||Technicolor Joy: A Study through Philippians
||A Joy Unexpected
Life doesn’t have to be easy to be joyful. In fact, ease of living and joy of heart have little to do with each other. Joy is not the absence of trouble but rather the presence of Jesus. Paul’s letter to the church at Philippi is a letter dripping with joy and surprisingly so—it’s not what anyone would expect given the circumstances surrounding the author and the recipients. As we dip our toes into the joyful waters of this epistle, it’s my prayer that your smile will grow bigger and your heart will become lighter.
Connect Recap Notes: April 23, 2017
Speaker: Skip Heitzig
Teaching: "A Joy Unexpected"
Life doesn't have to be easy to be joyful. In fact, ease of living and joy of heart have little to do with each other. Joy is not the absence of trouble but rather the presence of Jesus. Paul's letter to the church at Philippi is a letter dripping with joy and surprisingly so—it's not what anyone would expect given the circumstances surrounding the author and the recipients. In our new series, Technicolor Joy: A Study through Philippians, Pastor Skip began by unpacking the first verse of the book:
- A Dynamic Pair
- A Difficult Place
- A Divine Purpose
A Dynamic Pair
- In AD 62, the apostle Paul penned the book of Philippians as a prisoner in Rome. Though jailed, Paul was full of joy.
- Joy is one of the most infallible signs of the presence of God, an unmistakable badge of His ownership. A gloomy Christian is a contradiction in terms. Joy is a byproduct and consequence of pursuing Christ.
- When Paul was called Saul, he was a very religious, exacting, narrow-minded Pharisee. His life could be summarized as judging, jabbing, and even driven by jihad.
- Yet on the Damascus road, Paul left judgment and found joy. Joy began to grow in his heart as he journeyed with Jesus (see Acts 9).
- Paul mentioned joy and its variants nineteen times in the letter of Philippians. It was essential to his outlook.
Probe: Why is it important to be like-minded in ministry? How is being a bondservant of Jesus tied to being like-minded?
- Timothy was the son of a Jewish woman and an unbelieving Greek man. His mother, Eunice, and grandmother Lois—both believers—raised him.
- Timothy may have been fifteen years old when he left home. He was part of Paul's second missionary journey.
- Paul said there was no one as "like-minded" (Philippians 2:20)—literally, equal-souled—with him as Timothy.
- Together, Paul and Timothy were "bondservants of Jesus Christ" (v. 1); they lived their lives serving the Lord. Apart from pursing Christ, the more you do as you please, the less you're pleased with what you do.
- Joy is a flag over our lives, showing that the King is in residence.
A Difficult Place
- Rocky Start at Philippi
Rough Circumstances for Paul
- Paul didn't plan to visit Philippi, but God kept closing doors as they headed east. God was saying, "No, " so Paul went west.
- A closed door opened up a clear work. In the city of Philippi, Paul met Lydia; she was converted and a church began. In God's economy, saying no is as important as go.
Probe: Discuss the terms no and go. Share a time when the Lord told you no. How did God let you know His answer (a closed door, a Bible verse, a friend, etc.)?
- Paul and Timothy's circumstances went from bad to worse: they were beaten up and arrested. They faced a difficult place and difficult people.
- Yet Paul and Timothy did not live under the circumstances; they lived above them—they found joy in the jeering. In their pain, they found God's purpose.
A Divine Purpose
- Spiritual Family
- A church in Philippi grew as a result of Paul and Timothy's pain, leading to the appointment of bishops and deacons. Among the negative experiences, Paul looked for God's effective work.
- When life happens unexpectedly, know that God is moving supernaturally.
- There are two sides to every event: the factual (who, what, when, where), and the actual (why). Paul looked for the actual side, God's why.
- John Nelson Darby said, "God's ways are behind the scenes, but He moves all of the scenes which He is behind."
Probe: Share a time when God brought purpose from your pain. How did He work supernaturally or naturally in your circumstance?Practice
Connect Up: Joy is defined as a great pleasure and delight. What is it about your relationship with Jesus that brings joy? Be specific (His love, guidance, character, etc.).
- Paul and Timothy demonstrated that if dynamic people are in difficult places, they discover divine purpose: joy. Purpose in pain may help another person.
- JOY is an acronym, showing order of service: Jesus, Others, You.
Connect In: James said, "Consider it pure joy...whenever you face trials" (James 1:2, NIV). Discuss how Christians are to be dispensers of joy in the journey of life, especially in the midst of trials and tribulation. What does it mean to bring joy to a fellow Christian? Crosswalk recommends the following: Remember what God intends the church to be. Welcome one another. Be subject to one another. Forbear one another. Pray for one another. Serve one another. Encourage one another. Bear one another's burdens.
Connect Out: Talk about how Christians are to exude joy and love (see John 13:35). How can joy and love be a witness to a watching world? Share about a person in your life that emanates love and joy? How does it affect you? In sharing joy with unbelievers, Guideposts recommends the following: Smile at the people you see. Radiate grace. Sing throughout the day. Write a kind note to someone. Talk to strangers.
