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Smiling Increases Your Face Value

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Text:  Overview of Philippians


     Philippians is about joy.  If there’s anything that typifies abounding joy, it’s an otter.  They know how to live every dip, swirl, and slide down a mud bank to the fullest.  There is no tomorrow or last week…only a playful present.  They express joy with bolts of energy.  They have even figured a way to make us pay just to watch them play.  Do prisons of the zoo take away their joy?  No, they just brought their joy with them.

     So it is with the Apostle Paul.  He was once arrested in Philippi, beaten with rods, and then thrown into prison with his feet in stocks.  When midnight came, the battered evangelist had every tormented prisoner within earshot listening as he prayed and sang praises to God (Acts 16:22ff).  That joy set in motion an earthquake that set him free and resulted in the conversion of the jailor.

     That’s joy!  Pure…untainted…and magnetic!  That kind of joy you don’t see very often these days…except in otters.  It’s not even many churches.  Have you noticed the looks on the average Sunday morning crowd?  But to be fair, it’s not just churchgoers…our world has long faces and aching hearts crying out for a morsel of joy…a crumb of encouragement.

     Do you want to exhibit contagious and enthusiastic joy?...the kind that even an otter would come to see?  As we dig for the pearls of insight out of the book of Philippians, perhaps the clam-tight corners of our mouth might be set free to contagiously infect others.  By God’s grace this letter still has the power to teach us how to smile…how to take life by the throat…how to live every dip, swirl and sliding mud bank to the fullest!

1.      Comment on this statement: Joy is an emotion to be expressed, not an equation to be analyzed.

2.      Paul’s buoyant joy keeps rising to the surface in each chapter.  Explain how.  1:3-4, 23-25;  2:1-2, 25-29;  3:1;  4:4, 10      “Joy” and “rejoice” are recorded 16 times throughout this upbeat letter.

3.      You would think that such a letter expressing so much joy would be written by someone sunning himself on the deck of a Mediterranean luxury liner…but nothing could be further from the truth.  What is the setting of where Paul was when he wrote this letter?  1:12-14  (Paul was under house arrest in Rome, constantly chained to a Roman guard [Acts 28:16], yet nothing could bind the joy Christ had given him for the church at Philippi.)

4.      What was one of the reasons why Paul was so enthusiastic about the Philippian church according to 4:15-16?  (They were a generous and caring group, young in the faith, for the church was only 10 years old when he wrote this letter.)

5.      What comes to mind with this statement: If God is God, then laughter fits life.

6.      Let’s outline this book.  Each chapter reveals a different facet of the gem of joy.
1:6-7, 12-14, 21-26 ____________________________________________________________________
     (There is joy in living…Jesus is my model.)
2:3-8, 12-13  _________________________________________________________________________
     (There is joy in serving…so I need the right attitude, Christ’s attitude.)
3:12-17  ____________________________________________________________________________
     (There is joy in looking forward to the eternal goal…which is hidden in Christ.)
4:6-7, 10-13  _________________________________________________________________________
     (There is joy in resting…which comes through laying our needs before Christ.)







     Philippians is a gem of joy, sparkling with encouragement because the light of Christ blazes so brilliantly through it.  The same can also be true of you.  If there’s anyone who can bring purpose and joy to our living and serving, it’s Jesus.  Our life can be one that would even make an otter jealous.

     Where do you live mentally?  Where do your thoughts travel when there’s a free moment?  Do they pack up and head for the past?...sloshing through the mistakes of yesterday?  Or are you one that buys tickets on the flight to the future?...evidenced with the biting of fingernails, chewing on antacid tablets in fret of what might come?

     Either way, I’ve got a poem for you.

I was regretting the past

And fearing the future…

Suddenly my Lord was speaking:

“My name is I Am.”  He paused.

I waited.  He continued,


“When you live in the past,

With its mistakes and regrets

It is hard.  I am not there.

My name is not I Was.


“When you live in the future

With its problems and fears,

It is hard.  I am not there.

My name is not I Will Be.


“When you live in this moment,

It is not hard.

I am here.

My name is I Am.”

- Helen Mallicoat

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