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Posted by: Angena on Thu, Apr 20, 2006
Joy in a Jail Cell
Here's the first of more excerpts from SOUL MATTERS FOR TEENS -- a book that Jen and I picked up from Jesus Book & Gift Store. We hope that it will provide wisdom, and show you all how to apply God's word in your lives. If you have something to share about any entry (like why you agree or how you struggle with that issue), you are free to do so
TO THINK ABOUT
Joy in a Jail Cell
- What is one thing you have that you really had to work long and hard for?
- Did your efforts make the accomplishment more valuable?
- What is something that will come to you in the future only if you persevere?
Bible Study passage: Philippians 4:10-19 I do not mean that I am ready as God wants me to be. I have not yet reached that goal, but I continue trying to reach it and to make it mine. Philippians 3:12
Philippians is known as a book about joy -- some form of the work "joy" appears in nine verses in this relatively short letter -- despite being written by Paul from a Roman prison. In both his words and his actions, Paul asks us to be glad in spite of suffering (ch.1), in the midst of humble service (ch.2), and in the face of fear and anxiety (ch.4).
But is it practical to think that we can rejoice in any situation? When a parent dies? When a friendship crumbles? When a family member hurts us? Is it even healthy to find joy in such times?
Note that Paul does not state to be happy because of hardship; he says rejoice despite and in the midst of pain. Paul doesn't call us to wish for hardship and pain in our lives, but he does call us to be overcomers in all circumstances
And Paul knows what he's talking about. This is the man that was stoned and beaten, shipwrecked, suffered from a painful physical sickness, lives with the guilt of being a persecutor of innocent people in his past, and was imprisoned and sentenced to death for his faith. But like the Energizer Bunny, he just kept on going and going and going. Why? How? He was a man of joy.
Paul's final message to the Philippians concerns the way this church cared for him during his trials. He says that their gifts and compassion were " a sweet-smelling sacrifice offered to God, who accepts that sacrifice and is pleased with it" (4:18). Helping someone else persevere is a fragrant, pleasing prayer to God!
Yes, life can be difficult. But even in the midst of suffering we can stand firm -- and help others to do the same -- as we joyfully keep going with God's help.
Did you know that perseverance and failure cannot coexist? Why? Failure only happens when you quit. Remember, whether you are dealing with a relationship, a spiritual issue, or a personal soul, as long as you keep trying, you are in the game.
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