Summary: This sermon is designed to encourage believers to make the most out of difficult situations.

Series: “How To Have Joy In A Jail Cell”

Pastor: Robert E. Dyson

City of Refuge Bible Baptist Church

True Blue, VA

PHP 1:3 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.

Subject: “Learning To Make Lemonade ”


Allow me this morning to reflect, recall and revisit from those days of my childhood euphoria for a moment. I am reminded of the times when on those hot, humid and sizzling summer days of my youth when my great grandmother would gather lemons from the refrigerator and make for my friends and I lemonade. I can recall that I never particularly enjoyed the taste of lemons but oh how I loved the taste of sweet, cold lemonade on those hot summer days. It was always amazing to me that my great grandmother could take something as bitter as lemons and produces something as sweet as lemonade. So, this morning I want to use that experience as a canvas and backdrop for this the first message in this series of sermons on How to Have Joy In a Jail Cell. I submit that the first thing we must learn in order to have joy in the midst of jail cell experiences is that we must learn the discipline of turning sour lemon situations into positive and productive lemonade experiences. The question is what do we do when the circumstance and the events of our lives deal us those sour lemon experiences? What do we do when we discover that our private and personal phobias have surfaced, and seek to rob us of the precious promises that we have received from the prince of peace? What do we do when things in our lives are coming up sour? When our plans are thrown off course, and our blue skies turn black, and when our hopes bust like bubbles in our faces. What, what do we do when our dreams seem to turn into nightmares. (Walk with me for a moment) When I woke up in the hospital in 1984 and was told that I was paralyzed, it was one of those moments. You know those moments when no amount of money can help you, those moments when who you know and who know’s you can’t help you, those moments when education, affiliations, and social stratifications don’t mean a thing. Those moments when we are flooded by the forces of friction, surrounded by the winds of worry, and drenched by the rains of hardships and hard ache. Those moments when difficulty and disaster sail into our lives like a bad weather. When accidents, incidents and various forms of misfortune interrupt our efforts and energies to proceed and make progress. It’s at those palm sweating, teeth biting, floor walking, and sleepless moments that we must learn how to turn those lemon experiences into lemonade. When confronted with death, divorce, and even dismay. When we have seen the lightning flashing, heard the thunder roll and felt sin breakers dashing trying to concur our soul it is there at those moments when we must learn to make lemonade out of lemons.


Here in our text today Pastor Paul provides us with a fresh and fruitful pattern of how we can turn life’s bitter and sour lemon experiences into sweet lemonade. Paul had learned to make lemonade out of lemons and here in this text he shares with us his recipe. Pastor Paul provides us with a pattern of how to have joy in a jail cell by turning our lemon experiences into lemonade.


Pastor Paul is the penmen of this epistle, he writes to a group of believers located in the Roman providence of Macedonia in the colony of Philippi. The context of this letter of commendation written by Pastor Paul takes place while he is in under house arrest in Rome. The recipients of this letter were some 800 miles away and it had been about 10 long years since they had last seen Pastor Paul. The passing of torch of time however had not eaten away at their love or loyalty for Pastor Paul nor had distance diminished, distracted or devalued their compassion and commitment for Paul. He writes to his friends and fellow saints to console their concerns about his well-being. Let us listen in on the conversation between this pastor and these loving people.

Paul opens by first thanking God for the memories of time they he had spent with the Philippians. The original language of this text uses a word for remembrance that carries the root idea of to bring to mention or a tomb. The word used is where we get our English words memory and memorial. Memorials or tombstones are landmarks that served as visible reminders to etch in our memories the lives and legacies of the dearly departed. The writer is saying that every time he think of his friends it’s liken unto a person looking at a tombstone or the gave marker of a dearly beloved relative, and the memories of days gone by come rushing back to flood the conscience like the rising of a high tide. While our English translation does not clearly capture this matter Paul is simply saying that for him the Philippians served as kind of trip wire, and every time he was reminded of their fellowship it caused him to give thanks to God. If we are going to learn to make lemonade out of lemons …

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