Tuesday, January 20, 2009

How Full is Your Joy Bucket

Please read Philippians 1:1-11. Philippians is a joyful letter. Mark Twain was a professional humorist, yet in private he was broken by sorrow. When his daughter Jean died, Twain said "I have never greatly envied anyone but the dead. I always envy the dead." Jesus Christ was "A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief." Yet he possessed a deep joy that went beyond anything the world could offer. As Christians we have the privilege of experiencing "Fullness of joy" yet few Christians take advantage of this privilege. In the book of Philippians Paul shares the secret of Christian joy. At this time Paul was a Roman prisoner. He was chained to a Roman soldier and not permitted to preach in public. Some Christians wanted to make things more difficult for the Apostle, and they preached the Gospel to add to his bonds. Being a Spirit led Believers does not always make you popular, even among believers. Note three principles that will help you have a more joyous life. First, we must have other in our mind. Paul's memories of Philippi could produce sorrow. He was illegally arrested, beaten, placed in stocks and humiliated before the people. These memories brought joy. Why? Because there was the salvation of the jailer, of Lydia, and the demon possessed slave girl. We must remember that it costs something to reach others for Christ. The church at Philippi helped support his ministry. Paul remembers the work of God in their lives. We can be certain that God continues to work in us through His Holy Spirit. Salvation includes a three fold work. The work God does for us-redemption. The work of God in us-sanctification. The work God does through us-service. This work will continue until we see Christ. A great source of joy to Paul was knowing that God was working in believers. Second, we must have others in our hearts. Paul's teaching moves a little deeper. It's possible to have others in our minds without really having them in our hearts. Some would have to confess "I have you on my nerves." We know it's Christ's love that is the "Tie that binds." Love is an evidence of salvation. Paul's love could not be disguised or hidden. Love is the spiritual lubrication that keeps the machinery of life running smoothly. How did Paul evidence his love for them? He was suffering on their behalf. He was a prisoner of Jesus Christ for the Gentiles. How can we practice this kind of love? It is not something we work up to, it is something that God does in us and through us. God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit whom He has given us. The evidence of Christian love is a willingness to forgive one another. I Cor. 13:5 states that "Love keeps no record of wrongs." Christians who practice love always experience joy. Third, We must have other in our prayers. Paul found joy in remembering his Philippian friends before the Lord in prayer. Paul is praying for maturity and he begins with love. A lack of love is a sign of a lack of spiritual growth. Paul prays that they might experience discerning love and abounding love. Christian love is not blind. Paul strongly rebuked Alexander the Coppersmith, he publicly rebuked Peter. The ability to distinguish is a mark of maturity. To a baby every animal is a bow-wow. Satan is a counterfeiter, he loves to attempt to make the fake look real. Paul prays for them to have mature Christian love and character. How are you doing in the joy department. Increased joy comes with increased spiritual growth. We can have fullness of joy in the Lord. Remember "The joy of the Lord is your strength." Dr. Ken Copley is available for counseling, conferences, and local church meetings.

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