Thursday, March 1, 2018
Philippians 1: 2 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Our next stop on the journey to joy that we started yesterday is in Philippians 1:2, where we discover the incredible truth that God accepts us.
Do you remember, as I do, the pressure we felt as young children and teenagers to fit in? Maybe you still feel it. There is a huge longing in our souls to be accepted. As a child we need constant affirmation and attention from our parents. We cry for the security of a hug. As we grow we seek the approval of others by imitating their behavior. We quickly succumb to the lie that acceptance is earned.
As we grow, we begin performing up to what we perceive are other people’s expectations of us, simply to earn their approval. We begin speaking and acting like those we believe to be popular, so that we can potentially earn some of that approval for ourselves. We end up choosing our careers and our friends based on a single criteria – acceptance. Then we wonder why we are so unfulfilled and have no joy.
There is an answer to this dilemma of performance-based joylessness. It is stated in Philippians 1:2. We will experience the fullness of joy when we are at complete rest in the grace and peace of God. God’s grace is the basis for His acceptance, and it alone satisfies the longing of our soul.
Joy is the product of grace. In fact, the words “grace” and “joy” come from the same root word in the Greek language. What a wonderful truth – the grace of God that saves us is the essence of the joy we experience once we are saved.
Consider this – through Jesus Christ we have been chosen by God according to His divine purpose so that our lives might bring praise and honor to Him. Even though we were outsiders because of our sin, we have been included in Christ because we heard and accepted the truth of the Gospel. Our acceptance into God’s eternal family is so complete that we have been sealed by God with the Holy Spirit, declaring us to be His possession forever. O the joy that abounds in the heart of the person who understands this level of acceptance. (See Ephesians 1:11-14 at the end of this devotional)
But we must also understand that our acceptance is not self-imposed, self-acquired, or self-deserved. We have done nothing to earn the acceptance of God, but He has done it all for us. My favorite verse of acceptance is found in Colossians 1, where Paul writes, “giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (emphasis mine).
Isn’t that incredible? God has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in His kingdom! I’m accepted! WOW! AMEN! Praise the Lord!
Your journey to joy will not be complete until you come to a full comprehension of this truth. No longer will you have to imitate people to be accepted by people. Now you will be an imitator of Christ because He has already accepted you. (Romans 15:7) No more pressure to perform, because we are at peace in the grace of God. Spend a moment reflecting on that marvelous grace as you read the words to this great song:
I’m forgiven because You were forsaken
I’m accepted, You were condemned
I’m alive and well, Your Spirit is within me
Because You died and rose again
Amazing love, how can it be
That You, my King, should die for me?
Amazing love, I know it’s true
It’s my joy to honor You
In all I do, to honor You
Be filled with joy and rejoice – you’re accepted by the grace of God!
Ephesians 1:11 – 14 (NIV) 11In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, 12in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. 13And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.
Romans 15:7 (NIV) 7Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.