Summary: Life is hard. Sometimes we are dealt a difficult hand. But earnest prayer leading to real praise will lift us out of life’s ruts.
The Vital Link of Prayer & Praise
(Based in part on "The Answer to Your Problems" by Jay McPhearson)
Introduction: Ever face a problem you thought would top them all?
In Budapest, a Jewish man went to his rabbi and complained, "Life is unbearable for my family & me. There are nine of us living in one room. What can I do?"
The rabbi thought about it for a moment and answered, "Take your goat into the room with you."
The man was overwhelmed, but the rabbi insisted: "Do as I say and come back in a week."
A week later the man came back looking even more upset than before. "We cannot stand it," he told the rabbi. "The goat is filthy."
The rabbi then told him, "Go home and let the goat out. Come back in a week."
A week later, the man returned all excited and he exclaimed, "Life is beautiful. We enjoy every minute of our lives now. There’s no goat – just the nine of us."
When we consider how to be content in this life, there are times we think like that. It could be worse!
Did you know part of the United States was occupied by the enemy during World War II? Some of Alaska’s Aleutian Islands were held by Japanese troops. To supply the war effort, the United States government hastily built the Alaska Highway through the Canadian Rockies.
Some years after the war ended, the Alcan Highway opened to the public. Little had changed along its 1523 miles of dirt, mud, and treacherous snaking curves through the mountains. Shortly after being opened to the public, someone posted the following sign: "Choose your rut carefully. You will be in it for the next 1500 miles."
Proposition: Prayer that leads to praise will get us out of life’s ruts!
1. Reasons for Joy (verses 4-5)
Paul wrote to the Christians at Philippi while lounging on a beach at an exclusive Mediterranean seaside resort. We know better than that! Paul was in prison. He was in chains for the gospel.
In Phil. 1:6 Paul wrote “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart; for whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me.”
What does it mean to have internal joy? First let’s figure out what it doesn’t mean.
Internal Joy IS NOT:
1. Wearing a mask
2. Living inconsistently and hypocritically
Our surroundings might bring external joy – but they won’t bring Internal Joy.
Internal Joy IS:
Philippians 4:12 – I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.
2. Accepting what life hands you
Horatio Gates Spafford, a 43-year-old Chicago Businessman, suffered financial disaster in the great Chicago fire of 1871. He and his wife were still grieving over the death of their son shortly before the fire, and he realized they needed to get away for a vacation. Knowing that their friend Dwight L. Moody was going to preach in evangelistic campaigns in England that fall, Spafford decided to take his entire family to England. His wife and four daughters went ahead on the SS Ville du Havre, and he planned to follow in a few days.
But on the Atlantic Ocean the ship was struck by an iron sailing vessel and sank within 12 minutes. 226 lives were lost – including the Spafford’s four daughters. When the survivors were brought to shore at Cardiff, Wales, Mrs. Spafford cabled her husband two words: “Saved alone.”
Spafford booked passage on the next ship. As they were crossing the Atlantic, the captain pointed out the place where he thought the ship had gone down. That night, Spafford penned the following words:
When peace like a river attendeth my way
When sorrows like sea billows roll
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say
It is well; it is well with my soul.
3. Found in the Lord
What does Paul say? – REJOICE -- in the lord. Notice he doesn’t say Rejoice in your circumstances, he doesn’t say Rejoice because everything is going well – although that might be a reason to be happy. Paul’s desire is that you not rejoice in the temporary – but rejoice in something that will NEVER go away. Rejoice in the Lord.
Our internal joy is in the Lord because of who our Lord is.