This week at one1seven we are starting a new sermon series on Philippians. Our senior Pastor Matt has penned some thoughts on the letter and the upcoming series.
For the remainder of 2015 we are going to be studying Paul’s letter to the Philippian church. It is a letter about Jesus and it is a letter about joy. Indeed, the big idea of Philippians may well be summed up as eternal joy in Jesus. In this book Paul tells us such things as; “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” (Phil.4:4) Paul also tells us that he “rejoices greatly in the Lord Jesus” (Phil.4:10) and that he “always prays with joy.” (Phil.1:4). But is this true of us as Christians? Are we the joy filled believers that we meant to be?
One of the defining marks of God’s people throughout the Bible is joy that is found in God and comes from God. God is the source of our joy and He is the object of our joy. We rejoice in both God’s character and His wonderful gifts. But all too often discontentment, the struggles of this world and the sinful desires of the flesh end up stealing our joy. All too often the alcohol, the drugs, the new relationship or the promotion at work that promises to make us happy, fails to deliver. So how do we find real joy, maintain real joy and learn to rejoice in the Lord always?
Well in the book of Philippians the apostle Paul will give us a number of answers and helpful tips. But a central theme that comes through is dying to self. Although the world teaches us to put self first and take care of number 1, selfishness, self-promotion and self-preoccupation are some of the biggest killers of real joy. So Paul will tell us “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourself.” (Phil.2:3). Indeed, Paul will exhort us to adopt the same attitude as Jesus Christ who put everyone else before himself, when he died on the cross for our sins (Phil.2:5-11). Jesus did not serve himself, but he did serve others. In this Jesus found great joy.
In Sunday School children are often taught that the real secret to J.O.Y is learning to put Jesus first, Others second and Yourself last. JOY = Jesus first, Others second, Yourself last. Now this may be simplistic and a somewhat incomplete answer this side of heaven. But nonetheless, wonderful truths are taught in Sunday School by wonderful, faithful Christians. So throughout Philippians Paul will call us to emulate Jesus (Phil.2:4); emulate Timothy (Phil.2:19-21); emulate Epaphroditus (Phil.2:29) and even emulate himself (Phil.4:9), so that in learning to die to self, we may find a joy that no-ne can ever steal.
Your Pastor, brother and friend,