Summary: Paul urges us to live a joyful life in Christ. We are to (1) choose to rejoice in Christ, (2) let go of our worries through prayer, and (3) think and meditate on God’s truths.
How can we live a happier life? Paul gives us three principles:
1. CHOOSE to Rejoice Always
Paul says we can choose to rejoice - it is a choice.
• We are not victim of the circumstance
• If we believe God, then He is our Guide, not fate, not some kind of force.
Paul says we can be joyful IN THE LORD.
• In order words, the source of this joy comes from God.
There’s a big difference between happiness with joy.
• Happiness depends upon happenings or circumstances. When we watch a comedy, attends a party, we are happy.
• Joy, the Bible says in Gal 5:22, is the fruit of the Holy Spirit. It comes from the Lord.
If we know the Lord today, we can have this joy.
• The Holy Spirit dwells in our heart and gives us this joy.
• So joy is not a fruit of circumstance; it is a fruit of the Spirit.
• Joy comes from the Lord who lives in us, not from what’s happening outside of us.
Paul is now in prison when he writes this.
• If we understand his predicament, he couldn’t be happy.
• Even in this letter, he mentioned about some of the believers in Philippi were not getting along (4:2). And there were some false teachers among them (read 3:2).
• The church has problems, and Paul himself is in prison and his future uncertain. Yet he says, rejoice!
Joy is not just emotion. It is a choice; it is an attitude towards life.
• Paul did not look at himself and his predicament. He is always looking to God, and trusting Him to lead him and provide for him.
• You can look at a half-filled cup and thank God that you have some water to drink. Or lament why you have only half a cup and not a full cup.
• You can choose to think always about your weakness, about what you DO NOT have, or you can choose to thank God for what He has given us.
• Don’t see the thorns among the roses. Rather be thankful that among the thorns there are beautiful roses.
Listen to what the prophet Habbakkuk says - Hab 3:17-19
17 Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, 18 yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Saviour. 19 The Sovereign LORD is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights.
The words "I will" revealed Habakkuk’s belief that he could choose his response - either to sink into despair or to rejoice in God’s presence and power.
• His decision to rejoice wasn’t a denial of hardship or sorrow. We will have times of sorrow and grief. Jesus too wept.
• But sorrow cannot knock us down. We can rely upon the Lord.
• It was a decision of trust based on the truth that God would remain with him to be his strength and enabler (v.19).
Our attitude towards life is important. We can trust God, even in hardships.
• The choice to rejoice is ours everyday.
• To refuse to choose is itself a choice. We let the circumstances overwhelm us and rob us of joy.
• We are able to be joyful because of our confidence in God. We trust that God is present, and He is in control.
• So our joy is anchored, not in our circumstances, but in God.
Fanny Crosby wrote over 8000 hymns (Blessed Assurance, Praise Him, Praise Him, To God Be the Glory). She lost her sight when she was only 6 weeks old. She lived into her nineties, composing thousands of beloved hymns. On her 92nd birthday she cheerfully said, "If in all the world you can find a happier person than I am, do bring him to me. I should like to shake his hand."
YOU ARE BLESSED
If you woke up this morning with more health than illness, you are more blessed than the million who won’t survive the week.
If you have never experienced the danger of battle, the loneliness of imprisonment, the agony of torture or the pangs of starvation, you are ahead of 20 million people around the world.
If you attend a church meeting without fear of harassment, arrest, torture, or death, you are more blessed than almost three billion people in the world.
If you have food in your refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof over your head and a place to sleep, you are richer than 75% of this world.