Together

Rising Joy by Vicki Matheny

Therefore encourage one another and build up each other, just as you are in fact doing. 1 Thessalonians 5.11

How do you live your life? Do you ever look to the sky and ask if Christ will return today? Or do you get so caught up in the daily tasks that you have, that the thought never crosses your mind?

Paul wrote to the Thessalonians to be alert and sober. The Christian is to be watchful and clear-headed, able to see the dangers that are put in your path. Peter likens the devil to a roaring lion who seeks to devour those who are weak, 1 Peter 5.8. God will provide a way out when you are tempted, 1 Corinthians 10.13.

It is not known when Christ will return to welcome Christians home. Only the Father has that information. Therefore, it is important that Christians make the time to encourage one another. You are not alone. You have to finish the race to be able to receive the reward. Let’s all finish together!

#risingjoy #1-Thessalonians #second-coming

Unity

Rising Joy by Vicki Matheny

Therefore, if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort provided by love, any fellowship in the Spirit, any affection or mercy, complete my joy and be of the same mind, by having the same love, being united in spirit, and having one purpose. Instead of being motivated by selfish ambition or vanity, each of you should, in humility, be moved to treat one another as more important than yourself. Each of you should be concerned not only about your own interests, but about the interests of others as well. Philippians 2.1-4

What do you think Paul’s reaction would be to the religious world today? When writing to the Philippians, he told them to complete his joy by being of the same mind, by having the same love, being united in spirit, and having one purpose. Impossible, you say! However, it is what God expects of his children, of his church.

There is only one way to accomplish this. Only by returning to what God’s word says, will we be able to even come close. As long as each person picks and chooses what they want to include, it will never be done. When people add things not found in God’s word or conveniently forget that something is in God’s word, it will not happen. When you take a verse out of context and twist it to say what you want it to say, unity in spirit and purpose will remain out of reach. When the titles become more important than the service, the motivation is called into question.

Paul wrote to the Ephesians in 4.3 to make every effort to keep the unity. It can only be done if we faithfully follow what God’s word says. We are called to respect his word and to accept it as it is, neither adding or diminishing it in any way, Deuteronomy 4.2 and Revelation 22.18. Are you reading the Bible? Do you read with an open heart receiving what is contained in it? Do you promote unity based upon his word?

#risingjoy #Philippians #unity

Participation

Rising Joy by Vicki Matheny

I thank my God every time I remember you. I always pray with joy in my every prayer for all of you because of your participation in the gospel from the first day until now. For I am sure of this very thing, that the one who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1.3-6

My family moved to a different city to work. We left behind many people that had been taught the gospel and that had continued faithful to the Lord. We often wondered how different ones were doing, if they were still faithful. After several years, we returned for a visit. What joy we had to see many of the ones with whom we had studied still faithful to the Lord!

God provides us with encouragement. He takes care of our daily needs. He uses other Christians to make this happen. Never underestimate the good that God can do with what, in your opinion, does not amount to much. He can make the blessings overflow with whatever we are willing to give him.

Participation is key. We must be willing to participate in His mission, to be used for his kingdom, the church. God is able to carry us to perfection, or maturity, if we stay with him.

#risingjoy #Philippians #encouragement

Big Dreams

Rising Joy by Vicki Matheny

Now to him who by the power that is working within us is able to do far beyond all that we ask or think, to him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. Ephesians 3.20-21

Have you ever seen a dream board? Many companies encourage their salespeople to make these and hang on their bulletin board at work or their refrigerator door at home so they will be seen often. The idea is to motivate the person to get out there and do the job.

Most of us can dream really big dreams. That new car, new home, new baby for many of us are a fulfillment of our dreams.

Have you ever thought about spiritual dreams? Do you have things that you would like to see happen in the church? Numerical growth, spiritual growth, more Bible studies, planting a new congregation, or whatever it might be.

When we think of those dreams, we can become discouraged because we do not always see those things coming to fruition. We cannot do it on our own and we are right. We cannot. But, God has the power to do far more than our little dreams. His power is the same power that is working within us. That is an awesome thought!

