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“But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them; and suddenly there came a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison house were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s chains were unfastened.” ~Acts 16:26-27 (NASB)

The original reason for founding the town of Philippi was to control the gold mines that were nearby and to establish a military garrison under the rule of King Philip II of Macedon. Later on down the historical line some dudes named Mark Antony and Octavian confronted the assassins of Julius Caesar on a plain west of the city. After Marcus Junius Brutus and Gaius Cassius Longinus were defeated the city was reorganized into a Roman colony. When Octavian became Emperor and the Roman Senate gave him the title “Augustus”, the Praetorian Guard became part of the citizenry and a “Miniature Rome” was established. This miniature Rome was left abandoned by the Ottoman Empire sometime in the 14th century and it ain’t nuttin’ but ruins now.

Perfect back drop for one of the most infamous sayings ever to be found in the Bible, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved.” (Acts 16:30) Then comes another infamous saying, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you shall be saved, you and your household.” (Acts 16:31) A whole lotta stuff happened in Philippi while Paul and Silas were there. We meet a woman named Lydia. She is wealthy, owns a home and after her conversion turns that home into a meeting place of this first church plant in Macedonia. Lydia also becomes the patroness of Gospel messengers while they are in Philippi.

We also meet a slave girl who has a “Python spirit” that Paul casts out from her. This action ticks off those who have profit from her divination and these same people seize Paul and Silas and have them tossed into prison. The Charges? “The whole city is in an uproar because of these Jews!” they shouted to the city officials. They are teaching customs that are illegal for us Romans to practice.” (Acts 16:20-21) “Nough said!! They were stripped down, beaten with rods and thrown into the inner most of a Roman jail with their feet in stocks. So I guess after a while one gets in the mood to sing hymns of praise to God? Eh…why not?

This place musta been real heavy on Paul’s heart while he was in a prison in Rome because he writes them a letter that does nothing but pour out outrageous joy and encouragement. I can almost see the smile that Paul has on his face as this letter is being written, remembering them as babes in Christ, ink flowing. Kinda makes me wonder what has happened over the centuries to us believers, followers and doers of Christ. Are we smiling when we claim Jesus Christ as Savior? Are we smiling when we share Jesus as Savior? Are we smiling at all at the name of Jesus? Or are we like the Grinch who stole Christmas before he actually stole Christmas?

Well over the next moments of time (as long as it takes me I guess) I’ll be sharing with some insights I got from this really cool Bible Study I ran into by Charles Swindoll titled, “Maybe it’s time to Laugh Again: Experience Outrageous Joy”. It’s a study of Philippians and I’ll tell ya as of right now it’s kinda convicting. Just like there being 4 chapters in Philippians there are 4 embedded principles of joy we should be aware of:

1. Joy in living—Chapter 1

2. Joy in serving—Chapter 2

3. Joy in sharing—Chapter 3

4. Joy in resting—Chapter 4

So I hope you’ll be joining me as I dig into this study. Maybe you could get the study for yourself ($8.99 Kindle, $10.58 paperback from Amazon) and you could e-mail me your thoughts. (I might use them in my writing with your kind permission, of course). If ya can’t get the book but have a Bible e-mail your thoughts on joy right from the Scripture. Brothers I know that we get all crazy with saying “Every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess” but until then how about we put a smile on our face and increase its value because it shines for Jesus? After all, we should count it all a joy…Amen?

E-mail me at cphughes515@verizon.net

Written by Chris Hughes: Chris, a graduate of The Colony of Mercy (11-2003) is married with two adult children (you may remember them from summer staff) and serves on the Deacon Board at Trinity Alliance Church in Cologne NJ

The Daily Bible Reading: Psalm 119; Proverbs 28

Daily Quote: “Joy. You don’t see it very often nowadays. It’s certainly not in the newspapers or nightly news. It’s not even in many churches. Have you noticed the looks on the average Sunday morning crowd? One word comes to mind—grim. Rows of overcast faces forecast dreary to mildly depressing days, with little or no chance of any laughter.” ~Charles R. Swindoll

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

 We wait in hope for the Lord;
    he is our help and our shield.
In him our hearts rejoice,
    for we trust in his holy name. ~Psalm 33:20-21

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