Monday, May 30, 2016

Grace That Leads to Joy - Part 2

Tuesday, May 31, 2016
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.  Philippians 4:23(NLT)
Yesterday I told you about the 22 year old boy named Ricky who died in an accident, and how, in the face of terrible pain, there was joy – peace that passes understanding
I can imagine that was something like the joy Paul felt, sitting in a Roman jail.  He and Ricky had similarities; both were educated, energetic, and ambitious.  In their respective fields they were tops! 
But Paul had lived his life, accomplishing much for the cause of Christ, and now he was in prison, in danger of being executed as a common criminal – all because of his faithfulness!  And in the middle of all that, Paul would say joy
I want you to know, beloved; there is only one thing in this entire universe that can make a person joyful in the midst of that kind of circumstance:  It is the grace of Almighty God. 
Grace makes you joyfully grateful
 Even so, you have done well to share with me in my present difficulty.  Philippians 4:14(NLT)

For others' participation

            Paul was grateful for the gift brought by Epaphroditus.  None of the other churches had shared in the financial needs of his ministry, and Paul was joyfully grateful because the Philippian church had a proper sense of why they were giving. 
It was not just for Paul's sake; they knew they were ministering with their gifts.  With the gifts God gives each of us, as Maxie Dunham wrote ...we act on behalf of each other, knowing that we are acting for the sake of God."[2] 
In the daily arena of life God provides that which we cannot do for ourselves.  Margaret Trudeau, wife of Canada's Pierre Trudeau wrote in her autobiography of meeting Britain's Queen Elizabeth:
I was wearing a brand-new haute-couture suit and very high-heeled shoes.  I was extremely nervous.  As I sank into a deep curtsy, it became crystal clear to both of us that I was not going to make it up again.  Without altering her expression by as much as a flicker, the queen strengthened her grasp, tensed all the muscles of her right arm, and drew me up to my feet with a grip of iron, smiling steadily all the while.[3]

For God's purpose

Paul was working to see the gospel spread; that was his call from God.  The circumstances were not wonderful, but he could see the purpose of God being worked-out, even in his misery. 
And I want you to know, my dear brothers and sisters, that everything that has happened to me here has helped to spread the Good News.  Philippians 2:12(NLT)
Paul could see.  That means he was able to look past the circumstances, and see God's hand at work.  Often I am blind in this area.  I sometimes seem to live my life succumbing to the principle that it’s tough to remember you were sent to drain the swamp when you are surrounded by alligators.  What I SEE is the circumstance – great big green, saw-toothed, nasty gators.  What I really need to remember is that those circumstances are often what God has to work with, considering the material (me) He has to start with.
Even more important is that, those circumstances which He allows to pile up in my face are there by His design to accomplish His purpose.  I can trust better when my will is surrendered to His purpose. 
I can be joyfully-grateful that He loves me that much!

For You Today

Are you joyfully-grateful for some of the tough things you’re facing?
You chew on that as you hit the Rocky Road today…have a blessed day!


[1] Title Image: By Meghana Kulkarni from Pune, India (Happiness), via Wikimedia Commons
[2]Dunham, Maxie D., THE COMMUNICATOR'S COMMENTARY VOL. 8, (Waco, Word Inc., 1982), 320
[3]Trudeau, Margaret, BEYOND REASON, (Paddington Press, As quoted in Reader's Digest)

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