Rejoice Series Sermon 2
~REJOICE IN THE LORD~
JOY from an Eternal Perspective
Tyson Graber, Herscher Christian Church
At one time or another we all face terrible situations. Whether it’s an overwhelming tragedy like the death of a loved one, or the fierce battle with a deadly disease, all the way down to just having one of those bad days where absolutely nothing seems to go right. But as believers in Christ we can face it all with joy. God can take our difficulties, trials, sufferings, and turn them into occasions to rejoice.
Rejoicing in the Lord always means we can learn to praise Him even in the storms of life. In the book of Philippians, one way Paul encourages us to do this by living with an ‘eternal perspective.’ Turn with me in your Bibles to Philippians 1. I pray that we encounter the truth of having joy as Christians no matter our circumstances.
This letter that Paul writes to the Saints in Philippi and all Saints today is remarkable to me because it was written while Paul was under arrest and awaiting trial. His future, at this point, is an unknown; he could soon be released from chains, or quickly learn of his execution date.
Let us not forget that, at this time, Paul was chained to a Roman soldier 24 hours a day because his case was a high profile case. Yet, he managed to rejoice in the Lord through the entire circumstance.
How did he do it? How could anyone possibly continue to rejoice in a situation like that? Well, I believe it was possible because of his perspective.
Perspective Is Everything!
Let me show you a clip of my new car! [Video of Tyson polishing his vintage camero - til a hand reaches down and picks the toy car up...from the foreground of the camera, pan back to see Tiffani holding the car in her hand, shaking her head at Tyson’s deception.]
PERSPECTIVE IS EVERYTHING!
Clip of drinking water.
I believe the way we look at life often makes a major difference between feelings like singing songs of delight or suffering depression.
What’s your perspective on life? Do you allow the details of life to bring you down or are you committed to rejoice in the Lord no matter what life throws your way? Too often we loose track of what really matters and we need to put it in perspective.
It’s somewhat like what Coach John McKay of USC said in 1966 when his national championship contending football team had just been humiliated 51-0 by Notre Dame. McKay came into the locker room and saw a group of beaten, worn-out, and thoroughly depressed young football players who were not accustomed to losing. He stood up on a bench and said, "Men, let’s keep this in perspective. There are over 800 million Chinese who don’t even know this game was played."
That’s one way to put some perspective on a situation, I am not really sure how effective that would have been for most of his players at that time, but it would have reminded them that losing that game wasn’t the end of the world.
I have much better news for you than Coach McKay this morning. I am so thankful that the apostle Paul went a step further to remind us about our proper perspective as Christians. He didn’t just make the best of a bad situation, he actually saw and shared the positive results of his imprisonment with us . So we’re not just talking about seeing the cup as half full rather than half empty. We’re talking about seeing what is going on in your life and seeing it with an eternal perspective. It means realizing God is at work in and through your life all the time for His glory.
Let’s read Philippians 1:12-14
So what hat does it mean to live with an eternal perspective? The first thing we learn from Paul is we must…
1. Join in God’s purpose in all circumstances for the sake of Christ.
Paul says, “What has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel.”
Look at the good things Paul mentions that happened as a result of his terrible circumstances. (imprisoned, waiting, unjustly accused, unjustly beaten)
A. Everyone knows he’s in chains for Christ (Philippians 1:13)
What a STRONG TESTIMONY!
I have found that the harder your situation, the more powerful your testimony of faithfulness can be.
I was talking with a friend from church recently who is going through a very hard time but is excited about becoming more open about sharing love for the Lord and growing faith in Him at the very same time. My friend was telling me about a conversation with a distant family member who did not believe. The family member shared after a short time in conversation that he wished he had a faith like that of my friend’s faith. This person, though not really understanding exactly what faith means was being drawn to a faith in Christ because of the hardship of our family member here at HCC!
If you’re struggling through some sort of difficult circumstance now, stop for a moment and think about the people who are watching you go through it. They are listening to see how you will respond. Know that you have an incredible opportunity to demonstrate to them what faith in Jesus means and the difference it can make for you. When you demonstrate faith in the hard times, it makes your testimony that much more powerful!
The second good result from his suffering that Paul mentions is…
B. Others have been encouraged to speak the Word of God. (Philippians 1:14).
When you are in tough circumstances and you continue to rejoice in the Lord, you continue to show joy in your life it encourages others who are in tough situations as well to do the same.
A wise woman recently share with me how this type of encouragement is contagious. You may just know this woman; her name is Tami Brown. Let me share with you what she wrote to me about this matter:
“When someone is facing trials, IF they keep the proper focus, it gives others strength to serve more boldly. I see that now. God has chosen me to carry this great burden of a physical ailment WITH His help so others might grow in Him. Its my great responsibility to serve Christ having great love for other Christians more now than ever before.
Others are watching me now more than ever before; how will I respond to what is happening in my life, do I still have my joy, am I still able to serve with all these distractions, is God still the Lord of my life? The answer is yes, and yes, and yes. And because of what is happening in my life, I have been given the opportunity to step back as life has had to slow down for me and examine my life and relationships and gain a sweeter, deeper commitment with my Lord. HE has to be my strength now. I am forced as never before to lean on Him in almost every area of my life right now just to get through the day. Encouragement from the church family, the saints, has been so important in keeping my spirits up! ENCOURAGEMENT IS CONTAGIOUS! We should make a conscious effort to encourage others every day, it is healing for the spirit.”
Tami your display of JOY and your love for life in the midst of your battle with cancer is an encouragement to me. Because of you and your life I am encouraged to speak the Word of God more courageously and fearlessly, you inspire me! Just as Paul inspired those in Philippi.
YOUR ENCOURAGEMENT IS CONTAGIOUS!