- Joy is one of the most infallible signs of the presence of God; it is an unmistakable badge of divine ownership
- A gloomy Christian is a contradiction in terms
- We are called to preach the gospel, which means good news
- A joyful believer is a beautiful believer
- A joyful Christian is a good representation of the good news
- The joy of the Lord is our strength (see Nehemiah 8:10, NLT)
- There is a great difference between joy and happiness
- Joy is fixed; happiness goes up and down depending on the happenings
- Hap is an old word for chance
- Two-thirds of Americans claim to be unhappy
- Philippians was penned in AD 62 by Paul, who was incarcerated in a Roman jail
- He had been incarcerated in Jerusalem
- Taken to Caesarea, standing trials for two years
- He finally appealed to Caesar and was sent to Rome
- Paul had always wanted to go to Rome (see Romans 1:8-12)
- He expected to go as a preacher, not a prisoner
- The Roman government paid for it
- He was chained to soldiers
- He did not know which way his sentence would go
- However, running through this letter is the theme of joy
- Takes us out of the black and white of life
- God colors our lives with His joy
- A Dynamic Pair
- You would not have associated joy with the person Paul was before he met Christ
- His name was Saul of Tarsus
- Religious, legalistic Pharisee (see Philippians 3:5-6)
- Judgment, jihad (see Acts 8:3; 9:1)
- Something happened to him and then in him (see Acts 9:1-19)
- He received Christ
- The seed of joy was planted in his heart and grew, and he went on three missionary journeys
- First missionary journey
- To Antioch of Pisidia
- Kicked out of town (see Acts 13:14-52)
- Filled with joy
- Paul changed from legalism to lightheartedness (see Romans 14:17)
- He was told not to go to Jerusalem because he risked arrest (see Acts 20:22-24)
- Paul listed joy as one of the fruits of the Spirit (see Galatians 5:22-23)
- There is more joy in Philippians than in any of Paul's other books
- Mentioned at least nineteen times
- Apostle of joy
- Timothy is another person with whom you would not have associated joy
- Mixed parentage: mother was Jewish, father was Greek
- Raised by his mother, Eunice, and grandmother Lois (see 2 Timothy 1:5)
- Paul preached the gospel, and Eunice, Lois, and Timothy accepted Christ
- He followed Paul on his missionary journey
- Discipled and mentored by Paul
- "Son in the faith" (1 Timothy 1:2)
- Paul sent him back to the Philippians to represent him (see Philippians 2:19-20)
- Isopsuchos = like-minded
- In Paul's mind, sending Timothy was as good as going himself
- The real reason for Paul and Timothy's joy is found in the word bondservant
- Doulos = a slave
- Refers to someone who serves willingly
- They were devoted to serving Jesus as their master
- Joy is never found by direct pursuit; it's a byproduct of pursuing Christ and His will
- The more you do what you please, the less you will be pleased by what you do
- Joy is the flag flown over the castle of your heart when the King is in residence
- A Difficult Place
- Rocky Start at Philippi
- Paul never wanted to go to Philippi
- On his second missionary journey, he planned to go through Galatia and expand northward and southward
- God resisted him going to the places he planned (see Psalm 37:23)
- Sometimes God says no
- God's no is as important as His go (see Acts 16:6-7)
- Paul went to Troas and received a vision telling him to go to Macedonia (see Acts 16:8-10)
- He arrived in Philippi and went to the river where women were praying (see Acts 16:13-15)
- There was no synagogue because they did not have enough Jewish men
- Lydia was saved because of Paul's presence at the river
- Things went from bad to worse: Paul was arrested and beaten (see Acts 16:23-40)
- Rough Circumstances for Paul
- Years went by, and the church at Philippi received word that Paul was in jail again
- They sent money to Rome for his ministry
- The book of Philippians is his joy-filled thank-you letter to them
- As believers, we are told to rise above our circumstances (see Romans 8:37)
- The Christian life is to be lived above the circumstances, not under them
- In their pain, Paul and Timothy found God's purpose
- A Divine Purpose
- Spiritual Family
- Spiritual Fathers
- The church at Philippi grew
- Whatever negative experience Paul faced, he looked for how God was working (see Philippians 1:3-4)
- When life happens unexpectedly, God is moving supernaturally
- There are two sides to every event: the factual side and the actual side
- The factual side: who, what, when, where, how
- The actual side: why
- All the bad things that happened to Paul ended with furthering the gospel (see Philippians 1:12)
- A book of joy written by a guy who was once a killjoy who became the apostle of joy
- Place a dynamic person in a difficult place with difficult people and have them discover the plan of God, and the result will be joy
- You can expect joy if you are filled with the Holy Spirit
William Barclay, Tim Hansel, Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., E. Stanley Jones, C.S. Lewis, Theodore Roosevelt, Robert Louis Stevenson, Billy Sunday
Works referenced: Be Joyful
; The Joy of Living: A Study of Philippians
; Laugh Again
; The Life of Joy and Peace: An Exposition of Philippians
; Philippians, Life at Its Best
; Philippians: The Believer's Joy in Christ
; A Study in Philippians (How to be Happy in Difficult Situations)
; The Wizard of Oz
Psalm 37:23; Nehemiah 8:10; Acts 8:3; 9:1-19; 13:14-52; 16:6-10, 13-15, 23-40; 20:22-24; Romans 1:8-12; 8:37; 14:17; Galatians 5:22-23; Philippians 1:3-4, 12; 2:19-20; 3:5-6; 1 Timothy 1:2; 2 Timothy 1:5
Keywords: joy, gospel, good news, happiness, jail, bondservant, slave, circumstances, plan of God, will of God, Holy Spirit