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A Recipe for Joy

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey
The Truth Network Radio
May 3, 2024 12:00 am

A Recipe for Joy

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey

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May 3, 2024 12:00 am

Discover the surprising secret to true joy! In this episode, Stephen Davey reveals how to rise above negative circumstances and choose a joyful spirit. Learn the essential ingredients to cultivate gratitude, faithful prayer, meaningful participation in your community, and an unshakeable devotion to Christ.

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So, I say all that to say, when Paul says, I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, he doesn't mean there aren't unpleasant things he's not grateful about when he thinks of them. What he does mean is that he is choosing not to dwell on them. You want a recipe for joy? Begin with this ingredient Paul is practicing, what we could call the art of selective remembering, grateful recollection, where we choose to remember only those things about others that make us grateful. The world tells you that happiness depends on what happens to you. But the Apostle Paul, imprisoned and awaiting trial, reveals a deeper truth. True joy isn't found in circumstances.

It's found in something far more reliable. We live in an age obsessed with finding happiness, yet lasting joy eludes us. Paul's letter to the Philippians offers a recipe for a joy that transcends circumstance. Today, you'll uncover the ingredients of a grateful recollection, faithful prayer, selfless participation, and unwavering devotion to Christ.

Forget about finding your joy in external things. Join Stephen Davey and discover the power of genuine, lasting joy that comes from a radically transformed heart. This message is called a recipe for joy. It's impossible to read the letter of Paul to the Philippians without picking up on his contagious spirit of happiness.

It's as if he's caught it. A better word might be joy. Paul's gonna use that word often in this letter. You need to know joy is deeper. It's different than happiness. Although, if we understand happiness in the right context, it can mean the same thing in the New Testament.

Happiness to most people, especially in our culture, depends on horizontal happenings. What we're going to find out here in this text is that joy depends on, not happenings, but the heart. Paul has every reason to be anything but joyful.

He's under house arrest, Roman guards on either side of him alternating their shift throughout the day and night, handcuffed to him. Paul is not writing from some country estate where he puts on an easy, happy smile to boost the morale now of these Philippians who are living in a tough situation. Throughout this letter, he's gonna model, in fact, he's gonna mandate what it takes to rise above your horizontal circumstances and become genuinely joyful.

Frankly, if Paul can be, and these believers to whom he is writing, we can too. Now, if you have your Bibles open in Philippians chapter one, Paul is about to provide nothing less than a recipe for joy. This recipe might surprise you.

It's not gonna be easy to mix, but possible by the Spirit's help. Let me point out four ingredients to genuine joy as we work our way through this text. The first ingredient is what I want to call grateful recollection.

Grateful recollection. Philippians chapter one and verse three, to begin with just that first phrase, I thank my God in all my remembrance of you. Now, ultimately, this thank you letter, of course, you know, was given to the Philippians.

They are the supporting church of Paul, very faithful in their support and prayers, but he's ultimately thanking God. In fact, if you skip this personal pronoun, you don't get anything else. Notice, I thank, you ought to circle that next word, my God. I thank my God. You see, Paul's vertical relationship with God, colored, influenced, informed, even defined his horizontal perspective in the happenings of his circumstances.

So you start there. I thank my God, and you're on your way to mixing up a serving of joy. Now, what is he choosing to thank God for? I thank my God in all my remembrance of you. Paul is writing in the present tense.

You could render this, I am always thanking my God for you. Now, it's easy to read that verse and just assume that the Philippian church brought Paul nothing but wonderful memories, but they were just this unique and perfect church, and they never caused any unpleasantness. I mean, it is true this church brought him great joy and a lot less pain than other churches he planted or served. It is true that the churches in Rome and Galatia were struggling over multiple issues, including a desire of some within the body to return back to Jewish law and tradition. It is true that the church in Corinth was splintered and factious.

They were tolerant of immorality, and they were all pandering after the public expressive gifts. It is true that the church in Ephesus was plagued by false teaching. The church in Colossae was sort of turning away to its own unique heresy. The church in Thessalonica was riddled with false rumors about Paul, lazy members, and even false teaching about the resurrection of Christ. It is true that the Philippian letter is mostly pleasant, but don't make the mistake of thinking this church was without problems.

