Staycation | Joy No Matter What | PART 2
Discover how joy in the Lord can be experienced regardless of the circumstances.
Speaker: Pastor Don Dodge,
Scripture: Philippians 4:2-9, Philippians 1:4, Philippians 2:17-18, Philippians 3:1,
Sermon page: https://www.avalonchurch.org/sermons/staycation-joy-no-matter-what-part-2/,
Sermon Notes: 2020-06-28_staycation-part-2_sermon-notes.pdf,
Discussion Questions: 2020-06-28_staycation-part-2_discussion-questions.pdf,
Good morning, Avalon Church.
Last week, we began a series called Staycation.
It’s about living in the present.
Appreciating this moment;
Not allowing our obsession with past or the future,
To cheat us from what God is doing
... Right here, right now.
Last week we looked at Ecclesiastes chapter 8
Where we are given permission to have fun.
To enjoy good meals
And good company.
Because there will always be enough work.
There will always be something else to do.
Taking a break and enjoying the moment
will rarely sneak up on you.
Living this way takes intentionality.
And so does joy.
How is it,
...That I can pray with someone on their deathbed,
And joy and gratefulness just seem
...to pour out of them
into every family member and every nurse
...in that hospital room?
Yet, I can sit with a couple
...in their beautiful, spacious living room
...illustrating careers which earn a very good income,
...Healthy children playing upstairs,
...They appear to have everything necessary to be happy,
To find reasons for joy,
...yet they are filled with anxiety,
or the insatiable desire to get more?
Why don’t they experience joy?
How is it that immense joy
can be found in the poverty of Haiti,
...Yet be noticeably absent
in the wealth and security of Avalon Park?
This morning, we are going to look at Paul’s posture of joy,
...And his teaching the persecuted Christians
in the city of Philippi
that they can experience joy
regardless of their circumstances.
Paul knew what he was talking about.
It’s something you just may need hear.
Paul was suffering in prison,
very likely in the Roman capital.
Nero was the emperor,
And he was a tyrant.
And a narcissist.
Like all Emperors,
he proudly received the expected praise
“Nero is Lord.”
He was not a fan of this new religion,
And especially its leaders,
...That usurped his title
Declaring “Jesus is Lord.”
Nero eventually killed Paul.
And the Christians in Philippi were facing a similar fate.
And in the midst of this impossible situation,
Paul wrote the following words to the Philippian believers
That will lead into our passage today.
4 Whenever I pray, I make my requests for all of you with joy, -- Phil 1:4 (NLT)
17 But I will rejoice even if I lose my life, pouring it out like a liquid offering to God, just like your faithful service is an offering to God. And I want all of you to share that joy. 18 Yes, you should rejoice, and I will share your joy. –Phil 2:17-18 (NLT)
You can experience joy,
even if you lose your life!
Whatever happens, my dear brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord. –Phil 3:1 (NLT)
You see, Paul knew something we often miss.
So let’s listen in on his conversation
With these Philippian believers
as he seeks to help them experience joy,
...Right here, right now,
In the midst of the uncontrollable circumstances of life.
Disagreement between Euodia and Syntyche.
To set up this passage,
it’s helpful to understand that
...Paul’s deepest concern in most of his letters,
is unity among the followers of Christ.
Unity is proof of Christ’s love.
As Jesus offered his life for us,
We offer ours to others.
We give up our rights for their benefit.
And when we love others as Christ loved us,
Unity and Joy are the result.
And so, in the final chapter of Philippians,
...Paul cuts to the chase
and calls out an argument
...between two specific people in the church.
He says, [You-O’-dia and Sin’-ti-key]
2 Now I appeal to Euodia and Syntyche. Please, because you belong to the Lord, settle your disagreement. 3 And I ask you, my true partner, to help these two women, for they worked hard with me in telling others the Good News. They worked along with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are written in the Book of Life. –Phil 4 (NLT)
These two women are family.
They are leaders in the church,
Yet they can’t come to an agreement on some issue.
Yeah, we don’t know what that’s like, right?
Two good people at an impasse?
And Paul asks for other trusted leaders
to help them sort it out.
And it’s in the midst of this argument,
To a church that’s being severely persecuted,
By an apostle in prison facing execution,
That these words are spoken...
4 Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! –Phil 4 (NLT)
We tend to think of joy as an emotion
Welling up inside us,
...Making us happy from the inside out.
And that’s true.
But in Paul’s day,
...an admonition to “rejoice”
would specifically relate to a public celebration.
In Roman culture,
Great festivals and games were organized
to celebrate cities and their gods,
... especially the god that united them all,
... Caesar himself!
And so, Paul uses this familiar language
for those in the kingdom of Jesus.
As others celebrate earthly kings,
How much more should followers of King Jesus
Not just with parties and festivals,
But through our daily lives
...Worshiping and serving one another.
...Enjoying each moment together,
...Remembering Jesus together through the bread and wine.
Paul is not an optimist.
He is under no illusion
that we can just will our attitudes to become joyful.
... In the Lord.
Paul has used this phrase “in the Lord”
...Throughout the letter.
Followers of Jesus are citizens of a new Kingdom,
A kingdom within the sphere of Christ’s Lordship,
We are equipped to experience joy and unity,
...Not through our own strength,
...But through the power of Jesus’ Spirit living in us.
Rejoice in the Lord, Always.
Again, I say rejoice.
5 Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon. –Phil 4 (NLT)
Regardless of what you’re going through,
Be gentle, be considerate
...Knowing that this is not the end.
