- Sermon Notes
JOY NO MATTER WHAT
January 9, 2022
CS Lewis writes, “joy is the serious business of heaven.”
The Apostle Paul, among others, would tell us no matter what is going on we have reason to rejoice in Christ.
Paul writes to the church in Philippi, from prison, uniquely qualified to write, that no matter what is going on in your life, you have reason to rejoice and have joy .
Sixteen-times Paul uses joy in this book – one of the sturdiest things from Paul’s teaching is joy…So do you allow other things to rob you of joy?
Illustration – My sister’s battle with cancer.
An infallible sign of God is Joy – Have you met a gloomy Christian or one that complains a lot or is moody? It’s a contradiction in terms – gloomy & Christian.
I must admit when I meet a Christian who meets this description about life’s topics, I am sad that the enemy is stealing their joy.
Paul penned Philippians in 62AD – He had wanted to go to Rome, as a preacher, but instead went as a prisoner, with free passage, thanks to the Roman Gov’t.
Philippi was a church started by Paul on his 2nd missionary journey with Silas and Luke/Dr Luke.
He is writing to them from Rome – where he waits 2 years for the emperor, but was treated well as a Roman citizen. The scene is a classic God story, Paul chained to a different guard every 24-hours. A new soldier, the gospel presented each time. In the City of Rome this was quite talked about – no wonder the church of Rome explodes…
The Roman emperor was Nero. None other than the one re-sponsible for blaming the Christians when the city burned.
Wish I could take v12-14 and put them into all of our souls – have the spirit of those verses when things get really difficult – I am convinced God will work through it with us.
I. Joy Reflects the Power of the Gospel
v12, circumstances helped for the greater good. Keep pressing, don’t give up, you will experience joy no matter what.
What if Paul would have thrown up his hands and quit because there was simply too many difficulties, too many circumstances outside of his control?
Most of us, if we were honest, would say we find ourselves being very affected by circumstances whether they are good or not.
Paul viewed joy in our circumstances very differently than you or me, not that we wouldn’t be in agreement with this man, but how often do we live our lives without regard for our circumstances?
I found this passage to be a great reminder to me personally about how the Lord has worked in my life and so I know you will find it encouraging as well – If you believe what he says.
The past two years have been difficult for many I know and love. But Paul reminds us that joy comes from the Lord, not our circumstances.
• God didn’t say, “In this world you will not have troubles.”
If life’s circumstances challenge all that you are, then you are in the right place – because God will revolutionize how you live.
When trouble comes – things change and who we are in Christ becomes more clear – I’m praying that you find joy in Christ.
How many people tonight would say, you have someone in your life to encourage you during difficult times? If you didn’t raise your hand, let me ask it this way – How many would say that Jesus comforts you during difficult times? Who do you comfort when they are going through difficult times?
Paul would not give us a hall-pass on that, he would contend that Jesus in our life compels us to give others encouragement. And if you are not doing that or you are “gloomy”, Paul would exhort you to get serious about your relationship with the Lord.
1 Thessalonians 5:11, Therefore, encourage one another and build one another up, just as you also are doing.
Hebrews 10:24-25, and let’s consider how to encourage one another in love and good deeds, not abandoning our own meeting together, as is the habit of some people, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.
If there was anyone who qualified not to have joy, it was Paul, writing from Prison in Rome to the people of Philippi.
A. Only God supplies an unlimited fountain of joy
• 5 years this hard-driving apostle is locked up.
• We all encounter things, the smallest of things, that can get under our skin and impact our joy. Practice filtering those things through joy in the Lord.
When Paul wrote the church in Ephesus, he said don’t lose heart over my circumstances; he was excited about what God was doing from a Biblical view – his view transcended world circumstances.
Ephesians 3:13; Therefore, I ask you not to lose heart at my tribulations on your behalf, for they are your glory.
2 Peter 1:3, for His divine power has granted to us every-thing pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.
God uses circumstances to glorify Christ, not allow the enemy to steal joy.
B. Allow your circumstances to glorify Christ
We often say we know God is in control but do we go the next step to see that He’s using our circumstances to glorify Christ?
• for the greater progress of the gospel
• KJ version says, rather unto the furtherance of the gospel;
ILLUSTRATION – Army Corp of Engineers
How do Paul’s circumstances in prison apply here?
Without prison these doors would never open.
v13 – the whole Praetorian Guard –
• Paul’s circumstances allowed God to give him access to the highest powers in Rome.
Caesar’s personal bodyguards – hand-picked – of valor, leadership and battle tested – 10,000 men – the most loyal to Caesar – they serve for 16 years with many benefits, pay and comforts not afforded the Roman Army.
• These guys guarded Paul
• Chained wrist to wrist – rotated shifts every 4-6 hours
• Do you think they were bored? Can you imagine?
