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Splashes of Joy
“Joy Robbers”
Lesson Four
 
 
The Philippian church held a special place of affection the Paul’s heart. He wrote, It is only right for me to feel this way about you all, because I have you in my heart, since both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers of grace with me. For God is my witness, how I long for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. (Phi. 1:7-8). Throughout his letter, Paul affirmed his love for them and the spiritual delight he felt for their forward progress with the Lord.
 
I. Contention-Philippians 4:1-5
Paul longed to see his Philippian friends and co-laborers in the faith. He was homesick for them. In his mind’s eye, he could picture his dear friends and recall sweet times of shared fellowship. John wrote, You too may have fellowship with us; indeed our fellowship is the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ (I John 1:3). Sweet memories of the Philippian flock flood Paul’s soul, bringing joy to his heart and encouragement to his weary soul. Paul wrote, Therefore, my beloved brethren whom I long to see, my joy and crown, in this way stand firm in the Lord, my beloved (Phil. 4:1). Like a father proudly considering the godly maturity of his child, Paul reflected on the spiritual growth of the body of Christ in Philippi and it brought great delight to him. Eternal rewards were laid up for Paul because of the Philippian congregation. They would prove to be his crown in glory. A crown that the apostle would gladly cast at the nail-scarred feet of Jesus! So, Philippian church, keep standing firm in the Lord!
 
However, Paul was aware of a problem in the assembly of believers in Philippi. Sadly, there was contention in the congregation! There was some trouble in paradise! Solomon wrote, Dead flies make a perfumer’s oil stink, so a little foolishness is weightier than wisdom and honor (Ecc. 10:1). That is, when dead flies are discovered floating in a vat of perfumed oil, the whole batch is ruined! Dead flies give, even a vat of concentrated perfumer’s oil, a bad smell! And it only takes one or two flies in the ointment to spoil the sweet fragrance of the perfume and most is worthless.
 
Likewise, in the body of Christ, one or two malcontents can spoil the fellowship and stink up the place! In the midst of the sweet aroma of a united fellowship, striving to fulfill the purposes and plans of God, a fly can spoil the ointment! Division among believers spoils intimacy in fellowship, shakes the faith of new converts, damages the cause of Christ to the unbelieving world, and breaks the heart of God.
 
At the church of Philippi, Paul was aware of a fly in the ointment. Epaphroditus brought word to Paul of the conflict between two women in the congregation, Euodia and Syntyche. Paul urged the two women to reconcile their differences and live in harmony in the Lord (Phil. 4:2).
 
Can you imagine what it felt like to be one of these two women? In a letter that contained no rebukes, no correction of doctrinal error, or reprimand for moral failure, in a letter that consists of positive encouragement to press on in the Lord, in a letter intended to be read publicly to the congregation, can you imagine? Can you imagine hearing your name announced as one of the two flies in the ointment that was spoiling the fragrance of Christian harmony? Just how much was holding on to that grudge worth to those two women?
 
We do not know the details of the disagreement but I don’t think it was worth what it cost them. Mercifully, the reference to Euodia and Syntyche was brief. Much was left unsaid causing me to fear that the details were well known to the congregation. Paul’s gentle plea for unity is immediately tied to joyThese two women had lost the joy of Jesus. Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near! (Phil. 4:4-5). The joy of the Lord produces a gentle spirit. That is the testimony the Christian world should be known for, not bickering and in-fighting!
 
II. Prayerlessness-Philippians 4:6-9
Contention is a sure Joy Robber! So is prayerlessness.
 
Paul connects prayer and peace. Paul writes, Be anxious for nothing (Phil. 4:6). How do you avoid anxiety in the midst of the world where we live? The answer is through prayer.Prayer is a divine mystery. Why pray when God already knows our needs and requests? What’s the point? We do not know how prayer works but we do know that God designed it to encourage us to come to Him. He longs to hear from us. He delights to meet with us. He wants us to pour out our hearts in prayer and make our requests known to Him. The process of prayer allows us to formulate the cries of our heart into prayer requests, causes us to spend time developing a thankful heart, teaches us to praise the Lord, and invites us to participate in kingdom activity. While we cannot explain prayer it is one of the loveliest of Christian disciplines and it moves us into a closer walk with the Lord.
 
Prayer produces peace. How? Prayer brings the activity of the Almighty into play. It moves us from our earth-bound living and lifts our eyes to heavenlies places as we change our focus from our situation to our Savior. We begin to bring our circumstances in line with God’s heavenly perspective. Prayer produces confidence in God’s presence and power in our situation. It focuses our eyes on Jesus. Through prayer, we draw the courage to persevere, the ability to know God’s heart, the divine power to do God’s will, and the confidence to live in the audacity of faith based on the Word of God and made operational by the Spirit of God.
 
Pure thoughts. Think on these things. Think on what is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, of good repute, excellent and worthy of praise. Think on these things. Think on Jesus. When we do, the peace of God distills upon our souls, reminding us the God of peace is with us (Phil. 4:9). To ignore the spiritual discipline and privilege of prayer is to be laid waste by the Joy Robbers!
 
