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 there is an approach to life that allows our joy to remain

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Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you is no trouble to me and is safe for you.  Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh.

 

The Apostle Paul writes to the church in Philippi and states, “Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you is no trouble to me and is safe for you.” Joy has been a main theme of Paul’s letter thus far. He’s already told them to rejoice, but he has no trouble repeating himself. He wants the church to get it! Then, he follows this command with a word of caution, “Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh.” Three times he tells the church to “look out!” Paul’s emphatic plea suggests that, while joy is possible for all people in any circumstance, it’s elusive.

Last week, I had to repair my son’s bike tire. It had a slow leak – the kind where every time you go to ride the bike you need to pump the tire up with air. Joy feels like that sometimes. It has a tendency to leak. We’ve all felt that phenomenon. We get weighed down with the concerns of life, lulled into the monotonous hum of the everyday, only to suffer loss and disillusionment. We try to build our life on things that constantly let us down, and the joy we long for or have been told is available slips through our fingers. Some things cause our joy to leak. However, there is also an approach to life that allows our joy to remain. Life is full of joy stealers and joy sealers.

If there is one person we should listen to in regards to the pursuit of joy, it’s Paul. Many things happened in Paul’s life that could’ve stolen his joy. He was imprisoned on multiple occasions, beaten, flogged, stoned, shipwrecked three times, and in fear of his life much of the time (2 Corinthians 11:23-29). Yet, he claims there is a way of being that yields joy even in trying conditions. Paul’s approach to life determined his joy, because Paul found that Jesus actually sealed his joy. When people, mindsets, and circumstances threatened to steal his joy, Paul was aware and ready to tell his friends, “look out!” Spend some time today to heed Paul’s warning to “look out!” What are the patterns of thought or circumstances stealing your joy? Then, rejoice in the face of your trying circumstances.

 

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing,
so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.
-Romans 15:13

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By Ryan Paulson

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