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Joy in spite of

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August 12, 2007                                                                                                      SD20

Joy in spite of.doc                                                                                           File: E


How to have Joy in spite of…

Philippians 1:12-26

: There are two kinds of joy:

Joy because of….

Joy in spite of…

On is temporal, dependant on circumstances and floats on the tides of life…

The other is steadfast. Firm. Dependant only on the promise of God and our constant faith in His Word.

Most people don’t enjoy life they just endure it…

They live thinking that if they could just change something in their life they would be happy:

Change my job, change my location, move to a different city, make more money, and get rid of my problems,…

      But life is not perfect and you are not perfect…

            And as long as you think that happiness/joy will come wit the next wind of change you will always be looking for something other than what you have and fail to find joy in the present:  In other words you will never be fully satisfied with your life as it is….joy will be the missing ingredient because you have not learned to be joyful in spite of present circumstances

: Our subject for today is “How to have Joy-in-spite-of”

      The kind of joy that Paul experienced????

Before we read our text this morning you need to know the background:

For the last four years Paul has been in some miserable circumstances:  He's spent two years in prison in Caesarea for a trumped up charge. Then he's put on a ship to go to Rome to appear before Nero who is not known for his niceties towards

Christians. On the way he's shipwrecked, stranded on an island, bitten by a poisonous snake, waits the winter there, continues on to Rome, spends another two years in prison awaiting trial to

be executed. During this two year period in Rome he is chained to a guard for 24 hours a day.

He has absolutely no privacy. Every four hours he gets a new guard.

In 1:29-30 he sums up his circumstances with these words:

(NLT)  “For you have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for him. We are in this fight together. You have seen me suffer for him in the past, and you know that I am still in the midst of this great struggle.”

Yet in spite of all of these situations, Paul says in Phil. 1:18 "I rejoice and I will continue to rejoice."

What's Paul's secret?

How does he stay positive in prison,

triumph over troubles,

delight in difficulties,

stay so happy, positive, joyful in spite of the fact that everything has not turned out the way he planned it.

Paul gives us four secrets.

Read the text: Phil 1:12-26



So much depend on your point of view…

: (slide of woman—two slides)---What do you see???

Our problem is that most of us are looking at life while standing on our heads…upside down—we are looking at circumstances from our own human vantage point and not from God’s

…and it is not easy to change our vantage point.

We must move over to God’s side…put Him first in our affections…

:I need a point of view to live from

I need God’s point of view on the subject!

Paul says

v. 12 "Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel."

I can see the best even in the worst. I can see God at work in the problems even when they don't go my way. Non-believers are being witnessed to in my attitude toward them, believers are being encouraged.

v. 13: "As a result it has become clear throughout the

whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ."

He says that all the things that people look at in my life—the tragic experiences, the delays, the imprisonments, the hardships and shipwrecks---all of it has only served the purpose of God and for this I am grateful!

Paul had always wanted to go to Rome. He meant to have a Gospel crusade there. Instead, God put him in prison where he would write the New Testament. He's chained to the palace guard, the praetorian guard with the crack elite troops of the Roman Empire. They were the highest paid people of the empire. When they retired after 12 years they were made leaders in Rome.

There is not a more strategic group that Paul could witness to if he's going to reach the Roman empire.

God puts Paul in Rome, Nero pays the bill and chains a future leader of Rome to him every four hours. In two years at four-hour shifts, Paul had witnessed 4,380 times to his guards.

These guards had an inside route to the emperor and as a result even some of Nero's family became believers.

History tells us that Nero had his wife, mother and children killed because they became believers. A "chain" reaction. Paul had a captive audience.

v. 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."

My attitude towards problems has encouraged other people. Courage is contagious. It spreads like wildfire. Other believers became bold because of Paul being bold.

The perspective (point of view) you need to live from if you're going to have joy in your life is Romans 8:28 "And we know that in ALL things God works for the good of those who love Him..."


:LESSON: God has a purpose behind every one of my problems.

When you get this perspective you are on the way to joyful living. Paul says that God has a purpose behind all my problems therefore I have a perspective to live from.


Some people live from problem to problem---others live by priorities---and see their problems as stepping stones to fulfilling their priorities…

When you can distinguish the important things from the trivial things you are living by priority---when you cannot you are just living from problem to problem rather than from glory to glory—

v. 15-16 Paul was saying, "Not only am I in prison, but if you want to kick a man while he's down there are guys out there attacking my ministry. They're jealous, envious, rivaling me. Other ministers are criticizing me while I am in prison."

If you want something to steal your joy quicker than anything else, just start listening to what other people are saying about you.

v. 18: "But what does it matter? (what then?) The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice."

Paul said he wasn't going to let anybody steal his joy.

Not circumstances nor critics. He said their motives may be wrong, their style may be wrong, but if the message is getting out, so what? This is the only question in the book of Philippians. A question of priority. In Greek it literally means "so what". What does it matter? Paul said he had to set his priorities, his values, not let little things steal his joy.

:LESSON: Focus on what really counts.

How many arguments in your marriage are over little things that really don't matter? Is it worth losing your joy over? No! Have a perspective to live from and a priority to live by. Know what is important.  Make the important thing the important thing!

