In All Things: A Nine-Week Devotional Bible Study on Unshakeable Joy by Melissa B. Kruger
Any extended focus on joy in Scripture will include Paul’s letter to the church in Philippi. Thankfully, Melissa provides a handy guide for readers to practice the rhythms of observation, interpretation, and application as they work through the epistle. Wondering why we should care about personal correspondence that occurred thousands of years ago half a world away? “These are not just Paul’s words to the Philippians; these are God’s words to you.” This message still matters today—and I’d say that after the last year we’ve had, it almost matters more now than ever. If you want an infusion of joy in your life (and who doesn’t?), Melissa’s book is a great place to start.
A few especially memorable quotes:
The bedrock of our rejoicing isn’t the goodness of our day but the goodness of our God.
Profound suffering positions us to be spectacles of glory for all the world to see the beauty of Christ in us.
By choosing prayer, thanksgiving, and praiseworthy thinking, our hearts and minds are changed. God’s peace is the midwife that births our joy.
The good news of the gospel is for everyone. No one is so good that she doesn’t need the gospel, and no one is so lost that the gospel can’t find her.
When we submit our thoughts to Him, God transforms the way we think about the world and then uses us to transform the world.
Every sorrow, trial, and struggle is sifted through the hands of Christ—hands that are nail scarred and full of the deepest love imaginable.
This thing we’re searching for, this thing we’re hoping to find? Well, it’s not really a thing. It’s a person. Spoiler alert: it’s Jesus.
My big takeaway is a different perspective on prayer than I grew up with. Many sweet churches share requests every Sunday: physical healing, successful job hunts, struggling marriages. While the Father loves to hear all of our needs, “Paul prayed for things broader than immediate circumstances.” Should we pray for physical healing, successful job hunts, and struggling marriages? Of course. But let’s not forget to ask for deeper/truer/better things in the middle of those situations: greater dependence on the Lord, patience, perseverance, faith, repentance, peace, the tearing down of idols, opportunities for gospel advancement. If I can shift from viewing trials as evils to pray away rather than as ordained classrooms designed to help me grow, I can get down to the business of actually growing.
Ten journaling questions inspired by the text:
- How has God prepared a ministry for me? How has He prepared me for ministry?
- In what ways am I looking out for my own interests but missing the needs of others?
- How have I been experiencing God’s pursuit of my heart lately?
- What makes me feel important and worthy of love apart from Jesus?
- In what areas of my life am I trying to control my circumstances? Why?
- How can I grow in seeing others’ need for Christ without judgment?
- Where has my disobedience been a sign of unbelief or distrust in God?
- “I am His, and that is all I ever have to be.” What needs to change in my life for this to be true?
- Where have I been striving to please or impress myself? others? God?
- How can I put into practice the truths I already know? What is the danger of not doing so?