Focus – With Joy

John Hoag, NBBI Chancellor

Conscious that at my age I have more days behind me than before me, I am preparing for the “stretch run” and have been reading Paul’s epistle to the Philippians. I have turned to the epistle of Joy as I remembered with fondness my predecessor, Ken Robins who so role-modeled the joy of the Spirit. Paul’s prayerful remembrance of the Philippians caught my attention and two words leaped out, “with joy”.

Philippians 1:3-4, “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy.”

Paul wrote the letter to the Philippians as servant to saints. That was not just a formal salutation from Paul it was the “culminating characteristic” of a humble man’s lifetime ministry for God. He respected and loved the people of God who he refers to as saints. He thanked God for them and his prayerful remembrance of them was always accompanied with joy. Joy characterized the apostle Paul’s ministry from start to finish. Joy was a career choice goal for Paul, Acts 20:24. It can be defined as cheerfulness, inner calmness, and when included with the word “rejoice” in this epistle, can be found 16 times in these few short chapters.

Paul’s joy came not from having the conveniences of comfortable living; it came from conforming to the will, Word and work of God. The will of God brought Paul to Philippi and, the Word of God is what he preached and taught there. He met a praying woman named Lydia; a demon possessed woman whose conversion led to a riot in the city, landing Paul in prison. In difficult circumstances, Paul and Silas sang praises at midnight and the jailer was converted, took Paul into his house, fed him and “rejoices, believing in God with all his house.” There is nothing that brings joy to a godly person’s heart than “productive prayer meetings”, “powerful workings of God” and “conversions in the midst of controversy”. Paul remembered the past with joy.

Paul addressed the present with concern over the disunity, murmuring, disputing and self-centredness that prevailed in their service for Christ. Christian workers working under the Holy Spirit are, in the words of the late A.W. Tozer, “Co-labourers not Competitors.” Paul encouraged the factions to “Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be like minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.” Joy is a mark of Spirit-control and A.W. Tozer said it best, “As long as His Spirit is in control, there can be no such thing as competition by those who are under that control.”

Post by: John Hoag, NBBI Chancellor

This article appears in the May 2010 Open Bible Bulletin. (available in pdf)

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