In the margin of my Bible I have subtitled the book of Philippians "Joy, Joy, Joy!". It is through the study of these four wonderful chapters that I learned much about the true meaning of joy. Philippians is broken into four chapters, with four different areas that we can be joyful in.
"This letter is from Paul and Timothy, slaves of Christ Jesus.
"It is written to all of God's people in Philippi, who believe in Christ Jesus, and to the elders and deacons.
"May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace.
"Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God. I always pray for you, and I make my requests with a heart full of joy because you have been my partners in spreading the Good News about Christ from the time you first heard it until now. And I am sure that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on that day when Christ Jesus comes back again.
"It is right that I should feel as I do about all of you, for you have a very special place in my heart. We have shared together the blessings of God, both when I was in prison and when I was out, defending the truth and telling others the Good News. God knows how much I love you and long for you with the tender compassion of Christ Jesus. I pray that you love for each other will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in your knowledge and understanding. For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until Christ returns. May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation -- those good things that are produced in your life by Jesus Christ -- for this will bring much glory and praise to God.
"And I want you to know, dear friends, that everything that has happened to me here has helped to spread the Good News. For everyone here, including all the soldiers in the palace guard, knows that I am in chains because of Christ. And because of my imprisonment, many of the Christians here have gained confidence and become more bold in telling others about Christ.
"Some are preaching out of jealousy and rivalry. But others preach about Christ with pure motives. They preach because they love me, for they know the Lord brought me here to defend the Good News. Those others do not have pure motives as they preach about Christ. They preach with selfish ambition, not sincerely, intending to make my chains more painful to me. But whether or not their motives are pure, the fact remains that the message about Christ is being preached, so I rejoice. And I will continue to rejoice. For I know that as you pray for me and as the Spirit of Jesus Christ helps me, they will all turn out for my deliverance.
"For I live in eager expectation and hope that I will never do anything that causes me shame, but that I will always be bold for Christ, as I have been in the past, and that my life will always honor Christ, whether I live or I die. For to me, living is for Christ, and dying is even better. Yet if I live, that means fruitful service for Christ. I really don't know which is better. I'm torn between two desires: Sometimes I want to live, and sometimes I long to go and be with Christ. That would be far better for me, but it is better for you that I live.
"I am convinced of this, so I will continue with you so that you will grow and experience the joy of your faith. Then when I return to you, you will have even more reason to boast about what Christ Jesus has done for me.
"But whatever happens to me, you must live in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ, as citizens of heaven. Then, whether I come and see you again or only hear about you, I will know that you are standing side by side, fighting together for the Good News. Don't be intimidated by your enemies. This will be a sign to them that they are going to be destroyed, but that you are going to be saved, even by God himself. For you have been given not only the privilege of trustin in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for him. We are in this fight together. You have seen me suffer for him in the past, and you know that I am still in the midst of this great struggle."
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