I think most of us would agree that some days do go as planned. Challenging situations will rise up from time to time. Sometimes those days get the best of us and we let these situation rob our joy and keep us from reflecting Jesus through our lives.
I took time to read Bill Ford's book on the Power of Joy. It had some very good insight on joy. I am not going share what I read with you, but there is one verse that sparked something in me in Philippians 4 and I wanted share some insight from it.
We know that the Holy Spirit produces these fruits in our lives after salvation take place in our hearts. These fruits show that we belong to Christ!
Galatians 5:22-23: But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!
We know that we are supposed to have joyful hearts, but that is not always the case. I hope that through this message today, you will walk in new levels of joy.
I. Always be full of joy
Philippians 4:4-7: Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! 5 Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon. Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
Christians are commanded to rejoice under all circumstances, and obedience is possible because true joy is in the Lord. Therefore, Christians can be inwardly joyful when everything around them is dreary.
Joy - to feel great delight; to welcome or to be glad
chara (Greek root word for joy) - to be exceedingly glad
Joy is distinctly different from happiness
Happiness can be fleeting and depends upon temporal factors such as circumstances or other people
Joy is true contentment that comes from internal factors such as our faith in the Lord
True joy is everlasting and not dependent upon circumstances
Worry can steal our joy, but Paul says, instead of worrying, we are to pray.
Philippians 4:6-7: Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Supplication is more than just petitioning, but suggests an intensity of earnestness in extended prayer - not to gain merit by many words, but to fully transfer the burden of one’s soul into God’s hand.
When we truly understand God has everything under control, we walk in a peace that surpasses all understanding.
II. Fix your thoughts on Jesus
Philippians 4:8-9: And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.
There are many things that we could fix our thoughts on that would fit into these categories, but these definitely describe Jesus.
When we are going through our most difficult challenges, fixing our thoughts on Jesus helps us to walk in victory. You can have negative thoughts pop in your mind, but they will vanish the moment you fix your thoughts on Jesus. Thankfulness will help you in this as well.
I have to highlight this disciplining moment. Paul obviously had invested in these believers' lives and now he was seeing the fruit of it through their lives.
III. The secret of contentment
Philippians 4:10-14: How I praise the Lord that you are concerned about me again. I know you have always been concerned for me, but you didn’t have the chance to help me. Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. Even so, you have done well to share with me in my present difficulty.
These believers were trying to help Paul out and he was very thankful. Even if they didn’t help out he was okay, because he had learned the secret of contentment.
What is the secret of contentment? Jesus is all that I need! I am fulfilled in knowing Christ. Everything else is just a bonus.
Other examples in Scripture:
Habakkuk 3:17-19: Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation! The Sovereign Lord is my strength! He makes me as surefooted as a deer, able to tread upon the heights.
2 Corinthians 6:7-10: We faithfully preach the truth. God’s power is working in us. We use the weapons of righteousness in the right hand for attack and the left hand for defense. We serve God whether people honor us or despise us, whether they slander us or praise us. We are honest, but they call us impostors. We are ignored, even though we are well known. We live close to death, but we are still alive. We have been beaten, but we have not been killed. Our hearts ache, but we always have joy. We are poor, but we give spiritual riches to others. We own nothing, and yet we have everything.
We should be going after this in our lives. God wants us to walk like this. No more ups and downs. Walking in joy will disarm the enemy and will enable us to walk in the fullness of God. Let’s show the world why we follow Jesus and may our joyful hearts cause them to do the same!