No church is. In fact, Paul is going to do something very rare in this particular letter by effectively rebuking two women. In fact, he's going to call them out by name in this letter. Imagine how embarrassing that would be, who were causing strife in the church.

He's going to challenge this body of believers on several issues. So I say all that to say when Paul says, I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, he doesn't mean there aren't unpleasant things he's not grateful about when he thinks of them. What he does mean is that he is choosing not to dwell on them or even recall them. You want a recipe for joy? Begin with this ingredient Paul is practicing what we could call the art of selective remembering or selective memory.

We already do that, don't we? Let's practice grateful recollection. That's our parameter where we choose to remember only those things about others that make us grateful. A key ingredient to a joyful spirit is evidently limiting your recollection to that which produces gratitude unto God. The second ingredient that comes from this text to me is faithful intercession.

Look at verse four. Always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy. Have you ever thought about the fact that Paul rarely prayed for things? He most often prayed for people. And would you notice the comprehensive scope in his prayer life?

You could circle the same Greek word that's translated into several different English words. Same root word in verses three and four. I thank my God in all, there it is, my remembrance of you always, there it is, in every, there it is, prayer of mine for you all. Let me paraphrase it to give you the idea of his repetition for emphasis. I thank my God in all my remembrances of you at all times and in all my prayers for all of you.

He obviously doesn't want to leave anybody out, including the two women he'll call out. He's effectively saying, listen, I am praying all of the time for all of you. This isn't some, you know, apostolic pious platitude because apostles are supposed to say things like this, you know, or we might rather flippantly say to somebody, I'll pray for you and then maybe not and then never do.

Paul meant it. I am always praying for all of you as I recollect those things that bring me gratitude. Have you ever had anybody tell you with absolute sincerity that they were praying for you? What did that do to you? It didn't change your circumstances, but it deposited into your heart this sense of joy. You see, you intercede for somebody and it changes first and foremost the intercessor. Can you imagine that rented apartment? Some Roman guard on this side, the left and right, and Paul is under house arrest there and he says, you know, man, it's time I want to work through my prayer list.

Do you mind? And they have to give him some slack as he begins to shuffle through his list. He prays. Can you imagine them listening to him praying most of all, most of the time I'm sure silently, but sometimes timing out with something audibly. They're watching this man who's chained to them pray with great passion for somebody else.

Can you imagine? And don't overlook the fact that Paul's prayer life didn't change his circumstances. When he said amen, he still chained. He's still under house arrest, but his prayer life changed his spirit. We know that.

How do we know that? Because he says in this text, I'm praying for all of you and I'm making my prayer. Notice the last part of verse four and I'm praying with joy. With joy. You want to mix up a recipe of joy?

Be limited in your remembering. Be generous in your praying. The ingredients of joy then are not only grateful recollection, we see here in his biographical comments, and faithful intercession. Let me give you another. Thirdly, reliable participation.

Reliable participation. Look at verse five. Paul writes, I am praying basically with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. Now for the first time, Paul uses a word that's one of his favorite words, one of his favorite concepts.

It could be a sermon all of its own. Depending on its appearance as a verb or a noun or an adjective, this family from the root word koinon gives us our word koinonia and it's translated communion, fellowship, fellowshipping, participating. In fact, Hebrews uses it. They're ready to share. They're ready to fellowship in the giving financially of what they have. Paul is going to use this word again in his letter to the Philippians in a famous text many of us know in Philippians chapter three and verse 10. He said, I want to fellowship with the sufferings of Christ. I want to participate in his sufferings. See, this isn't a trite word.

This isn't a casual, yeah, I have a little fellowship. No, Paul is saying much more to the Philippians than, well, you know, you've got a curious interest in my ministry and so I'm going to send you my prayer letter and they would say, well, I'll read it, maybe I won't. No, they were deeply invested. They were deeply partnering, fellowshipping with him and the gospel through prayer, through financial sacrifice. They're going to pay his rent while he's here in Rome. They're going to pay for those guards that Rome required payment of.

