Summary: By directing our attention to of joy Paul equips us with a strategy to face the difficult circumstances in life. We cannot do this in our own strength, or by pretending, but only by having a deep seated trust in the Lord and His work in our lives.
You can listen to the full message here:-
In Christ - You Can be Joyful
The book of Philippians can be described as a book that tells us how to be joyful and rejoice.
What is interesting however is the situations which Paul describes as being joyful … or worthy to rejoice in.
In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel.
What is not to be joyful about when the Gospel is being accepted.
Yet Paul himself was in prison at the moment because of the faith.
The joy of the Gospel brings life, but it also brings us into conflict with the world.
Gospel joy doesn’t mean everything all of the sudden goes easily.
Some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry … (they) preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.
There is a group of people trying to cause trouble for Paul - they are in the ministry for what they can get, rather than what they can give.
Despite this Paul sees the bigger picture, and that gives him joy.
Rejoice in the Lord! It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you. Watch out for those dogs, those evildoers, those mutilators of the flesh.
Again there is conflict … this time from those who are causing real problems for the Gospel. They seek to distort the truth and make a liar out of Paul.
They bring a false Gospel.
Even so the call from Paul is to rejoice.
Then we get to our text.
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!
But notice the context … (Philippians 4:2-3 - read)
There is an argument in the church. No doubt Euodia and Syntyche are quite prominent in the church
Like … I plead with ______________ and I plead with __________ (pick two names which suit your context)
It would be a devastating situation causing great angst.
But Paul makes it clear … twice … joy is the response.
What is the message Paul wants us to hear?
You can be joyful … despite the circumstances of life.
You might be thinking … well that is just impossible.
But, in actuality, the call to rejoice is a real necessity.
Because the journey of life is one which constantly seeks to rob us of our joy.
Disillusionment and worry.
Despair and pain.
Dejection and suffering.
Despondency and grief.
Discouragement and heartache.
The person who said that “Life was meant to be easy” either didn’t have a life or they lived by themselves on a tropical island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
That is not life … and it is not reality.
There are heaps of “joy robbing” moments that we face.
Joy Robber - Sickness and Death.
It isn’t often that death causes joy.
I know of one occasion.
When I was younger there was a death in our congregation. The text that was given the Pastor to preach on was 2 Corinthians 12:7
“There was given me a thorn in my flesh”
That was an occasion when death did cause some joy. This is the exception … not the norm.
What does death do (expand on each)
• missing piece.
• even for a still-born.
Joy Robber - Disappointing Circumstances
I didn’t get into the uni I wanted.
I lost my job.
I’m running out of finances.
I’m not good enough.
Nobody wants me.
Make your list … what has caused you disappointment and taken your joy?
Joy Robber - Unconfessed Sin
You see it so clearly in Psalm 32.
Psalm 32:3-4 … joy is lost
Psalm 32:5 … confession.
Psalm 32:11 … joy restored.
Once you start thinking about it the examples are many.
In the face of these many examples Paul says.
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: rejoice.
Paul doesn’t say rejoice in the Lord … unless.
Paul doesn’t say rejoice in the Lord … until.
Regardless of the circumstances of our particular situation there is a way that leads to joy. Rejoice.
And, just in case you missed it the first time or really couldn’t believe what he was saying, Paul repeats himself … Rejoice.
Now let’s be clear on what Paul is asking of us here. Some people say, “Laughter is the best medicine” … laughter certainly helps get through difficult circumstances at times. But when Paul says rejoice he is not saying every day has to be a barrel of laughs.