Philippians 2:1-2 (NLT) Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose.
In our pursuit of happiness, I wonder if it is ever really a consideration of what makes God happy. I believe that the Lord finds joy in His Children. I love my children. I know that I feel complete when they are all together under our roof. I know that when they first come together it is all laughter and love. However, the longer they remain in one place it quickly can turn to bickering. Since there are now six of them counting our son-in-law, it can go from reunion to revolution with just one well-fired potshot at another. They are hard on one another but should you make the mistake of coming against one of their siblings be prepared for a fight. When our son was ill, the dynamics shifted as they circled their wagons around their ailing brother. No longer was their picking on or fighting one another but grave concern over his health. Our oldest son became very conscientious of the younger son and after 19 years of making his life as terrible as possible, he became the doting big brother. His younger counterpart did not know how to handle the newly acquired attention and became very weary. When he was in remission about a year, he voiced relief when his brother began picking on him again as before and the banter of communication began that he was used to. I wonder if the Lord looks at us the same way. He loves for us to be together. Sharing life. Worshipping His Name. Doing what we are called to do together. I wonder if it grieves His Heart as it does mine when His Children wander off, get lost, lose their way, argue, and bicker amongst one another. Of course it does, how could it not?
Psalm 133:1-3(NLT) How wonderful and pleasant it is when brothers live together in harmony! For harmony is as precious as the anointing oil that was poured over Aaron’s head, that ran down his beard and onto the border of his robe. Harmony is as refreshing as the dew from Mount Hermon that falls on the mountains of Zion. And there the Lord has pronounced his blessing, even life everlasting.
Harmony is as precious as the anointing oil that was poured over Aaron’s Head. Harmony is refreshing. I wonder if this is why church fellowship is so strained. We do not have harmony among brothers and sisters in Christ. We must find a way to come together, not just within congregations but corporately as a body no longer divided by doctrine and religion to take hold of this thing called harmony. The Lord blesses the life of those who strive for harmony and unity among all mankind. Is that you? Do you want harmony? Do you live united? It requires self-sacrifice just like the priesthood of Aaron. They were the ones who lived in the Presence of God tending to the temple. Are we also sacrificing our wants, needs and desires to be One with the Body of Christ and dwell in the Kingdom of God? What makes God happy will inevitably make me happy if I will sacrifice my life to live in His Presence.
Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? I Thessalonians 4:17-18 levels up our thinking if we consider these words – “Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever. So encourage each other with these words.” The encouragement of the church and bride is the return of Christ. To live for the Lord will make our life better. Our fellowship with one another should do the same thing. We are to encourage each other. Not religiously but relationally to be ready for Jesus’ return as we prepare to join Him in the Kingdom of God forever. There is more to life than this. Say it with me – there is more to life than this. We must think higher thoughts. We must assume higher ways in order to be more like Him every day. I cannot think of myself all the time and be a good partner in any relationship that I maintain.
Any comfort from His Love? Anything done outside of love is apart from Jesus Christ. The Lord does everything for us, in us and through us because of His Great Love for us. Therefore, as ministers of the Gospel not by profession but ordination through the Great Commission, it is our profession and privilege in life to love radically. It is to follow Christ’s Example and Mandate on our life. Love one another. If we do not learn to love and accept others unconditionally, expecting Christ to change their heart, mind and life rather than trying to do it ourselves, we will never see the unification of Christ. There is a God who loves us and created a plan for us. Therefore, He does not need me to point the way but rather for me to lead others to THE WAY. The only way to the Father is through His Son, Jesus. I cannot do anything to make my way to Him outside of the grace given to me by Jesus. We are to comfort the lost leading them to the Light with love.
Any fellowship with the Spirit? When Jesus died on the Cross, He released His Spirit to live in us. “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you. No, I will not abandon you as orphans—I will come to you.” (John 14:16-18) This is NOT the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. But rather when you ask Jesus to be your Savior and Lord, He gives you His Spirit which identifies us as Children of God. With this in mind, we must rely on the Holy Spirit as we learn to put our expectation in Jesus Christ and NOT other people. Anyone who knows me will tell you that when it comes to relationships, ALL RELATIONSHIPS, my first comment will be that you need the Lord to maintain any relationship long term. Marriage without Jesus is impossible. Two imperfect people with unrealistic expectations and selfish hearts will always need an advocate. Relationships are giving opportunities. A successful relationship requires enough trust to give 100% of ourselves to it or it is not a true relationship.
