Jul 21 8:03 AM
Jul 21 8:03 AM
Jul 21 8:03 AM
Wednesday, July 21, 2021
Philippians 1:12-14, 18
I don't know about you, but I need joy pick me ups. I need to remember why I can be joyful no matter what. And that's what I want to talk to you about - joy no matter what. It's the theme that I'm kind of using to carry these next few life lifters and we're getting it from Philippians, the book of joy. I want you to know that you can be joyful no matter what. Do you believe that? Do you believe that you can be joyful, no matter what? If you doubt me, let me give you a couple statements that may help you. I believe it's impossible to always be happy, but it's always possible to be joyful. Happiness depends on circumstances outside of you. Joy depends on God's work inside of you. You can't change the circumstances outside of you, therefore you can't always be happy. But you can always turn to and rely on God's work within you. And that is what joy is, and where joy comes from.
I believe this because the Apostle Paul wrote a letter to the Philippians, but he wrote it from a Roman prison around 60 AD. I find it ironic becuase if I was in prison, the last thing I would do is write an epistle and have it be centered on joy. I would have it be centered on suffering for the Lord, suffering for Jesus, but the Apostle Paul was contagiously, uncontainabley joyful. I get that from Philippians 1:12-14, 18. Look at what he says. Writing to the Christians at Philippi about his imprisonment, Paul says, "Now, I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the Word of God more courageously and fearlessly."
Paul didn't focus on circumstances outside of him. He focused on the gospel, which was what God wanted him to do, the work he wanted him to do inside. The happy part wasn't there. The joy part was. Then he goes on to talk about the effects of his imprisonment on others. He says, look, I don't like being in chains for Christ. I don't like being in prison. I'm not happy about it. But I'm joyful about it because now everybody knows why I'm in prison, why I'm in chains. I'm in chains for Christ. And he says, that's exciting. Look at verse 14, "Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the Word of God more courageously and fearlessly." In other words, because Paul was willing to suffer for Christ, a couple things happened. Number one, people who were not yet Christians were seeing Paul in chains for his faith in Christ, which must have been a bold witness to these people. They realized that he loves Jesus so much he's willing to go to prison for him. And I'm sure it helped Paul have an opportunity to share the gospel, the good news of Jesus, with others. Then he says that his imprisonment also encourages those who are already convinced to share their faith more. That's why he says in verse 18b, "Because of this, I rejoice."
He goes on to say that no matter what your motives are in sharing the gospel, at least it's getting out there. And so Paul said, look, because of what's happening to me outside, I don't have happiness. But inside what's happening to me is, because the gospel is getting out to more people and the people who are already Christians are helping get it out even further, in that I rejoice. So here's what I want to say: You can be joyful no matter what because God has given you unconditional Joy. He hasn't given you unconditional happiness. He doesn't promise happiness, but he does promise joy. Are you ready for that? For joy no matter what? I love being joyful and happy. That's a double win. But you know what, even if I'm not happy, I can go and I can be at peace with myself saying, I have to find the joy that the Lord has given me. He has given you joy. Have you gotten down on yourself? Have you gotten down on life? Are you unhappy? Stop trying to be happy. Let God take care of that. Do what you can do, because you can control joy. Joy is a choice because God has already given you that joy. You just have to turn yourself over to that joy.
Let's pray. Father, I don't know what people are going through. I don't know what wrestlings they might have. I don't know what threats to their joy are coming their way. I pray that you'll help them stop the losing battle to always be happy, but instead put that energy to fill their life with the joy which is always available in you, in their heart, through faith in Jesus. Encourage them now, fill them with joy, indescribable and incomprehensible. We ask this in Jesus' name, amen.