One of the most astounding thoughts in Scripture is that God’s people have
the ability to produce joy in God. A number of things cause Him to rejoice
over you and me.
1. Luke 15:7 - ”I
say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that
repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no
2. Luke 15:1O - ”
Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of
God over one sinner that repenteth.
11:5-6 says. “5By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was
not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had
this testimony, that he pleased God. 6But without faith it is
impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that
he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him..”
Faith in God brings Him joy.
147:11 says, “The LORD taketh pleasure in them that
fear him, in those that hope in his mercy..” The Lord has a special
delight in those who worship Him in the truest and purest sense—with
reverent and profound adoration.
15:8 says, 8The
sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD: but the prayer
of the upright is his delight.” God is joyous when we commune
said, “7I know also, my God, that thou
triest the heart, and hast pleasure in uprightness. As for me, in the
uprightness of mine heart I have willingly offered all these things: and now
have I seen with joy thy people, which are present here, to offer willingly
unto thee” (1 Chron. 29:17).
Proverbs 11:20 says, “They that are
of a froward heart are abomination to the LORD: but such as are
upright in their way are
Matthew 25 a master says to his faithful servant, “Enter
into the joy of your master” (vv. 21, 23). All those are reasons for
us, who are sinful, weak, and frail, to rejoice in the God who delights in us.
THE JOY OF RECOLLECTION (v. 3)
THE JOY OF INTERCESSION (v. 4)
THE JOY OF PARTICIPATION (v. 5)
it is meet for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart;
inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defense and confirmation of the
gospel, ye all are partakers of my grace. 8For God is my record,
how greatly I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ.
word translated “meet” (dika ion) means
that Paul felt more than appreciation towards the Philippians. His feelings
were more than what protocol required in response to the Philippians’ love
and generosity. His joy was morally right. It was an expression of gratitude
and honor to God.
responded the same way any godly pastor would respond to his people. He was
compelled by what he knew was right before God. He didn’t base his affection
on rewards he expected or on the praise the Philippians had given him. He was
not being self-serving or condescending. Paul’s gratitude sprang from a
sense of humble obligation.
attitude toward the Philippians was one of thanksgiving (v. 3), joy (v. 4),
and confidence (v. 6). The Greek word translated “think”
(phrone) means “to think.” It was an expression of one’s mindset
or attitude. Paul used the word often in Philippians, it expresses an action
of the intellect that touches the feelings and expresses his
Paul was concerned about the Philippians because he had them in his heart. He loved them. In 2 Corinthians 7:3 he says, “ye are in our hearts to die and live with you..” Like the Corinthians, the Philippians were part of Paul’s being. The Philippian church had weaknesses—they were human. But Paul’s deep love for them covered all their imperfections.
almost every person’s life there are special people who come to mind
frequently. Our affection for them leads us to remember and pray for them. We
may not be able to see or speak with them for long periods of time, yet we
carry them with us in our hearts. That’s how Paul regarded the Philippians.
is used a number of different ways in Scripture. Its usage in Philippians 1:7
is similar to that of Proverbs 4:23 “Watch over your heart with all
diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.” Both verses speak of the
heart as the center of thought and feeling.
1. Acts 8:37—Baptism is
appropriate “if you believe with all your heart. . . that Jesus Christ is
the Son of God.”
2. Deuteronomy 11:13—Israel was
instructed “to love the Lord [their] God and to serve Him with all [their]
3. Deuteronomy 26:16—”You shall.
. . be careful to [obey God’s commands] with all your heart.”
4. 1 Kings 2:4—Solomon was
instructed by David to walk before God “in truth with all [his] heart.”
5. Proverbs 3:5—”Trust in the
Lord with all your heart.”
6. Ephesians 6:6—Paul instructed
slaves to do “the will of God from the heart.”
7. 1 Peter 3:15—”Sanctify Christ
as Lord in your hearts.” In other words, worship Him with all your heart.
Psalm 51:10—Because the heart is the center of one’s being, David
pleaded, “Create in me a clean
heart, 0 God.”
