Our world is in a crazy pursuit of happiness. Just go to the bookstore on-line or in person and look at all the books on fulfillment and finding the good life.
It’s not an improper goal, but we need to raise the bar a bit. We need to get back to the Bible, and learn how to find real joy.
Happiness is based on external happenings [happenstance / circumstances]
Joy is internal and abiding, and rooted deeply.
Most seek their fulfillment in people, places, and things.
…. If only I could have a certain relationship, or be accepted by the right crowd, then I could be happy.
Now, it’s important to have the right kinds of friends, or to marry the right person, but people are not a permanent source of happiness.
- the prominent theme of love songs today is, “My life is worthless/meaningless/has no significance without you”
This statement should be made about none other than Jesus our Savior! Your life can be significant and full of joy and meaning even if you have no one apart from Christ.
Paul teaches us in 1 Corinthians 7 that even if you go your whole life unmarried, you are not a second-class Christian or an incomplete person. This is because we are complete in Christ!
People change, people leave, and people die.
How about things?
“If only I had some things that others have, then I could be happy.”
A few years back, Nightline’s Ted Koppel confronted Tammy Fay Baker about her lavish spending and she said, “When I am depressed, spending is my therapy. Buying things makes me happy.”
What an awful message to send to the lost world!
Things lose their luster, and you lose the joy. There’s always a newer model car, a great gadget invented … and do you have your iPhone 18 yet?
The Bible says that all this material world will one day go up in flame!
How about places?
If I could live in that area or that house or have that job, then I could be happy. And maybe I’d be happy in another church, I mean, I’ve been here for a few years already and it’s old now!
These people never find happiness in places. Do you know why? Because everywhere they go they take themselves with them! It’s an internal problem. Likewise, real joy is with you always!
So you have sorrow now, but I will see you again; then you will rejoice, and no one can rob you of that joy.
The world didn’t give us our joy and the world cannot take it away. Places can’t, people can’t, nothing can!
Let’s go to Philippians 4:4
Rejoice in the Lord always. Again, I will say, rejoice! (NKJV)
Paul wasn’t laying on a beach when he wrote this, no one was fanning him with a palm branch or feeding him grapes. He was in a dungeon.
“Yeah but, he hasn’t been thru what I’ve been thru.” You’re right, he went thru much worse! His back was bleeding and covered in scars from 5 times being beaten with 39 lashes. 3 times with a stick. He had been stoned, shipwrecked, robbed, betrayed, and was mocked and maligned by most of his world.
This guy says, he is rejoicing in the Lord, and I can listen to a guy like this. He has earned credibility!
What characteristic does he have, that may reveal the secret to joy?
A lack of joy and selfishness seem to go hand in hand. Self-centered people, even if they are saved, are joyless.
You may have seen this before but it is worth repeating to remind us how to have joy!
Live for Christ, serve others, and walk in joy!
Little boy and his sister were sharing a rocking horse, and it was tight. He said, “If one of us would get off, there would be more room for me.”
Philippians 1: 1-8 [emphasize ‘you’ all 10 times]
This letter is from Paul and Timothy, slaves of Christ Jesus. I am writing to all of God’s holy people in Philippi who belong to Christ Jesus, including the church leaders and deacons. 2 May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace. 3 Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God. 4 Whenever I pray, I make my requests for all of you with joy, 5 for you have been my partners in spreading the Good News about Christ from the time you first heard it until now. 6 And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. 7 So it is right that I should feel as I do about all of you, for you have a special place in my heart. You share with me the special favor of God, both in my imprisonment and in defending and confirming the truth of the Good News. 8 God knows how much I love you and long for you with the tender compassion of Christ Jesus.
If we today were writing a letter from prison, we wouldn’t be saying ‘you’ very much. The prominent pronoun would be ‘I’!
“I can’t believe this is happening to me! I can’t stand this place, this food, because I am innocent!” Incidentally, we wouldn’t have any joy in that place. Paul did.
“I have you in my thoughts, in my prayers, and in my heart.”
“I have you in my thoughts”
‘Every time I think of you’
What do people think about when they remember ‘you’?
Just thinking of certain people evokes feelings from you. There are certain names I could bring up and you would feel anxiety, because of how you associate them with something in the past.
[bitterness because they wronged you / disgust because of what they did / jealousy because of what they have]
A lady told her friend that her husband unnerved her. He made her walk the line so much that she couldn’t stand to be around him. He could enter the room or call on the phone and she would be overcome with nervousness. She said, “It’s so bad that I’m losing lots of weight.” “Why don’t you leave him?” “I will, as soon as I get down to 110.”
How do you make people feel? We would all hope to bring some joy into their hearts. But do we?
