This post is adapted from my newest women’s Bible study, Joy: A Study of Philippians.
If you’ve mailed me a letter, I probably still have it. I treasure handwritten words because the writer has something special to say. Maybe the letter is filled with news and updates. Or perhaps it contains humbling words of thanks. Often, it includes encouraging words and tender reminders. Sometimes it contains carefully crafted remarks that challenge or hold me accountable. One of my favorite parts of personal letters is the valediction, the complimentary close, such as “Blessings, my friend,” “With a grateful heart,” or “Yours in Christ.” Each closing expresses the heart of the writer, with honor and regard for the recipient, and often includes a word that conveys relationship, like “friend” or “yours.” I keep all types of personal letters, emails, and social media messages and reread them when I need a good word or two.
You’ve received such a letter. Okay, probably many such letters, but I’m speaking of one in particular. The heart of the writer overflows with joy with each word. That writer is the apostle Paul, and while the first recipient was the Early Church he founded in Philippi, every word is penned personally for you and me too, as God the Spirit inspired the letter writer. This letter is often referred to as the Letter of Joy. Like other letters we may have received, it is chock-full of news, updates, and humble words of thanks. It’s also bursting with encouragement and tender words of truth. And if you’re ready for a challenge, this letter contains an exhortation of the best kind—to live a life worthy of the Gospel of Christ, by the grace of God!
Rejoice Every Day
The English language falls short in giving the word joy a worthy definition. When I asked Google to define joy, I received, quite simply, “a feeling of great pleasure or happiness.” Is joy just an emotion? Is joy synonymous with happiness?
Some days, we may exclaim, “I am filled with joy!” Mountaintop moments are easy to recall: vacations and births, successes and weddings. But is it possible to find joy in the mundane? Every. Single. Day?
Yes! As you study Philippians, you’ll begin to recognize reasons to rejoice every day! You’ll find them in Scripture and in God’s truth lived out in your life . . . on your everyday days and your extraordinary days. On your trying days and your triumphant days. Can you be full of joy each day as the apostle Paul was? (Spoiler alert: absolutely!)
Although the joy-filled, Spirit-inspired words of Paul were shared first with this faithful Early Church, they quickly became a part of the original canon of Scripture, God’s living and active Word for us. God gives us the same encouragement, exhortations, warnings, reassurance, and, above all, good news of His saving grace for us in Christ Jesus.
New Women’s Bible Study
In my new women’s Bible study, Joy: A Study of Philippians, the Letter to the Philippians is divided into eight weeks of study for a total of forty sessions. This format is intended to encourage you toward daily devotion time, providing direction for it and joy in it. Here’s what you’ll find in each session:
- JOY theme
- Philippians verses
- Information on the cultural or historical backdrop or a relevant fact as it applies to the topic of the session
- JOYFUL life-application challenge
At the end of each week is a Group Study overview if you go on this journey with others. Whatever your study looks like, Joy is complete with these opportunities:
- View the optional video segment.
- Review every JOY Theme from the week.
- Talk about your favorite JOYFUL Challenge.
- Share a JOY Snapshot.
- Express JOY!
- Open and close with prayer.
A Valediction Blessing
May God’s guidance lead you to JOY as His grace carries you through your study. Rejoice in the Holy Spirit’s work through the Word and in your life today!
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. (Romans 15:13)
Joyfully yours in Jesus,
Adapted from Joy: A Study of Philippians, pages 6–9 © 2019 Deb Burma. Published by Concordia Publishing House. Scripture: ESV®.
Joy is now available for your group or individual study.