9. Psalm 119:36—The psalmist
prayed, “Incline my heart to Thy testimonies, and not to dishonest gain.”
10. Psalm 86:11—”Teach
me Thy way, 0 Lord; I will walk in Thy truth; unite my heart to fear Thy
11. Matthew 22:37—”You
shall love the Lord your God with all your heart.”
Philippians were dear to Paul because of their participation in his
ministry. When he was a prisoner in Rome, they sent money, as well as the
services of Epaphroditus. In fact, Epaphroditus worked so hard that he almost
died (Phil. 2:30). Their deep commitment brought great joy to Paul.
who love like that find a place in one’s heart. During Paul’s imprisonment
he had defended (Gk., apologia) and confirmed (Gk., bebaiosis, “guarantee”)
the gospel. Those terms refer to judicial proceedings of which Paul had been a
part—either the first phase of his trial in Rome resulting in his
incarceration or, in a more general sense, the defense and confirmation of the
gospel that was at the heart of Paul’s ministry. In either case, Paul could
affirm that the Philippians had stood by him and partaken of the same enabling
grace he had. They were not ashamed of him and were not afraid of the cost of
used the phrase “God is my witness” (Phil.
1:8) on several occasions when he wanted to confirm what he was saying beyond
question (cf. Rom. 1:9; 2 Cor. 1:23; 1 Thess. 2:5, 10). The Philippians
couldn’t physically see Paul’s heart and affection for them, and Paul
wanted them to understand the genuineness of his feeling for them. He was
calling on God to attest to the truth of his affection for the Philippians.
saying, “I long for you all” (Phil. 1:8),
Paul meant that he eagerly yearned for the Philippians. Philippians 2:26 uses
the same word to refer to Epaphroditus’s longing for the Philippians because
of their distress upon hearing that
he was sick. Paul, Epaphroditus, and the whole Philippians church were closely
tied by affection for each other. We
also find the term in Philippians 4:1. There, Paul referred to the Philippians
as “my beloved brethren whom I long to see, my joy
and crown.” Paul and the Philippians had a wonderful love
Paul’s longing was with the
“affection of Christ Jesus” (Phil. 1:8). It
was not a natural human attraction but the love that is the fruit of the Spirit
(Gal. 5:22), given by Christ to those who belong to Christ.
word translated “the
bowels” in our Bible, refers
to the internal organs. In Greek it is the strongest word to express
compassionate love. It refers to the parts of the body that react to emotion.
When a person becomes highly emotional, he becomes short of breath, his heart
begins to beat more quickly, and his stomach may churn. Paul meant that his
affection for the Philippians involved his whole being.
affection led Paul to pray for the Philippians continually (Phil. 1:4). It
also brought him great joy.
The Source of Joy
joy comes from God, the fellowship of God’s people should be a fellowship of
joy. The Spirit-given joy of recollection, intercession for others,
participation in ministry, anticipation of what the church will become, and
fervent affection is something negative circumstances can’t touch.
Non-Christians rely on their own resources and circumstances for joy, whereas
Christians rely on the indwelling Holy Spirit.
can steal the Christian’s joy?
salvation - False
salvation steals joy because it is an attempt to seek inner joy without the
indwelling Holy Spirit. People who seek spiritual joy apart from the Holy Spirit
find it elusive. They become frustrated and unhappy. Often they become part of a
church and try to experience joy through religious activities, but they do not
find it there because it is only the work of the Spirit. Until they belong to
Christ, they cannot obtain the joy that comes only by the Holy Spirit.
and demons - Satan
and demons will do all they can to steal your joy. First Peter 5:8 says, “Your
adversary, the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to
devour.” We need to be alert to discern Satan’s efforts to rob us of
3. An inadequate understanding of God’s sovereignty - People often act as if God is not in control. They worry and become anxious about the threat of others controlling their lives. As a result, they ignore the reality that God is sovereign and that no matter what is happening, God is in control—all things are working together according to His purposes for the benefit of believers (Rom. 8:28). An understanding of God’s sovereignty keeps everything in perspective. Failure to understand that will rob a Christian of joy. The prophet Habakkuk cried out, “How long, 0 Lord, will I call for help, and Thou wilt not hear?” (Hab. 1:2). Yet by the time he came to the end of his prophecy, his understanding (and thus his attitude) had changed, though his circumstances had not. His understanding of God’s sovereignty was so altered that he said, “I will rejoice in the God of my salvation” (Hab. 3:18).