The glory should not come our way for the things that we do accomplish in our lives. If we are in the church, then we are in Christ. The glory in the church and in Christ belongs to God! May we give it all to Him!

#risingjoy #Ephesians #dreams

Don’t Give Up

Rising Joy by Vicki Matheny

So we must not grow weary in doing good, for in due time we will reap, if we do not give up. Galatians 6.9

Everyone grows weary, perhaps from working, from cooking, or from trying to do the right thing. Paul told the Galatians to not grow weary in doing good.

Perhaps Paul was thinking about Jesus when he wrote this. Matthew 21.15 refers to the wonderful things that Jesus did. Jesus taught the people, fed them, and healed them. He went about doing good. He continued to do good even when the religious leaders of the day tried to trap him in what he said or what he did.

Jesus is our example. Doing good is a part of the life of the disciple. Just as Jesus received his reward for his life here, the disciple who does not give up, but continues to do good, will reap the results. Those results might be seen here on earth or in the future in eternity. Never give up!

#risingjoy #Galatians #doing-good

Needed: Encouragement

Rising Joy by Vicki Matheny

Carry one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 2.6

There are some things that are easier to bear by sharing with others. Paul had just mentioned in verse one about the Christian who had been overtaken by a sin. Other spiritual Christians were to go to that person and with a gentle spirit, help him to be restored to Christ. Paul alerted them of the necessity of paying close attention to themselves that they were not tempted also. No one is above temptation. Peter compares the devil to a roaring lion who is on the prowl for its prey, 1 Peter 5.8. If one is not careful, you can fall to temptation and its consequences.

Christians are to help one another. One way this happens is by helping to share the burden of another. Romans 12.15 says to rejoice with those who rejoice , weep with those who weep. It is during trying times that encouragement is welcome. A hug, a note, or a phone call to say that you are praying for that person can be a source of encouragement and strength to continue in the right path.

#risingjoy #Galatians #burdens

Never a Power Outage

Rising Joy by Vicki Matheny

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe in him, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15.13

Do you have a friend or spouse that knows you so well that it is funny, sometimes scary? They will finish your sentences or you can tell what they are thinking just by looking at them? It is a situation that is not common with everyone.

Just think how well your Creator knows you. He created your inner being and knit you together in your mother’s womb, Psalm 139.13. He knows you better than you know yourself. He understands what makes you tick!

If you believe in him, he is the God of hope that can fill you with all joy and peace. The more your faith in him grows, the more hope you will have, to the point that you will have an abundant supply.

I am thankful that I do not have to produce this hope on my own power. This abounding hope is powered by the Holy Spirit, whose power is unlimited. He will never suffer a power outage.

Do you believe in God? Does your hope and power come from him?

#risingjoy #Romans #power

Read For Hope

Rising Joy by Vicki Matheny

For everything that was written in former times was written for our instruction so that through endurance and through encouragement of the scriptures we may have hope. Romans 15.4

What encourages you? Is it a friend or a family member? Maybe it is a song or a favorite saying or verse. Is it that pod cast that you like to listen to every week?

Paul explained to the Romans that the purpose of the Scriptures was to teach. Everything that had been written before in the Old Testament was for our instruction.

In the Old Testament, you read about the creation and how this world came to exist. You read about Abraham and God’s promise to him and how it came to fulfillment. You read of Moses who lead the Israelites out of Egypt to the Promised Land. You read of the kings, both good and bad, that ruled Israel and Judah after the tribes were divided. You read of the prophets who kept calling a disobedient people back to God.

The New Testament tells of Jesus, his life, his death, and his return to life. His victory over evil. We read of God’s patience that will one day come to an end.

These things help you to endure, to realize that you are not alone, that others have gone through the same trials that you also face. That even though you stumble and fall, you can get back up, and keep going.

The scriptures give hope. Hope that you will continue to stand with your faith strongly anchored in Jesus, who is the author of salvation. God wants to talk to you. Will you listen?