III. Discontentment-Philippians 4:10-23
 
In Paul’s day, the care of prisoners fell to families and friends and not the state. It was up to the prisoners to enlist help. Paul had no visible means of support. He was cast wholly on the Lord and the kindness of His people.
 
The Philippians had sent Paul financial support on several occasions. One of the purposes of Paul’s letter was to thank the congregation for their generous and timely gift. Paul’s letter was full of heartfelt gratitude and spiritual instruction. The Philippian church had ministered to his physical needs. In turn, Paul ministered to their spiritual needs.
 
Paul was grateful for financial gift Epaphroditus delivered and for the love it represented. The sacrificial financial assistance represented the Philippians’ love for the Lord and for His servant, Paul. Because the gift was based on their spiritual relationship in the Lord, their material gift was an occasion for Christian joy.
 
The believers at Philippi shared a unique bond in the Lord with the apostle Paul. He had personally led many of them to the Lord. He had planted the church there. He had invested in them through preaching, teaching, and disciple making. He considered them his joy and crown, his riches and his reward (Phil. 4:1). The finances gift represented the riches in Christ they all shared. It touched a responsive chord of praise in his soul. Paul praised God for His gracious provision through the Philippian believers. Paul rejoiced in the Lord greatly (Phil. 4:1).
 
Apparently, some time had elapsed between gifts from the Philippian church. Paul was aware that the passage of time did not represent a lack of interest, but a lack of opportunity. Paul wrote, Now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned before, but you lacked opportunity (Phil. 4:10). This sentence sounds a bit like a rebuke but Bible commentators do not think it was meant to be. Perhaps a better translation might be, “You have renewed your concern for me because you have been concerned.” Bible commentators believe this is more along the lines of Paul’s intention. The Philippians had been concerned all along and had wanted to respond, but because of Paul’s situation, they had not been able to get aid to him. The church created an opportunity to send financial aid to Paul. Epaphroditus would be the courier of the gift.
 
Travel in this day was very difficult. No lodging was available. Transporting food was a problem. Safety issues were a constant concern. Robbery was a common occurrence as travelers ventured through isolated areas. With little or no security patrols, muggings often escalated to murder. Epaphroditus would be traveling with a cash gift, making him an especially vulnerable target. Furthermore, contact with a prisoner of Rome was dangerous. Paul was considered a conspirator against Nero. Anyone who provided help to Paul was in danger of falling under suspicion. Association with Paul was risky at best. The sacrificial financial gift represented only a part of the gift; the danger Epaphroditus risked to deliver the gift was equally significant.
 
Paul was grateful for the gift. It caused him to rejoice in the Lord for His supernatural provision. However, he wanted to make it very clear. His joy was not dependant on financial aid from the Philippians or any other source. Paul had learned to be content in whatever circumstances he found himself. Contentment is learned through experience. Paul had learned to live in complete detachment from his circumstances. Paul reckoned the circumstances of his life to have been ordered by the Lord. Consequently, he fared well in and through them because of his own relationship to Christ.
 
Paul had experienced prosperity and he had known poverty. Because he considered God to be in control of the circumstances of his life, his soul was at rest regardless of the prevailing situations of life. Paul could rise above any set of circumstances and prosper spiritually. Why? Paul wrote, I can do all things through Him who strengthens me (Phil. 4:13).Christ strengthened him. As Paul sought to live in the center of God’s will, he could rest in God’s power, provision, and providence. Please notice. This verse, often lifted out of context, is a conditional promise. The promise of God’s power is limited to the sphere of His will.
 
Paul was content. In poverty or in prosperity, Paul was content. In prison or in the pulpit, Paul was content. Full or famished, Paul was content. Discontentment is a sure Joy Robber!
 
IV. A Satisfied Soul-Philippians 4:14-23
Paul’s joy rested in his personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Jesus said, These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full (John 15:11). Paul’s soul resounded with the joy of the Lord, regardless of his circumstances.
 
Paul was grateful for the financial relief that the Philippians had sent. However, he was not seeking a gift. His contentment was in Christ. Still, Paul was very aware of the value of the sacrificial gift - not to his account, but to the balance sheet of eternal rewards laid up in heaven for the Philippians. Paul wrote, I seek for the profit which increases to your account (Phil. 4:17).
The love gift would serve to meet Paul’s needs, but it would accrue heavenly interest and eternal rewards for the Philippian Christians at the Judgment Seat of Christ.
 
Paul knew the members of the Philippian church were not wealthy. The size of the gift represented sacrificial giving. Paul was humbled by their sacrifice but he was well aware it was impossible to out give God. Out of His limitless treasury, God would supply the need of these who had given with liberty.
 
God’s sufficient supply through the Philippians’ gift caused Paul’s thoughts to linger on God’s glory and grace, prompting a doxology. Now to our God and Father be the glory forever and ever. Amen. Greetings were sent to the Philippians from all those with Paul, especially those of Caesar’s household. What divine irony. Paul’s imprisonment for preaching the gospel had lead to the furtherance of the gospel in Caesar’s very own household!
 
