We said last week that we could title the book of Philippians the "Epistle of Joy." Let's review our joy theology-- joy is the product of an intimate relationship with God produced in us by the Holy Spirit as we receive and obey the Word, and it is displayed in trials.
True joy is not a transient emotional feeling that lifts us up one moment and drops us the next, depending on our circumstances. True joy is an unwavering constant in a spirit filled life. The Holy Spirit produces joy in our lives as we walk in fellowship with Him.
Paul's joy is a settled state of mind which is synonymous with peace. He had an attitude that enabled him to view the world with all of its ups and downs with a level headedness. He is able to look beyond the circumstances to the Lord of the circumstances, whose hand controls all things.
Paul sees in all his circumstances, the sovereign hand of God. It is your nearness to God that determines your level of joy. The closer you walk with the Lord in fellowship, the more you will experience the joy of the Lord.
We looked last week at the servants, the saints and the salutation. The Servants-- dulos or bondslaves, were Paul and Timothy. We also saw the Saints-- primarily the believers in Philippi; secondarily, all believers (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
We saw that Bishops and deacons -- are the biblical church leadership.
Then we looked at the Salutation-- Grace. I would like for us to look a little more at the word "grace." I think that understanding grace will help us walk in joy. God is not our debtor. He owes us nothing. We must start here. He is the sovereign creator and He owes us nothing.
To feed a tramp who calls on me is unmerited favor, but it is scarcely grace. Most people define grace as unmerited favor. But suppose that after robbing me, I should feed this starving tramp-- that would be grace. Grace, then, is favor shown where there is positive de-merit in the one receiving it. That is grace. God didn't owe us a thing. Let's go back to the beginning and see this.
Genesis 2:7 (NKJV) And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.
You are a spirit and you dwell in a body. When your spirit leaves, your body is dead. The spirit is the animating principle of the body. So God created, and then God commanded:
Genesis 2:16-17 (NKJV) And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, "Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; 17 "but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die."
God, by virtue of the fact that he is creator, can make any commands he so chooses. Adam and Eve transgress the Divine command, and fall into sin and misery.
Genesis 3:6 (NKJV) So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate.
Man, the creature, has sinned. Justice, fairness at this point, would have been to cast Adam and Eve into hell for all eternity. The same is true of us, we have sinned, and it would have been fair and just for God to cast us into the lake of fire. If we understand this, then we understand that God owes us nothing. Instead of destroying Adam and Eve, God provided for them.
Genesis 3:21 (NKJV) Also for Adam and his wife the LORD God made tunics of skin, and clothed them.
This is grace. The first blood shed on this planet is shed by God in order to provide for man. Our salvation is all of grace, if we have been saved, we didn't earn it or deserve it. Now, let's tie this into the idea of joy. If your circumstances are bad, remember you don't even deserve to be alive. You should be in hell:
Romans 3:23 (NKJV) for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
Romans 6:23 (NKJV) For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Because of our sin we deserve eternal punishment. But you are alive, and as God's child, you will spend eternity in heaven with God. This should give you joy. This is what Christ meant when he said to his disciples:
Luke 10:20 (NKJV) "Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven."
That is the abiding foundation of a believer's joy. My name is written in heaven. Rejoice over the sovereign grace of God. Grace is such a beautiful concept it should cause us to worship each time we hear it.
In verses 3-11, we see the content of Paul's prayer life. Verses 3-8 are a prayer of thanksgiving, and as Paul prays, his joy spills over and we can see the elements of joy.
This morning and next time we are gong to look at the Joy of: memory, prayer, fellowship, anticipation, and of affection. These are the elements of a Spirit produced joy that relates to others. Let's begin in verse 3 with the joy of memory.
Philippians 1:3 (NKJV) I thank my God upon every remembrance of you,
"I thank," is the Greek verb eucharisteo. It is made up of eu-- good and charis -- to grant as a favor, i.e. gratuitously, in kindness. It means to be mindful of benefits, to be thankful. Paul is literally saying , "I am giving thanks."
Paul is giving thanks to ego Theos --"My God" That is very personal. He doesn't say, "I'm thanking the God or some God" it's, "My God." God has reached out to Paul in grace and now He is Paul's God. Then we see the word "Every," the Greek has the idea of the whole. Paul is saying. "I'm thanking my God for the whole memory of you." "Remembrance" is mneia, which is memory. I am giving thanks to my God for every memory of you. Why does he thank God for these memories? Why doesn't he thank the Philippians? He knows that God is the giver of all good things.
James 1:17 (NKJV) Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.
