SanLo Community, an update for the week of April 8, 2018…
Thank you Pastor Scott for the message from Philippians 1:1-11, “Finding Joy in Suffering.” Joy is a very special thing. It is not the same as being happy. Happiness is outward. Joy is internal. Happiness is temporary. Joy is eternal. Happiness relies on happenings. Joy depends on Jesus. Joy is deeper, stronger and more fulfilling than happiness. Sometimes it is tough to find joy. We know we live in a dark world. People and things that make it tough to find joy. How do you find joy in suffering? Let’s look at Paul and see how he did it. Philippians – book filled with joy – mentions joy 16 times in 4 chapters. As he wrote this letter to the believers at Philippi, he was in prison and yet Paul is able to find joy! How is that possible?
1) You find joy in others. (This does not mean a relationship, etc.) We should not rely on others or blame the lack of joy on the actions of others. That being said, we do find joy in others in that we work together with others for God’s Kingdom. (vv.1-5, 7-8) Paul had helped start the church at Philippi on his second missionary journey. This was the first church established in Europe. The church sent a gift to Paul and he is writing to thank them and to encourage them. The letter opens with a classic introduction. (v.1) Sender, recipient, greeting. Here Paul includes Timothy. Paul does not refer to himself as an apostle which is a more significant title than servant. But he calls him and Timothy servants of Christ Jesus, acknowledging that he is working together with others. This is the only letter where Paul shares his status with another. Also, he addresses the letter to “all the saints” – not just super spiritual people, but to all “set apart” believers. Paul is writing to all the believers to (vv.3-5) “pray with joy” JOY, the direct result of God’s grace. The joy comes straight from the grace from God. Not just that, he finds joy because of “your partnership” working together in spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ. Paul was able to find joy knowing that he was not alone. Sure, maybe alone in prison, but he knew that others were outside the walls carrying on the work. No matter the circumstance, Paul had joy knowing that his brothers and sisters were still carrying on the mission. They had his back whether in Philippi or whether Paul was in prison. It’s awesome to see people using their God given gifts to expand the Kingdom! We are all working together for the same goal. We are not alone! How do you find joy in suffering? You find joy in others.
2) You find joy in the end. (v.6) We can have joy because we know it all turns out well in the end. God begins a good work in us and it won’t end up incomplete or unfinished. God’s work for us began at Calvary when Jesus died on the cross for us. His work in us began when you first believed and gave your life over to Him. Once you give your life to Jesus, you have His guarantee you will live forever in His joy! God will “bring it to completion” to finish it, complete and perfect. If you feel inadequate, insignificant and unimportant, even if you are constantly put down, pushed down or let down, or if you can’t escape the regrets from the past and worry about the future you can find joy because you already know the end. We can find joy knowing that no matter what happens on this Earth, we can have a beautiful future waiting for us in Heaven if we put our faith in Him! Have you done that yet? You can find joy in the end.
3) You find joy in the process. (vv.9-11) Being a follower of Jesus is a process. It takes time to grow. Just as a baby does not become an adult overnight, we as Christians need time to grow and we can find joy in that process. Paul prays for the Philippians that their “love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment.” God so loved the world that He chose to die for the sins of man. The more our love grows, so should our knowledge and discernment. Our love here is not based on feelings but on the actions of Christ. His dying on the cross for us should allow us to give our lives to Him. Not only did He create us, but He gave His life up for us. This love allows us to see what is best – to discern what is good and how we should live. It also motivates us to live an above reproach lifestyle and to stay away from things that would make us stumble. To be pure and blameless. Pure – sincere, free from spots or blemishes. So pure that it would be show no blemish even in the full rays of the sun. To understand what is right and to live that way. Blameless – to place in order. To be free from stumbling. To stay away from sin. Not the same as sinless, but to stay away from the things that would make us fall. This leads to being filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ. Galatians lists love, joy and peace. Joy and the other eight fruits. These fruits should be evident in our lives. Love! Peace! Patience! Self-control! Joy!
It’s hard to find joy when life is tough. Maybe you find yourself in your own kind of prison. Not made of walls and bars but of fears, or doubts or bitterness. Maybe your prison keeps you from the kind of freedom you desire and have been longing for. Maybe you’ve been looking for joy but like most people have been looking in the wrong areas. May I suggest we first go to the source of joy? I said at the beginning that happiness comes from happenings. But joy comes from Jesus. Perhaps the reason you can’t find joy is because you don’t know Jesus personally. That’s where you need to start.