1. In the final chapter of Philippians, we find Paul giving exhortations that are both specific and general in nature
a. We saw in verses 1-3 where Paul told us how to find peace
b. Now in verse 4, we find the first of several exhortations which are certainly needful for all Christians: Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!
2. You may recall that joy is the keynote of this epistle
a. No less than sixteen times in this epistle, Paul uses the word or a derivation of it!
A. NOT JUST AN OCCASIONAL EXPERIENCE, FOR EXCEPTIONAL PEOPLE
1. But in darkness as well as in light; in trials as well as in triumphs - James 1:2-3
2. Not just for apostles, but for all Christians - 1 Peter 4:12-13
B. CONSIDER THE EXAMPLE OF PAUL, WHO FOUND JOY ALWAYS
1. In his prayers - Philippians 1:4
2. In the proclamation of the gospel under adverse circumstances - Philippians 1:18
3. In the unity of the saints - Philippians 2:2
4. In the prospect of being a martyr for Christ - Philippians 2:17
5. In the love of the brethren - Philippians 4:10
A. THERE MAY BE TEMPORARY JOY
1. In drugs (including alcohol and tobacco)
2. In sexual pleasures (whether lawful or unlawful)
3. In material things
B. BUT THE JOY THAT ABIDES IS ONLY IN THE LORD
1. For example, that which comes from a personal and fruitful relationship with the Lord
2. For in the Lord we enjoy:
a. Peace with God - Romans 5:2
c. Assurance of God's companionship in time of trial - Hebrews 13:5-6
3. These are the sort of things which provide a true and lasting joy
4. Wouldn't it be wonderful to be able to experience this "abiding joy"? Well, why don't we? Why do many of those us who have a relationship with the Lord often find themselves lacking joy in all circumstances? Perhaps it is because:
A. MEMORIES OF PAST FAILURES; AWARENESS OF PRESENT FAULTS
1. Such often leaves people in a state of discouragement or depression
2. Paul, however, provides the solution in Philippians 3:12-14
a. Realize your imperfection, yet press on to better things!
b. Forget your past failures, reach forward to future successes!
B. NATURAL TEMPERAMENT OR DISPOSITION
1. Many people are naturally melancholy
a. Through genetic predisposition toward such an attitude
b. Or through environmental influences as we were growing up
C. DEPRESSING CIRCUMSTANCES
1. It is easy to be joyful when everything is going well, but when things wrong, well...
2. However, we see from the Scriptures that even those times can be a time for rejoicing if we have the right perspective - James 1:2-4
D. SYMPATHY WITH OTHERS
1. Certainly, a compassionate heart cannot be untouched by the hardships of others - Romans 12:15
2. And yet, properly spoken words of comfort and counsel can provide a joyful reprieve from the hardships others bear - Proverbs 16:24
1. Rejoice in the Lord always
a. Does not mean one is to be insensitive to the harsh realities of life
b. But it does mean that one does not let the dark realities of life blind him to the radiance of joy that is found in the Lord!
2. Have you found yourself going through life without the abiding joy, which Peter himself defines as inexpressible - 1 Peter 1:8?
3. If so, then make your relationship with the Lord what it ought to be
a. First by rendering complete obedience to His Will
b. And then by letting the counsel of His Spirit-given Word give you the perspectives necessary to rejoice in the Lord always!
-- Don Treadway, January 2009 --