Psalm 16:8 I have set the LORD always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.
9 Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope.
10 For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.
11 Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.
The words that David wrote were not only his own experience, but more importantly were prophetically speaking of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. (Acts 2:25-28) Jesus is our joy, and the only true joy giver. May the joy in the God of our salvation even as Habbakuk did in the midst of trying circumstances.
Habbakuk 3:17 Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls:
18 Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation.
19 The LORD God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds' feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places. To the chief singer on my stringed instruments.
Today we will do an introduction to this letter as we consider what was written by the Apostle Paul to the church of Philippi, a church that he had been involved in from its beginning. In today's world, we call it a church plant. Acts 16 gives an account of Paul's missionary journey to that area as a result of the call of the Holy Spirit to go minister in that area. As they gathered at the riverside on the Sabbath for prayer, they spoke to some women there and as a result of their sharing, the Lord opened the heart of a business woman named Lydia.
Later as they journeyed, Paul cast out an evil spirit of a young girl, the after effects which caused Paul and Silas to be imprisoned. While in prison, Paul and Silas as prayed and sang praises unto God in the hearing of the prisoners, an earthquake occurred which initiated events through which the jailer asked the all important question: "What must I do to be saved?" He was told, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved, and your house."
After leaving the congregation, he had returned at least once (Acts 20:1-6) and then was imprisoned in Rome, at least 700 miles from Philippi. The congregation and Paul had a very close relationship. This is understandable by anyone who has been involved with anything from its beginning and so when a congregational member Epaphroditus visited Paul in prison to bring him encouragement and humanitarian needs, in the course of their fellowship hearing of the state of the congregation, Paul sent a letter back with his beloved friend which was to be read to the congregation. The letter to the Philippians.
Some of the most common known memory verses are in this letter. Perhaps you are familiar with some of them:
KJV Philippians 1:6 Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:
KJV Philippians 1:21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
KJV Philippians 3:7 But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.
KJV Philippians 3:10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;
KJV Philippians 3:14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
KJV Philippians 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice.
KJV Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.
May this letter become more to us than a book from which we have isolated memory verses.
May this letter become more familiar to us as we hear the voice of the Spirit speak through the heart and life of our dear brother in Christ Apostle Paul.
May the message of this letter be burned into our minds, hearts and souls as we hear of and experience the love of Jesus flowing through the heart and life of our beloved brother Paul.
May we be joined closer in the love of God in Christ Jesus, a love that casts out fear, a love that unites us in joy and a love the empowers us to serve together for the sake of our neighbor!
Often times our changed circumstances cause our joy in the Lord to diminish as we struggle with acceptance of a changed situation. Nevertheless, with the help of the Lord and others, we attempt to work through to a place of accepting the current circumstances as the way things are for the time being.
1. What do we do when our joy is diminished by our present difficult circumstances?
2. Do we wait until our circumstances change to be joyful again?
3. Is it possible to live in joy in the midst of life's often changing circumstances?
4. What does it mean to have joy, to live in joy, to rejoice?
The answers to these questions we will seek in Apostle Paul's letter to the Philippians. This letter has been called the letter of joy as in it the Apostle Paul, being held in prison while he wrote the letter, encouraged his readers in this manner: "Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice." This verse is found in the last chapter of his letter, in chapter four, verse four.
Joy is a reality that is ours through the knowledge that God has reconciled us to Himself through the cross, by His gracious gift we trust in that reality, and even if circumstances change in our lives, our relationship with Him now and forever cannot be shaken.
Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be alright, and the determined choice to praise God in every situation.
Christian joy is shared, it is confident and it is increasing.
Jesus spoke of the connection between Himself, His Word, His Love, and His Joy.
John 15:7 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.
8 Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.
9 As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.
10 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love.
11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.
Apostle John speaks of the joy that comes from our union with the Father and His Son and of his desire that our joy would be full.
KJV 1 John 1:1-4 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life;
2 (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;)
3 That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.
4 And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.
May these studies be helpful to all of us who share in life's often difficult circumstances.
May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you and in you always! Amen!