Summary: This series comes right from the book of Philippians. I used Warren Wiersbe's "Be Joyful" and Matt Chandler's "To Live is Christ, To Die is Gain" as my two main sources. This first message is an overview of the entire series.

Have you ever noticed how hard it is to stay joyful?

• One minute you are on top of the world, the next in a pit of despair.

• To stay joyful is like trying to carry water in a holy bucket.

• you fill up, and it leaks out.

And the Bible says "be joyful always".

• Is this just a suggestion?

• It doesn't make sense and seems impossible.

• The car breaks

• The kids are fighting again

• The dr gives you the bad news

• your spouse walks out

• the co-worker stabs you in the back

• stress keeps growing

• your neighbors are difficult

• you failed the test

• and

• you want me to be joyful?

Being joyful wasn't impossible for the Apostle Paul, the author of the book of Philippians. He seemed to be able to live his life in a perpetual state of joy, and wanted to help others live in that joy as well.

The book of Philippians is Paul's personal manifesto on how to live a life full of joy. We see this over and over again throughout the letter.

• I pray always with joy - 1:4

• I rejoice - 1:18

• I will continue to rejoice - 1:18

• be glad and rejoice with me - 2:18

• rejoice in the Lord - 3:1

• Rejoice in the Lord always - 4:4

• the word joy just drips off the pages in this book in various forms

How? How did Paul do it? How did he live in a constant state of joy?

• Was he some kind of super-saint with a faith made of different stuff than the rest of us?

• Did he live in a state of constant denial?

• Or, did he live such a problem free life that to be sad, depressed, or in despair never occurred to him?

One thing that is true about Paul is that his life was not easy.

Paul lived almost every day of his life in mortal danger and physical pain

Look at 2 Corinthians for a summary of the harsh realities of his life as an apostle.

2 Corinthians 11:23-27 (NIV) -23 Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. 24 Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, 26 I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city,in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. 27 I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked.

And if these things were not enough

• Paul had some challenge which he called a "thorn in the flesh" which tormented him everyday. (2 Cor 12:7)

• According to church history, Emperor Nero killed Paul by cutting off his head sometime AD 67.

I think it's fair to say that Paul's life wasn't all that easy. Probably much harder than anything you or I face. So, what was his secret to JOY?

How was he able to say to the Philippians, "Be glad and rejoice with me?"

The answer is found in this short little book called Philippians. Just 4 short chapters packed with how to live a life of joy.

• written by the Apostle Paul when he was a prisoner in Rome about AD 62

• he wrote it to his fellow Christians, to the church in Philippi

• this church he started on his second missionary journey (Acts 16)

• one of their members, Epaphroditus, had been sent to Rome to bring a special offering to the apostle and to help him in his time of difficulty

• Paul's letter to the Philippian church is kind of like a missionary thank you letter, but much more than that.

• It is the sharing of Paul's secret of Christian joy.

• At least 19 times in these 4 chapters, Paul mentions joy, rejoicing, or gladness.

At the time when Paul wrote this book he was not in a situation where most would be rejoicing.

• He was a Roman prisoner, and his case was coming up shortly

• He might be acquitted, or he might be beheaded

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