Today I am excited because you will be given a chance to continue to spread the encouragement.
Paul’s time in prison allowed him to share his faith with the Roman guards. It gave him a stronger testimony. It gave him a chance to encourage other believers by his faithful example; we need to take every chance we get to do the same. God wants to make it a point to rejoice in Him and encourage others for Him whenever we suffer! Please keep that perspective.
Living with an eternal perspective means letting God use your tough circumstances for His purposes. The next key to living with an eternal perspective is…
2. Obviate petty disagreements for the sake of Christ. (Philippians 1:15-18)
What in the world does ‘OBVIATE’ mean? To anticipate, prevent and eliminate disaster.
Far too many times we limit the blessing and joy of our lives, the church family and our ministry as a body of Christ by getting caught up with petty issues or disagreements. Paul is saying here in Philippians 1 to OBVIATE them for the sake of Christ; pro-actively avoid them.
READ Philippians 1:15-18
It appears that the Christian message and preaching about Jesus became very popular in some parts of the world about this time, to the point that some Christian preachers began to use it as a way to gain influence and fuel their selfish ambition. It happened then and it happens now in today’s culture. But Paul’s response to such people is so interesting. Instead of getting upset that there were people who were preaching Christ from the wrong motives, he says this:
“The important thing is that in every way … Christ is preached and because of this I rejoice. Yes I will continue to rejoice!”
This is such an important idea that we need to understand. It’s very easy to get suspicious, jealous or even downright negative about preachers and people who go to other churches that have different ways of doing things than we do here HCC.
Let’s not ever let style or matters of opinion distract us from what is most important and that is Christ being preached.; That Jesus came by miraculous birth, that he perfect in his life, sinless and pure, yet he died for our sins taking them to the cross, then arose from the grave to live promising new life for those who believe on his power to save.
God’s Word reminds us that everyone who preaches Christ is ultimately on our team. It’s a good thing!
Paul is NOT saying to put up with false doctrine. Not at all, he spent a good amount of his time correcting errors which crept into the church. He is saying if someone is preaching Christ, don’t argue with their motives or methods!
Living with an eternal perspective means refusing to get sidetracked in your faith by petty disagreements with other believers. When you understand there is room in the Kingdom for people who worship in different ways, but who still love Christ, then you will be freed to focus your attention on more important matters, such as the matters Paul gets to in ....
3. Yield your life to Christ in all things. (Stop resisting and render your life to the Lord)
Paul gives us some incredibly inspiring words to live by in these verses… Though he is facing an uncertain future that might mean execution or further imprisonment, he says…
Verse 20: “Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.”
Verse 21: “To live is Christ, to die is gain.”
“It’s all good.” If I’m living I’ll be walking with Christ and being strengthened by the Holy Spirit. I’ll be bringing rejoicing in the Lord no matter what.
If I die, I’ll be in heaven receiving my eternal reward and I will be rejoicing there. So, “it’s all good!”
Too often for us it is ‘to live is Christ’ but we don’t consider the ‘gaining part to die in Christ.’ We make the plus factors the gaining part all the other things we can get from life. (work, leisure, accumulating wealth, winning the championship game or becoming the MVP).
And if the truth were known, all too often the ’plus factor’ that we are trying to gain becomes our primary purpose ..., not living for Christ.
QUESTION: What do you live for?
Personal advancement in life, Material things, wealth, Pleasure, Your kids, Your spouse,
Your boyfriend/girlfriend ..., What do you really life for? Can you honestly say Christ?
Sometimes, to find out what you are living for, you have to examine what you are dying for.
Think about that right now for a moment What are you dying for?
Some would say:
“Oh, I am just dying for a break,” others would say they are dying for a smoke or a drink, many would say, “I am dying for a vacation,” ... others are just dying to get out of here today.
What are you really dying for? Many of you are dying for things you don’t even realize at times. These are the things that we run to in an effort to hide or kill the pain we are in; you know, those things you do to escape from your troubles for a moment.
You may be dying in an unhealthy relationship, or pursuit of a sinful pleasure, or the next high.
But unless you can really truly say, “I’m living for Jesus Christ! For me to live IS Christ!” you are heading for disappointment. For all those other things will disappoint.
Some of you have yet to turn to Christ and away from those things that disappoint.
That’s why Jesus said,
“Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and ALL these things shall be added to you.”
Even though Paul is under arrest, with an uncertain future ahead of him, he is able to be a person that can rejoice in the Lord because he knows what is most important. Living for Christ. And he knows that even if the worst happens and he is executed – all that will happen is he will experience GAIN!
Friends, this is the kind of perspective that will change you from the inside out when you experience hard times.
Knowing that what happens to him will have an effect on the believers in Philippi, he instructs them…
“Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.”
In all circumstances yield your life in a way that lives for Christ.
Bill Bright, Founder of Campus Crusade, one of the largest non-profit organizations in the world, once prayed,
"God, kill me before I do anything to shame the name of Christ."
Could you pray something like that? That’s the kind of prayer Paul would have prayed. That’s the kind of life he longs for the Philippians to live. And that’s the kind of life God desires for us to live.
And in that life, no matter what happens you can rejoice because living for Christ everyday is the BEST way to live ..., as a Joy-FULL person. It’s the key to one day looking back at your life and knowing you lived it to the full! It’s the key to one day hearing God speak to you, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into your rest.”
There will be times in life that are a mess, there may even be storms that you will face that are deadly. When the storms of life come, live a life committed to rejoicing in the Lord by living with an eternal perspective.
Join in God’s purpose in all circumstances.
Obviate the petty matters.
Yield your life to Christ.
It will produce JOY like the world can’t comprehend.
God blesses us with JOY in our eternal perspective.