Summary: Joy, Peace, Prayer, Thanksgiving
WORDS FOR LIFE - A Life of Peace and Joy
July 22, 2018
Philippians 4:4-7 (p. 820)
I remember hearing my mentor Wayne Smith say more than once… “Ministry would be a whole lot easier if people weren’t involved…but it wouldn’t be as fun either.”
People are messy…moody…fickle and sometimes just plain mean. People are loving…giving…encouraging and sometime just plain awesome.
The truth is there has only been one perfect and loving person whose ever lived…and messy people crucified Him.
When you read the Bible it reveals the truth about people…the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
Noah was the most righteous man on earth…obedient to God when asked to build an ark…and saved his entire family…and then Noah triumphantly left the ark and “got drunk and naked.”
What?!!! Yep…maybe life is a little more complicated for flood survivors than we thought, maybe even righteous Noah fought a battle with depression and loneliness.
I love what one of my favorite authors, Mike Yaconelli says about this in his book Messy Spirituality…
Why should I be surprised? Turns out all of the biblical characters were a complex mix of strengths and weaknesses. David, Abraham, Lot, Saul, Solomon, Rahab, and Sarah were God-loving, courageous, brilliant, fearless, loyal, passionate, committed holy men and women who were also murderers, adulterers, and manic depressives. They were men and women who could be gentle, holy, defenders of the faith one minute, and insecure, mentally unstable, unbelieving, shrewd, lying, grudge-holding tyrants the next.
The New Testament characters weren’t much better. Look who Jesus hung out with. Prostitutes, tax collectors, adulterers, mental cases, penniless riffraff, and losers of all kinds. His disciples were hardly models of saintliness. They were committed to Jesus, were ready to follow him anywhere (with one notable exception), but they were also troubled by infighting, always jockeying for position, suspicious of each other, accusatory, impulsive, selfish, lazy, and disloyal. Most of the time, they did not understand what Jesus was talking about, and when he died, they had no clue what to do next.
I love that my buddy Colleen Jones chose Philippians 4:4-7 as her Words for Life…I’ve know Colleen now for the better part of 20 years…and I’ve never met a more genuine person than Colleen…and she manages an Ice Cream shop!!!
Colleen’s life hasn’t always been easy…and it’s not now…but she is one of the most real and loving followers of Jesus I know…There is a true sense of peace and joy in her soul.
Here’s what Philippians 4:4-7 says:
PHILIPPIANS 4:4-7 (p. 820)
Paul understands that ministering to messy people is tough, but even more he understands he is one of those messy people himself.
He’s in prison when he writes to his followers in Philippi…and I believe these words for life he extends to them…are words he’s seeking to apply to his life in Christ as well.
These are tools in a survival kit. It’s as if Paul says…these characteristics are vital if you want to survive and thrive in this world with messy people as a messy person yourself…first:
I. BE JOYFUL
Paul writes: “Rejoice in the Lord always, I will say it again: Rejoice!!!”
Paul mentions the subject of joy 14 times in 4 chapters to the Philippians.
And we can probably guess why…because he sees this characteristic missing in the Philippian church.
Why had they lost their joy?
Well…like all messy people they were struggling with their pride…so Paul says:
PHILIPPIANS 2:3-5 (p. 819)
They had become argumentative…and critical so he says:
PHILIPPIANS 2:14-15 (p. 819)
Some had drawn up sides and were divided so he says:
PHILIPPIANS 4:2-3 (p. 820)
Notice that Paul commands them to be joyful..it’s not a suggestion…it’s an order… “Rejoice in the Lord Always!”
How do you command people to be joyful always?
That’s impossible, isn’t it?
What’s easy to forget is that no matter what circumstances we’re in, we can rejoice in the Lord.
Paul doesn’t just say…be joyful…Paul says…“Rejoice in the Lord.”
Joy doesn’t mean the absence of trouble or conflict. Joy is the presence of the Lord.
You see joy isn’t automatic…life is hard, Satan is ruthless, people are messy. There are hard things we have to deal with in this life…the death of someone we love, illness, the loss of a job, family troubles, being robbed, or maybe like Paul, being in prison.
So Satan would turn the believers’ focus on all those circumstances, the pain and the troubles…how big these are.
And Paul would remind us in Christ…that joy is an “inside” job.
That Jesus is bigger than the world and has overcome it…and lives in you…He has promised so much to us…he is aware of what is happening…and He is greater than what is happening.
Paul’s command to the Philippians and us…open your survival kit…choose to focus on Jesus who can and will help us through everything. If you lose that focus…pride, a grumbling spirit, and divisiveness lie right around the corner…Instead “Rejoice in the Lord Always…I’ll say it again: Rejoice!”