#risingjoy #Romans #Bible

It Will Work Out

Rising Joy by Vicki Matheny

And we know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose, Romans 8.28

Many people believe that if you have accepted Jesus Christ into your life, all of your problems will be solved and life will be smooth sailing from that point on. There exist religions in the world that teach that you can make a bargain with God and basically get what you want in terms of health and wealth.

This is far from the truth. Jesus taught in Matthew 7.14, that the gate is narrow and the way is difficult that leads to life. Few find it. Most people do not want difficult. In Matthew 7.21-23, Jesus taught that just calling him “Lord” is not enough. You have to obey the will of the Father. Many will say that they are doing many powerful deeds in his name. But, Jesus will answer with the sad statement that he never knew them. Obedience is a serious business.

The book of 1 Peter talks about the certainty of suffering in the Christian’s life. That suffering needs to be as a result of doing what is good and right, not because of consequences of sin in our lives. Peter wrote in 4.16 to not be ashamed if you suffer as a Christian, but glorify God that you bear such a name.

Paul wrote to Timothy in 2 Timothy 3.12 that all who want to live godly lives in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. Persecution brings suffering.

The good news is that if we are called according to God’s purpose, all things will work together for good, Romans 8.28. That does not mean that bad things will not happen. However, we have the Spirit who helps us in our weakness interceding for us when we do not know how to pray, Romans 8.26. That, my friend, is a marvelous thing!

#risingjoy #Romans #good

Heaven’s Worth

Rising Joy by Vicki Matheny

For I consider that our present sufferings cannot even be compared to the glory that will be revealed to us. Romans 8.18

Paul, the apostle, had suffered many things because of his preaching. The Jews made plans numerous times to have him killed. They did not agree with his acceptance of Jesus as the Messiah. In the past, Paul had been where they were in their disbelief, traveling to imprison any one he could find that was following Jesus.

However, Paul was converted to the truth. He suffered many of the things that he had once been guilty of doing against the disciples of Jesus. He wrote to the Galatians that he had been crucified with Christ and no longer lived, but Christ lived in him, Galatians 2.20. He had crucified the flesh with its passions and desires, Galatians 5.24.

Paul placed his hope in the life to come. He awaited the crown of righteousness that was reserved for him and all who remain faithful until death, 2 Timothy 4.8. He believed that all the suffering that he had endured could not begin to compare with the glory to be revealed in heaven.

Heaven will be worth whatever the price that has to paid here on this earth. Pay the price. You will be glad that you did!

#risingjoy #Romans #heaven

Be a Paul

Rising Joy by Vicki Matheny

After the disturbance had ended, Paul sent for the disciples, and after encouraging them and saying farewell, he left to go to Macedonia. After he had gone through those regions and spoken many words of encouragement to the believers there, he came to Greece, where he stayed for three months. Because the Jews had made a plot against him as he was intending to sail for Syria, he decided to return through Macedonia. Acts 20.1-3

Paul had been in Ephesus preaching and teaching. Demetrius, a silversmith by trade, had caused an uproar in the city due to greed. Paul was drawing people to the truth, away from the idol worship which was the way Demetrius made a living. The uproar was so great that the disciples would not allow Paul to enter the public assembly.

Afterwards, Paul decided to continue on his journeys, going to Macedonia. He went about encouraging the believers. He decided to stay in Greece for three months continuing to teach the truth. Having made plans to go to Syria, he had to go a different route, once again due to the Jews plotting against him.

No doubt, Paul had been influenced by Barnabas, who was instrumental in his being accepted by the disciples in Jerusalem after his conversion. The name, Barnabas, meant “son of encouragement”. Paul was also an encourager, strengthening the disciples where ever he went.

Today, more than ever, we need people who are encouragers. It is so easy to complain about everything. Be a Paul. Go about encouraging the disciples!

#risingjoy #Acts #Paul

Be a Barnabas

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

When he arrived in Jerusalem, he attempted to associate with the disciples, and they were all afraid of him, because they did not believe that he was a disciple. But Barnabas took Saul, brought him to the apostles, and related to them how he had seen the Lord on the road, that the Lord had spoken to him and how in Damascus he had spoken out boldly in the name of Jesus. So he was staying with them, associating openly with them in Jerusalem, speaking out boldly in the name of the Lord. Acts 9.26-28

Can you imagine how the disciples in Jerusalem felt when Saul, otherwise known as Paul, returned to the city? The last thing that many had heard of him, he was on his way to Damascus to bring disciples back to Jerusalem to put them in prison. Is it any wonder that they were all afraid of him and just a little skeptic of his change of heart?

