prominent? Do you have joy stealers in your life today that over ride your thoughts and leave you void of joy? I am praying for the unexpected to take you away today and overwhelm you with warmth and joy. I am praying that you will find unity with Heavenly Father, and His Body of believers that surround you.
Most places require a mask for shopping, movies, church, etc. Wherever there is a crowd of people, and we are not able to remain a safe distance apart. Traveling has changed significantly as a mask is required on an airplane and in other countries as well. I understand this, and I wear a mask. A lot of people have struggled with how political mask wearing has become, I see that too. For me, I like to talk about what it all means for different people and how they are handling the situation.
Okay, so this post is NOT about the masks, ALA face coverings that many of us wear. This is about the masking of our hearts, our spirits and our souls. Some of us, wear a mask over our hearts from the very first time we felt deeply hurt, betrayed, or shamed. For others, we add one mask upon another due to childhood trauma, adult hardship, pain in relationships. The list goes on, right? There are a lot of reasons to hide our hearts behind a mask. Some of us have a lot of secrets…
The desire to live Unmasked has been with me for a long time. I want to be seen, loved, accepted and known; even when the path of getting there is not easy. Writing my book, I AM REAl/BE Unmasked has brought all of this and more to the forefront for me. When I talk with others, I see that they too desire to have a heart that is Unmasked, they too desire to live in a way that is real and free. Loved and accepted.
As I take steps in my life to be internally unmasked, I feel a freedom that is well worth the work. Everyone is different, the masks that you hide behind will not be the same as mine. And, some have more than others. When we experience fear of being seen, fear of man, the masks only become tighter around our spirits, making it difficult to move and breath. I’ve watched people in 2020 with their face coverings; it reminds me of that lost, empty, eerie feeling. Eyes pop out of our faces with an expression of fear and pain, questions of the unknown cover us in silence. This too, happens in a heart that is masked.
A few years back I decided to remove the mask of pleasing man. That meant, for me, I was going to stop living my life in a way that pleased man more than God. I decided to check every motive before moving forward on decisions, and if my motive was to please man over God, I would back away. I took off the mask. I’ve done this with several issues in my life, including the choice to write a book. Slowly, my life has become more Unmasked, enabling me to live life that is real and filled with joy.
Ask yourself today if you are living a life that needs to be unmasked. Is shame, lies, past pain, masking your heart and spirit that you cannot move forward? Pray to your Father about it all and ask him to Unmask you.
Jesus wants to be unmasked in your life. He ended his book with Revelation, which means unveiled. What masks are you wearing that keeps you from seeing Jesus unveiled in your life? He will unmask you, so you can see!
BE Unmasked, spread the word!
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"Yahweh says, 'Let the people return to me. Build! Build up the road, clear the way, and get ready! Remove every obstacle from their path.' For this is what the high and majestic One says, the one who fills the eternal realm with glory, whose name is Holy: ' I will dwell in high and holy places but also with the bruised and lowly in spirit, those who are humble and quick to repent. I dwell with them to revive the spirit of the humble, to revive the heart of those who are broken over their sin. You will not find me continually accusing them or holding anger against them, lest they feel defeated and lose heart before me. For I am the One who gave the breath of life to my people. It was their sin and greed that made me angry, so I struck them and hid my face from them. But, they continued in rebellion, following their own desires. Even though I've seen their ways, I will heal them. I will guide them forward and repay them with comfort, giving mourners the language of praise. I offer peace to those who are far from me, and I offer peace to those that are near, and I will heal their deepest wounds,' says Yahweh."
This year, 2020, many of us have become acutely aware of the unrest that rivals through out our entire country. In history we have certainly had times of unrest, but in my lifetime, 2020 has been the worst yet. I hear many people questioning the reality of God's words, His promises to us. I see political parites fighting and calling each other names, even within our own families. Fear continues to rear its ugly head as we approach an election that has many of us on edge. Both sides fear that the others nominee will be elected, both sides have reasons why it will be the end of everything precious! Both sides work hard to offer up compelling evidence in an effort to convince the other party. I find it all very interesting, and this year more than any other year I follow it all closely.
At the same time I am encouraged to lean into the promises of God, His words. For I believe that even though He was referrring to the people of Israel in the verse above, He also says these things to us today. His love for us is not limited to time, place, or people. He is calling all of us as a nation to return to him. He is urging us to build our lives in him, and to pray for every obstacle to be removed, and there are many obstacles right now. God is eternal, he inhabits eternity, and eternity is filled with his glory. Nothing will ever change that.
He sees far more than we do in the circumstances before us, he sees our sinful ways, yet still he is longing to dwell amoung us at an even deeper level. He is offering to revive hearts, minds, and spirits. We as a people accuse each other pointing our fingers and flinging unkindness, yet God does not accuse us. He sees the brokeness that causes our pain and fear. He sees no reason to leave us in a place of defeat, whatever the outcome. God is the One that gave us life imn the first place, His breath. Why do we waste it? Why do we allow this unrest, bitterness, violence, and hate towards each other to suck the breath of life right out of us? Even with such outright rebellion, He is there to heal.
Join me in leaning on the promise of peace. Pray with me for our country, for the people. Give him your deepest wounds and watch what he will do.
please comment below your prayers as we join together.