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Jesus, Our Joy–Lesson 11

I've often thought of joy as a place of deep contentment. Contentment has been this illusive place that I've sought after but found that in my own strength I could not seem to get myself to this place. It has been a process of God shaping and changing my heart where I have been wooed into His rest that I have found this deep peace and contentment into whatever circumstances He has led me. Does that mean every situation is fun? No, not even a little bit. But the more I've pursued Jesus, the more I've found purpose in each moment--even the smallest, seemingly pointless ones. God is near and at work ALWAYS. He is moving to complete His work in me (Philippians 1:6) and His Kingdom work in the hearts of those around me. It is here, that I find rest and contentment. In this final lesson, Paul challenges us with the secret of being content in any...

Jesus, Our Joy–Lesson 10

"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!" I'm not sure about you but that one line causes me to start humming a song I learned as a child. If you aren't familiar with a song with that phrase, don't stress. You are saved from the torture of a sing-songy song stuck in your head. Though many of us have heard this familiar verse, the reality of living it out seems to be an overwhelming endeavor. How are you supposed to actually live out joy when life is falling apart around you? In this week's lesson, we'll consider what happens when we yield to our growing knowledge of who God is and His work in our lives. We're going to take a look at the hows of rejoicing in the Lord ALWAYS.

Jesus, Our Joy–Lesson 9

I'm so proud of you for making it to lesson 9. It's never easy to stick with something for this many weeks. I'm certain that God has spoken to your heart as you have allowed His Word to wash over you. In lesson 9, Paul reminds the Philippians of how important it is to find unity with one another. He is moved with compassion for the lost when he pleads with the Philippians to seek to find common ground. Paul reminds the church that the lost are headed for hell and as believers they shouldn't be so easily led astray by the worlds' ways because they are citizens of heaven. They belong to God and one day they will experience transformed bodies when they go home. In this lesson, we cover the immediate context Paul is referring and practical application for us, as believers, living in a fallen, broken world.

Jesus, Our Joy–Lesson 8

Many Christians have become really good at listening to another sermon or Bible study and being reminded of what they should be doing. Unfortunately, education hasn't always led to execution because while we've become familiar with what we should be doing, we lack the steps to actually do it. In this week's lesson, we consider not only that we should be in hot pursuit of Christ, but we also consider the how-to's of nurturing hearts that long after Him. As you begin this lesson, take time to slow down, talk to God about your heart right now. Ask Him to draw you near as He transforms you into His likeness.

Jesus, Our Joy–Lesson 7

You've made it to lesson 7! Congratulations. Let's be honest, sticking with a study for this long is hard. There are all sorts of reasons to stop or skip or procrastinate. Thankfully studying through an online platform allows you the luxury to pick back up when you get behind. In our previous lesson, we considered evidences biblically, historically and within the nature of a yearning for Christ. By considering evidence of an obvious hunger in others, we posed the question, "why don't we?" It was a question that stung. We don't want to go there because it addresses how easily satisfied we've become with the little bit of Christ we've aattained and enjoyed. In this week's lesson, we take this same idea and look at it from a different direction. It may seem silly to really think through the why of knowing Jesus more but if we don't, why would purposely pursue more...

Lesson from the Fishbowl

By: Donna Avant Recently my husband, John, purchased a fish and a fishbowl to use in a sermon illustration.  His plan was to give away the fish and the fishbowl the next week.  However, he grew fond of the fish and, oddly, I have also.  He confessed last week to our entire congregation that he has found himself on occasion talking to the fish he has now named, D.O.C. (Disciple of Christ)!  I promise you that John has not lost his mind.   The truth is this little black beta fish has reminded us both of some very valuable lessons we have learned over 38 years of being in the ministry. The transparency of the fishbowl is crucial.    Upon becoming a pastor’s wives 38 years ago, I was told that fishbowl life was terrible.  Everyone would be watching me; everyone examining my every move.   Yet, what I have discovered is that living in a fishbowl is actually...

Jesus, Our Joy–Lesson 6

When I was in college, I took a psychology class where we studied Pavlov's dogs. These dogs were quickly trained/conditioned that when a bell rang they would be fed. They were quick learners at cause and effect. Many of us have been conditioned to believe that if we manage to stack a resumé of good deeds together, we will experience the favor of God. It really makes good sense. However, Paul warns us in Phililppians 3 against putting our confidence in the flesh. He puts into perspective the contrast of a mechanical religion versus an intimate relationship. Lesson 6 will challenge us to view our self-righteous acts as the puny achievements they are and turn our pursuits toward God.

Jesus, Our Joy–Lesson 5

In our fifth lesson, we piggy back onto lesson 4 where we considered how God handles the humble. Though we see how God exalts, extends mercy and provides generously for the humble, God is not indifferent to the proud. The week we consider signs of pride in our own hearts and Paul's challenge to lower ourselves. With a goal of taking the low place, we are freed from the exhausting stance of defense. When we value the interest of others above our own, we are no longer compelled to be right and are thus relieved from the burden of maintaining some reputation. We are released from the idols of greed, control, and status. we realize we don't have anything to defend. Paul's words are challenging and encouraging as we discover just what it means to experience Jesus as our true joy.

lesson 5, jesus...

Jesus, Our Joy–Lesson 4

We've made it 1/3 way through our study. It's easy to get behind because well, life. We all have a lot going on which is why online Bible study is such a gift. However, the Enemy is an expert at making us feel guilty and shamed if we don't have all the blanks filled in or haven't gotten it all done by the time we think we should. Let me encourage you to not give in to such discouragement. If you get behind, that's okay. Jump back in and don't rush. Let God speak to you through each day of study in His Word. God isn't eager to scold you but instead He longs to meet with you and transform you. Lesson 4 brings us to Chapter 2. Brace yourself because Chapter 2 comes packed with some harsh words and most likely some crushed toes. As we...

Jesus, Our Joy–Lesson 3

In this lesson, we finish up Paul's introduction of his letter to the Philippians. This section of the letter certainly challenges our way of thinking when it comes to experiencing true joy. We discover that Paul is living out some of our worst nightmares when it comes to opposition to our faith in Christ. So many of us question if we could actually follow through the way that Paul did in the midst of really difficult circumstances. Paul seems to give us some insight as to his secret as we discover his goals and perspective toward his life purpose. I feel confident that God will use Paul's words to challenge and encourage you. As a western Christian, I'm not sure that Paul's letter to the Philippians isn't most relevant to prepare us for what is to come in the years ahead. My prayer is that God will...