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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K I N G D O M

The blind, the leprous, and the lame
Sought the Gracious One who came
Stretched forth a hand in dire need
And from redemptive curse were freed
In the Father’s name!

Death and demons—all the same
To the Blessed One who came
And made acquaintance with our grief
Stretched forth a hand and brought relief
In the Father’s name!

And now it falls to followers who
Through faith reborn—created new
To show the world a “kingdom come”
A Father’s will that’s “being done”
“on earth as it is in heaven”

And so we stoop to Christ-like serve
Even those who don’t deserve!
For we ourselves were scattered sheep
Over whom our Lord would weep
In the Father’s name!

If we, like Him, who bore our sorrow
Bring help and hope and new tomorrow
Help them touch the Garment Hem
Why, the Kingdom’s surely come to them
In Jesus’ lovely name!

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Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

–Matthew 6:9-10

“Heal the sick… and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near
to you.’”
–Luke 10:9

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