We are starting with a new series called ‘A Joy-filled Life’. We will be preaching through the Epistle of Philippians and discover what does joy-filled Christian life look like.
No one in the world doesn’t want to be happy, from children to adults, from the rich to the poor, men or women; everyone wants to be happy in life. Moreover, when each one of us thinks about happiness, we often have this list of things or events in mind that we wish would happen, which according to us will give us the ultimate joy we’re seeking.
Here I have made a list of things that people like us generally seek in life, and let’s be honest and check on the items that are on our mind which according to us will make us happy.
The reason we are calling this expository preaching series ‘A Joy-filled Life’ is for two reasons. Firstly, because time and again in this Epistle, we see Paul exhorting the church in Philippi to rejoice in the Lord.
A well-known passage from Philippians is Philippians 4:4 where Paul exhorts the church saying “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!”
Secondly, because in this Epistle we will find all the right reasons & encouragement needed to be truly happy in life. However, surprisingly, none of the items we’ve listed down is mentioned anywhere in this letter.
The reason they are not mentioned in the letter is because the joy these materials things will give us is all a momentary joy.
For example, think of buying a new toy for a child. When they don’t have, they yearn for it; when they receive it, they are super happy & excited. And then, depending on the durability and attractiveness of the toy, you know how long it will last.
Another example is when people are young, we think a partner in life will make us happy; when we have a partner we think marriage will make us happy; when we are married and broke we think a job will make us happy; when we have a job we think a house will make us happy; when we have a house we think children will make us happy; when we have children we think travelling will make us happy…. And it goes on.
What we will explore in this Epistle is not a momentary joy but a permanent one that satisfies our soul, but only if we understand and grab hold of it fast.
If you look at the context of this letter, the place from where Paul & Timothy is writing & the circumstances that the church is going through, none of it will look appealing, but even then, as we read the letter we can sense the joy of the Lord overflowing from their hearts.
According to Paul, even the possibility of him getting killed will eventually bring him everlasting joy.
Phil 1:21 he writes – For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
This morning we will look at the first two verses of Philippians 1, and even though there is a lot to be said from these two passages I just want to focus on our two, Paul & Timothy. I want to look deeper into their lives and discover the source and the reason for their joy as they are writing this letter.
Verse 1 & 2 …
“Paul and Timothy, servant of Christ Jesus, to all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseer and deacons: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Paul and Timothy come from two different backgrounds.
Paul comes from a very staunch Jewish family, a son of a Pharisee, a Roman citizen by birth. His original name was Saul of Tarsus. He was such a devout Jew that he used to persecute and kill the followers of Jesus. During those days he was a terror and people was afraid of him and many left Jerusalem to practice their faith in Christ. After reading the description above, we know that Paul was a very fierce, fearless and strong-headed man.
Then one day as he was travelling on the road from Jerusalem to Damascus on a mission to arrest the followers of Jesus and bring them back, Jesus appeared to him in a great light and revealed himself.
He was around 30 years old when he met Jesus. Also, after meeting Jesus his life changed, and he became a follower of Jesus, and since then he began to preach and tell people about Christ whom he met, the one who saved him and gave him eternal life.
He devoted himself in studying the scriptures, reaching out to the gentiles, planting churches and exhorting believers all across Asia Minor. His life and ministry were so impactful that out of the 66 books in the bible, 13 are his letter to various churches.
While writing the Epistle of Philippians, Paul was somewhere around 50 years old, having more than 20+ years in the ministry.
Timothy, on the other hand, was born of a Jewish mother who was a professing Christian called Eunice and his father was a Greek. His grandmother was also a believer called Lois. Which means Timothy was raised a Christian family, grew up reading and studying the scriptures like my boys, maybe homeschooled too. We also get to learn about Timothy that he was a very reserved and timid guy.
Timothy met Paul during Paul’s second missionary journey and become Paul’s companion and co-worker in the Gospel. Timothy was around 20 years younger to Paul, at the time of writing this letter may have been about 25-30 year old.
The past 20 years, Paul discipled Timothy in the Lord, modelled a godly life for him to follow & pursue, walked with him in all his struggles, encouraging him in the Lord and helping him grow in his faith.
Now, after 20 years, for Paul to open the letter to the Philippians saying “Paul and Timothy, servant of Christ Jesus” speaks a lot about their friendship and partnership in what they are doing.
I can imagine both of them sitting together side by side in the prison as they are beginning to write this letter to the Church in Philippians.
The reason I wanted to share their journey with you is to highlight the fact that they were so different from each other, different backgrounds, different upbringing (in our language we can say one came from a believer family and one from an unbeliever family), different personalities, different age groups; and yet they had the same goal and pursuit in life.
And as we’ve looked at the lives of these two men, I want to highlight two things about them that stand out for me and the ones that convicted me as I was preparing this sermon, which I believe to be the source and motivation of their joy-filled lives.
a. Devotion to Christ.
b. Desire for the Kingdom.
From the time they both heard the Gospel and received Jesus as their saviour and Lord, they were fully devoted to Christ. Paul left his full-time job as a persecutor. I believe it was a well-paying job he had to leave, sacrifice his career, leave his family for the sake of the Gospel (they might have rebuked, even threatened to kill), he left the company of his ungodly friends and started travelling to places wherever the Holy Spirit led him.
Timothy, as well, was so zealous for the Lord, that he left the comfort of his home, sacrificed the delicious food his mom prepare for him, left the loving warmth of his Father and Grandmother who must have loved him so dearly. It wasn’t an easy decision; there was no guarantee that he will come home alive. But yet his love for the Lord compelled him to leave all his comforts and join Paul in his missionary journey, preaching the good news of Jesus wherever the Lord led him.
And also, as their lives were transformed by the love of Christ, they were carried away and caught up with a great desire to seek his Kingdom and participate in his kingdom work with full zeal and vigour, to the extent where they had absolutely no desire for the pleasure of this life, even marriage.
Brothers & Sisters, I know you are seeking for joy in your life. No one can guarantee whether what you are seeking or desiring right now in life will even happen, and also if it happens, there is no guarantee that it will give you the ultimate joy and happiness you soul is seeking for.
But I know of someone who will surely fill your heart with true joy and happiness, one that will last for eternity. His name is Jesus.
He’s already performed the greatest miracle of all, by setting us free from the captivity of sin and restoring back our relationship with our creator God. It the same Jesus that met Paul on the road to Damascus, the same Jesus who changed the lives of Lois, Eunice and Timothy.
If you die today without achieving any of the goals in the list I showed you, but you’ve received Christ in your heart, I’m confident that you have lost nothing. In Jesus, you have gained everything.
Like Paul & Timothy Now, let us fill our hearts with this truth every single day of our lives. Reminding ourself, day in and day out, of this precious gift we’ve received in Christ. Living a life fully devoted to Jesus and seeking and desiring His Kingdom above every other pursuit in life.
Let’s find our joy in Christ and his finished work for us on the cross of Calvary.
Let’s make a choice today, as we go out of this room. And let’s be happy.