Summary: MAIN IDEAS: You can be Joy-FULL regardless of your circumstances if you live your life with an eternal perspective. 1. Let God use your tough circumstances for his purposes. 2. Don’t get sidetracked by petty disagreements. 3. Live for Christ every
Becoming a Joy-FULL Person
2. Live With An Eternal Perspective
May 8/9, 2004
MAIN IDEAS: You can be Joy-FULL regardless of your circumstances if you live your life with an eternal perspective.
1. Let God use your tough circumstances for his purposes.
2. Don’t get sidetracked by petty disagreements.
3. Live for Christ everyday.
At one time or another we all face crummy situations. Whether it’s an overwhelming tragedy like the death of a loved one or a chronic illness on down to just having a bad day, as believers we can face them with joy. God can take our difficulties and trials and suffering and turn them into an occasion for joy.
Today we’re going to look at another key to becoming a Joy-FULL person: living with an eternal perspective. We’re going to turn again to the remarkable letter written by a missionary named Paul to one of the churches he established. This letter is an invitation to experience the joy of the Christian life. I say the letter is remarkable because it was written while Paul was under arrest and awaiting trial, the outcome of which could result in either his release from chains or his execution. He was chained 24/7 to a Roman soldier, yet he managed to experience joy despite his situation.
How did he do it? How could you possibly be Joy-FULL in a situation like that? Well, it’s all in your perspective.
PERSPECTIVE IS EVERYTHING!
The way we look at life determines whether we have joy or despair.
It’s something like what Coach John McKay of USC said to his team after they had been humiliated 51-0 by Notre Dame. McKay came into the locker room and saw a group of beaten worn-out and thoroughly depressed young football players who were not accustomed to losing. He stood up on a bench and said, "Men, let’s keep this in perspective. There are 800 million Chinese who don’t even know this game was played." That’s what you call perspective.
Steve Farrar, Family Survival in the American Jungle, 1991, Multnomah Press, p. 40.
That’s one way to get the situation in perspective, but Paul went a step further. He didn’t just make the best of a bad situation he actually saw the positive results of his imprisonment. So we’re not just talking about seeing the cup as half full rather than half empty. We’re talking about seeing what is going on in your life – really seeing your entire life – as something that God is at work in and through.
Let’s read from Philippians 1 starting with verse 12…
12 Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel. 13 As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. 14 Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly.
What does it mean to live with an eternal perspective? The first thing we learn from Paul is you must…
1. Let God use your tough circumstances for his purposes. (v. 12-14)
“What has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel.” V. 12
Look at the good things Paul mentions that have happened as a result of his rather bleak circumstances. (imprisoned, waiting, unjustly accused, unjustly beaten)
1. Everyone knows he’s in chains for Christ (v. 13), which means he has a STRONG TESTIMONY.
The harder your situation, the more powerful your testimony of faithfulness.
I was talking with a friend in our church who is going through a hard time this week – but he is displaying an amazing amount of grace and faith throughout the struggles he’s facing. He was telling me about a conversation with a neighbor that he had, where his neighbor, observing how he was handling the situation, said “I know ONE person who’s going to heaven!” This person, though not really understanding exactly what it takes to get to heaven, was seeing Christ through the example of this man – and it had him thinking about eternity.
If you’re struggling through some sort of difficult circumstance now, stop for a moment and think about the people who are watching you go through it. You have an incredible opportunity to demonstrate to them what faith in Jesus means – and the difference it can make for you. When you demonstrate faith in the hard times, it makes your testimony that much more powerful!
TRANS: The second good result from his suffering that Paul mentions is…
2. Others have been encouraged to speak the word of God. (v. 14).
When you are in tough circumstances and you continue to praise God – you continue to show joy and faith in God – then it encourages others who are in tough situations or easier situations to do the same.