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January 31, 2019 3:00 am
I have a friend who lives in one of the most restricted areas of the world in terms of evangelism and gospel proclamation. This particular friend lives in the country where if you convert to Christ, you would be in prison for a very long time.
Those who help convert all baptize them in a great deal of trouble with the authorities. Although evangelism is legal within the walls of the church. It is illegal to convert somebody from another religion. In this different mind them has been used of God. For the past 35 years to baptize more people into Christ than any single individual in all of the modern missionary movements and to say that the authorities are not very happy with him would be a gross understatement. His phone is monitored. His home is barred. His family is constantly watched one day the authorities really just had it with. So they brought him in for questioning and they did everything within the legal purview to intimidate him to anger him. And indeed, in trying to silence him and stop him. They said to him, don't you know that we can put you in prison for a very long time. He said that what it be a great blessing to me. I have so many books that I want to write and I don't have the time because as you know, I am involved in evangelism when that did not work. This said, do you know that we can deport you from this country never to be able to come back here again, he said well blessing that would be my grandchildren live overseas and I have been able spend much time with them.
I would love to spend extended time in my sunset years with my grandchildren while that did not work. They said the do you know that we can actually kill you when we get you to disappear. Nobody would know what you are. He said that would be wonderful. He said I would be in heaven with Jesus serving him in person no matter what threats they threw his way. That man with great joy responded positively and affirmatively no matter what happens to this man, this is not going to lose his joy is nobody gonna take the joy of the Lord out of him that we began a series of messages from the epistle to the Philippians. The epistle of joy. I'm calling it.
It is contagious, pass along, and we saw in the first message how to catch it and today I want to talk to you about how to keep it. Philippians chapter 1, the universe, 12 because in this particular passage you gonna find that so many people and events and circumstances seem to have conspired together in order to take away the joy of the Lord out of Paul's life, but he refused to let them know. Beloved, I don't need to tell you that many of us today are going through a tough time with going through a host of circumstances and people that seem to have conspired to cause us a loss of joy. I know some of you of suffering the loss of jobs are some of you are suffering the loss of fortune. Others suffering, loss of health and and some are suffering the loss of loved ones in various attacks by people who falsely accuse us in an angry and envious. People who seek to destroy us are malicious people who don't like us because of what we stand for or host of other circumstances that are conspiring together trying to make us lose the joy of the Lord in writing to the Philippians, Paul does not gloss over these enemies of the joy he does not gloss over these things that he does not minimize the effect of these robbers of his joy. He does not pretend that these facts did not exist or nothing is really happening and I'll be all right.
Nonowner. But he said hard as these people and events may work that will not probably of my joy. Painful as these people and events may be to me, they will not take away my joy, potent and powerful as these enemies of my joy may be I will keep my joy no matter what is what is happening just to give you the background here. Paul had been away from Philippi, but beloved churches he founded. He's been away from them for about four years and the news came to them. Paul is in Rome is in a Roman prison is under arrest and surprise surprise, the rumor mill started there were no cell phones and and there were no twitters in and Facebook and all the stuff that goes out fast and people correct information and all the stuff the rumor started ending our how rumors get exaggerated and get blown out of proportion by the time I got the Philippi present Paul is dead.
Some of Paul's dear friends were really concerned they would deeply worried about him about his freedom about his liberty about his health and about his well-being, but some of them thought to themselves, and of these of the superduper Christian CC know some of them don't you, that the super Christians. They said well you know goes to show you must've been a sinner. Why else would he go to prison. These are the people who never look at themselves in the mirror. These are the folks who tried to cover up their misery by pointing the finger at others that these are the jewelry judge and executioners in the Christian church. These are the people who are wonderful in their own eyes.
I mean they are in love with their opinions, their love with their ideas.
Those of the people who insist that the moment someone is suffering on the bus missing somewhere going around sniffing sin in people's lives, blessed coming there the spiritual police. They are the know it all people. They are the ones who have said, well, I knew it I knew sooner or later. This is going to help and is going to happen. Had Paul just kept his mouth.
Should you not had he just got off his high horse had Paul just shut up about Jesus being the only way to heaven and had he not gone to Jerusalem like we told him not to go.
Had he just not appeal to Caesar like he did it he just went along to get along.
Had he just not attack the enemies of the gospel that he just not tried to criticize all these curses in the church that had he just let sleeping dogs lie. This will not happen to him. He brought it on himself wanted to look with me. Therefore, things here that have conspired to steal Paul's joy for things I wanted to look at them in your Bibles first. It was his imprisonment versus 12 to 14. Secondly, there were the detractors versus 15 to 18.
And thirdly, there was the possibility of death. Verses 19 to 21 and then finally there is the uncertainty about the will of God in Paul's life at this moment in his life for things all conspired in order to steal Paul's joy. Look at the first one. Paul said in verses 12 to 14.
He said what you heard about my imprisonment is true, but the rumor of my death has been greatly exaggerated.
A rough translation but you get the meaning he is saying you only heard the bad news you haven't heard the good news.
