HOW TO HAVE JOY IN THE LORD
A. Paul always chose the places where he was to preach with careful strategy. Philippi was no different!
1. Even today - many of the places remain great road centers and railway junctions.
2. The title of "Colony" - was given by the Roman government to a city, that it wished to honor for faithful service!
a) It was like a little ROME!
(1) The Roman language was spoken. Roman attire was worn, Roman customs observed, and Roman titles given to the magistrates.
(2) The entire city of Philippi reeked with the pride of Rome!
(a) Acts 16:20 (NKJV) And they brought them to the magistrates, and said, "These men, being Jews, exceedingly trouble our city; 21 "and they teach customs which are not lawful for us, being Romans, to receive or observe."
B. Paul went to Philippi on his second missionary journey as a result of a vision he had of a man from Macedonia beckoning him to come!
1. While he was there a friendship developed that was closer than that which existed between him and any other church.
a) In fact they were the only church that he agreed to accept a gift from.
2. He writes this letter while in prison in Rome, and it is a letter of thanks.
a) It talks of Epaphroditus, another gift sent by his friends in Philippi, to minister to Paul's needs while in prison.
b) It is a letter of encouragement in their times of trial.
c) And it is an appeal for unity!
(1) You see, a couple of ladies in the church were arguing and disrupting the peace.
(2) And there were false teachers seeking to destroy the church’s faith.
C. I have entitled these teachings in Philippians, “How to have Joy in the Lord!”
Neh 8:10 Then he said to them, "Go, eat of the fat, drink of the sweet, and send portions to him who has nothing prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength."
Pro 17:22 A joyful heart is good medicine, But a broken spirit dries up the bones.
1. Often you will find Christians just “eeking by” in their walks.
2. Doing what they do out of a sense of duty, but having no joy in it at all!
3. Philippians show us how to have and maintain that joy.
D. As a bit of background for our study, let’s first take a look at Acts 16:8.
1. Act 16:8-40 and passing by Mysia, they came down to Troas. (9) A vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing and appealing to him, and saying, "Come over to Macedonia and help us." (10) When he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them. (11) So putting out to sea from Troas, we ran a straight course to Samothrace, and on the day following to Neapolis; (12) and from there to Philippi, which is a leading city of the district of Macedonia, a Roman colony; and we were staying in this city for some days. (13) And on the Sabbath day we went outside the gate to a riverside, where we were supposing that there would be a place of prayer; and we sat down and began speaking to the women who had assembled. (14) A woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple fabrics, a worshiper of God, was listening; and the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul. (15) And when she and her household had been baptized, she urged us, saying, "If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house and stay." And she prevailed upon us. (16) It happened that as we were going to the place of prayer, a slave-girl having a spirit of divination met us, who was bringing her masters much profit by fortune-telling. (17) Following after Paul and us, she kept crying out, saying, "These men are bond-servants of the Most High God, who are proclaiming to you the way of salvation." (18) She continued doing this for many days. But Paul was greatly annoyed, and turned and said to the spirit, "I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her!" And it came out at that very moment. (19) But when her masters saw that their hope of profit was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the market place before the authorities, (20) and when they had brought them to the chief magistrates, they said, "These men are throwing our city into confusion, being Jews, (21) and are proclaiming customs which it is not lawful for us to accept or to observe, being Romans." (22) The crowd rose up together against them, and the chief magistrates tore their robes off them and proceeded to order them to be beaten with rods. (23) When they had struck them with many blows, they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to guard them securely; (24) and he, having received such a command, threw them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks. (25) But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them; (26) 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. (27) When the jailer awoke and saw the prison doors opened, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. (28) But Paul cried out with a loud voice, saying, "Do not harm yourself, for we are all here!" (29) And he called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas, (30) and after he brought them out, he said, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" (31) They said, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household." (32) And they spoke the word of the Lord to him together with all who were in his house. (33) And he took them that very hour of the night and washed their wounds, and immediately he was baptized, he and all his household. (34) And he brought them into his house and set food before them, and rejoiced greatly, having believed in God with his whole household. (35) Now when day came, the chief magistrates sent their policemen, saying, "Release those men." (36) And the jailer reported these words to Paul, saying, "The chief magistrates have sent to release you. Therefore come out now and go in peace." (37) But Paul said to them, "They have beaten us in public without trial, men who are Romans, and have thrown us into prison; and now are they sending us away secretly? No indeed! But let them come themselves and bring us out." (38) The policemen reported these words to the chief magistrates. They were afraid when they heard that they were Romans, (39) and they came and appealed to them, and when they had brought them out, they kept begging them to leave the city. (40) They went out of the prison and entered the house of Lydia, and when they saw the brethren, they encouraged them and departed.
