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.


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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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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V O Y A G E R

The Christians Barque_William Condron

God’s Holy Word, what miracle!
Many books… yet one book
Sails down through the centuries on stormy seas
Tacks true through the eons and still intact
Those in service to the Adversary
Strive to sink her through the Ages
Still, she’s seaworthy and more than capable
Of weathering future storms
She has crested the towering swells
Of persecution without capsizing
She has borne the brunt of
The crashing, criticizing wave and has not broken
She has faced the howling gales
Protesting and profane without swerving
Amazing Page… How sweet the words…
That rescues wretches and sustains!
She is our strength, our hope, our refuge
The Believers Barque
And when Death books passage
Our charter home
For this we know
Her sails were woven and are filled
With the breath of the Holy Spirit
She was rigged
By the hand of God Almighty
And every plank and timber is held fast
By the very nails that pierced
Our Captain and our Savior
And with His blood
He has christened her!
Love’s Voyage
That begins and ends with Him.

(Christian Barque illustration by: William Condron, Tucson, Arizona)

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