Or do they feel undeserved guilt after speaking with us? Are we so negative that we bring them down? Are we so self-righteous that we turn them off? Are we so sinful that they can’t associate with us? Are we so opinionated that their thoughts aren’t relevant? Are we so busy and focused that they know better than to ask our help? Are we so critical that they cringe to see us coming? Are we so unfriendly that they would rather talk to ANYONE else? Are we so stuck on ourselves that they are repulsed?
How about it? Have you known someone who says such things about others that it makes you wonder what they must say about you?
are they so joy filled that it spills over into your life? Are they so inspiring that they make you want to be like them? Are they so compassionate that you can’t help loving them? Are they so positive that it changes your outlook? Are they so encouraging that they make you feel better when you are with them? Are they so giving that it makes you want to pay it forward to someone else? And even when they challenge you with truth, is it so spoken in love with the right attitude that you want to receive it and grow? Are they so easy going that they put you at ease? Are they so deeply spiritual that they don’t have to wear it on their sleeve for you to know it? Are they such a servant that you always know you can count on them when you need help? Are they so faithful that you know they will not let you down? Are they so outwardly focused that you have to pry personal prayer requests out of them? Are they a person of vision, and that helps you to see the big picture as well? Are they so concerned that you can see in their eyes that they truly care? Is there such wisdom when they speak that your ears perk up?
Isn’t the bottom line whether they truly put Jesus first in their lives, then others, with very little thought for themselves?
Paul says he is remembering them. Who are they? They are a great church, close to his heart.
In Acts 16 we see 3 of his first converts, and no doubt he is remembering them now as he writes from prison
One had a tender heart, one had a tormented heart, and one had a toughened heart.
Lydia – was a successful businesswoman who sold to royalty.
Paul shared his heart and God’s word with her, she opened up her heart, and then her home to be a meeting place. What a tender heart! And Paul remembers how God got it all started thru her!
Then there was a demon possessed woman, with a tormented heart, who followed them around town obnoxiously repeating, “These are the servants of the most high God,” mocking them. Paul cast out that demon, and she was saved, and became like a little child! Now Paul remembers her amazing testimony.
Then there was the Philippian jailer with his toughened heart. He had put stripes on Paul’s back when he was imprisoned there for preaching, and yet after the earthquake he fell to his knees and begged to be saved, and then took Paul home to his family as well!
Paul is thinking about the wonderful things God did in Philippi and he says, “This is the joy of my life!”
He’s sitting in jail, not having a pity party, but walking down memory lane!
He’s not thinking about himself, but about others!
Not – “Gloom, despair, and agony on me!” (remember Hee Haw?)
“It will be worth it all, when we see Jesus. Life’s trials will seem so small, when we see Christ…”
Life throws its best at us, and it can be pretty bad. What should you do?
Visit a nursing home! Call a cancer patient! Write to a missionary. Talk to someone you know is hurting and in need of some encouragement!
Cancel the pity party, and think of others! Then bring it around to Jesus, and He will cheer all of you up!
“I have you in my thoughts.”
“I have you in my prayers.”
I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding.
See the connection between prayer and joy? And there’s a connection between thoughts and prayers. Praying is a thoughtful thing to do. When you are thinking of someone, it should lead you to prayer!
“I have you on my heart.”
Philippians 1:8 uses the words “tender compassion” which means I have you in the innermost part / heart of a person…. Paul is saying
Even in prison, I have you on my heart!
The heart is a great place to carry someone.
You can carry them on your back. [get off my back!]
They can be on your nerves.
They can be on your bowels, literally. “I’ve had a belly full of you. I can’t stomach you!”
Back = pain in the neck
nerves = breakdown / high blood pressure
stomach = ulcer
Carry people on your heart = loving them through the eyes of Jesus!
Ever been eye-balled by someone? You can feel their eyes on you. You can tell that they are looking for a problem, and you can feel the pressure because you know very well you’ve got problems, and now you’re under the microscope. You’re in the fishbowl, and there’s no way out!
On the contrary, have you ever sensed someone looking at you through the eyes of Jesus? They are seeing you, not for who you currently are, but for who you can be. When they look at you, they see what you must be going through, and they have a vision for your healing and future blessing! They love you in spite of yourself, and they are seeing you thru the eyes of Jesus! They carried you on their heart!
I know who I am. I can be a pain in the neck. I can get on people’s nerves. Many can’t stomach me at times. And some carry me on their heart! But I do all I do because I truly love you!
It’s no coincidence that such people [you are thinking of right now] are the most joy filled you will ever know. It’s because they are unselfish. Other-centered, not self-centered. They have an outward look.
They put Jesus first and others second and themselves last, and it makes them thoughtful, prayerful, and filled with a joyful heart!
Choose to fill your heart with JOY today…recognize where you have allowed selfishness to creep in and get it out…Keep Jesus first..The Joy we seek is Jesus, always….then you will naturally put others second yourself last but God will promote you and supply all of your needs and fill your heart!