Paul was satisfied, amply supplied, with the Philippians’ gift. Beyond that, his soul was satisfied with Jesus. I cannot help but think that Jesus was satisfied with Paul! I trust your soul is satisfied with Jesus. May you walk with The Lord Jesus Christ as a fragrant aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well-pleasing to God. May you enjoy His endless supply ofSplashes of Joy. 
 
 
 
Posted: 4/30/2013 4:15:03 PM by Global Administrator | with 1 comments



Splashes of Joy
“Joy in Jesus”
Lesson Three
 
Paul’s undeniable faith was validated by his irrefutable testimony. Paul’s joy was not manufactured. It was not pretense or performance. It was not dependant on circumstances. Paul’s joy was genuine. Outrageous.  Outlandish. Unspeakable joy. Deeply rooted in his relationship with Jesus Christ, the joy of the Lord was Paul’s strength (see Neh. 8:10).
 
1. Rejoice in the Lord-Philippians 3:1-7
About joy, Paul wrote it is a safeguard for you (Phil. 3:1). A Sanctuary. Nothing places us out of the grasp of the enemy’s reach quite like the joy of the Lord. When the joy bells are ringing in the soul, the heart soars to the presence of the Lord seated in the heavenlies. The eyes are fixed on Jesus, the author and finisher of the faith. The mind is renewed. The will is surrendered. The behavior is transformed. Joy flows out of the inner most being. In Colossians 3:16-17 Paul wrote, Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual sons, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father (Col. 3:16-17).
 
Regardless of circumstances, Jesus is ruling and reigning. The sooner we realize we are not in control and have never been, the sooner we will relinquish the need to control our circumstances and relinquish ourselves to Him. This attitude in living produces a heightened sense to the move of God in our lives. As we develop an awareness of His presence and a hunger for the restoration He provides, we are progressively changed. The spiritual discipline of renewing our mind combined with the desire to walk in obedience and dependence produces a practice that reflects our position in Christ. The end product is outrageous JOY. Rejoice in the Lord. It is a safeguard for you.
 
One sure joy-stealer is unbelievers who are intent on wrecking havoc among God’s people. While some unbelievers live by a lofty moral code, content with the pursuit of self-righteousness, others have set their face against God and His people. We can gather from Paul’s epistles that the early church was being troubled by false teachers, many of whom planted themselves inside the church. They feigned conversion in order to divide and destroy the body of Christ from within the church. Paul called them dogsevil workers. In Paul’s day dogs roamed in packs and were regarded as dangerous mongrels, rending, tearing, and devouring. God refers to His people as sheep. Dogs disturb and destroy sheep. Beware of these evil men. The word translated “evil” literally means depraved, bad. Beware. A renewed mind that can rightly divide the truth is the best defense against false teachers.
 
Paul referred to these unbelieving agitators as members of the false circumcision. The Bible forbids any type of  cutting of the flesh after the manner of the heathens (Lev. 21:5; I Kings 18:28) which is most vividly seen in the story of Elijah. The prophets of Baal cut themselves in a religious ritual of Baal worship. Paul regarded the Jewish ordinance of circumcision, when demanded of Gentile converts by Jewish zealots, to be no better than mimicking the heathens’ ritualistic cutting of the flesh. Circumcision had come to distinguish the Jews from the Gentiles. It was an outward symbol for the nation of Israel that represented her unique covenant relationship with God. It was never intended to become a condition of salvation.
 
Since salvation is wrought by the finished work of Christ on the cross, the insistence by some to add the rite of circumcision as a condition for genuine conversion nullified the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. And frankly, it sickened Paul. To add the requirement of circumcision in order to be converted put the ritual in the same category as the heathen’s practice of cutting the flesh as an act of their worship. Paul denounced the practice and warned his readers to beware of the false circumcision. For any to preach the so-called addition of works of any kind to the once-for-all-time Sacrifice for sin, was to deny the sufficiency of the cross. Christ and the finished work of the cross is the basis for our worship. Weworship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus (Phil. 3:3). In John 4:24 Jesus said, “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” And for all who have met God on His terms of faith and repentance, there is Joy in Jesus!
 
The Judaizers were deluded into thinking righteousness could be achieved through works of the flesh. In Romans 3:28 Paul wrote, For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from the works of the Law. Religious activity, no matter how sincerely believed and sacrificially followed, is never a substitute for righteousness. Paul recounted his religious pedigree prior to his conversion in Philippians 3:4-6. It was enough to make any orthodox Jew green with envy! He was a Hebrew of Hebrews. Yet he counted his self-righteous achievements to be worthless when it came to knowing Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ(Phil. 3:7). We are saved not by works of righteousness, but by the shed blood of Jesus Christ. He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:4-5).
 
