When the angel appeared to the Shepherds while they were out in the fields keeping watch over their flocks, the angel announced, “Don’t be afraid! Look! I bring good news to you – wonderful, joyous news for all people.” (Luke 2:10 CEB). The promise that accompanied the coming of Christ was “Joy.”
The Apostle Paul discovered this in his own life and when he wrote to the Philippian Christians he talked a lot about joy. He knew that real, genuine, joy that comes from living in a relationship with Jesus was not dependent upon circumstances. It did not come and go with the rising of the tide in our lives. Rather, it was something that ran so deep that it could give life abundant even when there seemed to be no apparent reason for being joyous.
Paul also knew that this sort of genuine joy doesn’t just happen. It is the result of living the way Christ taught us to live. This is part of why he wrote to the Philippians. He wanted them to understand that even though life could be harsh, circumstances could be against you, people could be unkind to you, and the political environment could be divisive and filled with bitterness, it is still possible to live joyously.
With that as a background, this Sunday we are beginning a series of sermons entitled, “Living Joyously.” Over the next few weeks we will take a journey through Paul’s letter to the Philippians and listen to what he had to say to them in the hope that by doing so, we can live more joyous lives today. Among others, we will look at such subjects as living wisely, learning to be content, making friends with enemies, and finding blessings in our adversity. This Sunday, we will start by looking at the first word that Paul offered to the Philippians and the last word he gave to them.
I want to invite you to start the New Year off right by coming this Sunday and being with us for as many of this series of services as possible. In fact, let me encourage you to ask a friend to join you. I believe this is one of the greatest needs in our society today and I believe this is a series that can make a difference in people’s lives.
In order to properly prepare for the series, let me suggest you do two things. First, I want to encourage you to read all the way through Paul’s Letter to the Philippians in one setting. It will only take you about fifteen to thirty minutes. Second, please be in prayer for the clergy as we seek to share the “good news of great joy” with you!
See you Sunday, if not before!