Summary: Sermon looks at Paul’s circumstances - being in prison - and how with a Christ like attitude God used him to witness to over 4,000 elite gaurds
HOW TO BE JOYFUL NO MATTER WHAT
How to Enjoy the Rest of Your Life - Part 2
Acknowledgement - Rick Warren
Most people don’t enjoy life; they just endure it. They don’t enjoy happiness.
Our society perpetuates the lie that life must be perfect for us to be happy. If I could just change my situation life would be great. If I could just get rid of all my problems. I battle this and so do you.
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 word "happenstance" from which we get the word "circumstance".
It depends on happenings. Joy is internal. Happiness is external. You have a happy time in Winnipeg at the Celine Dione concert. You leave there and lose your happiness. Joy is constant. How do you have happiness in spite of what is going on in your life?
What’s Paul’s secret? How does he stay positive in prison, triumphant over troubles, delight in difficulties, stay so happy, positive, joyful in spite of the fact that everything has not turned out the way he planned it. Paul gives us four secrets.
THE FOUR ESSENTIALS FOR JOYFUL LIVING
I. I NEED A PERSPECTIVE TO LIVE FROM
Everyone of you have problems. You’ve brought them in here with you. Your problems are not so important as how you respond to them. Your perspective makes the difference.
v. 12 "Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel."
Paul says that even in the worst he could see God at work. Non-believers are being witnessed to in my attitude toward them. Believers are being encouraged. v. 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 was not ashamed to stand for Jesus. Are you?
Paul had desired to go to Rome to minister to the believers. His goal was for them to finance his proposed church plant in Spain.
So he wanted to have a crusade for Jesus. But everything went south on him and he ended up in prison. It was there that he wrote much of the New Testament. He’s chained to the palace guard, the praetorium guard with the crack elite troops of the Roman Empire. These were the Green Berets, personally chosen by Caesar as his body guards. They were the highest paid people of the empire. When they retired after 12 years they were made leaders in Rome.
God says you want a crusade. I will put you in prison chained to the most influential insiders in the Empire.
There is not a more strategic group that Paul could witness to if he’s going to reach the Roman empire. God puts Paul in Rome, Nero pays the bill and chains a future leader of Rome to him every four hours. In two years at four-hour shifts, Paul had witnessed to 4,380 guards. These guards had an inside route to the emperor and as a result even some of Nero’s family became believers. History tells us that Nero had his wife, mother and children were killed because they became believers. A "chain" reaction. Paul had a captive audience.
v. 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." My attitude towards problems has encouraged other people. Courage is contagious. It spreads like wildfire. Other believers became bold because of Paul being bold. Ask God to give you Holy Spirit boldness.
The perspective you need to live from if you’re going to have joy in your life is Romans 8:28 "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.
When you get this perspective you are on the way to joyful living. Paul says that God has a purpose behind all my problems therefore I have a perspective to live from.
II. I NEED A PRIORITY TO LIVE BY
When things get tough I need to know what’s really important in order to distinguish the trivial from the significant. I can be living my life either based on problems or priorities.
Since my priority is Jesus I will strengthen myself in Him. Either you’ll decide what’s important in your life or you’ll let other people decide what’s important. If you don’t choose your priorities, you’ll go around putting out one fire after another, living your life simply from problem to problem to problem and not choosing what’s important.