Joy is your birthright as a child of God. Outrageous. Outlandish. Unspeakable joy. Unshakable joy. Undeniable joy. Unparalleled joy. In the midst of your circumstances, joy! Joy in Jesus!
 
II. Rest in the Lord-Philippians 3:8-14
Most Bible commentators consider the apostle Paul the greatest Christian whom has ever lived. Paul’s assessment of his own Christian life was much more humble. Paul would have summarized this season in his walk with Christ this way, “I have not already attainted spiritual maturity, so I press on.”
 
 From the moment of his encounter with the resurrected Lord of Glory, Paul was a new dramatically changed. Once the dread of the fledgling new church, Paul had terrorized believers. Paul, full of righteous rage, delighted to cast Christians in prison for their testimony for Christ. Paul attended the stoning death of Stephen and rejoiced to see the martyr’s blood run in the gutter. But all that changed. In an instant. In a moment of time. One glimpse of Jesus stripped Paul of all the religious ritual, pious pretense, and generational guarantees of God’s favor he was banking on as a Jew, one of God’s chosen people. His encounter with Christ changed everything!
 
In short order, Paul, the newly commissioned convert began an explosive ministry. Paul managed to stir up so much opposition in Damascus that he was forced to flee the city (Acts 9:25). While awaiting God’s direction in Arabia, Paul evangelized Arabia, Tarsus, and Cilicia before moving over to Syrian Antioch. He evangelized the island of Cyprus and founded a string of churches in Galatia. He championed the cause of Christian liberty and helped the elders of the Jerusalem church understand the covenant standing of Gentile believers. Paul described Gentile believers as wild olives, (who) were grated in among them and became partaker with them (that is the Jews) of the rich root of the olive tree (Rom. 11:17- parenthesis mine).
 
Paul pioneered the work in Europe. He evangelized Ephesus and planted a church that was greatly used of the Lord to plant other churches in western Asia Minor. After years of fruitful ministry as a traveling evangelist, Paul found himself imprisoned in Rome for preaching the gospel. Chained to a Roman guard, the apostle turned his prison into a pulpit and continued to win converts in the ranks of the imperial guard and opening the door for the gospel into Caesar’s own palace. Yet Paul wrote, “I have not achieved spiritual maturity. However, I press on” (my paraphrase of  Phil. 3:12)
 
God had mightily used the apostle Paul to enlarge the reach of the kingdom. However, the work was barely begun. Paul’s intention was to view his calling as if nothing at all had been done. His new plan was to put the past resolutely behind him and sets his sights on the work ahead. Paul wrote, Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus (Phil. 3:12).
Paul set the past in proper perspective. The sins Paul had committed were under the blood. That is, Paul could get past his past (the sins committed prior to his conversion and those sins committed after).He we willing to receive the forgiveness Jesus Christ was freely bestowing (see Romans 3:25-26). Paul also saw his accomplishments through his Father’s eyes. Everything of eternal value Paul had been able to do, he saw as God’s power in him. He recognized that God was accomplishing His purposes through Paul’s yielded life and obedient heart.
Like an athlete stretching forward to win the prize, Paul was following after Christ. Paul was competing, not against other Christians, but against himself. Striving to crucify the flesh, cast down the vain imaginations lobbed into his mind by the devil, and cut off the lure of the world Paul wanted to lay aside every encumbrance and sin and run the race set before him, with his eyes fixed on Jesus (See Hebrews 12:1-3). The prize was Christ-likeness, personal holiness, and practical righteousness. He was pursuing the ever-deepening knowledge of Christ – not for salvation but for sanctification. The goal was to lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus laid him hold of him. Press on, beloved Christian. Press on! Run well. Finish strong. Stretch out toward the finish line and run. Press on, beloved Christian. Press on!
 
III. Reside in the Lord-Philippians 3:15-21
Paul recognized not every one was going to line up with him on every point. “Let as many as are perfect, have this attitude,” Paul wrote (Phil. 3:15). Many of Paul’s contemporaries disliked him. They feared his brilliant mind, resented his success, begrudged his popularity, resisted his message, and were suspect of his zeal and passion,. Paul was not threatened by their disapproval or frightened by their disdain. Paul was not willing to engage them in debate and he was certainly not interested in becoming embroiled in futile arguments. Paul warned Timothy not to wrangle about words, which is useless and leads to ruin of the hearers (2 Tim. 2:14). Paul refused to lose his joy over those who were not making forward progress in their walk with God. God was perfectly capable of revealing error to those who were either baby believers, or misled and deceived, or poorly discipled in doctrinal truth.
 
Paul was content to follow after Christ. And he encouraged his readers to continue to press on with the Lord. Paul wrote, Let us keep living by the same standard to which we have attainted (Phil. 3:16).Press on, beloved child of God. Press on!
 
Paul did not consider himself perfect but he was willing to take on the divine responsibility of being a role model of one who loved the Lord Jesus Christ. He urged his readers to observe those who walk according to the pattern of godly men and women (Phil. 3:17).
 
