Tag Archives: circumstances

Finding Deep Joy in a Sad, Shallow World (A Study of Philippians) Part 6 JOY and Circumstances

The Apostle Paul uses the word JOY (and its variants) sixteen times in this epistle of Philippians. Let’s notice Paul’s third use of this word in 1:18-19 —

Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, 19 for I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance.

Paul is in prison! How can one rejoice — in prison?!

The key to rejoicing here, I suggest, is that Paul knew that God was in control. He had confidence that his imprisonment had not happened by accident. It was not without purpose. And he looked forward to his eventual release.

Some of you know that each year I teach a survey of Bible doctrine class to lifers at our local prison. These men have come to know Christ, many of them, while incarcerated. In the seven or eight years that I have taught my course there have been a few who were Christians before prison and made some terrible choices (one was even a pastor). Sometimes my desire to know the specifics of why these brothers are in prison — most for life — is very strong. But I don’t need to know those details. My job is to help prepare them for ministry as assistant prison chaplains (the program of study being conducted by Columbia International University).

Paul continues to rejoice, even though he is in prison. And I can imagine that his circumstances were much worse than that of the brothers I work with here. How do we rejoice in our present circumstances? Several truths help us here:

1. Scripture tells us to be thankful in all things, not for all things (I Thes. 5:18). We are not to be thankful for sin or for evil actions. But we are to “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (NIV)
2. Our text today gives us two truths that will help us keep our JOY in trying circumstances. The first truth is the prayers of others! Paul says, ” I know that through your prayers . . . what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance.” How much do you and I count on the prayers of others? Probably far too little!
3.The third truth that will help us rejoice in circumstances is also in our text: ” I know that through . . . God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance.” We ask God to provide us a sense of the Spirit’s presence in our lives as we live for Him.

Want to keep your JOY as you go through your various circumstances? In Philippians 4 Paul says, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.” Recognize that God is sovereign in your life situation right now. Begin to ask for prayer from others that you will honor Christ in what you are going through. And depend on God’s Holy Spirit to comfort and guide you where you are. (to be continued)






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Posted by on April 27, 2019 in joy


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A Challenge to My Prayer Life! (Time for a Great Quote)


Posted by on June 3, 2018 in circumstances


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Psalms of the Salter: Some Thoughts on Really Living for the Lord (Psalm 77)

Psalm 77

For the director of music. For Jeduthun. Of Asaph. A psalm.

I cried out to God for help;screen-shot-2016-09-24-at-6-00-31-am
    I cried out to God to hear me.
When I was in distress, I sought the Lord;
    at night I stretched out untiring hands,
    and I would not be comforted.

I remembered you, God, and I groaned;
    I meditated, and my spirit grew faint.
You kept my eyes from closing;
    I was too troubled to speak.
I thought about the former days,
    the years of long ago;
I remembered my songs in the night.
    My heart meditated and my spirit asked:

“Will the Lord reject forever?
    Will he never show his favor again?
Has his unfailing love vanished forever?
    Has his promise failed for all time?
Has God forgotten to be merciful?
    Has he in anger withheld his compassion?”

10 Then I thought, “To this I will appeal:
    the years when the Most High stretched out his right hand.
11 I will remember the deeds of the Lord;
    yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.
12 I will consider all your works
    and meditate on all your mighty deeds.”

13 Your ways, God, are holy.
    What god is as great as our God?
14 You are the God who performs miracles;
    you display your power among the peoples.
15 With your mighty arm you redeemed your people,
    the descendants of Jacob and Joseph.

16 The waters saw you, God,
    the waters saw you and writhed;
    the very depths were convulsed.
17 The clouds poured down water,
    the heavens resounded with thunder;
    your arrows flashed back and forth.
18 Your thunder was heard in the whirlwind,
    your lightning lit up the world;
    the earth trembled and quaked.
19 Your path led through the sea,
    your way through the mighty waters,
    though your footprints were not seen.

