One of the surest measures of a Christian’s spiritual maturity is what it takes to rob him of his joy.
Paul’s maturity is evident in the present text as he makes it clear that difficult, unpleasant, painful, even life-threatening circumstances did not rob him of joy but rather caused it to increase.
Although it is a gift from God to every believer and administered by the Holy Spirit (Gal.
5:22), joy is not always constant and full (cf. 1 John 1:4).
The only certain cause for loss of joy in a believer’s life is sin, which corrupts his fellowship with the Lord, who is the source of joy.
*Solomon writes* "For to a person who is good in His sight He has given wisdom and knowledge and joy, while to the sinner He has given the task of gathering and collecting so that he may give to one who is good in God’s sight.
This too is vanity and striving after wind."
(Ecclesiastes 2:26, NASB95)
*The Psalmist says to God that *"You have put gladness in my heart, More than when their grain and new wine abound."
(Psalm 4:7, NASB95)
*God’s Word brings joy.
Jeremiah said *"Your words were found and I ate them, And Your words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart.”
(Jeremiah 15:16, NASB95)
*The Psalmist declares *"You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever."
(Psalm 16:11, NASB95)
Such sinful attitudes as dissatisfaction, bitterness, sullenness, doubt, fear, and negativism cause joy to be forfeited.
Consequently, the only way to restore lost joy is to repent and return to proper worship of and obedience to God.
/God’s Word makes it clear that trouble in this life is certain to come: /
*It says in Job 5:7* "Yet man is born to trouble, As the sparks fly upward."
(Job 5:7, NKJV)
*In Chapter 14 he says* "Man who is born of woman Is of few days and full of trouble."
(Job 14:1, NKJV)
*Speaking of man, Solomon says* "For all his days are sorrowful, and his work burdensome; even in the night his heart takes no rest.
This also is vanity.”
(Ecclesiastes 2:23, NKJV)
/Believers are not exempt from the common problems and difficulties all people face.
*They also face persecution for their faith from the hostile world system.
* “Remember the word that I said to you,” *Jesus said,* “A slave is not greater than his master.’
If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you” (John 15:20).
*A short while later He added:* “In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
*To scattered Jewish Christians in the early church who were suffering great persecution, James wrote,* “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.
And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2–4).
But God can use even the most difficult trials for our good and for His glory.
No New Testament writer understood that truth better than Paul did.
He resisted anything that threatened to come between him and his intimate fellowship with and trust in the Lord.
*Paul said 2 Timothy 4:16-17* At my first defense no one stood with me, but all forsook me . .
.but the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that the message might be preached fully through me, and /that/ all the Gentiles might hear.
And I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion.
The maturity of a person can be seen by how well he or she handles the things that happen to him.
!! A. The Maturity of a Person.
I (we) must learn to /live above our circumstances – /How can we do that?
Isaiah 40:28 Have you not known?
Have you not heard?
The everlasting God, the LORD, The Creator of the ends of the earth, Neither faints nor is weary.
His understanding is unsearchable.
Isaiah 40:31--But those who wait on the LORD Shall renew /their/ strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint
!!!! a) An eagle, when it want’s to rise up in the air to a higher altitude, do you see it flapping its wings getting tired?
The eagle spreads its wings and catches the wind under them, which causes the eagle to rise high in the air.
!!!! b) Remember the song, “You are the wind beneath my wings”?
The Lord is the “wind beneath our wings, and when we wait and rely upon His strength we will rise up above our circumstances.
*Paul prayed in Ephesians 1:19 that we would know *“what /is/ the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power” And “that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, Ephesians 3:16.
*David said to his son Solomon, *“Be strong and of good courage, and do /it/; do not fear nor be dismayed, for the LORD God--my God--/will be/ with you.
He will not leave you nor forsake you, until you have finished all the work for the service of the house of the LORD 1 Chronicles 28:20.
*Finally, my brethren,* “be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might” . . .
because “you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you” . .
.”strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy”
This is the subject in which we will be studied today: the marks of a mature witness.
He shares the gospel regardless of circumstances (v.12-14)
He holds no personal jealousy nor desire for credit or prestige (v.15-18)
He possesses the assurance of a happy ending: deliverance (v.19)
He Shares The Gospel Regardless of Circumstances (Phil.1:12-14).
!! A. Paul Faced Dark Circumstances: He Was A Prisoner In Rome.
!!! 1. Paul was waiting to appear before the Supreme Court in Rome.
!!! 2. He was imprisoned for two years.
He had done nothing that should cause his arrest and imprisonment.
!!! 4. The Philippians has sent Epaphroditus to Paul because they had heard that Paul was in need.
Since Epaphroditus’ departure, they had probable heard nothing of Paul.
They may well have supposed that his ministry was at a standstill and that he was understandably depressed.
But the news Epaphroditus brought was different.
Read 1:12-26 with the eagerness the Philippians might have felt for new from Paul.
Think about how remarkable Paul’s attitudes are.
But I want you to know brethren . . .
I don’t want you to be ignorant (v.12a).
!!!! a) Paul is calling attention to an important point.
!!!!! (1) *Now I want you to know* translates a common Greek expression often found in ancient letters.
Similar expressions—such as /“I want you to get this”/ or /“I want you to understand this”/—are used today to call attention to an important point, especially one that might easily be missed, misunderstood, or hard to accept.
!!!!! (2) In the present verse he wanted his beloved *brethren* to understand that he meant exactly what he said.
Despite his circumstances, Paul was not bitter or discouraged but had great reason to rejoice.
!!!!! (3) The church at Philippi were probably asking the question, “What is going to happen to Paul?
!!!!! (4) But Paul’s primary question was not, “what is going to happen to me,” but, “how is the gospel-cause affected by whatever happens to me?”
This should be our attitude.
!!!!!! (a) Paul first writes about, “the gospel,” “the message of God,” “Christ being preached” (v.12-18), and then about his own hope of release (v.19-26).
!!!!!! (b) Also about “Christ being magnified” (v.20), this is the /single mind/
!!!!!! (c) Paul did not find his joy in his circumstances but in winning others to Christ.
!!!!!! (d) J.O.Y. – Jesus, others, you.
!!! 2. ‘…The things which happened to me…’ (v.12b).
!!!! a) Paul’s circumstance did not hinder his ministry.
!!!!! (1) Just as God used a sling in David’s hand, a pitcher in Gideon’s hand, and a rod in the hand of Moses, He used chains on Paul’s hands.
That’s not surprising, for chains are what open the door to speak to people who would not otherwise give us the time of day.
!!!!! (2) Here are some of these things which had happened to Paul (2 Corinthians 11:23-28).
All of these circumstance and things that Paul went through did not hinder him from doing what God had called him to do.
!!!!! (3) In fact it had done the very opposite:
*When Paul cried out to God to take away the thorn in his flesh, the Lord said* "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.”
*Paul goes on to say *Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.
Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong."
(2 Corinthians 12:9-10).
!!!!! (4) I’m convinced that the troubles, challenges, and problems we face are custom-designed to do one thing: /to allow us to draw others to Jesus Christ and to encourage them in Jesus Christ/.