Paul reminded his readers to beware of false teachers, whose end is destruction, who god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things(Phil. 3:19). These enemies of the cross of Christ often masqueraded as believers to bring dissension and division into the body of Christ. There are many enemies of the cross of Christ but there are also many solid models for us to observe.
 
Paul points us back to Jesus and our position in Him! Our citizenship is in heaven (Phil. 3:20). Paul’s reminder of our future glory is enough to lift our thoughts from the misery and mire of this mortal world and cause us to fix our eyes on the heavenlies (Col. 3:1-3). The Lord Jesus Christ will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory. In light of that, beloved, press on. Press on with the Joy of Jesus as your companion regardless of difficult circumstances or difficult people!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Posted: 4/30/2013 4:12:19 PM by Global Administrator | with 0 comments


 
Splashes of Joy
“Unspeakable Joy”
Lesson 2
 
Satan must have rejoiced the day Paul was arrested, thinking the apostle’s ministry would be stalled and possibly stopped. Little did the enemy realize the positive impact on the spread of the gospel Paul’s imprisonment would have? Paul would become an even more dangerous threat to the kingdom of darkness as he spent unending hours in prayer storming the enemy’s camp with prayer. Paul’s imprisonment emboldened the timid to speak up, forced the naysayers to shut-up and caused the blood-bought church of the redeemed to stand up!
 
Satan’s most powerful tool in his arsenal may very well be dissension among the body of Christ. The church is the living testimony of the power of Christ to change lives. In our lost state, we walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air. We indulged the lusts of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest (See Ephesians 2:1-3). God did not abandon us in our sinful condition. God was rich in mercy and sent His only begotten Son to redeem us from our lost state, remove us from the enemy’s camp, and restore our fellowship with the Father. Colossians 1:13 says, Christ rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son.
 
When we meet God on His terms of faith and repentance, we are gloriously saved by grace. No longer pawns of Satan’s devious deception, we are eternally secure, sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise. Since Satan cannot recapture our souls once we have been translated into the kingdom of light, he settles for stealing our testimony. Appealing to the lust of our flesh, he subtly locates an unguarded weakness and exploits it for his advantage. To battle the onslaught of the enemy, Paul set forth the example of Jesus Christ.
 
I. Unity in the Body of Christ-Philippians 2:1-4
While the Philippian church was progressively making forward progress as a body, Paul was well aware of some internal squabbles among the membership. Satan had slipped in and sown seeds of discord. Dissension, allowed to proceed unchecked in the body of Christ, can quickly become disastrous. Our united representation of Christ to the lost world causes those outside a personal relationship with Christ to consider the claims of the gospel. When the enemy is allowed to produce disharmony in an individual believer, it will give way to dissension among the body. If the spread of dissension is not arrested, it caves to division among the body of Christ – the earthly representation of Christ.  The end result is that the lost world sneers at the testimony of the church.
 
Make my joy complete by being of the same mind, the apostle pleaded (Phil. 2:1). Paul had learned the secret of joy unspeakable and full of glory (1 Peter 1:8). The discord in the Philippian church was hitting a sour note in Paul’s symphony of joy. Paul’s spirit was disturbed within him. The believers were cheapening the value of their redemption, bringing disgrace upon the church, and damaging the testimony of Christ. Paul was not intent on patching up a spat or reconciling a rift in the fellowship. Instead he called the congregation to unity in the Lord. Being unselfish in attitude and action cuts to the heart of our human nature.  It means we are willing to forego our own comfort, our own personal preferences, our own schedule, and our own desires to benefit another. In order to do so, the self-life must be crucified and the Christ-life demonstrated. Be likeminded, Paul commanded. Be Christ-centered rather than self-centered. Make up your mind!
 
II. Purity in the Body of Christ-Philippians 2:5-13
In the context of selfless living, Paul illustrates his point in the person of Christ Jesus. Christ embodies unselfishness and a meek spirit. Jesus spoke of Himself saying, “I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matt. 11:29-30).  It was His attitude of unselfishness that launched Him from the glories of heaven to a humble birth in Bethlehem and propelled Him to the cross of Calvary. Paul wrote, For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich (2 Cor. 8:9).
 
Totally yielded to the Father’s purpose and plan, Christ laid aside the splendor of heaven, the worship and adoration of the angelic host, the unveiled presence of God and humbly clothed His deity with humanity. He willingly came to earth, exchanging the glories of heaven for the agonies of earth. Christ emptied Himself of His deity and took the form of a bondservant in the likeness of menHe humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on the cross (See Phil. 2:5-8). Jesus Christ accepted the most painful and humiliating death by crucifixion in order to redeem lost humanity. Christ freely laid down His life. In John 10:17-18 Jesus says, “For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it up again. No one has taken (My life) away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down and I have authority to take is up again.”  Paul wrote, For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above very name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow (Phil. 2:9-10). Deity clothed in humanity. Humble. Obedient. Holy. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus (Phil. 2:5) by renewing your mind with the in-depth study of the Word of God. Make up your mind!
 
