Summary: Paul's letter to the Philippians has many themes but one of the most important is that of joy. 17 times joy is mentioned and 51 times Jesus. Joy comes in connection with close personal relationship with Jesus. Our churches are called to a hope and a fu
Intro: What a wonderful letter. What a note to begin the New Year on. Rejoice in the Lord! Seventeen times in this letter Paul speaks about joy. In relation to this joy he speaks personally about Jesus Christ at least 51 times. The source of Joy is an ongoing growing relationship with Jesus. The significant life of a believer is not found in resolutions that become dissolutions but are found in redemption in Christ that results in joy.
This letter is all the more amazing because Paul wrote it while in prison. Paul thanks them for their constant support and challenges to be careful of false teachers otherwise known as dogs because they try to drag the Philippian Christians away from the Joy of Christ with empty adherence to the ceremonial law of Judaism.
Paul tells the Philippians and us that the significant life Christ offers is one that is full of joy. 51 times it is connected with Jesus. Paul makes very clear how we can live a life of significant joy. Paul makes clear that this joy is not for a select few. He says brothers rejoice in the Lord. The normal Christian life is offered to every believer. So how do we get this joy?
I. Losing confidence in yourself (Philippians 3:1-4)
A) Changing your idea of what is important
Philippians 3.7 “I once thought these things were valuable, but I now consider them worthless because of what Christ has done.”
What we have to do is keep what is important in front of us every moment. Why? Because what is pressing can overcome what is permanent. It is so very easy to let the good become more important than the best. What did Paul think was valuable before Christ? Look back to Philippians 3.5-6. Paul before Christ focused on his status and achievements. He focused on the wrong things. What things distract you from a personal relationship to God?
Why is it that so many people are unhappy at any church? Because they are focusing on what is not important. The music is not the most important thing. The way we organize is not the most important thing. The ministries we do are not the most important thing. Paul said the most important thing is knowing Christ. In the new living translation he said the thing of infinite or eternal worth is knowing Jesus. Why is this the most important thing? First it is what mankind was made for. Second it is what we are remade for in salvation through Jesus Christ. Third when we get this right it changes everything else. It changes our unity, it changes our vision, it changes our giving, it changes our service, it changes our attitudes, it changes our actions, it changes our forgiveness of others, it changes our acceptance of others, it changes our encouragement of others, it changes everything! Get this right first. What is more important than anything we can do this new year is knowing Christ intimately!!
B) Changing what you place your confidence in
Faith can also be translated confidence. So If you find out your priorities are out of whack what should you do? Well of course you should change your priorities. Paul had placed his confidence in His nationality, his religious practice, his religious passion, his reputation pedigree. Have you done like Paul? Have you placed your confidence in something that is good but not best? Jesus is calling this body of believers to a future and a hope and we need desperately to go there together. Are you confident in your relationship with Jesus or in your religious trappings?
Biblical joy consists of the deep and abiding confidence that all is well regardless of circumstance and difficulty. Where does this deep and abiding confidence come from? This form of confidence comes from a personal relationship to Jesus.
II. Losing an incorrect vision of Church (Philippians 3.7-8)
The Christian life isn’t an “improved” life – it’s an entirely DIFFERENT life! God empowers us to live a new life. C.S.Lewis wrote: “Jesus did NOT come to make bad people good, He came to make DEAD people LIVE!”
We as the church are not here to make people’s lives better. If you make a lost person’s life better they are still separated from God. People even church folk are looking for joy in the wrong place. Paul was a very religious person but was lost, separated from God by his lack of faith in Jesus Christ.
We are not here to merely make people better. We are here to know Jesus Christ.
There are many false teachers today telling us so many things about what the church should be. The church is supposed to be a group of people called out from this world system, from their sin, from their separation with God to first know God in Jesus Christ.