Words of Worth

Guilty of True Joy

January 14, 2012

During the Christmas holidays, Sheryl and I read an Advent Devotional that was comprised of writings by Dietrich Bonheoffer who was a German pastor, theologian and ultimately a martyr for his stance against the Nazi regime and for the cause of Christ. Most of the entries were written while he was imprisoned during the final years of Hitler’s reign of destruction. A state of disbelief and terror was gripping the entire world. Every morning as I read, I found it impossible to remove myself from the context of Bonheoffer’s words. When he wrote about God being the Lord of fear, I imagined the people of the towns and villages living in a state of panic awaiting the next air raid or bombing. It changed the way I viewed Bonheoffer’s writings because I put myself into the context of his life circumstances.

Over the next several weeks, our goal for this blog is to approach the book of Philippians with the same mindset. As we read this short epistle and study its principles we plan to do so with a view from Paul’s jail cell and see how he remained joyful under extremely difficult situations.

To set the stage for Philippians, we have to first take a look at the book of Acts, which fills in many of the colorful details of Paul’s life. From beatings to shipwrecks to snakebites, Paul endured far more than we can imagine facing. Yet toward the end of his life, in defense of his position before King Agrippa, Paul states, “I am standing trial for the hope of the promise made by God…” (Acts 26:6)

Standing trial for hope. What if you were on trial for “hope of the promise”? Would you have a case? Could you be convicted? Is there enough evidence of true joy in your life to defend your position?

Take a few moments today to consider what makes you “happy” compared to what brings you great joy. Are you leaning hard into the promises of God and living in such a way that you reflect their joy? Despite your circumstances right now and they may be as dreadful as some that Paul faced, can you say “even in this I rejoice.”

In a letter from Dietrich Bonheoffer’s fiancée to him dated December 10, 1943 while he was imprisoned she wrote these words, “And now Christmas is coming and you won’t be there. We shall sing “Peace on Earth” and pray together but we shall sing “Glory be to God on High” even louder. That is what I pray for you and for all of us, that the Savior may open the gates of heaven… so that we can be joyful in spite of everything.”

Ask God to give you a mindset of pursuing a true state of joy in His presence and His provision in spite of everything you may be experiencing that could be a real joy taker for you. (CT)

“You will make known to me the path of life; and in Your Presence is fullness of joy”.
Psalm 16:11

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