We left Jonah not knowing whether he was able to overcome his anger and bitterness over God’s mercy to the Ninevites. It’s easy to get discouraged on the Jesus Adventure. It’s easy to lose hope and give up in frustration. In Joy on the Journey we discover the way to live through the brokenness of this sin-sick and dying world. Paul had become a follower of Jesus and boldly proclaimed the Good News of the Kingdom of God throughout the known world. His experience in the city of Philippi was exciting and challenging (Read Acts 16). Some years later he was now living under house arrest in Rome awaiting trial for preaching the Gospel! Confined, unable to move about freely and facing the possibility of a death sentence, he wrote this letter to Philippians teaching them and us to find joy in every circumstance of life. In the midst of COVID and a myriad of national, social, and personal struggles Joy on the Journey will lead us to find the joy that is ours in Jesus right where we are. Joy on the Journey Youtube Playlist
The Community of Joy
Sunday, September 13 – Finding joy right where we are begins in the Community of Joy, the church. Paul opens his letter to the Philippians with a greeting and prayer that establishes the foundation of that joy. Here we receive an incomparable identity: we are “saints in Christ Jesus” (v. 1); we are being transformed personally—”he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion” (v. 6); and we are an integral part of the transformation of the world itself – partners in the gospel (v. 5). The Journey of Joy begins here in the Community of Joy.
The Secret of Joy
Sunday, September 20 – Philippians 1:12-26 Under house arrest Paul is literally chained to a Roman guard 24 hours a day. He has no privacy, no freedom to move about as he pleases. On the other hand he has a captive audience to whom he can preach Jesus! Imagine a hardened Roman soldier given the duty of being chained to the most powerful evangelist in the history of Christianity! Paul reveals the Secret of Joy: for to live is Christ. How would you complete the sentence: for me to live is ________? If someone was watching you this past week how would they complete that sentence for you based on your words, your actions, and your attitudes?
Sunday, September 27 – Philippians 1:27-30 Joy on the Journey is not the absence of conflict and struggle. The Gospel, the Good News of forgiveness and eternal life through faith in Jesus creates a strength and confidence that faces the world with bold confidence. Courage is doing and saying what’s right when what’s wrong would be safer and easier. Paul understood this better and anyone. When he first came to Philippi he was slandered, mobbed, flogged, and thrown into a Roman dungeon (Acts 16). And now he is in chains in Rome for the Gospel. Emboldened by his example we can stand firm, speak the truth in love, and strive to live lives of humble boldness.
Sunday, October 4 – In a world where fighting and conflict is the norm Paul reveals the only solution that can address the underlying problem. Each of us is trapped in a vicious cycle of trying to prove that we amount to something. Anyone or anything that even suggests that we don’t matter, that we are insignificant sets off a reaction that leads to war individually and internationally. The solution begins in Christ who emptied himself to give us a real and lasting, eternal value. Only in him can we break the cycle of sin that is destroying our world.
Sunday, October 11 – Notice that it says “work out your salvation” not “work for your salvation.” Your salvation is a good work that God began in you and will bring to completion in the Day of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Last Day, when he comes again in glory (Philippians 1:6). Between the beginning and the end keep working out your salvation. The picture that comes to mind is a fitness training plan. For our bodies to stay healthy we know that we have to eat right, exercise, and rest. Well, what’s good for the body is good for the soul! Joyful Obedience brings gladness and rejoice (Philippians 2:17-18).
Joy Full Servants
Sunday, October 18 – What does a full, rich, satisfying life look like to you? Paul commends two men, two servants of the Gospel as models of that life for the Philippians and for us. As we look at Paul’s description of Timothy and Epaphroditus we catch a glimpse of what it means to be Joy Full Servants of Jesus Christ.
Abide in my Word
Reformation Sunday, October 25 – Today we pause our study of Philippians, Joy on the Journey series to reflect and rejoice in Martin Luther’s historic rediscovery of the truth that true joy is freedom from sin that is found in Christ alone. Luther learned what Jesus meant when he said, “if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” The battle cry of the Reformation: we are saved by GRACE alone, through FAITH in Jesus Christ alone, which is revealed to us in the SCRIPTURE alone, captures Jesus’ teaching — Abide in My Word!
Sunday, November 1 – Righteousness is the fundamental need of every human being to feel good and right about themselves. Righteousness is the inner sense of confidence and security that produces joy in life. The problem is that we seek our righteousness in all the wrong places. Paul gives the resume of his righteousness before he met Jesus: “circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless” (v. 5). But he had no joy until he found true righteousness in the love of Jesus poured out on him at the cross. Joy leaks out of us as we continuously try to establish our own righteousness. Joy is renewed when we say with Paul, “I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.”
Sunday, November 8 – An elite athlete, artist, musician is one who focuses all their energy and attention toward a prize, a goal, a performance. The joy of being known by Jesus Christ creates in us an intense focus to know him. His presence reorders and reshapes everything in life. The motivation for all that we do is the desire to be what Jesus suffered, died, and rose again to make us be. Born again. Straining forward to attain the resurrection life that is already ours and will be made complete when Jesus comes again.
Sunday, November 15 – How good are you at staying cool under pressure? The world around us has grown increasingly chaotic. The rate of change we are experiencing is unlike any other time in recorded history. In the midst of that Paul’s voice rings loud and clear: “Stand firm in the Lord” (v. 1). “Your citizenship is heaven … we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him to subject all things to himself.” Therefore stand firm. How? Stay centered in Christ. Pray with thanksgiving. Think about what is excellent and praiseworthy.
Content in Christ
Sunday, November 22 – In his closing words Paul offers astounding words: “I have learned to be content … I can do all things through him [Christ] who strengthens me.” Joy on the Journey is discovering and rediscovering that contentment is the confidence that there are no circumstances that are bigger than Jesus’ life, death, resurrection and coming again in glory.