Summary: Paul is in prison and he has this joyful love because he has a confidence in God. He can write in Philippians 1:6, “Be confident of this that He, who began a good work in you will carry it out until the day of Christ Jesus.”
Intro: God’s Faithfulness
It wasn’t too long ago I was attending a meeting in Scotland. I was in Edinburgh, the capital city of Scotland and I was looking for a place to park. I received advise on how to find a good place to park. My friend told me to drive up to the top of the nearby observatory to find the free parking. As I parked I noticed the great view all around the city. I saw the observatory and I also saw another structure there. This other structure looked to me to resemble some ancient Roman ruins. I wondered if it might be a tribute to ancient Rome. Later I asked around, what is this structure on top of the observatory hill?
I found out that it was a building project that was planned and started, but was abandoned before it was finished. Rather than tear it down it was left there as a monument to all the unfinished projects. How many of us start something, but never finish it? It could be a weight loss diet or an exercise program. These are the goals we set and the projects we have that we plan to finish, but they remain unfinished. We have our unfinished projects.
You know, God never leaves a project unfinished. God is faithful to finish what he begins. Paul is in prison and he has this joyful love because he has a confidence in God. He can write in Philippians 1:6, “Be confident of this that He, who began a good work in you will carry it out until the day of Christ Jesus.” This great truth brought encouragement to Paul and it can bring us confidence.
We will talk about the joyful love that flowed out of the Apostle Paul’s heart. We need to remember that when Paul was writing this letter he was in prison, yet he had so much joyful love coming from his life. Remember what happened at Philippi. Paul had a vision and saw a man from Macedonia asking for help. This vision led him to the city of Philippi. Paul usually went to the synagogue to preach. In Philippi there was no synagogue so Paul went to the riverbank where people met for prayer. He began to preach the Gospel at the riverside.
A businesswoman named Lydia received the Gospel and her and her whole household were baptized. There was a slave girl in Philippi that would follow Paul and constantly say, “This man is of God.” Paul caste out a fortune telling spirit from this girl. Paul wound up in jail because what he did brought economic loss to the city. Here is Paul, beaten and in jail, but despite all this he, along with Silas were singing hymns, spiritual songs and giving thanks to God.
Here was Paul in prison and in the midst of all this an earthquake came and his chains were loosened. The jailer, thinking the prisoners would escape, was about to kill himself, but Paul stopped him. The jailer cried out, what must I do to be saved. Paul pointed the jailer and his household to Jesus Christ. You see Paul had a great beginning there in Philippi.
Paul is pouring out his heart in this letter to Philippi. We see his joyful love flowing out. He was in difficult circumstances personally, but Paul knew the Lord’s work was going forward. The first thing we see about joyful love is that it expresses thanksgiving.
I) Joyful Love Expresses Thanksgiving: Philippians 1:3-6
Paul said in vs. 3 “I thank my God every time I remember you.” Think back to the last time you celebrated thanksgiving. It is a time of family togetherness, a time to feast on a great turkey dinner. At that time we think of all the ways we can be thankful because of the good things that have happened to us. Paul was thankful here in the midst of difficult circumstances. He wasn’t thankful because of family togetherness or because of the good things that happened to him. He was experiencing very bad times, yet he was thankful in every circumstance.
He wrote in I Thessalonians 5:18, “Give thank in all circumstances.” Paul is living this very idea. In the midst of difficult circumstances, Paul is giving thanks. Paul has been in prison. He is isolated and limited, but he is not limited in his prayer. Paul is not limited in his thankfulness. Many people are seeking happiness through different pleasures, possessions or through obtaining power. We need to remember that true thanksgiving and true joy comes from God.
That is why Paul could know joy in the midst of these circumstances. We can experience Christian joy in the midst of tears and tragedy. Paul said, Vs. 4 “I always pray with joy.” He prayed with joy because of their partnership. He spoke of this partnership in Vs 5. “A partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.” Paul attributed his joy to the partnership of the Gospel.