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Philippians: Real Joy

The sun breaking through the clouds reminds us of joy breaking through sorrow.
Photo Credit: Mark Shutt Images

November 8, 2023

Praying Friends,

Joy is a commodity that is seldom seen or experienced in our world that is marked by suffering and sorrow. 

Charles R. Swindoll once wrote, “Joy springs from a life lived with eternity’s values in view.” We may not be able to change much of what happens in the world or even what happens to us, but with God’s help, we can have His perspective. 

The Bible teaches us that God is joyful. The book of Philippians is a good reminder of this. This book makes at least 13 references to joy and rejoicing. God would not ask His people to be what He is not.

As we consider this topic of joy, there are 4 lessons from the book of Philippians that help us understand the subject a little better.

Firstly, joy can be experienced as we partner with other believers in the hope of the gospel. 

This is how Paul opens the letter to the Philippian believers. “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:3-6).

As he prays for these believers from his prison cell, he does so with joy in his heart because they have shared the same love for the gospel. Right from the start, they had partnered with him not only in telling it to others but also in allowing it to work in their own lives. 

What amazing joy can be found in knowing that what God began within us, He will finish in a coming day. You may not be overly happy at what you are presently, but by the time God is finished with you, you will be a beautiful replica of Christ Himself. If nothing else, that should spark some deep down joy in your heart today!

Secondly, joy is an integral part of our faith journey that comes with a Christ-centered focus.

“Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again” (Philippians 1:25-26).

As Paul talks about his own inward struggle of wanting to go and be with Christ on one hand, and to stay alive to be a help to the believers on the other, he settles on the need to hang around a little longer. He is convinced that if God allows him to live a little longer, he will see growth in the believers and witness their “joy in the faith.”

The only way they/we can have real joy is with a mind focused on Jesus. When people tried to make Paul’s life miserable (verse 18), by preaching with wrong motives, he rejoiced that Christ was preached. When circumstances were against him (verse 20), he was encouraged that Christ was exalted through him. When life was downright miserable (verse 23), he thought about being with Christ. His whole life was centered in Christ. He said, “For to me to live is Christ” (Philippians 1:21).

Christ is the answer to our lack of joy!

Thirdly, joy is enhanced when in humility we value others as God does.

Paul said, “Complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves” (Philippians 2:2-3). 

Pride will rob us of true joy. Yet as we allow the attitude of Christ (humility) to control our minds, our joy, like that of Paul’s, will be made complete. How you think about your brothers and sisters in Christ will greatly affect your level of joy.

It was the humility of Christ that enabled Him to leave the splendor of heaven for this broken, sinful  world. It was humility that allowed Him to take on a servant-like mentality to live among His own people. It was humility that propelled him to suffer on a cruel wooden cross for our sins. It was humility that put others ahead of Himself. 

Treat others the way Jesus treated you and you will experience joy in your soul!

Lastly, joy is the result of knowing that God loves you and will always take good care of you.

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God (Philippians 4:4-6).

As Paul begins to sum things up in this little book, he reminds the believers that the Lord will never leave them, that He is always close by, and that they need to ensure that their conversation with Him is not interrupted. 

It’s easy to look inside or to look around and become anxious. The uncertainty of life, struggles with other believers (verse two), the fear of failure, and a host of other things are valid causes for anxiety in our lives. 

As we bring these needs to our God and lay them at His feet, we are able to experience peace (verse seven) and rejoice that God is in full control. “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.”

Thank you for praying for our prodigals and for revival among us.

Love in Christ,

Bryan and Rachel


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