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How to Maintain Your Joy

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Have you ever wondered why so many people lose any joy they might have had in their lives?… even Christians?
They start off great but fade … it’s like they sprang a leak and of o their joy leaked out.
Tonight, we will look at what Paul says about How we can maintain our joy.
Philippians 3:1–11 NIV84
Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord! It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you. Watch out for those dogs, those men who do evil, those mutilators of the flesh. For it is we who are the circumcision, we who worship by the Spirit of God, who glory in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh— though I myself have reasons for such confidence. If anyone else thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless. But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.
Paul did not want the Christians in Philippi to lose their joy. In this passage, he gives us 3 Guard Rails that will help us to maintain our Joy.

Three Guardrails for Keeping Your Joy

Legalism kills people’s joy and it will destroy your Christian Walk. It ruins families, people and churches.

1. Resist Legalistic Attitudes.

Legalism - substituting rules and regulations for my relationship to Jesus Christ.

It creeps in subtly to a believer’s life. It takes the focus off of what God has done for you and places the focus on what you have to do for God. When you get it backwards like this, you will lose your joy.
In the NT times, people who were legalistic were called Judaizers. These were a group of people who said, "Yes, believe on Jesus Christ, trust Him with all your heart but there are also some other things you must add onto your faith." Christ plus works. They said they must keep every one of the Jewish laws to be a believer -- the Sabbath laws, circumcision, dietary laws, etc. Paul angrily confronted these folks everywhere they popped up.
That is what he is doing in Phil 3.
Philippians 3:2–3 GNB
Watch out for those who do evil things, those dogs, those who insist on cutting the body. It is we, not they, who have received the true circumcision, for we worship God by means of his Spirit and rejoice in our life in union with Christ Jesus. We do not put any trust in external ceremonies.
Paul is not calling them dogs like our pets. In these days, dogs were wild and dangerous scavengers. It was a bout the worst thing you could call someone.

Guard Rail #1 - Live each day by GRACE.

Grace is the key to joy.
Grace - Realize that everything God does in you and through you is by grace, rather than working for it and earning it.
Paul uses his life as an example… He was a recovering legalist…
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Philippians 3:4–6 NIV
though I myself have reasons for such confidence. If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless.
Paul basically, however religious you think you are, I could have beaten you… He gives us 5 examples that let us know we are falling into legalism.

5 Examples of Legalistic Attitudes

1. You begin to trust in rituals.

Paul says "I was circumcised on the eight day, of the people of Israel."
We have our own rituals today. Baptism, communion, catechism, baby dedicated. If you fall into this trap, trusting these for your salvation, you're in trouble.

2. You begin to trust in your family heritage of race.

"I was of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin." Benjamin was the purest tribe. Paul was named after the first king, Saul, who was a Benjaminite. Paul says he used to trust in his heritage.
Have you ever heard anyone say, "My Daddy's a Christian... My mom was a believer... My uncle was a pastor." You can get religion by osmosis but you can't get Christ by osmosis.

3. You trust in religion.

"I was a Hebrew of Hebrews". Paul was a religious person.
Jesus has nothing to do with religion except He's 100% opposed to it. Religion is man's attempt to get to God. Works.
Jesus Christ is God's attempt to get to man. That's a relationship and that's a big difference.
No denomination has a copyright on truth or a patent on God. He won’t be asking for ID cards as to what denomination you were part of when you get to heaven.

4. You begin to trust in rules.

"In regard to the law, I was a Pharisee." Paul kept all the rules.
We think of the Pharisees as hypocrites but there were some genuine, sincere ones. They were the spiritually elite of that age. They took the Ten Commandments and expanded them into 619 other commandments. And they were legalists!

5. You trust in your reputation.

"As for zeal and legalistic righteousness, I was faultless."
Today we have people saying, "I read the Bible, I witness, I go to church..." That's legalism.
Romans 14:17 NIV
For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit,
If the Christian life was all about a bunch of “don’ts” anybody that was dead would qualify to be a Christian because they don’t do anything.
Repeat Rom 14:17

2. Reevaluate Your Activities.

Philippians 3:7–8 NLT
I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ
All the things Paul once thought were important, he now counted as garbage.

Guardrail #2 - Keep your priorities in perspective.