However, there was one who was willing to talk to him and listen to his story. Barnabas took Saul to the apostles and told them what he had learned. Afterwards, Saul associated openly with the disciples speaking out boldly in the name of the Lord.

It must have been difficult for Saul to return to Jerusalem knowing what awaited him there. He would be returning to a familiar place, but associating with people that were not in his old circle of friends. Most importantly, his message and his life had changed drastically!

Do not let fear stand in the way of service in the kingdom. Be a Barnabas and take the one, who is different from who you knew, under your wing. Help pave the way for their acceptance from the brethren. Help to dispel the fear. The gospel has the power to change lives drastically, for the better!

#risingjoy #Acts #Barnabas

Merciful

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

The Lord’s loyal kindness never ceases; his compassions never end. They are fresh every morning; your faithfulness is abundant! Lamentations 3.22-23

God is merciful and compassionate. Man made a choice to disobey him. After that choice was made, there was no way for man to come into his presence again on his own merit for he was stained with his sin. Sin is the very thing that separates us from God, Isaiah 59.1-2.

However, God loved man so much that he gave his own son, Jesus, as a sacrifice to make redemption possible, John 3.16. There is a condition for redemption. You must believe in Jesus. John 14.15 reads that if you love him then you will obey him. John 14.21 says that if you love Jesus then the Father will love you.

God made all of this possible while you were still helpless, sending Jesus to die for you, Romans 5.6. You were still a sinner, Romans 5.8. You were an enemy of God that now has the possibility of reconciliation through the blood of Jesus, Romans 5.10.

The Lord’s compassion never ends. His faithfulness is abundant!

#risingjoy #Lamentations #compassion

Assurance

Rising Joy, by Vicki Matheny

Now, this is what the Lord says, the one who created you, O Jacob, and formed you, O Israel: “Don’t be afraid, for I will protect you. I call you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I am with you; when you pass through the streams, they will not overwhelm you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not harm you. … Isaiah 43.1-2

The assurance, that the prophet passed on to the remnant of Israel, was given to those who had remained faithful to God, who was, and continues to be faithful.

In John 8, Jesus made the comparison of children and slaves. The Jews were taking pride in their physical heritage, but were no longer obeying God due to their rejection of Jesus. They had become slaves to sin. Jesus put their place in perspective by stating that they were not the children of Abraham for he acted differently, verso 40. Those who obey God are the spiritual sons of Abraham.

The prophet stated that God would protect those whom he called by name, those that belonged to him. No matter what came upon them, he was with them and would bring them through it. In Matthew 16.18, Jesus stated that not even death would be able to overpower his church. The faithful Christian has the assurance that nothing can separate him or her from God’s love, Romans 8.38-39.

#risingjoy #Isaiah #assurance

Do Not Fear

For I am the Lord your God, the one who takes hold of your right hand, who says to you, ‘Don’t be afraid, I am helping you.’ Isaiah 41.13

The Israelites had disobeyed God. As a result, they were overthrown and taken into captivity. God was about to bring them back together from where they had been taken. Israel did not feel up to the task.

In Isaiah 41.10, the Lord told them not to be afraid because he was with them. He would give them strength and uphold them in his right hand. The right hand was a symbol of the Lord’s power to save and protect. Exodus 15.6 told of the majestic power of his right hand that shattered the enemy.

The Lord continues to be with his disciples today. God knows the number of hairs that each one has on his head, Luke 12.7. Jesus gives us his peace telling us not to be distressed or lacking courage, John 14.27. The Hebrew author writes to remind us that God will not abandon us, Hebrews 13.5.

Truly, we are privileged to know who God is and how we may serve him. There is no need to be afraid, for he is helping us.

#risingjoy #Isaiah #fear