Summary: We can be joyful in all circumstances, by adopting a right perspective, set the right priority, lean on the power of God, and focus on the purpose of life.
Most people don't enjoy life; they just endure it.
• They think that life must be perfect for them to be happy.
• So they are always looking for a change for the better. If I could just change my situation life would be great. If I could just get rid of all my problems, life would be fine.
• But there's no such thing as a problem free life.
If you're going to learn to be happy, joyful, you must learn to be joyful in the situation, in the problems, in the very experiences of life.
• "Happiness" comes from the root word that we get “happening”, from the circumstances.
• Joy is internal. Happiness is external. You have a happy time at Disneyland, you leave and you lose your happiness. Joy can be constant.
• How do you have joy in spite of what is going on in your life?
We are going to learn from Paul. From this passage (that he wrote to believers in Philippi), he seemed positive and happy with his lot, despite being locked up in prison and facing an uncertain future.
• The last 4 years of Paul’s life were miserable. He spent 2 years in prison in Caesarea, and then he was put on a ship to go to Rome to appear before Nero (known for his cruelty against Christians).
• On the way he's shipwrecked, stranded on an island, bitten by a poisonous snake, survived the winter there, continued on to Rome and spent another 2 years in prison awaiting trial to be executed.
• During this 2 year period in Rome he is chained to a guard for 24 hours a day. He has absolutely no privacy. Every four hours he gets a new guard.
Yet in spite of all of these situations, Paul says in Phil. 1:18b “…I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice.”
• What's Paul's secret? How does he stay so positive in prison, riding above his troubles, and being joyful in spite of the fact that everything has not turned out the way he planned it.
• His words here reveal FOUR ESSENTIALS for a joyful life:
(1) I NEED A PERSPECTIVE TO LIVE FROM
Every one has problems. When you step in today, you just brought them in here with you.
• Your problems are not so important as how you are looking at those problems.
• The way you look at that problem is much more important than the problem.
• Your perspective makes the difference.
1:12 “Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel.”
• I can see the best even in the worst. I can see God at work in the problems even when they don't go my way. If you really believe God is sovereign, you’ve got to believe this.
• This is almost an identical echo of Joseph’s words to his brothers, who sold him to Egypt.
• Gen 50:19-20 Joseph said to them, “Don't be afraid. Am I in the place of God? 20You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”
1:13 “As a result it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ.”
• Paul had always wanted to go to Rome. He meant to have a crusade.
• Instead, God put him in prison where he would write the New Testament. He was chained to the palace guard - the elite troops of the Roman Empire. He was able to influence lives from within the palace.
• And outside, things were moving. 1:14 “Because of my chains most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly.”
Amazing, everything that is considered bad (from the human perspective) and turned out to be good (in God’s perspective)!
• This is the attitude we must adopt. This is the perspective you need to live from, if you are going to have joy in your life.
• Roman 8:28 sums up this principle: “And we know that in ALL things God works for the good of those who love Him...”
• LESSON: God has a purpose behind every one of my problems. Get this and let joy fills your heart.
A mother was doing embroidering and her little boy comes by her side. He looked up from the floor and asked what she was doing. She informed him that she was making a beautiful flower. “It looked like a mess to me,” he said. Looking from the underside, that what you’d see. Everything looked so jumbled up with loose thread here and there.