Sept 30, 2018 – Joy
Preacher: Rev. Scott Strickman
Sermon Series: Grace, Peace, Glory, Joy
Philippians 1:1-11 (ESV)
1 Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus,
To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons:
2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
3 I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, 4 always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. 6 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. 7 It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. 8 For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. 9 And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, 10 so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.
Three signs that a gospel focus (v4) is changing how you think of, and experience, joy:
I) You have joy that transcends circumstances
- v3-4 “I thank my God every time I remember you… I always pray with joy”
- v7 “whether I am in chains…”
II) Your approach to joy is active
- v4 “In all my prayers…”
- 4:4 “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice”
III) Your joy is integrated into your pursuits
- v6 “he who began a good work in you…”
- v11 “filled with the fruit of righteousness”
Questions for Reflection
- What expectations do you have in the connection between joy and faith/religion? Is religion supposed to bring joy (and what happens if it doesn’t)? Does religion require denying or giving up joy (or the things that bring it)? Where do your ideas come from? What has influenced your perspective?
- Have you given up on seeking joy, expecting it, desiring it? If so, why? What brought you to this point? Is joy something you want, such that you will work for it?
- Do you ever experience any aspect of joy (contentment, thanksgiving, etc.) even when your circumstances are not what you want them to be? Conversely, do you find when things are going well you are unable to experience joy? Are there insights from how you experience or don’t experience joy that can highlight areas you can change or grow?
- Are you intentional about celebrating, resting, appreciating? Do you believe you have a good balance (do you celebrate too much and apply too little effort? do you work too hard and never stop to enjoy?)? What practices can you work into your life pattern that would have you enjoy what you have in a wise and responsible way?
- How can you make sacrifices, face hardship, endure difficulty while still pursuing joy? How do you not form habits so that joy is always in the future but never in the present?
- A gospel focus brings joy. What things do you focus on? How can ordinary people (assume you are not an apostle!) develop a gospel focus even if so much of life is lived in a secular realm?
- How do grace, peace, glory and joy work together? If you are low in joy, how can reflection on or growth in grace, peace and glory help produce greater joy?
Prayer of Confession
God of grace and peace, you have revealed your glory in Jesus Christ. Why are we not joyful? We still struggle in life. We are unfocused or focused on the wrong things, rather than gospel focused. We don’t know why our circumstances are often difficult, but we confess that even when they are good our joy is not deep and rich. We long for the kind of joy that is grounded and grounds us. We also confess we don’t celebrate well. Help us to grow satisfied in life with you and to experience and express joy more regularly and authentically. Cleanse us from all unrighteousness and work in us so that the righteousness of Christ produces good fruit in our lives. Amen.