20 You led your people like a flock
    by the hand of Moses and Aaron.

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Posted by on December 11, 2016 in despair


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Time for a Great Cartoon! (rough day!)

Screen Shot 2014-10-12 at 8.24.16 AM

How we start our days really matters, doesn’t it?

For Calvin, he knows that his day isn’t going to go very well because it’s snowing and he has to go to school and he would prefer to put his pjs back on, make some hot chocolate, and read comic books all day. Or at least, “until the world looks more encouraging.”

When might the world look “more encouraging”? That’s one of the many benefits of being a believer in Jesus — we don’t need to start our day looking to see if the “world looks encouraging”! The Lord is to be the focus of our lives. HE is the One who should cause us to rejoice in a new day to serve Him!

Aren’t you glad that your daily joy does not depend upon the weather, your personal circumstances, or the state of the world?

Your thoughts?

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Posted by on May 28, 2016 in joy


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Time for a Great Cartoon! (Life’s Tragedies)

Screenshot 2016-01-05 19.36.41

“Unbearably tragic” — Do those words sometimes describe what you are going through? We might overuse the word tragic. Some teenage girls might call a broken fingernail tragic (some teenage guys are too self-absorbed to see anything as tragic!). Real tragedies are a burned-down house, a daughter’s broken engagement, a son’s near-fatal car accident (all of which my family has experienced).

Without the Lord, I don’t know how anyone deals with the tragedies of life! He is our Rock. He is our Comfort. He is the One who sustains us and gives us peace when life is falling apart around us.

I grew up on the King James Bible and I love the verse which says, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee; because he trusteth in Thee” (Is. 26:3). Please notice:

1. “Perfect peace”: Not a tad of calmness or a trace of tranquility, but perfect peace.  Not a peace we manufacture through positive thinking.

2.  “whose mind is stayed on Thee”:  Focusing on Him instead of our present calamity!  Valuing Him above all other matters in life.

3.  “because he trusteth in Thee”:  Trust is not a once-for-all injection of spiritual adrenaline.  My trust in the Lord is tested every day.  Sometimes by small matters; occasionally by large, punch-in-the stomach circumstances.

How about you? Right now?  Is your life more like a new crayon Screen Shot 2016-05-05 at 6.40.05 AM“lined up in order, bright, and perfect”?  Or more like “a bunch of ground-down, rounded, indistinguishable stumps, missing their wrappers and smudged with other colors”?   Don’t stand there, immobilized and lamenting your situation.  Allow the Lord to paint the picture He wants to paint with the colors that you have.  Right now.

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Posted by on May 23, 2016 in tragedy


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Psalms of My Life (Psalm 57)

Psalm 57

For the director of music. To the tune of “Do Not Destroy.” Screen Shot 2015-02-18 at 7.45.23 AMOf David. A miktam.[b] When he had fled from Saul into the cave.

Have mercy on me, my God, have mercy on me,
    for in you I take refuge.
I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings
    until the disaster has passed.

I cry out to God Most High,
    to God, who vindicates me.
He sends from heaven and saves me, rebuking those who hotly pursue me—[c]
    God sends forth his love and his faithfulness.

I am in the midst of lions;
    I am forced to dwell among ravenous beasts—
men whose teeth are spears and arrows, whose tongues are sharp swords.

Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let your glory be over all the earth.

They spread a net for my feet—
    I was bowed down in distress.
They dug a pit in my path—
    but they have fallen into it themselves.

My heart, O God, is steadfast,
    my heart is steadfast;
    I will sing and make music.Screen Shot 2015-02-18 at 7.48.06 AM
Awake, my soul!
    Awake, harp and lyre!
    I will awaken the dawn.

I will praise you, Lord, among the nations;
    I will sing of you among the peoples.
10 For great is your love, reaching to the heavens;
    your faithfulness reaches to the skies.

11 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens;
    let your glory be over all the earth.


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