Joy Ride – A JOURNEY through the book of Philippians
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How to Keep Your Joy from Being Robbed
Text: Philippians 1:1-4 (book overview)
Let me start off by saying that teaching this message to a video camera is really starting to get old! I can’t begin to tell you how badly I miss my church family and how badly I long for the day when this quarantine ends and we get to worship in the same room together! I know it’s no surprise but I’m an extrovert and this whole ordeal can really make extroverts like me go stir crazy! If I’m honest with you today, and I always am…I’m struggling more than I let on. I feel like I’m constantly on edge and unfortunately sometimes that shows!
But it reminds me of something similar Paul was facing in his own Journey. So if you have your scriptures with you this morning, open them up to the New Testament to the book of Philippians. We see in Philippians that Paul is struggling with this thought of missing “his church”…missing “his people”.
This morning we are going to start a new series through Paul’s book of Philippians titled Joy Ride. Joy is a little bit of a paradox because joy is one of those things that you simply cannot get enough of, it is promised to us in the Scriptures but yet it is something that if we are honest, eludes us more times than it doesn’t. We talk and teach a lot more about joy than we actually spend resting and abounding in it despite our desire to do that very thing. So my prayer and hope is that over the next few months we will discover some principles tucked within the verses contained in the book of Philippians that serve as a road map to abounding joy that God intends for us.
Usually in the first message of a series through a book I spend time at the front setting up the historical context so we can understand what was being addressed and then we start going through the text verse by verse to discover all the principles God has for us. This time I am going to give some general thoughts about what the book is about but then we are going to actually do an overview of all four chapters this morning and start in the verse by verse study next week. Let me tell you why. One of the benefits of studying verse by verse is it forces you to interpret the text in the right context because you are looking at the verses before and after the passage to aid in that. It also forces you to not skip over challenging truths but rather to teach the whole counsel of God’s Word and it helps in developing the flow of thought as you work your way through a book.
Everyone wants JOY, but we are often robbed of our joy and in each of the four chapters there is something identified that I want us to discover in this overview in a message titled How to Keep from Having Your Joy Robbed. We are going to spend a few months going verse by verse on how to obtain JOY, but in the overview we are going to learn on the front end about how to keep it from getting robbed once you do obtain it. Let’s just set the foundation in verses 1:1-4 and then we will do some sampling from each chapter.
Philippians – how to have joy no matter what
OVERVIEW OF PHILIPPIANS
- Joy / rejoice ~16 times
- Lord Jesus Christ ~36 times – you can have joy because of Jesus Christ
- Mind/attitude ~11 times – you can have joy because of Christ if you have a proper mind / attitude
With that simple word observation it becomes clear that the key to having JOY is a mind that is fixed on Jesus Christ, not on the external things around me.
Let’s look at the four things that can rob you of your joy…
1. PRISONS CAN ROB YOU OF YOUR JOY – Chapter 1
- Philippians 1:7 & 13
Now we know that Paul was in a literal prison. But how many of us feel like the quarantine we’re in right now is like being in prison? I know I feel that way most days. I’m reminded every time I want to have someone over for dinner, or go out with friends…it’s just not possible. This week was the NFL draft. I was really wanting to grab some Rooster’s and get the guys together and watch the draft…NOPE! But as we’ll begin to see next week in chapter 1, Paul continues to point out his imprisonment time and time again.
Here’s the main thing I want to point out…Paul had joy despite imprisonment because Christ was his life.
- Philippians 1:21 – For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
His joy didn’t depend upon his freedom – his joy depended upon Christ. How many of us can claim that today? Notice he never once asked them to pray for freedom. He didn’t ask them to come and deliver him. If prison was God’s plan during this season, Paul was content.
His heart’s desire was that Christ be exalted in his body whether by life or by death and when THAT is your motivation, your environment becomes irrelevant. It is simply a new vehicle to exalt Christ in. So many times God may leave us in a “prison” to make us holy. Prisons are the places and situations and seasons of life that God uses to squeeze out the truth about where you find your joy. Let me repeat that.Did you know that not all prisons have iron bars – there are all sorts of prisons. It could be a relationship prison, it may be a vocational prison or another situation such as stay at home order/quarantine that you cannot escape despite the desire to do so.
Chapter 1 is so relevant to where we find ourselves right now. It’s the general idea of being contained in an environment that you would rather not be in and chapters 2-4 give some specifics of what that may look like.
Here is something I want to make sure we understand. If we can connect the dots here, we’ll be so much more ahead of the game when it comes to JOY; those dots we need to connect are that…
- God is not interested in your happiness, He is interested in your holiness
That may sound harsh, but let me assure you that this is what it looks like when you begin to grow in your relationship with Christ!
Let’s look at the 2nd thing that can rob you of your joy…
2. PEOPLE CAN ROB YOU OF YOUR JOY – Chapter 2
Can I get an amen? Anybody know some joy thieves? I think Jesus knew a thing or two about people trying to rob you of your joy.
