Summary: Everybody is looking for joy. It's found in the "Single Mind" that is focused on Jesus Christ. Discover how to live with a single mind on Christ. The result is joy.
In Romania, and in many Eastern European countries, there are so many orphans institutionalized that there isn’t enough food or medical supplies or staff members to take care of them. The babies, often past toddler age, are still kept in diapers and placed in cribs because there’s no other way to take care of them. They are lifted out to be fed and they infrequently have their diapers changed. There is no real physical contact with other humans, especially any of the cuddling and holding that babies need to develop normally. They end up in semi-catatonic states and often die from a lack of human contact. This condition is called “failure to thrive syndrome.”
We need to understand that “failure to thrive syndrome” can happen in our spiritual lives. It can be avoided and it can be cured. But, prevention doesn’t happen by itself.
The key to avoiding this spiritual disease is through fellowship. But, fellowship is much more than what you may think it is. We can see what I mean in today’s passage. It’s the prescription against “failure to thrive syndrome”.
In true Christian Fellowship, we discover the JOY the Apostle Paul is writing about in the book of Philippians.
As we begin this morning let me talk about this word - FELLOWSHIP - for just a moment.
• We use that word and throw it around so lightly sometimes that I think we forget or don't even realize the true meaning to this word.
We say things like.
• Are you coming to the fellowship dinner
• That was a great time, we had some great fellowship
• We would love to have you over some fellowship
• Many times, we think that getting together, having some food constitutes fellowship. And it might.
• But let's dig a little deeper.
The word FELLOWSHIP simply means "to have in common."
• We tend to think that fellowship is really only acquaintanceship or friendship.
• You cannot have fellowship with someone unless you have something in common, and for Christian Fellowship, this means you possess eternal life with the person or people you are fellowshipping with.
Unless a person has trusted Christ as his Savior, he know nothing of "the fellowship of the gospel."
• IN Philippians 2:1, Paul writes about the "fellowship of the Spirit," because when a person is born again he receives the gift of the Spirit.
• There is also the "fellowship of his sufferings" in Philippians 3:10
• In 4:15 Paul addresses those who shared with him, that is fellowship. Because they were sharing for a common purpose in Christ.
True Christian fellowship is much more than having a name on a church roll or being present at a meeting.
• It is possible to be close to people physically and miles away from them spiritually.
• One of the sources of Christian joy is this fellowship that believers have in Jesus Christ.
• Paul was in Rome, his friends were miles away in Philippi, but their spiritual fellowship was real and satisfying.
When you have the single mind, you will not complain about circumstance because you know that difficult circumstances will result in the strengthening of the fellowship of the gospel.
Paul uses three expressions in verses 1-11 that describe true Christian fellowship.
1 - I Have You In My Mind
Philippians 1:3-6 (NIV) - I thank my God every time I remember you. 4 In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now,6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
Paul was thinking of others and not himself. That's remarkable.
• He's waiting for his trial in Rome, Paul's mind goes back to the believers in Philippi, and these thoughts bring him joy.
Who would he have been thinking about?
Turn your Bibles to Acts 16. Let's meet some of the first members of the church at Philippi. These are some of the people who were on Paul's mind.
• Lydia - seller of purple fine linen - wealthy
• Slave Girl - broken, poor
• Jailer - blue collar, rough hands, uneducated
These are the people Paul has in his mind along with others when he is writing the letter of Philippians. These thoughts brought him joy.
He had other things happen to him at Philippi. Things that could have brought him sorrow.
• He was illegally arrested and beaten
• Was placed in stocks and embarrassed before the people in the city circle
• But, even these thoughts brought joy because the jailer found Jesus, Lydia found Jesus, and a slave girl was set free.