“Restore Your Joy” is sent online weekly to nearly 200 people in our Half/Time network but we wanted to make it available here for everyone to use and enjoy.
Some of the Steps suggested here may help you. Some may not. Either way, count on God cheering you on! Check back weekly for the following steps.
In His Love,
RESTORE YOUR JOY
Spiritual direction from Philippians, Step 1
Jim Rueb, January 13, 2021
It may be a while. It might seem out of reach right now. It’ll take some work. Spiritual work, that is. But if it’s true that “Joy is the serious business of heaven” (C.S. Lewis, Letters to Malcolm, Chiefly on Prayer) we’ve got heaven working hard for us. Our job is to co-sign the contract, renew it as often as necessary and keep doing our part, which as David prayed in Psalm 51:12 starts with “uphold me with a willing spirit.”
I’m inviting you to join me on a spiritual journey as we begin 2021. Not another study. Not more information. But concrete steps you and I may take towards restoring our joy. Our spiritual direction will be inspired by Paul’s Epistle to the Philippians, where the word “joy” or “rejoice” appears in almost every paragraph. Let’s begin with the first two verses:
Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
- Identify someone who’s had a significant spiritual impact on your life,
- Reflect on the way(s) they brought God’s grace and peace to you,
- Thank God for His work in you through them.
RESTORE YOUR JOY
Spiritual direction from Philippians, Step 2
Jim Rueb, January 20. 2021
Last week we suggested Step 1 in our journey towards restoring our joy is to identify people who’ve had a significant spiritual impact on our life. This second step turns from receiving to giving.
Most of us carry some extra, unnecessary weight in our personal backpacks. In the sodden wool of thinking I’m alone and nobody understands or cares. In the freeze-dried form of unexpressed thanks. And in the shifting lead weight of impatience, accumulated hurt or giving up on someone in my life, thinking things will never change with them.
Step 2 is inspired by Philippians 1:3-6.
3 I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, 4 always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. 6 And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
- Thank God in prayer for someone who has been/is a real “partner” to you in your spiritual journey.
- Write a note/call/text/Facebook/email/or ?? someone you’d like to thank and really haven’t yet.
- Who could use a little more patience and grace from you while God continues His good work in them...and start giving it to them in little, subtle doses.
Spiritual direction from Philippians, #3
Jim Rueb, January 27. 2021
First an important caveat: Restoring your joy will most likely not be a sequential series of steps. Spiritual direction, spiritual disciplines, even spiritual steps are seldom if ever completed in a preset order. Or in a single transaction. As in “OK, I got this…what’s the next step?”
Fact is, spiritual growth is not a linear journey but more like hiking the Pacific Rim Trail. Up and down. Good days, bad days. Beautiful views, just more trees. Sweaty climbs, tootsie screaming descents. Awesome wonder, dicey weather and real dangers. Often, not always, a starlit ski overhead as you settle into your down bag.
We’ll keep numbering the suggested steps to help us mark the milestones in this journey. But take them as the Holy Spirit prompts you…or when your own sense of “I really need to do this…NOW!” is unmistakable.
This week’s Step is inspired by Philippians 1:7-11.
7 It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. 8 For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. 9 And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, 10 so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ,11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.
- Identify someone in your life who could use a little more of “the affection of Christ Jesus” from you and convey that to them in some personal way.
- Look for an opportunity to convey the love of Jesus to someone you encounter when you’re out and about this week and do it, however small a gesture.
RESTORE YOUR JOY
Spiritual direction from Philippians, Step 4
Jim Rueb, February 3, 2021
Historians, including that old curmudgeon Edward Gibbon of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire fame, tell us that one of the primary ways by which the Gospel began spreading throughout the Roman empire was through the military.
Our passage in Philippians this week identifies where this historically strategic movement quite literally might have begun. With Paul’s imprisonment! In the Mamertine prison, which you can still visit in the ancient Capitoline section of Rome. Not exactly a preaching forum. It was a life-witness venue. A conversation!