If you wanted to have house arrest and not live, languish in some cell, they're going to distribute his letter to others. They're going to host him in his trips and he did three of them there. They're going to carry on the gospel ministry in the church he founded when he's gone. They are deeply invested in this ministry. I said, what we got to do if we want to experience joy personally and corporately is to elevate our understanding of a word we use all too casually, the word fellowship. It's much deeper, much more sacrificial. One pastor author provoked my thinking when he wrote in his commentary on Philippians that many Christians today are going from church to church seeking good fellowship and in so doing they are seeking an illusion.

He writes, what do I mean? What I mean is this, biblical fellowship is more than friendship. It's more than a cup of coffee after church service. It's more than enjoying other Christians at some gathering. It's more than the pleasure of a meal with another believing parent while your children play nearby. Don't get me wrong, these are all wonderful pleasures but fellowship, the kind Paul is talking about here goes deeper.

It is shared responsibility. It's serving together, he writes, in women's Bible studies. It's volunteering to serve in children's ministries. It's joining a team and developing the camaraderie of serving on a short term missions trip. It's joining some team to do mercy work to alleviate suffering after some devastation. It's taking the gospel with others to poor people. It's joining a band of brothers or sisters to pray for the world.

That's koinonia. That's biblical fellowship. He goes way beyond the potluck.

The fact that I like people around here. William Carey understood this. In fact, I took this illustration away. I thought this would be a good time, perfectly illustrates this concept. He would become, as we know him, the father of modern missions. He would spend 40 years in India and before he left he wrote to some friends and he said, listen, and I quote, there is a gold mine in India but it is as deep as the center of the earth. I will venture to go down into that mine but only if you hold the rope.

Everybody along that rope, by the way, understood koinonia. Praying, giving, sacrificing, even going. This genuine fellowship comes from partnering, not spectating. See, Paul is thrilled with these Philippians, not because they've been watching him and saying every once in a while, that a boy, go get him. Here, we'll send you some more money.

How can we partner with you? How can we impact this culture in this Roman garrison of a town called Philippi? They're not spectating. They're not watching. They're invested. The church today has become all the more like a Sunday afternoon NFL football game, one of my professors used to say, where 50,000 people in desperate need of exercise watch 22 men in desperate need of rest.

That's good. Ladies and gentlemen, the church does not need better fans. The church needs better leadership.

People who climb aboard, get invested, and hold the rope. Would you notice his confidence and encouragement in verse six? I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

What's he talking about? Some would view this as sanctification. God's going to just make you better and better until finally he tops it off, you know, with the icing when Jesus comes back. Now the day of Jesus Christ is a prophetic phrase that only shows up in the New Testament six times.

Three times it shows up in this letter. The phrase emphasizes the future day when Jesus Christ returns for the church and what he began in building his church he will complete when it's raptured away. This is a phrase in contrast to the phrase the day of the Lord. The day of the Lord appears in the New Testament and it refers to a day of judgment and tribulation.

Paul will describe that in First Thessalonians five. Paul isn't describing here the day of the Lord, but the day of Jesus Christ. He'll call it the day of Christ as well. It's a day the church even today is anticipating.

It's a day when the church is brought to completion as the bride. And what Paul is saying is I am confident that when God began to call out the church he's going to finish it. You Philippians are part of that calling. You remember Jesus Christ announced prophetically to his disciples in Matthew 16, 18, I will build my what? Church. I will build my church.

He's speaking in the future. I will in the future build my church. And it will begin in the future after he ascends and the spirit descends on the day of Pentecost in Acts chapter two. Paul effectively announces here to the Philippians one day Jesus is going to announce I have finished building my church.

Won't that be a great day? I finished. Jesus Christ the master builder is going to carry on his construction project until the church is completed and we happen to believe that completion date is going to be marked by the sound of a trumpet and the calling away of that church. The calling away of the bride. Paul, are you sure?

