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Welcome to “Word from The Center” MONDAY, a devotional word from the Center of our faith, Jesus Christ, with reflections on His Word. I’m Gregory Seltz. Today’s passage is Philippians 4:4-7, where St. Paul writes,

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.


Catherine Marshall, a New York times best-selling author and wife of Dr. Peter Marshall, former Chaplain of the Senate, shared this compelling experience of her friend Marge on a flight to Cleveland:
As [Marge] settled into her seat, she noticed a strange phenomenon. On one side of the airplane a sunset suffused the entire sky with glorious color. But out of the window next to her seat, all Marge could see was a sky dark and threatening, with no sign of the sunset.

As the plane’s engines began to roar, a gentle Voice spoke within her. “You have noticed the windows,” He murmured beneath the roar and thrust of the takeoff. “Your life, too, will contain some happy, beautiful times, but also some dark shadows. Here’s a lesson I want to teach you to save you much heartache and allow you to abide in Me with continual peace and joy.”

“You see, it doesn’t matter which window you look through; this plane is still going to Cleveland. So it is in your life. You have a choice. You can dwell on the gloomy picture. Or you can focus on the bright things and leave the dark, ominous situations to Me. I alone can handle them anyway. And the final destination is not influenced by what you see or feel along the way. Learn this, act on it and you will be released, able to experience the peace that passes understanding."
Now it is hard for me, as a Detroit boy, to use a story that compares a “plane flight to Cleveland” with one’s joy-filled journey to heaven! But the illustration about the “certainty of one’s destination” makes the point clear. In spite of the realities of each window, that plane’s destination was sure. What a great way to illustrate the graced life of a believer in a sinful world, calling us to remember that no matter the challenges in this world (the windows) our eternal destination with Christ is sure. The daily challenge then is how to frame your daily walk until you see Christ face to face. Will you dwell on the sunsets or the storms? Will you trust in the certainty of the destination or will you be overwhelmed by the challenges of each day? I think that’s what Paul is getting at when he says, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice.”

Now, we need to differentiate “joy” from “happiness.” Happiness is something dependent on our temporal circumstances, what happens to us day to day. Joy is different. It’s not a by-product of our actions or of our best efforts. The Bible says that joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22). Joy is a result of God’s action on our behalf, a blessing that comes when we are in a faith relationship with the One who redeemed and reconciled us to Himself again. That’s why Paul says, “Rejoice in the Lord.” It is about knowing Him. It’s knowing that He is with us and that His promises are true for us, no matter the circumstance. It’s about knowing and believing that the guilt we struggle with or the fears we possess are issues that He has taken “head on” on the cross. Our troubles are His; His life is ours. That’s JOY!

So today, put His joy to work in your life! Face the challenges of the day knowing the joy of how precious your life is to Christ. Because of the gift of joy in Him, we can face the challenges of the day. Because of joy in Him, we can deal with whatever is outside each window, whether gloomy clouds or sunshine, and not be overwhelmed or seduced by either. In joy, we can be assured that “God works all things together for good to those who love Him” (Romans 8:28). Here’s to the challenges and the opportunities of your life of faith in Christ. Here’s to JOY!
PRAYER – Dear Lord Jesus, give us courage to be an honoring people in a dishonoring world. Also give us humility to be a believing people in an unbelieving world so that others might get to know You as Lord and Savior. AMEN.



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