Imagine that! A conversation over a period of time, during the absolute zenith of Roman power, that ultimately changed the world. You never know where a conversation, even a momentary one, could lead.
This week’s Step is inspired by that reference in Philippians 1:12-14.
12 I want you to know, brothers that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, 13 so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ.14 And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.
- Ask God to help you install, then maintain a spiritual check on your conversation. (Note: this may take way more than a week!)
- Ask yourself, “Is there anything different, especially in my tone, than the protracted, polarized, and slightly perturbed exchanges so common right now?”
- Think of each day as an opportunity to “advance the gospel” in your own world, even though most often your conversation only comes within a mile or two of John 3:16.
RESTORE YOUR JOY
Spiritual direction from Philippians, Step 5
Jim Rueb, February 10, 2021
There’s an improved attitude that can rise above current irritations, chronic annoyances, even unmistakable personal offences. But it comes “’Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord of hosts,” in Zechariah 4:6. Verse 7 continues with, “What are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain; and he shall bring forward the top stone amid shouts of ‘Grace, grace to it.’”
One of the most common joy snatchers is the insensitivity, actions or just outright rudeness of others. Question is, do we meet rude with rude, snark with snark, gloat with gloat? Our passage in Philippians this week offers an answer, but it’s not an easy one. This passage refers to preaching the gospel. But I think it’s also applicable in a wider inter-personal sense that can do much to commend the gospel if not proclaim it outright. Take a look at a beautiful picture of “Grace, grace to it” in Philippians 1:15-18.
15 Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. 16 The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. 17 The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment.18 What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice.
- Ask yourself, Has the “imprisonment” of the pandemic lockdown brought me closer to Christ, driven me further away or left me about the same?
- Has this pandemic season resulted in the deterioration of some important relationships in my life?
- What could I do to improve my answer to both questions, and where might “Grace, grace to it” be best applied in my world right now?
RESTORE YOUR JOY
Spiritual direction from Philippians, Step 6
Jim Rueb, February 17, 2021
One of the best single lines in the whole Bible is Philippians 1:21. When selecting the passage for this week’s “Restore Your Joy” I just didn’t want to go any further in Chapter 1 than verse 21.
While it doesn’t provide a complete owner’s manual on faith in Christ it does give us the bottom line. In this day of emojis and only the briefest of texts, Paul’s beautiful couplet here about life and death in Christ is amazingly prescient for our at-a-glance culture.
Here’s the whole passage, Philippians 1:19-21…
Yes, and I will rejoice, 19 for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this (imprisonment) will turn out for my deliverance, 20 as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
- Make sure Philippians 1:21 is securely installed on your heart drive.
“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”
- ”Extra credit: Memorize Psalm 23:6
“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life;
And I shall dwell in the house of the LORD
Philippians, Step 7
Jim Rueb, February 24, 2021
The Bible makes it clear that it’s “…by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God--not because of works, lest any man should boast,” (Eph. 2:8-9). Amazing! So far! But there’s more than God’s grace saving me. There’s God’s grace forming me.! Thomas Chisholm describes this in a hymn I grew up singing and have never been able to theologically disparage much less personally diminish.
Living for Jesus a life that is true, striving to please Him in all that I do;
Yielding allegiance, glad-hearted and free,
This is the pathway of blessing for me.
O Jesus Lord and Savior, I give myself to Thee
For Thou in Thine atonement didst give Thyself for me;
I owe no other Master, my heart shall be Thy throne
My life I give, henceforth to live, O Christ, for Thee alone
This week’s passage from Philippians for some spiritual direction in restoring your joy includes two words not commonly associated with joy: “Worthy” and “Suffer.” Here it is…
27 Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, 28 and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God. 29 For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, 30 engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.
- Reflect for a moment on this question: “In what way(s) can my life right now be more worthy of the gospel?” (Tip: start small and be specific)
- Suffering for the sake of Christ is not common for most of us. But dealing with some crummy things going on right now is. What crummy thing in your life right now can you place more firmly in God’s hands…and then do it, moment by moment, if you keep grabbing it back?