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Philippians 3:20 – For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, (NKJV)

One of the primary reasons Christians have a hard time finding joy in troubled times is because they get wrapped up in the “things” of this world.

Paul uses the word “things” over and over and Philippians 3 to refer to the cares, concerns and pursuits of this world. He contrasts the believer who minds earthly things vs. the believer who minds the things of God… with the predictable result being loss of joy for the former, and overflowing joy for the latter.

A key to having joy in troubled times is having a spiritual mind and not an earthly mind.

First and foremost in your ability to have a spiritual mind, is the issue of salvation. A person who is not saved has no hope of either a spiritual mind or genuine effective joy. It is not religion or church or tradition that brings eternal life or joy but only a genuine saving faith in Jesus Christ.

The work of salvation is about what is DONE,
not what you can DO.

Paul warns us in Chapter 3, in the first few verses, to beware of those promoting religion which seeks to build confidence in the flesh. In other words, hope is placed in what man can do or perform rather than in the work of Christ. There is no joy to be found when our hope is misplaced in our own flesh. Paul reminds us that he has more reason to be confident in his extremely zealous and diligent religious (past) life than any person but then goes on to confirm that he counted all those things for loss for the sake of Christ. In fact he counted all those things as useless garbage compared to genuine faith in Christ found not in man’s righteousness (by keeping some sort of law or checklist), but found only via faith.

A key to having joy in troubled times is faith in Christ not faith in our religious works.

Through genuine faith in Christ, discarding our prideful religious efforts, we come to know the Lord and the power found in salvation as we join Him in taking up our cross and being conformed to the example Christ gave us through His own life. This is the start of the Christian life and is a prerequisite to the race, the path, the Christian walk that Paul goes on to discuss.

He reminds us that we never attain perfect power, a perfect life or perfect joy in this life but that we must press on day after day, taking hold of, getting a grip on, the very same attitudes, motivations and truths which Jesus Himself chose to take hold of for us. We should never get to a comfortable position where we think we have figured it out, or have “arrived” but rather we should press on continually, forgetting what is behind and reaching out or stretching forth to take hold of those things that are ahead, namely “the prize”, which is the call of Jesus Christ on our life.

Unity without Truth is man’s idea and
cannot result in real joy.

A key to having joy in troubled times is putting the past behind and pressing on toward the ultimate prize.

It is a test of maturity to have this sort of mindset and if you do not understand it, then pray and ask God for wisdom and He will give it to you abundantly (James 1:5). True unity in Christianity is all believers having this mindset, keeping our eyes ahead on Christ and having a single focus in life. Today we see much talk and effort towards unity but it is more the idea of dissolving all differences between us including the absolute truth of Biblical Christianity. This is man’s idea of unity and cannot result in true joy. Only unity in the truth focus solely on Jesus Christ can bring about joy in troubled times.

Philippians 3:20 – For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, (NKJV)

One of the ways we avoid getting wrapped up in the things of this world is to continually remind ourselves of our future. One of the primary ways to keep a spiritual mind is to constantly meditate on our destination and look for the event that will mark its fruition: the coming of Christ. Paul warns us in verse 18 to be on guard against the enemies of the cross whose end is destruction, whose god is their flesh, and whose prideful attitude and self focus will end up being their shame. These types of people set their mind on earthly things and will seek to have us do the same. It is this very behavior, this exact mindset that we find being promoted incessantly today.

A key to having joy in troubled times is reminding ourselves of our future destination.

As Christians our future is heaven. Our future citizenship is the kingdom of God, in the presence of Jesus for all eternity. This is the thing that all believers should eagerly be waiting for which brings us to a soul-searching question: are you eagerly waiting for heaven? If not, have you considered what is lacking in either maturity, knowledge or understanding that causes you to have no (or little) eagerness about your future citizenship in heaven? Maybe you just haven’t spent enough time thinking about it. Or maybe you have not considered that your sin cursed body will be transformed into a glorious, perfect, sin free, uncorrupted body, guaranteed by the work of Christ who holds all things in his hands.

A key to having joy in troubled times is thinking about our future glorified existence in heaven.

Taken together, we have this thought from Chapter 3 that helps us attain a joy filled life even in troubled times:

We count everything as loss compared to the blessing of salvation which is obtained only by faith in Jesus Christ that we may know the power of the resurrection and through suffering for the gospel be conformed into the image of Christ forgetting what is in the past and continually pressing on to the prize which is an eternity in heaven and a glorified and incorruptible body.

If we really believe that, and choose to focus on it, how can we even have one moment that does not result in joy once we get our mind firmly fixed on that truth?.

Lord God, help us to have a joy filled life by not focusing on ourselves, but on others and especially on Jesus. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

James 1:22 – But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. (NKJV)
  1. What is the most obvious Bible truth you have learned today?
  2. What change in your life needs to be made concerning this truth?
  3. What specific thing will you do today to begin that change?

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