A life of joy

One of the words we often hear as Christmas approaches is “joy.” We sing “Joy to the world, the Lord has come!” We wish each other “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays” when we greet them – even people we don’t know. Yet many people aren’t living lives of merriment, happiness, and joy.

What exactly is “joy”? The dictionary defines it as: “a feeling of great pleasure and happiness” (Oxford Dictionary of English). The Greek word we find used in the writings of the apostles is “charas” and refers to gladness and often the people that are the cause of one being glad. Continue reading “A life of joy”

Journal from jail

I thank my God every time I remember you, in all my prayers for all of you I always pray with joy” (Philippians 1:3,4).

The book of Philippians is usually used as a devotional book. One liners and sweet thought-for-the-day type writings abound on this book. Fourteen times in its four chapters the word “joy” or its cognate “rejoice” is used in this letter. Is Philippians really the “Vanna White” of Paul’s epistles? Is it merely the lightweight amongst heavyweights such as Romans and Galatians? Or are those wonderful devotional thoughts such as “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13) or “for me to live is Christ” (Philippians 1:21) simply skimming the cream off the top? Are there depths rarely plumbed in this book? Continue reading “Journal from jail”

No Matter What Happens

Humans tend to justify their lack of faith in Christ or their obedience to God by blaming unfavorable circumstances. Sometimes, people may blame God himself. The one-talent man blamed his master for being hard and inflexible. Adam blamed Eve, whom God gave to him, and Eve blamed the serpent.

The mind works expertly to find reasons why faith isn’t viable or why obedience is too hard, complicated, or impossible.

The apostle Paul heads off this tendency when writing to the Philippians. He knows, like most good missionaries, that his absence might provide an excuse for the converts to let up on efforts to serve God. Continue reading “No Matter What Happens”

Whether through difficulty or ease

Some scriptures tend to be more popular than others. Often these verses are memorized and are characterized by offering us hope and relief. Among these popular texts, Paul’s letter from prison to the Philippians contains a number of texts that stand tall offering comfort and inspiration.

In any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of contentment, whether I go satisfied or hungry, have plenty or nothing. I am able to do all things through the one who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:12,13).

Paul’s secret can be ours. A deep satisfying contentment can be ours. Real freedom from crushing situational distress exists. They need not rule our lives nor how we evaluate our lives. However, all of this comes at a price.  Continue reading “Whether through difficulty or ease”