Know what’s important. Don’t lose your joy over things that are not important or that you cannot control. One of the main reasons people lose their joy is misplaced priorities. They get too involved in things that are not important in the long run.
Paul is saying that your prestige, what people think about you, your position or whatever… none of that is important. You can have it all and still be unhappy.
Luke 12:15 GNB
And he went on to say to them all, “Watch out and guard yourselves from every kind of greed; because a person’s true life is not made up of the things he owns, no matter how rich he may be.”
Paul is teaching that life consists to tradeoffs. You have to learn this. He said he gave up something in order to gain something else. He gave up his religion in order to have a relationship.
Many people who don’t want to commit to Christ are afraid that they are going to have to give up something in order to become a Christian. And they're right! When you come to Jesus Christ you give up everything you've got. Otherwise you're not a real Christian. It is total commitment.
And then you've never had it so good! What I’ve got is worth more than everything I gave up.
You give up guilt and gain a clear conscious.
You give up worry and gain a power for living.
You give up frustration and lack of purpose in life and gain real meaning and purpose in life.
You give up going to hell and gain going to heaven.
You gave up trying to solve all your problems in your own power and gain having the resources of God to help solve your problems.
That's a pretty good trade-off!
"He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep for that which he cannot lose." Jim Elliott
What are you afraid of giving up for God? If you become a Christian, get really committed to Christ, really live for Jesus Christ, what are you afraid is going to change in your life that you don't want to give up?
Whatever that is, that is the very thing that is robbing your joy

3. Refocus Your Ambitions.

Lasting Joy comes from knowing Jesus more and more.
Philippians 3:10 NIV
I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,
Paul’s #1 goal was to know Christ better… He is talking about a close, honest and intimate relationship with Jesus. How well do you know Jesus?

Guardrail #3 - Get to Know Christ Better.

Never stop growing closer to the Lord. The moment you stop growing is the moment your joy will leave. Don’t stay where you were when you first gave your life to the Lord… grow up.

3 Ways to Grow Closer to Christ

1. Spend time with Him.

It takes time to get to know someone. Spend time alone with the Lord daily: prayer; Bible Reading, listening to messages…

2. Talk to God Regularly.

You must talk to God. Pray. Relationships require communication. Listen to Him talk to you as you read His book, the Bible...
John 16:24 NLT
You haven’t done this before. Ask, using my name, and you will receive, and you will have abundant joy.
Much prayer, much joy in your life. Little prayer, little joy. No prayer, no joy.

3. Trust Him.

God wants you to learn to trust Him. He will allow all kinds of problems in your life so you can learn that He is reliable all the time. God is reliable in every situation. He can be counted on to be faithful.
I didn't learn this overnight. That is learned from years of going through problems and seeing God pull me through it and work them out. You only learn this through experience. As you go through problems you learn to trust God because you realize as He pulls you through each one of them that is another area you can trust God.
Paul says that his number one ambition in life is to know Christ at the end of his life. He's in jail in Rome. He's getting ready to die. He knew Christ already, but he wanted to know Him even better.
Are you losing your joy? Have you lost it? Has your Christian life become routine, no spark, no original freshness you had when you first met Jesus Christ?
If so, which of these three kill joys are the culprit?
Have you slowly substituted rules and regulations for a relationship to Christ? If I do these certain things and activities and if I avoid these others then God will think well of me. If I do this, God will accept me. If I do this, God will love me. God loves you just as much on your bad days as He does on your good days. His love is unconditional. Legalism seeps into our lives and chokes the joy.
Maybe some of you have never really put your trust in Jesus Christ. You are a religious person, a good person, a moral person. You go to church, but you've never put your trust in Jesus Christ. We think if our bad works are a minimum and are good works outnumber them then we will make it. But God doesn't grade on a curve. He judges by a perfect standard -- Jesus Christ. To be good enough to get to God you'd have to be as good as Jesus.
Maybe you've been like Paul, trusting rituals.
Maybe you've never trusted Christ because you're a religious person. But Paul says when it comes to knowing Christ none of that really counts.
In all of the religious accomplishments Paul mentions in verse 4, God is not mentioned once. You can be religious and not know Christ.
Materialism can take your joy away too. What does your spiritual Profit and Loss sheet look like? What are you really living for? A game came out a few years ago Trivial Pursuit. That name describes how a lot of people live. Spending their lives on things that won't last.
ILL Acts 27 has a story of a ship that was beginning to sink. In order to be saved they took the very cargo they were carrying and threw it overboard to save the ship. That is a parable of life. The very things we're carrying through life we have to let go of in order to really experience life and save our lives. What do you need to let go of.
A life without purpose will kill your joy. Maybe you've tried everything else and not found happiness. People are looking for joy in all the wrong places.
Joy comes from knowing Jesus. It begins with a decision to say, "God, I want to know You personally." Set as a goal in your life to get to know Jesus Christ
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