Summary: First message looks at the life of Paul and how he had joy despite the trials and circumstances he faced (acknowledgment to Rick Warren)
How to live the Christian life
How to have joy in our life - Part 1 of 12
Today we start a new series on Philippians. The Apostle Paul in his second missionary journey established this church. The first convert was Lydia. Lydia was a seller of purple goods from the Asian city of Thyatira. She became a fervent believer and was baptized.
Just like our day, there were evil spirits that wanted to keep this work from progressing. Paul had exorcised the spirit of a slave girl. He was publicly beaten and thrown into prison.
Whenever God leads the leaders to a new thing – to a Holy Spirit directed ministry, there will be opposition. Jesus faced it and so did Paul. So will you.
By AD 61 Paul wrote this book from prison in Rome.
In this book were going to learn about what drove Paul – we will get insight into his heart. We will get insight into how he dealt with opposition.
Philippians is a practical letter. It deals with a lot of the problems in life that we all face. Most of all Philippians is a positive book. In spite or being in jail the words "joy" or "rejoice" or "be glad" are used seventeen different times in this book.
I’m calling this series "How to live the Christian life." It deals with how to live the Christian life in spite of circumstances and problems. It tells us how to be joyful even though people do things we do not like, we cannot control, and that were not very excited about.
In the first chapter, Paul starts right off talking about people. If relationships are bad, life stinks. Make no mistake about it – Paul longed for Spirit filled churches and did not see them in his lifetime. So be careful when we say we want to be like the early church.
If relationships are strained, life is difficult. If relationships are strained in the local church then were not focused on prayer, the baptismal tank is dry, and the leaders are being questioned. If you have problems with people it kills the joy in your life. How many would say ‘you got that right.’
Satan is behind all destruction of relationships. Satan is behind all dissension in the church. It is not from God. Satan is behind all dissension in families. God hates dissension (Prov. 6:16-19).
I remember as a young man watching my three sister’s marriages end in divorce. I watched my little nieces and nephews crying for their daddies that were not there to tuck them in at night. Life can throw us a curve ball, but God wants us to enjoy the people in our lives right through our stresses.
So how do we overcome? How do we have joy despite trials?
Peter Drucker, the father of American management, said that the number one characteristic of a CEO, of a leader, is that they enjoy other people.
Do you enjoy the people around you? Do you enjoy those you work with? Do you enjoy your brothers and sisters in Jesus even if they disappoint you? Do you enjoy your spouse that you’re married to, even if they do not see things your way? How about the people in your family, who think you have gone off the deep end because you go to church? The Bible says in Ecclesiastes 9:9, "Husbands [men] enjoy life with your wife whom you love."
Are your relationships more a matter of endurance than enjoyment? We don’t really enjoy the people in our lives, we tolerate them, and we put up with them. We endure them.
What does it take to enjoy the people in your life? What will it take to enjoy the people in our church? Paul gives us four keys:
1. Be grateful for the good in people. V. 3. "I thank my God every time I remember you."
Paul chose to believe the best about people. He said I like to remember the good things about people. I will focus on the good times we’ve had, remember the positive experiences. What do you remember about a brother or sister? The good experiences or the bad experiences.
When Paul said this he was stressed in Philippi. Acts 16 tells us the background of this story. When he went to Philippi he was arrested illegally, whipped, humiliated, thrown in prison. While in prison there was an earthquake. He was asked to leave town.
So how do you like that? You go there to plant a church, to help the people, and they want to gather up a posse and ask you to leave. That happened to Paul over and over.
Focus on the Family Canada website reports that churches that have fired their last pastor have a 70% probability of firing their next one. Not a good statistic. It happened to Paul. They did not want to follow him.