Summary: Introduction to study of Philippians. Topic for series is "Reclaiming Joy"

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Bible Teaching Ministry of


Thomasville, NC

Dr. Russell Brownworth, Pastor

Philippians 1.1-7

Roy Robertson is one of the founders of "The Navigators," and has been instrumental in the follow-up ministry for Billy Graham’s Hong Kong crusade. Robertson shared this revealing insight from his own past:

"My ship, the West Virginia, docked at Pearl Harbor on the evening of December 6, 1941. A couple of the fellows and I left the ship that night and attended a Bible study. About fifteen sailors sat in a circle on the floor. The leader asked us to each recite our favorite scripture verse. In turn each sailor shared a verse and briefly commented on it. I sat there in terror. I couldn’t recall a single verse. I grew up in a Christian home, went to church three times a week, but I sat there terrified. I couldn’t recall a single verse. Finally, I remembered one verse -- John 3.16. I silently rehearsed it in my mind. The spotlight of attention grew closer as each sailor took his turn. It was up to the fellow next to me. He recited John 3.16. He took my verse! As he commented on it I sat there in stunned humiliation. In a few moments everyone would know that I could not recall from memory even a single verse. Later that night I went to bed thinking, ’Robertson, you’re a fake.’ At 7:55 the next morning I was awakened by the ship alarm ordering us to battle stations. 360 planes of the Japanese Imperial Fleet were attacking our ship and the other military installations. My crew and I raced to our machine gun emplacement, but all we had was practice ammunition. So for the first fifteen minutes of the two hour battle,we only fired blanks, hoping to scare the Japanese airplanes. As I stood there firing fake ammunition I thought, ’Robertson, this is how your whole life has been -- firing blanks for Christ.’ I made up my mind as Japanese bullets slammed into our ship, ’If I escape with my life, I will get serious about following Jesus.’"[1]

A rather stark reality that plagues the Christian community is the "firing of blanks" when it comes to joy. We live in an age consumed by entertainment, directed at pleasing us, or capturing our attention so we will pass the time -- at the very least pass our money. Blazingly fast computers and telephone services cater to our whim or demand. All around us signs and services inform us that there is absolutely nothing money can’t buy to make our lives happier. Of course our Christian theology tells us materialism is wrong, and our happiness cannot be found in things or pleasures. Then why is it that so many believers are "firing blanks" when it comes to joy?

Many Christian people talk about joy; some actually exhibit joy -- at least when they’re near other believers. But all too often the common experience is a spiritless sourness that trudges through life as if the believer were a bug, trapped by a vampire spider, having all the vital juices of life sucked-away. Call me radical, but I find it hard to accept THAT as the "abundant life" Jesus said He came to birth in us.

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Dr. Madana Kumar, Phd

commented on Apr 26, 2008

Great Sermon.Brings out the right answers to the quest for joy in the current world. Praise be to God!!

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