1Therefore, my beloved brethren whom I long to see, my joy and crown, in this way stand firm in the Lord, my beloved.
2I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to live in harmony in the Lord.
3Indeed, true companion, I ask you also to help these women who have shared my struggle in the cause of the gospel, together with Clement also and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.
4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!
5 Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near.
6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.
9 The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
10 But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned before, but you lacked opportunity.
11 Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.
12 I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.
13 I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
14 Nevertheless, you have done well to share with me in my affliction.
15 You yourselves also know, Philippians, that at the first preaching of the gospel, after I left Macedonia, no church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving but you alone;
16 for even in Thessalonica you sent a gift more than once for my needs.
17 Not that I seek the gift itself, but I seek for the profit which increases to your account.
18 But I have received everything in full and have an abundance; I am amply supplied, having received from Epaphroditus what you have sent, a fragrant aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well-pleasing to God.
19 And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
20 Now to our God and Father be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
21 Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. The brethren who are with me greet you.
22 All the saints greet you, especially those of Caesar's household.
23The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.
~ Philippians 4
I unearthed my bible recently- and enjoyed reading scripture today. My soul was parched from the recent drought, and I was left, chaffed and cracked-pining for rest, comfort, and encouragement. I read all of Phillipians but the last chapter really struck me and drowned me with sweet, wet contemplations. All of the scripture I've read has got me to thinkin' and I've been hiding verses and concepts away all day long, to bring out and contemplate at any moment that pops up. It's always incredible how the Lord leads me to a scripture most suited for my needs when I am so low I don't know where to look, or even where to start.
Chicken scratched and uneloquent, here are my thoughts:
What is joy? Do I find pleasure in buying clothes or craft supplies? What about in the compliments of others? Having the latest electronics to show off? A snazzy car? The most-filled library? The best curriculums? Does true joy come from having a gorgeous garden or stocked shelves of homegrown food? Does it come from well-behaved children...or just HAVING children? Does it come in the form of a beautiful home? A clean home? Or maybe just in the HAVING a home?...
Can JOY be found even though it seems as if nothing is going right in life? Nothing is turning out as had been expected, or dreamed? Is God worthy of praise even when things are not as I would have liked them to be? Do MY desires TRUMP God's plan? Are MY plans better than God's? Do I feel like I could do a better job ordering my life on my own, without HIS help? Is He less merciful, less full of grace, less omniscient, less loving if He has planned my life in ways I do not yet understand, if hardships and trials I must face?
JOY is not circumstantial. If joy IS circumstantial, if joy IS dependent upon the 'high times' in your life, and not the low-then it is not true JOY. JOY can be found without any of these things. Paul wrote Philippians while imprisoned and there he was JOYFUL.
There is no fault in finding joy in HAVING things, making things, DOING things. The fault comes when it becomes something that you need. If you buy a piece of furniture to feel good only to be met a few weeks (months, etc) down the road itching to meet the self-same need because a "pick me up" is needed, then it becomes the feeding of an addiction. The need to have joy is great, but true JOY must be obtained in a more difficult way, and so we replace TRUE joy with temporary joy (or happiness) in order to fill the void. If only for a moment.
Superficial, "Replacement" joy comes from:
"What I want"
"What I need"
"What I deserve"
"What will make ME happy"
All superficial joy is...just that, superficial. Selfish, prideful, individualistic. It is all about ME.
True JOY comes in the form of:
All of these things, take notice, require self sacrifice. All of these things take the emphasis off of ourselves.
Suffering: who wants to suffer? Who would choose that for themselves? We have to put away and sacrifice our own level of comfort.
Serving: Shouldn't WE be the ones served? Pride is our natural tendency. To become humble is a difficult path to walk on. Esteeming others better than yourself goes against our very nature. Doing things for others often equals being taken advantage of in our minds.
Believing: Why CAN'T we depend on ourselves? We want to be in control? This too, goes against our very nature.
Giving: I know the old adage "Tis better to give than receive." We remind ourselves of this, because it is a constant struggle to remember. It is harder to give than to take.
How can we tell the different between true JOY versus superficial joy?
Superficial joy is circumstantial. True joy is constant.
Superficial joy is about the seen, what we can show off. True joy comes from things unseen and untangible.
Superficial joy draws everything to ME, with no expense too great. True joy means putting ourselves and desires LAST.
"Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me."