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People need hope more than ever. As followers of Jesus, we have this promise in Colossians 1:27.....Listen to Radio Podcast featured on Moody Radio April 17 2024 

Wednesday-Not Just Plain Vanilla Joy


So then, welcome him in the Lord with great joy, and honor people like him, because he almost died for the work of Christ. He risked his life to make up for the help you yourselves could not give me.


Philippians 2:29,30


Everyone, and I mean everyone, wants joy. People are on the lookout for it all the day long. They search for joy in their life, on their phones, everywhere they go. They may not say it, or even know it, but they’re looking for joy at every turn.


And there’s all kinds of joy out there. There’s the joy of your favorite team winning a regular season game. There’s the joy of getting into the playoffs. And with each playoff victory, there is added joy. And then it becomes overwhelming if you win the championship. There’s the joy of a first date. And then the second date. The first kiss. Engagement. Marriage. Your first child. Your other children. Your first grandchild. More grandkids.


Funny thing about joy is that it comes and goes. It’s like the sun, it rises and falls. It’s here one minute and then gone the next. It’s like a roller coaster, so exciting that you can’t help laughing. But then, the ride’s over, and so is joy.


That’s why Paul tells the Philippians to welcome Epaphroditus, The Big E. He’s been away for a while, so their joy with him has definitely gone down. It needs to be restarted. To be rekindled. The light switch of their joy towards him needs to be turned on.


And how do you do this? How did Paul tell them to light their joy towards The Big E? It starts by the way the Philippians are to welcome him. There’s a right way to do it. They are to directly face him. Their facing The Big E starts when he arrives and is to continue while he’s there.


That’s the secret for bringing joy into your life, by being face to face with people. Now, I’m all for technology. And during the pandemic, we had to keep our distance from one another. But as soon as possible, we need to get back to directly facing one another.


Like many of you, we went forward to take communion before Covid. We then changed to receiving the Lord's Supper through an individual packet that included a wafer and some juice. They were handed out by friendly masked volunteers who had on latex gloves. And that was fine.


This past Sunday was the first time in a long time that we went back to going forward to receive the bread and the cup. Instead of being isolated in our seats, we were with one another again. We were face-to-face once more. I have to tell you that it was so great to be face to face with others that love The Lord our God. It certainly brought joy.


Now joy is a good thing. Joy by itself is terrific. Joy comes from believing in God.[1] Joy is the second piece of the fruit of the Spirit[2]. The Joy of the Lord is our strength[3]. In God’s presence there is fullness of joy[4]. And so much more. But Paul doesn’t tell the Philippians to receive The Big E with joy. They’re not to be limited by the normal, everyday, garden-variety joy. No, they’re to go above and beyond the regular kind of joy they experience and share.


They’re to welcome The Big E with great joy. A joy that reaches out and celebrates everything that God has done for them. They are to joyfully remember how The Lord has blessed them in and through The Big E. They are to have a great kind of joy that looks back at how God has used The Big E in their lives. When you do something with great joy, it’s like looking at the Grand Canyon. You don’t stop and stare at each and every tree as you drive there. You don’t carefully examine all the bricks on each and every building.


No, when you get to the Grand Canyon, you take it all in. You look at the big picture. You start from the left and slowly move your head, looking at all the magnificent colors and shades. You look at the rock formations, how they rise up. You can’t stop noticing all the layers of rocks and their magnificent color.


If you’re like me, your jaw drops, opening your mouth in silent wonder. The sight is just amazing. You don’t stop and take a picture of every stone. There’s just too many of them to try. You just have to take it all in.


That’s how we’re to think on and remember all the goodness that God brings. We can’t remember all the details, each and every thing that he does. We’re to appreciate and think about God’s overwhelming love and grace for us.


Paul reminds them that The Big E served The Lord and them with so much of himself that he nearly died. His life was spent in service. He was so exhausted that it was like death had moved in next door. Death was by his side. He had risked everything he had and was for them.


I’d bet my last dollar that you don’t know many people like that. If you do know someone who serves Jesus like that, be so very grateful. Show them respect and thankfulness for all they do. And when you do, you both will have more than just plain vanilla joy.


Noodling Questions


  • How much joy is floating around our lives?

  • Where do we destroy and ignore God’s joy?

  • Is your joy plain joy or something extraordinary? Explain.

[1] Acts 16:34

[2] Galatians 5:22

[3] Nehemiah 8:10

[4] Psalm 16:11

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