Week 27: Rejoice in the Lord

Today’s Text: Philippians 3-4

Key Verse: 3:1

“Finally, my brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord.”

The apostle Paul was a man who experienced many things in his life.

Early on, he was well trained in the Jewish law, extremely well trained.

He was zealous about his faith, and became a persecutor of followers of the “Way” because of his religious views.

Then, God intervened in his life in a powerful and dramatic way.

Blinded, face down in the dust, humbled, Paul was led to a new life.

He became not just a follower of the Way, he became a zealous apostle in his own right.

Today, thousands of years later, we still read all that he wrote, reflect on all that he did, and stand amazed at the depth of his thought, the fullness of his faith, the power and courage of his witness for Christ.

That’s why, given all that he went through, and all that he suffered for his faith, I am impressed every time I read these words from his writings:

“Finally, my brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord.”

It would be understandable if Paul’s life was marked by a kind of pious sorrow, given all that he suffered.

Instead, it is marked by joyful faith, even in the face of persecution and certain death.

Paul is a wonderful model for us to follow today – as persecution lifts its ugly head once again – against followers of the “Way” around the world.

I do not suffer the persecution many of my brothers and sisters in Christ suffer around the world. I am currently blessed to serve a small, friendly, relatively happy congregation of believers, in a free society, and for that I am grateful.

I have much for which to rejoice.

The challenge is that I know one day I may be called upon to rejoice in far less happy circumstances.

May God give me, and by brothers and sisters around the world, the courage and faith to rejoice if and when that happens.

By Paul Simrell

The Reverend Paul W. Simrell has served for over thirty years in a variety of congregational and institutional settings. He is a recognized minister with standing in the Virginia region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada and is nationally endorsed by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) for specialized ministry in both pastoral counseling and chaplaincy. Ordained in 1982, he has served congregations in Kentucky, Texas, Florida, and Virginia. He currently serves as the pastor of Elpis Christian Church, a small, historic congregation located just a few miles west of Richmond, Virginia. “Elpis” is the Greek word for “expectant hope.” He is a graduate of the University of Florida and Lexington Theological Seminary and has done advanced clinical training in chaplaincy and pastoral counseling at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky, Children’s Medical Center and Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas and the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care in Richmond, Virginia. He is a Certified Pastoral Counselor, an ACPE Practitioner, a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors, and a member of Spiritual Directors International. He is a Certified Facilitator of the Prepare-Enrich relationship assessment and skills-building program and served as a volunteer chaplain for over twenty years with the CJW Medical Center campuses in Richmond, Virginia. His avocational interests include playing the piano and drawing. He is very happily married to his wife Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell, a free-lance writer, who is also a Certified Facilitator for the Prepare-Enrich program. Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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