“Joy” is a fascinating word. If I were to ask you, “How joyful do you feel right now?” What would your response be? When it comes to joy, maybe it all depends upon whether you have had your morning cup of coffee yet. Where does your joy come from? How would you define the word “joy”?
I am very excited about a brand new sermon series we are kicking off in church on Sunday that will lead us through the Book of Philippians. This short letter from the apostle Paul is extravagantly loaded with joy! All too often, both we as the church and culture, confuse the pursuit of happiness with the gift of joy which can lead us to living in some pretty dangerous places spiritually and relationally. Life is not soda and lollipops all the time. If you were to skim the Bible, it quickly becomes clear that God never promises happiness in this life, but He does say we can know joy and peace. True joy and peace are gifts from God that come through a relationship with Jesus Christ. Through our upcoming sermon series called The Rebel’s Guide to Joy, we will be exploring Paul’s letter to the church in Philippi, as he speaks from one rebel to another, where true joy comes from. As we read his letter, it is as if we are peering into the journal of one of the spiritual giants of the faith. His words are not for the faint of heart, but give incredible hope in the midst of the deepest challenges of life. Paul should know, he is in prison while writing this letter, not entirely sure what will happen to him, yet through it all points us to the source of his joy … Jesus Christ.
Have you been struggling with finding joy in life? Not feeling much peace? If this is where you are at, I encourage you to join with me as we step into God’s Word to the Philippian church which can teach us a lot about finding joy and peace during challenging times.
The following video does an excellent job of putting an image to the life-change God desires for us. He takes us, the rebels that we are, and claims us as one of His own dearly loved children. Paul reminds us with the opening words of his letter to the Philippian church the good news that we are “IN” Christ (Philippians 1:1-2). Because we are “IN” Christ, He is the one leading the way, taking on the brunt of what life has to offer. There is an unseen battle going on all around us! Being “IN” Christ means that when He died on the cross and rose from the grave, these victories are our victories. Every day we die to our old selves, and every day we rise again. And when we are Baptized, we are literally drenched “IN” the Name and Person of God as the old self is put to death, receiving the full rights as sons and daughters of the King (Galatians 4:4-7). Now that is a jump for joy moment, for sure! Satan and the world throws some pretty cruel and ugly things at us, but in all things, Paul points us to “the” place where there can be joy to the fullest: in Jesus Christ.
As we work our way through the Book of Philippians, I would love to begin a dialogue about joy. Feel free to write below about your stories and experience with joy and peace. Do you have a favorite Bible passage about joy or some verses that have been a source of comfort during a challenging time? Let’s get the dialogue going, spurring one another on in the faith set out before us (Hebrews 10:23-25)!
From the words of Paul himself:
So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:1-11)
Do you have your jumping shoes on? On your marks … get set … jump for joy, sheep!
Servant of Christ,