We have hope that no matter what happens,
Jesus is near.
And Jesus will restore everything soon.
Our current situation will not last forever.
That’s why he could continue to say,
6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. –Phil 4 (NLT)
In the ancient world, anxiety was a way of life.
There were no safety nets when things went wrong.
No doctors to fix broken legs or heal diseases.
No subsidies if your crop was destroyed.
You just went hungry.
There were no homeless ministries and food shelters.
No social security when you were too old to work.
You were on your own.
For the ancients,
...suffering meant the gods weren’t happy,
...And they never told you why.
All of life was filled with anxiety
that the shoe could drop at any minute.
But with the God who had revealed himself in Jesus,
Suffering was understood as part of a fallen world.
Fallenness Jesus had overcome.
So, while there was no guarantee against suffering,
There was certainty
...that God was in control,
...And working through you, his people
to right the wrongs in the world,
...And God was walking with you
...And shaping you,
...And listening to you.
That no prayer is too trivial
Because God cares about every aspect of your life.
If it matters to you,
it matters to God.
You (Application. So What?)
Paul’s life was difficult.
The Philippian believers were struggling.
So are some of you.
Some have lost jobs.
Others have been diagnosed with COVID.
Money, Debt, Family,
There is plenty to worry about.
But if you turn your thoughts
toward the hope you have in Christ,
If you pray
Sharing your worries and your needs with God,
If you develop an attitude of gratitude,
A thankful heart for what God has blessed you with,
Paul says in verse 7,
7 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. –Phil 4 (NLT)
This isn’t manufactured peace.
This isn’t false optimism.
This is peace that only God gives.
Despite their present reality,
Paul was reassuring them.
Don’t focus on all the things you can’t control,
The past and the future.
Give it to Jesus.
Pray about all of it,
...And be intentional to look for
all the things God has already done for you.
And when you do that,
you will experience peace that frankly doesn’t make sense.
Illustrations of Peace
It’s a peace some of you have experienced
when you hit rock bottom and had nowhere else to go,
And you prayed and offered it to God,
And were overwhelmed
at the seemingly ridiculous peace you experienced.
It’s a peace some of you have shared about
when your sin was exposed and you were humiliated.
You had nowhere else to go.
And when you offered yourself to God,
you found forgiveness and acceptance
... and peace and freedom you couldn’t describe.
No matter what would happen
as a result of your failure,
God was with you,
And that was enough.
Our Story of Peace
In 2016, Rae Lynn and I both lost our jobs within the same month.
We were broke
BEFORE losing the jobs!
We should have freaked out.
And we were tempted to freak out.
But God had proven himself in the past
And we knew he was our only hope.
We prayed together as a family.
We asked God to renew of our minds.
Every time anxiety creeped in,
We offered it to God.
And I can’t explain the peace that we experienced.
God was with us.
And now, when we look back at that season,
Rae Lynn and Ali and Rylie and me,
We have a mile marker in our faith.
When the future is uncertain,
...We can remember that time when it looked so bleak
But we put our trust in God,
...And he took care of us.
So how do you do this?
How do you renew your mind?
How do you “not worry”?
How can you experience God’s peace
In this moment?
..A peace that guards your minds
as you live in Christ Jesus?
That’s how Paul closes this section.
He says in verse 8,
8 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. –Phil 4 (NLT)
You want to experience joy?
You want to experience peace.
Fix your eyes
...On that which is true and honorable,
...And right and pure,
...And lovely, and admirable.
We live in a culture that pursues and celebrates
...Other people’s failures
and things that tear them down.
This is not the ways of Jesus’ kingdom.
When you fix your eyes on the characteristics of Jesus,
You become more like Jesus.
Verse 9, so...
9 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. –Phil 4 (NLT)
Paul was being transformed to become more and more like Jesus.
And he’s saying, follow me as I follow Jesus.
I’ve found Joy and peace in him,
...In becoming more and more like him.
Author Kay Warren knows despair.
Her and her husband Rick Warren,
The author of the Purpose Driven Life,
...Had a son with mental illness.
In 2013, at age 27, their son committed suicide.
They were wrecked.
This was a tragic end
To a lifetime of depression and pain.
Kay knows the deep pain of living in this world,
Through lot of time reading Scripture,
And dealing with her loss,
She eventually wrote a book called
Choose Joy: Because Happiness isn’t enough.
In it, she offers a definition of joy
...that reminds us of God’s powerful truths
when joy is not expected.
I think her definition is worth memorizing.
Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be all right, and the determined choice to praise God in all things.
Would you read this aloud with me.
Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control
of all the details of my life,
the quiet confidence that ultimately everything
is going to be all right,
and the determined choice
to praise God in all things.
This has the power to change your life.
Joy is a settled conviction ABOUT God.
He is powerful... and sovereign.
That he is in control.
It’s a quiet confidence IN God,
That he is working, in the midst of pain, towards something,
And that something ends very, very well.
Joy is a determined choice to give my praise TO God.
He is worthy and beautiful and good.
In fact, he is most worthy,
And most good.
We (Closing and Challenge)
I’d like to invite you to join each other
In Kay’s devotion Choose Joy.
It’s linked on our “Resources to Help You Grow” page.
Or just type the address at the bottom: AvalonChurch.org/JoyDevo
Choosing joy is not a one and done.
It’s not hearing and moving on.
Like everything about our faith,
It’s a journey.
...A journey to follow Jesus,
...A journey of continual death and resurrection
...dying to self and finding new life in Jesus,
...Through which God accomplishes the good purpose
of reconciling the world to himself.