:3. I NEED A POWER TO LIVE ON vv.19-20

I need strength to make it!  Life can beat you up sometimes…it can leave you drained and feeling hopeless…but when you learn to choose joy in spite of your circumstances it bring a fresh strength into your life…

      “The joy of the Lord is your strength” Neh. 8:10

            There is not strength in thinking the worst!!!

v. 19: "I will continue to rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help given by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance. I eagerly expect

and hope that I will in no way be ashamed."

Paul says, I have two things that give me strength and kept me going in spite of four years of imprisonment.

One, the prayers of other people.

Two, the help of God's Spirit.

We need each other and we need to be empowered by the spirit of the living God for a joyful life---

Seek the fullness of the spirit so you can serve the Lord with gladness.

Psalm 100  “Serve the Lord with gladness, come before His presence with singing…”

:LESSON: With God's power nothing can devastate me.


Seek to be filled and overflowing with the Holy Spirit!

“You shall receive power after the Holy Spirit is come upon you”


            TO LIVE A JOYFUL LIFE!

                  A POSITIVE LIFE

If I am going to make it in life I need a perspective to live from -- something so I can see the way things really are not the way I feel they are, the way they appear to be. I need a priority to live by

so that I do first things first and I'm not taken away by non-essentials. And I need a power to live on that gives me the strength to keep going and keep on keeping on.


Paul is old and tired-- four years in prison have taken their toll…they have taken everything from him—friends, freedom, privacy, -- but they haven’t taken the one thing that no one can ever take from any of us---our purpose for living—

v.21  “for me to live is Christ and to die is gain…”

he is not suicidal---he is not morose and just wanting it all to be over…He is not dreading life so much that he just wants to die…

he simply says that it is better to be with Jesus for me…but while I am here I have a reason to keep on living—and that is JESUS!  To live is Christ!

  My purpose is to know Him and to make Him known!

What is your reason for living?

How would you fill in the blank

      “for me to live is                           .”

“for me to live is possessions”  --  Get all I can, whenever I can and by whatever means I can…just more stuff”

We buy things we don’t need with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t even like…

      That’s just dumb!

I’ve got to keep up with the Jones’ and just about the time I get there—they refinance and I am in trouble again!

“for me to live is Pleasure…”  If it feels good do it!  Anything to make me happy and to relieve my boredom, ---       it just doesn’t last!

“for me to live is position, power, popularity, “

Image is everything – I must seek the approval of others!

They need to think well of me and think I fit with the right group---Do anything to fit it, sacrifice morals, faith, modesty…personal dreams…

      This too doesn’t last---You can be the most popular person on campus ;and come back for your fifth year reunion and no one remembers you…or really cares!

Paul had a long term goal—His purpose went beyond the grave!

He lives with the values and purpose of eternity…

You can live your life for many things—but only one will last!

      Paul has it right---“To live is Christ!”

It is to put Christ first and fulfill His dream for me!

To live for Him and in Him and through Him!

To know Christ and make Him known!

      That is why God will keep me on earth!

            You can find joy in serving Jesus!

:Here’s the lesson: The secret of joy -- Jesus first, Others second, Yourself third.

I am convinced that the reason there are so many miserable and unhappy people in our world (and even in the church) is a total preoccupation with self---

What's best for me? What will make me happy?

The ME generation.—it can be your generation!

When you learn to have a greater purpose in your life than just yourself, you will have joy more than you can handle.

There is no such thing as problem free living.

When you base your life on the kinds of values that are going to last, then problems just aren't as significant.

Who cares that things haven't worked out as I've planned. God has a purpose that is bigger than my problems.

I believe God wants you to enjoy the rest of your life.

But it starts with the foundational values we're talking about this morning.

Paul is speaking into our lives today---

He is telling us that we need a relationship with the One who made us!  You are not here by accident, just taking up space!

There is divine purpose for your existence!

You are important!!!

Don’t give up!!!

Come again to this altar today and surrender your life to the Lordship of Jesus Christ!

He has not called you to be a survivor but a thriver

He wants you to thrive in the midst of the hostility in which you live!

He wants joy to be yours in spite of life’s turmoil!

Start today by surrendering your life to Him

      Rededicating your time, talents, treasures

  • Get Gods’ point of view
  • Live by priority not problems
  • Receive power to live on from Jesus as He baptizes you in the Holy Spirit and fire
  • Live with a purpose higher than yourself interest

The Joyful Christian-part two



"... I rejoice ... and I will continue to rejoice." (vs. 18)

I. I NEED A POINT OF VIEW  __________________(vs. 12-14)

Paul's view of his circumstances:

"Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel."

"And we know that in ALL things God works for the good of those who love Him ... " Rom. 8:28


II. I NEED TO LIVE BY _____________ INSTEAD OF                          (vs 15-18)

Paul's response to his critics:

"But what does it matter? THE IMPORTANT THING is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice." (vs. 18)


III. I NEED A POWER_________________________ (vs. 19-20)

Paul's source of strength:

"... I will continue to rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help given by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance. I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed ..."

"I have the strength to face all conditions by the power that Christ gives me."  Phil. 4:13 (GN)


IV. I NEED A PURPOSE_______________________ (vs. 20-26)

Paul's reason for living:

"For me to live is Christ and to die is gain" (vs. 21)





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