"'Dad must have had an easy day at the office," little Peggy said to her
visiting girlfriend. 'He didn't squeal the tires when he pulled into the
driveway, and he didn't slam the door when he came into the house. And he
even gave Mother a Kiss!' Circumstances steal joy!
"His daughter jumped off the school bus as it stopped in front of the house
and slammed her way through the front door. She marched defiantly up the
stairs into her room and again slammed the door. All the time she was muttering
under her breath, "People - people - people - PEOPLE! 'Her father went to
her door and knocked softly. 'May I come in?'She replied, "No!He tried again,
but she said it even more belligerently: 'NO!' He asked, 'Why can't I come
in?' Her answer: 'Because you're a people!' People steal joy!
"A wealthy man was moving into his mansion, and his Quaker neighbor, who
believed in simplicity of life, was watching the activities carefully. The
neighbor counted the number of chairs and tables and the vast amount of
bric-a-brac that was being carried into the house. Finally, he said to the
lord of the mansion: 'Neighbor, if thou dost need anything, come to see me
and I will tell thee how to get along without it!' Things steal joy!
"Worry is the worst thief of all! How many people have been robbed of peace
and fulfillment because of worry! In fact, worry even has physical consequences,
and, while medicine can remove the symptoms, it cannot remove the cause.
Worry is an 'inside job.' You can purchase "sleep" at the drug store, but
you cannot purchase "rest." Worry steals joy!'" 1
So what do we need to kill the killers? How can we find joy, a joy that already
is ours? Well, we are going to study the Epistle to the Philippians to discover
the answer to this and other questions. Listen these words of Wiersbe:
"Philippians is a joyful letter! If you master the truths in Philippians,
you should be filled with joy as you live the Christian life! This little
epistle from a Roman prisoner has "grown" on me over the years. I have preached
it and taught it in churches and conferences across the country, and each
time I come to it, the message is more real and exciting. My prayer is that
it will become real and exciting to you." 2
We life in a day of strife, stress and selfishness. In response to real strife
and stress, people in general have chosen to live only for self. Now this
isn't a new approach to life. At least in Western Society, it seems that
happiness has always been the end goal of life. The search for happiness
is one of the foundation stones of our society, for the Declaration of
Independence gives us the right to "the preservation of life and liberty
and the pursuit of happiness."
Alexander Pope said:
O Happiness! our being's end and aim!Good, pleasure, ease, content! whate'er
thy name:That something still which prompts th' eternal sigh,For which we
bear to live, or dare to die. 3
Much of advertising is directed and causing the desire for happiness and
then proving how the advertiser's product will provide it. To get the girl
or guy, and therefore be happy, you have to wear the right clothes, drive
the right car, use the right deodorant, or brush with the right toothpaste
and use the right shampoo. In spite of having everything necessary to be
happy, there is a general unhappiness in mankind.
Unfortunately, even we have often fallen for the idea that we life depends
on us being happy. We are taught, from many pulpits, God desires our happiness,
for us to have everything we need. And just as with everyone else, we too
find moments of happiness, but happiness seems to be circumstantially driven.
Now while God certainly doesn't begrudge us moments of happiness, there is
nothing in Scripture that identifies happiness as life's goal. When we seek
happiness as life's focus, we are settling for second best. Instead, God
desires us to have joy, and joy can be present in our lives, in spite of
circumstances. It is my hope that we all will have a better understanding
of how joy can be present in our lives, as we study Paul's epistle to the
"For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and
drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit," (Romans
This week, we will examine the context of the letter and look at the first
eleven verses. First we will see that Paul is able to express joy in less
than ideal circumstances. Hopefully, we will desire this same joy in our
own lives and, let us pray, that by the time we have completed the letter,
we will be rejoicing in the Lord in all things "Rejoice
in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!" (Philippians 4:4).
One of the primary sources I will be using for this study is Warren Wiersbe's
book, Be Joyful. Accordingly, I have adapted the outline I'm
providing from his book.