Summary: An examination of true Christian joy
The Joys of Prison
October 25, 1998
I. The Prescription for a Joyless Life
1. Make little things bother you: don’t just let them, make them!
2. Lose your perspective of things, and keep it lost. Don’t put first things first.
3. Get yourself a good worry - one about which you cannot do anything but worry
4. Be a perfectionist: condemn yourself and others for not achieving perfection
5. Be right, always right, perfectly right all of the time. Be the only one who is right and be rigid about your rightness.
6. Don’t trust or believe people, or accept them at anything but their worst and weakest. Be suspicious. Impute ulterior motives to them.
7. Always compare yourself unfavorably to others, which is the guarantee of instant misery.
8. Take personally with a chip on your shoulder, everything that happens to you that you don’t like
9. Don’t give yourself wholeheartedly or enthusiastically to anyone or to anything
10. Make happiness the aim of your life instead of bracing for life’s barbs through a “bitter with the sweet” philosophy
II. The Purpose
A. Sound familiar: Do any of these traits sound familiar? Does anyone you know exhibit these types of behaviors? If we were totally honest all of us would have to confess that we have done these types of things, we don’t like to admit it though because we are holy people and holy people don’t do those things, either none of are holy in this room or all of us are human, no one is perfect, not me and not you,
B. We have a choice to make: Our lives are to be filled with joy but I see less and less joy in this church with each passing week, why? because we allow people and things to steal it away from us, we all have had things done or said to us that make us live life with a little less joy, life is what we make of it and our choice becomes how we will live with difficult situations or even difficult people, we can allow it to steal our joy or move on with life in spite of circumstances or others, How did Paul keep a joyous attitude in the midst of house arrest?
I. Paul Remembered a Joyful Past
A. Paul’s past was not entirely good
1. Memories of his personal persecution of the church: Paul hunted and killed Christians by the hundreds, Paul had to live with those memories of what he had done to the church,
2. Paul was persecuted: Paul had endured the hatered and scorn of his people, he suffered at the hands of the Jews, the Galatians and the Romans, Paul’s life was not easy
3. Paul made the choice to be joyful: Paul decided in the worst situations that he would remain joyful, he would not allow the things of the world to distract him from the heavenly, he would focus on Christ and finish his work - even if it cost him his life, dying for Christ would be better than living without Him
B. Paul remembered the positive
1. Paul didn’t live in the past: Paul could have given up and let his work stand on its own, he could have rested on his laurels but he didn’t, his work was not over, we too cannot rest on our previous works for God because they are done, what have you done for God lately?
2. Paul remebered the positive to keep perspective: Paul saw what good he had done and remained focused on the good that he could do, he saw his past with an outlook on the future, he would not give up onserving his Lord, Paul would serve til he died and thus he never lost hope, far too many lose hope because they lose perspective, God is bigger than any challenge that we will face
C. Paul remembers the Philippian church
1. His personal relationship with the church: Paul suffered for this church, he planted it with pain and sacrifice, Paul had a deep bond with these people and had a warm relationship with them
2. The partnership they had with Paul: The work that Paul began did not end there, the people kept it going through trial and persecution, they had become a strong and vibrant church,
3. His deep love for the Philippian people: Paul truly and deeply loved the Philippian people, this letter is full of his care and concern for them, he expresses a central compassion and genuine love for the church
II. Paul Recognized a Joyful Progress
A. Paul recognized who would finish the work
1. God has begun a great work: God has more invested in you than you do, it is time to start showing appreciation for that investment, God has given us new life but are we really living it?, do we live in anticipation of the great work or is it all just a memory