How do we live this life that we are being called to?
How do we daily live this joyous Christian life?
Paul gives us three principles:
First Paul informs us in Philippians that we have a choice to rejoice.
Joy is a choice.
We are not a victim of the circumstance.
If we believe God, then He is our Guide, not fate, not some kind of uncontrollable force.
Paul says we can be joyful In the Lord.
In other words, the source of this joy comes from God.
There is a huge difference between happiness and joy.
Happiness depends upon happenings or circumstances.
When we watch a comedy or attend a party, the circumstance may bring about happiness.
Joy,...... the Bible informs us is part of the fruit of the Holy Spirit. True joy is a gift, a gift from God.
If we accept Him not only as Savior but also as the Lord then, .....we can expect this joy to permeate our life.
The Holy Spirit dwells in us and gives us this joy.
Joy comes from God who lives in us, not from what is happening outside of us.
Remember Paul is in prison when he writes this letter.
If we understand his predicament, his circumstance then he is obviously and understandably not happy.
Paul himself is in prison and his future uncertain.
Yet he says, rejoice! Have Joy!
Joy is not just emotion. It is a choice; it is an attitude an attitude towards life.
What you give, you will Receive, If you are seeking joy then give joy.
When I have a lack of joy in my life I make a decision and chose to pass joy on to others and it becomes contagious.
Have you treated everyone fairly?
Have you brought joy to someone?
Paul did not look at himself and his predicament.
He was always looking to God, trusting Him to lead and provide.
You can look at a half-filled cup and thank God that you have some water to drink.
Or lament why you have only half a cup and not a full one.
It is a choice. It is your attitude.
You can choose to think always about your weakness, about what you Do Not have, or you can rejoice and be filled with joy for what you do have.
Do not look for thorns among the roses.
Rather be thankful that among the thorns there are beautiful roses.
Listen to the prophet Habakkuk: - Hab 3:17-19 "Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls," 18 "yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior."
The words "I will" revealed Habakkuk's belief that he could choose his response - either to sink into despair or to rejoice in God's presence and power.
His decision to rejoice was not a denial of hardship or sorrow.
We will have times of sorrow and grief.
Even Jesus wept.
But sorrow cannot knock us down.
We can rely on God the Creator of the Universe the great I am.
Our attitude towards life is important. We can trust God, even in hardships.
The choice to rejoice is ours every day.
To refuse to choose is itself a choice. And we let the circumstances overwhelm us and rob us of joy.
Fanny Crosby wrote over 8000 hymns (Blessed Assurance, Praise Him Praise Him, To God Be the Glory).
She lost her sight when she was only 6 weeks old. She lived into her nineties, composing thousands of beloved hymns. On her 92nd birthday she cheerfully said, "If in all the world you can find a happier or more joyous person than I am, do bring him to me. I should like to shake his hand."
Joy is a Choice You are Blessed.
I want you to understand, truly understand how blessed you are this morning.
If you woke up today with more health than illness, you are more blessed than tens of thousands of people who will not survive the week.
If you have never experienced the danger of battle, the loneliness of imprisonment, the agony of torture or the pangs of starvation, you are ahead of 20 million people around the world.
If you attend a church service without fear of harassment, arrest, torture, or death, you are more blessed than almost three billion people in the world.
If you have food in your refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof over your head and a place to sleep, you are richer than 75% of this world.
If you can read, you are more blessed than over two billion people in the world.
Beloved you are blessed, so very blessed.
We take way, way too much for granted. You and I are blessed in ways we may never fully comprehend on this side of eternity.
Joy is a choice, You are blessed and lastly, Paul tells us: We must, We must Commit ourselves to PRAYER.
Prayer, a personal time with the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
My Yoke is easy and my burden is light saith the Lord.
If your yoke is heavy, if your burdens are weighing you down then you have the wrong yoke around your neck. Release these burdens cast them to the Lord.
Only when you can entrust your worries to God, can you experience True Peace, Spiritual Peace, His peace.
Now, there is nothing wrong with having concern, we all have our concerns.
It is when your concerns own you, when they burden you down.
That is when the spiritual death spiral begins!
That is, they move from concerns and become worries, worries that impact your very being.
You think about them all the time. And You are under their bondage.
This story helps to portray this bondage:
There was a man was walking down road with a large sack of potatoes on his shoulder.
It was so heavy ......that he had sweat on his brow....... a man pulled over in a pickup truck .....and offered him a ride.......he climbed into the passenger side,......but kept sack on his shoulder......after a while the driver looked over and said, .......put that sack on the floor and relax..... he replied, ......no sir,.... I will not do it .....it's enough that you would carry me to town,.... I'm not gonna ask you to carry these taters too!
And that is just what we do to the Lord sometimes.
We are carrying a burden the Lord never intended us to carry......but we are hard headed and we seem to insist!
When we had a question at school, we would give it to a teacher.
When we are sick and helpless, we give control over to a physician.
When there is a legal problem that we cannot solve, we give it to a lawyer.
When in life we face difficulties when we have burdens, we need to pray and entrust them, to give them to God.
Paul tells us very clearly, let them go.
Give them to God.
Prayer is actually an expression of our faith in God and His promises in Scripture.
An expression that states we trust him and His word.
I remember a wall plaque that read, "Why pray when you can worry?"
But those words remind us the real truth: "Why worry when you can pray?"
Corrie Ten Boom shared this truth, "Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength."
"Turn your eyes upon Jesus, .....look full in His wonderful face; .....and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, .....in the light of His glory and grace."
We are called to fix our affection on things above not on things of the earth.
What we must feed our minds with is Gods truth .
Paul instructs us: "whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things."
A Native Christian elder described life's struggle with a young man with this truth: ....."It feels like there are two dogs fighting inside of me."
The young man asked, "Which dog wins?"
The older man replied, "Which ever one I feed."
Are you feeding life's struggles are you feeding your concerns and turning them into worries and burdens or are you rejoicing and choosing joy?
Give them all, give them all, give them all to Jesus
And He will turn your sorrows into Joy.
Beloved Choose Joy, You are blessed and are called to be a blessing.
His Yoke is easy and His burden is light, .....go to Him in prayer he will turn your sorrows,..... he will turn your burdens, He will turn your life into joy.
Father help me, to yield all of who I am, all of me; Body, Soul and Spirit to your transforming love. Break me when I need to be broken and strengthen me when I need strength. You are the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords, the great I am. Father as your child I chose your ways, I lay my burdens down and I chose joy.