“Rejoice always…” ~1 Thessalonians 5:16 (NKJV)
Is it too early for me to ask you how your day is going? Are you already having one of “those” days, when things just seem to be oppressing or demanding? I think those are the times when we should stop and give thanks. What? You ask. But, how many times have you read in Scripture: ‘count it all joy, when . . . ?’
Allow me to return you to a time and place some two thousand years ago. The place is part of the Roman Empire. The government is oppressive and authoritarian, and it brooks no dissent or disorder. Turmoil of any kind is quickly dealt with. There was a man, in fact there were several men, but one in particular that I am thinking about. This man and his companion were arrested, placed in stocks in the deepest recesses of a dark and dingy Roman prison in a place called Philippi (see Acts 16:16-34).
This prison was nothing like our modern prisons. It was cold, dark, and dank. The place surely had a pall over it which made for a sorry and lamentable situation. But, when we read the letter to the Philippians, written by the man, we don’t get the impression that he was the least bit concerned about his circumstances. Unable to sleep, they sang and prayed and ministered to the rest of the prison population. Of course, the man’s name is Paul, the apostle.
At the time he wrote the letter to Philippians, we’re told he was “in chains.” He might have even been “handcuffed” to a Roman guard. (Pity those guards, for Paul was fiery preacher!) But the point is that, regardless of his circumstances, Paul saw things in a much clearer light than we often do. He wasn’t so easily bummed out. Isn’t it interesting the things that upset us and ruin our days? Most of them are just little “ankle bitters,” those little annoyances that set us off for no apparent reason.
Paul found lots of opportunities to give thanks and to be joyful. He saw circumstances in a positive light: But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel, so that it has become evident [. . .] that my chains are in Christ.” He goes on to say that his difficulties actually emboldened others to“speak the word without fear.”
It may be that your challenges will turn out for someone else’s good, today. The psalmist also understood where to find joy when he needed it.
“You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” ~Psalm 16:11 (NKJV)
Pastor John Roberts
Please welcome our Sunday morning contributing writer, Pastor John Roberts. John is the pastor of New Hope Fellowship in the great Northwest where he resides with his wife of 46 years.
Heather says – See Amazon’s reminders of our joy in the Lord here:
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