Are your hearts tender and compassionate? “Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins. Cheerfully share your home with those who need a meal or a place to stay.” (I Peter 4:8-9)We must love each other with the depth and magnitude of the love given to us by God through His Son, Jesus Christ. His Love is complete and unconditional full of grace, tenderness and compassion. It is not harsh and unyielding but completely merciful and forgiving. Have you examined your heart lately? When I feel anger towards another, or find myself pulling away – I find that if I examine my heart I will find things not like the Lord. I must deal with them quickly and efficiently as not to cause bitterness and strife. We must have tender hearts. No matter how many times we have been hurt in this world, by the people, if we cannot remain compassionate the fire inside us will soon go out. Passion will no longer rule us but pride quickly takes over.
“Make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose.” I believe if we focused on nothing else but this one concept that we could truly bring pleasure to God. I think that when His Children agree wholeheartedly putting all differences aside and love one another working together to share His Love with one mind and purpose that it puts a smile on His Face. When the King smiles on His People, His Favor comes pouring out along with His Glory. We want God’s Favor. We cry out to see His Glory. Where is the Lord? Is He happy with us? Or has our bickering driven Him away? Has the hardness in our hearts for one another kept us from His Presence? I want to make the Lord happy…don’t you? Lord, it makes me happy to make you happy. Show me the way.
Philippians 2:3-5 (NLT) Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.
Humility is absolutely essential in successfully uniting the Body of Christ. No one is 100% right in their pursuit of God – of that you cannot convince me. I know that I have visited several churches and been members of many congregations. Nobody is perfect in their fellowship because people are involved. I do know this. We are called to put aside our pride and selfishness to take up our cross and follow the example of Jesus Christ. What is that example? Even though He was God, He did not relish in equality with God but decided to give up His Divine Privileges to take a humble position as slave and appear in human form. I do not think a single person who has entered Heaven would ever consider coming back. Jesus did.
Philippians 2:6-11 (NLT) Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross. Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Have you ever been accused on doing something that you did not do? Or maybe saying something that you never said? Do you remember how that made you feel inside? The wronged feeling of being completely innocent yet falsely accused. Imagine if you were the God of the Universe. Jesus died even for the ones who hammered the nails into his hands and feet. He passionately loved those who spit in his face and tore chunks of hair and flesh from his bearded face. So you tell me, does it really matter if we are right or wrong? To be like Jesus means we must put away our own pride and take up our cross. The cross has many marks on it. The first is unconditional love. The second forgiveness and grace. There are others that must define our new life in Jesus. What matters is most is that we are to have the same attitude as Christ.
What did God do for Jesus? He elevated Him to the place of highest honor and gave Him the Name above all names. Hold that thought.
Matthew 16:15-19 (NLT) Then he asked them, “But who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “You are blessed, Simon son of John, because my Father in heaven has revealed this to you. You did not learn this from any human being. Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’), and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it. And I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. Whatever you forbid on earth will be forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit on earth will be permitted in heaven.”
But wait…there is more to this amazing offer…
John 14:12-14 (NLT) “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father. Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it!
Let me end the confusion if there is any. When we decide to sacrifice our life for harmony in our home, church, work and world – we activate the Keys to the Kingdom and the Name of Jesus in our life. When Jesus laid down His Life – God gave Him all power and authority in Heaven and earth. He obtained them through humility and sacrificing His Life for others. When we follow this example, Jesus hands us the Keys to the Kingdom and the Power of His Name to use to build the Kingdom of God. If our life does not have open doors, the keys are not being used such as faith, hope and most importantly love. If we are using His Name without much results – it is time to reevaluate our pursuit of happiness. Joy and peace that lead to full satisfaction come when we sacrifice our life to Jesus Christ to have the life that He died for us to have. We die to self when we choose to live for others just as He did. It is the moment that their salvation and freedom drives us to avoid be offensive or defensive but to wrap our arms around them in love, speak to them in love, and captivate them with His Love until they come. This is the greatest work we can do is to do and makes God happy. It will make us happy, too. As God’s Love unites us and our differences dissolve in the Sea of Forgetfulness. We can walk together on the Highway of Holiness which is paved in love and sacrifice.
If only for just one day, we could all put aside our differences to walk together into the Presence of God. To stop looking left and right judging those who we find there by appearances and conditions, but just grabbed them to come along to worship God with us. What if we kept our eyes on Jesus instead of other people? What if making the Lord happy with harmony became more important than being right or religious? What if? I believe that if we ever truly discover harmony in the Body of Christ that we will experience favor like never before and His Glory will fill His Temple again. It would produce the rich and satisfying life that seems elusive for now. Love each other today. Forgive one another. Pray fervently for each other. Work for harmony in the House of God and it will pour out into your life. Make God happy and you will be happy, too!
Psalm 89:14-16 (NLT) Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne. Unfailing love and truth walk before you as attendants. Happy are those who hear the joyful call to worship, for they will walk in the light of your presence, Lord. They rejoice all day long in your wonderful reputation. They exult in your righteousness.