Let's focus for a moment on the marvelous capacity that God has given us of memory. Memories carry us through tough times. Have you ever been in a bad situation and escaped through your memories of good times? When I was at sea in the Navy, I spent much time enjoying the good memories of my wife and family. When I was paralyzed, I would enjoy all the good memories of when I could walk and run. The memories brought me joy in the midst of the trial.
Paul is in jail as he writes this, chained to a Roman guard so he couldn't spend time with them personally, but he could in his mind. His memory of the fond times spent with them brought him joy.
Are you a pleasant memory to anyone else? Do people thank God for their memories of you. Or are you a pain in the memory center.
Memory involves two things: retention and recollection. The first is retention. You have to be able to retain what you saw or heard or experienced. Then recall it. Paul was enjoying the memory of the great times he had spent with the Philippians.
Psalms 103:2 (NKJV) Bless the LORD, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits:
What caused him to bless the Lord? Memories! As you reflect on God's goodness, it causes you joy. Forget not-- is a call to remember God's benefits to you and praise Him for them.
Psalms 145:7-10 (NKJV) They shall utter the memory of Your great goodness, And shall sing of Your righteousness. 8 The LORD is gracious and full of compassion, Slow to anger and great in mercy. 9 The LORD is good to all, And His tender mercies are over all His works. 10 All Your works shall praise You, O LORD, And Your saints shall bless You.
Memory causes thanksgiving. As we focus on God and his grace toward us, we begin to praise and thank him.
Last year I had a period of time in my life when I was having doubts about Christianity and the Bible. I had been a Christian for 22 years and had never had doubts. It was a very difficult time for me. In dealing with these doubts I began to look back over my life and all that God has done for me. I remembered my salvation and the drastic changes that took place in my life. I remembered what my life was like before salvation and what it was like since. I remembered all the specific answers to prayer. It didn't take long for those doubts to leave and for my heart to be filled with joy. You ask me how I know he lives, he lives within my heart. So many things that have happened in my life have no explanation other than the work of a sovereign loving God, my God. This is one of the main purposes for the Lord's Supper. It is a time of remembrance.
1 Corinthians 11:24-25 (NKJV) and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, "Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me." 25 In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me."
Our Lord said to keep on doing this in remembrance of Him. As we sit at His table, we remember all that he has done for us. The Greek word for "give thanks" is eucharisteo. This is where the liturgical word Eucharist comes from. Eucharist is the Lord's Supper, and it refers to that aspect of the communion service that involves thanksgiving for Christ's atoning death. We are to recall the doctrine of Christ's work of atonement and give thanks. The more you mature as a believer, the more your life will reflect thanksgiving, because the more you understand grace, the more your life will reflect praise.
Our memory allows us to be thankful in the worst circumstances. Thanksgiving is an act of rendering thanks or gratitude toward God.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NKJV) in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
It is God's will that you be thankful. Thankfulness is a form of true humility. Ingratitude is an attitude of man in his depravity.
Romans 1:21 (NKJV) because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.
Thankfulness is motivated by bible doctrine:
Colossians 2:7 (NKJV) rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.
As the doctrines of God's Word take up residence in your heart, it causes you to be thankful. As you really understand who God is and who you are, you cannot help but be thankful to God and praise Him. Thanksgiving is a priestly sacrifice:
Hebrews 13:15 (NKJV) Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.
Thanksgiving is a fruit produced by the Holy Spirit as we are controlled by Him. Let me show you the principle and basis of our thanksgiving:
Psalms 100:3-5 (NKJV) Know that the LORD, He is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture. 4 Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. 5 For the LORD is good; His mercy is everlasting, And His truth endures to all generations.
Thanksgiving increases our joy. Have you ever known a thankful person that was miserable? Think about that! As I thought about this, I realized that the people that I know who are thankful people are happy people. Memory causes thanksgiving. As we dwell on our memory of God's goodness towards us and what he has done in our lives it causes thankfulness which increases our joy. Paul said,
Philippians 1:3 (NKJV) I thank my God upon every remembrance of you,
They weren't perfect, nobody is! They had their problems but they still brought him joy. His memories of them weren't negative. As he sat in that Roman jail, he probably remembered Lydia and her coming to faith in Christ and how she opened up her home to them, and the great fellowship they had. Or maybe he was thinking of the jailor and how he asked Paul how to be saved; or about how he washed their wounds and cared for them; or maybe he was thinking of the jailor and his family's baptism.
This is a real key to joy-- the ability to recall the goodness of people, to recall the best in someone, to be able to look past the negative and capture the sweet memories of life. We all have scars in our memory, those things that cause us pain. Don't focus on them. Dwell on the good memories.