Prayerlessness - Failure to commit yourself to the Lord
in prayer will result in worry and frustration. When you try to orchestrate
life’s elements instead of resorting to prayer, you will breed frustration
within yourself rather than dependence on God. That vital truth is often
replaced in today’s church by counseling that emphasizes human insight rather
than divine assistance. James 5:14-15 instructs suffering Christians to ask the
elders of the church to pray for them. The fervent prayers of a righteous man
have a tremendous effect (James 5:16). Believers are to commit whatever they do
to the Lord (Prov. 16:3) and trust in Him (Prov. 3:5). Take your problems to
God, and make Him your focus. Philippians 4:6 says, “Be anxious for nothing,
but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests
be made known to God.” Prayerlessness steals joy because the world has no
answers to dilemmas that only God can solve.
Spiritual lows after spiritual highs - Picture Sunday: you’re
in church, and it’s a glorious experience. You leave, spiritually enriched and
encouraged. Monday you return to the humdrum of everyday living—your job or
the routine of cleaning the clothes, the kitchen, and whatever else is dirty.
You go from a spiritual high to a spiritual low. Or you may go from a great
spiritual experience to a severe spiritual trial as Elijah did. Elijah stood
up to the priests of Baal on Mount Carmel. God had sent fire from heaven to burn
up Elijah’s sacrifice—an incredible supernatural event in response to
Elijah’s prayer (cf. 1 Kings 18:20-46). That spiritual high has had few equals
in the history of the prophets. Yet soon after that experience Elijah wanted to
die because he found out Jezebel was after him (1 Kings 19:1-4). He quickly went
from the height of spiritual victory to the depths of spiritual depression.
Unless we’re careful, a spiritual trial immediately after an uplifting
spiritual experience may cause us to lose our joy because of the contrast.
A focus on circumstances - Some Christians will know very
little joy in this life because they let their emotions be controlled by their
circumstances. If their spouse treats them the way they like to be treated
they have joy, but if they aren’t treated that way they become unhappy. If
their kids do what they want them to do, they have joy, but if the kids don’t
behave, they lose their joy. If they have enough money to buy what they want,
they have joy, but if they don’t they’re miserable. They get all their
signals from the material world, which is the essence of materialism. They find
no contentment in God and fail to see God at work. Their joy rises and falls
depending on whether they get something new, receive special recognition, or
have the opportunity to travel. Focusing on your circumstances will rob you of
your joy and put you on a roller coaster that’s unrelated to true spiritual
Ingratitude - Few things in life are uglier than ingratitude.
If I were a parent again, I would spank my children more often and harder for
ingratitude than for anything else. Ingratitude is far more worthy of discipline
than spilled milk, dumped paint, or other things that children are often
disciplined for. Children need to be trained to be grateful. A thankless child
is sharper than a serpent’s tooth. Failure to focus on the blessings we’ve
received from the Lord and to give thanks in everything (whatever the
circumstances) creates people who are never thankful because they are never
satisfied. They don’t see life’s trials as blessings from God that will
conform them to Christ (James 1:2-4). Ingratitude is a trademark of pride. Many
people fail to remember what they were saved from. Often you will find that new
Christians are full of joy, but those who have been saved for a number of years
seem to look sour. It is rare for major church conflicts to be caused by new
babes in Christ. Apparently, you have to be a longtime Christian to cause
problems! That’s because at times we forget what we have been saved from. We
lose the freshness new Christians have, and we fail to exhort ourselves as does
the psalmist in Psalm 103:2: “Bless the Lord, 0 my
soul, and forget none of His benefits.” We must cultivate memories of
good things. Joyless Christians are a poor advertisement of fulfillment in
Dissatisfaction - Some believers lose their joy because they
don’t like the way they look. Others don’t like where they live. They may
not like the spiritual gifts they have, or they may wish they had others. But
Paul said, “I have learned to be content in whatever
circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know
how to live in prosperity” (Phil. 4:11-12). We all have disabilities of
one sort or another. Some people lose their joy because they’re in a
wheelchair; others because they can’t get the job they think they deserve.
