THE SECRET OF HAVING JOY
A Study through Philippians
As Christians, we all want to walk victoriously in every situation, and one way we can do so is to live our lives in Christ with joy. The Lord promises us joy unspeakable and full of glory (1 Peter 1:6-9 NKJV). Should you and I, therefore, spend our time complaining about all that goes wrong in our lives day after day?
The Philippian Christians were full of that joy. Paul commented on joy throughout this letter. I counted how many times Paul wrote the words “joy” or forms of the word joy, such as “rejoice” in this short four chapter letter from my NKJV. “Joy” alone was written five times. “Rejoice” or a variation of that word -- rejoiced, rejoicing -- nine times. Did he have a message for them and for us? No doubt about that.
Paul loved the Philippian Christians. God loved the Philippian Christians just as He loves us. We will discover through reading this letter, they (the Philippian Christians) brought sheer joy to Paul and especially to the Lord. Do we bring joy to our God? This epistle reads differently from the first letter Paul had to pen to the Corinthian church which, though written with love, was full of correction, admonishment, and exhortation.
Backdrop: The first time we read about the city of Philippi (in Macedonia) is in the 16th Chapter of Acts verse 12. Paul was on his 2nd missionary journey at this time. The city itself was founded in about 368 BC by Alexander the Great's father, whose name had been Philip.
was one of the Roman Colonies and the people there were very proud of their
In the city of
every type of person was represented and God brings them to mind in the 16th Chapter of Acts. In that same
chapter of Acts we read about the rich, independent, and religious Lydia who
sold purple dyes and who, although quite religious in her own right, found she still needed to have a born again
experience with Jesus Christ. (Verse 14 – 15) “And
a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which
worshipped God, heard us: WHOSE HEART THE LORD OPENED, THAT SHE ATTENDED UNTO
THE THINGS WHICH WERE SPOKEN OF PAUL. And when she was baptized, and her
household, she besought us, saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the
Lord, come into my house, and abide there. And she constrained us.” Philippi
How common this has become today as well in many churches. It's a wonderful story ~ that of Lydia. It shows us that there could be “religious” churchgoers from every walk of life who do not yet know Christ in a personal way. Lydia’s life shows us the necessity of praying for ALL PEOPLE, religious and not so religious ~ both within our churches and outside of our church families.
We also read in Acts about the Philippian jailer, who, for us, represents the middle class, or the blue-collar worker… Verses 22 – 34 “And the multitude rose up together against them: and the magistrates rent off their clothes, and commanded to beat them. And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely: Who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks. And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them. And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bands were loosed. And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled. But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here. Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he all his, straightway. And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house…”
The humble jailer is an example for us of how salvation comes to all in the middle class willing to humble themselves before God.
Finally, we read about the poor slave girl from
who told people’s fortunes. (Verses 16-18…)
“And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain
damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters
much gain by soothsaying: the same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying,
These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of
salvation. And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said
to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.
And he came out the same hour…”
We can be so thankful God loves all and does not desire that ANY should perish.
Back to the Letter to the Philippians: Did Paul have to bring up any problematic situations in this short letter? We’ll find that he does have to send a warning to the Philippians about false teachers and remind them of the importance to remain in unity. Isn’t that true for us today? When churches and fellowships stick together, they are less inclined to be misled. But it's important to note how the churches in that day went through the same problems we go through in this 21st Century with false prophets and bad teaching.
But the main purpose of Paul’s letter to the Philippians was to send a thank you note, write some words of encouragement, speak about a dear brother’s illness, and finally share with them the importance of maintaining that unity they now possessed. And throughout his letter, we will read about God’s Secret of Having Joy.
What is your secret to having joy?
The wonderful epistle of Philippians is an important letter of instruction that will teach us
to practice what we already should know.
Let's look at Chapter 1:1,2 (NKJV)
- Paul and Timothy, bondservants of Jesus Christ, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, with the bishops and deacons:
- Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
To Paul, serving in the ministry was a pleasure for him. It didn't matter whether he was out on the streets or even in a gaol. Not Paul. He could have been anywhere. As a “bondservant.” he was a servant to Jesus BY choice. Slaves who wore earrings in their ear were showing those around them that it was their choice to serve their masters.
Reflection: Is serving Jesus for you a joy and is it your choice regardless of your circumstance? The joy of Christ in your life and mine should simply be a blessing, for as we serve the Lord and one another in the bond of Christian love, joy just follows. It's a good thing to THINK ON GOOD THINGS.
Paul writes this letter to the saints, to the bishops, and to the deacons of the church. He includes Timothy in his authorship because Timothy, a young minister was right beside him, serving along with him.
We all should desire that grace and peace he speaks of in verse 2. Grace, the unmerited favor of God ~ Peace, that comfort that rules in our hearts each day. Why? Because Jesus resides there.
Who are the saints? You -- me -- anyone who has given his or her life to Jesus Christ. You -- me -- the peculiar people of this world. You -- me -- the pilgrims and sojourners who wait for our heavenly home. You -- me -- people not so different from Lydia or the middle-of-the-road jailer, or maybe even someone who has little or nothing, or who once lived a questionable lifestyle and might have been possessed by a demon, one who God delivered and replaced with the Spirit of the Living God.
We see in this letter that Paul also wrote specifically to the bishops and the deacons.
Who were the Bishops? Timothy described them in his letter, 1 Timothy 3 and Paul described them in Titus 1, blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach the things of God; not drunkards, not violent, not greedy, not quarrelsome, not covetous. Those who rule their own houses well, not novices, lest being puffed up with pride they fall. Those with a good testimony of their faith.
Who were the Deacons? Likewise deacons -- reverent, not double-tongued, not given to much wine, not greedy, but full of faith, tested; Servants who are blameless with wives (here might be us) who are reverent, not slanderers, temperate, and faithful in all things. The deacons also are husbands of one wife (think about the polygamous culture in the early days), those who rule their children and their own houses well. Those with a good standing and who have great boldness with their faith in the faith in the Lord.
Paul, here in Philippians, is writing to people with good virtues
Let's ask ourselves --
v What is my description of a Woman of Virtue?
v What are some of my characteristics?
v How can I teach a younger woman virtue?
In Chapter 2 we will talk about Having Joy on the days we are called to serve the Body of Christ
In Chapter 3 we will talk about Having Joy due to our belief in Jesus Christ because everything we do is for Christ.
In Chapter 4, we will talk about the Joy we can all share in Prayer and in Giving to one another.
In order to express that JOY there is a prerequisite, however. Once we have the Lord in our lives, He calls for us to be thankful both in our prayers and for one another. As we prepare for the next lesson further into Chapter 1, spend more time with me in thanking God for what Jesus did for us on the cross, thanking God for our friends and families, and thanking God for the JOY only He can give us…regardless of our circumstances.
1 Thessalonians2:13 NKJV says:
“For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe.”
1 Thessalonians 5:18 NKJV
“IN everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
This wonderful epistle written to the Philippian Christians was also written
to YOU and to ME and is here to teach us to practice what we already know.
Shirley Kiger Connolly
(See Resources for this study on the Bible Resource page