Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Philippians 4 - Christian Joy's Necessity

Philippians 4:1 Therefore, my beloved brethren whom I long to see, my joy and crown, in this way stand firm in the Lord, my beloved.

Over the course of the past several weeks we have been exploring the Book of Philippians - assigning it the theme of: "The Book of Joy". The reader can refer to the links below to gain an understanding of where we have went in this particular series of studies:

Today's post will bring to a close this four part series in Philippians. The point of application for today will be: Christian joy is needed in order to have a consistent and enduring Christian life. As we will see, Christian joy is needed in the following areas:
a. Relationships 4:1-3
b. Prayer 4:4-9
c. Contentment 4:10-14
d. Possessions 4:15-23

The necessity of Christian Joy is seen in relationships. Philippians 4:1-3

Even at a strong congregation like Philippi, the threat of internal strife and personality differences. We have seen it too often among even the most seasoned of saints. Yet Paul urges in Philippians 4:1-3 "Therefore, my beloved brethren whom I long to see, my joy and crown, in this way stand firm in the Lord, my beloved. 2 I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to live in harmony in the Lord. 3 Indeed, true companion, I ask you also to help these women who have shared my struggle in the cause of the gospel, together with Clement also and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life." Only true Christian joy can bring harmony to an otherwise strained set of relationships. Joy is after all one of the fruits of the Spirit. (Galatians 5:22-23) Joy in the Lord is accompanied by getting oneself in order with the Word of God and putting other's needs ahead of our own. (Philippians 2:1-5)

I can recall hearing a well known pastor years ago answering a question regarding how he and his staff got so well along with one another. His answer was: "If I am making my goal to be alright with God, and if your are making it your goal to be alright with God, then we will be alright with one another. However, if we find that at any point that we are disagreeable, then we need to pause, wait and seek God until we are alright with Him." Such a response gives the emphasis of how one's relationship and enjoyment of the Lord is key in regulating and maintaining one's relationships with other people. Joy, or confidence is what Jesus has done, is doing and will do needs to be applied to what often can be differences over personality or style.  We need Christian joy in our relationships. But notice secondly...

We need Christian joy in our prayer life. Philippians 4:4-9 

What Paul writes can virtually stand with little comment: "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! 5 Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. 6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  8 Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. 9 The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you." We need Christian joy and confidence in God for the sake of prayer. But now notice the third area wherein we need Christian joy....

Christian joy is needed in the area of our contentment. Philippians 4:10-14

Notice what Paul writes in Philippians 4:12-13 "I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. 13 I can do all things through Him who strengthens me."  Now why did I underline that phrase: "I learned"? Because contentment, unlike God's peace, is not given supernaturally.  Rather it is learned through active engagement with the God of peace. In every circumstance, whether in times of difficulty or hardship, the question you and I must answer is: Is Jesus enough? Is He my joy and crown? If we answer affirmatively to both questions, then it matters not whether we have full bank accounts or empty pockets. We need Christian joy in the realms of our relationships, our prayer lives and our contentment, but notice one more area....

We need Christian joy in the realm of our possessions. 4:15-23
Perhaps the most familiar passage in this section is Philippians 4:19.  Philippians 4:19-20 states - "And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. 20 Now to our God and Father be the glory forever and ever. Amen."
How did Paul arrive at such a firm conclusion about God's ability to provide? Two quick observations from the context supply the answer. First, Paul and his readers had expressed generosity in giving and thanksgiving.  Then secondly, Paul had in view the glory of God. When we are generous and thankful, and when we have in view the glory of God, we will have the joy in believing that God will supply every need. Paul then closes out this wonderful letter with this final statement in Philippians 4:23 "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit."

Closing thoughts

My hope has been that this periodic study through Philippians has whetted your appetite to study the Book of Philippians even further. We saw today that Christian joy is needed in the following areas:
a. Relationships 4:1-3
b. Prayer 4:4-9
c. Contentment 4:10-14
d. Possessions 4:15-23

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