Summary: Last message (33) from Philippians. This message is an overview of the lessons learned from Paul's letter demonstrating the true source of joy in life.
Chico Alliance Church
“Ode to Joy”
An “ode” is a lyrical poem meant to be sung. Paul didn’t intend his letter to be sung but the music of the letter is clear. Certain pieces of music weave carefully crafted repeated musical themes or melodic phrases thorough the entire piece. Paul wove several themes through his letter with an overriding theme of joy centered in Jesus Christ. After so much time in this letter over the past year, I noticed the complementary themes of peace and contentment in Christ no matter what.
Paul’s letter condensed to a single phrase might be, “Joy No Matter What” or “How to maintain the joy of the Lord while managing the junk of this world. The key to maintaining the joy of the Lord while living in a broken world has to do with five key focal points or life decisions.
We need to decide on what will be the central focus of my life. What is my axis point? Does my life revolve around family, self, success, money, possessions, happiness no matter what, comfort, notoriety or fame? Whether formally stated or not, everyone has a central axis around which they organize their life and make major decisions in life.
We need to decide what governs my relationship with people. Love people and use things. Use people and love things. Me first.
I need to determine what pursuit or aim holds the greatest value. This is similar to a life axis but focus more on a specific aim. Gain an education or trade? Raise a family? Become a doctor or athlete or actor or politician?
What will define my character? What kinds of activity or lifestyle will characterize my life. Who will I model my life after?
Where will I find the resources to accomplish my goals? Paul settled all these questions. He expressed his journey in each of these areas throughout his letter to a small minority people who had bravely embraced Christ while living in a predominately pagan Greek/Roman culture in a city in Greece called Philippi.
He began the letter with the confidence that what God starts, God finishes. He called them to seriously join God’s ongoing work in us to bring us to the point where we both want and work to please God. He finished with confidence that he could do all things through Christ who continually strengthens him. Today, I plan to review these five central factors in maintaining the joy of the Lord while managing the junk of the world. I urge you to consider these five elements as a spiritual health check list. Each one deserves some serious consideration for implementation into your life. These five elements define what it means to be distinctively Christian in our walk.
I. PICK THE RIGHT AXIS – A Passion to praise Christ 1
Praising and exalting Christ in everything always
We must first pick the right axis around which our life will revolve.
…according to my earnest expectation and hope, that I will not be put to shame in anything, but that with all boldness, Christ will even now, as always, be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.
In sharing his testimony and circumstance, Paul demonstrated how this life resolve to see Christ praised and exalted enabled him to view even negative circumstance as an opportunity to exalt Christ and therefore caused rejoicing.
He shared the fact that even though he was currently imprisoned, that imprisonment brought positive benefits to Christ and the Gospel. His imprisonment inspired others to boldly stand for the gospel. His imprisonment provided a platform to preach the Gospel to those guarding him.
He also struggled with those preaching the gospel with wrong motives and even hurtful intent toward him. He rejoiced even in this because his priority was the exaltation of Christ.
What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and in this I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice… 1:18
His imprisonment could have possibly led to his execution. He viewed even the inevitability of death as a joy producing event. He still held out hope for deliverance through their intense prayers for him (19) yet was willing to suffer death for the sake of the gospel. His life axis of exalting Jesus enabled him to be happy with either continued ministry on earth or completed ministry in heaven.
For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 1:21
He found positives in either scenario. He favored release to be with Christ but was willing to remain on for their benefit. If God allowed him to stay, he asked them to keep standing firm in their faith in spite of opposition and suffering for Christ’s sake.