I wonder how many of us when we're going through the roughest time, probably in your life you are in uncharted waters in and your experience all kinds of pain and all kinds of uncertainty. Somebody comes up to you and is as you know, I heard about what you going through and said hello but listen, that is the bad news. Let me tell you the good news. Our how many of us can do that and that's what Paul is doing here because when you do that you absolutely will. Satan's plot to steal away your joy, Paul said, let me tell you about the good news of my imprisonment. The name of Jesus is being spread throughout the palace car. Now this praetorian guard is about 9000 strong. They served them in different shifts, and Paul was ecstatic that so many of them are now talking about this fellow Paul who was preaching the Lord Jesus Christ as the only God of heaven, they're all asking question who is Jesus and Paul is saying that is the best thing about my imprisonment. I'm glad I'm here Paul is ecstatic about his imprisonment that is getting people talking about Jesus. He said that as long as they talk about Jesus. It's alright I'm fine. Not only that, but some spineless Christians who are afraid to testify to their faith in Jesus Christ less. They get rejected. Those who timid souls work were basically sitting it's the court my book on the Blessed assurance and basically not doing anything, but when they heard about Paul's imprisonment and his courage, they got some backbone in them.
They got some courage and they began to witness to their faith in Jesus Christ, depositing the great the great news that he thought that when they put me in prison. The cause of Christ would die, but the opposite is happening back in the 80s. My wife and I had the joy of meeting a wonderful Christian young woman.
Talk about beautiful in every way highly educated with degrees in comes from a prominent family, but then she was thrown into prison because she was converted to Christ, and we were talking and and she said then how wonderful of the Lord to allow me to go to prison. I said can you say that again.
She said you know after I was baptized into Christ.
I wanted to go into the women's prison and I wanted to testify to them about the power of Christ working in me and forgiving me and saving me by doing allow me to legally can do that. And so when the government discovered that I become a Christian. They put me in this woman's prison lesson. I could not find a way to get in.
God found a way to get me on the inside and for six weeks. Literally every single prison matron that women's prison knew about Jesus. It was so bad for the authority they had to release her early this could get out of here. What is a formula J is for. Why is for an all is for when nothing comes between you and Jesus you will have the joy of the Lord and nobody can take it away from you when nothing between you and Jesus. Joy will be kept intact in your life regardless of your circumstances. Far from resenting and lamenting his hardship. Paul said Christ is being proclaimed and that's a good news so imprisonment could not take away his joy.
Secondly, detractors could not rob him of his joy. Look at verses 15 alloy dating those envious, jealous hatred of Paul's success.
They turned his imprisonment into a malicious gossip man. They were having a ball not remember this were not the false believers and false brethren that he talked about another parts. These were not heretical teachers. There were not unbelievers that the people in the then the superduper Christians. Those Christians who just wanted to show off how superior they are, they were the Christians who love to create strife and put others down so that they can elevate themselves up and they were the Christians who want you to know that they are the only ones who got it all together, that only one set of troublemakers who are self elevators that they are the contentious people who always alright no matter what the subject and what the topic of what the armor they are the ones who maliciously wanted to hurt Paul because he would not kowtow to them those of the Christian Pharisees and fault finders. And Paul said, even valet, probably of my joy they cannot do that if the gospel is being preach whatever the motive is that it makes no difference to me.
Only God can judge motives and Paul said I'm not going to be the judge will let God do that but I know one thing they're not going to steal my joy.
Then I got a copy of my joy no matter what they say, no matter how I can.
Their accusations may be, no matter how contentious they may be in so imprisonment would not rob him of his joy.
Detractors could not rob him of his joy.
Finally, even death is not going to rob him of his joy. Verse 1908 to 21.
I know there are many believers who are afraid of death is just a fact that many people love the Lord.
The saved they know without a doubt if they died today. There will be in heaven on this that certainty in their hearts, but they are fearful of death, I am not a super human being. I am telling you that I understand that emotion off the two times that I stirred death in the eye. I was terrified listening to death is the only thing we can be sure of is going to happen sooner or later, but this and this and this is important.
The funeral event is Satan's tool to steal your joy in this life. Fear of death is Satan's tool to rob us of having the joy of living here now and Paul believed that one way or another is going to be delivered.
He trusted in God.
So I look at verse 20.
He said to them, it is because of your prayers and the power of the Holy Spirit.
I will in no way be put to shame. Why, because all I want in this life and from this life is the glory of Jesus. And when your overall goal in life is the glory of Jesus. Nothing and no one can steal your joy. You know you hear people say it's not about me. We hear that enough and among our leaders all the time now is not about me is not about me it's about them. Shakespeare said the protesters too much.
But Paul can genuinely say it is all about Jesus and you know he's telling the truth, he said, whether in life or death as long as my motive is to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ.
Nothing else matters. Verse 21 for me to live is Christ and to die is gain another word game actually comes from the business world.
It comes from return on the investment you remember those dividends to return on investments. That's where the word danger comes from a lots of people lost millions of dollars with Madoff. You know, in fact, some people lost their all but listen to me though, who invest in Christ, there again is going to be so humongous that it cannot be calculated and whether it is a being in this life or in the life to come, whatever it may be Christ when he is at the center when nothing comes between you. You and Jesus you joy can never be stolen. They can never be lost. They can never go away from you.