When God's Spirit is not in control, there is no joy. The tendency of that person is to focus on everyone's unkindness. You know these people, they focus on what is wrong with everyone. They focus on their wounds and hurts. As you walk in the power of the Spirit, the Spirit has a way of erasing the tape of negative memories.
1 Corinthians 13:5 (NKJV) does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil;
Love is a product of the Holy Spirit in our lives. The phrase "thinks no evil" is the Greek word logizomai. It means to keep a mathematical calculation. Love doesn't keep a record of wrongs. The Spirit controlled person has only good memories. If you focus on the negatives, you will not have joy. Bitterness, unforgiveness, holding a grudge, those are the works of the flesh and they rob us of our joy.
Paul's joy was increased by pleasant memories. Even though he was unjustly beaten and imprisoned in Philippi, his focus was on the positive. Paul knew the doctrine that Joseph knew of God's sovereignty.
Genesis 50:20 (NKJV) "But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.
Joseph spent 14 years in slavery because of his brothers. But there was no bitterness in his life. He knew they meant evil, but he also knew that God was in control and was working it for good. As we focus on the positive memories, it will make us thankful which will bring us joy.
In verse 3, we see the joy of memory. Then in verse 4, we see the joy of prayer.
Philippians 1:4 (NKJV) always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy,
Verse four is parenthetical. We'll talk about that more in a minute. "Always" is an adverb, pantote. It means In every prayer. Whenever he prays, he remembers the Philippians. The word "prayer" is deesis. It means petition, supplication, or request. The idea of asking God for something for someone else. The word "request" is the same Greek word deesis. Look who Paul is praying for-- "For you all." Please remember that Paul is in prison facing possible death:
Philippians 1:19-20 (NKJV) For I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, 20 according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death.
He is in prison and he is praying for them . What would you be praying for if you were in jail? This is a self-less individual. He is so consumed with others and Christ that his life radiates joy. And when he does ask prayer for himself, look at what he asks for:
Ephesians 6:18-19 (NKJV) praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints; 19 and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel,
Paul's prayer for himself is not for his release, but that he would be a faithful witness for Christ.
Paul says he is making "Request with joy." The word joy here is chara which means inner happiness. Prayer is not easy, it's hard work, it involves concentration. Praying for yourself is easy, but it's difficult to pray for others. How much time do you spend in prayer for other believers?
To the mature believer, prayer is a joy. The mature believer tends not to be bound up with what I don't have, but in the privilege of praying for others. Paul knew that their spiritual state was good:
Philippians 2:12 (NKJV) Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling;
This caused him great joy because he had been praying for them. When you spend time in prayer for others and you see God answer those prayers, it causes joy! The more time I spend in prayer, the greater my joy when I see answered prayer. Spend time praying for someone's spiritual health and you will understand how John felt.
3 John 1:4 (NKJV) I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.
Part of the cause of his joy would most certainly have been from answered prayer. He had been praying for them.
I believe that there are few Christians who know the true joy that the Holy Spirit can produce in an obedient believer, and it shows in these ways:
1. Negative thoughts toward others caused by a lack of understanding God's sovereignty.
2. Lack of concern for others; they find little delight in praying for others; their prayers are always selfish and self-centered.
George Reindrop, in his book, "No Common Task" tells how a nurse once taught a man to pray, and in doing so changed his whole life. He was a dull, disgruntled and dispirited creature who became a man of joy. In his book he says, "Much of the nurse's work was done with her hands, and she used her hands as a scheme of prayer. Each finger stood for someone. Her thumb was nearest to her, and it reminded her to pray for those who were closest to her. The second finger was used for pointing and it stood for all her teachers in school and the hospital. The third finger was the tallest and it stood for the V.I.P.s, the leaders in every sphere of live. The fourth finger was the weakest, as every pianist knows, and it stood for those who were in trouble and in pain. The little finger was the smallest and the least important and to the nurse it stood for herself."
There will always be joy in the heart of one who prays with a scheme like that, starting with others and ending with yourself.
So we see, in verse 3, the joy of memory. In verse 4, we see the joy of prayer. Then in verse 5, we see the joy of fellowship.
Philippians 1:5 (NKJV) for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now,
This could be translated, "because of your contribution."
The subject here is their financial gift, fellowship is "koinonia." Verse 4 is parenthetical, so let's read from verse 3 to verse 5. Verse 3 "I am giving thanks to my God for every memory of you-- (verse 5) because of your contribution." Because of your faithful support of me in this ministry.