Paul urged the congregation to pursue a mature faith, not in his presence only but also in his absence. An immature believer requires constant supervision and cannot serve up the meat of the Word without relying on the guidance of another. Rather than learning how to study independently and apply the truth of the Word, the immature Christian leaves the hard work to the maturing believer with no intention of learning the disciplines of the Christian life. Paul wrote, Work out your salvation. Co-operate with His purpose and plan to become more like Christ. This process requires work – reading, memorizing, meditating, praying, studying to show yourself approved. Pursue personal holiness and practical righteousness!
 
III. Maturity in the Body of Christ- Philippians 2:14-18
 
The only solution to sin is Jesus Christ. The Lord Jesus Christ is God’s remedy for man’s ruin. On the cross, Jesus Christ paid for the sin debt of the whole world (See 1 John 2:1-2; 1 Tim. 2:3-5). When we meet God on His terms – faith and repentance – we are reconciled to a holy God and gloriously saved. Our conversion ushers us into a process known assanctification. Sanctification involves our cooperation in order for it to produce a holy life pleasing to God. This is the slow process accomplished as we renew our minds with the Word of God and surrender ourselves to Holy Spirit, but we are progressively conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. Paul wrote about three benchmarks that identify our forward progress in the process of sanctification.
 
Sin moved God out of man. Salvation gets God back in man. Deity is once again clothed in humanity. We become His ambassadors. Our representation of God is marred at best, but as the body of Christ is conformed to the image of Christ we show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus (Eph. 2:7).The church, having been built on the Chief Cornerstone, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit (Eph. 2:21-22).
 
Christians are to walk blamelessly and strive to maintain a living testimony above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation (Phil. 2:15).We are to renew our minds with the Word of God in order to transform our behavior. Paul wrote, Appear as lights in the world, holding forth the word of life (Phil. 2:15-16). As we saturate our souls with the Word of God and surrender our wills to the Spirit of God, we appear as lights in the world.
 
Paul saw the Philippians as a living sacrifice being consumed on the altar of sacrifice and service. In Old Testament times, when a person brought an animal sacrifice to God, he also brought wine to be poured out as a libation. Since wine is symbolic of joy and exhilaration, the message implied was the way of sacrifice is the way of joy. Paul considered his life to be an accompanying drink offering on the burnt offering of the Philippians’ consecration. Sacrifice leads to joy. Service leads to joy.
 
IV. Timothy, A True Child in the Faith-Philippians 2:19-24
Paul referred to his beloved true child in the faith, Timothy, as an example of a servant. Paul was hoping to send Timothy to Philippi so he could bring the apostle news of that flock. Timothy’s reputation of care and concern for the apostle, as well of the fledging church, was well known. Timothy was a faithful companion, a compassionate servant, and a devoted co-laborer in the gospel ministry.
 
Timothy had the heart of a servant and the love of a son towards Paul. He was a faithful worker. Timothy was heavily invested in kingdom work – edifying those within the body and evangelizing those without a personal relationship with Christ. Paul’s use of Timothy’s example as a kingdom worker illustrated the presence of the joy of Jesus, which bubbled up and overflowed from the heart of Timothy. 
 
Would you like to have Splashes of Joy? Develop the heart of a servantWork faithfully for the kingdom of God.
 
V. Epaphroditus, A Mighty Warrior in the Faith-Philippians 2:25-30
Timothy was a worker; Epaphroditus was a warrior. If Paul considered Timothy to be his true son in the faith, he saw Epaphroditus as his true brother in the family of God. Paul called him my brother, and fellow worker and fellow soldier (Phil. 2:25). Epaphroditus had brought a love gift from the congregation at Philippi to invest in Paul’s ministry and support him during his time of incarceration. Paul intended to send Epaphroditus back to the Philippians to deliver his letter and give a report of the apostle’s well-being. Shortly after arriving Epaphroditus become seriously ill, close to death for the work of Christ, risking his life (Phil. 2:30) to serve the Lord and minister to Paul.
 
Epaphroditus put himself in harm’s way in order to minister to Paul. Travel was difficult and could be quite hazardous. Associating with a prisoner considered an enemy of the state could potentially label Epaphroditus as a traitor to the Roman government. Of Epaphroditus Paul wrote, Receive him then in the Lord with all joy, and hold men like him in high regard (Phil. 2:30). Indeed. Men of the caliper of Epaphroditus and Timothy are rare and worthy of honor and respect. Servants. Soldiers. Workers. Warriors. Benchmarks in maturity. Blessings in the kingdom of God.
 
Do you want to experience Splashes of Joy?  Saturate your soul with the Word of God. Surrender yourself to the Spirit of God. Pursue unity, purity, and maturity in Christ. Walk blamelessly. Work faithfully. War tirelessly. Live for the glory of God! Enjoy the Joy of Jesus!

copyright @ Jean Stockdale
 
 
Posted: 4/23/2013 3:26:19 PM by Global Administrator | with 0 comments


 
Splashes of Joy
“Joy in the Journey”
Lesson One
The apostle Paul suffered unspeakable cruelty in the service of the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul wrote of his many imprisonments, beaten times without number, often in danger of death. Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep. I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren;  I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. Apart from such external things, there is the daily pressure on me of concern for all the churches (2 Cor. 11:23-28).

