Introduction to the Book of Philippians
We live in a generally sad world, a fallen world well acquainted with despair....depression......disappointment......dissatisfaction, a longing for lasting happiness that often never comes to pass. People today are consumed by the passionate pursuit of happiness! Either through: self help books, motivational speakers, advice columnists claiming to offer the key to happiness, but for many it leads to dead ends! What does it mean to have true joy? Is it caused by succeeding in your job or profession? Is it getting good grades in school? Is it having money and the comforts of this life? Is it watching your favourite actor/actress or sporting event (Super Bowl or Stanley Cup)? Is it hitting your first home run in little league? Don’t get me wrong these are wonderful things!...........but these things I mentioned above, have anything to do with what true joy looks like! But the world equates this with being true joy!! See society calls joy..........”finding what makes you happy!”........... It’s all about you! Aristotle said “Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence.” Franklin D Roosvelt said “Happiness lies in the joy of achievement and the thrill of creative effort. “ And Lawrence Welk said “Music was my joy, my home, the one place I felt happy and secure.”
But that’s not true joy!...................it feels good for a season until it loses its flavour or appeal! For example: You get your new car....a new rifle for hunting......a new purse.....or that new video game! You’re excited to get it! “But something happens”....... over a period of time it starts to loss its flavour or you don’t find it as interesting as it was when you purchased it. Your new job that you worked so hard to get......... Your championship trophy from little league after winning the finals. Your diploma from all those hard years of reading and studying. From the time you received or from the time you get them, they usually becomes as the Bible says “unfit” Jesus said, “Salt is good; but if the salt has lost its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is neither fit for the land nor for the dunghill, but men throw it out...” Luke 14:34-35. Man made...man centered joy will never stand the test of time!! For a season yes! But long term no! Why? Because............True joy stems out of love for Christ and His finishing work on the Cross..........True joy comes from the gift of salvation that He freely gives to whom He wills...........True joy comes out of a love for righteousness and a hatred for sin..........True joy is rooted........firmly planted in His God breathed words on the pages of Scripture........True joy begins when the Spirit takes up residence in our lives and overfills our cup..........True joy is despite what the day brings, it will always be my plumb line! Why? The Lord’s joy will never fail or goes away............True joy is the living hope we have as we anticipate entering into the Kingdom with Christ for all eternity. Put yourself in the life of the Apostle Paul for a moment! (In his shoes if you will) Here is a man who was keep in prison for 2 years in Caesarea without trial. Here is a man who was being held for an unknown amount of time in Caesar’s jail in Rome. He survived a perilous storm on the Mediterranean Sea. He had been deserted by most of his friends. Sadly! Christian leaders had spoken against Paul, hoping to get him in trouble with the government. He faced possible execution for his faith on a day to day basis....“Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches.” 2 Cor 11:24-28. What was Paul’s secret to finding true joy amongst his suffering? How could Paul remain JOYFUL in such discouraging times? How could Paul find JOY in time of trials and persecution? The answers can be found in a little book that is titled.......... “The Book of Joy”. The Book of Philippians is a book about Christian Love...Hope...Aspiration...Joy and Confidence, and Peace and Contentment. James Boice says “Philippians is so simple and at the same time so profound that it speaks profitably to Christians at every level of spiritual understanding, age, and maturity”. This little book contains some of the most profound and crucial teaching on the Lord Jesus Christ. The major theme of this book is “true joy comes from pursuing Christ likeness” as the most defining element of spiritual growth. Over the next few months we are going to look at this letter Paul wrote about having true joy in a broken and fallen world....A letter that talks about true everlasting genuine joy! Joy by definition is “cheerfulness, a calm delight: a gladness, to be exceeding joyful.” True Biblical Joy is not an attitude dependent on chance or circumstances. It is the DEEP and abiding confidence that, regardless of one’s circumstances in life, all is well between the believer and the LORD because of His covenant promises that is found through redemption. “The joy of the Lord will arm us against the assaults of our spiritual enemies and put our mouths out of taste for those pleasures with which the tempter baits his hooks.” Matthew Henry. I think Thomans Kempis said it best “The reflections on a day well spent furnish us with joys more pleasing than ten thousand triumphs.” I WANT TO SHOW YOU 6 SIMPLE INGREDIENTS FOUND IN THE SCRIPTURE TO WHERE TRUE SPIRITUAL JOY COMES FROM!
1. TRUE JOY IS A GIFT FROM GOD
(Ps 16:11) You make known to me the path of life; in Your presence there is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
2. TRUE JOY IS GIVEN TO THOSE WHO BELIEVE THE GOSPEL
(John 15:11) These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.
3. TRUE JOY IS PRODUCED BY GOD THE HOLY SPIRIT
(Rom 14:17) For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
4. TRUE JOY IS EXPERIENCED MOST FULLY AS BELIEVERS RECEIVE AND SUBMIT TO GOD’S WORD
(Jer 15:16) Your words were found, and I ate them, and Your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by Your name, O LORD, God of hosts.
5. TRUE JOY IS DEEPENED THROUGH TRIALS AND SUFFERING
(1 Thess 1:6) And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit,
6. TRUE JOY IS MADE COMPLETE WHEN WE SET OUR SIGHTS AND HOPE ON SPENDING ETERNITY WITH CHRIST.
(Rev 21:4-5) “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away." And he who was seated on the throne said, "Behold, I am making all things new." Also he said, "Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true."
As we dive into this wonderful book over the coming months. My prayer is that we will rediscover...rekindle...be filled with true biblical joy. True joy that can only be found in the Lord Jesus Christ.....Why? Because......His joy is permanent and everlasting!!! My prayer is that the Lord would illuminate His grace to our hearts to find true joy. My prayer is that He will make Himself known to you in a real way, so that you can have true biblical joy.......... if you seek His face. As David Wilkerson said about Isaiah 51:11 “the Bible declares.....Therefore the redeemed of the Lord shall return, and come with singing unto Zion.” In other words: “I’m going to have a people who return to me with trust, faith and confidence. They take their eyes off the conditions surrounding them. And they’ll get back their song of joy.” “Everlasting joy shall be upon their head, the joy that God’s people experience won’t be just for a Sunday morning, or a week or a month. It will last through the years, through hard times, even to the very end. “They shall obtain gladness and joy.” God looked down through the ages and said, “I’m going to have a people who will obtain joy, take, and possess it. They’ll lay hold of it, and it will be theirs. “Sorrow and mourning shall flee away.” This doesn’t mean all our suffering will end. It means our trust in the Lord will put us above every pain and trial. Such things won’t be able to rob us of our joy and gladness in Christ.." This is what this letter is all about!! Hanging on to the true joy found in Paul’s letter! Are you ready to claim your joy back again? Let’s reclaim that joy today!!........Let’s us say with Paul, no matter what happens........ “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!” Phil 4:4