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Happiness Joy is a Choice

Philippians 1:12-21

Yes, happiness/joy is a choice. It really has nothing to do with our circumstances, and everything to do with our perspective and priorities.

If we choose to be miserable we will be, and so will those around us. The same could be said for if we choose to be joyful.

Do you want joy? Well, I'm sorry to say that you will NEVER have it ... if you are trying to create it.

We don't find it difficult to praise the Lord when circumstances around us are good. But what is THAT 'joy' based upon? What happens when you lose it all? What happens when life gets unfavorable? Can you still have joy? Will you?

ill.--Satan boasted to God that Job followed Him because of His blessings, but that if 'you take it away, he will curse you.'

Job lost it all, but passed the test. "Naked came I into this world and naked shall I return...blessed be the name of the Lord!"

And Paul in our text is saying the same thing from experience ... he had many unfavorable circumstances, to put it mildly. Paul desired nothing more than to preach the gospel in Rome, the center of the world of that day.

Acts 19:21

... Paul purposed in the spirit, when he had passed through Macedonia and Achaia, to go to Jerusalem, saying, After I have been there, I must also see Rome.

Romans 1:15

So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also.

Paul had prayed to get to Rome. But how he got there was a surprise to him. God doesn't always answer our prayers the way that we expect. [can I get a witness?]

Religious Jews plotted against him as did the Romans, and he became a prisoner in Caesarea for two years. He appealed to Caesar, which put him on his way to Rome. Not as a preacher/missionary but as a preacher/prisoner!

While in route, they suffer shipwreck. The account of this is highly dramatic, recorded in Acts 27. For 3 months they are stranded on an island before they again can set sail for Rome. Once there, he was placed under the Praetorian Guard, the elite.

I would be saying, "Why allow this, Lord? I'm trying to preach the gospel!"

Even the believers in Philippi were aware and asking the same thing. They sent their pastor, Epaphroditus, to check on Paul and send him a message. There's no record in Scripture of the contents of that message, but we could imagine it went something like this: "Dear Brother Paul, we are so sorry for you, for your circumstances, and for the fact that the gospel is no longer being carried by you."

Paul answers in v. 12 of our text...

Philippians 1:12

But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel;

It's not about 'happenings' but about God's providence! He turns tragedy into triumph and obstacles into opportunities!

The Christian should never develop a 'victim's mentality' because "all things work together for good..."

God is always doing something IN us so He can do something greater THROUGH us!

4 thieves that will attempt to rob you of your joy:

1. Circumstances in ch. 1

2. People in ch. 2

3. Things in ch. 3

4. Worry in ch. 4

Paul will address how to nab these joy thieves.

Concerning our circumstances in chapter 1...

...Most of us can easily see the difficulties inherent in our opportunities. We need to learn from Paul how to see the opportunities in our difficulties!

If your circumstances find you 'in Christ', then you will find Christ in your circumstances!

v. 13 'my bonds in Christ'

v. 15 'preach Christ'

v. 16 'preach Christ'

v. 18 'Christ is preached'

v. 19 'the supply of the Spirit of Christ'

v. 20 'Christ shall be magnified'

v. 21 'to live is Christ'

v. 23 'to be with Christ'

v. 26 'rejoicing in Christ'

v. 27 'the gospel of Christ'

v. 29 'given in the behalf of Christ'

Folks, if your circumstances find you 'in Christ', then you will find Christ in your circumstances!

Whatever circumstances you are going thru right now, we can learn how to view it all from Paul right now.

The message will be extended.

The Master will be exalted.

1. The message of the gospel was extended.

vv. 12-13 "furtherance" = "to cut before" = "to blaze a trail"

ill.--in Ecuador recently, several of us walked thru the jungle, single file. It was toughest on the guy in the very front, who carried the machete. And it was scary for me in the very back -- being the first one the anaconda who was following us would get!

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