The book of Philippians is the book of Joy! It’s our joy manual, and, really, who doesn’t want a joy manual? The Bible as a whole celebrates joy and joy words; they are found over 840 times in the Bible! Wow, that is a lot. Paul wrote the book of Philippians, and he was full of joy. He experienced joy in some of the worst circumstances, really bad times, yet he was singing out with joy. How the heck did he do that?
It seems to me that Paul was able to determine his joy stealers, so even while he was in prison, he did not let the joy stealers invade his space. He created a sacred space of joy all around him; he was able to allow joy to break through. When he wrote Philippians he was actually chained to a Roman soldier, and because of the perspective he had developed in his life he was able to share his joy with the soldiers that chained him. Pauls perspective completely focused on a lens of passion for Jesus. No matter what was going on in his life, he saw it through the eyes of Jesus, the lover of his soul.
Pauls lens of passion for Jesus influenced his thoughts. He figured out that thoughts will steal joy instantly. Our thoughts must be based on the love of Jesus and who he has created us to be. If you struggle with worry, then you know about joy stealers. Worry will sap the joy right out of your system and leave you drained and discouraged. When your mind is set on the things that bring joy you will find the cure for worry. When thoughts live in a place of excellence and truth; joy manifests a fruit beyond measure. One of the fruits you will see is unity. Unity within yourself. Unity with Jesus. Unity with others. Pauls prayer is this: “My prayers for you are full of praise to God as I give him thanks for you with great joy! I’m so grateful for our union and our enduring partnership that began the first time I presented to you the gospel.” Philippians 1:3-4
A unified Christian Body entails everyone, not just the leaders, the one group of church goers, or the one denomination. No, unity is every believer in your city who make up the the Body of Christ. All believers are as one. Paul stressed the importance of being wrapped into Christ. We are not wrapped into the current movement, the hip church, the latest leader. Our standing position must be wrapped into Christ Jesus and then we are able to set our mind on excellence which in turn produces joy!
This is kind of weird, but I have a joy spot in our home. Every time I walk down our hallway I feel a deep abiding joy. I always have, and I am starting to believe that angels reside there. They have positions down our hallway that exude a sense of joy in Jesus. It is an unexplainable feeling in most ways. It’s not like I hang out in the hallway, but I do walk it frequently. One thing I learn from this, as well as Paul’s experience is that Joy is found in unexpected places, like prisons and hallways. If we can learn to think outside the box of where we believe joy is found, and open our hearts to the unexpected surprises of Jesus, joy will invade our spaces. The best part of this? It will spread as praise flows from our lips for the unexpected joy.
This reminds me of another time when I was in the hospital delivering our child that had died in the womb. It was devastating. But, somewhere in the experience as my husband lay next to me with his arms around me I felt an incredible sense of peace and joy. I knew God was in that room wrapping me with an unexpected gift. My mind was able to focus more on this gift than the loss, at least momentarily. To me, that is wondrous.
Is there a particular place that you feel joy? Is there a moment that stands out for you in which joy was prominent? Do you have joy stealers in your life today that over ride your thoughts and leave you void of joy? I am praying for the unexpected to take you away today and overwhelm you with warmth and joy. I am praying that you will find unity with Heavenly Father, and His Body of believers that surround you.1