Paul’s letter to the Christians at Philippi has been called “Paul’s love letter to a caring church”. His love and affection for them come out in every one of the four chapters it has been divided into. There is reference to joy and rejoicing about nineteen times in this short letter. It is full of thankfulness, joy, happiness, and encouragement.
This is quite something when you realise that Paul is writing it from a prison cell. It is the last of his letters written from prison. He is in chains, in a cell, trusting to be delivered, but he’s ready for heaven if he isn’t! He has an amazing attitude toward the future. He says in chapter 1:24 that he is pressed for a choice; whether to go and “be with Christ, which is far better” or, to stay and be a blessing to them. Paul knew how to be filled with joy even in discouraging and sorrowful circumstances.
Christmas is a time of joy. God’s messenger Angel declared to the shepherds “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you glad tidings of great joy..” Luke 2:10. The day of God the Father’s provision and offer of salvation had arrived. Yes – Isaiah prophesied concerning Jesus that he would be “ A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief” Isaiah 53, but he goes on to say “Surely He has borne all our griefs and carried our sorrows”. His joyful birth and sinless life on earth ended with a shameful death, but “Because of the joy that was set before him, he endured the cross and despised the shame and is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God” Hebrews 12:2. In His last talk to His disciples He comforts and assures them with the words “these things I have spoken to you that my joy may remain in you and that your joy may be full”. John 15:11
Praise the Lord. Times are tough for many but by God’s grace, like Paul, we can “rejoice in the Lord”; “whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory” 1 Peter 1:18
Be blessed and encouraged as you have a joy-filled Christmas.