Do you think God would waste all this time with the Apostle Paul chained to guards and not use his circumstances to bring joy and glory in the city?
During that time he could conduct Bible Studies, present salvation messages to countless visitors and write letters to the churches.
It’s no wonder the scripture says the Word of God became known in v13. Paul’s circumstances put him in front of these people. He was joyful no matter what…
How are you doing with joy in your life? What do you not like about your situation? How could you allow God to use you to impact Heaven because of it? It’s worth your time processing that and asking God to reveal that to you.
II. Courage from God Will Embolden You
Boldness results for the believers in Philippi. They have witnessed Paul’s circumstances, his response and the doors opened for Paul as a result.
• Up to now the church in Philippi wasn’t in great shape, they were timid, afraid to be bold.
Romans 1:16; For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
Now Paul is bold with the Praetorian Guards and the VIP’s in Rome.
• A free man in Rome would not have accomplished this for the sake of Christ.
God used Paul to set the church on fire and put the bureau-cracy on notice for Jesus Christ.
A. Adversity brings us joy and blessing
• Adversity is often the door to ministry.
• I’ve talked about finding your platform to speak from…among others mine has been my large family – speaking into the lives of many who go through tough times with their kids…or my police and fire Chaplaincy work – encouraging those in distress.
• God displays His power in our lives when we are hurting – He will give you joy so in Him you can minister to others.
ILLUSTRATION – Career altering Baseball injury in college
2 Corinthians 1:4; who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any afflic-tion with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
You may have a testimony like my sister – very difficult time of life – and you find joy in the Lord despite your circum-stances?
How many times have you heard someone say; “before I went through __________ I couldn’t speak to those going through it the same way.”?
• The next difficult time you face, maybe it’s right now, em-brace it with joy from the Lord, so you are better equipped to minister to others.
B. Adversity is no match for God’s Sovereignty
• Turning ashes into beauty – turning a mess into victory – turning heartache into joy.
• Sovereignty is more than being all-present or all-powerful – View it as God actively stepping into your life, actively joining you in your circumstances, actively replacing fear with faith.
C. A Godly view of adversity cements trust
Some of us see adversity as robbing our joy.
• Challenges in parenting
• Financial struggles
• Strained relationships – marriage or otherwise
• Health concerns
He’s calling us to trust Him – it doesn’t matter what “it” is; God’s plan is to turn adversity around for His own glory – to give us joy in our lives with Him.
Psalms 62:8; Trust in Him at all times, O people; Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us.
Paul never lost his Joy in the midst of his difficulties.
The Bible tells us what we need to know – how we are to respond –
Isaiah 41:10; ‘‘Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’
Luke 12:22-26; And He said to His disciples, “For this rea-son I say to you, do not worry about your life, as to what you will eat; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap; they have no storeroom nor barn, and yet God feeds them; how much more valuable you are than the birds! And which of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life’s span? If then you cannot do even a very little thing, why do you worry about other matters?
Revelation 1:17; When I saw Him, I fell at His feet like a dead man. And He placed His right hand on me, saying, “Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last,
The message today is about joy and hope for our generation. These are truths to be embracing ourselves, teaching and modeling for our younger people.
Imagine a teenager with a Godly view of circumstances, not gloomy or moody or complaining – imagine the joy and the impact they have on their generation and those around them!
Your circumstances can’t possibly be as bad as Paul’s.
My prayer for you tonight is that you will allow the Holy Spirit to help you find joy in the midst of adversity.
1 Paul and Timothy, bond-servants of Christ Jesus,
3 I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, 4 always offering prayer with joy in my every prayer for you all, 5 in view of your [c]participation in the gospel from the first day until now. 6 For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work [d]among you will complete it [e]by the day of Christ Jesus. 7 [f]For it is only right for me to feel this way about you all, because I have you in my heart, since both in my [g]imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, you all are [h]partakers of grace with me. 8 For God is my witness, how I long for you all with the [i]affection of Christ Jesus. 9 And this I pray, that your love may overflow still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, 10 so that you may [j]discover the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and blameless for the day of Christ; 11 having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, for the glory and praise of God.
12 Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel, 13 so that my [k]imprisonment in the cause of Christ has become well known throughout the [l]praetorian guard and to everyone else, 14 and that most of the brothers and sisters, [m]trusting in the Lord because of my [n]imprisonment, have far more courage to speak the word of God without fear. 15 Some, to be sure, are preaching Christ even [o]from envy and strife, but some also [p]from goodwill; 16 the latter do it out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel; 17 the former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition [q]rather than from pure motives, thinking that they are causing me distress in my [r]imprisonment. 18 What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in this I rejoice.
But not only that, I also will rejoice, 19 for I know that this will turn out for my [s]deliverance through your [t]prayers and the provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, 20 according to my eager expectation and hope, that I will not be put to shame in anything, but that with all boldness, Christ will even now, as always, be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.