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8 // A Radical Community

Characteristic 4: Joy in all Circumstances

Read Acts 2:42-47 & 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10 – Characteristic 4: Joy in all Circumstances

“And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit,” (1 Thessalonians 1:6) In the midst of terrible persecution and hardship, The early church stayed focused on God instead of their own situation even in the face of terrible hardship and persecution. As a result, regardless of circumstances, they lived with a joy others struggled to understand. These words from the unknown author of the Epistle to Diognetes: “They love all men, and are persecuted by all. They are unknown and condemned; they are put to death, and restored to life. They are poor, yet make many rich; they are in lack of all things, and yet abound in all; they are dishonoured, and yet in their very dishonour are glorified. They are evil spoken of, and yet are justified; they are reviled, and bless; they are insulted, and repay the insult with honour; they do good, yet are punished as evil-doers. When punished, they rejoice as if quickened into life.” The writer Aristides even presented a letter to the Emperor Hadrian describing the uncommon joy of early believers: “Every morning and all hours on account of the goodness of God toward them, they render praise and laud Him over their food and their drink; they render Him thanks. And if any righteous person of their number passes away from this world, they rejoice and give thanks to God and they follow his body as though he were moving from one place to another.”  The church community should be a place of perpetual joy. Hardship and problems are not often a choice but a joyful attitude can be. I’m sure the apostles, including our friend Matthias, were constantly amazed by the joy the believers found in the gospel despite their circumstances and perhaps it reminded them of Jesus’ own words “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” (John 15:11)

Pray today:

· Pray for those in our church family that are facing challenging circumstances. Pray that whatever we face, we might find the ‘full’ joy of Jesus in us by His Holy Spirit.

· Why not grab a concordance and look up 5 verses about joy? What does this tell you about how we can live with joy like the early church?

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