Summary: Fast food restaurants ask you, “Would you like to supersize your drink?” Warehouse stores sell Costco and Sam’s Club offer us items in bulk – really big sizes. It seems like the only item in modern day life that hasn’t been upgraded is God.
Today, we continue a short 4-week series entitled God is Bigger. Pause for a moment because I want everyone to hear this question: How big is your God? How capable is God in your mind?
J.B. Phillips wrote a book that he gave a title that fascinates me entitled, Your God Is Too Small. He writes, “The trouble with many people today is that they have not found a God big enough for modern needs.” Fast food restaurants ask you, “Would you like to supersize your drink?” Warehouse stores sell Costco and Sam’s Club offer us items in bulk – really big sizes. It seems like the only item in modern day life that hasn’t been upgraded is God. Most of you would feel tell me there’s a God in Heaven but if you’re candid with me, you’re not sure He is doing anything in your life. I want invite you to supersize your faith in the coming days by turning to Philippians 2.
“So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, 2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:1–4).
My wife insists we write a thank you note for anything that is given to us. She will write a thank you note for some of her birthday gifts and then she wants me to write a note for my birthday gifts. I know she’s right (she’s always right) but doesn’t seem to be too much? To prove my wife is right in her practice is the book of Philippians.
Paul writes the believers in the ancient city of Philippi because they sent him a gift while he was in prison. The people of the church in Philippi placed their gift in the hand of Epaphroditus (Philippians 4:18), who will encounter again a little later in today’s message. So at a basic level, Philippians is a thank you letter for a gift from a church concerned about their former pastor because he’s been jailed for his faith. But rather than Paul speaking about his wrongful imprisonment, he writes a treatise on finding lasting happiness.
1. How We Can Be Happy
Many people feel that all that matters in following God is if you’re holy. Am I keeping the rules? Yet, our Bibles speak of not only being holy but also happy. As you have your Bibles open to Philippians 2, the first command in our passage is found in verse 2: “…complete my joy…”.
When some of you think of happiness you may think of a favorite song like the Beach Boys’ Good Vibrations or Bobby McFerrin’s Don’t Worry, Be Happy. Some of you feel joyful when you are riding on your Harley motorcycle. Some teenagers are happiest when they are playing Fortnite. The book of Philippians is about joy; it tells us that your are wiring is connected to the power source of lasting joy in Jesus.
1.1 Joy in Philippians
In fact, in one form or another the word “joy” appears sixteen times in this brief letter. Would you walk me in your copy of Philippians for a moment?
Paul says he prays for the believers with joy (Philippians 1:4).
When you hear the gospel of God’s grace communicated, you’re to experience happiness (Philippians 1:18).
Paul chooses to stay around for their spiritual progress and joy (Philippians 1:25).
He says when I make a sacrifice of my life for your faith, this makes me happy (Philippians 2:17).
You should be happy when you see someone sacrifice for another person’s spiritual growth (Philippians 2:18).
You are to receive people of faith into your life with joy (Philippians 2:29).
You are commanded to be happy and joyful in Jesus (Philippians 3:1).
You are to think of other believers in your life as your joy (Philippians 4:1).
One more time, you are commanded to be happy about your relationship with Jesus (Philippians 4:4).
Be happy when other believers think about you and show concern for you (Philippians 4:10).
Philippians is God’s writing you that His presence should make give you lasting happiness and joy. So let me ask you to pause for another question: How happy are you right now? Some would say, “I’ll be a little happier if this sermon were a little shorter.” More seriously, what makes you happy? Again, holiness and happiness are not at odds with another. Instead, you’ll be truly happy WHEN you’re pursuing holiness. We are reminded that “joy” is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22).