But the Jews stirred up the devout and prominent women and the chief men of the city, and stirred up a persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and threw them out of their borders. But they shook off the dust of their feet against them, and came to Iconium. The disciples were filled with joy with the Holy Spirit. Acts 13:50 WEB
As Paul and Barnabas preached, many people believed, but sometimes entire towns threw them out. They did not let it get to them, but shook it off, and went on to the next town. During all of this rejection, Luke wrote 'The disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.' Their joy did not come from their circumstances, but from their relationship with God.
Paul later wrote 'Not that I speak in respect to lack, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content in it. I know how to be humbled, and I know also how to abound' (Philippians 4:11). Paul concentrated on the invisible and eternal knowing that God was in control of His situation. His mind was fixed on Jesus, and that is where his strength came from (v13).
Once after Paul and Silas were beaten and thrown into prison, they were praying and singing hymns to God, when there was an earthquake and everyone's chains fell off (Acts 16:25). Peace, joy, and contentment, were a lifestyle for them.
There is a joy and peace obtainable that surpasses our understanding and our circumstances. 'The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus' (Philippians 4:7).'for the joy of the Lord is your strength' (Nehemiah 8:10). 'You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You; because he trusts in You' (Isaiah 26:3).
I spent some seasons of my life working in construction. Many of those around me were just working for the weekend, which meant they were pretty miserable during the week while waiting for it to arrive.
There was this one particular guy that had a horrible attitude, he always seemed angry at the world. He watched me for a while, then one day while I was washing my hands before lunch, he walked up and asked me 'Why are you so xxxx happy all the time? What's wrong with you?'
Though I know it would have been a great time to witness, it surprised me as I did not realize that I was that happy myself. It seemed natural enough to me, but after looking around at the others, I could see that it was mostly, just me.
Those days I often worked in a man lift sixty feet in the air, mindlessly painting a giant warehouse. I could not attend church because I worked a twelve hour shift every Sunday while the plant was closed. So I listened to the Bible all day on a set of headphones that I carefully hid under my hard hat and spray mask. While meditating on the Word, I began praying and praising God under my breath. I just thought of it as a way to pass the time.
After a while, I was as carefree as an eagle. Pranksters would come by my man lift, switch it to ground control, and bounce me up and down, which when extended out sixty feet can be terrifying, but I could not care less and they eventually lost interest. 'I have put my trust in God. I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?' (Psalms 56:11).
Meditating on God's word calmed my mind and brought His peace and joy in a special way. Spending time praying and praising God brings a deep settled peace that is hard to be shaken. Hearing about the end of the world only brings a smile and a spark of hope that we will soon be with Jesus. God's word is treasure, and timeless. It worked for Paul, it worked for me, and it will work for you.Prayer: Heavenly Father please give me a hunger for Your word and make me able to understand and retain it. Fill me with Your peace and joy. Help me to focus on eternal things and not the temporary, in the name of Jesus Christ I pray
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