Summary: This sermon is part of our discipleship series where we look at building up the House of God within us. Today we are looking at building up a joyful, or joy-filled life, from the imprisonment of Paul and Silas in Philippi.
Building God’s House
“Building a Joyful Life”
You can listen to this sermon at https://mega.nz/#!3dtiECzJ!Ts9z_AMtZvfgM7m9veVtEbT5n9YKmwHKHWTCFepqjts
Whenever it comes to this topic of finding joy in the midst of life’s difficult circumstances, which is why we need to build up God’s house within us as a joyful or a joy-filled house, the story of a small little bird comes to mind, one that lives in some really harsh country in the northern U.S., and Canada. It’s the Chickadee.
Picture, if you would, that winter is coming and the migratory birds are long gone, and animals are either in hibernation or burrowed deep as they sense the coming of winter’s first storm.
The temperature begins to drop. Gray clouds fill the sky, and the winds begin to howl. But in the distance you hear a sound. It’s faint to start with, but it becomes louder. The sound, however, isn’t coming from the wind; rather it’s a joyful sound, and it’s coming from these small little Chickadees.
They fly from tree to tree, and your heart immediately go’s out to them. You want to shout at them of the coming danger. Why aren’t they flying away? Are they lost, dazed, confused? But what’s totally bizarre is that as they fly they’re singing, and their song fills the air with a joyful sound. It’s like they know the storm is coming, but they could care less.
Well, the inevitable comes, and it’s a huge blizzard. The next morning snow is everywhere and you wonder if these little birds survived the onslaught. As you make your way outside, not only are they there, but their cheerful melody fills the air.
In fact, they seem happier than ever as they flutter in the snow. It’s as if the countryside looks forward to these little birds and their cheerful songs, even though outward conditions would discourage such displays of joy. That’s why the Chickadee is known as the bird of the merry heart.
We see a similar story in today’s text
Read Acts 16:16-40
Paul and Silas have been falsely accused, denied a fair trial, illegally beaten, and unlawfully imprisoned. Their backs are severely bruised and bleeding, their ankles in stocks, and they are tired, hungry, and separated from their friends.
I think it’s safe to say that this is not a joyful picture.
But instead of lamenting their condition, they’re openly praising God, and as they were praising Him an earthquake rocked the prison, opening prison doors and loosing prison chains. It was this open display of joy in the most dire of circumstances that God moved saving not only the jailer, but his entire family as well.
Paul and Silas were able to produce godly joy in the lives of others, because they were able to rejoice even in the cruelest circumstances.
King David knew the same thing; that even in his darkest days despairing of life itself, he knew God was by his side. This is why he could write and sing, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You (Lord) are with me” (Psalm 23:4 NKJV).
David also said, “If it had not been the Lord who was on our side, when men rose up against us … Then the waters would have overwhelmed us, the stream would have gone over our soul” (Psalm 124: 2, 4 NKJV).
To begin this part of our study on discipleship, or building up the House of God within us, there are Three Things To Having A Joyful Heart
1. God is With Us
The first thing to having a joyful heart is realizing that we don’t go through this life alone, and that’s because the Lord is with us, and because of this, the trouble we face will not destroy us. The waters may get high, but they’ll never overflow our lives, and while the fires may get hot, they’ll never burn.
David said, “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.” (Psalm 34 19 NKJV)
To Joshua as he is about to lead the children of Israel into the Promise Land, a land whose people are hostile towards them, the Lord said, “Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 3:16 NKJV)
When trouble surrounds us, we can be assured that the Lord is with us, and like David we can say, “You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (Psalm 16:11 NKJV)
Even as Paul and Silas had been beaten within an inch of their lives, their hearts were filled with joy because they were in the presence of the Lord, and so they worshipped the Lord, and God rocked the house.