Summary: As we begin the book of Philippians we immediately discover the true source of Paul’s joy.
Sunday, January 13, 2002
Have you ever asked yourself - "Why does pastor preach through a particular book?" Sometimes - there is a particular need in our congregation. Sometimes - the content of the book is needed as our theological anchor in the days in which live. Sometimes, quite frankly its because it is something that I want or need so you get to tag along.
Well today we start one of those books that falls into the last category. It is the book of Philippians. This book is know as the book of joy. Some things in the last few months have been a real struggle so I thought - boy I could really use some more joy in my life right about now.
I told a pastor friend that I was going to preach through this book and he told me to be careful. He reminded me that Philippians is about joy in the midst of trials. When he preached through this book he felt that the Lord had really put him through difficulty so that he could learn to have joy. Be careful, he said.
Well, you know what? I’ve decided its worth the risk. Joy is worth possible trials. It is too easy in this day and age to be down in the mouth. Having a pity party has become downright acceptable. All of us are victims we are told. It seems like too many are in a downward spiral of apathy and depression. It is time for us to experience some real joy. Not momentary pleasure, or fleeting happiness or entertainment, but deep, down, long lasting joy that can survive whatever comes its way. Joy that stays even in the midst of the trials and difficulties of life.
How do we get that kind of joy - I hope that as we wander through the book of Philippians we will learn that together.
1. The background - Paul’s real trials
This is one of the prison epistles - written during Paul’s first imprisonment in Rome. It is the one we read of in the book of Acts. Paul rented hi own home but was always chained to a Roman guard.
But what had gotten him there - beaten by the Jews
- arrested by the Romans
- bitten by a poisonous snake
- someone was even preaching the Gospel so that things would go worse for Paul.
Not the makings of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Yet there was joy.
2. The surface reason 1:3-5
because of the participation in the Gospel
aha - they sent Paul gifts time and again
He was happy to write to them because they were good to him.
Certainly for Paul the spread of the Gospel was cause for rejoicing.
But I don’t think that is the reason for his joy when he thought of the Philippians.
What does their participation show?
Fruit that they themselves had truly received that same Gospel.
Evidence that they had truly trusted Christ
3. The heart of the matter 1:6
As Paul saw fruit in their life it made him confident that Christ was really working in their lives. And if Christ had begun the work he would also bring it to completion.
Being confident - being fully persuaded, convinced
When Christ starts the work, he never fails to finish it.
Herein is the foundation of true joy.
Having one’s eternal destiny settled beyond a shadow of a doubt.
But we as Christians run into trouble when we want to have our cake and eat it too. We want heaven but we also expect the good life here on earth. Then we become dissatisfied when life falls short of our expectations.
Paul’s great joy is based on one fact. Despite all that is going on around him and despite what the authorities do to him, he is convinced that his destiny is sure.
We are children whining about life being unfair when it has been hugely unfair in our favour. We who deserve nothing but God’s eternal wrath have been made instead joint heirs with Jesus Christ.