The Greek word koinonia means partnership, a sharing in common. Koinonia was used of the marriage bond, and it suggested a powerful common interest that could hold two or more persons together. Koinonia is often used of giving money to support:
Romans 15:26 (NKJV) For it pleased those from Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor among the saints who are in Jerusalem.
2 Corinthians 8:4 (NKJV) imploring us with much urgency that we would receive the gift and the fellowship of the ministering to the saints.
He is talking here about a financial gift, and he calls it a fellowship.
2 Corinthians 9:13 (NKJV) while, through the proof of this ministry, they glorify God for the obedience of your confession to the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal sharing with them and all men,
He is talking about financial support, and he calls it fellowship.
The apparent meaning of koinonia in Philippians 1:5, is financial support because this is the whole thrust of the epistle. This meaning fits with the scope of the epistle. He is thanking the Philippians for a financial gift they had sent him.
The Philippian church was Paul's sole source of support:
Philippians 4:15 (NKJV) Now you Philippians know also that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church shared with me concerning giving and receiving but you only.
Paul never asked them for a dime. He never sent them a "prayer letter" asking for support. But at least two offerings were sent to him:
Philippians 4:16 (NKJV) For even in Thessalonica you sent aid once and again for my necessities.
Two different offerings were sent to him while he was in Thessalonica.
Philippians 4:10 (NKJV) But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at last your care for me has flourished again; though you surely did care, but you lacked opportunity.
Now he is at Rome and they sent him another gift. This is the main reason for this letter. It is a thank you letter.
You might say, "No wonder Paul was joyful, they were sending him money-- that's why he has good memories of them." No! It wasn't money that motivated Paul:
Philippians 4:17 (NKJV) Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that abounds to your account.
Paul didn't need money. He wasn't afraid to work. He was excited about their fruit bearing:
John 15:8 (NKJV) "By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.
He knew that their giving was a demonstration of their love for God. His joy came from spiritual realities. Paul shared doctrine with them, and they shared their finances with him. And that is the biblical pattern. Paul taught this to the Galatians.
Galatians 6:6 (NKJV) Let him who is taught the word share in all good things with him who teaches.
The word "share" is koinonia. The person who is taught the Word should fellowship with the one who teaches them.
Paul says that their fellowship is, "In the gospel" -- for the purpose of spreading the gospel. Their fellowship wasn't having donuts and coffee. They were participating in the spread of the gospel through their financial gifts. "From the first day until now" -- The Greek reads, "From that first day until now." There is a definite article in the Greek. He is probably referring back to the very day Lydia came to Christ and she began to fellowship with them as she brought them in her house and cared for them. They provided for his needs from the first day until now.
Joy comes in sharing the ministry. Paul says, "You have participated with me in the teaching of the word."
I could say the same thing, your (You here at BBC) fellowship has provided for me and my family in allowing me to devote myself to the study of the word. From the first day of BBC until now, you have provided for my needs. If you give here, you are a "partner" in this ministry. We are co-laborers. And that's real fellowship, working together for a common task. We fellowship together as we pray together, serve together, and give in support of this ministry.
Why did Paul have joy because of their fellowship in their financial gifts?
1. It demonstrated their discipleship which brought glory to God through fruit bearing. Which brought joy to Paul.
2. It assured him they were thinking and praying for him:
Luke 12:34 (NKJV) "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Paul knew that the Philippian's heart was with him. That brought him a lot more joy than the money did. Their gift showed Paul that their heart was with him.
3. He knew it would lead to their rich reward in heaven:
Luke 12:33 (NKJV) "Sell what you have and give alms; provide yourselves money bags which do not grow old, a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches nor moth destroys.
He knew that their giving would lead to their reward and that brought him joy.
4. He knew it would lead God to bless them with true riches -- spiritual responsibility, here and now.
Luke 16:9-11 (NKJV) "And I say to you, make friends for yourselves by unrighteous mammon, that when you fail, they may receive you into an everlasting home.
By sharing in your giving, you make eternal friends because they are taught the word of God as a result of your financial gifts.
10 "He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much. 11 "Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?
If you can't handle money, you can't handle anything. What are true riches? Spiritual responsibility. If you can't handle your finances, God won't put in your care true riches.
True joy comes from recollecting the good sweet memories, interceding on the behalf of others, sharing in the fellowship.
How's your joy? Where do I begin?
1. Begin by confessing your sins.
2. Start to pray for others.
3. Get involved in ministering to others. There is a tremendous joy that comes from ministering to others.
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