Oh, he says, I'm sure about this. With Jesus Christ there are no unfinished projects. Paul speaks with the degree of anticipation and joy effectively saying to them, look, no matter what the circumstances, no matter what the happenings are, no matter how slow it might seem and how difficult it is in the ministry of the gospel and building the church as it were for the glory of Christ, it will one day be completed. It will one day be fully redeemed.

The last member added to the bridal party. It will one day be called upward. It will one day be glorified. It will one day be wedded to Christ and soon to be joined in co-reigning with him in that coming kingdom. Jesus Christ will leave no unfinished work. Paul says it's as good as done.

I'm sure of this. The ingredients of joy include grateful recollection, faithful intercession, reliable participation and you could add with a sense of anticipation. One more, loyal devotion. Verse seven, loyal devotion. It is right for me to feel this way about you all because I hold you in my heart. Now he effectively told them in verse three they were on his mind. Now he tells them as he concludes this thought by telling them they are on his heart. It's easy to tell other Christians you're on my nerves. Paul says you're on my heart.

Why? Well, he writes further, because you are all partakers. That's that koinon word again, koinonia. You're all partakers, fellowshipers, pastors, participants with me of grace, both in my imprisonment. That means you weren't ashamed that I'm in prison.

You're helping pay the bill. Thank you for standing with me. In the defense, that word is apologia. It gives us our word apologetics, the defense of the gospel to those outside the church. You've also partnered with me, he writes here, in the confirmation of the gospel. The word confirmation has to do with the building up of the body. So these believers in Philippi are partnering with him in defending the faith of those outside the church and building up the faith of those inside the church. In other words, if I could boil it down, they were more concerned about the gospel reaching those outside the church and the building up of the body inside the church than they were about themselves. No wonder they're near and dear to the heart of Paul.

A man is writing this letter with dangling chains from his wrists. They got his passion. They shared his joy. Why?

They were unusually devoted to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Do you want joy in your life? Do you really? I mean, after this, you might know now why you really don't want it. This is hard.

But let's review the recipe. Joy is found in grateful recollection. We called it selective memory. Let me put it another way. Joy is choosing to remember when people do you right instead of when they've done you wrong.

Sounds like a country and western song, but I thought it might stick. Joy is choosing to remember when people do you right instead of when they've done you wrong. Secondly, joy is found in faithful intercession.

Let me put it this way. Joy is choosing to pray for people instead of things for yourself. Thirdly, joy is found in reliable participation. Let me put it another way. Joy is choosing to participate rather than spectate or hitchhike as we travel toward our date of completion.

What kind of passenger are you, by the way? Fourthly, joy is found in loyal devotion. Joy is choosing to defend the gospel and build up the body more than we care to defend ourselves or build our own lives.

See, these are the ingredients in a recipe that will sanctify your memory, that will flavor your relationships, that will perfume your perspective, that will prioritize your priorities, that will energize your loyalties, that will fuel the engine of your anticipation as we head toward that day, fueling it with wisdom and grace and joy. Wasn't it good to learn today that joy is not a product of your circumstances? What makes that truth so encouraging is that your circumstances change. Sometimes your life seems great and other times it's filled with trial and tribulation, but true joy is a product of grace.

That's good news today. I'm so glad you joined us. You've been listening to Wisdom for the Heart with Stephen Davey. If you'd like to learn more about our ministry, we have a website that's filled with both information and resources. You can listen to the complete archive of Stephen's teaching ministry, read Stephen's printed manuscripts as well as access all of the books, Bible studies and commentaries that Stephen's written over the years.

Stephen also posts articles on a regular basis. All of those resources are available at wisdomonline.org. You'll also be able to access most of those resources through our app for your smartphone. Be sure and install the Wisdom International app from the app store for your device. Once you install that app, you'll have access to almost everything that's on the website. In addition, we have all of Stephen's lessons integrated into a digital Bible. So as you're reading along in the Bible that's on our app, if Stephen has a lesson that corresponds to the passage you're reading, you'll have instant access to that lesson. Once again, when you get to the app store for your device, you'll want to search for Wisdom International. Thanks for listening. Please join us back here next time.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-05-03 00:07:52 / 2024-05-03 00:16:41 / 9

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