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Summary: Philippians is commonly called the "Book of Joy". But Paul presents several thieves that try to rob us of our joy. The first thief: "Difficult Circumstances."

DON’T ALLOW CIRCUMSTANCES ROB YOUR JOY

A. For the next few weeks we’re going to take a look at CHRISTIAN JOY and the THIEVES that try to ROB us of our JOY from the book of Philippians.

1. Now to some people the phrase “CHRISTIAN JOY” is an OXYMORON--in their mind these two words CONTRADICT each other.

ILLUSTRATION:

I have a PREACHER FRIEND, Wayne Monroe, who, when he was younger, used to play BASKETBALL with some COLLEGE STUDENTS in the town where he PREACHED. He had a GREAT TIME playing the game, LAUGHING and CUTTING UP with the other PLAYERS.

When one of the COLLEGE STUDENTS learned that he was a PREACHER, he couldn’t BELIEVE it. He went to Wayne and asked, “Is it true? You’re a PREACHER?” Wayne acknowledged that he was and asked “Why are you so SURPRISED?” The STUDENT sincerely said, “I didn’t think PREACHERS could have FUN.”

ILLUSTRATION:

There was a large PREACHERS’ convention held in Nashville, Tennessee. And during the BREAK, several of the PREACHERS ran across the street from the CONVENTION CENTER to purchase some SNACKS from a CONVENIENT STORE.

The STORE CLERK started CHECKING out the PREACHERS one by one—CHIPS, GUM, SOFT DRINKS, NEWSPAPERS. One man put a big bottle of COUGH MEDICINE on the COUNTER. The CLERK with her CHEERY voice asked, “And where do you PREACH, sir?” The man with a SOUR LOOK on his FACE protested, “Lady, give me a BREAK here! I’m not a PREACHER! I just look this WAY because I’m SICK.”

2. Why do so many people equate Christianity with GLOOM and DOOM?

COMMENT:

I think the main reason is because that’s the way many Christians PRESENT themselves to the WORLD. They walk around with SOUR FACES. They’re GRUMPY. They seldom SMILE. They look like they’ve been BAPTIZED in VINEGAR. To these people, Christianity isn’t something to ENJOY but to ENDURE.

B. On the other hand, there are those who want so much to ENJOY their Christian lives, but are having a

hard time doing it—they have allowed certain THIEVES to STEAL their JOY.

COMMENT:

Paul, in the book of Philippians, writes about these THIEVES and shows us how to COMBAT them. The KEY VERSE in the book of Philippians is found in chapter 4:4: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: REJOICE!” Paul is saying that we are to be JOYFUL people no matter what HAPPENS nor where we are: at HOME, at WORK, at SCHOOL and, yes, even at CHURCH.

Satan does not want Christians to be JOYFUL people. As long as he can keep us looking MISERABLE, he knows that not many people will want to have any part of the GLOOM and DOOM of Christianity. They have enough PROBLEMS of their own.

Jesus- “The thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full”- John 10:10. In other words, Jesus is saying, “I didn’t come to ROB you of LIFE, I came so that you can LIVE IT UP.”

C. Satan does not want us to “LIVE IT UP IN CHRIST”, so he sends out THIEVES to ROB our Christian JOY.

MESSAGE:

I. CIRCUMSTANCES ARE ONE OF THE MOST COMMON THIEVES OF OUR JOY

A. There are THINGS that HAPPEN to us, even LITTLE THINGS that sometimes make LIFE tough.

ILLUSTRATION:

You have a FLAT TIRE. You spill COFFEE in your LAP. Your IN-LAWS come over for an UNEXPECTED VISIT. Your BASEMENT leaks. Your son puts a DENT in your new CAR. The CHECKBOOK won’t BALANCE.

ILLUSTRATION:

Or you could be like the young BUSINESSMAN who had just started his own FIRM. He rented a beautiful OFFICE and had it FURNISHED with ANTIQUES. Sitting there on his FIRST DAY, he saw a man come into the OUTER OFFICE. Wishing to appear the BIG SHOT, the businessman picked up the PHONE and started to pretend he had a BIG DEAL working. He threw huge DOLLAR AMOUNTS around and made giant COMMITMENTS. Finally he HUNG UP and said to the VISITOR, “Sorry, I had to take that IMPORTANT CALL. Can I help you?”

The man said, “Yeah, I … I’ve come to ACTIVATE your PHONE LINES.”

COMMENT:

If you were the BIG SHOT would that SITUATION somewhat DEPLETE your JOY?

B. We all face MINOR, IRRITATING CIRCUMSTANCES like these, but those MAJOR, DIFFICULT CIRCUMSTANCES are what really makes it HARD to maintain JOY in our lives.

ILLUSTRATION:

Your TEENAGE SON is ARRESTED for selling DRUGS. Your UNMARRIED DAUGHTER informs you that she’s PREGNANT. Your BOSS calls and tells you not to come to WORK tomorrow because you’re FIRED. You get the DOCTOR’S REPORT back—it’s CANCER. A MILITARY CHAPLAIN and another OFFICER comes to your DOOR and regretfully tells you that your HUSBAND was KILLED in a fierce GUN BATTLE in IRAQ.

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