The more influence Paul exerted for the Lord, the harder the journey became. Finally, he was arrested and placed under house arrest. He was allowed to remain in his own rented quarters (Acts 28:30) for the space of two years. Paul was able to have visitors and he continued to preach and teach to all who visited, but he was kept in custody and chained to a Roman guard twenty-four hours a day.
 
From his captivity, Paul wrote to the saints at Philippi. Amazingly, we discover the apostle’s reaction to his unfortunate circumstances was joy. He did not complain about his difficult circumstances or ask his friends to procure his release. He wrote a rather upbeat message, urging his readers to celebrate the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ with him. And he spoke often of his joy. Nineteen times over the course of this short letter, Paul mentioned joy. Unbridled. Outlandish. Unspeakable joy.
 
Most Bible commentators place the writing of the Book of Philippians about A.D. 62. Paul had founded the church at Philippi and he had special feelings for this beloved congregation. When the church body discovered Paul’s incarceration, a love offering was collected. A trusted church member, Epaphroditus, was dispatched with their financial aid for the beloved apostle. The letter of Philippians is a thank-you letter of sorts, back to the church.
 
I. Christ Centered Confidence-Philippians 1:1-11
According to the custom of the day, Paul opens the letter with his signature. Paul and Timothy, bond-servants of Christ Jesus. Paul included Timothy in his greeting, because the Philippian congregation knew him.
 
Paul identified himself and Timothy, his co-laborer, as bond-servants. In the Greek language the term bond-servant means “one bound to another by the bands of constraining love.” Paul wrote to all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi. Philippians is a letter written by servants and addressed to saints. In the original Greek the term saints means“set apart and consecrated for the purpose of God’s service.”
 
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ we receive God’s grace, His unmerited favor. Additionally we have peace with God and we experience the peace of God regardless of our circumstances. The word peace in its earliest form meant “to bind together.” It carried the idea of being bound so closely together with someone or something that the end result was harmony.
 
God has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence (2 Pet. 1:3). As believers, we have received untold riches in Christ Jesus. Here Paul mentioned only two: grace and peace. The benefits of the grace of God and the peace of God give us reason to rejoice.
 
The letter to the Philippians resounds with joy. Rather than wallowing in self-pity or rehearsing his misfortune, Paul pens a joyous letter of encouragement to the flock at Philippi and urges them to share his joy!
 
Outrageous joy is the birthright of every child of God. It is a byproduct of our salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ.
 
·        John 15:11 says, These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in your, and that you joy may be made full.
 
·        John 16:24 says, Until now you have asked for nothing in My name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be made full.
 
·        In Jesus’ high priestly prayer, He said to the Father, But now I come to You; and these things I speak in the world so that they may have My joy made full in themselves(John 17:13).
 
Joy is not something we muster up; it springs forth from an endless Source. It spills and it splashes from a fountain of the overflow of our devotional life and love for the Lord Jesus Christ.
 
Through the study of the Book of Philippians Paul will repeatedly urge us to appropriate the joy of the Lord. Perhaps nothing makes the Christian life more appealing than outrageous joy regardless of the circumstances of life.
 
II. Father Filtered Faith-Philippians 1:12-20
Paul’s confidence in the sovereignty of God allowed him to view his circumstances through the Father’s eyes. Paul was convinced nothing came into his life, or the life of any born-again believer, that had not passed through the hand and sovereign will of God the Father. Father-filtered faith. It rests in the divine wisdom of God to orchestrate all things for our good and His glory.
 
Instead of viewing his imprisonment as a roadblock to the spread of the gospel, he considered his guards to be a captive audience. The soldiers, serving in 12-hour shifts, were regularly indoctrinated by a rousing presentation of the gospel message. They became eyewitnesses to the transforming power of God in the humanity of their captive. They heard him pray, teach his visitors, disciple his companions, expound the Scriptures, repeat from rout memory volumes of the Pentateuch, and embody Christ in the man, the hope of glory. They regularly returned to their barracks, stunned by the enigma that was the apostle Paul.
 
Caesar had arrested Paul with the intention of stopping his ministry and the spread of the gospel. Strangely, God has used Caser to bring the good news into the inner working of Caesar prestigious praetorian guard. Furthermore, Paul’s imprisonment had actually had the reverse affect. Rather than intimidating any who might be of a mind to share Christ into silence, it had actually emboldened many to speak forth the Word of truth with passion and power. The divine irony of the situation produced joy in the heart of the chained apostle. Paul was chained; the gospel was not. No wonder he had joy in the journey! We can too.
 
