Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! (Phil 4:4)
The new term that started in September has seen us enter into a season of invitation for Jesus. I hope that has been something that has encouraged and heartened you. As a church we are excited about sharing the Gospel with those who don’t know and follow the Lord, for surely that is what makes us a church!! This has, however, not been straight forward. We unexpectedly had to postpone our Alpha course due to low numbers, and I was taken into hospital with kidney stones! In fact, a number of the church family have been very poorly recently, or have been going through difficult and challenging times. This can make us ask a very important question – where is God?
In exploring this myself, hospital afforded me the wonderful opportunity to reflect on how good God is in the midst of what I was going through. Jesus himself was not immune from suffering or pain, and nor were his followers. No one said the Christian journey was easy!
What we can say about following Jesus though, is that it is life giving, fun, and full of joy!!
Joy? That seems an odd word to use especially when times are hard. And yet, this is a recurring theme in the Bible, especially from the writings of the Apostle Paul.
Indeed, following his encounter with Christ on the road to Damascus, Paul became one of the most important and influential people in the early church. His travels took him all over Europe where he planted churches and preached the Gospel to all who would listen. Even when he was imprisoned in Rome he continued in his mission for the Lord, writing letters to the churches he had established to encourage them in their faith. One of these letters was to the church in the Roman colony of Philippi and has the theme of joy running through it.
So think about that for a moment; Paul who was chained up in awful prison conditions encourages the Philippians to be joyful always – regardless of your present situation. How on earth do we do that? What about when times are hard? What about when we don’t feel like it? In October’s 6:30pm services we will be exploring how to have God’s joy at all times. It promises to be exciting!
But whether you attend the 6:30pm service or not, can I challenge you to read Paul’s letter to the Philippians this month and to ask God to fill you afresh with his joy and with his love despite our present circumstances. Jesus is always with us, always for us, and stands with us in difficult and challenging times.
We are still in our season of invitation and still called to share the Gospel, so let’s keep on praying for each other and for God’s Kingdom to come in Saltney, Lache, and Saltney Ferry.