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NIV is used unless otherwise noted.

Ode to Joy … hold out the word of life

It is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purposeso that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life—
Philippians 2:13-16

Ever singing, march we onward,
victors in the midst of strife;
joyful music lifts us sunward
in the triumph song of life.
—Henry Van Dyke, Hymn to Joy, 1907

What is God’s good purpose then, or His “good pleasure (KJV)? What brings Him joy? It is you, letting God work in you to hold out the word of life.

Don’t let the words “blameless and pure” mess with your mind. You are both, because of Jesus—your sin debt was cancelled on the cross (blameless); you were declared innocent (pure). The Spirit in you lives to conduct the symphony of joy to new heights.

Yes, the world around us seems to be more crooked and depraved than would bring us joy. Paul believes if you hold onto the word of life with both hands, your feeling of joy will multiply.

And he believes it pleases God immensely when you hold out the word of life to this depraved and crooked generation. You will then shine like stars in the universe. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus said, “You are the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14). He needs His stars to shine the light of His Divine Joy through.

As Paul punctuates his epistle to Philippi with the call to: Rejoice in the Lord always (Philippians 4:4), he tucks in this compelling verse: Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near (4:5). Gentleness becomes the way we portray the joy of Jesus to our generation. You have a story—tell it gently, with joy (1 Peter 3:15).

Also live it with joy. You see, joy emanates from the quiet, inexplicable peace of God, free from anxiety (4:6-7), filled with the hope of eternity. Joy truly is the “triumph song of life”.

Nancy P

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