Joy in All Days

This morning I heard that today is officially the most depressing day of the year. The reasons this psychologist gave were the following: It is dark for a long time; New Years resolutions have mostly been broken; Christmas debt have shown itself, and the poor weather has gotten old. This psychologist’s conclusions are enough for me to not want to listen to one. The reason is that they would encourage our joy to be found in things or in ourselves. But what we see from the Word of God is that true joy and satisfaction is only found in one place: the throne of God.

For the last six or so months the Jr High has been going through the book of Philippians. WIthin the book of Philippians, Paul repeatedly shares the command to rejoice. And as every Jr Higher can tell you, he’s writing this book from jail, not usually a setting that encourages joy. What do you think the reaction of the believers in Paul’s time was when they found out he was in jail? It probably sounded something like, “OH NO!! Paul’s in jail! Is God in control? Why would this happen?” Remember how important Paul was to the church. Remember what he meant to these young believers. If we were in charge of organizing Paul’s life, I doubt any of us would have planned for a couple stays in jail. But we aren’t the ones in charge of planning our lives.

Some people think that Paul should not have gone down to Jerusalem, and was in jail as a result of Paul’s own sin. This view is definately a valid thought. Look at Acts 21:4. Men were telling Paul in the Spirit not to go on to Jerusalem, but he did not listen to them, and continued on. In Jerusalem he was arrested, and shipped off to jail. Eventually he found himself in Rome, where he penned these books.

Was Paul in jail as a result of his disobedience? i think that conclusion can be drawn and is safe. Did God use Paul’s sin to bring about a greater good? absolutely. Without this stay in jail, we may never have had the books of Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, or Philemon. God used Paul’s own failure.

And Paul’s joy was increased in the situation. He was humble to admit that the work would continue though he was in jail. And his present situation did not steal his joy. Paul’s joy was not in the success of his ministry. Paul’s joy was obviously not in material things, personal pursuits, or his position in life. Paul’s joy was “in the Lord”.

If Paul’s joy was in anything else, it would have been rocked. If Paul’s joy was found in anything else, it would not be a lasting joy, because nothing else in life is reliable. Let this heart of Paul be a lesson to us to make sure that our joy is found in God alone, and cannot be lost no matter what situation life brings us.

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12 comments on “Joy in All Days

  1. Jen says:

    Tim, Glad to hear that you can take the Daily Bread, and give it some meat! We had a good conversation with the kids last night about that as well! Encouraging!

  2. Beth says:

    I didn’t know Paul was in jail b/c he was being disobedient. It also seems like God was constantly needing to humbling him- his ministry was successful, he saw heaven! It would be very hard to submit to men after seeing heaven!

  3. Beth'sMomToo says:

    I’ll have to think about the disobedience thing. Just because he was told what would happen when he “went UP” (I promise not to tell Todd Bolen ๐Ÿ˜‰ to Jerusalem, he was willing to suffer it in order to do what he needed to do. It reminds me of the disciples telling Jesus NOT to go, yet Jesus knew it was what He needed to do and He did it KNOWING the outcome. The key would be the interpretation of Acts 21:4. Did they tell him not to go because the Spirit had revealed to them the future events and they were making a human response of not wanting Paul to suffer OR did the Holy Spirit command Paul not to go via these disciples? The Greek says “…who told Paul through the Spirit (Genitive Case- “through”, NOT Instrumental Case “by means of” – not sure if that has any significance) not to go up to Jerusalem.” When you read ahead to Acts 21:13-14 it appears that Paul was supposed to go even though he knew the outcome. “The will of the Lord be done.”

    I really liked the rest of the post though. It is certainly a lesson we need to learn!

  4. Beth'sMomToo says:

    P.S. Nice art! The first painting looks like a modern attempt at Mannerism. The second definitely looks Rembrandtish. Do you happen to know who the painters were?

  5. T-Bone says:

    The first piece of art is from a guy that has painted a lot of biblical characters, I believe. The first is by Kenneth Wyatt

    The second is by Rembrandt. good eye.

    As far as the thing goes with the issue as to whether Paul should have gone ‘UP’ to Jerusalem was difficult for me to swallow the first time i heard it. Then i discussed it with my Greek Prof and he says that the people were testifying of the Spirit.

    If you look at the Greek, while pveuma doesn’t always mean Holy Spirit, the article is there, and the genetive preposition ‘dia’ is there, meaning it was an action through the Spirit to tell Paul this.

  6. T-Bone says:

    Jen- was this in daily bread. I didn’t get it from that. I haven’t looked at that in years.

  7. J.R. Freiberg says:

    Acts 20:22-24 makes me hesitant to take Farnell’s view.

    word of the day: rgijkt

  8. T-Bone says:

    that was my initial objection ot the idea. i love that passage where Paul is saying goodbye to the church at Ephesus, but the thing is that it could have been God’s will to go to jerusalem, just not at that time. Or maybe that was his conviction, and he was to go to Tyre.

    Regardless, whether it was God’s desire for him, it was obviously within God’s permissive will for him to go to Jerusalem. I just think that Paul got caught up in the martyr spirit. He knew what would happen to him in Jerusalem, and the spirit did testify to him (20:24) that he’d face beatings wherever he went.

    The truth remains that people approached him through the spirit saying not to go.

  9. Ian says:

    I was going to mention the Acts 20 passages, also. There are other times in Paul’s ministry when he either wanted to go somewhere and was not permitted to, or told to go somewhere by the Spirit. Paul was definitely aware that he would suffer, and was definitely told so by the Spirit. We get a clue as to the nature of the reason behind those sufferings in his words, penned while he was imprisoned, “for me to live is Christ, and to die is gain”.

    In Acts 9:15-16, God told Ananias that Paul was “a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name,” and that He would, “show [Paul] how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.” I think its pretty clear that Paul’s sufferings were always intended to be part of his ministry, and not a result of his specific action.

    That being said, however, the main point of your post stands. It astounds me how much we Christians complain and how wrong it is for us to label all suffering as bad. The “health and wealth” gospel is a blight on evangelicalism. Studying/contemplating/discussing this topic was probably one of themost beneficial converstations I’ve had, spiritually, over the past year or two. Let me recommend one of the books I read last year that speaks about Christian suffering: “The Healing Path”, by Dan Allender; it is well worth a read.

  10. Beth'sMomToo says:

    God determined that Paul would suffer in his ministry (See Ian’s Acts 9 ref). But the fruit of that suffering was Paul’s “rejoice-full” relationship with God. Whether he suffered because he didn’t obey an injunction from the HS (it hadn’t even occurred to me to translate it as the disciples’ spirit – I have to remember it can be spirit or Spirit, and look for the definite article ๐Ÿ˜‰ or because it was just part of God’s plan for him is probably a moot point. As you said, it was in God’s “permissive will”. Did his suffering have a humbling effect as Beth suggested? Sure. Did it make him rely on God? Sure. Did it bring him ultimate joy? Sure.

    I’d still like to know how you think 21:13-14 fits in.

  11. Jen says:

    Yeah Tim, it was!

  12. Beth says:

    Duh- of course it was the genetive preposition!

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