The apostle Paul was in chains but the gospel was not. The Roman government had seized the apostle and imprisoned him for preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ, intending to cut off the apostle’s ministry and strike enough fear into the hearts of all who might be tempted to take his place. Despite his confinement, the apostle Paul continued to have a ministry. In a twist of divine irony, the praetorian guards, consisting of some 9000 men, become his mission field. In God’s sovereignty, the guards became Paul’s captives. In 12-hour shifts, Caesar’s elite military warriors were chained to the apostle, forced into his company. Many fell under the spell of God’s servant, captivated by Paul’s unstoppable faith, unruffled peace and his unquenchable joy despite his difficult circumstances.
 
Paul was well aware that the motives of some who were proclaiming the gospel message of Jesus Christ were less than pure. Paul addressed the self-promotion that some were seeking by writing, Some, to be sure, are preaching Christ even from envy and strife. They proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, rather than from pure motives, thinking to cause me distress in my imprisonment (Phil. 1:15; 17). Some were jealous of Paul’s successful ministry and resented his influence in the Roman church.  They were preaching the gospel of Christ out of hearts infected with envy, promoting rivalry and factions within the church. Others seized on the vacancy left by Paul as an opportunity to step into the public eye for the advancement of self. Some deliberately tried to compound Paul’s difficult circumstances. And what was Paul’s response to this tragic misuse of the gospel message? What then?Paul asked. Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and in this I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice (Phil. 1:18). The contentious crowd was not preaching error or a false gospel. Paul would not have taken any pleasure in doctrinal inaccuracy. They were preaching the truth, but with impure motives. Paul knew God would deal with each accordingly. Joy was Paul’s response. By an act of his will, Paul chose joy.
 
Paul’s heart desire was that Christ be exalted in (his) body whether by life or by death (Phil. 1:20). Paul lived deliberately. He was consciously engaged in a life devoted to Christ and the spread of the gospel. Because he considered himself dead, crucified with Christ, physical death hardly held any threat to him. No one couldn’t threaten Paul with heaven! Whether by life or by death, Paul intended to glorify Jesus Christ and exalt His holy name.
 
III. Call to Consecration-Philippians 1:21-30
Paul had narrowed the purpose of his life to one single-minded goal. For me to live is Christ and to die is gain (Phil.1:21). Paul’s practice was closely tied to his position in Christ. Paul fully understood who we are in Christ. He knew God had seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus (Eph. 2:6). So surrendered was Paul to the will of the Lord Jesus Christ, so lost in his passion for proclaiming Christ, so close was his walk of faith with Christ that in his mind he was already home.
 
Paul was hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better; yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary (Phil. 1:23) for the sake of those who remained. Paul was certainly grateful he would not make the final decision. If God allowed his release from the prison sentence, it would mean the continuation of a fruitful life in the service of the King. If God in His sovereignty called him home, he was certainly ready to see Jesus face-to-face. Paul did not fear anything this life tried to threaten him with, nor did he fear anything the veil of death tried to frighten him with. Christ was his life. Living or dying both represented Christ to him. The lure of seeing Jesus pushed him towards the direction of eagerly anticipating stepping into glory but the need for so many young converts to be discipled and for the gospel to be proclaimed drove Paul to desire to stay and be involved in kingdom work. No matter what happened, Paul chose joy.
 
While we live in this world, we are certainly not of this world. As members of the blood-bought church of the redeemed, we have dual citizenship. We are American citizens (or whatever nationality you were born into) and we are citizens of a heavenly kingdom ruled by God the Father, God the Son and God the Spirit.
 
Prior to our conversion, we were dead in our trespasses and sins. Formerly we walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. We pandered to the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest (See Ephesians 2:1-3). We lived in Satan’s camp and were held captive under his sway.
 
We were sinners by birth, by nature and by choice. But God was rich in mercy. Ephesians 2:4-5 says, But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved). God did not leave us in our sin. He sent His Son. While we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly (Rom. 5:6). God demonstrates His own love towards us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Rom. 5:8). Hallelujah! What a Savior!
 
Christ died for us. Is it too much to ask that we live for Him? Paul wrote, Therefore, I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship (Rom. 12:1). In light of the cross, is this not our reasonable service to God? Is it beyond the reach of reason that, having received the free gift of salvation, we might be responsible to live a holy and righteous life? Paul wrote, Conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ (Phil. 2:27). We are called to holy living. The call of consecration lifts us above the earthly realm of the downward pull of the world, the flesh and the devil. That is, we are to live a life marked by the aggressive pursuit of personal holiness and practical righteousness. How is it done? By the renewing of the mind. The mind must be renewed before the behavior can be transformed. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect (Rom. 12:2). Renew your mind. Live in obedience to God’s Word, dependence on God’s Spirit, and confidence in the Lord Jesus. Do you want joy? It is yours without end in Jesus Christ. Choose to live in the joy of the Lord and Splashes of Joy will water your faith!

copyright @ Jean Stockdale
 
 
 
 
Posted: 4/23/2013 3:21:49 PM by Global Administrator | with 0 comments