Sometimes people rob us of our joy when we love them and they hurt us and that the recipe for that is repentance followed by forgiveness. But sometimes the reason people rob us of our joy is because we look at what they can do for us and when they don’t do what we want them to it causes us to be robbed of our joy and all of our hope for joy was tied up in some other person and we begin to use them for our own joy instead of serving them as our source of joy.
Paul addresses that and how we deal with people here in Chapter 2:3-4.
Then Paul goes on to tell us how we make this happen…
- A servant mind
A true servant’s focus is not on himself – a true servant’s focus is on others because if being served by someone else is my source of joy then I am a prisoner to their performance or lack thereof. When serving others is my source of joy then there can be no disappointment because in serving others I am not responsible for their response and their response has no bearing on my joy because if it did then I wasn’t serving them in the first place I was trading some good deeds for some joy.
So PRISONS can steal our JOY and so can PEOPLE. Here’s the 3rd thing Paul addresses in stealing our JOY:
3. STUFF CAN ROB YOU OF YOUR JOY – Chapter 3
Contrary to what we may believe in our culture…
- it is the spiritual things that make life worthwhile
- Philippians 3:7-8
Material things, achieving recognition, societies and organizations, doctorates … – the things that the world says are important, can bejoy robbers because they are here today and gone tomorrow. If your joy is attached to “things” then let a quarantine or a recession or job loss come along and you will discover the foolishness in placing your hope for joy in anything temporal. It is wrong to have nice things? No! Is it unwise to put all of my hope for joy in just anything? Yes!
- Philippians 3:8a
- make Christ your goal – not recognition, not popularity, not money, not a profession
- your goal is to be Christ-like, to be pleasing to the Lord Jesus Christ
- set your mind on Christ a single mind
- if you are going to reach your goal you can’t be double-minded
- Philippians 3:10-14
- be single-minded – set on Christ Jesus
- what things are keeping you from Christ?
Finally, in the last chapter Paul teaches us the 4th thing that can steal our JOY:
4. CIRCUMSTANCES CAN ROB YOU OF YOUR JOY – Chapter 4
This is probably the most common joy robber is it not? Let me tell you why it is so common. It’s because of the American Dream has spilled over into our theology to the point that we have been infected with a JOY robbing ailment known as spiritual entitlement. In the American Dream we learn that if you work hard you get to play hard. We are taught that good things come to those who work. Do you know what the Bible teaches? The Bible teaches that we live in a fallen and sin cursed world and because of that bad things happen to good people.
We have so bought into the American dream that we believe that if we do right by God then He is obligated to do right by us and what we mean by that is that He owes us a blessed life with very little trouble or sorrow as if God were a cosmic vending machine, like we talked about a few weeks ago in our How To Pray series. We put in attendance and tithes and service and Bible reading and prayer and feel that God has an obligation to dispense a blessed life. But some of you know, in very painful ways, that life doesn’t always work out that way does it?
Sometimes people who love Jesus Christ can’t have babies and other people who hate Jesus Christ can have numerous babies and don’t treat them half as good as you treat your house pets. Sometimes people can work hard with integrity for years only to be passed up for promotion after promotion by others with far less integrity. You see, work hard and life will work out great may be the American dream but it is far from what the Bible teaches because in the Bible we learn very clearly that suffering is part of the Christian life whether we want to admit that or not.
As a matter of fact the Bible says clearly that all who desire to live Godly in Christ Jesus will suffer.
If Jesus suffered why would we think we should be exempt? Suffering is not a lifestyle but it is a season and I know that is not what is being taught by televangelists but I promise you that seasons of suffering are part of the trials that God allows into our lives to shape and mold our character and if you don’t understand that then you will give in to the greatest joy robber that has ever lived – the thief of unfavorable circumstances.
- Philippians 4:11-12
You can have joy despite circumstances because Christ is your peace and you have a secure mind but it will not come from getting immediately freed from every prison. It will not come from people or stuff or perfect circumstances. It will come from a mind that is fixated on Jesus Christ no matter the details of your external environment.
- And can I share a secret with you that’s not really a secret…we’re just not discipled enough to do this right…Paul says this right before our greatest sports verse of all times…
- Philippians 4:13 – I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
In other words what Paul is saying is…
I can even choose joy when I don’t feel like it. I can even choose joy when God allows something into my life that I did not want or wish for because I know that if God has allowed it then there is potential for me to grow in holiness even though it hurts in the short term.
Listen church, here is why I am so excited to go through this book during our quarantine / stay at home order…
Philippians – a book of triumph
– a book of making it in suffering; whether that’s in relationships, in the loss of stuff, in every situation of life…Paul is showing us how to MAKE IT!
If you don’t have Jesus Christ then the only thing you can hope for is perfect PEOPLE around you, STUFF that never breakS or rustS, EMOTIONS that never enslave you and CIRCUMSTANCES that are ideal. But that’s not hope at all, that’s HOPELESS and you live your life miserable as a prisoner to whatever is going on around you. Up one day, down the next. Filled with joy one day, robbed blind of it the next.
Listen to me, you had better make Jesus the reason for your existence because if you don’t, I promise you, and I don’t say this lightly, it will literally be hell without Him.