Joy

Rejoice!
The man (imprisoned!) wrote
And though enchained the joy-full note
Transcended dungeon, guard, and fetter
Enthused the Spirit’s lovely letter
And bid us grace and peace

Rejoice!
In every prayer of mine!
For fellow branches in The Vine
The gospel spreads! And this is true
The One who began this work in you
Will bring it to completion

Rejoice!
For Christ has more acclaim
When servants suffer for The Name
Though one may live or one may die
There’s joy when Christ is lifted high
Who grants eternal life

Rejoice!
And strive to be as one
Like the Father and His Son
Like Jesus drawing humbly near
Regard the more our brother dear
More dearer than ourselves

Rejoice!
Again I say, “Rejoice!”
With calm secure contented voice
For we have cast on Him our care
Knowing that He hears our prayer
And guards our hearts

Rejoice!
I want you all to hear it!
Your prayers… the gracious Holy Spirit
Shall deliver me yet once again
No matter what may come… amen
For to die is gain!

–Paul’s letter to the Philippians


REFLECTIONS

David Edwin Harrell, an American Historian and Religious Scholar, said something at a lectureship in southern California many years ago that I have never forgotten. He said that anyone who could write such a joy-filled letter, filled with as much gratitude and encouragement for others as this one is (while in prison), is a fellow who is either a complete lunatic, or a fellow who really has his head set on straight! A faith that can deliver a letter like this from a place like that is a faith worth looking into. Another friend of mine, Mike Mendez (missionary and minister of the Gospel), once told me something equally memorable, that true JOY is to be found in the ability to put Jesus first, Others second, and Yourself last. Something Paul illustrates very powerfully in this amazing letter. May the God of true joy be with and bless you all; and, may He sustain you with a profound and deep-seated joy that will be with you and persist even in times of great sadness and trial.


T H O R N

Grievous & Gracious Gift!
Given to
One who saw celestial view
To thwart all pride
All wayward boast
And point Paul to
What mattered most
The grace of Christ…

Sorrowful Souvenir!
Much, much more
Than the grief or scars themselves he bore
That trial that one
Must constant bear
And carry with him
Everywhere
The cross of Christ…

Alm of Affliction!
Given when
The unutterable by mortal men
Was heard by Paul
Who, despite torment
Grew satisfied
And well-content
With the power of Christ…

Angel of Satan!
Messenger of
An apostle’s affliction allowed by love
Constant Companion
Divine Distress
That produces
The trust and nobleness
We see in the character of Christ…

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“I know a man in Christ who, fourteen years ago, was caught up to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows. And I know that this man was caught up into paradise… and he heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter. On behalf of this man I will boast, but on my own behalf I will not boast, except of my weaknesses— though if I should wish to boast, I would not be a fool, for I would be speaking the truth; but I refrain from it, so that no one may think more of me than he sees in me or hears from me. So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

— 2 Corinthians 12:2-10
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S P I R I T

A rushing, mighty wind is he
Hovering o’er a darkened sea
A breath of life for you… for me!
So wise beyond the knowing

A presence coming to us here
Dispelling doubt and crushing fear
Enabling us to persevere
With power beyond the knowing

A fiery pillar guiding well
A holy presence near to dwell
Offerings… incense… what lovely smell!
And truth beyond the knowing

A gifting presence giving grace
Offering to a fallen race
The likeness of their Father’s face
And mercy beyond the knowing

Helper… Comforter… gentle dove
Descending to us from above
Given to us unworthy of
A love beyond the knowing

But One was Spirit filled and led
The inspired word of God, His bread
The Spirit raised Him from the dead
And we… well…
…we have come to know Him!

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“And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding so that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.”

–1 John 5:20

“But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord…”

–Philippians 3:7-9

“You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.”

–Romans 8:9-11
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