Philippians Chapter 2 Recap

I hope you are enjoying our current teaching series, “The Pursuit of Joy” based on the book of Philippians. It is one of my favorite books in the Bible for several reasons. For one, there is a wonderful note of joy and thanksgiving that runs through this entire letter to the church of Philippi. Joy is somewhat of an unusual subject, since the book was written while Paul was a prisoner.

Chapter 2 of Philippians is full of rich truths. It is impossible to fully explore the depths of this chapter in a 30 minute sermon or in this blog post. I encourage you to read it every now and then. Philippians 2 encourages us to be like-minded and one in spirit, and to follow the example of Christ, who humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death.

Paul is suggesting that the Christian life is not a series of ups and downs. Rather, it is a process of “ins and outs.” God works in us, and we work out to further His kingdom. We cultivate the submissive mind by responding to what God wants to do in each of us. Before we move onto chapter 3 here are some general thoughts to reflect on in the days ahead.

First, each of us has tremendous untapped potential and God wants to help us fulfill that potential. When Paul says in verse 12 to “work out your salvation” he is not suggesting that you have to work for your salvation. Working out your salvation and our purpose in this life is to be more Christlike. Yes, there will be problems, but God will help us to work them out.

Second, Paul reminds us in Philippians 2 that God must work in us before He can work through us. God is more interested in you than what you are working on because if we are becoming more Christlike, our actions will also be more Christlike.

Third, joy comes from submission. The world’s philosophy is joy comes from getting what you want. You need to take on everybody that gets in your way and when you are the last man standing and you have won, then you find happiness. Jesus alone is proof that philosophy or course of action is wrong. He never used a sword or any other weapon. He defeated hatred by manifesting love; He overcame lies with truth. Because He surrendered He was victorious.

It takes faith to be a servant. We must believe God’s promises are true and they are going to work in our lives just as they worked in Paul’s life. The example comes from Christ, the energy comes from the Holy Spirit, and the result is—joy.

Discussion Questions:
1. In verse Paul says; “For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” Why can he say this in all sincerity?
2. According to Paul, when do Christians “shine like stars” in the sky? How are you being a light in the world? How does our role in God’s Kingdom work? That is, how do we appear as “lights in the world”? (2.13-15)
3. What does it mean to “work out your salvation with fear and trembling?” Is this a salvation issue or an expression of salvation? Explain.
4, What actions can we take to work out our salvation through humility? The Christian life should be a sacrifice if we follow Christ. Does your faith cost anything? That is, what does it mean to live a life of sacrifice? Explain

Choose Joy

“Joy is the serious business of heaven.” C.S. Lewis

Are you enjoying the journey of your life? Is it meaningful? Is it an abundant life? Is it purpose-driven? Is it a joyful life?

All too often we choose to have too little joy in our life. That’s because we start to major on the minors. We focus on what is not important rather than what is. It is easy to let uncontrolled circumstances dictate our emotions. Fear, anxiety, anger can be in charge for seconds, minutes even months and years of our lives. When that happens, we are giving away our joy, nobody is stealing it.

Have you ever felt like that? Most of us have. We relinquish the power God gave us. He gave us joy when He gave us the Holy Spirit. John 14:15-17 says, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.” Unfortunately, we are not using what we already possess.

When we understand and embrace that truth it can be a game changer. But first, we need to choose to allow joy to be the byproduct in our moment-by-moment living.

My prayer is that the Pursuit Of Joy teaching series will enable that “a-ha” moment in your life that you can live differently. It is my prayer that you choose joy over fear. Joy over anger. Joy over anxiety and worry. No matter the circumstances.

When our spirit lines up with God’s Word and I begin to choose to exhibit joy because of what God through His Son did for me on the cross, my emotions will get in line and my circumstances become less important.

You can feel happiness even though our days are far from perfect. You can experience delight just because we are alive and we are the children of God. All the other stuff will just fade into the background because you began to choose the joy that is always available to all of us who are followers of Jesus Christ.

Let me make a bold prediction. The more you choose joy, the more joy you will experience despite your circumstances. And it will get easier and easier as you go along.

“For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.” – Isaiah 55:12

Discussion questions:
1. Do you believe joy is a feeling or a choice?
2. Take a piece of paper and jot down some examples of God’s faithfulness to you, no matter the circumstances. Stop at 10. Does that list impact your trust and confidence in God?
3. In your prayer time, say “thank you” before you jump directly into your list of wants and needs, no matter how pressing those may seem. Thank God for his faithful love, the daily help of his Holy Spirit, and his provision for you.
4. Remind yourself of the importance of rejoicing by searching the Bible—both Old and New Testaments—for God’s instructions in this area. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 reminds us it’s God’s will that we “rejoice always” and “give thanks in all circumstances.”
5. Ask God for His help if you struggle showing joy. It’s not all up to us; God’s there, waiting to give us joy. John 10:10 (AMP). It says, “The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows).

Happiness Vs. Joy

Is there that much difference between happiness and joy? I heard somewhere that the word “happiness” in ancient times meant lucky, chance or turning out well. So logic would suggest that happiness is based upon you being fortunate or opportunistic. It would make sense that if events turn out well, then you’re happy.

But joy is something else entirely. Because even when you have achieved or received, accomplished or obtained everything you wanted, your happiness could be short lived. Why? Because happiness tends to be dependent. It is dependent upon good luck, dependent upon our circumstances, dependent upon other people, dependent upon our moods, dependent upon our emotions, and dependent on how fortunate we are.

Let’s look at the difference between joy and happiness as we talked about in Sunday’s message.

Happiness is external while joy is internal. Physical and material things may make us happy, but joy comes from the heart. Happiness comes and goes, but joy, on the other hand, can stay with you for the long haul. The reason? Real joy is from God. And because it comes from God, joy lasts even in the midst of the trials of life. Joy isn’t dependent on circumstances. Joy is strength. Joy is internal. Even in the darkest days, when sadness, grief, and loss may threaten to overwhelm you, God’s joy is there. Joy is not an act of will-power, but a spontaneous, emotional response of the heart for all that God has done for us.

Happiness is based on circumstances while joy is based on Christ. Happiness is based on circumstances, but Joy is rooted in substance. Happiness may be about things. Joy is about Christ. Because joy is based on Christ, it cannot be taken away. Oh, you might think that it’s gone—that circumstances have robbed you of it—but it’s not. As believers, we are promised the constant presence of the Holy Spirit. We are promised His joy. Jesus’ words in John 15:11, “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” Acts 13:52 says, “And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.” Christian joy is not superficial and flimsy. Real joy is deep and firm because it is rooted in Christ Jesus.

Happiness is based on chance and joy is based on a choice. Happiness is based on luck, chance or accident. Joy is a decision. A determination of the will. We need to choose joy over bitterness, anger, and sorrow. Make a decision to choose joy every day. No matter what. Look at these great examples in Scripture: “In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity.” (2 Corinthians 8:2). “You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit.” (1 Thessalonians 1:6).

1. Are you looking for happiness today? What do you think will bring you happiness…a marriage, an accomplishment, a material object?
2. Have you ever accomplished what you thought will lead to happiness, only to be still looking for happiness or something to satisfy and fulfill you?
3. Do you want to have happiness or joy in your life? And Why?
4. Do you know the difference between happiness and joy? Knowing the difference, would you choose joy?