In other words, Paul is saying his UN tells you in imitate something from my personal experience the way for the devil to devastate you, you devastating is nothing more devastating to the devil then you looking him in the eye and say devil I am not afraid of death.
Can you do that don't look at me now, but you can look somewhere and say devil I am not afraid of death. Can you say that I am not afraid of death. And while matter devil.
I'm not afraid of the future. I'm not afraid of what happens to me. I'm not afraid what happens to my children. I am not afraid of anything. Just like my friend will do this to you, great, great to the moment they think they can intimidate you.
The devil will use them as instrument to make you live in fear to make you live a discouraged life to make you live a fruitless life. It makes you live a joyless life imprisonment did not stop him from keeping his joy. Detractors did not stop him from keeping his joy. The possibility of death did not stop him from keeping his joy and fourthly uncertainty of the will of God in his life did not stop him from keeping his joy. Look at those verses 21 to 26.
The powerful men explained to you why. While they're relevant to so many of us today. I know some of you are going through some unfamiliar territories professionally, financially and in other ways. I know some of you are going through uncharted waters.
I noticed, and you are looking up to heaven and saying, Lord, what is your will for my life which way to go, and there is silence in heaven of being there knew was on there in some areas some issues, but it doesn't mean that God is not hearing you doesn't mean that God is not working on your behalf.
It doesn't mean that God's plan is on his schedule, not yours. Talk about something that can really steal your joy, uncertainty is one of those incredible temptations that the devil can use to steal your joy when you are unsure what is the will of God fail when you're not sure which way to go and I'll not talk about the big things when you know God's will for you is holiness your holiness about talking about specific things professionally or an area of wanting to be married or whatever it may be when you are uncertain and your crying out to God, Lord.
Which way the silence that can be a temptation, but Paul said even that is not going to steal my joy even that is not going to rob me of my joy even though I don't have a clue what is the will of God for my life at this moment. Even though the Lord did not reveal to me whether I'm going to get out of this prison and go on to Spain which I really wanted to do or he will take me to glory. While I don't know all but that's not going rob me of my joy even in fact really Paul is torn he really is. You can hear it in his words, he said, on the one hand I want to stay around so that I can get more people saved and come to Christ, so that I may encourage the believers to build up the believers build up the church is I really want that. But then, on the other hand, I want to get into that heavenly body and joined the heavenly choir and begin to praise God of the throne room of God until both are fine by me. When you do that, far from being intimidated. You will intimidate the devil. Even when God does not reveal his will to you with clarity even though you might go through uncertainty.
Paul said I'm not going to let that make me lose my joy. Why, because he knew that sooner or later God is going to show up. God is gonna take care of him.
God is going to guide him. God is gonna lead him God is going to unfold his plan for him even though he might be silent for a moment, let me tell you this is a conclude pastor Richard one Brent spent 14 years in prison for preaching the gospel, although his captors brought four of his verb return and literally burned 18 holes in his body. They could not defeat him.
He admitted that while he was alone in the cell called hungry and in rags he danced with joy every night. One night he leaned over to a fellow prisoner, a man whom he had let the Christ couple of years earlier and the man is imprisoned with him because of his faith in Jesus Christ, so he leaned over to his friend and he said to him, he said, have you any resentment against me that I brought you to Christ. Then came the response. I have no words to express my thankfulness that you brought me to the wonderful Savior I would never haven't any other way. Folks, we have not learned to truly live until we know what it is to keep our joy in the midst of tough circumstances. Tough times. I don't know what is conspiring against you to tempt you to lose your joy. I don't know that you do whatever it is, it will vanish before your own eyes, it will vanish to know why. When you determine to keep your joy when Christ is the center when his glory is your focus on your goal and the only way to keep your joy, is when you refuse to be intimidated and lift totally for him. Maybe someone here today been into religion churches and church unity and never really understood what it means to have intimacy with Jesus Christ as the Savior and the Lord in the master of your life. Why don't you today say Lord Jesus come into my life. Forgive my sins deliver me to eternal life and in the Bible said the moment you do that he heard you from heaven, and he will answer you and he will forgive your sins and heal you and restore you but then I might be others here who have lost your joy goes through rough times and the devil succeeded in getting people and events and circumstances to steal your joy when you've lost the joy. Why don't you today say Lord Jesus like David prayed restore to me the joy of my salvation and help me on a daily basis to keep the joy father. What a privilege and honor that the very God of the universe invites us to come and to participate and to receive his forgiveness. The very God of the universe laid down his glory and died on the cross so that he may satisfy your justice and so that everyone who would come to him. Everyone would run to him. Everyone who taken for refuge as their Savior and Lord as the only Savior will have a term alive.
Thank you father and father we pray for those who have lost their joy are in the process of losing their joy. May this day be a day of renewal of that joy forward. Pray in the mighty name the name that's above every name in the name of Jesus.
Amen. Thanks for listening to this message from Dr. Michael you Seth recently featured on leading the way.
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