II. Phi 1:1-5 Paul and Timothy, bond-servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, including the overseers and deacons: (2) Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (3) I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, (4) always offering prayer with joy in my every prayer for you all, (5) in view of your participation in the gospel from the first day until now.
A. So this letter is from Paul and Timothy - a couple of “slaves” (bondservants), to the church in Philippi.
B. Here is the step #1 in “How to Have Joy in the Lord”:
1. Have your mind on others instead of yourself!
a) 3 I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, 4 always offering prayer with joy in my every prayer for you all,
b) We often spend entirely too much time thinking about ourselves.
(1) That’s enough to depress anyone!
III. Phi 1:6-8 For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. (7) For it is only right for me to feel this way about you all, because I have you in my heart, since both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers of grace with me. (8) For God is my witness, how I long for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus.
A. Paul reassures them (and us) that the work the Lord is doing in their hearts is a lifetime work!
1. That is why you will find saints in their 70’s & 80’s still learning of God’s grace and mercy.
B. Here is step #2 in “How to Have Joy in the Lord”:
1. Have your heart set on others!
a) (7) For it is only right for me to feel this way about you all, because I have you in my heart (and) (8a) how I long for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus.
b) Joh 15:11 "These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full. 12 "This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.
c) Mat 6:19-21 "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. (20) "But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; (21) for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
(1) If we spend most of our time thinking about ourselves, what does that say about our treasure?
d) OK, let’s suppose that the Holy Spirit reveals to us that this is a problem in our lives. How do we change it?
IV. Phi 1:9-11 And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, (10) so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ; (11) having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.
A. Here is Step # 3 in “How to Have Joy in the Lord”:
1. Have your prayers set on others!
a) Paul really loved these folks, and real love prays!
b) He wanted them to have true Christian character, filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.
c) As Christians, we have heard many times that “prayer changes things.”
(1) I think the greatest “thing” prayer changes is us when we pray for others.
(a) If you want your mind and heart to be “others” focused, start praying for them.
(b) Now, Paul wants to explain how Christ has been glorified by his imprisonment.
V. Phi 1:12-21 Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel, (13) so that my imprisonment in the cause of Christ has become well known throughout the whole praetorian guard and to everyone else, (14) and that most of the brethren, trusting in the Lord because of my imprisonment, have far more courage to speak the word of God without fear. (15) Some, to be sure, are preaching Christ even from envy and strife, but some also from good will; (16) the latter do it out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel; (17) the former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition rather than from pure motives, thinking to cause me distress in my imprisonment. (18) What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and in this I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice, (19) for I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayers and the provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, (20) according to my earnest expectation and hope, that I will not be put to shame in anything, but that with all boldness, Christ will even now, as always, be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. (21) For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.
A. Step #4 in “How to Have Joy in the Lord”:
1. Give God the glory in everything!
a) . . . . with all boldness, Christ will even now, as always, be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.
b) Often we are the Lord’s “fair-weather” friends.
(1) Glorifying Him when times are good, and griping when times are tough!
(2) Remember joy is not happiness. We can have joy, like Paul even when we are in our own “jails”.
A. Phi 1:22-24 But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose. (23) But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better; (24) yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake.
1. “I want to go be with the Lord, but I could be of more use to you if I live.”
B. Phi 1:25-30 Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy in the faith, (26) so that your proud confidence in me may abound in Christ Jesus through my coming to you again. (27) Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; (28) in no way alarmed by your opponents--which is a sign of destruction for them, but of salvation for you, and that too, from God. (29) For to you it has been granted for Christ's sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, (30) experiencing the same conflict which you saw in me, and now hear to be in me.
1. “If I live I plan on coming to see you again”
2. “But whether I do or not, live in such a way that honors the Lord!”
a) Gal 5:22-26 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, (23) gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. (24) Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. (25) If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. (26) Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another.
3. So I think I would have to put this as step #5 in “How to Have Joy in the Lord”:
a) Make fellowship around God’s Word – a SUPREME PRIORITY!
(1) standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel
C. So, in order to develop and maintain Joy in Christ, we must:
1. Be “others” minded.
2. Keep our “hearts” on others – love one another.
3. And the way we change our hearts and minds is by “praying” for others.
4. We will be able to maintain our joy if - in everything Christ has pre-eminence!
a) In life or death, in good times or difficult times!!!
5. And Lastly – We need to make God’s Word and fellowship around that Word – our top priority!
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