Some don’t have joy because they believe they ought to be more appreciated.
They may not like where they fit into the church structure and wish they could
be doing something more significant or more visible. They wish they were
prettier, more handsome, or more capable in athletics or mathematics. But those
externals should not affect spiritual joy.
Fear of the future - Some people always imagine the worse
possible thing happening on all occasions. They live continually in fear. They
fear failure, loss of possessions, loss of power, loss of reputation, illness,
or death. But Jesus told us not to be anxious, because He will take care of our
needs (Matt. 6:31-33). He also said, “Let not your
heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me” (John 14:1).
Uncontrolled feelings - Christians should control their
feelings rather than let their feelings control them. Living with uncontrolled
feelings means living as a victim of the flesh. British expositor Martyn
Lloyd-Jones wrote in his book Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Cures, “I
suggest that the main trouble in this whole matter of spiritual depression is
this, that we allow yourself to talk to us instead of talking to yourself. ...
Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that
you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself?”. The art of
spiritual living is knowing how to handle yourself. In Psalm 42 the psalmist
handled his distress by talking to himself. People who merely listen to
themselves are victimized by their emotions. But Christians who talk to
themselves in the power of the Holy Spirit bring themselves into submission to
God’s Word and experience Spirit-produced joy.
Morbid self-analysis - To me psychology seems unnecessary because
the Scriptures give us all we need for life and godliness. Psychology tends to
make a person morbid, self-centered, and self-analytical. It causes people to
focus on their failures, negative attitudes, and negative actions. They begin to
worry that somewhere deep down inside of them something needs to be uncovered.
So they poke around in their minds, trying to uncover some secret that will
supposedly release them from their problems. Psychology produces a heavy burden
of self-analytical baggage that doesn’t help people at all. It is fine to recognize
that we’re inadequate, but that is not what we’re to dwell on. We are not to
pull out all our past experiences and blame our behavior on them. That kind of
morbid self-analysis will steal your joy. We need to take Paul’s advice:
“Forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead. I press
on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus”
(Phil. 3: 13-14).
people are always unhappy because they’re always unsatisfied. Unselfish people
are always satisfied because they don’t demand anything. Only they can
experience true joy.
Unwillingness to accept forgiveness - Unwillingness to accept forgiveness
will steal your joy. Many people hold fast to their guilt and refuse to give it
up. Even though God has forgiven them, many people act as if their standards
of forgiveness are higher than God’s. In effect, they put themselves in
God’s place. Many focus on one sin or short period of sin and won’t forgive
themselves for it. As a result, they limp through life dwelling on something
that is no longer an issue with God (cf. Mic. 7:19). Unwillingness to accept
forgiveness is a needless waste of energy. God’s forgiveness means there is no
need for introspective poking around to discover sin. When God is at work in the
life of a believer, He makes sin evident. The problem isn’t discovering sin
but dealing with it. We don’t need to poke around to discover something the
Lord has already forgiven. When we dwell on forgiven sin, we rob ourselves of
1 Samuel 2:1-2 Hannah prays, “1And Hannah
prayed, and said, My heart rejoiceth in the LORD, mine horn is exalted in the
LORD: my mouth is enlarged over mine enemies; because I rejoice in thy
salvation. 2There is none holy as the LORD: for there is
none beside thee: neither is there any rock like our God..”
the kind of attitude we need to have. Our joy ought to spill out into our
relationships and allow us to see people the way Paul saw his beloved